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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

30.21: New Zealand, Moana: Brunner Lake: A different hike, particularly at Carew Falls.

Beautiful often comes in small packages.

More beauty...

Low flying over Brunner Lake, another massive body of water.

Editor set him up for a dare. He's become a rock lover instead of a tree hugger.

'Flash' trying out for New Zealand track team.

'Where'd that bunch come from?' Herd being driven by a cowboy on a 4-wheel motor bike. Should've seen the state of
the road after that lot let us through.

A couple of birds: Jen and weka having form of communication. Bird does not fly but scavenges profusely.

Pool was not sufficiently inviting for a swim.

Puddles, pools, lake and swimmers.

The full picture.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Decisions, decisions...Stables or the Loveshack? He kids you...he's gazing at the mountain tops...but wondering
about the shack.

In car park of Chateau Franz Josef, the name might be a little above the establishment.

Could not resist...backpackers humor.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

30.20: New Zealand: Avalanche Peak, a strenuous and incredible hike, climb and scramble amongst great beauty in a rugged environment.

Jen reaches the halfway mark...on the way up.

Into the heart of the southern alps: sometimes intimidating, always thrilling.

Should one wish to characterize New Zealand’s real heart, certainly those aspects outside the few ‘big’ cities, one might use descriptive words like hardy, rugged, elusive, explosive, testing, beautiful, mesmerizing, dangerous, unforgiving, erratic, changing, volatile, growing and a whole lot more. Admittedly, many parts of the world could also fit the profile. (Indeed, remove hardy and rugged and one could be describing a woman.) Nevertheless, this seemingly small couple of islands is neither small and certainly not tame.

The last half-dozen or so hikes, essentially climbs, and a few earlier experiences, illustrate this succinctly, we think. Specifically, Avalanche Peak above Arthur’s Pass Village encompasses it all. We can’t remember, although it’s certainly possible, enjoying a climb of 3,600 feet in a mere mile-and-a-half through a gorgeous forest and thereafter in an alpine environment surrounded by snow-covered mountain tops, a glacier, waterfalls and other mountains that protruded near-vertically with what seemed to us to be a touch of arrogance. (Coming down the mountain was a less enjoyable couple of hours although what choice does one have?) We think this hike, this climb, this experience epitomizes all that we have written of New Zealand over the years.

Finally, it does not necessarily mean that a person can love the land easily. There are many times that love turns around as one struggles in harsh circumstances and conditions, and on very rugged and rough trails. It becomes testing of the love…but only temporary. (Continues at end...)

Editor reaches a little below peak and wonders...what?

Soon after breaking through tree line, we take a look at the Pass which links the west and east
(suppose east and west, too).

Editor seems to be forever climbing.

We spot another glacier, this time from a different position. It looks like he's about to nap.

Strong winds on the edges and ledges is one of my many fears. It was at this juncture, before the peak, where a channel of wind existed or developed.

The Devil's Punchbowl. We've seen the waterfall from the bottom but from far above it's spectacular.

Jen reaches a platform before the ridge; final destination is where two climbers stand, on right.

After passing through a wind channel, he's about to reach the narrow ledge which is the peak. What is the feeling like?
You had to be there.

From the summit, taking in the intimidating views.

Crow glacier, situated on the face of Mount Rolleston. Glaciers are effectively rivers of flowing ice. Crow glacier flows at a rate of a few centimeters per day. Franz Josef, see earlier blog, moves at up to 2 meters in a day.

Triumph! Perhaps one of the finest climbs we've had. A little exuberance but it helps Jen find the subject from distance.

Scrambling again...this time in the forest.

Okay, let's go home. The down trails we've faced are mostly more treacherous than the ones in the opposite
directions. We took Scott trail down, the supposedly less steep path than our ascent. Could have fooled us that it was easier.

Following in the footsteps of the editor; not easy, she sets a high standard.

We arrive back home (backpackers) safely. Have no idea what's going through the mind...if anything.
We had a delightful stay in this small village, in public but very acceptable accommodation. As we mentioned recently,
the basic accommodation with the atmosphere it creates is proving to be very enjoyable.

It would be worth traveling to Arthur’s Pass, the Southern Alps, for the sole purpose of climbing to Avalanche Peak. It is mostly climbing, scrambling over rocks, negotiating edges that overlook valleys and the town, thousands of feet below. Moreover, it would be worth traveling to New Zealand to reach Arthur’s Pass in order to undertake the Avalanche only. By now, a reader might deduce we have tremendous admiration for this mountain and the surroundings, the hills, the intimidating snow-capped peaks, a glacier, waterfalls, forests, treacherous cliffs, ledges and edges to name some of the attributes of the region. Standing on the peak and the path just below in gusting winds was intimidating at times but a superb experience. Fortunately, the wind was strong in only a small section along the ridge enabling us to derive much enjoyment and allow the adrenaline to share the fun.

The weather is erratic in this alpine region and thus creates danger, uncertainty and frequent change of plans. We were most fortunate as we arrived in the town in rain and gloomy weather but set off the following day in as good as it probably gets around here. The elevation gain is over 3,600 feet over a marked trail that is less about tree roots and more of rocks and stones. At just before the half-way climb, one breaks above the tree line and the previously wonderful sights are surpassed by being able to look down through the pass, into the valleys, across the way to focus on overpowering mountains. It would be hard to think of a better and more challenging situation as balanced as is the Avalanche. The ascent was tough but glorious; the descent was tough and a struggle at times. Whereas we love the climbs, we are weary of the steep declines on harsh underfoot. There are two ways up; we took the Avalanche trail up and Scott’s down. The former is considered tougher and we noticed that by a lesser number of hikers on Avalanche. But the editor sets the pace and who am I to argue.

The true test of steepness of a hike is to calculate the feet per mile elevation gain or something similar. Last week at Mount Fox, we rose at 2,000 feet per mile, more than double the rate of a testing climb. Avalanche Peak rises at 2,400 feet per mile—this is, if we may add, a vertical type of ascent. It was a mere 2.5 kilometers each way, small distance, much time. Our track time excluding stops was five hours.

In South Africa, one can read or hear the phrase, ‘The Big Five’. Most will know it as a reference to the major animals that can be seen in the wilds. In New Zealand, there is also the big five. This is a fairly new term. It encompasses hikes to peaks in Tongariro, at Mount Taranaki (Egmont), St Arnaud Range, Mount Fox and Avalanche Peak. To be forthright, we actually coined the phrase and nobody else has ever heard it before…and frankly, we doubt anyone cares either. However, we do. The editor tested us as we took on a tough set of hikes and thus far, appear to have survived, although there might have been some additional wear and tear along the way.

In speaking with a ranger today, we mentioned that the paths on the Great Walks are in incredible condition, whereas those of the day hikes, as mentioned in the ‘big five’ tracks above, are tough, rough, at times heartbreaking, and testing. “That’s how it’s always going to be, Sonny Boy,” he answered. Perhaps I heard incorrectly. Not about the tracks but rather the term of address.

Although the track was quiet, there still were more people walking than we expected. It’s the first time we’ve come across Israelis on trail this trip—most unusual. Typical age: Always between 22 and 26 years old. Of course, it wouldn’t be New Zealand without Germans. We met Tim, an Englishman, at the backpackers the previous evening. At 12:30pm, we took a picture of him on the peak. We met many other nationals at ground level but not as many in the clouds. One young woman at the backpackers (French-Canadian), carrying a load of 55lbs, told us of her year traveling around the world. Another lad of 21, Finn, kept me from working late into the night as we discussed the merits of the gap year, growing old and hikes in the region while I fed him ginger snap biscuits (the kid was hungry and his Mom and Dad live in...Germany).

When we climbed into bed that night, taking the weight off the legs and feet, brought real pleasure. Heck, after days we’ve had recently, a simple act provides enormous satisfaction. That's indeed a blessing.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Some supplementary pictures of the scramble.

The last hurdle toward the platform, ridge and then summit. We had to drop-down into the ravine to climb again.

Seemingly innocuous ledge, sloped steeply downwards. Had some sobering thoughts while passing.

A climbing/scrambling editor soon after leaving the forest heads to one of a number of false peaks.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

30.17, 30.18 and 30.19 New Zealand: Abel Tasman, part 2. Three more days on track.

A river, a bay, a sea and a mountain backdrop.

Day 1, we find a sweet spot.

While jogging on one of the trails, it jogged our memories to a few months back when we were on the island of Crete, Greece. We were in the town of Hora Sfakion admiring the bay and a sunset thrown in for good measure when we noticed a memorial. The plaque mentioned the sacrifices made by British and New Zealand soldiers who had to retreat under heavy German fire during the early years of the Second World war. As an aside, it's so difficult and tragic to reconcile the beauty of the world, the goodwill of so many people whom we meet with the horrors of beastly behavior by some of our fellow inhabitants. "Cry the Beloved World!".

Gorgeous, we think.

The estuary at a higher tide as we wait to cross.

Mid-morning, waiting to cross the estuary. The woman in purple and blue works for the US Federal Parks Department in Lassen, California, a favorite of ours. Bob, the Scot, has his back to the camera and the two youngsters (left) are New Zealanders, the young woman emigrated from South Africa at the age of one. We met Sarah and Scott from Minnesota who took a water taxi from nearby this hut to end their tramp.

Taking the plunge, member 1.

Taking the plunge, member 2.

Kayaking in the national park is a serious business...even more serious on the sea.

Getting behind the curve.

A jog on the last day to return from Separation Point

Deep in the green bush but taking in the blue sea.

Searching for seals. The ducks to the left are decoys.

While I search for seals, the editor searches for me.

Two lazy seals begin the day energized.

A peek into paradise.

Farewell to Abel Tasman.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Big surprise. Our son, Robbie meets us on the trail.

Actually, his name is Daniel from Argentina. As we saw him we were taken aback. It was quite a moment. What do you
think, Rob?