New Zealand: Along the Ben Lomond Trail.


Hike-about is an adventure that commenced June 2010. After storing our household movables, ridding ourselves of a house but retaining our 'home' together, we set off with the purpose of hiking in different parts of the world, not forgetting the home country, the USA.

Our primary focus is hiking to mountain peaks but any challenging hike will do just fine. Extended stays enable us to enjoy and experience living in various places amongst differing cultures. Hike-about has evolved into a way of life. It's also a process of discovery, both the world and ourselves.

We work and live 'on the road' but return to the city in which our grandchildren reside, every couple of months. This provides us the wonderful opportunity to be with them as well as a child or two, even three and of course, friends.

By the end of 2022, the blog contained over 1,470 hikes, each a set of pictures with stories and anecdotes from the trails. An index to the right allows the viewer to identify earlier experiences.

Finally, we are often asked about the journey's end.
ur reply, as accurate as we can state, is: "When we are either forced to cease through health issues or the enjoyment level no longer reaches our aspirations, we will hang up the boots."

"A Life Experience As No Other: Dare to Seize the Day Together", published by Fulton Books, depicts our life on the road and mountains until the beginning of 2017. It has developed 'exponentially' since then.

Jenni and Jeffrey Lazarow

Whereas we continue to update the blog regularly, we no longer circulate email notifications.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

21.18 Te Anau: Kepler Track, Day Two, incredible: 21.19 Day Three, the long way home. : A narrative from New Zealand.

The previous blog (scroll down) deals with some of the statistics and adventure of the 'tramp'.
It's interesting to note that two weeks before we set out on the Kepler Mountain Range, the snow was chest
high on the ridges. Of course, it's summer in the southern hemisphere. Then again, this is South Island,
New Zealand.
One more point before continuing with the hike pictures for Kepler and stories from this country.
We are living in Manapouri in a motel that overlooks one of the finest views we have ever seen, the lake of
the same name containing many islands and multi-mountains as a backdrop. Furthermore, from our bed, we look
directly at the peak of Mount Luxmore (4,829 feet), the place we sat earlier in the week. I think that's
amazing although the editor thought the description too strong. I re-thought it and still consider it amazing.

We're off on another trek for three days in weather expected to be: Heavy rain. How exciting!

The other side of the Kepler Range and track: A setting sun and rising moon create the ambiance for
a multi-day trek.

Some commentary, impressions and expressions before 'hitting the slopes' of New Zealand.

We always look forward to visiting New Zealand, a country that was a fellow colony with South Africa
until 1961 but has remained linked in spirit. It’s easy to relate to the locals—they are an earthy lot,
physically strong and perhaps a little reckless. Should you wish to jump off cliffs, swing on cliff edges,
ride daredevil cycles down mountain trails and a host of other activities of a suicidal bent, this is the
place to be. By the way, those activities are not an attraction for us. Why not, we ask ourselves. We appreciate
the hiking trails, mountains, great lakes and sparsely inhabited South Island—the latter point does not
necessarily apply in respect of Queenstown with the overwhelming number of tourists, and Christchurch,
perhaps Dunedin, too.

The same lake, the same region, a myriad of colors, shades and sheen in two days.

For a short interval, the light, probably effected by dust, influenced the colors remarkably.

Above one of the mountain ridges, we catch contrasting sunlight and shadows.

When traveling to the country, one should prepare the mind accordingly. The environment is a big deal
over here. We love the environment—our lives are spent facing the challenges and enjoying the beauty of nature.
However, we like to think of ourselves as moderate in nature. Nevertheless, the bureaucrats control the entry
points plus a whole lot of other things. As a start, one should not even think of bringing in an apple or
other fruit. The list of prohibited foods is exhaustive although we did not read much of regulations regarding
controlled narcotics and many other items that we consider bad to allow into a country. Dogs patrol the airport,
searching for ham sandwiches, fruit salads and ice-cream sundaes. It seems that a person can be infected with
disease and enter but that same individual should not even dream of smuggling a banana or heaven forbid, a grapefruit.
We worry at times that this may be subversive commentary.

Jenni tackles a long, winding climb. 'She'll be coming round the mountain...'

"Hey, Mate! Did you hear this one: A parrot walks into a bar carrying a man in a cage?"

Miss Casual Pique sits on peak of Mount Luxmore.

Then there are boots. In the army, to keep out of trouble, we had to shave and keep our boots and rifles clean.
If a soldier had gangrene, so what. ‘Where have those shoes been in the last months?’ The immigration officer
inquired. They scrape the soles searching for particles that might destroy the country. Should a person pass
the various tests of food and clean boots then you have arrived. However, please don’t print a receipt at
the ATM—rather save the environment. There can’t be a good future for stationers. We would guess that
a terrorist has a better chance of smuggling a Molotov cocktail into the country than a tomato cocktail.

Through the frame: Dark clouds, light mountains. The 'curtain's closing' on another spectacular.
Mount Titiroa looks snowed under. Not true. The granite surface reflects the sunlight, creating a snow effect.

Clear and colorful, an impressive place, to say the least.

On the way down, while on the way up on a good path. Backpack's taking a rest from the trails.

The west side of the country, the Fiordlands in particular, is infested with sandflies. They are
mosquito type insects but fly at a slower pace. Should one not be careful, the pests will devour one alive.
Many years ago, in order to control the rabbit population, the powers that be in all their wisdom imported
a rodent called a stoat. Unfortunately, in winter the rabbits did a duck or were elusive, leaving the stoats
without a source of food. So instead of playing by the rulebook, the nasty little rodents went after the kiwi,
the national bird as well many others. The story gets interesting because the kiwis had stopped flying by then.
Apparently, they had no natural enemies on the ground. Little did they know that man had planned something
else for the islands.

Along the ridges and edges makes the second day of Kepler a delight.

So many cloud pictures, so many left behind.

A bit of a rocky finish at one of the peaks.

Therefore, the imported highly productive stoats had to go but apparently they liked the hiking
too much to leave. They were not departing without putting up stiff resistance—they are still here and
the population is growing despite efforts to the contrary. So much for man sorting out the eco-balance.
We also want to ask the Kiwis (people not birds), why the kiwis (birds not people) according to evolutionary
theories, did not take up flying again. Rumor has it that the New Zealand bureaucrats had imposed stringent
rules on all those wishing to learn to fly. Re-learners had added complications including heavy fees and taxes
plus fuel surcharges even when prices are falling...(to be continued).

Lake Te Anau during early morning; what's not to love?


Jenni and Jeffrey

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

21.17 Highlights from Kepler Track, a great tramp

The commencement point of the Kepler Great Walk (hike) from Te Anau. Weighed down with
heavy bags, 3,000 feet to ascend to reach Hut One, Luxmore. Looks like we'll have to camp and
sleep during the day, hike at night. Had we brought a shovel, we might have levelled the sign.

101…102…195…and so on until perhaps infinity. That’s the number of peaks we saw of the Kepler Range.
Fortunately, we only had to ascend and descend a few. The hike begins at lake level, the colossal Te Anau,
one of many bodies of pristine water in this country. For 3.5 miles, we meandered along the side of the beach
and then took a left turn. We headed 3,000 feet higher, broke the tree line (not on purpose) and made our way
along a crest for another two-and-a-bit miles, finally arriving at Luxmore Hut, our residence for the night.
We left for the 'tramp' at midday Sunday, returned a little after midday on Tuesday after completing twenty-seven
miles and accumulating 6,000 feet in elevation gain. We were a little tired but had never felt better.

Jenni explained that sunset/sunrise photographs only make sense to her with a great backdrop. We hope
we met her aspirations.

Tussock above, clouds next and then Lake Te Anau at the surface. (The blue is water below not sky.)

With heavy backpacks, the nature of hiking changes meaningfully and not necessarily for the better. We’ve
always thought of it as an honest system—you can take all the luxuries you wish in order to make the nights
comfortable and the meals delicious. However, the proviso is: You carry it on the back in and the litter
you carry out, too. Suddenly, the luxuries are no longer important and a process of efficiency is implemented.
Funnily enough, it did not prevent one of us taking a hot-water bottle.

We would think a great weight watching tool is to carry a weighted pack on one’s back each day. It’s a reminder
of the strain being placed on the bones, joints, muscles and organs. It may be a lot easier to forgo the
additional food and as a reward have the burden alleviated. Anyway, it’s really tough climbing big distances
weighed down with the ‘kitchen sink’.

Just before making the turn to begin climbing, we came across local students swimming in the lake at Brod Bay.
From the comments we heard, the water was obviously very cold. We asked a young woman whether that was the case.
‘No’, she replied, 'It’s brisk but lovely.’
“It still looks cold to us,” we replied. How one can tell it looks cold, without the presence of ice, might
be a good question.
‘Are you not from New Zealand?' She questioned. We answered accordingly.
‘In that case, to you it will be freezing.’ Nice!

"I've looked at clouds from both sides now..." At peak of Mount Luxmore.

The sun hits the spot on one of the colossal peaks.

The Kepler Track is magnificent. It has forests, mountains of course, varied and often dangerous weather
patterns, paths along edges and on the ridges. The lake is on view in many places and varies in shape,
size and color while it meanders like a river. The cloud formations and movement thereof add another
dimension mesmerizing the observer constantly. Given the height of the peaks, even the ridges, the sunrises
and sets are spectacular. The flora is interesting especially when the trees and tussock are lit by
the rising or falling sun. The contrasts with the varying shades of blue water, often partly covered
in clouds, add to one’s interest.

Mountain Girl, somewhere on trail between Luxmore and Iris Burn.

Asleep at the wheel on Mount Luxmore, towering above Lake Te Anau.
Suffering from a hangover of too much Diet Coke.

New Zealand entertains many tourists each year—we would guess that tourism is the primary or one of
the large sources of foreign exchange. The Big Walks attract many people from all over the world.
In three days, we met and spoke to Germans, Israelis, Frenchmen, locals, Australians and a host of
other nationals. We would guess there were at least thirty young Israelis on the mountain. Hikers either
bunk down in rather expensive huts or sleep in tents. It’s fairly standard that the Israelis are going
to be around twenty-three years old, traveling after completing their initial military service. In a funny
but meaningful hour or so, we entertained Ossie who at first, we thought was French. He joined us for dinner
and almost spent the night sleeping under Jenni’s bunk. However, that’s a story for another time.

A little later than sunrise, the clouding was sensational. The lake is below.

The views along the ridges are some of the finest. 'Boy, did I take a wrong turn'.

Each country has a different system with regard to huts, refugios and accommodation on the mountains.
In New Zealand, there are no showers and only cold water. Fortunately, there are gas cookers although
most hikers could bring their own. The ablution blocks are unisex with doors on the cubicles. However,
it takes some getting used to, for instance, brushing teeth or coming out the toilet and bumping into
a woman and vice-versa. We met Joanne, spent a while talking with her after dinner, for want of a nice
term (dinner), and when we were packing in the morning, happened to look up and see her selecting and
putting her bra on in a slow and thoughtful manner. Inhibitions seem somewhat toned down. We noticed
a youngster changing his shorts over breakfast—fortunately, we weren't hungry. The negative of sharing
a communal hut of thirty-five persons is the level of noise caused by snorers. Unfortunately, we had
two guys below and to the left of us who should have been gagged if not quartered. Okay, we did not
expect to get a great night’s rest.

Mary-Lou, a woman of seventy-eight put us to shame. She hails from Seattle. She spent a while telling us
of her hiking exploits. After we were knocked out by her history including how she travels and her stays
at backpackers youth hostels, (and she’s modest), she concluded by telling us that she could not keep up
with her eight-five year old friend. People like that make us feel most guilty for all our whining.
By the way, she suffers from osteoporosis.

We found a desperate photographer along the ridge on way to Iris Burn Hut. We also found clouds.

The effects on the earth from a sunrise on and above the mountains. (Love the grass lit on the edges.)

Then there are the kea parrots. They are rambunctious with such attitude. Nothing should be left outside,
including boots. They are known to pick and pull anything apart. Should they get inside the huts, and
they do try, then that space will be defined in due course as a disaster area. The sandflies, the equivalent
of mosquitoes, are another species whose presence on earth could be questioned without meaning disrespect.
Mind you, there are a number of humans for which the same could be said.

Each night at 8pm, the ranger makes a presentation—safety issues, weather, danger, hygiene as well as
collecting tickets. This is to be missed…not to be missed, we mean. Everyone loves time before a captive
audience and Pat was no exception. For reasons we’ll mention in a later blog, we spent two nights in the
same hut. We were rewarded to another rendition of the speech and clearly, Pat had not made any changes.
Admittedly, over the years we have heard some good quips. In South Africa and Hawaii at huts frequented,
rangers are not present so we have to provide our own entertainment. Jenni can be a scream when she
lets her hair down.

We decided to climb the peak of Mount Luxmore a second time on the way back from our destination of the day.
We met Yair and Jacob—three Jews from, five different countries (Ethiopia, France, South Africa, USA & Israel).
Two are Israeli citizens each 23 years old...the other's age, indeterminate.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Monday, February 23, 2015

21.16 Dewar Mountain Peak and extended along Atleys Trail

The 'Youngster's getting braver by the day.

Loved the presence of clouds again, particularly the way they interacted with the mountains.

We reached the junction of Skippers and Coronet Peak Road. To continue on Skippers, it is necessary
to have a four-wheel drive or at least, not to be in a hired car. The insurance policy prohibits driving
on such roads. The other road goes to the ski area. As we were not intending to ski for a few reasons, one
being no snow in New Zealand but for that on some of the highest peaks. So we ‘paaaked the caaar’ close
to the intersection and headed towards Mount Dewar, some 1,500 feet higher. The views once again were
spectacular. For the first time since we began hiking in the region, the sun was blocked by clouding.
However, the cloud formations were interesting and continued playing interesting games with the mountains.
By the time we completed the hike, a large part of the sky covering Queenstown was clear. Once the sun
shone through the gaps, some of the views were breathtaking, mountain, cloud and water.

A clear favorite, typical of the region.

Heading into the great outback...oops wrong country, right place.

Lake Wakatipu, a massive body of water and small for New Zealand.

Steamin' over the ski-station, Coronet Peak.

We tried to communicate with some sheep but that proved fruitless. Clearly they can tell
we are foreigners. Although a few cars passed along Skippers Road, many head to the river for rafting
activities, we followed the Atleys Track over Mount Dewar without seeing another person. It seems
other than the few popular places, the rest of the trails are quite deserted. We have now triangulated
the Queenstown area on the eastern side. It’s one of the most remarkable places to view, that is,
the conglomeration of mountains covering the region. And that’s besides having the Remarkable Range
to the west. We tried to hike the latter but the road is closed for improvements. A pity.

In the early going, cool and cloudy.

Say Mister, can you spare a dollar...a parachute?

Even the colors in the dying season are remarkable as we look down into the valley.

These type of scenes with the contrasts amongst the rocks drive a man...crazy.

High, wide and dare we say, 'handsome'.

After descending Dewar Mountain sharply on its other side, we found ourselves back in the valley
some distance from Ben Lomond Mountain, an icon of the region. We probably walked close to nine miles
and ascended a cumulative 2,500 to 3,000 feet on the day. However, with the constant views surrounding us,
one tends to forget about the strain on the muscles and allow the senses to absorb the natural features.
While one does not have to worry about snakes on these islands, foot placement on some mountains has
the unusual hazard of sheep and cattle droppings—yesterday the ground was well fertilized. It always
makes us think of roses and pose the question: Why is it that a rose, standing in manure all day,
has such a wonderful fragrance? Perhaps we shouldn't be too careful of our foot placements.

Editor changes her position, still brave though.

Hi guys...don't run...please. They had already darted about 200 feet by then but still inquisitive.

The well adjusted hiker...always prepared for a long, dry day even in 'civilization' as we walk
through Queenstown.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Saturday, February 21, 2015

21.15 Oahu farewell. Pillbox sunrise in Kailua.

We are in New Zealand, a while now, but close off Hawaii with our last morning's early rise.

For our last morning in Hawaii, we headed to the Pillbox in Kailua for some exercise and of course, a sunrise.
The previous day we had walked up, down and over sixteen hills along the ridge facing both the ocean and city.
The position of the sun, as will become obvious, changes the scenery immensely. However, you knew that.

On Golden Pond or maybe 'bronze'.

'Morning has broken, light the first...

There's the first appearance.

The next appearance.

The town and mountains behind us.

Even dead plants come alive when touched by sunrays.

Camera allows for recording of only one color.

Everything appears so gentle and calm.

A large and colorful sky.

Early morning calm at bay while background anything but gentle.

It's going to be another hot winter's day on the island.

A contrast with Manapouri Lake at dusk, one of the most beautiful bodies of water, together with mountain
backdrops, we have seen.

A glimpse of Manapouri


Jenni and Jeffrey