Kiwi Moderate

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Mt. Aspiring National Park, NZ

Another aspect of friendship is the joint lexicon a group develops over time.  Shared experiences become stories, stories become jokes, jokes become catchphrases and so on until it gets to the point where simply mentioning the last name of a high school teacher will bring smirks, smiles or groans of anguish from the right circle of people while making absolutely no sense to anyone else.

The longer one stays with a given group, the more detailed this secret language becomes.  By extrapolation, one can easily concede that in 11+ years of exclusive relationship (8+ of actual marriage) quite an expansive vocabulary would develop.  We bring this up, dear friends, to issue you fair warning:

Hiking in Sheep PaddocksIf either of us ever describe an activity you are about to join us on as “Kiwi moderate” run away quickly.

When we stopped by the ranger station before we started this tramp (aka hike) to grab a few things we’d need, we also had the good common sense to check out the specifics on this little trek our good friend had signed us up for.  According to the park rangers, the hike was an 8 hour “moderate” difficulty (right above easy, right below hard) and involved “some scrambling.”  Neither of us actually had any idea what “scrambling” meant so the rangers told us it was, “like climbing, but not as steep.”  There was even a bail out spot about half-way through: the first hiker’s hut where we could spend the night then continue on to Dan’s hut the next day.

Ok, seemed doable, even for a couple that had spent the last few months chained to a desk against their will.  Hey a little “moderate difficulty” would be just the thing to get the blood pumping again.  Come on we’re talking about an Eagle Scout and a Gold Award recipient who have, in the past 12 months mind you, personally summited volcanic islands in the South Pacific on foot …

Big shoes

…how bad could it be?

By the time we had made it to the first hut we felt our initial confidence was well deserved.  The hike was beautiful and, as you can see, by far and large flat.

We’d done a little up and down and there was a time or two we had to hand over hand to get over a particularly steep part but all-in-all the first four hours were, to use the German expression, “easy peasy.”  Based on the fact that there was a storm due to hit the next day, we had a good weather window right now with plenty of sunlight, we wanted to see our friend and our solid pace so far, we blew past our bail-out point and resolved to finish the whole hike in one day.

…it should have occurred to us to ask why that hut was placed there…

…and it seemed odd that we passed people coming from the other direction with alpine climbing gear & ropes…

…but we finally realized how grossly we underestimated the New Zealand trail rating system when Dan met us, proceeded to tear off his shirt like some Kiwian Hercules preparing to throw down with a hydra and charged to the lead in a make-or-break, all-out, bear-chested ascent of the mountain…

That would be exactly how the phrase “Kiwi Moderate” came into our vocabulary.

For more of our adventures in rising above sea level check out our ascent of “the Needle” in Rarotonga, Cook Islands!

About the authors

Greg and Tiffany are traveling around the world on sailing yachts and keep a video blog of their (mis)adventures.  If sailing to Tahiti on a 44 ft sailboat, 3-day delays for wine tastings, getting pooped on by seagulls, opening coconuts with dull machetes, sailing past tornadoes and ukulele Christmas carols are for you, then check them out at!

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8 Responses to Kiwi Moderate

  1. Erica says:

    LOVE the video guys! I don’t think I would trust anything with the “moderate” thing. LP listed something as a moderate hike and I thought it was a joke…

    • Greg says:

      We’re pretty sure Kiwis don’t rate something as hard unless at least one person dies enroute. Oh, and thanks that vid is one of our recent favs 😉

  2. At least you have pretty pictures, right? Not like you climbed sand dunes in the sahara with nothing to show but brown dunes…and more brown dunes….and more brown dunes….and empty canteens….and more brown dunes….and more brown dunes….and dead.

    I think I’d like to take a helicopter around there some day. NZ has some very lovely places!

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