2nd attempt at Castlehill

a POSTBOX we saw on the road in New Zealand!

One of the many beaches in New Zealand and me trying to be all arty.....

So after my attempt to see the BotS, we abandoned previous plans (there wasn't really one anyway ;) and bailed for Castlehill. Greeted by warnings of “chains essential” and “snow”, we took the chance and dashed up the pass. Amazingly enough, there actually is someone sitting at a checkpoint all night to make sure everyone has snowchains! Serious safety considerations, and we were only allowed proceed as long as we agreed not to drive down the opposite side of the pass (we didn't plan to anyway). Still though, The Tortoise proved it's toughness (beating the hare this time) and pulled us into Arthur's Pass village easily in the middle of a mild snowstorm.

Kea looking all innocent
Waking up to glorious blue skies the next morning, we were greeted to our first visible attack from the infamous Kea of NZ. By first visible attack, I mean the fact that one of my runners fell out of the van one night and they chewed through the side of it. Doh! Still though, looking like an over-fed parrot, these birds will chew through anything to get to food in a vehicle. They're known for eating the seals off doors/windows/anything to try and get inside. We got a very amusing demonstration after a tourist handed some food to a bird before getting into her car and closing the door. The Kea then proceeded to climb up onto the bonnet and eat through her windscreen wiper :) Gave us a laugh – maybe they'll read the signs that are everywhere stating that it's not a good idea to feed the Kea's........

So, off to Castlehill in the hope of meeting someone with a bouldering pad. Yep, no thermal gear, no waterproof boots and no bouldering pads, we were in great shape :) Still though, another soggy walk into the crag (can you picture anywhere more perfect scenery?), and everyone was hanging on top-ropes working out routes.
What the %$£* (depending on your decency levels, insert expletive here :)? Nobody told me there was sports climbing here – I'm here for bouldering! Yep, we found one person with a bouldering pad. Unbelieveable. For non-climbers, Castlehill is world famous for bouldering (basically climbing on 3-4 meter high boulders with essentially a foam mattress below you for protection, i.e. not using ropes). I did not expect to find people using ropes.

Someone.....top-roping at Castlehill......dohhhhhhhhh

We weren't to be detered though – we were sticking this out! So, off to the local village of Castlehill for the evening with the aim of some heat that we didn't have to generate ourselves (i.e. a fire in a pub). no pub. no shop. 40 houses. rigghhhttt........
We don't know how cold it got, but our 25=liter container full of water had huge blocks of ice floating around in it the next morning. Pretty cold basically. So by 1pm the next day, with no sign of boulderers, I abandoned ship and headed for the bright lights of the city, Christchurch.
Mission for this week? Sort some visas out, buy a snowboard, train on the local climbing gym's fingerboard, run, and put my feet up for a week after 6 months of traveling (amazingly enough, the last day of official work I had was December 22nd – although keeping you lot entertained seems harder than a full-time job at times ;). Nice for a week. Although the climbing gym people don't know what to make of me coming in everyday to use the wall - have to keep myself sane in between lots of sitting in front of a computer;)

Photo tinkering

Some of the campervans traveling around NZ