Simon Benson & Alison Edwards
2016, and back in New Zealand - Part 1



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(Simon writes)

It is already March; the world's worst bloggers have become even worse. We lack the skill to make the mundane newsworthy.

The problem is that our lives have continued on their usual way; living in the flat in North Melbourne, Alison going to circus and Simon going to Spanish on Wednesday evenings; working on Thursdays and Fridays; spending Saturdays to Wednesdays in Castlemaine, where it has been very hot this summer; and where we are busy with not only renovations (now very nearly finished, thank goodness) but a full social life.

This year, to add to that, we have found the "mystery film" on Monday nights at the Theatre Royal; you pay your $10 and go in, and then you find out what the film is. It will, however, always be a "good" film; and it is - though some "good" films are hard to sit through. But mostly they are very watchable, and it's been enjoyable even to see some of the films we've seen before - usually many years ago - again. (Unfortunately the beginning of the mystery film overlaps the end of Corker Orchestra practice, so Simon often misses the beginning of the film.)

But now, we're on our way to New Zealand again - to Nelson, in the north of the South Island, where were going to (among other things) walk the Queen Charlotte Walkway. Not a remote walk - there are hotels and cafes along the way - but it's meant to be very scenic. We plan to camp for the first 3 nights, then spend 2 nights in a resort, before walking out.

(Alison writes)

New Zealand - the land of the long white cloud. The maori name reflects the rapidly changing weather that results from a long narrow island nation with a spine of cloud catching mountains. However, we were lucky and completed the whole Queen Charlotte walk dry. Our packs were not too bad as this is only a three to five day walk and there are shops and restaurants along the way to supplement supplies.

Some people elect to stay in a bed every night and have their packs transported by water taxi to the next stop. We compromised and decided that as that option was available we should try it out but that we would carry our packs and hence tents etc to the two high on the ridge campsites away from water taxi stops. I do like walking fancy free with only a daypack. I do like the civilised option of a coffee and sometimes cake at morning tea or afternoon tea. But I also like the sense of being on top of the world, looking out the tent flap to a wonderful view of he sound and only bush noises and bird song. Two of the nights we had brief showers but the tent was dry by morning.

The last two nights of the walk, we stayed at a resort called Lochmara before walking out. It is a holiday after all. This meant we could spend all morning sea-kayaking around the inlets (think fish and stingrays, shag colonies and "canoe limbo" under the low jetties lining the shore) before exploring the resort's facilities in the afternoon.The three day forecast when we left was for rain day three so we were resigned to some wet weather and happy to be planning nights in a building at the end of the walk. However, it held off until the last few minutes of the walk!

I am not likely to walk it again as this is one of thse walks which is described as iconic but just didn't thrill me. Some of the ridge top walking with everchanging views of the sounds was lovely but the track traverses a mix of national park and private land with small settlements and holiday houses all along the shoreline. It is a very popular walk but also a popular mountain biking track and this means wide civilised tracks, crowds and little sense of wilderness. I had also forgotten how much I notice that New Zealand really has no native animal life apart from birds.