Happy Waitangi Day

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06/02/08
So, what is Waitangi Day you ask? Well, it’s a national holiday here in New Zealand. Sort of like Canada Day, but not quite. There aren’t massive celebrations everywhere, but it is a significant date for Kiwis. This is the day the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by the queen, which recognized the land claims and rights of Maoris. Of course, things are still not settled for Maoris, so as a result, there is not much celebrating, but rather, a fair bit of protest on this day in certain parts of the country. However, it is still a federal holiday, which means food places all charge 15-20% extra if you want to eat. Ha ha. Guess I’ll be eating noodles and peanut butter sandwiches today! At any rate, I’m still in Fox Glacier township right now, enjoying an almost complete day off. My only activity was about 25km of biking and hiking, to check out the stunning views of the Southern Alps from here. The rest of the day is hopefully for laundry, Internet, phone calls, etc. etc. Yup, I’m resting and getting ready for the next few days. Read on and check out the map for a bit more info.

For starters today, I didn’t even set an alarm. It’s the first day of my whole trip that I think I didn’t set an alarm. In spite of that, I was still up by 8:30am. There’s just no point in staying in bed when it’s a sunny day and you’re in the shadows of mountains. Looking outside now, it’s a good thing I did get up, as clouds are rolling back in again. I’m resting today because it will be another tough slog tomorrow. I’m heading down further along the coast, and there are few places to stop, so I’ve decided to press on about 120km to get to a place called Haast. After that, it’s on to Haast Pass, my Alps crossing point, with one more stop until I hopefully reach Lake Wanaka. Originally, I thought I’d take 4 days to get there, but I think I’ll shoot for 3 days. By then, I’ll almost be in Queenstown! Can you believe that?

Anywho, after getting up, it was back on the bike for a quick ride to Matheson Lake, also known as Mirror Lake, in the hopes of seeing the Alps reflected in the lake. At some points in my hike around the lake, there were reflections, but at the best spots, there were some breezes already, which made the water ripply. Not the optimal mirror conditions unfortunately. This in no way spoiled the magnificent views though, as the pictures will attest to. I took my time strolling around the lake, and stopping to contemplate my smallness in the universe. Mountains really are amazing things, aren’t they?

My only other destination for the day was a spot called Peak Viewpoint, which was a spot down the road where you can really get a good view of the mountain range, and there is a device there which identifies which mountain peaks you are looking at. Unlike Matheson Lake, which attracts tour buses and lots of people, this spot was more distant, and only visited by a handful of people. As such, it was much more peaceful, and I hung out there for quite a little while, learning the names of some of the other peaks in the Southern Alps. Of course, I’ve already forgotten them, but it was fun playing with the mountain finder.

Now that I’m back at the hostel, I’m thinking that I might check out the movie ‘Touching the Void’, which is a real-life story of ice / mountain climbing, where one guy had to cut another guys rope in order to save his own life. Apparently a really good movie, and in light of all the mountains and my climbing yesterday, where we actually talked about that movie, I’m keen to see it. I’ve got a few beers with me to celebrate Waitangi day, so why not, right? 🙂 However, first things first. Off to find a decent Internet connection to be able to upload all these oodles of posts and maps to satisfy all of your collective curiosity. Enjoy your day, and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post again for you all. Probably not until Wanaka. So, three or four days time. Hope you can wait!

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