Product Testing in New Zealand with PAST Outdoors

Product Testing in New Zealand with PAST Outdoors
 ( 4 minute read )
Reflecting on a recent trip to New Zealand which we snuck in just before the trans-tasman travel bubble closed due to the recent Covid outbreak in Sydney. In order to be able to fly to New Zealand I was required to get a pathology Covid test and produce a negative result no more than 2 days before flying out. Having only a few days notice of the trip I found myself scrambling to get things organised, sifting through many different government websites looking for the most up-to-date travel info for cross border travel between Victoria and NSW and also between Australia and New Zealand.
Having not been to New Zealand previous to this trip my excitement was palpable. I had to plan the timing of my test so as not to fall victim to my period of isolation and also to try and keep in line with the timeframes for international travel (within 2 days). I also had to factor in driving from Melbourne to Sydney as that is where the flights were booked from. I had a few things to do before getting the test so I aimed for a 11am Saturday and hoped for an early Sunday morning result so I could use Sunday to drive to Sydney and flights out were Monday morning. All the stars aligned and the result came through (negative) at 5am on the Sunday morning.
I made no unnecessary stops along the way and fuelled up on the outskirts of Sydney in anticipation of needing to avoid Sydney on my way back into the country after the trip (this paid dividends ). I gave my Spotify playlist a good thrashing and really enjoyed the drive up. I made Sydney at around 6pm on Sunday evening and stayed in the good company of Tegere co-directors Bruce and Kavitha and shared my bed with Mak the Kelpie x Cattledog.
An early start was required to ensure there were no hold ups at the airport. Smooth sailing and we were in the Qantas Club in no time, chowing down on a croissant and a long black. Interestingly I wasn't asked to show my proof of Covid test or interstate travel permit at the check-in at Sydney Airport. I was, however, asked to present them at Christchurch when I pushed the " I have been in Victoria in the past 14 days " button on the customs scan. All in all it seemed the airports at either end were more interested in the cleanliness of my MSR Whisperlite Stove and Dave's PAST Outdoors Tipi..
First stop out of Christchurch airport was an outdoors store to pick up a Silky Saw which came in very handy for firewood missions during the trip. Next stop, Speights Ale House for some beer, wifi and preliminary trip planning. Our first night was a set up in the dark and found us perched by Lake Pearson an hour or so out of town towards Arthurs Pass. This was my first hands on experience with the PAST UL6T (apart from the customs check) and I must say I was quite impressed by the speed of setup for such a spacious structure. More impressive was the wondrous heat generated by the optional Titanium Fold-Up Stove situated in the centre of the tipi.
The following morning we made our way down the west coast after an obligatory pie stop in Arthurs Pass. A flyby of the supermarket and another outdoors store for stove gas and we set our sights on the Whataroa River. The impacts of the reduction of tourism was already starting to show with many accomodation business laying dormant. Thankfully it seemed plenty of NZ locals were moving about the South Island and keeping things, somewhat, on the go. Our campsite for night 2 was a few kilometres up the river so we had to try and make it in before dark. As we had parked in the carpark of a local helicopter service, it was by pure "chance" we were offered a flight up the river a bit by Josh, a very kind pilot that we struck up a conversation with. $100 well spent as we realised on the walk out the next day that we would have been up for a few more hours than we thought.
So far the weather had been kind to us but the forecast had other plans for the coming 4 or 5 days. Snow down to 1200m, then 600m and then it just said "snow all around" so we made a few changes to the itinerary and continued a loop via Wanaka to Christchurch where we regrouped our kit and picked up another party member who had flown in from Auckland. With some local knowledge now on our side it was straight to the (locally) famous pie shop in Sheffield and a few phone calls were made to a Hokitika helicopter operator; Precision Helicopters. A few umm's and arr's about the weather and we were on our way to Frisco Hut. An unplanned adventure and more a case of what ever we could get our hands on given the cloudy conditions.
Frisco Canyon did not disappoint nor did the hut itself. The climb to the tops was significantly steep and made more interesting by rain and snow, the boots and gloves were pushed to their limits (and beyond). Two of the three nights were spent in the hut and the third was spent in the Tipi at the tops where we recorded temps as low as -6 degrees celsius on the Kestrel. The temperature was ok but the whipping, howling winds in the morning is what drove us back down to the hut to wait for Matt to come get us in the chopper. Meanwhile over the past 5 or 6 days of the trip our flights were being cancelled and rescheduled as Sydneys Covid situation worsened. With a few days remaining we felt we could sneak in one more night in the bush and headed further south to a little spot up the river just out of Franz Joseph.
The following day we made tracks for Christchurch once more, after yet another burger at Snakebite.. I took the wheel so Dave could try and get some admin done regarding the flights and some accomodation for our last couple of nights so we could decommission our kit before flying. We enjoyed some cafe food and shopping around Christchurch on our last day in town and also visited the Cactus Outdoor store and did a tour of their factory. I also took the opportunity to grab a Down Jacket to see out the remainder of Melbourne's chilly winter. Since most of the flights direct to Sydney from New Zealand had been canceled we had to fly via Melbourne with a 2 hour stop over which added some sting to my transit home as I was already having to drive back to Melbourne once we arrived in Sydney.
The advice would suggest that I would need to get tested and quarantine for 14 days because I came into Melbourne from Sydney but it always pays to read the fine print. Those "transiting" through a red zone do not need to isolate if they have not remained in that zone for more than 24 hours and agree to take necessary precautions on their journey. That full tank of fuel now coming in handy! We arrived back in Sydney around 9pm and by 10pm I was on the Hume headed out of town. A quick stop 2 hours out of town before pushing on a bit further and having a sleep for an hour or so, then got as far south as Coolac for my next "power-nap". My next target was Cafe Musette in Albury which opened at 7am. Coffee and Banana bread and off I trotted with a quick fuel stop in Wadonga and I was home to my family by 10.30am.
We really were lucky to have gotten away to NZ when we did. The local folk over there were incredibly friendly and welcoming (even of me, the Victorian) which at the time was the frowned upon state, little did they know what was unfolding in Sydney. 
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