Less than three weeks to go. Belinda is still busy managing a few remaining lambs and calves, with my occasional help! This has been a bit more time-consuming than planned - damn animals never seem to play ball when you want them to.
A little progress has been made on final thinking / planning but still some to do. The main thing that has occupied my time for the last few days has been preparing a set of combined trail notes and maps from the very recently released 2015 version of same (from Te Araroa website). This has been a much larger task than I originally thought, even though it was based on last years's fantastic version produced by Kirstine Collins. Anyway, after numerous hours (too many as my neck, shoulders and eyes will attest to!) I have completed a set for the North Island. The South Island will just have to wait for now - either in the next couple of weeks or, if not, and if no-one else produces one, I may have time during what we hope will be a two week or so break at home between islands. We shall see!
Anyway, if anyone reading this wants the new combined North Island maps, they can be found here on Dropbox - you will see from the folders/files that they are in both original pdf format and in smaller jpg format (as individual maps - better for mobile devices). Please look at the README.rtf file first - thanks.
Back in NZ now and on Monday afternoon (14/9) got a call from AirNZ to say that my suitcase was in Wellington after a month long journey around the world (at no time was it with me!!!). No idea why it never made it to Helsinki with me, or where it went - only clue was that I could see it had been at Brisbane Airport at some stage (what it was doing in Australia who knows!).
Never found the time to update the travel blog - as usual our friends kept us very busy in our main stop-offs in Finland and Sweden. Suffice to say we had a fantastic time all round. Special thanks and love (as on previous occasions!) to Katja and Janne for the accommodation, shopping and sightseeing around southern Finland. A VERY BIG thanks to them for lending us one of their cars for our two weeks (including 3,300km of driving) of touring up through Finland and back down through Norway and Sweden to Stockholm - and for joining us as tourists in Stockholm so they could take the car back to Finland on the ferry.
Also, as always, it was great to catch up with all our friends in Ostersund in Sweden. We were again privileged to spend a few days in Fia and Martin's "boathouse" right on the lakeside.
I spent a few days with Katja and Janne before Belinda arrived and we took a trip to Fiskars (the original home of Fiskars, the tool company).
Next day we all went to visit nearby Raseborg Castle ruins - which was surrounded by sea until about 1500. With glacial rebound raising the land, it is now approx 3km from the nearest substantial bit of water. Quite by chance, our visit there coincided with the largest medieval "war games" gathering in the Nordic countries - an interesting distraction!!
Katja also took B and I to Porvoo - one of the oldest towns/cities in Finland - about 50km east of Helsinki. I always find it fascinating to see such history, coming as we do from a relatively "young" society in NZ. B managed to buy two scarves to replace the one she had left on her BA flight from London to Helsinki - bargain!
In amongst all that we had a great time catching up with both Katja's and Janne's extended families - a great big thank you again for all the wonderful hospitality!!
Hit the road on 20th in the little car (christened Jari) and headed north, stopping to take in Hame Castle in Hameenlinna on the way (yet another castle!!).
Stopped the night at a random place called Kurikka on our way to Rovaniemi. Had to stay at Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi - a bit "kitschy" maybe, but turned out the cabins were really nice, and we enjoyed our two nights there. Managed a short walk behind the village while we were there. Not really much to do in Rovaniemi itself except that we did visit the Arktikum Museum which is well worth a visit in our opinion. Spent a fair part of a day there. Being a hobby knifemaker, I also had to make a brief visit to the original J Marttiini knife factory set up by Janne Marttiini in 1928.
On 23rd Aug we drove from Rovaniemi to Kilpisjarvi via Pello and Muonio. An interesting part of the trip was the multiple instances of meeting reindeer on the road - you certainly had to keep your eyes peeled - especially with a reasonable amount of fog earlier on in the day! They are, however, not fast moving (!!) - Belinda christened them the muppets of the deer family. Not always keen to move out of the way in a hurry!
Arrived in p.m. in Kilpisjarvi and had a nice cabin near the lake itself. Main aim of this stay was to hike up Saana Fell the next day - which we did! A very pleasant day and relatively easily managed. As noted in my earlier post the walk is shown here.
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!