Takaka and Nelson (Richmond), climbing and paragliding

14/1: We drove to Richmond, near Nelson, because that was where the paragliding school was. And when I called (from Wanaka) he said that today flying would be possible. But the weather had changed and it wasn’t for today. So I bought groceries and we drove to Takaka. My next destination was Hang Dog Campsite. The climbers gathering point. (Not even) 500m from Paynes Fords climbing rocks. Nice atmosphere, everybody says hi. And the owner also did paragliding. I walked around. IN THE SUN. Walked to the rocks, met some people, walked to easier rocks, touched them and tried them and told them I would meet them again the day after. And went to the river and just recharged my batteries in the sun. Just…. Lying… In the sun. In the evening some people from the campsite were going to launch a boat in the river and try to kayak it down as Vikings. They had made the boat some days ago. Out of cardboard, rubbish bags and duct tape! And guess what… It actually worked. And then the best was yet to come… A fire at the campsite in the evening! Soooo cosy… And lovely people to meet.

15/1: Climbing in the morning. Paragliding in the evening. Can’t think of a more perfect way to spend your day. A gentle kiwi climber named Jonny I met the night before next to the fire agreed to belay me. My first climbs (It had been over a month since I climbed, I think maybe even two?) were not relaxed. I felt like a newbie without any power. But then gradually I got more relaxed. (Of course the power didn’t come back) and enjoyed the climbing. I wondered why it had taken me so long to climb… It’s still my favorite… And then in the evening I met up with my new paraglide instructor, Stew. He gave me my harness and glider, we met up with the other pilots and drove up the 600m “Barnicoat” hill. I launched and… It was amazing. It was… Epic! So much lift in the air! We stayed in the air over an hour easily. And just when I was highest of all… This terrible headache started. It became worse and worse, so I decided to descend and land. By the time I landed it was nearly unbearable. Even talking took me too much energy. The only thing I could do was go to my car and sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Even if it was only 8pm. Somewhere in the night I woke up and it was better. I ate something and slept again. And in the morning it was over. I often have this, but never this strong.
16/1/: Got this glider to exercise ground handling from Stew. And now that I was in Nelson I payed a visit to the beach. Then I drove back to Hang dog campsite and hung around a bit. In the evening I met up with Jonny who had had a successful climbing day and we shared our dinners. But before that I climbed 4 or 5 route. Euhm… I think. 5c and some top rope 6’s. I was more relaxed and was quite satisfied with my climbing. At night there was a full moon party, a drum cycle, at Pohara beach that we attended. Played the djembe around the fire in the moonlight near the sea. It had a tribal atmosphere over it. Unforgettable.
17/1: I woke up in the morning at the beach and there was no wind. I knew that the wind was going to get real strong a bit later, so I just sat down there, waiting for the moment the wind was at a proper speed for ground handling the paraglider. I made more than 4 successful would-be-launches before the wind got too strong and the tide was coming up, and I was really happy with that result. The rest of the day I hung out with Jonny as he had a resting day. We swam in the Golden Beach sea, went to Puhu – the crystal clear spring, checked out the swimming hole close to hang dog campsite in the some sun, and had dinner in Mussel Inn, a must-eat in Takaka.

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