South Island: Castle Hill and Back to Auckland

Tuesday the 17th

It was raining when we woke up in the morning (Gregg was the first to find out as he was sleeping out in the tent that night). I was totally convinced that we weren’t going to be able to climb because wet, cold rocks are not fun and pretty dangerous. I was more than a little disappointed. But we got up and out early anyway, just in case. I at least wanted to see and explore Castle Hill anyway—we had driven so far to get there. It was my day to drive again so once we had everything packed up and ready to go we were back on the road for the 30 minute drive to the park. Because Jessie and I are actually addicted to caffeine we had to stop for a cuppa along the way.  We found this cute little coffee shop for our pit-stop. They had breakfast food too and when I walked through the door I was met by a familiar sound; my dad and I love to listen to his big band cds when we are in the car and one of our personal favorites is Pennsylvania 65000, which is what was playing throughout the store. Eventually everyone trickled in for a little something to keep the damp cold away and I had my first sign that the day was going to turn out ok. I was thinking about Dad a lot. We chatted with the owner behind the counter and she told us that most of the time when it rains in town it won’t at the rocks—I liked the sound of that! Trying not to get my hopes up we finished up our delicious breakfasts and piled back in the van.

She was right. It was still pretty chilly but no rain at Castle Hill! I couldn’t park the car fast enough. I grabbed my camera and put on my climbing shoes (FINALLY! They had been callin’ my name the whole trip!) and headed up the trail into the park. It looked like a scene out of the Lord of the Rings. It didn’t take long for TJ and I to find our first project. It had been a long time since either of us climbed and we didn’t have a crash pad to cushion a fall so we decided to air on the side of caution while we were climbing and picking our routes. Since we had to be in Christchurch with plenty of time to clean and return the vans before our flight we didn’t have a ton of time to climb. I could have spent the whole 11 days just at Castle Hill. We found one boulder in particular that was a pretty easy climb but looked impressive. Even some of the people with us were don’t climb gave it a try. After that trip I know I will have lots of company while I’m working at the rock wall next year! We had an awesome time and I really didn’t want to leave. But alas, we had a flight to catch and beds of our own waiting for us back in Auckland. We got back in the van just in time before it started to rain. I couldn’t help but smile.

The events after we reached Christchurch left much to be desired. I’d rather have my story of this trip end on a happy note so I’m going to skip that bit. But if you really want to know, buy me a coffee and I’ll tell ya sometime.

We arrived back in Auckland pretty late since our flight had been delayed. Luckily we had taken care of our transportation well in advance so our vans were there and waiting to take us to Huia. I had this grand plan that I was going to do laundry AND shower before I went to bed. Neither of those things happened. We all made a little agreement that since we only had a day to ourselves before we would all be back together on the Loyola planned trip that we would avoid all contact o Wednesday. We were all sick of each other—but in a loving way. I don’t think I have been more excited to not have to share my bed or sleep on a center console in my life. It was a glorious trip and I was completely ready to dream all about it in the comforts of my own room.
Fun Fact: Castle Hill is full of limestone boulders that look like they could be the remains of old, run-down stone castles—hence the name. The front of the church that Christchurch was named for (Christ Church Cathedral was basically destroyed by the earthquakes of last year) was made out of the limestone in Castle Hill!

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