Archive for the ‘DPF’ Category

Milford Track Day 0

March 20th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Got into Queenstown Friday afternoon for the pre-trek briefing at the Ultimate Hikes office.

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Had time for a quick drink at the waterfront before the briefing.

The last two tramps were unguided, but for this one we went for the guided option, primarily because it actually gets you into lodges with proper bedrooms rather than bunk beds. I’ll blog more on this at the end, but was an excellent decision! The hot showers alone were worth it!

The briefing took just under an hour and the main thing is making sure you turn up on time for the bus the next morning. They also have day packs available for use, for those who don’t have their own.

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After the briefing we headed up the gondola for a drink and to enjoy the view. Lots of people coming up to mountain bike. Made a mental note to make sure I do that next time I’m in Queenstown with half a day to spare. Looks lots of fun.

We then headed to dinner at Eichardt’s Bar, which had superb tapas. Highly recommended.

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They also do a nice collection of wines to accompany the food.

So a nice half day in Queenstown before the departure the next day for No 3 of the nine Great Walks.

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DPF away

March 14th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Light blogging until probably Thursday as I am on the Milford Track from Saturday to Wednesday. Never done it before so looking forward to it, despite that pesky cyclone turning up at the same time! The third of the nine great walks.

Jadis may do the odd guest post, and I may get  few posts done on Saturday before we head out – but basically offline from Sat am to Wed am.

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Barefaced stories in NZ

March 3rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Went to my final fringe show on Saturday night, which was Barefaced Stories in New Zealand, at Bats.

It’s a simple but effective concept. Two Perth entertainers compere a session of story telling, with five locals getting up and telling a true story.

The first story was my favourite – the girl who went to a Flavour Flav show and then got invited back stage, and then out to a drink at a bar and finally up to his hotel room.

Also amusing was the guy who was so hung up on his ex girlfriend, he was unsure whether to go back to a tent with two girls who invited him in.

Another story was more sad, about suicide.

To a degree the highlights were actually the two Perth entertainers. They read out extracts from the diaries they both wrote as 14 year old teenage girls. The passages were often hilarious.

The show lasted around 80 minutes. Was on for one night only. Would go to a similar show again.

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Power Plant

February 27th, 2014 at 10:00 pm by David Farrar

Just been on a media preview of Power Plant, which opens tomorrow at the Botanical Gardens. It’s superb, and a must see. You start at the Cable Car and follow a 50 to 60 minute loop path through the gardens. Not only is there a great array of different lighting on the plants, the sound effects merge in wonderfully also.

Below are a few photos to give you an idea of the different sights. I understand it is already fully booked up this weekend, but it carries on until the 16th of March.

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Well done to Contact Energy and the production team for a great spectacle.

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Bus Ticket

February 27th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Never thought I would have such a good time spending an hour on a bus, but I did last night during Bus Ticket, at the Fringe Festival.

The show starts at the bus stop on Cambridge Terrace where you get an amusing briefing (by coincidence by one of my former staff) and then the bus pulls up. You take you seats and wonder where things will head.

After a few minutes you notice a couple of passengers behaving strangely. You have no idea who are cast, and who are fellow passengers. The girl in front of us basically changes into her more glam clothes on the bus, does her makeup using the bus mirror and even brushes her teeth. this is because her boyfriend gets on the bus at a later stop.

Another girl is rather ADD and blurts out random facts and asks people both on the bus and outside if they will be her friend and go clubbing with her. The people outside the bus not knowing this is a production look very surprised at having someone yell out inviting them to go clubbing.

One poor guy just misses the bus and runs after it in his suit. He is really fast and a sprinter – almost catching it but not quite. He reappears to comical effect all over Wellington. The bus even breaks down for a while and you decamp into a park which sees some more drama. Some of the audience get pulled into the production – but not in a major way.

Overall the show is a pretty hilarious 60 minute voyeur session. The bus moves all around the city and suburbs and various cast get on and off and all add to the drama. If you travel on a bus, some of the scenes will be very familiar – the loud businessman on his phone. The fighting couple. The nervous traveller. The overly talkative girl.

The show was lots of fun, and a very neat concept that would have required a lot of logistical planning.  The show is sold out (no surprise) but if they ever do another one, I’d recommend going along for the most fun you’ll ever have on a Wellington City bus!

 

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2014 AMI Round the Bays

February 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

For the third year in a row, I took part in the AMI Round the Bays. It was excellent weather for it, and great to see so many people out there running or walking.

In 2012 I walked the 7 km race and in 2013 I ran the 7 km race. This year I did the half marathon. It was the first time I had done a race where I had a particular time in mind as a firm goal (up until now, it was more just surviving to the finish line). I was aiming to get under 1 hr 50 minutes and my unofficial time (from the running app) was 1 hr 49 minutes and 40 seconds so was happy with that – around seven minutes quicker than one I did towards end of last year.

The interesting thing is the GPS app said that I ran for a total of 22 kms, not 21.1 kms, at a pace of 4 minutes 58 seconds per km (just over 12 kms/hr). Now normally GPS apps are out by a bit, but not that much. And lots of other people said they got around 22 kms also. Anyway I spoke to someone who was officially involved, and he told me that there was a stuff up and the course was too long. It seems the official distance measurer travels on a cycle behind the leading runners to follow their path, and he had it 600 to 700 metres over the normal length for a half marathon. So if it was over length, then my app says I did the first 21.1 kms in 1 hour 43 minutes 31 seconds. Either way, I’m happy!

In case any of the organisers are reading this, some helpful ideas for next year, which make make a great event even better for participants.

  1. Consider having different starting times for the HM and 10 km runners. It really is congested at the beginning.
  2. Having pace setters is a great idea, but would be good to have them easier to find. I suggest you have them off to one side where they are clearly visible, and in a logical order where say the 1 hr 25 pace setter is at the front and the 2 hr 15 pace setter at the back. I didn’t find my pace setter until he over took me at around the 15 km mark!
  3. The free buses into town are excellent (as are the free entry onto any Go Wellington bus) but a few more of them would be good, as the queue did get very long,
  4. Make sure you get the distance right!

But overall such a great event. It isn’t just the run. It is the mini-town at Kilbirnie Park afterwards with so many businesses and organisations there. The free tip top ice blocks were great. A huge number of Xero staff took part – I reckon must be close to 100, which is a decent proportion of their work force.

Next race is in six weeks in Wanaka – the Southern Lakes Half. Is along the Cardrona Valley Road to Lake Wanaka, so should be a beautiful setting for it.

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Pasefika

February 22nd, 2014 at 11:14 pm by David Farrar

I wasn’t sure I would ever get to watch Pasefika tonight as there were no car parks within half a km of Circa Theatre. I finally gave up circling around and parked in the New World car park (sorry NW!). I got to the theatre with around 30 seconds to spare.

In my mind I was thinking that I could head home at half time, as I didn’t want to leave my car for two hours in a 90 minute zone and risk a ticket or being towed.

Within around quarter of an hour I was quite engrossed into the play, and any thought of not seeing the second half died a hasty death. Once we did get to the interval, I ran back to the NW car park and moved the car into a paid park by Te Papa that had come free.

The play was based in Paris in the 1860s and Akaroa in the 1840s, with the common them being the French artist Charles Méryon, who was played brilliantly by Jason Whyte. You first see Méryon in Paris as a determined and somewhat demented pursuer of Louise Niveau, a waitress in a Parisian cafe. She reminds him of someone from his past – Ruiha, the daughter of Te Rangi, the head of a hapu in Akoroa.

The play moves backwards and forwards from Paris to Akaroa, with seamless transitions. Meryon in real life did live in Akaroa for two years and this had an impact on his art.

Aroha White played standoffish Ruiha and enthusiastic Niveau very well. Simple costume changes transformed her.

Emma Kinane also had a dual role as Madame Bourgeois in Akaroa and Jeanne Dival in Paris. Madame Bourgeois was a Frenchwoman who had done the unthinkable, and married a native. Both Méryon and Ruiha were disapproving for opposite but equal reasons – the races shouldn’t mix.

Finally you had George Henare as Te Rangi and also as the poet Baudelaire. Henare managed both gravity and a genius for comical timing. The play sounds very serious and intense, but in fact there are lots of laughs, and some wonderfully direct language.

The play was effectively a play of five love stories – Te Rangi and Madame Bourgeois, Méryon ad Ruiha, Méryon and Niveau, Baudelaire and Jeanne Duval and also Baudelaire and Niveau. They are told in a way which captures both New Zealand and French culture.

It was a great show. The acting was first class and captivating.

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Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular

February 22nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular debuted at the TSB Arena last night. I can’t think of a better word for it than spectacular, as it was. I had high expectations of a great night out, and they were exceeded. It was great on every level. For Dr who fans, it was a fantastic experience, and the arena was packed full of fans from kids to grandparents who have been watching it for 50 years. A fair few were even in costume.

The musical side was superb, with the NZSO led by Dr Who specialist conductor Ben Foster. Wellington’s Orpehus Choir provided backups and there were some stunning solos by Anna (?Pierard). The music alone was reason to go. But there was so much more.

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Each piece was accompanied with clips from the show. Some of them were episodes I had seen, and some were new to me. But for all of them, the music and visuals told a great story which made speech unnecessary. Most were of the 11th doctor, Matt Smith, but a couple were compilations of all 13 doctors, including a regeneration series.

Talking of Doctors, the show was narrated by a youthful looking Peter Davison (No 5) and a couple of video clips from a less youthful Tom Baker (No 4). Conductor Ben Foster also took to the microphone a bit, with a very funny scene in which the Dalek proclaimed he must be exterminated for over-acting.

Yes there were Daleks. They were on stage, and in the aisles along with Cybermen, the Silence,Silurians, Ood, Weeping Angels and a Jodoon.

The show has been going around the world for the last year or so, but it has been updated. This version included songs based on the the most recent specials such as the Day of the Doctor.

It was a great show. Everything worked. A very fitting homage to the 50th anniversary of an iconic show.

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The Bloody Benders

February 20th, 2014 at 10:07 pm by David Farrar

Just got back from seeing the Bloody Benders at the Fringe Festival. A really great show, that has mass appeal. Some fringe shows are an acquired taste, but this one will appeal to almost everyone.

The blurb is:

What’s a love-struck teenage serial killer to do, when your next victim seems to be the love of your life? And on top of that, your mother talks too much, your dad doesn’t talk enough and your brother hangs on every word you say. Some things are just a little too close for comfort and Kate Bender Jr. soon finds out that growing up in a household where murder is the family business is deadlier than any weapon she’s ever wielded. Inspired by a true story, The Bloody Benders, an exciting new horror-comedy presented by the Killer Darlings Collective promises to deliver pure escapist theatre with a side serving of emotional heft. 

The play is based on a real family of serial killers.

The two Kates are the stars of the show. Kate Jr (played by Kate Hounsell) does the menancing crazed look so well, while Kate Sr (played by Hannah Kelly) is superb as the slightly out of it mother.  The mother – daughter fights are superbly done, with pouting, face pulling and sighs.

David Williams has a brief role in the beginning as Hank McCoy and Jonathan Harris plays the father, John Bender. A major role was also played by Ben Emerson whose relationship with Kate Jr was teasingly played out. Emerson was excellent in portraying a nervous suitor.

There are a couple of yucky and shocking twists, but they just add to the fun.  Most of the audience were laughing throughout the play, and it got a great reception at the end.

As I said some fringe shows are, well a bit fringe. This show has real mainstream appeal and if you want to see it, its final night is tomorrow (Friday) night.

My only complaint was that the venue (Museum of City and Sea) wasn’t set up ideally with no elevated stage for the actors, which meant it was a bit hard to see some of the action from the back.

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De Sade

February 20th, 2014 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

Went to see De Sade at the Fringe Festival last night, along with Striker. Jadis was in town also so we grabbed a third ticket. The blurb for the show is:

de Sade, a tour through the depths of the darkest mind that ever existed, premieres as part of the 2014 New Zealand Fringe Festival and will be performed from 19-22 February at the Cavern Club Allen Street. Alexander Sparrow – writer and comedian – will become the Marquis de Sade for four nights only. For everything you need to know about fetishism, sadism, and everything in between, de Sade will give you your fill on the writer of 120 Days of Sodom and Juliette.

Sparrow says, “The Marquis spent most of his life in prison, but imagine if he hadn’t. Imagine a school of sadism and rioting. This show will divide the masses – he wanted a republic, he wanted complete sexual freedom, he wanted a world that was impossible to build for the destruction it would cause.”

A comedian and writer on the Wellington circuit, Sparrow’s show is going to be a insane mix of sadistic acts, fetishism, history, and wit. “de Sade wasn’t just disgusting – he could be hilarious and cheeky too. There’s more to him than his books.” 

This is an hour of chaotic ecstasy from the king of sadism himself. It’s time to tear apart society and screw in the streets. It’s time to rid ourselves of the monarchy. “It’s time, dear reader, to have a little fun.” 

You descend into the Cavern Club and the first thing you note is the naked man lying on the table at the front of the room. We sensibly decide not to sit in the front row and enjoy the couch at the back.

Sadly for the women in the audience the nudity is temporary, which is possibly not a bad thing as Sparrow’s mother and sister were in the audience. We learn this as the Marquis talks about how he would like to have sex with everyone in the audience (and then breaking the wall mentions he didn’t realise his mother and sister would be here).

Sparrow does a fun charismatic portrayal of the Marquis. He rants against his mother-in-law who got him committed, and talks about the awfulness of a man so devoted to sexual pursuits being locked in prison by himself for most of his life.

In case it is not obvious from the show blurb, this is not a show for prudes or shrinking violets. We see his masturbation calendar where he indicates he has had to masturbate 400 times in the last six months. He the admits that when you break it down to a daily basis, it isn’t that impressive!

The audience get pulled into the show in various ways. At one point he is talking about his novel Justine. Jadis helpfully offered that the book is too long (1000 pages) and his eyes light up at having found an audience member who has (presumably) read the book. This leads to him asking Jadis to go up on stage and beat him with a crop. The unfortunate thing for the Marquis is that Jadis is a former provincial cricketer and can swing a bat quite well. After a couple of painful blows, he substitutes her for his mother!

During one part of the show he exhorts the audience to look at the person next to you, find some features that are attractive, and tell them what they are and how much you would like to have sex with them. This pushed Striker and I into fits of laughter, as she works for me, and I’m pretty sure a conversation along the lines of that proposed by the Marquis would breach a number of employment laws! He later asked if Jadis and I were married, and I explained that the three of us worked together and this was a work outing. He said he was very keen to come work at Curia also!

So the show was lots of fun, and the audience participation hilarious. Despite what you may think, it was a bit tame. I think Sparrow could have pushed the boundaries more. The first segment was a bit slow to warm up also. But Sparrow did well to keep the audience engaged and laughing, and slightly nervous. It was a fun classic Fringe show.

The show ends with him answering the question whether he has regrets and whether given the chance he would do it differently. I’ll leave it to you to find out the answer, if you go to the show. It’s on for three more nights.

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The 7 person chair pyramid high wire act

February 14th, 2014 at 3:36 pm by David Farrar

I went along to The 7 person chair pyramid high wire act at Puppies Bar on Tory Street on Wednesday Night. The blurb is:

In the wilds of Siberia, Charles Darwin goes off in search of the Yeti. The Yeti (if she exists) enters a radio station’s dance contest, hoping to win an all-expenses-paid vacation to a place that doesn’t exist yet. Darwin’s research companion—a little brown bat—falls in love with the radio station’s electromagnetic emissions—but how could that ever end happily? Meanwhile, Siberia’s caves are home to a secretive tribe of ropemakers—but their disintegrating family structure may cause their ancient craft to be lost forever. Through the lens of the real life allegory of the Flying Wallendas’ famous high-wire act, two performers on a tiny stage unfold Darwin’s laboratory, unfurl anatomic diagrams of the yeti, and try to tease out the difference between miracles and non-miracles.

The fringe festival show was at Puppies Bar, which is a very small and intimate bar on the corner of Tory and Vivian Street. Quite nice to be able to watch it from comfortable couches.

The show is performed from a sort of Punch and Judy style box. Both the actor and actress are clad in wonderfully garish lycra, which makes her claim to be the electromagnetic spectrum quite plausible.

The show was amusing and ridiculous in equal parts. I enjoyed it, but the overall message it was trying to send was somewhat laboured and it never really got me engaged.  It was a bit too abstract for me, but will appeal to those who are into more symbolic productions. The acting was good, and both leads had a quirky charisma about them. I enjoyed the ending about the The Flying Wallendas, but overall wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

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Tongariro Northern Circuit Day 4

February 13th, 2014 at 5:02 pm by David Farrar

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Sunday was the final day. The day started off cloudy with a few showers but the jackets didn’t stay on for long.

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A lot of walking through scrub for the first few kms. As my leg was somewhat grazed, this resulted in a small amount of pain as you get through the scrub.

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The path varies from a well formed track to open plains.

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Then the sun came out and we got a rainbow which followed us along for a couple of hours.

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With the sun out, lots of nice walking over the plains.

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Ruapehu looming in the background.

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Then a quick detour to the lower Tama lake. A lot of people do a day walk in, just to see the lake.

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Slightly more hilly towards the end, but nothing difficult.

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Another quick detour to see the Taranaki Falls. At this stage less than an hour to go.

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A view from the top of the falls.

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A rabbit that was crossed our path.

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The final km or so was a nice bush walk.

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And around 15 kms later, we’re out. We had quite a good pace for the final day, and took only around three and a half hours. Lunch at the Chateau Tongariro Cafe followed, and then a long drive home. As we got stuck in traffic for around 90 minutes at Otaki and Waikanae, I cursed all those opposing the Northern Corridor expansion.

A very enjoyable four day tramp. Very different to the Heaphy. Only around half as long, but much more rugged and hilly. The volcanic plateaus are quite spectacular, and it is was a great way to spend the long Waitangi weekend.

The plan is to pop back next summer and try to do some or all of the other peaks.

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A play about fear

February 12th, 2014 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

A play about fear is showing at Circa Theatre as part of the Fringe Festival.

It’s a quirky and hilarious 65 minute production about, well, fear.

I wasn’t sure if it would be very good at first. The first few minutes are a segment called Freak Accidents with the cast acting out different situations involving fear from sharks to serial killers. But around a third of the way through the play a discrete plot line emerges around the Cult of William. I won’t give too much away, but the plot is very funny, and there’s some superb acting.

The set is basically an inflatable paddling pool and five lightbulbs, but they use them to ingenious effect. There’s one particular scene with the paddling pool which is especially hilarious (hint it is deflated).

The actress who plays the pseudo-lead, Charlotte, does an excellent job with her character.

As I said, I wasn’t sure how good the show would be around 15 minutes into it. It was funny, but wasn’t quite sure where it was going. But as the plot unfolds, the humour intensifies and the overall experience is excellent. A great fringe show.

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Tongariro Northern Circuit Day 3

February 12th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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Day 3 started off very wet, and the forecast was for it to get even wetter as they day went on. So we decided to again make an early start and were off before 8 am.

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A lot of the third day is dipping into valleys and out of them, in fairly barren landscapes. Some of them looked like Mars!

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Eventually we hit some shrubs.

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And then after a couple of hours, we hit actual bush with canopy cover. Yay. And even better the forecast proved crap, and the sun came out.

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You descend quickly down to a stream, and cross it by bridge.

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Then there is a fairly demanding climb up on the other side.

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Then one crosses over the top and head down through more bush towards the new Waihohonu Hut.

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We got to the hut in around two and a half hours, and were the first people there. That meant we got the individual bunk beds rather than the shared ones :-)

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We then decided to go explore a couple of local attractions. By chance the DOC Warden (Rachel) had just started the day before so she was also keen to check them out, so we went exploring together. This is the foot of the nearby Waihohonu Spring emerging from underground.

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The spring opens up into a large body of water. It is a 1.2 km walk from the hut only and a cold but lovely place for a swim.

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Enjoying the spring was this very rare Blue Duck. We were told to report the sighting to the DOC office at Whakapapa as they like to monitor where they are seen, and try to protect them from predators.

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After the spring we went to see the original Waihohonu Hut built in 1904. Around 800 metres away.

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The inside of the old hut. They had separate rooms for men and women!

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Then back to the hut. This is one of the new huts, or really a lodge. Infinitely nicer than the old huts.

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As you can see, lots of room inside.

We had a very relaxing afternoon and evening just relaxing at the hut, playing cards and attempting to sleep. More on that in Day 4!

Also met during Day 3 a young couple from Palmie and Hawke’s Bay who were running the entire Northern Circuit in one day. Further they plan to run all eight of the Great Walks, in eight days (one per day but not consecutive). That’s an impressive level of fitness. They were having a brief meal break at the hut before carrying on.

Not that difficult to run 50 kms or so in a day. Is more difficult to do it on rough terrain and much more difficult to do it when there are steep 1000 metres ascents as part of the run,.

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Tongariro Northern Circuit Day 2

February 11th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

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We left Mangatepopo Hut at 7.30 am as we wanted to have time to try climbing to the Ngauruhoe summit in the background. At this stage the weather looked great.

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The walk along to the Soda Springs is easy and crowded as the one day Tongariro Crossing hikers are out in force.

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The climb up Devil’s Staircase is tiring. You can see this group making their way up.

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There’s lots of stairs! But according to those who have done it before, it is easier than the old route.

We then had to make the call as to whether to try the climb up to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe. They say you shouldn’t climb it if it is windy, foggy or if there is volcanic activity. Well one out of three isn’t bad, right! No volcanic activity, but it was pretty windy and sadly a fog has descended onto the top half of the mountain. We convinced ourselves that it might clear up top, and decided to give it a go.

There is no marked trail up. You basically just head up. The main advice is avoid the scree going up as for every three steps up you go two and a half steps back. But it is hard to avoid it entirely.

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Taking a break around halfway up. The slope varies between around 30 and 45 degrees. At times you literally climb up with hands and feet. The climb is not exhausting as the pace is relatively slow (around two hours to get up) but it is hard work – especially straight after the Devils Staircase.

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An example of the volcanic rock all over the place.

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Finally we got to the top. This is right on the edge of the crater.

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Sadly the view was around 5 metres in any direction. The final stages of the ascent were pretty challenging. It was cold, windy and wet and you couldn’t see where to go. We just figured if you keep pointing up, you’ll get there! Was very cool to make the summit and already planning to try it again in better weather.

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On both the way up and down there were quite a few rocks that bounce down towards you as they get dislocated by other climbers. Some of them are very large and fast moving and would break more than a few bones if they hit you. I’m amazed they don’t have more serious accidents on the slope. But people are very good at yelling out if rocks are falling, and you just dodge them if heading your way.

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We had a stroke of luck on the way down, as this guy from Taranaki is a mountain guide and had a GPS device which guided him (and us) on the best route down. We probably descended twice as quick as we otherwise would have thanks to him. He also taught us how to scree run, which is best described as a semi-controlled landslide. You basically just push back on your heels, toes up and start moving your feet. Within seconds you’re sliding down a moving column of scree at a pretty fast pace. You turn sideways to stop – just like skiing. I loved it, despite one fall which grazed my leg.

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At the bottom we grabbed our packs, and started again through the red crater and had lunch near the top of the pass. Our overall vertical ascent this day was around 1200 metres or so. The pass was also very windy and foggy and we were glad to get over the top and then descend to the Emerald Lakes.

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A mountain daisy on the path.

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Then it was around a 5 km trek to Otuere Hut. Otuere is a pretty small cramped hut and was full up. Most of the bunks are in the main cabin so not a lot of sleep that night.

The hut warden was an American girl called Kat. DOC has quite a cool scheme where you can work as a volunteer warden for eight weeks, so no work permit is needed. They get free accommodation and food, and of course get to enjoy the scenery. Kat’s hut briefing was hilarious with her safety briefing being that if the hut catches fire you should go outside and watch it burn down. She also had a trivia quiz on the area and handed out prizes, being stuff the previous days occupants had left behind such as a toy soldier.

This was the longest and hardest day. Around eight hours of tramping, with half of that being up pretty steep slopes. Much more rugged than the Heaphy Track. We were glad tomorrow was a relatively short day.

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Tongariro Northern Circuit Day 1

February 10th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Headed up on Waitangi Day to the Whakapapa Village to do the second of the nine Great Walks – the Tongariro Northern Circuit. Got up there around midday and after a quick lunch at Schnapps Bar at National Park, we started the trail around 1 pm.

We got off to a good start by starting on the right trail. A few other trampers started off on the track you end on, and ended up doing an extra hour or so.

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The track starts off well formed, and you can see Ngauruhoe in the distance.

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There’s a small amount of bush to go through, but mainly in the open.

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Lots of streams to cross, but being summer quite a few of them were dry.

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Most of the terrain on the first day is like this.

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The signs indicate the 9 km track on the first day takes three hours in good weather and five hours in bad weather. We thought this must be a mistake, but a lot of the track is eroded and in heavy rain would be a nightmare to plod through.

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Kerry and David descending to one of the reasonably dry streams. You would drop down into and rise up from over a dozen of them. Nothing at all hard, but does slow you down a bit

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Most of the way it was good weather on the Thursday.

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You see Mangatepopo Hut from around a km away. Really well located, and some nice sun to be enjoyed from the balcony.

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Mt Ngauruhoe as seen from the hut.

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Inside the hut. It’s pretty basic but decent. Sleeps 20 in two bunkrooms and a couple of cookers and tables in the main area. It’s around 15 minutes from the car park where many people start the Tongariro Crossing.

The first day is pretty easy, and a good warm up. Day two was a lot harder!

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Blog Break

February 6th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Around now I should be starting the four day, three night, Tongariro Northern Circuit. If things go well, will get out on Sunday afternoon.

I’ve pre-set a couple of posts per day. But generally expect blogging to be be light until Monday. Jadis is at the Sevens, so probably no guest posts from her either sorry!

Enjoy the long weekend – I will be!

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Glad I’m in Hamilton

January 3rd, 2014 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Have been up in Hamilton since the 31st. As Wellington is battered with storms, fairly good timing.

Has been great weather up here.

Becoming quite a fan of Hamilton. The trails by the Waikato River are great for cycling, running and walking (have done all three). Also the Hamilton Gardens are exceptional, and much better than others in NZ. Plus did a cycle trail along the Karapiro River which was great scenery.

Sadly back to Wellington tomorrow (if airport is open).

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Waikato River Trail

January 1st, 2014 at 7:14 pm by David Farrar

Waikato River Trail


EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Had a lovely day doing around 26 kms of Waikato River Trails. My longest distance on a bike since school. Lots of fun. Want to work myself up to be able to do 75 kms or so in a go.

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The New York Marathon experience

December 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Now that I can walk normally again, I figured it would be worthwhile blogging in more detail about the experience of the New York Marathon.

I only decided to enter it in June, and it is fair to say that even a year ago the thought of running a marathon was ridiculous. I could run for a few hundred metres, maybe a km or two but not much more.

My goal last year was to be able to run the 7 km Wellington Round the Bays in February 2013. I used a running app to do treadmill runs to extend my capacity to run from two minutes to three minutes, to five minutes to 10 minutes and so on.

Over summer I was in Lake Brunner for a while, and managed to get some running in there. But was still sporadic – run for a bit, walk for a bit etc.

Come February was my first run since secondary school, and to my surprise I not only managed the 7 kms, but did it in under 40 minutes. I then set a goal of 10 kms and entered a race in June for that distance.

I then set a goal of doing a half-marathon in February 2014 – at the Round the Bays again. I got the 10 km to 21 km running app and started following that.

After I entered the Armstrong 10 km race for June, I got on their newsletter list and there was a mention of the New York marathon in 2014. At the back of my mind I had thought it would be incredible to be able to run a marathon one day (considering for 20 years I couldn’t run a few hundred metres) and New York was meant to be an incredible experience. The major problem was the date – November 2014. It is highly likely that is when the election will be, and my work responsibilities would make it near impossible to do. So the backup was to maybe look at doing it in November 2015, but I doubted one could keep up the motivation for almost three years.

So I inquired of the travel company about the 2014 marathon, and they said that actually they are not processing applications for that yet – but they did have a spot available for the 2013 marathon. That would solve the timing issues of 2014 and 2015, but could I go from 7 kms to 42 kms in five months?

I delayed the decision until after the 10 km race, but having managed it in around 52 minutes, I decided to give it a go and enrolled. In theory four and a bit months should be enough time. I was incredibly nervous about whether I could manage it. It didn’t help that I had previously planned a four week road trip through the US, which meant I didn’t get to run as much as I should.

Over the next four months I managed two half marathons but with a week to go had never run more than a half. And the two halfs I had done, had left me exhausted at the finish. The thought of doing effectively two half marathons in a row was daunting.

Headed to Wairarapa seven days before, and managed to do a 30 km run from Martinborough to Lake Ferry. That gave me a bit of a mental boost, that I managed three quarters. However again I was exhausted at the end of it. Also you’re meant to taper off the week before a marathon, not do your first greater than half marathon distance. So I was semi-confident I could complete 42 kms, but far from sure I could do it without walking some of it -which was my goal. Didn’t care about the time, just that I could actually run the whole thing.

On Wed 30th flew out to New York, via San Francisco. Landed around 11 pm and we got to our Times Square hotel just after midnight, where the good folk from Travel Managers met us. I checked into my room and then headed out around 1 am wanting to get some food. The only thing open was McDonalds so I had my fist quarter pounder in over a year, figuring I’d burn the calories off in a few days :-)

The next morning around 100 of us Kiwis gathered and marched down to the registration hall. A huge almost military like operation as you register and get your marathon bag. We heard stories of how people had registered last year and then had the marathon cancelled at the last moment due to Hurricane Sandy.

After registration is the expo, where you can buy every sort of running gear possible. I got a hat, top, jacket etc with the official race logos on them. However didn’t wear any of them on the day, as best to run with gear you are used to. Also got the all important anti-chafe gel!

Spent the rest of Thursday just hanging around Times Square, and visiting the huge Midtown Comics store in Times Square.

As I had little sleep the night before, I crashed early and woke up around midday Friday. Friday was my sort of freak out day as I started to panic that I didn’t have some old warm clothes to throw away at the start line. I also read every website there was on tips for the marathon, and drew up a checklist of what I needed to do before the race, and when I should take water and energy gels at which mile stops.  I got a great massage at a fairly cheap Chinese place near Times Square and just tried not to keep focusing on the fact I had no idea if I could actually manage 26 miles or not.

That night I didn’t sleep one second. A mixture of jet lag and anxiety meant I spent the night staring at the bedroom ceiling trying to will myself to sleep. I finally gave up at around 6 am. Not ideal preparation.

Saturday I headed uptown to meet an old university friend, Kirsty, and her family. Just what I needed to relax and unwind. Kirsty was one of less than five people who knew I was planning to do the marathon. I didn’t want any pressure of expectations, so had told almost no one in NZ I was planning to do it. My family didn’t even know I was overseas, nor did most of my friends. The few people who I had to tell I was in the US were given a cover story of visiting some political contacts in DC.

The only person who did find out in advance was, by pure coincidence, the Prime Minister. I ran into him at the Koru Club and he asked me where I was heading to. I considered telling my normal cover story, but figured it was a bad idea to lie to the Prime Minister (plus he could check with the GCSB!) to his face so confessed to him that I was hoping to run the NYC Marathon that weekend. I swore him to secrecy, but did get some nice encouraging texts from him. Part of me was regretting not having told anyone, as it was a bit lonely in NYC, but the last thing I wanted was more pressure.

Kirsty solved my last problem for me, of getting some cheap warm clothes I could throw away at the race start and gave me direction to Uniqlo. That was perfect and I got a cheap hat, gloves, top and track pants. After that headed to Central Park for the pre-race dinner where I loaded up with carbs and then back to the hotel for an early sleep.

Oh should also mention that I had got fanatical about not being dehydrated or too hydrated so I was going to the toilet every few hours to check the colour of mu urine and then drinking water until it was just the right shade between apple juice (dehydrated) and clear (too hydrated).

One benefit of no sleep the night before is I slept easily on the Saturday night and woke up just before my multiple alarms of iphone, alarm clock and hotel phone call at 4.45 am. Changed into my gear I’d laid out and we left the lobby at 5.30 am to catch the 6 am bus to Staten Island. The driver somehow managed to get lost driving there and circuled one block three times but eventually managed to get into the right lane for the tunnel. And around 6.45 am we made Staten Island.

Fort Wadsworth is divided up into three colour camps which match the route you take for the first few miles. I was orange, which was nice as we got to run on the top part of the bridge. Around 17,000 people in each camp mull about eating breakfast, queuing for portaloos and trying to stay warm. It was around six degrees so you needed those old clothes to stay warm. I had a book to read as I was in the final band to leave (based on my estimated time of 4 hours 45 mins) so had a wait of several hours there.

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Me before the race. It was cold! You can get your gear delivered to the finish line, but you have to give it to UPS at least an hour before the start, and you need to stay warm the last hour so what everyone does is dump their warm clothes a few minutes before the start. The result is it looks like a refugee camp with 40,000 hats, tops, pants etc scattered everywhere. It all goes to charity though which is good.

Finally time to go to your corral and then the start line. This is the first time I have run without headphones and am nervous about both having no music but also not having the running app tell me every half km my distance, time and pace. But headphones are discouraged in the longer races and people had said you want to soak up the atmosphere. But it’s like being without your normal security blanket.

Also slightly freaking out that I miscalculated how many energy chomps I would need (I prefer them to the gels) and had to make a last minute decision to take one every three miles only. Was hoping it would be enough.

Anyway finally the gun goes, and we’re off.

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You start with a two mile run over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The view to the left of Manhattan is spectacular. You are at maximum energy which is quite good as the bridge is the steepest vertical climb of the marathon. But all the training guides warn you not to run it too fast as you’ll tire yourself out. I do the first two miles in around 18 minutes and hit Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn crowd is great. They cheer and yell. They shout out support and your name or number. Hundreds of placards urging you on, and bands every quarter mile or so belting out songs. Best of all are the five year old kids holding out their hands for you to high five them as you go past. The energy you get from the crowd is contagious and you end up actually running too fast.

Brooklyn is pretty flat and straight for six miles or so, and then carries on near the East River until you hit the half way point just as you come to the Pulaksi Bridge that takes you into Queens. You run for two miles through Queens, and I adored the Queen sense of humour where they had signs such as “If a marathon was easy, it would be your mother”. Again the crowds are great.

The Queensboro Bridge from Queens into Manhattan is over a km long, and is a long gradual climb. I’m at my most tired at this point and a lot of people walk the bridge. But the thought of making Manhattan keeps me going and finally come off the bridge and turn the corner onto 1st Avenue. The crowds are massive here and several people deep. Again you get a boost from them, plus from the bands. However 1st avenue is arguably the hardest part of the race. Partly because it actually is a gradual uphill run (you would never realise this when cars are on the road, but do when you can see miles up the road) but the hardest part is you can’t see the end. It is dead straight from around 49th Street to 130th Street and seems never ending.

It is going up 1st Avenue that for the first time running my body really starts to ache. In the half marathons I had done, I was exhausted at the finish line, but my body was not too bad (probably because had not been running for long). But at around the 17 mile mark my knees, hips, ankles are all starting to really ache. However as my pace had slowed down, I wasn’t feeling exhausted. What this meant is that I didn’t really feel like stopping or walking. If you are exhausted and your heart rate is too high, then your body wants you to stop or walk. But if your legs are in pain, then the worst thing you can do is stop as that will just cause them to stiffen up and be worse.

So my pace was pretty slow by this point (my pace was around 28 minutes per 5 kms at first but at this stage was around 34 minutes per 5 kms. Then finally you hit bridge no 4, the Willis Avenue Bridge and go through the Bronx for around a mile and a half before crossing the final Madison Avenue Bridge back into Harlem and down 5th Avenue.

At this stage you’re at 21 miles and sort of think almost there, but then you realise five miles to go is still a long way and again it is the crowds and bands that keep you going. Hard to undersell what a difference the crowds make. Also have started to form some bonds with a few other runners who seem to be much the same pace as me and we chat a bit.

At mile 24 you have just crossed into Central Park. This is familiar territory for me and I start to speed up a bit. At mile 25 I can see the office towers at the end of Central Park not too far away. You exit onto 50th Street and head towards Columbus Circle where you enter Central Park again. Finally you see Mile 26 but still not quite there. The signs now count down every 100 metres and that helps as you then see the finish line in sight. Far too sore to speed up at this stage, but manage to keep running and with a satisfied smile on my face I cross the finish line, having managed to run the entire thing.

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I get a fellow competitor to grab a photo of me (to avoid the outrageous charges for the official photos) and then limp off to get my bag. I estimate I made it in just under four and a half hours and sure enough got four hours 29 minutes and 54 seconds.  The average time was four hours 29 minutes so I’m pretty thrilled to have done that for my first ever marathon – especially as a year ago I couldn’t even run a km.

Unlike some races where you can collapse onto the grass afterwards and recover, here you have to keep walking. It is agony. You walk around a mile to pick up your bag and another mile out of Central Park and to the subway. Everyone is shuffling along slowly.  Probably took 45 minutes to cover two miles! On the subway scores of people are chatting to you about the race, and congratulating you. After a few minutes I get off at Times Square and slowly make the three blocks to the hotel. Then my God does that shower feel good, as does just lying on the bed.

Then it’s time to let the secret out, and I text and phone a few loved ones, before sharing on social media.  As almost no one even knew I wasn’t in New Zealand, quite a few surprised people.

I then hook up with a few other kiwis including David and Heather Carter and have a great night out celebrating. David was running to raise money for the Catwalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust. I still can hardly walk, and going up or down stairs is incredibly painful.

Around midnight I crash and the next day its the first of three fights back to Wellington.

Had a month off running after the race and I needed it. God knows how some people run a marathon every week. Not sure if I’ll ever do one again, but have enrolled for a couple of half marathons in February (Wellington) and March (Southern Lakes in Wanaka). I like the half marathon distance – you can do one without really damaging your body. But it was nice to be able to say I got to run the New York Marathon. If you ever want to run a marathon just once, it is definitely the one to do. The crowds are fantastic, the organisation is first class, and the route has some stunning views. Definitely some memories I’ll carry with me forever.

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Why blogging has been light today and will remain light

December 18th, 2013 at 4:46 pm by David Farrar

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Submission to the 2013 local authority elections inquiry

December 17th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

SUBMISSION OF DAVID FARRAR TO THE
INQUIRY INTO THE 2013 LOCAL AUTHORITY ELECTIONS BY THE JUSTICE AND ELECTORAL SELECT COMMITTEE

 About the Submitter

  1. This submission is made by David Farrar in a personal capacity. I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.

Management of Elections

  1. I submitted to the 2010 inquiry that the Government should be asked to look into the pros and cons of making the Electoral Commission responsible for local authority elections.
  2. My views have firmed up since then, and I now strongly believe that it is highly desirable that the Electoral Commission be placed in charge of local authority elections, acting as a legal and organization backstop to local returning officers.
  3. It is inevitable that there would be considerable cost savings from having one entity run the 90+ local elections, than having it done by 67 territorial authorities. The extra cost to the Electoral Commission could be funded by a levy on local bodies proportional to their population. This would save ratepayers money overall.
  4. The more important reason to place the Electoral Commission in charge is integrity and consistency of electoral law. 67 different returning officers may make many different rulings on how they interpret the Act. They have no ability to deal with complaints on law breaches short of referring them to the Police who have shown little interest in such things. Having the Electoral Commission in charge would mean consistency rules and decisions, and specialized legal resource that can be used to decide which alleged breaches should go to the Police.
  5. The other important issue is that local returning officers are generally staff members of their local Councils. They spend 33 out of 36 months having to work with Councillors in a “subservient” relationship and then three months as the arbiter of the election. That place them in an invidious position where they can damage their long-term working relationship by unfavourable interpretation to Councillors who are candidates.
  6. This problem is not just theoretical. I have spoken to a number of Mayors who have told me their returning officers have been bullied by Councillors who are candidates, and the results are confusing and inconsistent rulings which aim to appease a Councillor who can make their job difficult outside election time.
  7. I discussed the issue of having the Electoral Commission responsible for local authority elections with a conference of re-elected Mayors at a LGNZ conference. While there was no formal vote, there seemed to be very strong support from most Mayors there for having the Electoral Commission in charge of local authority elections. I think such a move would gain support from most local authorities, and even many local returning officers.
  8. With possible use of e-voting in the future, it makes even more sense to consider a central authority for local elections.
  9. A further advantage to having a central authority is that election results could be displayed on one central website, rather than the 67 different sites currently out there.
  10. A final point in favour of having the Electoral Commission in charge is it would make it easier for those on the unpublished roll to vote in local elections. I found out from one Mayor that if someone is on the unpublished rolls, then they do not get posted voting papers as the Electoral Commission isn’t authorized to share unpublished roll details with local authorities. That means those on the unpublished roll (such as domestic abuse victims, police officers) have to ring up, get authenticated and have a special set of ballot papers sent to them. Of course very few go to such lengths. If the Electoral Commission had overall authority they could post out ballot papers directly to those on the unpublished roll.

More informed voting

  1. I propose that ballot papers be required to be in random order so that no candidate gets an advantage based on their surname. There is considerable research showing ballot order affects votes, and we saw some candidates changing surnames in order to try and game the system.
  2. I also believe people would make better decisions (and have higher turnout) if there were fewer candidates to choose from or rank. A law change directing the Local Government Commission to implement single member wards (as Parliament has), unless there are strong reasons not to, would be beneficial.

E-Voting

  1. I’m pleased to see progress has been made on this issue since I submitted on it in 2011, and that the Government plans to trial this no later than 2016.
  2. An option to vote electronically is just that – an option. It is not proposed that it replaces postal voting –just to complement it. It will not be a silver bullet for low voting turnout, but it should make some impact as it makes it easier for those who want to vote, to do so.

Thank you for considering this submission. I would like to make an oral submission in support, and look forward to appearing.

 

David Farrar

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Heaphy Track Day 4

December 5th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The final day saw us up before 6 am, as we wanted an early start so we could get out in time to go to Kamarea ad have some whitebait fritters before our flight at 2 pm.

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It’s a 16.5 km trek out to Kohaihai. Not quite as much variety as the other days, but still some great sights.

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You cross over many streams heading down into the sea.

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Luckily most of them have bridges.

 

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At times the track lifts up from the sea level a fair bit.

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But at others you are right next to the mighty ocean.

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It’s a damn powerful sea and people have drowned there. During high tide the track can be impassable for a couple of hours. You can see from the power that a single wave could easily knock you down.

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Towards the end, is this lovely beach.

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Scotts Beach is around 50 minutes from the end, and fairly popular place to come into just for a day.

 

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A drinking supply from the rock!

 

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One of several waterfalls during the final portion when you climb up after Scotts Beach.

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The view back to Scotts Beach.

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Getting close to the end.

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Back in the bush.

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The final bridge.

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And we’re out. The final party members literally walked out within 15 seconds of the shuttle turning up, so that was great timing.

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We headed into Karamea for Whitebait Fritters (they were great) and then out to the airport to fly back. Putting on the life jackets in case we crash land on water!

 

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We had joked to the pilot, who had also driven us in on Thursday in the shuttle, that a dozen beer in the plane for the trip home would be great. We were amused and pleased that he actually went out and did that. How is that for great service from Golden Bay Air. So got to fly home and enjoy drinks on the way.

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Fortunately Tracey was just sitting there, but not actually the co-pilot. Even more fortunately the pilot turned down her requests to try flying the plane for a bit.

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That cave on the right is huge. The pilot pretty much turned the plane on its side so we could see down it.

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The end of the Heaphy Track, from the air.

 

We got back to Nelson around 3 pm and after much needed showers, headed to the Honest Lawyer for drinks and dinner.

Hugely enjoyed the tramp, and can’t wait for the next one. You can see why people travel from all over the world to come here and see our amazing sights.

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Heaphy Track Day 3

December 4th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The weather for the first two days had been great. Overcast, but only scattered showers. Meant you didn’t get too hot. But day 3 on Saturday was a different matter. How best to describe Saturday morning weather’s?

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One of the girls asked the DOC ranger what it would cost to get a helicopter out, and the DOC ranger said there was no way a helicopter could land in this weather. It was raining hard, and low visibility. That made us wonder why we were going out in weather that was unsafe for helicopters.

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We had 12.5 kms to travel to get down to Lewis Hut, which they estimate normally takes three and a half hours. The weather was so miserable that I decided to try and shorten the time and see if I could jog it. I managed to do the 12.5 kms in one hour 40 minutes, which was pretty good going considering I had a full pack on my back, I was in tramping boots and it was pissing down with rain. A group of Aussies I passed said they had never seen someone running along with pack bouncing, and poles flying.

Once I got to Lewis Hut, I left my pack there and went back to let the rest of our party know how far away they were and give those with blisters a help with their packs. So I ended up doing an extra 7 kms or so.

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This is the last photo I took on my camera. It died after this from water getting into it. I only took three quick photos in the rain with it, but that was enough for it to get soaked. All photos after this are from my iPhone or Tracey’s camera.

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After we dried out in Lewis Hut and had lunch, the weather cleared and we started the afternoon trek of 8 kms to Heaphy Hut. Very flat and nice.  A large bridge across the river,

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A photo from the morning of the Heaphy River from above.

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There were some huge trees in the bush.

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Again I loved the variety of bush and colour.

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One nice thing about the rain, is everything looks greener when wet!

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One of the darker areas.

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Scott taking a break with the Heaphy River behind him.

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The bush opens up towards the end.

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Those 1 km to go markers are so welcome you want to hug them. It can be really hard judging how much further you have to go. I would wan’t distance markers every km or so, but a halfway marker between huts would be a great idea as that would allow you to orientate yourself better.

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A West Coast snail!

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A great view to emerge to, of the Heaphy River joining the Tasman Sea.

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The view from the Heaphy Hut.

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I loved the Heaphy Hut. Built just this year and the location is superb, as is the hut. would be very keen to go back in at some stage just to spend a couple of nights in the Heaphy Hut and do some day walks.

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Scott and I thanking Nick Smith for the nice hut :-)

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Again, this is so lovely for a back country hut.

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Went down to the beach as it had mobile coverage, so I could rearrange the pick up for tomorrow. These birds are very territorial and fly directly at you swooping around your head.

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The beach with the hut in the background.

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Preparing dinner for day 3.

Despite getting drowned in the morning, was an excellent day. We had no whiskey left by now, so played 500 instead. By this stage we had tramped over 60 kms.

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Heaphy Day 2

December 3rd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

We stayed overnight in Perry Saddle Hut with another group of five trampers. Four Germans were booked into the camping site, but tried to be a bit sneaky and stay in the hut. One of the girls in the other group firmly but politely told them that it wasn’t on, and that the higher hut fees cover stuff such as flying in the gas by helicopter. They eventually conceded and had to set their tents up in the dark.

I did my part for cultural relations, as when I was trying my head torch out it shone in one of the girl’s eyes who complained it was very bright. I exclaimed “Ve we vays of making you talk” having forgotten about the four Germans in the hut. Whoops.

Breakfast was porridge, which we had every morning. Been years since I had porridge and had forgotten how good it was!

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We headed off around 8.30 am with 7 kms to cover to Gouland Downs Hut, and 24.2 kms for the entire day.

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I’ve never used walking poles before, but have become a total convert. They really make a huge difference. I was only going to get one but was advised that two is better.  I didn’t like the idea of no spare hands, but with two poles you really do get into a good routine and pace.

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The first couple of kms were through forest.

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Scott fording the stream.

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Flowers up at 800 metres.

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I was expected the environment to change every day or so, but on this tramp it sometimes change every few kms.

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Crossing Quintinia Creek. I declared to the amusement of my group that if I ever have daughters I will call one of them Quintinia as it is a very nice name. You can call her Quinn most of the time and Quintinia when she misbehaves!

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Out of the bush and the landscape opens up.

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Great views of the plains. Sometimes you forget you are 800 metres up.

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Again great variety in scenery.

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I didn’t know about the shoe or boot pole, but it is quite famous it seems. There is even a high heel shoe and a roller blade on it!

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Just beautiful.

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Jane by the 1 km marker. Some walks have regular distance guides, but on the Heaphy you have no idea how far off you are until you get to the 1 km signs either side of a hut. They are a huge relief when you sight them.

Incidentally they are not actually 1 km from the hut. We noticed that some of the final 1 kms were a lot longer than others. A DOC ranger explained that staff were told to just walk 12 minutes from a hut and lay the marker down. So the distance depends on the walking pace of each DOC ranger!

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Gouland Downs Hut where we met Ranger Matt. He was a great ambassador for DOC – very friendly and informative. He gave us the updated weather forecast, and told us not to believe it. He was right. It forecast sun for the next three days, and we got drowned the following morning. Basically whenever rain was forecast it was a good day, and when sun was forecast it rained. Overall weather was pretty good considering we had a forecast for non stop rain when we started off.

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They call this the enchanted forestm just after the hut. It is like a movie set.

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Tracey having fun on the suspension bridge.

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Once again the environment changes.

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This is Saxon Hut which was 5.4 kms on from Perry Saddle Hut. Most trampers stay here on the second night if doing the four night tramp. We were doing the tougher three night version, so only stopped here for lunch. Lunch was large crackers with cheese and salami. Fairly Light to carry and keeps well for multiple days.

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As you can see, very different to the more modern huts. Still very cosy though.

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Someone figured adding a nose on would make this the perfect Kiwi.

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More great bush.

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Tracey had mentioned that morning that her boots were ten years old and she may need new ones soon. That afternoon the sole came off at the front, so we had to tie it back on with my compass cord, to stop it flapping!

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Is it just me, or does that look a little like Bill English?

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Not only does the bush change often, the type and colour of the path does also.

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This is us relaxing after the worst part of the track. It was several kms of basically mud. You realise how well maintained the rest of the track is, when you strike a part that isn’t.

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We were pretty pleased to see James Mackay Hut, which was 11.8 kms on from where we had lunch. Spent around seven hours tramping.

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Relaxing up in what we called our penthouse suite. The whiskey helped, except we decided that next time we need two hip flasks each – not two for the party.

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The inside of the hut. Is due to be upgraded early next year.

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Half a dozen Wekas came visiting during the evening.

Dinner was the second of our dehydrated dinners. They’re not going to win Michelin stars, but they’re not too bad.

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