A white Welsh weekend

Having arrived back in the UK, I headed to Wales for the weekend with my boyfriend Dave. A harsh change to the balmy summer climate of Oz and New Zealand.

We arrived to a ridiculous quantity of snow. Dave had arranged for us to stay in a mountaineering hut somewhere up a farm track. On arrival at said quite steep, uphill, definitely buried track, we began to attempt to dig and drive our way up. We eventually got to a gate over which snow had drifted so it was possible to just walk over the top. We realised we really weren’t getting the car any further and loaded up all our bags onto our backs for the treck to hut. Turns out a mile up a track through waist deep snow is quite a long way and very hard going. Luckily we all had our kayaking kit on so we were relatively dry inside, if not exactly in the best of spirits. On reaching the hut we lit the fire and went to sleep.

We woke up in the morning to there having been even MORE snow over night, and we were pretty well snowed in!

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After donning our kayaking gear to wade back through the snow which was even harder going than the night before we eventually made it back to the car. We attempted to dig it out and then reverse it back down the road, but this resulted in us skidding all over and being at risk of taking out the farmer’s walls at either side of the track. Luckily 2 guys turned up in a large land rover, and winched us out!

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We set off to go kayaking and headed to the Aberglaslyn gorge, where we got on for a chilly paddle. I was quite nervous, and knew that the breaker was coming up. The guys however were just ready to go and off they went. Having caught the eddy above the drop I asked Vince if I could follow him, he replied ‘yeah sure, but I don’t actually know the line’ as he peeled out of the eddy, so left with the choice of run it completely on my own, vs follow him and hope for the best, I too peeled out of the eddy. Unfortunately, a guy in front of me had got caught in the hole, and I slowed down as I was unsure what to do faced with this! My lack of speed and lack of good line choice resulted in me replacing him in the stopper, and eventually having a rather freezing swim.

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I got back on after this though and finished the short section in relatively high spirits, although somewhat chilly.

After this we went to do swallow falls but having been a little bit chilly I decided to just take pictures and warm up a little!

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Arriving in New Zealand

After my break from kayaking in Oz, I am finally at my desired destination! I arrived in Christchurch and after a few days hunting, found myself a camper van! She was briefly known as Mrs. Norris:

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I then headed to the New Zealand kayak school in Murchison, where I did a course to get into the right mind set for the area, and then did a safety course because there was a bunch of us who fancied it. It was a very good course! We also spent a while hanging about here paddling together, and hucking the local Mauria Falls.

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We then planned to head to the Citroen River race, so Will, Rose and I set off on our exciting road trip to the rest of South island… a whole 5 hours later Mrs. Norris broke down, the radiator overheated and she died, leaving us stranded for several days in a small town called Reefton. Whilst attempting to organise new transport we lived in a hobo tent made of taped together bin bags and tarps… good job it didn’t rain too much!

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After a quick detour back to Christchurch in the complete opposite direction we did some vehicle swapping, slept in Mrs. Norris one last night on the street before finally setting off for Queenstown! Our new ride was actually a substantial upgrade:

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and continuing the Harry Potter animal names, this one was aptly named ‘fluffy’. (Luckily Fluffy survived to the end of the trip, since he was a hire car this time round!)

We stopped along our journey to take in many spectacular views, and swim in a few fantastic lakes in the summer heat before we actually arrived in Queenstown, home of the furgburger, and some excellent white water.

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On our arrival in Queenstown we set up camp just above the Nevis Bluff rapids (although we never actually paddled them) where a collection of kayakers were living during the summer. There was a great rope swing with a river pool to jump into, and wash in, as well as easier rapids upstream. We paddled the Shotover, Roaring Meg and the Dogs Leg.

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After a short but pleasant stay in Queenstown, we said goodbye to Will who was staying in Queenstown for the ski season and we decided to head back up to Murchison in time for the Buller Fest, where we raced and partied!

After that Rose and I also said goodbye to each other and headed our separate ways.

I was then somewhat abandoned on my own, with a water shortage due to drought and a paddler shortage due to everyone having gone home. I decided to spend some time doing touristy things, from visiting pancake rocks, galloping on horse back down the beach, walking to the fox Glacier, to walks in the ‘jungle’. I also went back to Queenstown to see how Will was settling in. Eventually it was time for me to head home after an amazing trip, so I took Fluffy back to Christchurch and hopped on my plane home.

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