Queenstown, New Zealand
Monday 25th October 2021

As always, I start by apologising for how long it has been since my last blog, but as only my family and those I pay who actually read this, I'm sure no-one minds...

Since my last blog (83 days ago!) New Zealand moved back into a full COVID lockdown. The lockdown lasted just a few weeks, but since then we have remained in a less restrictive lockdown. Auckland and select North Island regions remain in full lockdown as the delta variant proves difficult to lose. I made the decision to move back into my old house for the lockdown so that I wasn't alone at the hotel for three weeks straight. I enjoyed my time with my friends but was glad to have more freedom and be back at work.

Great camera work by Cam!

Unfortunately, the lockdown has led to almost all of my hiking/running plans being cancelled for one reason or another. I was supposed to run 100km in Naseby, alongside Ariana runner her first ultra-marathon. That event has been postponed until late January, after I leave the country. I was then supposed to hike the section of Te Araroa south of Queenstown. Waiting for decent weather and good fitness proved to be tricky. In November I was expecting to run the Queenstown Marathon again but it has been postponed due to COVID until March 2022. I plan to still run that event on that day, although I probably will be taking it quite slow and easy. The only plan that hasn't changed is my plan to run the Harcombe Round in December. This is the main event and what all my training is now focused on. Hopefully at least that will happen! It's a solo ultra-marathon, not an event, so it shouldn't be cancelled!

Still snow on the top of Coronet Peak

I'm using my weekends as opportunities to run/hike nice trails and see new places. This weekend I am running the Motatapu (between Wanaka and Queenstown) and next week I am visiting Te Anau to see Doubtful Sound and run the Kepler track, one of New Zealand's great walks.

New Zealand is a fun place to run

Every runner talks about their running shoe addiction (I now have a very reasonable three shoe rotation, but you didn't ask) but I must confess and own up to having a bag addiction. As a long-distance runner, thru-hiker and fastpacker, I have a bad for every occasion. I have two 12 litre running vests, an 18 litre backpack, a 25 litre fastacking bag, a 30 litre fastpacking bag, a 33 litre hiking bag and a 65 litre large hiking pack. If I lived in a permanent house in my home country then maybe this would be acceptable, but you've got to remember that I am a backpacker travelling on the other side of Earth to home - even if I have been living in the same town for almost two years! I would include a photo of all my bags but apparently I've started a bag lending business, so they're not all present right now.

There's something missing here...