Category Archives: Uncategorised

The Sponsored Account of Tongariro

I originally wrote this for the magazine, with our sponsor Under Armour in mind. They hooked me up with some clothes and a pair of high tech $200 shoes. This version differs slightly with the mention of rum.

Updating the firmware on your shoes doesn’t sound like the usual sort of pre-hike ritual you might undertake but that’s exactly what I found myself doing in my hotel in National Park the night before me and five mates were to tackle the Tongariro Crossing.

We were doing the track in mid-march, and the week before the upper North-Island had just been hit with massive downpours that had quite literally threatened Auckland’s water supply due to all the silt. You know the one. The weekend forecast looked like rain and we weren’t going to take any chances.

I’m 5.9” 69kg urban dweller who barely ever gets outside, but this was my stag-do so my cohorts and I decided to put in a little effort for a change. In terms of gear I had Under Armour shorts and t-shirt, perfect for all the sweating I was expecting to do, as well as a longsleeved under shirt and long johns. Scrogin, 3 litres of water, a backup rain jacket and a pair of UA Speedform Gemini 3 RE’s rounded out my gear.

We hit the track at Mangatepopo at 8am with the instructions that if we got to Ketetahi 19km away before our designated rendezvous time there would be an earlier bus at 2:45 that would take us home. Challenge accepted! Also another challenge accepted was the extra litre and a half of rum Matt my best man gave me to lug the whole way.

The first leg was a nice warm up with a gradual 250 metre rise. The true test is the sudden incline that was to follow from Soda Springs up 300 metres to the South Crater. A couple of the guys keeled over half way up and my future brother-in-law Jeff wondered whether he’d need the inhaler he hadn’t used since he was a kid.

Making our way across the plane of the south crater there’s a pool of water, which at a push could maybe be considered a lake, don’t bother detouring to it, speed across the flats and scramble up to the Red Crater instead and get amazing views of the desolation that stretches east toward the Desert Road.

Further up we walk up into the clouds, which spritzes us with just enough water to keep our temperatures comfortable. So far the weather has been overcast, and without the sun beating down I’ve barely had to drink any of my water.

We had a choice to continue on to the peak of Ngauruhoe but decided that the extra two hours wasn’t worth the bragging rights, so we continued up another 100 metres to the aptly named Red Crater as it puffed sulphurous steam from it’s depths. It’s a spectacular view

The downhill part came next and is comprised of mulched up grit. Eager tourists sprinted past us only to pinwheel their arms and suddenly introduce their butts to the ground. The bigger guys in our group had trouble with the downhill, while Jeff and I scrambled down toward the three Emerald Lakes. Groups cluster around these crystalline pools and snap selfies like crazy, or spread out and eat lunch before heading out on the next leg.

The lakes are the turn off point for the rest of the northern circuit, which is a three day hike interspersed with cabins. Maybe one day I’ll give it a crack, but not today.

We hit the Blue Lake and turn left into the valley that winds its way to Ketetahi. A cool breeze blew through the valley and tussock start to sprout happily among the volcanic rocks. Prior to this there were precious few signs of life. But as we dropped 300 meters onto the outer slopes of Tongariro life started to literally buzz around us and the native bush slowly emerged around us.

The downhill was a blessing and a curse. By now we had decided there were two sorts of people in this world. Those who got destroyed going uphill, and those with gammy old man knees who couldn’t handle going downhill.

Before hitting the canopy of bush we were treated to a final expansive view north of Lake Rotoaira penned in by farm blocks and pine. Then we were in the bush, and we could have been anywhere in New Zealand. It felt just like I was just up the road from home somewhere in the Waitakere Ranges.

My gear held out well and my Under Armour set of clothes stood me in good stead. My pair of UA Speedform Gemini 3 RE’s were lighter than everyone else’s tramping boots and the only time I felt at a disadvantage was when I copped a shoeful of grit on my way down to the Emerald Lakes. The rest of the time I was impressed by their grip, often walking over slicked wet clay with no fear of natures reprisal.

We got to the end of the walk in about 6 hours, and after syncing my shoes to my phone it told me I had racked up over 30,000 steps in 20km.

Writing this now my muscles have stopped complaining and I’m thinking that I might be keen to give the Northern Circuit a go, but not before updating my firmware.

Our Cat Hates Us, and That’s Fine

I didn’t say it in the last post (but I was thinking it pretty hard) that I’ll be releasing smaller videos more frequently in a weird effort to step this blog up into ’05 levels of vlogging. This is mostly because I have a perfectly good camera going dusty and a ton of ancient content that is yearning to see the light of day. I’ve also started using Premier Pro properly instead of Sony Vegas. Vegas used to be great, but somewhere along the line the mojo was lost and massive file sizes were found. Me and codecs don’t get along.

Not to say I don’t have codec problems with Premier, I just somehow seem to find them slightly more surmountable. For instance my camera sometimes records in the .MTS format which will occasionally lose its audio with Premier. Apparently this can be down to “workflow and file structure” fuckery. But even when I copy the whole shebang off my camera it’ll still pack a sad occasionally.

Anyway, Becky took this cute video of our cat, who’s gender and name are of no consequence. Both facts somehow manage to work their way into the video somehow anyway.

Izak Smells – The Crossing – Ep18

The next episode should have been our South Island trip from ages ago, but it’s such a massive project I can’t find the time or the balls to do it. However this serves as a good warm up, and has me itching to do smaller videos just to get them out there. Expect another one later this week maybe!

Matt my best man gave me perhaps the best Stag Do possible, I haven’t been this relaxed in ages with work crushing down on me with the added twist of the wedding.

Turns out walking for six hours is exactly what I needed, with all that time appended at the bar. Cheers man, it was amazing, and thanks to everyone else who came along as well. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.

I might post a collection of shots from the crossing later as well actually. Just so we have a record that’s somewhere that isn’t Facebook.

Just the Way You Orisa

Orisa released yesterday on Overwatch making her the first new tank since the games release. She’s got a pretty awesome skillset which comprises of everyone else’s skills all rolled up into one.

I thought her skins had a nice variety to them, or at least, enough for a launch. I mean, sure they aren’t exactly is startlingly different as Torb’s skins can be, but they’re fine.

People complained about this perceived lack of variety, but I was able to read between the lines and give people what they really wanted.

You’re welcome.

Also, is there an actual pun in the title of the post? Maybe? I’m not sure. I wrote it in the vain hopes you’d fill in the joke.

Nier Automata – 2B – 8bit Pixel Art

I came out of retirement to bring you 2B, from Nier Automata, a game released by Square Enix earlier in the year for the PS4, and just the other day on PC. I might pick it up as a gift to myself after the wedding, depending on whether I find something cooler in the meantime.

You can now buy this as a sticker!

The game has three playable characters, but I think YoRHa No.2 Type B (2B) is everyone’s favourite. The other two are YoRHa No. 9 Type S (9S) and YoRHa Type A No.2 (A2) who I might draw later.

the main controversy of the game came when a photoshopped screengrab from the trailer gave 2b a rather accurate butthole, brown circle and all. The original image was just a regular panty shot you can expect from any Japanese made game.

However the game designer yoko Taro couldn’t help but make fun of the situation. From a translated tweet he said this:

“Due to the 2B butt controversy, many outrageous drawings are being made. Collecting them to share individually is a pain. I’d like it if I could get them sent in a zip file every week.”

Of course, when you leave a challenge like that floating out for your fans to collect you zips full of Hentai the people were more than willing to oblige.

“After saying ‘send me zips of 2B art’ word got around and I actually got a zip. The Internet is great.”

Murray Ball

We’ve just found out that we’ve lost Murray Ball, a comics legend here in New Zealand. Footrot Flats (as well as Stanley, which were much harder to find) inspired both Becky and I to do what we do today.

His comics captured rural New Zealand in a way no other artist could. muddy fields, tussock, cabbage trees and rugged native bush pervaded his strips. He made our landscape iconic in a way.

He then gave it a soul with his lovable characters, Wall, Dog, Cooch, Horse, Rangi, and Cheeky Hobson.

My brother Ben collected the editions religiously, including the puppy dog miniature editions. I remember they were policed strictly due to the fact I was a kid, and anything put near a kid may as well get thrown into a fire. So when I could I’d beg mum to buy me a copy when we were at a second hand store. To this day, whenever I find a second hand book store I’ll go to the comics section and pick up the inevitable Murray Ball book lurking there.

The box now contains both our collections and sits in my spare room beside my own comics I’ve created.

Murray Ball, we’ll miss you.

120km Ground Based Journey In Elite: Dangerous

I spend most of my time in Elite: Dangerous these days just ferrying people between two systems on the edge of human occupied space, otherwise known as The Bubble. I’m on the edge so the people who need transporting have only one route out of there. That means I visit the same two systems over and over. One, a space station in 64 Arietis called Weyn Dock and the other a planetary outpost called Salak Prospect in the nearby Independent system of Arietis Sector DQ-Y C19 on the moon DQ-Y C19 1 A.

On a good day my flight to Salak Prospect has me flying over a mountain range putting me directly in line with the large landing pads. This is usually about the time Salak Prospect is entering the daylight side of the planet on it’s 18.8 Day rotation around it’s parent DQ-Y C19 1, the closest planet to the systems Class K star.

The mountain range has always held me in awe as I fly over it. And it’s always presented itself as some sort of a challenge, just begging for the human will to conquer to well, conquer it. Sharp eyed readers will notice that I’m not landing at a the larger landing pad, but rather a medium one. I’ll get to that later.

However just beyond it is two craters. One, fairly regular, the other with a protrusion at it’s center, like a nipple or a water droplet caught in slow motion. In the below picture you can see it as the darkest and largest crater in the middle of the image below the mountain range. Salak prospect is on the opposite side of the range on the right hand edge.

Here’s a closer view of it, with me passing over it with my workhorse Keelback, loaded with two vehicle hangers as well as a fighter bay, for quick reckon work. I’m a rookie when it comes to planetary exploration. So I packed two Scarab SRV’s (Surface Reckon Vehicle).

My clever idea was that I’d park up at Salak Prospect and drive from there to the crater, and if I needed it, call in my second scarab if the first one got ruined.

The catch however is that the crater is a 120km straight trip as the Eagle flies. In the below image you can see what I’d have to go through. Meniscus  is on the left hand side while Salak prospect is the scraggly little dots on the bottom right.

The planet has just recently hit the daylight side. So I reckon that gives me a decent amount of time to complete the journey if I have to do it over multiple sessions. I know nighttime isn’t THAT bad, but I’d prefer not to work in it anyway.

I set out at 8:54:03 according to my system clock. In the image below I go around to the right of the main outpost building and go up a slightly less drastic incline.

One of the first things I see on the way up is a cargo capsule rolling down the hill. Someone needs to do something about all this garbage.

I use the parent planet as a guiding point to follow towards my destination.

I spend the first part of this journey getting to 85% hull integrity on my SRV.

It was at this point at 9:24:50 I call it quits for the night (Feb 14) and don’t pick up the journey again till Feb 19, 4:01:04. I whip out my ship launched fighter and take a quick look around just to get my bearings and see how the constellations have moved around. I do my best to take off and land in exactly the same spot. It’s a little difficult due to how bad the terrain is. But I manage.

I keep DQ-Y C19 1 slightly on my left (but within sight) from here on out, which roughly gives me the right direction to go in. I could use the coordinates but I’m not great with numbers and like to do everything by sight. Would be nice to lay down landmark flags or something to follow though.

My newly repaired vehicle quickly prangs and isn’t so spotless anymore.

I reach my first basen and think to myself “Wow, this trip isn’t going to take long at all, it’ll just be over that range in front of me!” I then proceed to roll down the mountain.

I come across my first skimmers, protecting cans of coffee and other detritus. Not my interest so I carry on, giving them a wide berth.

I hit 50% fuel on my first SRV and it’s at this point I realise I might be in trouble. I do some quick calculations and realise I might run out of fuel about 20km or so out from the crater.

I decide I’ll let that be future Izak’s problem and quickly find a downed probe and take a couple selfies.

I’m only 40km away from Salak and I’ve got less than half a tank of gas in my first SRV, and no discernible way to refuel. Did I mention I was a rookie?

I jump on the Galnet and discover that I can in fact refuel via mining rocks and processing sulphur and phosphorous. Pity I can’t find any god damn rocks on this rock!

I wimp out, frustrated, and call in the ship for my replacement SRV.

At this point I take the opportunity to go about 4 or 5km up in my fighter to get a quick look at how far I’ve got to go. Doesn’t look bad! Maybe I’ll be able to make it on my second tank after all. Maybe. If maths suddenly decide to cut me a brake.

From this point onward I follow the arm of the milky way, slicing up from the horizon, as my guide. I set out resolutely hoping I’ll find resources along the way. I’ve spent a couple hours on this trip now and I don’t want to screw it up.

Using the SRV’s radar I find a couple mineable outcrops full of nothing useful. Got elements for repairs though!

I also find another probe, this one protected, and get a bit of a warning. I skedaddle because I don’t want to get into a tussle.

I finally find enough resources for refueling, I have enough for a couple tanks. Until now I was getting pretty frustrated and abusive at my SRV’s constant spin outs. But now that I have a safe amount of fuel, I’m happy. So happy in fact I take a photo of the pattern I made getting all the precious rocks.

Shortly after I get my first ground level view of the crater. A wide flat expanse is before me and with a recently repaired SRV, I gun it with reckless abandon, doing massive jumps along the way.

I smash my hull to below 50%, but I’m undeterred. Suddenly I’m making my way down the inside lip of the crater. The nipple is still about 18km away.


It looks like there’s already some sort of human presence in the crater already.

As I approach the nipple I see something is already on it. Another wreck probably.

System Defence Force? Are you kidding me? Parked all the way out here. And look at that angle. As I take the photo my SRV slides backwards down the slope.

I’ve done it! I’ve made it to the top of the highest point of Meniscus Basin (as I’m going to call it) and completed my journey! Salak Prospect is registering as 118km away but I’m going to call it a nice even 120km to make up for all my zig zagging. The time of completion is 7:14:41.

That means I was on the road for about 3 hours and 45 minutes. I usually idled my SRV in the 0.18g gravity at about 10m/s. This kept me flat on the ground most of the time.

The exact Co-ordinates of Meniscus Basin is 5.3596° -75.8978° for those interested in checking it out.

My beauty shots didn’t register at the time of completion. So I logged back in a day later and took photos of where I left off. The shadows have deepened as the sun makes its way down to the horizon.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure. I’d need new sites to check out. But it was certainly fun, and broke up my usual play. The music that accompanied me along the way was Stellardrone, who I was introduced to through the community.

Thanks for reading!

Life Hack For Discerning Gentlemen #1

There comes a time in a mans life when he shall partake of a deuce in the company of a women. Not in the boudoir, but rather the shitter adjacent.

Now, if your diet is high in fat, you shall find that your excrement shall occasionally float. In such an instance, flushing the poor fellow to his doom may be out of the question, due its plucky attitude to sinking.

There is nothing to be done at this moment but to grab a piece of toilet paper and delicately lay it over the top of the stool as if it were a burial shroud.

Leave and then hope that the next person doesn’t notice the surprise you’ve left, although I have to admit, this may be too optimistic a hope.

Win a Book We’re In!

So we had the honour of contributing a couple words to our friend Zee’s book. It’s for kids looking to get into writing and arting. Our contributions were in the writing one, which I know may be a little confusing considering IZS is mostly known for its pictures, but Kristof does some stellar work here and that shouldn’t go and get forgotten!

We have these two gorgeous books by Z.R. Southcombe up for grabs today! Leave a comment below to enter the draw, and if…

Posted by New Zealand Book Council on Monday, February 13, 2017

The New Zealand Book Council is doing a giveaway at this very moment which you can get involved in. You could enter for a kid you know who’s creativity you want to nurture, or even your own! There’s no cut-off for these sorts of things.

Personally I’m pretty amped, and so is Hubert.