Next Year Then

It’s always important to have a captivating image to accompany a blog post. Something that makes a potential reader think; ‘Ooh, I might read about that’.

All going well, it may even result in a ‘Like’.

So when I decided to enter ‘Peak to Pub’ – an event that involves a 2km ski through Mt. Hutt ski field, then a bike down the 18km access track, finishing with a 12km run to Methven – I decided to take a GoPro with me to film the experience and create a short montage.

‘If an image gets a like, then a montage gets a share’, as the saying goes…

The race is started with a shot gun blasted into the air, which provides an instant, attention grabbing opener for the action video. Then a 300m ‘sprint’ commences to your skiing gear. The use of the inverted commas is important as running in ski boots, through snow, at altitude, is hard. Harder than most people expect. So the initial flurry of excitement and energy is quickly replaced with wheezing and fatigue before most people even make it to the ski section.

The skiing is generally carnage, and I got a great shot sliding past other competitors who had lost their ski’s, or were chasing after their poles, or were lying face down in the snow not moving.

A quick transition gets you onto the biking stage, where you propel yourself down the gravel access track, gripped in terror that at any second you’ll get a puncture at speed, or go hurtling off the side at speed, or both… at speed. On the plus side, I managed to get some cool shots over the Canterbury Plains, with the blue sky meeting the dark haze of the sea.

The running section is where the fun really begins. It starts with a jaunt through a ‘dry’ river bed. Again, inverted commas completely necessary as at the time the river was in full flow, almost waist deep in places. But that was alright because after that it was a 6km run along a straight road. That was OK though because right after that was a jump into a river, complete with panicked swim to the net on the other side, desperately hoping that you’re not going to miss it as the current tries to drag you out to sea. That was tolerable though because you’re then light headed running through a root covered path, struggling to lift your wet, heavy legs over the numerous tripping hazards.

But then you’re on the home stretch, safe in the knowledge that despite the pain in your hips, the blisters growing on your feet, or the can of crap beer at the end, you’ll at least have got some decent shots for the montage.

Until you realise that you forgot to turn the camera on.


Ill Tempered Mutated Sea Bass

Zombie Vampires?

Meh, bit of a genre mashup, could be confusing.

Chainsaw wielding elves?

Well Christmas is coming I guess, but could be pigeon holed as seasonal.

Venomous, angry flowers?

Jumangji already nailed it.

It can be tough thinking up antagonists for horror stories. Now that I have completed the first draft of three horror novellas, it’s time to complete another three. The aim is to be ‘same same, but different’, so simple really.

Monsters are always fun, until you get to the bit about where they came from? How have they not been discovered up until now? What have they been doing on this time? Questions I addressed in one of the stories by just ignoring them.

Ghosts are reliably scary, but need a motive. Otherwise they’re just drifting about the place causing mischief. Like Casper.

Then you get the mentally deranged, unstable psychopaths who may be violently partial to swinging pointy implements about. Again, all good stuff, however people generally require dialogue which can be a bit tricky.

Normally at this point, I would lean on my extensive knowledge of horror movies for inspiration. Unfortunately, as a rule of thumb, I avoid horror, and scary movies in general, as they’re… well, too scary. This leaves me with my imagination. Some may say this is a good thing, not being influenced or jaded by what has been done before. However, when the best you can come up with is ill-tempered, colourful plants, you do start to question whether you’re in the right genre. Maybe I should just bring out an angry gardening book instead… like Day of the Triffids. Damn it!

The Mega Multi Sport Weekend III

My eyes scanned a third weather warning update in as many weeks. They were starting to become a regular feature this winter, a disruptive front of wind and rain that left a trail of closed roads, high river levels, and topped up ski fields in its wake. My heart sank as I got to the bit about it hitting Hanmer Springs – Friday night, through to Saturday. This was the exact time we were planning our third Mega Multi Sport Day. As is now becoming tradition, at least until I run out of ideas, every couple of months I throw together a new plan to complete as many activities as possible in one day. As well as getting everyone together for a bit of an adventure, it usually results in an entertaining story I can write about; whether it’s stubbornly going ahead in spite of a downpour, or getting airlifted to hospital with a broken back.

The setting for our third attempt would be Hanmer Springs, a quaint alpine town located in the Hurunui District of the South Island, New Zealand. Our list of activities would be as follows: skiing at the little known Amuri Ski Field; mountain biking in Hanmer Forest; hiking the Waterfall Track; tucking into a communal roast dinner; and finishing the day off at the thermal hot pools – and yes, a roast dinner does count as an activity. The emphasis of the day would be on enjoyment. Not to imply that the previous two attempts hadn’t been fun, but they had been quite time driven, requiring us to complete activities within a certain time limit to allow us to get everything in. This time I was hoping for a more chilled and relaxed day, hence ending with a roast and thermal dip. News of the impending front making its way up the country was concerning, as it would effectively kill a number of the activities, potentially reducing the plan to ‘Mega Roast Dinner and Sit in the Thermal Hot Pools Day’ – which in fairness, wouldn’t have been a total disappointment.

As predicted, the rain made its wet way up through the country, but a lot quicker and less devastatingly than first thought. Opening the curtains early Saturday morning to the expectation of a flooded Hanmer with the four horsemen of the apocalypse rowing past in inflatable dinghies, we were instead greeted with a cloudless, rich blue sky. It wasn’t long before the cars were packed with skiing gear and we were driving icy, snow covered roads towards Amuri Ski Field. The earlier front had left several inches of snow on the landscape, turning the St. James Conservation Area into a winter wonderland. This was excellent news for skiing, but terrible news for actually getting to the ski field. Arriving at the car park, it suddenly dawned on us that our mates weren’t close behind. We patiently waited. And then waited some more… but there was no sign of them. Other cars started arriving. This wasn’t good. We waited a bit more, but to no avail. Finally, we realised that we had no choice. We were a team. Never leave a man behind. All for one etc. etc. So I got the drone out and had a look. Flying it over the ski access track, we soon located our comrades, attempting to push their skidding car up the track. Oh, how we laughed from the comfort of the warm ski lodge, as they threw lewd gestures and snowballs at the drone.

They took their time, but eventually they made it to the little used ski field. It was mid-morning, and there were only a handful of ski tracks visible on a mountain that currently had half a metre of fresh powder residing on it. This was going to be epic… if I could just get to it. For those of you unaware of what a rope tow is, imagine a thick rope being pulled up a mountain by a series of burly, spandex clad men – the sort of types who attend tug-o-war competitions. The stout men pull the rope through at a constant rate, so you need to hold on with one hand as you get up to speed, and then clip on to the rope using a twisted bit of metal that you hold in your free hand. While this is happening, the sturdy men will whip and wave the rope around randomly in an attempt to knock you off. If you’re able to cling on, then they will do their best to dislodge you as you pass each of them, such is their dislike of snowboarders. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the top, unlike me, then you’re rewarded with the twisted metal attachment pinging off the rope and potentially hitting you between the eyes, if you’ve been foolish enough not to attach it properly.

Matt and Alex, the skiers in the group, casually rode the rope tow to the top, laughing and joking with the hunky men. Kat and I on the other hand, who were also the snowboarders of the group, battled against these stubborn gate keepers until, thankfully, the rope tow broke down. This left us with the option of calling it a day, or hike the short distance to the top of the mountain to get one run in. And so began the incredibly underestimated, sweaty, arduous slog to the summit. The panoramic views slowly increased in immensity as we ascended, step by slow step to the top. Forty-five minutes later, out of breath and soaked in sweat, we dropped in on what would be, at best, only a two minute run to the bottom. As it turned out, it was awesome. Making new tracks through soft, knee deep powder, suddenly all the clichés of snowboarding came true, such as the feeling of floating and whipping up fluffy white powder with every turn. Falling over was a joy, similar to falling from a great height into an open top truck stuffed full of marshmallows, unicorn fur, rainbows and happiness. For those two minutes, I never regretted taking up snowboarding over skiing. Whether that makes up for the previous two seasons of hardship and toil learning to board is yet to be seen, but I still smile when I think about that single, short run.

Arriving back at the ski lodge, grinning and high fiving, it quickly became obvious that that we had spent far too much time at the ski field. By the time we got back to Hanmer, had some tea (we’re predominately British don’t you know), had lunch, had some more tea, and got our gear together, it was mid-afternoon, and conversation was starting to focus on whether to spread the activities over the weekend instead.

Now, I have had a few conversations about how to write this. I was originally going to stay true to the ‘day’ part of ‘Mega-Multi-Sport Day’ and just lie, because, you know, how would you know? But then the risk of potentially being found out, and the embarrassment of someone spotting continuity errors in the video montage wasn’t worth it. So in the spirit of being truthful, I should probably point out that rope tows are not operated by several robust men. They are actually run off a diesel engine and a number of pulleys. There we go, full disclosure. We revised our plans so that the biking and hot pools would be on the Sunday. This meant that we could enjoy the roast without being rushed, and get our money’s worth at the pools. Unbeknown to us at the time, it also meant that we would have an awesome time sledging in a boat, and being towed on skies by a car, but we’ll get to all that.

As late afternoon approached, we arrived at the start of our second activity, a 2.5hr walk along the Waterfall Track that would take us to, well, a waterfall. It also allowed us an opportunity to walk the dogs, which was good for the dogs, possibly less so for anyone in the group who wasn’t partial to the sound of constant barking, or distractions when you’re trying to negotiate a steep, icy slope. Where we reaped the benefits of a fresh dump on the ski slopes, we paid for it on the walk. What should have normally been a straightforward walk in the woods, became an exercise in skidding, sliding and arm waving, as we slowly made our way towards the waterfall. On the plus side, it was lovely and picturesque. The setting sun cast purples and reds across the sky, framed by the white of the snow in the trees. Returning to the cars was a similar experience to walking in, except the barking and meandering dogs were replaced by cold and darkness.

The roast was splendid, thanks for asking.

A new day brought more blue skies, more frost and more good times. Venturing back into St. James Conservation Area, our morning activity would involve a trip down memory lane. To a simpler time before responsibilities, financial worries, or doubts at making a career from full time writing. It’s amazing how sliding down the hill on a plastic bag, or the lid of a box, or in this case, a toy boat that we found in the bach, can take you back to childhood. It appeared that sledging without a smile on your face was physically impossible. An oxymoron if you will. Like a Kiwi opening a beer bottle with a bottle opener.

After many, many nostalgic trips down the snowy hillside, things then escalated when Matt looked at his skis. Then at the truck. Then back at the skis, and asked, ‘Do we have a rope?’ And thus car skiing was born. A morning full of smiles continued with me waving to Matt as he skied up alongside the driver’s side window, all the while being towed along by the truck on our way back to the bach.

Arriving back at mid-day, we had just enough time for some lunch, tea, homemade carrot cake and more tea, before setting out on the mountain bikes. Unfortunately, this activity was a bit of a non-event as most of the trails were closed. Within an hour we were back at the house, just in time for another round of tea.

It was now mid-afternoon, and the hot pools were calling. My hope that the crowds would have thinned by 3pm on a Sunday was instantly dashed seconds after paying the entrance fee. Reliably busy, I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with the pools. Yes, it is nice to be in warm water, and I appreciate the increased level of freedom over my bath tub at home. However, sharing that same warm water with several hundred other people does taint the experience somewhat.

The activity was nice enough, essentially swapping the experience of hanging out with your friends and drinking tea, with hanging out with your friends, and many strangers, in warm water. All that said, it was a nice way to end the weekend before we headed back to Christchurch. Relaxing in the sulphur infused water, we reflected on the weekend’s fun. We had experienced our first proper New Zealand powder day, and been taken on nostalgic trips back to our childhood. Yes, I was disappointed about not getting all the activities completed in the one day, but if that was the worst thing to have happened over the weekend, then it was a worthy trade off.

For the a cheeky montage of the weekend, click here:

Nature Trail – Hanmer Springs

Now don’t get me wrong, as you may have noticed from the many other Dog Tails, I love a bloody good adventure like the rest of them. But sometimes it’s nice to slow things down a little. Like a ballad in the middle of an 80’s mullet rock album, or an unnecessary sub-plot in the film True Lies, it can be good to just take a weight off.

As I lay sprawled on the sofa, getting up to speed with the latest season of Orange is the New Black, and enjoying some homemade strawberry daiquiris, I casually explained this concept to Ian. He looked a little dejected at first, standing in the doorway with his walking poles in hand, and camera around his neck. But he came round, which is how we found ourselves casually strolling along the Nature Trail in Hanmer Springs.  A short, 20 minute walking trail, which can easily be completed in 10 minutes, which is only a five minute drive from town – a lot of numbers which basically add up to a short intermission between New Black episodes and more daiquiris.

In keeping with the brief outing, the accompanying account shall be equally short.

It was pleasant. A bit morbid, but pleasant.


What? You want more?


Unfortunately there were no hot air balloons, ice cream vans or missing people. No new bags, or shoes. It was just a walk.




There was this weird thing where someone at some point had decided to label everything on the path with strange names. It first came to my attention when, for some reason, they had named the bridge ‘Hebe’.

Later, we noticed several other plaques for oddly named people, such as ‘Twiggy Coprosma’ and ‘Prickly Mingimingi’. It then dawned on me; this was a walk through grave yard. Of course, the bridge had been built in honour of Hebe, presumably a generous donator to the trail. These small plaques we passed were actually head stones to some fallen naturists, whose dying wish was to be returned to the forest that they had once loved.

At the grave of the fallen Twiggy Coprosma


Oh, and I think I may have found some secret pools too.

Approximate Track Stats

Distance: Not very much

Time: 15mins

Elevation: Not a lot

… it’s very easy basically

Map courtesy of


Waterfall Track – Hanmer Springs

I’d heard much about the Hanmer Springs hot pools; the soothing, calming effects of the geothermally heated water, the relaxing environment, reasonably priced coffee and so forth. All the things a more civilized canine, such as myself, appreciates when out on a morning walk. I attempted to explain this to Rusty, my fellow furry counterpart, but he didn’t seem that interested, and just continued to lick himself in areas I’d rather not go into detail about here. So you can imagine my excitement as we drove past the Hanmer Springs welcome sign. Finally, I would be able to experience the pools and give my associates at the Canine Club something to be jealous of.

We drove along the gently meandering access road towards the quaint, alpine village located at the base of Mt. Isobel and Mt. Dunblane. Tall, proud trees lined the road as we entered the township, with people everywhere going about their morning routines. Sipping cappuccinos and browsing the morning paper, this was my kind of scene. All in good time my friend, I had to keep reminding myself, we’re here for the hot pools. I shouted out, ‘Good day to you all!’ to the morning folk, who just responded with a slightly concerned look and shake of their heads. Obviously the morning caffeine hadn’t taken effect yet.

The closest I’d ever get to a Maître D


We trundled past local shops and houses, and soon we were in the depths of the forest, negotiating gravel roads and potholes. Coming to a stop at the end of the road, Rusty and I were released to explore our new surroundings as the humans, Ian and Kat, gathered our things – presumably towels, cosmetics, hair dryers and the like.

OK, so I like the setting, very natural, I thought, but where are the pools? We were surrounded by the green and brown blur of the forest. Skinny trees extended high into the canopy, and the sound of running water could be heard in the distance. The only thing of note was a sign that read ‘Waterfall Track 2.5hrs’, and a path leading into the forest. Well I guess the pools need to filled somehow I mused, and then dashed after the others as they disappeared into the blur.



The rocky track zig-zagged its way through trees, crossing several streams in the process, as it gradually climbed up the hill side. Slowly, the temperature started to drop and things began to get a lot whiter. A thick blanket of snow coated the branches above us, and a layer of skiddy ice encased the ground below. I had secretly hoped that we would be able to enjoy a nice thermal dip surrounded by snow. I began to get excited as my mind went into over-drive, painting an over-elaborate mental image of what our experience would be like. Nestled deep within the forest, we would soak in the deep, warm waters, surrounded by bitches and chew toys. A cute waterfall would patter behind us, as I tucked into a fine T-bone steak, sipped strawberry daiquiris, and delivered witty, insightful anecdotes that entertained our pack.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I impatiently waited for the humans to keep up, as they slowly negotiated the ice under paw. I ran between them attempting to demonstrate the superiority of our four legged walking technique, over their two legged method, shouting out instructions in the process. But they were having none of it, instead telling me to be quiet and stubbornly continuing with their ‘frantically wave arms around and wobble up the path’ approach.

Not even a single bitch

This continued for a good half hour, before the tell-tale sound of falling water gave away the approaching waterfall. I bounded into the clearing, eyes wide with a sense of anticipation, to be greeted with a tall, noisy waterfall pouring liquid into a shallow, moss covered pool below. Where was the Parisian-style tiling, the foot spas, the Maître D’?

The humans seemed pleased enough though, evidently having much lower standards. They busied themselves taking photos and saying ‘Oooh,’ and ‘Ahhh,’ as their eyes scanned the column of water tumbling down the cliff face. I approached Rusty and expressed my concerns, who just shrugged his shoulders and went back to licking himself. How does that saying go; ‘Ridgeback Staffie crosses from Saturn, Huntaway Collie crosses from Mars,’ or something like that.

With nothing left to lose, I leapt into the pool, safe in the knowledge that if nothing else, at least the water would be warm, soothing and comforting. It was not.

Wet, cold and disappointed, I followed the group back to the car. At several points I just watched with a blank face, as the humans slipped and skidded down the icy track, letting out whoops and yells which echoed around the forest. It was dark by the time we returned to the car. I stared glumly out of the window, my hair wet and matted, trying to understand how things could have been so different. We turned onto the high street and I absentmindedly watched smiling adults and children in swimming attire and carrying towels, walk towards a wooden, steep roofed building. A flag hung from a tall lamppost that read ‘The Pools’. Ahhh…

Approximate Track Stats

Distance: 3.3km

Time: 2hrs return

Elevation: 300m

Map courtesy of

In Search of a Good Story

There’s a certain degree of trial and error when it comes to scouting out a new location for a possible Dog Tails adventure. Generally, it starts by looking at a Topo map, then hunting around for DOC information which hopefully doesn’t have any anti-dog sentiments tucked away in it. Then it’s a small matter of driving the two plus hours on painfully straight, boring roads, to inevitably be greeted with a small red circle containing a black silhouette of a cute, fluffy dog with a thick ‘Not Today Mate’ line through it.

So fingers were tightly crossed last weekend when we drove the three hours to Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park (not heard of it before, neither had I. It’s next to Mesopotamia… no, not that one… just to Google it). Arriving at the start of the 4×4 track that would take us into the park, the good news was that dogs were allowed. The bad news was that the weather was horrendous. We had left the warm, blue skies of Christchurch and arrived in what could most accurately be described as a blizzard. Snow filled, gale force winds hammered the truck as we negotiated a combination of rocky river beds and muddy, flooded, grassy areas. My co-pilots were two excitable dogs, eager to get out for a run, and able to provide zero reassurance as the bottom of the truck scraped along another jagged rock.

After a minor river crossing and with the snow continuing to fall, I asked politely if we could please turn around as I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. Huddled within my mates 4×4 for a tea and biscuits stop (including some Bitching Beer Treats for the dogs of course), we watched as the dogs were released to play in the blizzard. They seemed happy enough. Presumably they weren’t so tightly clenched during the drive that they’ll have to wait a good week before they get any kind of regularity back.

Now that I’m back home, I guess the trip could technically be called a success, but only in the sense that nothing really bad happened. Nothing good really happened either, but I guess you can’t win them all.

Maybe Things Aren’t All That Bad

‘We lost a lot of good photographers in those early days,’ the presenter laughed, and then proceeded to tell another anecdote regarding how it wasn’t uncommon, if you were having a bad day in the late 19th Century, stuck under your fabric dark room, in the sweltering heat as another exposure failed, to take a cheeky swig from a bottle of pure alcohol, to then find out you’ve accidently drunk from the bottle of Potassium Cyanide instead.

We were listening to a surprisingly interesting presentation at the Christchurch Art Gallery on the early beginnings of photography, which when in its infancy, was reduced to exposing images onto polished glass. The various toxic chemicals involved regularly resulted in either accidentally poisoning yourself via the fumes or careless inhalation, or unknowingly reducing the odds of getting cancer while you hung around carcinogenic compounds all day.

For some reason, it made me think of the Stephen King book I’m currently reading, Misery (I realised that if I was going to write horror stories, I should probably read a few, especially as I find horror movies too scary) For those that haven’t heard of it, it’s about an author who is saved from a car crash by a psychotic nurse who forces him to write a novel for her. The author has to use a type writer with a missing ‘N’ to write the new book (the letter ‘N’ is manually filled out afterwards. He doesn’t have to write an entire book without any words with ‘N’ in it, that would be silly… and very difficult) while he’s held prisoner by a mentally unstable woman who regularly torments and tortures him.

It did occur to me, while I tap away on the keyboard and use Photoshop to edit an image of an old camera that I took with my phone – which I think might be ironic but I’m not sure – that things could be a lot worse.

Mt. Thomas – Canterbury Foothills

‘I don’t know where the other bootie is,’ I defensively replied. Ian stared at me for a few seconds, pretending not to understand what I just said. Finally, he threw his arms up in the air and stormed off towards the bushes to continue looking for the missing shoe. We had only experienced several minutes of the Mt. Thomas car park, before being promptly ushered back into the truck and interrogated. Rusty and I watched from the rear seats as Ian and Adam wandered around, poking through bushes and grass. Several minutes passed before they returned looking glum, and we were released again to begin our walk.

… Ian and his apparently awesome shorts

Ian was sulking, staring at the floor and responding to my attempts at making conversation by telling me to be quiet. I was going to make a joke about his electric blue shorts, a small, but overall not particularly great improvement on the orange pants from the Mt. Grey outing, but thought better of it. I looked over towards Adam for encouragement, hoping to build on our relationship from a week prior, but he was busy wrestling with Rusty, as he attempted to drag Adam though the mud.

Well this is a great start to the walk, I thought.

For what it’s worth, we were walking up Mt. Thomas, the next peak along from Mt. Grey. There were some similarities to the week before; the same pack, horrible, muddy conditions and a sky full of clouds, but morale was at an all-time low. After the success of the booties at Mt. Grey, the humans had brought them along again. However, they had not done the straps up tight enough, resulting in several of the shoes instantly coming off, which was now somehow our fault.


To make matters worse, at the start of the trail we had come across a missing person sign for someone called George Jack Russell.  It was dated several weeks ago, which didn’t bode well. However, in the never say never spirit of canine optimism, Rusty and I called out, hoping that the lovable sounds of our voices might entice the human from the depths of the woodland.

Poor Mr. Russell



‘Quiet Oshy. Quiet Rusty,’ Ian shouted, seemingly more directed at us than the dense, green forest.

We plodded onwards and upwards, the track seeming to steepen in grade the further we climbed. On the plus side, the mud had subsided, evidently having collected in the quagmire at the bottom of the track. Old pine needles now littered the floor, carpeting the ground between tree roots and rocks. Higher and higher we climbed until the canopy above began to thin and tall trees were replaced with bushes and shrubs, treating us to the first view of the day. Well, I say ‘we’ – technically, it was just the humans who got to enjoy it, as we weren’t able to see over the surrounding vegetation. I’m therefore unable to describe it for you, however Adam described it as ‘quite nice,’ if that’s of any use.

Unable to enjoy the ‘quite nice’ view, Rusty and I resorted to trying to locate Mr. Russell again, running up and down on the zippy, lead thing, calling out his name.




I couldn’t help feel that Ian was really hindering our search effort, possibly as a result of still being annoyed at the missing bootie earlier that morning.

Several minutes later we were at the summit, and were able to enjoy the view for ourselves. As it was much like the view from the top of Mt. Grey, I suggest you go read that account to save me repeating myself here. Otherwise, imagine a ‘quite nice’ view and you’re pretty much there.

Some dogs haven’t quite grasped the concept of posing for the camera

Our descent off the mountain was via the picturesque Wooded Gully Track, accessed via a short walk along the mountain top. It snaked its way through the forest, crossing small streams, bridges and fallen trees. The clouds above us finally lost their absorbency, and rain fell from the sky, causing the surrounding forest to glisten. Crossing a final bridge and climbing up an unexpectedly steep section of track, we were back into pine forest, where the trees lined themselves in neat, orderly rows, almost as if it was done on purpose.



Still no response.

Unfortunately, we arrived back at the car park empty handed, unable to locate either Mr. Russell or the missing bootie. Ian’s mood began to darken at the realisation that we’d have to leave without either, although I have to admit he seemed a little more concerned about a missing shoe than a person, but that might just be a reflection on the sort of person he is on the inside. We watched from the confines of the truck as Ian and Adam hunted around in the nearby foliage, attempting to locate the missing items.

Ian returned first, looking beaten and unhappy. He stared at me through the rear window. I stared back. His nose was up against the glass, and his angry, short, sharp breaths began to steam up the thin, transparent layer that divided us. He filled his lungs with air in preparation for emptying a tirade of blame onto me, when suddenly a victorious Adam appeared. Holding the bootie high in the air, a beam of sunlight broke through the clouds, causing his shiny, perfectly aligned teeth to dazzle us all in his triumph. My hero. Ian’s demeanour abruptly softened, and suddenly all was forgiven and forgotten, such is the fickleness of his temperament.

We drove back to Christchurch. Ian was finally smiling and chatting for the first time since we had arrived. Rusty spread himself across three quarters of the back seat and fell asleep. Adam casually stared out of the window, now wearing his cool shades and humouring Ian as he waffled on. I stole quick glances at Adam from the rear of the truck, hoping he wouldn’t notice, before eventually falling into a peaceful, happy sleep.

For those of you who care more about a missing person more than an easily replaceable, generic bootie, Mr. Russell spent nine days in the forest before being found.

Approximate Track Stats

Distance: 11km

Time: 4 hours

Elevation: 750m

Map courtesy of

Mt. Grey – Canterbury Foothills

‘I mean seriously. This is just a total disaster.’ I turned to Rusty, who was busy posing for the camera, looking very pleased with himself. ‘Anything for a bit of attention,’ I muttered, and returned to staring at the thick quagmire that extended ahead of us. The humans set off, side stepping over roots and rocks, attempting to negotiate the brown, muddy puddles underfoot. Rusty leapt after them, not a care in the world, as he ploughed through the sticky horribleness. I looked down at my new shoes, all clean and fresh, and quietly sighed.

Today’s fashion parade was to be at Mt. Grey, which made a nice change to the long drives, cold mountains and deep snow that we had come to expect on our adventures. We also had a new human in the pack, who went by the name of Adam, whose only redeeming features I could tell was a winning smile and a preference to not wearing orange pants… unlike Ian.

Some were more impressed than others with the choice of footware

After the Mt. Potts incident, the humans had got their act together and kitted us canines out with smashing new booties, courtesy of the lovely people at Further Faster. With our paws nicely protected within a combination of fabric, rubber and Velcro, we were ready to take on the world; and every sharp, uncomfortable rock it could throw at us.

Smugly charging out of the truck once we had parked up, my heart instantly sank when I saw the state of the track that we would be walking. ‘A pair of gum boots would have been more suitable,’ I sarcastically said to Ian, who just ignored the comment and told me to stop barking. I looked over at Adam, who smiled back. He gets it, I thought. Maybe there is more to this human than nice teeth and choosing not to wear orange pants.


We set off, and soon each step began to feel heavier and heavier, as mud started to accumulate around my paws. At one point I looked down and could just see my ankles, with the rest of my legs, and more importantly my spanking new shoes, submerged under water. I’d given up tiptoeing by this point, and instead just stomped up the path in protest.

But by the end of the day, someone had definitely changed their tune

Finally, we left the bog behind us and the trail began to zig zag, as it climbed through the forest. A tributary of the Grey River followed the track below, the sound of flowing water a constant companion during the ascent through the dense, green trees. Unfortunately, the soothing, calming properties of the forest weren’t to last, as we broke through the tree line.

Our bubble of tranquillity was now replaced with bland, low lying, grassy wafts, reminiscent of our Double Bunk trip to Hakatere. Now free from the protection of the trees, a deafening wind howled all around us, causing the grass to ripple like waves, and my smart, well-kempt, long black hair to descend into something entirely unmanageable.

We soldiered on, battling against the wind and the humans’ stubborn insistence to make it to the top. Emerging onto the final ridge line that would lead us to the summit, expansive views appeared in all directions. On one side was the flat Canterbury Plains extending out to the coast where they promptly fell into the sea. On the other were the dark green peaks of Mt. Thomas and Mt. Richardson, with the snow topped mountains of Lake Sumner in the distance.


The summit was nice. Windy, but nice. The humans tried to make the best of a bad situation, mainly by having lunch and struggling to hold a conversation over the noise of the incessant wind. Rusty and I killed some time by posing next to the summit sign, and getting stuck into some Bitchin Beer Treats. Thankfully, at Adams request, we began our retreat to the safety of the forest. He’s alright that Adam, I thought.

The windy summit

With Ian’s orange pants flapping away in the wind, I opted to stay up front with Adam, trying my best not to be associated with that fashion disaster. Like the forgotten Japanese soldiers who still thought WWII was being fought long after it had ended, Ian now resembled a warehouse raver; lost to the hills many years ago, and ignorant of the knowledge that the 90s were over.

Ian’s glow sticks are just out of shot

With my booties now clean and dry, and a more respectable human to accompany, we descended off the mountain. Out of the wind and into the peacefulness of the forest, I started to enjoy myself again. Which was a mistake, as I‘d forgotten about the bog we would have to endure to be able to make it back to the truck. My heart sank once again, as the path quickly turned spongey underfoot, indicating that the fun was over and it was time to get my freshly cleaned shoes muddy… again. Taking solace in the fact that no matter how muddy I got, I wouldn’t look as ridiculous as Ian, I instead decided to embrace the situation, and bounded past, covering him in a spray of water and mud, ensuring that the fashion hierarchy was firmly established. Catching up with Adam, I gave him a cheeky wink, and he responded in kind. This could be the start of something beautiful…




Approximate Track Stats
Distance: 13km
Time: 4 hours
Elevation: 700m

Map courtesy of