“Everything you need for a VERY happy Christmas!”

–‘Tis the season to be jolly falalala la la la la’–

The end of the year holidays are here! What does that mean for me? Well…I get a whole 12 days off from work because…yea that’s just how everyone else in the world does it. Which I think we could all learn from because let me tell you what, its freaking awesome to be lazy!

Alright so, we have some catching up to do. First off, Tracey and I went to a DOC Christmas party which was held in Glenorchy where I worked. Since work was slowing down and we had to get things organized (and being lowest on the totem pole doesn’t hurt), I decided to help out with the people who were assigned to organize golf. Rather than shoot off across the street, be bored and not really get into the spirit, we decided to make a mini golf course out of stuff just lying around. After 4 hours of cutting and brainstorming we had 9 unique holes! Even one that went up a ramp and down a pipe into the hole.

As the party started and people began to make their way from Queenstown to us, someone decided it wasn’t festive enough in our workshop and grabbed a truck to cut down a Christmas tree…with a handsaw. 20 minutes later and and some spray paint cans after we ended up with this!

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And then the party began! Drinks were served, people started playing a round of tournament mini golf, and more drinks were served. Then of course Santa had to stop by with some gifts.

 photo IMG_20151218_175428203_zpsg1nzrfyr.jpgOur Santa could use a few pounds

Even though there were kids, people were getting everything from choclate to beer to condoms. I was lucky enough to grab a gift with “Everything you need for a very happy Christmas”. Inside was half a box of condoms and half a box of .22 rifle rounds. Tracey got a spool of Husqvarna weed eater line.
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Then it was on to food at the Glenorchy Cafe where we we served a nice dinner after waiting way to long in the sun. Unfortunately we had to leave early because Visitors Centre workers don’t get the time off like the rest of us and poor Tracey had to work in the morning. All in all the best work Christmas party I think I’ve ever been a part of, wish we could have stayed.

–The Rees Track–

For our next adventure we planned to go up the Rees track and make it to the Dart hut to celebrate Christmas day with our Canadian friend. He promised hunting, a fresh shammy (wild goat) stew and drinks so of course we were in. Plus its nice to hang out with someone from near home and finds the same things weird about New Zealand. On average he only gets around 2-4 people who visit the hut and sometimes none. It has to be one of the loneliest huts around since the Dart river caused a slip and made it more difficult to access. That’s why we wanted to bring some Christmas cheer!

Anyway, we started from Glenorchy and made our way down a dirt road, across four creeks and finally ended at the carpark. We grabbed our bags and headed off. Within minutes we realized if we had a 4×4 truck we could have cut off at least an hour worth of walking (and later on would learn you can cut off about 3 hours more if you drive through the rivers). Summer is finally here in full force. Temperatures were expected to reach the upper 20’s and mid 30’s (75-90 Fahrenheit) which was making it one of the hottest weeks this year.

Much of the first 6 hours to shelter rock hut is across swampy wetland and open plains. There is almost no cover for your head and no keeping your feet dry. But there is a cool swing bridge and a few river crossings to keep things interesting.
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When you finally we finally saw the hut we were sooo happy. It was a long day of hiking and we were ready for a drink of the far to heavy wine bags from our packs. But not too much since there was another 4-6 hours of walking to do in the morning.
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ack to it..

The next day was rough and uphill all the way to the Rees saddle, which couldn’t come soon enough. While Tracey enjoys these tracks, I walk them as work and I wasn’t really all that happy about hiking for my vacation that day. But by the time we got to the top of the saddle it was mostly downhill so I made it through. And we got to have lunch with this awesome view.
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After making our way down an unbelievably steep trail, we finally caught a glimpse of Dart hut. We got in and learned that our goat meat had gone bad because of a fridge malfunction and Mason (The hut warden) had bee frantically hunting for a replacement. So we got to try fresh killed rabbit for the first time in a spicy curry! It tastes kinda like beef strangely enough. Then we started tearing into our wine bags and catching up. When the sun finally decided to go down and we had met with some other Americans and a huge group of Israelis, everyone headed down to the river for a nice fire. This is a great way to spend Christmas and a HUGE thank you to Mason for being such an awesome host!
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The next morning we battle off our wine hangovers and knew we had to make it back to the carpark by the end of the day. Roughly 10 hours and 29 kilometers (18 miles) worth of walking to do. We did manage to see a pair of Kea on our struggle back up to the saddle! But I’ll keep the rest short and sweet. We pushed through the bush and decided to take a shortcut and just follow the river and do multiple crossings rather than climb the hills. Our bones rattled til they should have fallen apart, muscles and ligaments are still sore. But we did it and it was a great, tiring trip.
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We miss everyone! Here’s to a Happy New Year!

by Alex

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