It’s Better to Tell the Tale (Part One) – Double Hill / Rakaia River

“On a Mish” #388 It’s Better to Tell the Tale (Part One). Double Hill / Rakaia River. 11.9.2023. During my time as a guide I have learnt that age is just a number. Memories of guiding the more senior members of the population on multi-day missions has given me hope during the moments my body has felt like an ‘old persons’ body. My most favourite mature member of our whanau is my grandmother and although she is well into her eighties we have still managed to sneak out for a couple of epic missions lately. If we asked before heading out we might meet some objections to our ideas. So it’s better to tell the tale of an adventure than ask if we are allowed to go…

The days when I would fly up a mountain seem like a distant dream, and I am currently doing everything I can to wake up and turn that dream into a reality. A couple times I have been hiking with able bodied people and been the one dragging the chain, and considering I used to be a guide in the mountains of Aotearoa it seems a little bit embarrassing. Recently I have been able to travel further and then I face the choice of keep going and pay for it the next day, or play it safe and call it a day. Sometimes that choice is difficult when you are looking at a do-able challenge and stubbornness takes over.

A member of the whanau that doesn’t mind if we go a metre or a mile is my mum’s mum. Taking care of my brother, sister and me (i.e giving my parents a rare break) for some reason seemed enjoyable to her! Now that I am older and able, I am doing my best to repay the years of care. One way I have done my best to pay back our families overseer is by taking ‘Nanny’ on a couple outdoor adventures, and I am talking about REAL wilderness adventures. After returning we have told the tale and her kids (my mum and uncles) have been less than impressed with our outdoor escapades as she is 80+ and apparently people of that age shouldn’t be out camping in the wilds of Aotearoa.

So knowing that if we ask we might be told no, we snuck out and went on a mish up the Rakaia Valley. The Rakaia area is very special for both of us and I knew of the perfect spot we could head to.

After working out what was needed we loaded up the car and headed west. We told my sister of our intentions, and although she wasn’t best pleased she knew that once a mish begins a mish must be finished! The seating arrangements were slightly different from normal, as the regular team Leader (Ernie Dog) was annoyed that Nanny was sitting in his seat. But with option B being staying at home he quietly took his place on the backseat.

Like so many of my missions, I see a weather window and just go for it. We had the smallest of gaps between rain storms, but that was all that we needed. Knowing the wind would be coming down the valley meant I could position our tents in a sheltered spot. My previous expeditions to this area had given me a good idea of the lay of the land. These days I go out whenever possible to clear my head, and it is extra special when there are more than just me and Ernie.

We crossed the plains and if I hadn’t read the forecast I’d be worried as lingering storm clouds were still dumping their payload on the Rakaia area. The glimmer of sunlight poking through the clouds gave me hope that the weather gods would give us an evening free of precipitation.

We left the main roads which run along the base of the Canterbury Foothills and followed the gravel of Double Hill Road. As the mountains began to close in around us the skies above began to clear. Everything was looking just right for another camping trip with Nanny, and to think that if we had asked her kids we might not have been able to go on this adventure! And funnily enough the tale we would return with wouldn’t build any confidence in the minds of the people who would have been against the mish in the first place…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter