Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Let's Get to Know Our Hill

Sometimes when you're in a room full of people smoking instead of talking your eyes start to redden and hurt. Sometimes when you drive home and lie awake in bed at 4:30am it can make your stomach a bit sick. At times like those I put all my clothes into the washing machine and take a shower and thoroughly scrub myself to get rid of the cigarette smoke and the empty conversation. In the morning I vacuum the carpet and scour my sheets for pubic hairs. I do the dishes. Yet even after these penitent rituals you can still feel a bit grotty. That grottiness is a grottiness that can almost be sweated out, alone or with friends, on a walk on the Port Hills. Not quite, but close to it. We owe it to Harry Ell, the original mastermind behind the Summit Road who hired unemployed workers during the Great Depression to dig the road. Thanks Harry Ell.

The hill isn't just for theatrical songwriters Jonathan Phillips and Dudley Benson to sing songs about. It's also a roosting spot for bona-fide hipsters to hang:

A The Sign of the Kiwi regular

Where can we start? The Port Hills are pretty intimidating, if not intimidating in altitude (300-500m) then certainly intimidating in terms of number of walks. There are literally billions of walks on the Port Hills. A day walking on the Port Hills is pretty much like a game of Russian Roulette where an empty cartridge is a swell view and a full cartridge is an unmemorable day. Avoid the deathly full cartridge by planning your walk carefully and choosing a track suitable to your personality.

Port Hills Walks:

VICTORIA PARK

Only for hardened walkers. This is a pretty scary track. Not only does it pass the scene of the Parker-Hulme murder ... woah, I think the Parker-Hulme murder deserves a section on its own.


THE PARKER-HULME MURDER
Still trying to find this magnificent property. Taylor's Mistake? On the way to Diamond Harbour? Devauchelles?

pauline parker and juliet hulme walk down the track
pauline is sixteen and juliet is fifteen
they stop walking to listen to the bell bird
they stop walking to listen to the litter padding
it's a party, pauline thought
it's like before christmas
pauline's mum, honara, comes around the corner
pauline holds a brick in a stocking
juliet hugs honara and pulls honara's arm back
pauline pushes the brick against honara's skull
juliet pushes the brick against honara's skull
honara's skull cracks
honara still isn't dead
pauline pushes the brick against honara's skull
juliet pushes the brick against honara's skull
honara grounded, not fighting nor moving
the stocking torn, stocking ladders
the sticky stocking's blood and bone and hair
pauline throws the brick into the bush


Another cheerful day in court: This writer likes how Juliet and Pauline are referred to as 'characters'

Anyway, back to the sentence I abruptly cut off without precedent. The Victoria Park track not only passes the scene of this bludgeoning, but contains scary warning signs. The following is a genuine extract from the welcome sign:
Warning Poison
Cholecalciferol
DO NOT touch bait
DO NOT EAT animals from this area
PLEASE ENJOY YOUR VISIT
As long as you don't have begrudging teenage daughters and don't eat the animals you pass along the way, you should be okay. Catch the number 10 or 67 bus.

MOUNT VERNON


The easiest way to get to this gentle valley is to take the 18 bus to Huntsbury. While Mount Vernon doesn't contain much apart from a view, a car park, and a map board, it does link to the Rapaki track and the Crater Rim.

BRIDLE PATH

Still drunk: the only way to walk home from the Wunderbar

Catch the number 28 and get off at the gondola car park. Then it's about three hours to walk over to Lyttelton.

GODLEY HEAD
Totally rad

Godley Head contains military sites, mountain bike tracks and frogs for hunting.

SIGN OF THE BELLBIRD

HALSWELL QUARRY


MYSTERIOUS CASHMERE LAKE

Google Maps exposes a dark circular patch. This indicates a lake that a lady maintains on her property. It's quite impressive. Of course, to view it in person you'll be trespassing. There's a little dinghy for floating on. The lady says that James K Baxter once wrote poems on this dinghy on this hillside lake.

HEY WHERE'S THE GOSSIP

Can yrgoldenage maintain its hits with innocuous posts about hill walks? Probably not. Here's a concise and obscured guide to the gossip that yrgoldenage learnt first-hand over the weekend:
  • Prominent scenester getting punched
  • Prominent scenester getting too drunk to get into Goodbye Blue Monday ("HEY I JUST WANT MY JERSEY DO YOU WANT ME TO GET HYPOTHERMIA WALKING HOME!")
  • Prominent scenester exposing lusty tales of wanderlust
  • Scene Femme Fatale emerging from Goodbye Blue Monday toilets followed by another girl
  • Up-and-coming scenester's bulimia (or just too drunk, not sure)
LET'S EMBED OURSELVES IN THE FOLDS OF OUR HERITAGE: SEND ME A TXT AND WE'LL WALK TOGETHER

3 comments:

micky22 said...

I have to admitt having lived 22 years out of 26 on the port hills, one does feel that they are indeed part of some secret club complete with its own school buses and snow day rules. my whole childhood life was spent on the port hills as school was also on the hill. you do indeed feel like some sort of weird christian fundamentalist cult some days.

Jonathan Phillips said...

i have nothing but nostalgia

jordan said...

the trials were sweeeeet.