New Zealand – Day 4 – Stunning Wilderness and Moving Mountains

Having kept track of the news over the last few days, I was wondering if I would be able to get out of New Zealand given the huge ash cloud that’s currently hanging over the country. But some bigger news overtook that today as two further earthquakes hit Christchurch and have currently closed the airport too. Everything kind of pales into insignificance when you hear about these types of things and one wonders just how the City is going to recover. If one big earthquake wasn’t enough, will this seal the nail in the coffin of this great City?

I sincerely hope it doesn’t. You already hear of people saying that they’re not going to Christchurch because of the potential risk, which I think is a little short-sighted. People going to Christchurch is exactly what’s needed to keep tourism alive and money coming into the local economy, otherwise it will wither away into a nothing. It’s interesting listening to the talkback radio in the car and I headed into the City. There are stories of bravery and people remaining stoic and strong, there are others who simply feel it’s time to get out once and for all. It’s all a balance of emotional versus rationale. As an outsider without an emotional connection, you have to wonder if it’s really worth rebuilding the city, only for it to possibly happen again later down the track. Why not shift and rebuild in the worst affected areas. Of course, I’m looking at this with a practical hat on, not an emotional one, so I can see both sides.

I’m staying in Christchurch tonight before getting on the first flight out of there in the morning, so we’ll see if I can make it home or not. Despite this, I had a cracking day running in the Mount Aspiring National Park and a very pleasant out and back run to the foot of the mountain. The going was pretty hard going on the way out, not because of the gradual incline, but more so because I was running straight into some pretty strong head winds. Most of it was along flattish plains next to the river, but the last three kms were through some stunning alpine forest which I could, quite frankly, just run along all day. In total, 13kms out in a time of 1hr 29mins, allowing for some pictures to be taken along the way too.

The return was much easier, as it was a net downhill of around 250m, but importantly, the wind was on my back, making for a much faster time home – 1hr 16mins in total. There were a few other hikers out there along the way, quite strange seeing people when you’re a 50kms inland in the middle of a national park and no town in sight. There are also a couple of tracks off to the sides of the main route with some outrageous climbs up to the tops of the mountains either side. One of them is only 1.4kms in length, but has a vertical climb of over 600m – mental.

The good news is that the calf was pretty strong throughout. The knee gave me a little jip, but given that the terrain was pretty flat today, no major dramas, just need to keep on doing the roller thing and hopefully it will subside.

So all in, just under 100kms run in the time I’ve been here. No major distance by any stretch, but pretty consistent throughout the trip and just a chance to see some of the magnificent trails that NZ has to offer. I’d love come back for a really serious training weekend a little later in the year when the days warm up somewhat and the light is around a little longer. At the moment, it’s not fully light until 7:30am-ish and it gets dark at around 5pm, so a little limiting, unless you don the head torch of course. But, there is plenty to keep the trail enthusiast going, and some seriously big climbs too to work those quads out, so another visit maybe in order soon-ish. I think this area has just become one of my new favourites.

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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