February: Travers-Sabine; and, entering NZ at the start and leaving NZ at the end

Posted by Patrick Lam on Monday, March 11, 2024

Table Of Contents

The month was bookended by coming back from Sydney and leaving for Canada. Between that, we also walked the Travers-Sabine Circuit, which had its moments (especially above treeline), but also a lot of below-treeline forest slogging. Apart from that, there was WLU consulting, plus more scholarly reviewing, including PLDI discussions. But, much of February was in Wellington, so here are some Wellington pictures.

Lunar New Year dragon; fireworks; Taniwha Time Machine; St. Pierres Sushi with chicken dinner; new playground at Frank Kitts Park.

We tried to go to the Paniyiri Greek Food Festival in Wellington, but so did everyone else, so we gave up on that.


February felt quieter than January. March, when I’m writing this, seems to have a New Zealand wave but not as much in North America.

In Not COVID news, measles has been pretty popular recently. Get your vaccinations. Measles is actually bad, though many people have forgotten that.


OK, I’m going to complain about peer review. Our PLDI submission was rejected, despite receiving 2 accept reviews, 1 weak reject, and 1 reject. Apparently the reject reviewer was influential, despite not really having (in our opinion) very strong arguments for rejection in the review. We’ll resubmit to OOPSLA. I figured that a software engineering venue would not get the attention that we want.

I’m also grumpy about a special issue submission to the Journal of Systems and Software where there were instructions for the special issue asking for a description of our artifact, and reviewers who didn’t seem to evaluate according to the instructions. C’mon. (Yes, I complained.)

In total, I’d say that I worked on 13 days; February has 20 work days, which is a lot for a short month! There was less PLDI reviewing and so most of my work was pushing collaborations/student work forward. Most of my students are still early in their programs so there is some booting up going on there.

Grad students/mentees/collaborators

I guess I blew off meetings while I was on the Travers-Sabine and also when I was at the conference. Still, I had meetings with people on 8 days, which is a majority of my work days.


Most of the PLDI work was in January but there was still a bit of discussion this month. There was also a review of a grant proposal for Hong Kong. And a PhD defense which I participated in from SFU after an overnight flight from Sydney.

Minor: Advisory Panel for the Iron Ring Ceremony, and talked to a CS faculty candidate.


Did the bulk of my work for the upcoming deliverable in February, including course calendar descriptions.


There was one trip that was squarely in February: Travers-Sabine Circuit in Nelson Lakes National Park. The month was also bookended with two travel days (from Sydney after the ASESS conference, and then to Vancouver for refereeing.)


I’d mostly described my Sydney trip last month, but the trip actually continued to the first day of February. Then I had a 7:55am flight back to Wellington (early morning transit trip to the airport) and took the bus back to my place.

Some weeks after getting back to NZ I got a bill from the Australian mobile provider iinet. It turns out that cancelling one’s service with them is super annoying. 0/10 do not recommend. amaysim is a better bet all around. It’s slow to activate, but apparently they all are.

When I got back to my place, I packed for our Travers-Sabine tramp, and checked that we had sufficient food.


The day after flying in from Sydney, it was off to Nelson Lakes. We took an afternoon flight to Blenheim and then got a shuttle to our airbnb 4km out of St. Arnaud.

Lake Rotoiti jetty; along the Travers; Mount Travers; reflection in a tarn; Blue Lake from above; morning view from Blue Lake hut; mossy tree; joke outlet; Hut Sweet Hut; threatening weather at Blenheim.

Hamish on the Mountaineer took us out to Lakehead Hut to start the Travers-Sabine. There was a bunch of terrain that I’d been on previously on my Mount Hopeless attempt, though I think that it was muddier this time. In any case, this time we walked past John Tait Hut, to Upper Travers (beyond the turnoff for Cupola Hut) on the first day. That was a lot of forest walking.

The next two days were the highlights: over Travers Saddle, with good weather, to West Sabine Hut. Then, a 3 hour walk up to Blue Lake Hut and then up to the Lake Constance view of Blue Lake, one hour beyond and well worth it.

The last two days were more forest walking—some hard—from Blue Lake Hut to Sabine Hut (great view, wasps a minus). And, out on the last day, which is fairly easy, in time for the shuttle to Nelson. We hitchhiked with some Dutch hikers who had rented a car for their hike. We would have been just in time for the shuttle without the ride, but we were 90 minutes ahead with the ride, and avoided a bunch of annoying road walking.

We stayed at the Nelson City TOP 10 Holiday Park which is not close to central Nelson. Then we went out to the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary, a community-run sanctuary which has super rare orange-fronted kākāriki. We did not see any kākāriki. There aren’t a lot of cheap ways to get to Brook Waimārama, but the taxi works. (Uber does not work for leaving the sanctuary; in Nelson it seems cheaper for getting to the sanctuary). The plane got us back to Wellington.

Flying to Canada: Pacific and Edmonton International

I flew to Canada on the Thursday before the Pacific International judo tournament in Abbotsford, with an early-morning departure, and, yet again, a stop in Sydney. Due to the magic of the International Date Line, I also arrived in Vancouver on Thursday, at 6am. Then I napped in a conference room, served on a PhD defense committee, and attended a talk at SFU. Then I got a bunch of sleep in Vancouver and drove to Abbotsford.

At Reifel: Anna's hummingbird, sandhill crane; Pacific International; Edmonton International; my skis at Pearson; Simon Fraser University; seen in Vancouver.

On Friday, I checked out what was in the area, and found the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta. The sanctuary had Anna’s hummingbirds at a feeder, as well as sandhill cranes, and lots of waterfowl. (First time I’d seen a hummingbird!)

At the tournament itself, I appear to have dodged getting COVID, unlike last year. I also managed to get them to open doors to mitigate ventilation to some extent, though that only dropped CO2 from 3300s to 2200s near where I was. It was interesting to see that the curtain really impedes airflow and keeps the CO2 level up, despite CO2 being a gas. My experience is that most people are amenable to improving the ventilation in these venues.

After the tournament, I flew to Toronto, went bouldering at the Rock Oasis with Marco and Blake (saying hi to some OAC folk), and made my way to Waterloo on Tuesday morning. I had a full schedule of meetings for my two days in Waterloo and a bit of a kerfuffle getting the keys to my place. There was a whole chain of annoying occurrences keeping me out, including my garage door opener being unreliable. Many thanks to Rux for putting me up in a spare room!

The Edmonton International is a super big tournament (though still substantially smaller than the Quebec Open). We did the ne waza (groundwork) tournament on Friday, and then 14 hours of fights on Saturday and 10 hours on Sunday. Fortunately, they had the junior referees start the U10s and U12s on Saturday, so I only started at 10:30. Still, I was on for 12 hours on Saturday. At least they provided pizza for dinner. Not as good as the excellent lunch they provided, but better than nothing!

Turns out that our former neighbours Dirk and Martha were on the same flight from Vancouver to Auckland, heading to their NZ trip.

Travel planning

  • Abbotsford/Toronto/Waterloo/Edmonton at the start of March.
  • Cascade-Dart tramp, at the end of March (variation of Rees-Dart).
  • Whanganui River Journey, even later in March.

Movement statistics

Lots of walking and trains in Sydney. Pleasingly little driving.

  • 🚶 Walking: 171km on 24 days (similar to January)
  • 🚲 Biking: 61km on 8 days
  • 🚗 Driving: 19km on 3 days (Nelson Lakes, and ride to YVR)
  • 🚗 Taxi: 28km (in Nelson, and to WLG)
  • 🚌 Bus: 227km on 6 days (Sydney, Nelson Lakes, Vancouver)
  • ✈ Plane: 17,177km (SYD-WLG, WLG-BHE, NSN-WLG, WLG-SYD-YVR)
  • 🚆 Train: 40km on 2 days (Sydney and for a hike in Wellington)
  • 🚆 LRT: 43km (Sydney and Vancouver)


One long walk and one short walk.

  • Travers-Sabine Circuit.
  • Colonial Knob: started late, thought about going through to Mount Kaukau but did not. Test drive of magic Aarn pack which keeps all weight off shoulders.


In April 2022, between terms, I went to New Zealand and we walked the Te Paki Coastal Track which includes Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua. The Cape separates the Tasman Sea from the Pacific Ocean, and it is a significant place in Māori mythology—it is the “leaping-off place of spirits”. It’s almost the most northerly point of New Zealand, but isn’t quite.

Here are pictures from day 1 of the track, through to Tapotupotu.

Waitahora Lagoon and Piwhane Spirits Bay; brittlestem; chiaroscuro over the ocean; Tapotupotu Beach; a bikepacker's tent.

Day 2 included Cape Reinga and Cape Maria van Dieman, before we arrived at Twilight Micro-Camp.

Tapotupotu Beach sunrise; MP with lighthouse in background; Cape Reinga lighthouse; some elevation gain; red dirt towards Cape Maria van Diemen; pipit; tern; morning golden hour; leaving Tapotupotu; waves breaking on coast; dunes.

And on day 3 we walked part of the Ninety Mile Beach before getting a ride back to where we’d parked our cars at Te Hapua.

Birds at Te Hapua: spoonbills and stilts. Morning at Twilight; landscape; view across Twilight Beach; Ninety Mile Beach; speed limit 30; sandboarding.

I also managed to post some pictures from our January trip to Sydney, though the big Botanic Garden at Mount Annan day is still in progress.

Red-browed firetail; red-fingered marsh crab; great egret; juvenile rufous (Nankeen) night heron; Australian water dragon; grey-headed flying foxes; brown gerygone; dinosaurs; redevelopment potential; sulphur-crested cockatoo (×2); another grey-headed flying fox; mind the gap.

The List

Added 7 days, processed 6 days, not including March.

The List

To do, all from 2021 (days):

  • [January] Zealandia, January 4/14/18/Wellington Butterfly (23), Zealandia (April, June, September, November), Wellington Sunset (November), lens tests (November)

Even more pictures from 2022:

  • [May] trips 1 and 2 to Montreal (judo nationals), not on computer yet
  • [August] Colonial Knob, not on computer
  • [September] Napier (2)
  • [September] Motueka (2)
  • [November] New Plymouth (4 days with more than a few pictures)
  • [November] Radome/Red Rocks
  • [November] Remutaka overnight (2)
  • [December] Kereru (03/12), Zealandia (05/12)
  • [December] Auckland
  • [December] Wanaka Grebes (6)
  • [December] Gillepsie Circuit (4)
  • [December] Mueller Hut (2)
  • [December] Glacier iceberg kayaking
  • [December] Omarama
  • [December] Wellington NYE

And 2023:

  • [January] AMC (6)
  • [May] Montreal and NZ (4)
  • [July] Skyline
  • [July] Turoa
  • [July] Wye Creek (2)
  • [August] Petrel Station (2)
  • [August] Rotorua (quick)
  • [August] Ski trip (4)
  • [September] Wellington double rainbow, Zealandia (2)
  • [September] Waterloo/Calgary/Seattle/Squamish
  • [September] Taupō (3)
  • [October] Winnipeg, Scarborough and Sydney (3)
  • [November] Whitireia Park (1)
  • [November] Puke Ariki Traverse (1)
  • [November/December] Ouvea, Noumea Zoo, Riviere Bleue, Aquarium, Grandes Fougeres, Pic Malawi (6)
  • [December] Seattle, Montreal, Nelson (4)
  • Various (5)


  • [January] Nelson (2)
  • Various
  • [January] Sydney (2)
  • [February] Travers-Sabine (7)

February posts

I started writing a 2023 retrospective but there’s still a lot of work to do.


February is a short month, though leap year February is a bit longer.


  • Black Diamond Men’s Mission LT approach shoes (for the Nth time, this time at 30% off)
  • Aarn Mountain Magic 50 PRO: no weight on shoulders, feels like magic, haven’t tried it on a real hike yet.
  • Belkin BoostCharge Power Bank 10k: I discovered that one of our older power banks didn’t actually work anymore. This power bank should give us some extra margin on hikes so that I can record tracks. Though if I had a more power-efficient phone, that would help too.
  • Mens Rab Sawtooth Pants: Turns out I do not have any lightweight hiking pants in NZ. Maybe I have some in Canada, but that’s not clear. All of my pants were far too heavy for Travers-Sabine and I was melting.

I sent my poofy jacket for re-repair. Hope it sticks this time.


There was that 5 day hike where I got back under 66kg, and then judo practice 4×, and bouldering at Fergs once. (Turns out Faultline wasn’t quite open yet).

Not open yet as of late February; now open.


This is a fairly recent book (2020) about animals and plants that are extinct or in danger of extinction in Aotearoa New Zealand, starting with dinosaurs and including the well-known stories (in NZ) of the kakapo and black robin (hence including Chatham Island). Birds are of course the most charismatic of the NZ wildlife, but the book also discusses trees, lizards, fish, and whales. Because it was settled so recently, NZ has more than its share of extinct yet documented creatures, unfortunately. People didn’t even really consider it to be a problem until recently, and even now, conservation often takes second place to economic development. That’s especially true in Australia (see: swift parrot) but not absent from NZ (see: cameras on fishing boats under the current government). Although we haven’t documented any losses of birds recently (the South Island kokako being perhaps or perhaps not extinct), some birds are really barely hanging on, like the fairy tern. NZ does deploy significant resources to save the famous species like kakapo, but the Department of Conservation isn’t really well funded, and it’s always a struggle.


Not too many this month.





  • Char Kway Teow at Spice Alley, probably at [Ginger & Spice]. Not outstanding.
  • Banh mi co ba: OK banh mi, but Hong Ha in Mascot better.
Average char kway teow; Top Kitchen noodles; huge scone from Trees; Hapa Izakaya.


I looked into the OAC CiviCRM issue but didn’t actually file a report or fix it. Should get around to that. Normal amount of OAC volunteering.

Also contributed my thoughts to the rewrite of the constitution for the Wellington Judo Academy (and went to the Quarterly General meeting).


Good sabbatical month. Got some research done and some trips. Certainly less reviewing!