Archive for February, 2012

Winter is Japan is way cooler.  The Diaries Down Under / Japan Journals Crew have captured the best pieces of the Japan story in their first two of a four part video series.  Although they have just covered the tip of the iceberg, there is plenty of visual media here to convince anyone who may have been on the fence to forget it and go.  Japan is certainly a once and a lifetime trip, though it can easily become an addiction and habit, just ask anyone who has been their more than once.  Check some of the stories from my guided trips last year while working as a guide for Black Diamond Tours in Hokkaido, Japan for another glimpse into this winter play-land.


In the past five years I’ve had just one summer season and the other nine were spent immersed in the dark depths of the winter blues, so the thought of altering this strange lifestyle was not necessarily high on my priority list especially after coming off of such a successful snowboard season and sitting pretty on the World Freeride Qualifying Tour Priority List:

2012 WFQT Priority List.  I was sitting in 5th, reppin for NZ and the USA

After a few subtle, or not so subtle knee-pop-out-of-the-joint maneuvers back in November, I was recommended to get an MRI by legendary physio-therapist Gin Bush.   Within two weeks I was on a plane to Auckland knowing that the photograph would hold determine whether I would be Europe bound by New Years or if I’d be going back under the knife.

Air-born river recon for the Canoe! (Low-res IPOD Photos)

Sure as shit, the results came up positive with a medial meniscal tear, but fortunately, because the tear was clean and I’ve got dangerously sexy knees, the surgeon recommended a repair, meaning that I would hopefully have a 100% healthy meniscus for the rest of my life rather than option b minus.  Also, because it was repairable he was able to apply for urgent care within the NZ Public health system, meaning that I could expect to be on my ass within 4-6 weeks (pretty amazing when you hear of other people on ‘the list’ for years…)

Waiting to see the surgeon in Auckland in the ER with a temperature of (39.6C / 103.3F)

The decision was an obvious no-brainer but the stress leading up to the MRI triggered a dormant yet re-occurring abscessed tonsil in the back of my throat.  Having experienced a peach sized lump in my throat thrice before I knew what sort of agony was in windpipe-line, but lucky for me, I was already at the hospital with time to spare, so diagnosed two problems at once checking myself into the emergency room.  With an empty IV bag dangling from my arm, penicillin/pain prescription drugs, and looming knee surgery, I was prepared to get on my way home to kick off what was left of this summer season surprise.  But, I was wrong.  This time the infection didn’t react to the penicillin and at about 2:00 AM on the fourth morning of the cycle, I decided I was no longer comfortable with the size of my airway nor with the fact that I could barely open my mouth, so I used my remaining speaking capability to hook up an ambulance and wound up in the Dunedin Hospital by about 9:00 AM the following day.

To put this into perspective for those of you familiar with the east coast, it was kind of like checking into a hospital in Florida, getting discharged with an antibiotic prescription and a plan for knee surgery, flying to Maine and when unable to sleep that night, calling the ambulance and getting a ride to the hospital in New York City.

Not stoked…

So, I spent the next two and a half days in the hospital, getting pumped on morphine, extremely large liquid antibiotic injections and intravenous fluids!  Oh yes, I forget to mention this took place over Christmas…and the medical student who popped the peritonsilar-abscess in my throat also popped her peritonsilar-abscess cherry – lucky me!   But, to be perfectly honest, I thoroughly enjoyed the hospital trip and was absolutely humbled by the empathetic Christmas Carolers that strolled through the Head and Neck Ward on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Breakfast at the Dunedin Hospital!  

Following my Christmas banger in the hospital and my weeklong antibiotic injection hangover, I put forth a supreme effort to enjoy my first summer in a long long time!

Stevenson’s Island New Years Party.  Boat/Canoe/Heli access only


Lots of biking to strengthen the legs

Carbo loading

Oceanic Adventures…

Wazza gets some on a rarely surfed West Coast river mouth

Casual double overhead swell running at a 16 second period

Ya, it was pretty good….

 Just another bait ball of Kahawai 



Just another canoe trip in NZ….

Doyle sends it into the Matukituki River 

Welcome to Wanaka!

Unfortunately this photo rather than the one before made the local newspaper.  

Then of course the time came for me to hang my hat and get comfortable with horizontal living for about six weeks.  I flew to Auckland and walked into the hospital on two good legs, knowing that it’d be six months before that may happen again.  But knowing I was in good hands and the NZ government was footing the bill I was willing to make the necessary sacrifice.

Post-op at Ascot Hospital.  Let me just mention their breakfast was superb!

Fortunately the surgery went to plan and I am now three weeks into my recovery with good progress already under way.  I have really great flexion thus far in my knee and have already accomplished heaps of projects that wouldn’t have otherwise been attended to.  Although my blog has been a bit of a boring space lately, I plan to keep fresh posts coming up, though it may not be from current activities because my reading list and things to do list is really not that exciting…

Big shout out to everyone who helped me out during my multiple hospital trips and recovery – Kaz, Schwarter, Gav, Hayden, Waz, Sofi, PG, Lucy and everyone else!

 Welcome to Queenstown!

New Zealanders are quite keen on their summer time festivities.  Whether it is a concert in a vineyard – Rippon, the world famous Hokitika Wild Foods Fest or the Glenorchy Races, Kiwis come out in droves, dressed appropriately or inappropriately and ready to party.   Just after New Years, I was fortunate to have some old friends from Burlington, Vermont pop into Queenstown the evening prior to the 50th Anniversary of the Glenorchy Races.  Not knowing much about the race itself but familiar with the Kiwi attitude I assumed it would be a classic event to break in their first days in QT.  This is kind of what it looked like:




The jockey took a serious thrashing from White Lightning 



Billy and Zach (Spirit Animal) in the house!



First heat of the hotly contested Ladies Gallop!

Dance Hall down by the river


Epic evening Sunset with Bill and Christine



I had to bounce early the following morning because another surf trip was on, but I believe this crew will be back to NZ soon, hopefully touring their freshly cut album:



Check their MySpace page as well for a bit of fresh tunes:  Mastabon, Spirit Animal

Convincing friends to travel halfway around the world to visit NZ is surprisingly difficult.  It’s expensive, they have to get time off, their girlfriends won’t allow it, and they’ve got too many commitments…  Does this sound familiar?

What if you had the chance to win an all expenses paid trip to NZ including car rentals, accommodation and ski passes?  Mons Royale, the hottest merino underwear company is putting this contest on through facebook – just  check out the video below to find out more.  If you win I’ll even introduce you to Ria the blonde bombshell.


Or if you don’t like to leave your life to chance – check out this killer AirNZ deal from the states.  With peak oil looming I recommend taking those long haul flights at bargain prices!