And it rained, and rained, and rained on the West Coast of the South Island…over 600 mm, for you non-metric folks that’s over 2 feet….and as we left Haast passing our new friends and Peace Runners
from the Sri Chinmoy Peace Runners, we wondered if we would make it to more stable weather. As we approached Wanaka we understood what a weather curtain the mountains are for this central region of the South Island.
It was curious for me to meet the Sri Chinmoy group here is NZ. The Lake St Marshall Bridge between Minneapolis and St Paul is named in his honor, and it reminded me of earlier days with “World Runners” and “Ski to End Hunger” friends as we did what we loved and worked to make a difference. Could it be that this is as good as it gets?
The Peace Runners are running across New Zealand as part of an ‘around the world’ run to stimulate conversations for peace. Their leader Jim Lawless
and I really hit it off talking about working with youth and forming a connection between a NZ School and a school in Edina to foster communication and learning across oceans and cultures. At 68, Jim is still a renewable energy engineer and talks to kids about climate and healthy living as his work with Peace Runners. He even is working on a project in Tawau, Sabah where we will be in 3 weeks.
The rains in the mountains where we are headed for the famous Routeburn Track (trek) have cancelled the tramp for the past 2 days. The reports say the rain will end today and the track is open just in time for our 3 day, 2 nights in the South Island wilderness. Though the bridge is out at the end of the tramp, so we may get in some extra walking if we get turned back. There are Department of Conservation folks along the way who will let us know and communicate with the folks moving our car as needed.
So Mindy is packing up while I share the last few days from the West Coast, to Wanaka where we be presenting “Saving Snow” on Sunday to the local ski club and hopefully others that we have been meeting in the area. And then on to Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of the world where every bathroom stall door invites you to bungy jump, rope swing, skydive or jet boat with the admonition “is THIS checked off on your bucket list yet?” As I realize how engaged (buried?) people are in their search for adventure and the next cool thing to excite their nervous system; I am more aware than ever how important our conversations with other travellers and local Kiwis on climate action are. And how the shootings in Christchurch has elevated people’s thinking about what’s important. So many have mentioned that they were disappointed that the shootings covered up much of the overage on the Student Strike 4 Climate. Perhaps it’s another one of those silver lining happenings that force people to awakened to the reality of what is happening right in the middle of their vacations.
I am please with the responses I am receiving and Mindy is being reasonably tolerant with my penchant for conversing with campervan neighbors, tour guide workers, campground hosts, money changer staff, really no one is safe while I am awake. Actually I have found great pleasure is connecting with them around our trip, their work, the weather (wow is that easy here!!) etc. before sharing our climate work and community building ideas. My CCL training seems to be working.
The West coast seems a bit in the past now but our stop in Punikaiki and my 2 hours alone at the “Pancake Rocks” on a quiet morning was quite remarkable.
Further down the coast we stopped at both famous glaciers the Franz Joseph and the Fox Glaciers. The former we had to walk to a look out point still a good distance from the foot of the ice. The retreat of both of these unique low altitude glaciers has receded so much it is shocking. One of the info signs says the retreat of the glaciers in 1.5- 7 meters A DAY!!! Guess we should feel lucky to see such giants while they are still impressive…but for me there is sadness and more conversations for action.
We still have time…3 weeks in NZ and for me the biggest thrill is to come this Saturday after the Routeburn tramp….we booked a sunrise kayak tour on Milford Sound…3-3.5 hours touring around all parts of this magical piece of ocean that captivates all who go there.
There will be more as there always is…thanks for following our journey and wherever you are enjoying your precious slice of the world and people in your lives.
A special shout out to my sister Sue and her husband Tom as she continues her recovery from a stroke and our colleague J Drake Hamilton also recovering from a head injury from an ice slip in February. We are keenly aware of the blessing we have with healthy bodies and minds as we get up and see this astoundingly beautiful country and share with our experience with friends and family around our planet.
See you on the other side of the mountains.
More pictures coming later 🙂