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7 2017 Feb

Tongariro Crossing – Jan 2017

What a perfect day we had for this adventure!  We certainly appreciated that fact when we found out that the day before had been unfavourable conditions and as it turned out, the day after was thick with fog!

We headed off from Auckland on a very hot, sunny afternoon and drove via Tirau to pick up the 4th member of our group.  Just a small group but the van was full of our chatter!

Walking in to the local pub with Mt Ruapehu to our left.

We arrived at our very comfortable, self-contained, holiday house and settled in before heading off to the local pub for dinner.  It was pretty much full of other trampers with very few kiwi accents that we could hear.  This was to be our experience on the crossing too, loads of other trampers and all seeming to be from different countries (and all much younger!) We all had an early night so that we could be up early and ready for our 6.45am shuttle van.

7.40am at the start of what turned out to be an almost 8 hr trek. (Lots of photo stops…)

We awoke to a lovely fine, clear day and joined the masses being transported to the start of the crossing.  Bus loads were being dropped off and we wondered what it was going to be like, all jostling for space on the track.  Luckily we did all span out and it was only at the toilets or the “slowly and carefully” parts of the track that we all ended up in queues.

 

On the boardwalk at the start.

 

The first part of the track is easy, boardwalks and pretty flat terrain.  From Soda Springs the track starts to climb up the long ascent known as the Devil’s Staircase, (I think there are a few walks in NZ with a Devil’s Staircase!)

 

 

On the climb up the Devil’s Staircase.

 

 

We were all very pleased to get to the top, have a rest, find somewhere out of the wind to have some food and then head up to the Red Crater. It was during this part that we all noticed a young man on a BMX bike trying to cycle the track!  Mind you, when we saw him he was carrying his bike and I’m sure he would have had to do that for a fair bit.

 

 

The awesome Red Crater! Photos just do not do it justice…

The red crater was absolutely stunning!  So dramatic, almost like something from another planet!  Deep, rich, dark blood red, rusty browns and ominous black walls steeply disappearing into this huge crater.  The fierce cold wind only added to it’s stark beauty.

The magnificent Emerald Pools.

Once again, we sheltered out of the wind whilst admiring the panoramic view.  From here it was a bit more of a climb and then below us was one of the most magical scenes of the whole trip,  the Emerald Lakes.  These honestly have to be seen to be believed.  All around us was this rocky, sparse terrain and in front of us was a huge scree slope heading down to where these 3 magical lakes sparkled and shone in turquoise splendour.  All around us people were taking advantage of the perfect conditions and taking photos and videos.

Slowly and carefully making our way down the scree slope.

We joined the long, slow procession carefully snaking down the crumbly, scree slope.  Many a slip was had but luckily no-one was seriously injured.

 

 

On our way down to Ketetahi car park with the Blue Lake ahead of us.

We walked across the vast Central Crater, the sun shining down, enjoying the ease of the track.  From here it was an easy walk to the Ketetahi Hut and it was about here that we realised that we didn’t have quite as much time left as we thought we did.  Despite starting to feel a little bit weary and foot sore, we needed to up the ante to make sure we were back by our pick up time of 3.30pm.

The track down through the alpine scrub and down into the forest is actually really lovely, especially with the pretty little river rushing alongside.  However, we didn’t get to really appreciate it due to the rush to get back in time! Needless to say, we made it back and thankfully settled in to the air-conditioned shuttle bus and drowsily nodded off on the ride back to National Park.

It had taken us almost 8hrs with lots of stops for rests and photos and we were all feeling very satisfied with ourselves.

Once we were showered and rested, we sat back with wine and nibbles and celebrated the day.  We ended up celebrating a bit too much, or maybe we were just too knackered, and decided to stay home instead of going down the road for dinner.  Yes, it was an early night that night too!

We woke the next morning to this!

And as I said at the start, look what we woke up to the next morning!  Thick fog that lasted all day, in fact, they closed down the track.  Were we feeling a little bit smug and pleased with ourselves that we had done the track YESTERDAY……..damn right we were!

 

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31 2016 Jul

Tiritiri Matangi – July 2016

Well, who would have thought it…….?  The weather forecast wasn’t looking too good and it was touch and go whether the trip to Tiritiri Matangi Bird Sanctuary was going to be called off or not, but it turned out pretty much to be a perfect winter’s day!

Arriving at Tiritiri Matangi.

Arriving at Tiritiri Matangi.

If you’ve never been to this island bird sanctuary, if you’ve never heard the sound of what the New Zealand bush must have sounded like way – way back, then I definitely recommend a trip to Tiritiri!

Listening to the birds.

Listening to the birds.

We were all overwhelmed at times by the beautiful and very loud song and calls of all the different native birds. At times it was so noisy you had to raise your voice to be heard by the person next to you!

Listening to our very informative guide, Kathy.

Listening to our very informative guide, Kathy.

Once we arrived, we were given a 2hr very informative guided walk about the history of the island, the birds and the native plants and trees.  Although we didn’t actually go very far on the walk, we saw so much and were constantly stopping to see the many tui, bell birds, saddlebacks, robins, kereru ……

On the ferry, a lovely quick trip.

On the ferry, a lovely quick trip.

After our lunch there was only time to go for a bit of an explore before we caught the ferry back to Gulf Harbour, (it only takes half an hour) and Auckland, (another 50 min away from Gulf Harbour.) The weather was starting to change, it was getting cold and windy, but it was a pretty calm trip back.   We were all feeling like we’d like to go back again for another visit and more of a look around.

I’m definitely thinking about taking a group over for an overnight trip.  There’s a lodge you can stay in there. Staying overnight means you can do a night walk to see the kiwi (hopefully) and the tuatara. The night sky apparently is incredible so there’d be some star gazing and then in the morning we’d be up early to hear the dawn chorus.  Sounds like a great weekend trip doesn’t it?!  Keep an eye out for it coming up in the summer months.

 

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18 2016 May

Great Barrier Island – May 2016

A rushed ride to the ferry and a panicked ride to the airport bracketed the beginning and the end of what was otherwise a fabulous four days of exploring  Great Barrier Island.

On our way into Tryphena from the ferry.

On our way into Tryphena from the ferry.

We left at 8am from the Sealink ferry terminal in Auckland for what was supposed to be a 4hr trip…….5 hrs later we arrived in Tryphena after a very choppy crossing with most of us feeling a bit green around the gills.

However, the sun was shining and the sea was now calm and sparkling beside us as we walked along the road into the little township of Tryphena.  Stopping at a General Store we bought some basic supplies for our meal that night and breakfast and lunch the next day.  We divvied up the food between us, squeezed it into our already full day packs and set off for the approximately 3 hr walk over to Medlands Beach, following the Kowhai Valley Track.

At the start of the Kowhai Valley Track.

At the start of the Kowhai Valley Track.

It was a long climb up Rosalie Bay Rd to the start of the track and by now the sun was slowly slipping towards the horizon.  We hoped we would get to our accommodation before dark.  Did we make it ………..well …… no. The last 10 minutes or so we walked along the road in the dark with our headlamps blazing before finally making it to Medlands Beach Backpackers.  It had been a long and eventful day and we were all ready for showers, dinner and an early night.  The bottle of wine that one of the women had stashed in her backpack went down a treat too!

looking out over Whangapoua. Just gorgeous.

Looking out over Whangapoua. Just gorgeous.

The next morning we were picked up by Lianne from GO Great Barrier and taken to the start of the Heretaonga Coastal Track.  This pretty track meanders gently around the hills overlooking the coast with all it’s stunning secluded bays and coves.

 

We couldn't resist stripping off for a swim.

We couldn’t resist stripping off for a swim.

We made it in plenty of time to our pick up spot at Heretaonga Bay so decided to check out the beach and couldn’t resist stripping off and running in for a very refreshing swim.  We couldn’t believe the water was so nice for May!

Lianne picked us up and drove us to our next accommodation at Crossroads Backpackers, stopping to look at the gorgeous views of the island along the way.  We were hosted by the very friendly and chatty Kate and Bruce.

Our evening at the local Sports bar.

Our evening at the local Sports bar.

Dinner that night was at the local Sports Bar which was pretty much right next door.  This was a  lovely big open plan wooden building with a big blazing fire, which wasn’t really necessary but added to the ambience. We all thoroughly enjoyed our evening there, chatting with the locals and of course the great food.

Day three and we were up, leisurely breakfasted in the sprawling comfy kitchen/dining room and off up the road to the start of the Te Ahumata Track that would take us up and over to Whangaparapara and our next accommodation at Great Barrier Lodge.

Quad stretch at the top of the Te Ahumata track.

Quad stretch at the top of the Te Ahumata track.

The Te Ahumata Track is an easy walk with an hour loop up to the look out at the top of the big flat ridge.  It was another lovely blue sky sunny day as we ambled along, chatting and laughing, enjoying the day. The view from the top, though slightly hazy, was still well worth the climb.

Our well deserved lunch at Great Barrier Lodge.

Our well deserved lunch at Great Barrier Lodge.

We strolled down the road and into Whangaparapara to the Great Barrier Lodge where I had phoned ahead to let them know we’d be wanting lunch.  I was so glad I had as we were all feeling pretty hungry and wolfed down the BLT’s, toasted sandwiches, moist carrot cake and plunger coffees!

Exploring the tranquil bay.

Exploring the tranquil bay.

Some rested after lunch and some of us went off kayaking, exploring the calm and tranquil bay. Tui’s sang from the nearby trees, the water was glassy and smooth as we silently paddled, absorbing the beauty.

Fresh snapper and salad for dinner, sitting out on the deck of one of the cabins, rugs over our knees, talking together, sharing our stories…… just perfect. Once again, I’d been blessed with such a lovely group of women to share another adventure with.

Heading off to the Hot Springs.

Heading off to the Hot Springs.

Our last morning on what was to be an exciting and almost disastrous day. We were up early and on the track to the Hot Springs by 7.30am.  We were running to a relatively tight schedule to get to the hot pools, have a soak and walk out to the road to be met by Steve, (Lianne’s husband) and taken to Claris to get our 12.30pm flight.

Loving these hot springs!

Loving these hot springs!

All went beautifully to plan, we had plenty of time for our walk, loved our long soak in the natural hot springs pool, got out to the road with 10 minutes to spare…… 40 minutes later we were still waiting!

We were starting to get worried as our flight would be leaving in half an hour and we still had to get the rest of our stuff from the Lodge which was in the opposite direction to the airport.  We managed to flag down a local and get them to ring Steve, (there was no phone reception where we were) and soon Steve turned up apologising profusely. He had read our pick up time as 1.30, not 11.30! A speedy dash to pick up our bags (as much as you can on the winding Great Barrier roads) and a then a return rush into Claris to the airport where we made it with 2 minutes to spare! As much as we all loved being over there we all had lives to get back to on the mainland.

We made it! Our flight back to Auckland.

We made it! Our flight back to Auckland.

We clambered into the little 8 seater plane and had a lovely flight back, (just ahead of a big storm, thankfully) marvelling at the beauty below us.

Goodbye Great Barrier.

Goodbye Great Barrier.

Once again, Great Barrier Island seduced us all with her beauty, her friendly locals, her laid back lifestyle and sense of New Zealand as it used to be.  I’ll be back again with another group next year, count on it!

 

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22 2015 Sep

Bay of Islands Tramping Weekend – Sept 2015

The forecast wasn’t looking that great for the weekend but we headed off anyway, feeling positive and optimistic that we’d cope anyway (and think of a Plan B just in case!)

We did a bit of a “tiki tour” on the way stopping at Kaiwaka to check out the huge kauri carvings at The Art Factory (well worth a look.)

From there we travelled up to Whangarei stopping for a delicious coffee break at the i site. They do these wonderful coffees with coconut milk and oil added to them….The tourist shop right next door proved to be a great little shopping spot and we all got some excellent bargains.

Whangarei Falls.

Whangarei Falls.

The next stop was the Whangarei falls just out of Whangarei and a very easy 10 min loop to check them out, (worth a look.)

 

 

BOI 2

The Hundertwasser toilet block in Kawakawa.

Our last stop was at Kawakawa to have a look at the famous Hundertwasser toilet block (again, well worth a look.)

 

 

From there it was just a short distance to Paihia.

Haruru Falls.

Haruru Falls.

Lunch, (according to my itinerary), was to have been on the beach but with the rain spitting down we decided maybe not, and went to a cafe instead.  From there we caught a taxi up to Te Haruru Falls and followed the track out to Waitangi and back into Paihia, walking in the pouring rain!

Dinner out in Paihia.

Dinner out in Paihia.

Showered and warm and dry, we headed out for dinner in Paihia and then back to our motel for a good night’s sleep before our big walk the next day.

 

We walked on coastal pathways….

The morning dawned bright and blue skyed but with big black clouds on the horizon. By 9am we were breakfasted and on the coastal track from Paihia to Opua.

The full circle day walk is a delightful mixture of coastal pathways, beach walking across little bays, bush tracks, boardwalks and through the streets of Russell.

                                             across pretty little bays…..

through beautiful bush.....

through beautiful bush…..

 

 

 

 

 

From Opua we caught the 5 min ferry over to Okiato and on to Russell.

BOI 9

along boardwalks in the rain……

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were on again, off again with our rain gear as rain clouds came and quickly went.

Happy little trampers!

Happy little trampers!

In Russell we only had 2 minutes to spare to catch the ferry (or wait for another 40 min).  Big ice-creams finished the day off nicely and we clambered back into the van for the trip back to Auckland (no tiki touring this time.) It had been an excellent weekend, spitty, showery rain and all!

 

 

 

 

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3 2015 Jun

Rotorua Adventure Weekend – May 2015

I don’t think we could have fit more into this weekend if we tried! We covered all the bases from screaming exhilarated excitement to blissful sighs of relaxation.

We arrived at our motel – Malones (that had these awesome huge spa pool bath tubs) and then set off for a cultural tour of Whakarewarewa Village.

At Whakarewarewa Village.

At Whakarewarewa Village.

 

This place is well worth a visit and is a fascinating insight into how the Maori people used and still use this geo thermal area. An enthusiastic singing, dancing and poi demonstration finished off the tour.

 

 

Ahhhh........Bliss....

Ahhhh……..Bliss….

 

From there it was off to relax in the famous Polynesian Pools.  Soaking in these natural hot springs while gazing at the lake beyond as the day slowly turned to dusk, was utterly wonderful!

 

 

 

 

Dinner at Ephesus Cafe.  Yum!

Dinner at Ephesus Cafe. Yum!

Feeling very relaxed but hungry we went into town to find somewhere for dinner. Well, it seems we were the only ones who hadn’t booked a table in Eat Street.  Everywhere was booked out solid! It was the Blues Music Festival weekend and there were people everywhere and the cruisy, body swaying beat of blues music drifting out of the bars and cafes.  We eventually found a table at the yummy Ephesus cafe, settled back with wine and food and enjoyed the evening.

Setting off into the Redwood Forest.

Setting off into the Redwood Forest.

 

Day 2 was our “adventure day’ starting with mountain biking in the Redwood Forest.  Half of the group were novices so we started on the Kids Loop which certainly still gave us plenty of oomph!  We then split up into 2 groups and did the trails that best suited our abilities.  There are so many trails (and so many people) everywhere.  You could easily spend a day exploring and having lots of fun.

 

Walking around the Blue Lake.

Walking around the Blue Lake.

 

From there we headed off to walk around the Blue Lake – a very pretty little lake that supposedly takes one and a half hours to walk around but ended up taking us a bit longer due to taking a couple of wrong turns.  Signage is not the best!

 

 

On the gondola going up to the Luge.

On the gondola going up to the Luge.

By then it was getting on for 4pm and we still had the Luge rides to go (as did hordes of other people as it turned out!)  We managed to get 2 rides in before they closed for the evening and we LOVED it! We ‘warmed’ up on the beginners track where we each seemed to get in touch with our inner racing woman before setting off confidently down the intermediate track daring anyone to try to overtake us!

Feeling exhilarated but also pretty ‘had it’, we headed into town for a lovely tapas meal and a wine (still in our adventure gear) before going back to our big spa bath pools and soaking the rest of the evening away.  Bliss……..

It doesn't get much better than this. Relaxing at Kerosene Creek.

It doesn’t get much better than this. Relaxing at Kerosene Creek.

We woke to spitty rain the next morning which was off and on for the rest of the day.  We breakfasted at Fat Dog Cafe and then headed off towards Taupo to Kerosene Creek, a natural hot pool, down a dirt road in the NZ bush. I can highly recommend this!  Just 2km off the road, a little shed and toilet, a 3min walk along the river to a steamy big pool with a forceful waterfall that was great to stand under!

Rolling down the hill. That's us, the little black dots inside the ball.

Rolling down the hill. That’s us, the little black dots inside the ball.

Today was going home day but not before a zorb ball ride on the way!  We stopped at OGO, stood waiting, shivering in our togs and thermals before being taken up to the top of a big hill.  Pamela and I were doing the Sidewinder, a longer and supposedly more gentle ride, Carisa was doing the straight ride – faster but shorter.  40 litres of hot water inside our zorb ball made it nice and comfortable …..until the ball started rolling down the hill!

Pamela and me at the end of our exhilarating ride!

Pamela and me at the end of our exhilarating ride!

It was definitely a lot of fun, very exciting, verging on hysteria and a not to be missed experience! As an aside, Pamela is a pensioner in her 60’s, an intrepid explorer from way back but still very nervous about doing this adventure and she did it!  Very inspiring!

So that was our 3 day, jam packed weekend of adventure, (with some relaxing stuff) in the tourist mecca of Rotorua.  I’ll definitely be doing this adventure again!

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4 2015 May

Beautiful Bali! – April 2016

Bali…..just the mere word conjures up a mosaic of unique, exotic, colourful, cultural experience like no other. From its mountainous interior, through villages full of temples and sweet wafting incense past its vibrant green, rice paddies to its long coastal beaches of frothing white surf, Bali delights the eye and totally wows the senses.

Cycling through rice fields.

Cycling through rice fields.

The first time I had been to Bali was 20 years ago, then 15 years ago and while it has definitely gotten busier with lots more tourists, shops and motor scooters, the essence of what makes Bali special remains the same.

 

My husband Derek and I had gone over to Bali this time not just for our own holiday but also to check out and put together an adventure/cultural/relaxing type holiday for my Women’s Adventures NZ to do Bali next year in 2016. And I believe we’ve done just that.

The pool at Little Pond in Sanur.

The pool at Little Pond in Sanur.

Here’s a brief updated overview of what this holiday would look like. The dates are Wed 13th to Tue 26th April 2016. April is a good time of year to go as it’s the end of the wet season and it’s not the peak busy season (June, July and August.) The cost is $2000.00.  The cost includes pretty much everything except your airfares and most of your meals (except for breakfast). It includes  stunning  twin share accommodation at at 6 different locations, transport with our own driver, cycle tour, sunrise tour, cooking class, ferry trip to Nusa Lembongan, entrance fees to the various places we will visit and cultural performances.

 

Day 1 and 2 – Sanur

The first couple of days would be spent at the lovely, relatively peaceful Sanur on the East Coast. This would give everyone a chance to ‘arrive’ and acclimatise themselves. There is a lovely long cycle-path along the beachfront and lots of little lanes and streets to explore by bike. A sunset excursion to Uluwatu is included on Day 2. Accommodation is at Little Pond, a little oasis in the heart of Sanur.

The cycle-path along the beach front at Sanur.

The cycle-path along the beach front at Sanur.

Day 3 to 6 – Ubud

On Day 3 we leave for Ubud and spend our first day in Ubud exploring with free time to go shopping, check out Monkey Forest, get a spa treatment, hire a bike and go cycling in the nearby villages or head off for a walk in the rice paddies. In the evening we’ll go to a Kecak Performance at one of the local temples. This performance features a group of up to 80 men sitting chanting in a circle and accompanies the dance re-enactment from the Hindu epic Ramayana. It is a not to be forgotten performance! Accommodation during our time in Ubud is twin share in a stunning hotel right in the heart of Ubud.

Cycling through the villages.

Cycling through the villages.

 

Day 4 – Cycling Tour – Kintamani

We head off at about 8.30am in a shuttle van up to the village of Kintamani stopping off at a coffee plantation on the way to sample the many different varieties of locally grown coffee. A breakfast stop at Kintamani then we’re off cycling for 3 hrs mostly downhill through many villages and rice fields. This is a wonderful experience and a great way to see so many lovely little villages. We arrive back at about 3pm and have the rest of the afternoon to relax, swim in the pool, have a spa……

Our cooking class.

Our cooking class.

 

Day 5 – Local hiking and Cooking Class

We spend the morning going for a 3 hr hike just out of Ubud up into the rice paddies, through villages and back along the river. At 3.30pm we are taken to our cooking class run by the famous Café Wayan.

 

Sunrise at the top of Mt Batur.

Sunrise at the top of Mt Batur.

Day 6 – Mt Batur Sunrise Trip

We are picked up at around 2.30am and taken to the start of our 2 hr climb up Mt Batur to see the sunrise. We then walk around the top of the crater before returning back to Ubud by about 11am. The rest of the day is your free time.

 

Snorkelling at the Blue Lagoon.

Snorkelling at the Blue Lagoon.

Day 7 – Ubud to Lovina via East Coast

We leave Ubud early and drive to Padang Bai to go snorkelling at Blue Lagoon Beach. After a couple of hours spent snorkelling we then head for the East Coast and Tulumben to go snorkelling at the site of the WW2 Japanese wreck. From here we travel up the coast to Lovina in time to see the lovely sunset over the beach. We stay the night at Lovina in beautiful accommodation with a huge big pool.

 

Day 8 – Lovina to Sideman

Unesco World Heritage site Jatiluwih.

Unesco World Heritage site Jatiluwih.

We travel from Lovina down through the centre of the island stopping at the 2 lakes, the lake temple and at the Unesco World Heritage Jatiluwih Rice Fields before continuing on down to Sideman, one of Bali’s most beautiful river valleys and our accommodation for the night.

Day 9 – Hiking in Sideman

We spend the morning on a guided walk through the many beautiful rice fields and valleys in this area and the afternoon relaxing at our gorgeous accommodation.

 

Cycling on Nusa Lembongan.

Cycling on Nusa Lembongan.

Day 10 – Nusa Lembongan

We leave Sideman early to drive to Sanur and catch the 10.30am ferry to Nusa Lembongan.

Once there we have free time to explore the island by bike, to go kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, learn to surf or just relax by the pool or on the beach. Beautiful accommodation right on the beach in twin share rooms.

 

Day 11 – Snorkelling Trip – Nusa Lembongan

We go on an organised snorkelling trip in the morning and spend the afternoon having free time to do all the things you didn’t get to do the day before!

Day 12 – Nusa Lembongan to Sanur to Seminyak

We catch the 8.30am ferry back over to Sanur and then get transport over to Seminyak where we enjoy the day swimming, learning to surf or just relaxing under the trees. Our final sunset and dinner is spent on the beach enjoying the chilled out music whilst relaxing on giant bean bags. Once again I have lovely accommodation organised that is just a short walk to the beach.

Cafe stop on our walk at Ubud.

Cafe stop on our walk at Ubud.

 

Day 13 – Shopping at Seminyak

Our last day is spent doing that last minute shopping or getting in the last bit of R n R before we head out to the airport for our evening flight.

 

Day 14 – Arrive back in NZ.

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1 2015 May

Queen Charlotte Track – April 2015

This was a real mixed bag of an adventure! We had some lovely weather and some really foul weather. We had days of easy tramping and days where we really struggled. We missed our final ferry but ended up quite pleased that we had. Yes, it was a real mixed bag but throughout it all the stunning beauty of the Queen Charlotte Sound shone through and captivated each of us.

Arriving at Ship's Cove.

Arriving at Ship’s Cove.

The day before we left, unbeknown to me, I had picked up a very nasty virus. Thinking I was just feeling a bit crook and would get better as the days went by, I carried on with the trip. I didn’t get better, I got worse. Although this meant that the trip was quite a struggle for me, I was determined to not let it spoil it for the rest of the group.

Lost in the tranquility.....

Lost in the tranquility…..

We left on an overcast morning with the sun struggling to shine through the clouds. The forecast was good though and we were all feeling optimistic. We were mentally prepared for the steep 50 min climb up out of Ship’s Cove. I slowly plodded my way at the back which was to end up being my spot for pretty much the whole trip.

 

Enjoying the view at our lunch stop.

Enjoying the view at our lunch stop.

Our lunch break at the lovely half way lookout point was a very welcome stop and we silently drank in the views around us. The meandering walk down into Endeavour Inlet was so lovely as we passed pretty little coves and homes tucked away amongst the trees with steep little pathways leading up to them. We envied the families their privileged hideaway retreats in such serene surroundings.

Cosy fireside meal at Furneaux Lodge.

Cosy fireside meal at Furneaux Lodge.

 

Our first night was spent in a chalet at the very beautiful Furneaux Lodge. We joined the other trampers for dinner in the cosy bar with its roaring fire.

 

 

Setting off on Day 2 with coffee's to go!

Setting off on Day 2 with coffee’s to go!

A leisurely start to our morning saw us up making our breakfast and our lunches for the relatively easy day’s walk ahead of us. The breakfast and lunch food boxes had arrived the day before and even though they hadn’t been put into the fridge they were still fine. We left our stack of bags and boxes on our front porch, got coffee’s to go and off we ambled through the cool morning shade.

 

Shopping at the local stall!

Shopping at the local stall!

You don’t imagine you’ll get a chance to go shopping while out tramping but that’s just what happened. We stopped at this cute little stall that sold hats, scarves, eggs, fruit and honey and one of the women bought a lovely hat, popping the money in the Honesty Box as we left.

 

It was a beautiful clear, sunny Autumn day and the absolute stillness and tranquillity worked its way into our souls, each of us walking for long quiet moments by ourselves, just soaking it all in.

Coming into Punga Cove.

Coming into Punga Cove.

Our peace and tranquillity was rudely broken when we reached lovely little Punga Cove and the raucous group of party goers who thankfully were just about to leave. We rested, we strolled around, we sat in the spa pool overlooking the water, we wined and we dined and thoroughly enjoyed this pretty little cove. It was off to bed pretty early as it was to be our biggest walk the next day, from Punga Cove to Portage Bay.

 

Leaving Punga Cove for our long walk to Portage Bay.

Leaving Punga Cove for our long walk to Portage Bay.

An overcast morning greeted us, which was probably just as well as it meant it wouldn’t be too hot. One of the group had decided to catch the ferry around to Portage Bay as she was having difficulty with her hip. This turned out to be a good call as it ended up being a nine and half hour walk (that pretty much did me in!)

 

The ANZAC crosses.

The ANZAC crosses.

Once again we climbed our way up out of the bay and then it was a series of ups and downs along the ridgeline with amazing views into Kenepuru Sound, before making it out to the road at the top of Portage Bay. A moving tribute of ANZAC white crosses greeted us at the top of the road next to the tall memorial covered in wreaths to the 29 “Sounds” men who had lost their lives in the war. It was ANZAC Day, the 100 year memorial.

Andrea greeted us as we limped up the driveway to our accommodation at Treetops. The heater was on, the wine was cooling and the table was covered in nibbles. We gratefully collapsed as the weather closed in around us. I had planned for us to go kayaking in the bay the next morning but cancelled it instead. The forecast was pretty bad and going to get worse. We had the next day free to rest and recuperate and we all took full advantage of it. I crashed in bed for the whole day, just emerging to eat a bit of food before hibernating again. The others explored the bay, played scrabble, read and rested (and wined and dined!)

Even in the rain, it's still so pretty.

Even in the rain, it’s still so pretty.

Our last day’s walk was hard! A long, slow climb (about 2 hrs) up and out along the ridge in torrential rain and strong winds. The rain didn’t let up all day till we got to Anakiwa. Often we were trekking through streams of water as they flowed along the path, creating little waterfalls that tumbled into the bush below. Little stops here and there for water and soggy bits of food, constant slipping over on the slippery clay track, keeping an eye out for each other, making sure we were all hanging in there.

The very welcome sight of Anakiwa!

The very welcome sight of Anakiwa!

Anakiwa Bay was such a welcome sight! Even though we had missed our ferry we knew another one was on the way to get us and it gave us time to get out of our wet clothes, put some dry ones on and have a bite to eat. Our ferry arrived and we all sank into the warmth congratulating ourselves on such a mammoth effort as it sped us over the water and into Picton. Yes, it was a mixed bag of an adventure (and I’m still recuperating in bed as I write this) but I wouldn’t have missed it! Queen Charlotte Track is still right up there as one of my most favourite walks!

Yaay! We did it!

Yaay! We did it!

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3 2015 Mar

Great Barrier Island Adventure – Feb 2015

There I was sitting up the front of the little 6 seater plane, (we’re talking ‘front’ as in right next to the pilot with my own little steering wheel and foot pedals wiggling away in front of me) zooming down the runway and lifting off into the bright blue sunshiney sky! I couldn’t wipe the big grin off my face but managed to stop myself whooping out loud! What a thrill – I can see why people get into learning to fly!

Climbing into our little plane.

Climbing into our little plane.

Due to some unfortunate last minute cancellations there was just the 3 of us heading over to Great Barrier Island for 4 days tramping. And what glorious 4 days they were! Perfect weather conditions, absolutely stunning scenery, awesome tracks, lovely friendly locals, quirky accommodation, beautiful swimming, kayaking, wining, dining……we had it all!

 

Coming in to land at Claris

Coming in to land at Claris

 

Flying out over the Hauraki Gulf was amazing…seeing and identifying all the different islands below us then watching as Great Barrier Island came closer and closer. Before we knew it we were bumping over the grassy runway at Claris. It seems the tar sealed runway is for take-offs and the grass is for the landings….

 

The cute little art gallery with the honesty box.

The cute little art gallery with the honesty box.

 

We were picked up by the very friendly and informative Lianne from Go Great Barrier Island shuttle service and taken over to Medlands Beach where we started our first track, the Kowhai Valley Track, over to Tryphena where we were to stay the night. We had a steep climb up and then over the ridge and down the gravelly road into Tryphena. At the top of the climb there was this cute little art gallery “Top of the Rock” with some lovely art pieces and photography and an honesty box for you to pay for what you bought. Not often you see that these days….especially in an art gallery!

 

Our accommodation at The Irish Pub

Our accommodation at The Irish Pub

We stayed at one of the oldest establishments on the island, The Innkeepers Lodge at the Irish Pub which as far as accommodation goes, has seen better days, though the pub was great and had a few locals sitting there strumming and singing with their guitars.

 

 

Watching the surfers at Whangapoua.

Watching the surfers at Whangapoua.

The next morning we were picked up and taken up near the top of the island to do the Harataonga Coastal Track and it was absolutely stunning! Beautiful bay after beautiful bay…..it was almost a case of, what, another stunning bay! The track was easy and meandered gently up and down overlooking the bright turquoise sparkling blue ocean.

 

Wiltshire Manor with the memorable museum at the front.

Wiltshire Manor with the memorable museum at the front.

Lianne was waiting for us at Harataonga bay, (another gorgeous bay) and took us to Claris and our accommodation at Wiltshire Manor (a rather pretentious name) but still very comfortable and cosy accommodation. We can highly recommend the museum there that the owner, David, has built and put together. You could easily spend a couple of hours just reading and looking at all the stuff he has there.

 

That evening as we strolled along the road to ‘The Club’ for dinner, a local woman picked us up and gave us a lift and then on the way home we got another ride in the back of a ute (and we weren’t even hitching. :))

We climbed up and over this - Te Ahumata.

We climbed up and over this – Te Ahumata.

We were up bright and early the next morning for the Te Ahumata Track which would take us over to Whangaparapara. We ended up getting a lift to the start of the track with Lianne and a van load of other trampers. Apart from this group, we saw no-one on the tracks the whole time we were over there. This track took us right up to the top of a flat topped rocky precipice which looked way harder than what it actually was, and the views……..INCREDIBLE!

 

The view out the front of Great Barrier Lodge - so tranquil...

The view out the front of Great Barrier Lodge – so tranquil…

We sauntered down the road into Whangaparapara; tui’s whistling, cicada’s singing, sun sparkling on the water, the gentle lapping of the sea….paradise…. We sat on the rolling green lawn in front of the Gulf Harbour Lodge and basked in the beauty, letting the calm tranquility soak into our souls. After a leisurely picnic lunch and a good rest under the big pine tree, we took the kayaks out for an exploratory paddle around the bay and into the inlet. A lovely refreshing swim later, a shower and a fresh change of clothes and a cold, crisp bottle of Sauvignon Blanc while sitting on our deck in the late afternoon sun, completed a beautiful day.

 

Soaking in the Kaitoke Hot Springs - bliss!

Soaking in the Kaitoke Hot Springs – bliss!

Our last track, before we flew out at lunchtime the next day, was along the Tramline Track to the Kaitoke Hot Springs. We set off just before 8am in the soft early morning light along the wide easy old tramline track, up some steeper hills and across some trickling streams. The hot springs were just heavenly and we were so glad that it was a cloudy day as it would have been too hot if the sun had been shining! We wallowed and totally relaxed in the hot mineral water, no-one else there, just us. A very easy, almost wheel chair friendly track, took us out to the road where Steve, Lianne’s other half, met us and dropped us off at the Claris airport.

Great Barrier Island had worked its magic on us and we were three very chilled out, happy and relaxed women as we boarded the plane back to Auckland. Don’t worry if you missed out on this trip, I’ll definitely be doing it again!  Check out the photo gallery for more photos.

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18 2015 Jan

Tongariro Crossing – Jan 2015

Heading off in the shuttle van to the start of the Tongariro crossing on a mild, sunny, blue sky morning, we were quite sure the met service had got the weather report wrong. It wasn’t going to rain, even our driver said we had more chance of getting sunburnt than wet…….. how wrong we all were!

Heading towards Soda Springs.

Heading towards Soda Springs.

 

We strolled along the easy pathway and board walks, enjoying the tussocky landscape, stopping to peel of layers as the day heated up and being overtaken by literally hoards of other trampers.  Luckily the track is long enough to sort of disperse them, until you get to the toilet sheds and the steep rocky bits! People were dressed in all manner of clothing….some wearing and carrying very little which was quite worrying to see especially later on when the weather turned.

 

The cloud closed in and down came the rain.

The cloud closed in and down came the rain.

We took it slowly up the steep, many staired Devil’s Staircase, pausing to admire the views, have something to eat and marvel at all the people dotted here and there…..  We stopped long enough at the top at Red Crater to oooh and ahhh at the crater, take photos and then get a move on as it was pretty darn cold and windy.  The layers were back on and we were all very pleased to have all the thermals and rain gear ready in our packs.  The cloud closed in and a persistent  drizzle started up that kept going pretty much all the way to the end. Eating sandwiches in the rain isn’t much fun and can make for a soggy lunch!

Enjoying the Ketetahi Track through the forest.

Enjoying the Ketetahi Track through the forest.

We stopped at the Ketetahi Hut, as did scores of others, and quickly backed out of the warm, damp smelling fug of wet bodies huddled in there out of the rain.  We continued on down the never ending zig zag track through the tussock dotted with alpine daisies, through the stunted ti trees and down into the leafy green forest.  We were hurrying now, on a mission to get to the car park before our shuttle left at 3.30pm.  We got there just in time….well 5 min late and it was a relief to finally sit down and rest our sore feet.

 

All showered, relaxing before going out to dinner.

All showered, relaxing before going out to dinner.

 

 

 

Back at our ‘Book a Batch’ accommodation we got showered and cleaned up and enjoying a wine or two before we headed out to dinner.  It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day despite the weather.  In fact, I think the weather kind of added to the enjoyment of the day.

7am, Ngauruhoe on the right, Tongariro on the left. We walked through the dip between them.

Ngauruhoe on the right, Tongariro on the left. We walked through the dip between them. Looks quite easy from here!

 

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18 2014 Feb

“Glamping” on the Queen Charlotte! Feb 2014

If you want to combine fine wining and dining and sleeping in white sheets and pillows with 4 full days of tramping in one of THE MOST picturesque places in New Zealand, then doing the Queen Charlotte track as we did it, is the way to go!!

Day 1:   Arrival Day

QCS Track 002

Wining and dining at Twelve Trees Restaurant at Allan Scott’s Winery in Blenheim. Very nice!

We started off our luxury adventure with lunch at Allan Scott’s Winery in Blenheim before heading over to Picton and staying the night at Sequioa Lodge Backpackers.

Julie helped me to buy a huge big load of groceries at the local supermarket and then pack it into boxes for the various days on the track.  We were to make our own breakfasts, most lunches and a couple of evening meals to keep the costs down.

Day 2:   Ship’s Cove to Endeavour Inlet – 16km – 5hrs

Up early the next morning we loaded the van full of our suitcases, day-packs and food boxes.  On this track you get your bags transported to your accommodation by taxi-boat, all we had to carry was our day-packs.

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Imagine trying to carry this lot! So glad we just had our day-packs to carry.

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Our lovely Chalet accommodation at Furneaux Lodge.

Our taxi-boat transported us to the start of the track at Ship’s Cove and we walked around to Endeavour Inlet, about 5 hrs away, stopping on the way for lunch.  Our accommodation at Furneaux Lodge had been upgraded to the Chalet accommodation which was VERY NICE!  Our bags and food boxes were there waiting.

 

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Tip toeing over the stones into the water. So nice and refreshing!

 

 

After a refreshing swim we continued relaxing, doing some group stretching and chatting together.  Gourmet meals at the Furneaux Lodge Restaurant, a visit to see the gloworms and then off to bed in our white sheets…..no manky sleeping bags on this adventure!

 

 

 

Day 3:   Endeavour Inlet to Punga Cove – 11 km –  5hrs

QCS Track 015

Looking across Endeavour Inlet to Furneaux where we had just stayed. The colour of the sea was incredible.

After a leisurely breakfast we headed off on this lovely easy walk to Punga Cove full of breathtaking views.  The sun was shining, (as it did every day on this adventure) the birds were singing (ditto above) and we were all happily chatting away as we strolled along admiring the views…….

We arrived at Punga Cove, ordered our Pizza’s and salads and sat in the shade sipping on cold drinks while our waitress brought us our food……

We spent the afternoon either sitting in the spa chatting ,  swimming in the pool or the sea, sitting on the little wharf eating an ice-cream and reading a book or resting under a tree….

 

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Enjoying our wine and nibbles before dinner.

 

Wine and nibbles in the late afternoon sun and Nacho’s with salad and lemon meringue for dessert finished off a perfect day.

The easy day walking and the restful afternoon were needed before our big tramp the next day.

 

 

 

Day 4: Punga Cove to Portage Bay – 24 kms –  8.5 hrs

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The 360 views at the lookout were well worth the climb to get there!

A long hot day today!  We climbed out of Punga Cove and up onto the ridge where we had stunning views of inlets on both sides.  An extra climb up to a lookout point along the way was well worth the effort and was a lovely stop for morning tea.

There were lots of little stops along the way to take yet another photo, or have a drink (we needed lots of water) or to have a little rest.  We all loved our sandwiches that we made every morning and sooo looked forward to our lunch breaks.

After arriving at our accommodation at Treetops, we showered and headed down the hill to the cafe at the Portage Bay Resort for our tea.  We were all feeling quite tired so it was an early night.

Day 5:   Rest Day

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Words honestly fail to describe how perfect our morning’s kayaking was.

Ahhhhh, the sheer bliss and beauty of kayaking in absolutely perfect conditions.  There was not a breath of wind, the sea was glassy and soooo still and calm.  The sun shone and sparkled on the water.  We paddled and we just sat….and soaked it all in.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing……..more wine and nibbles later in the day, lots of laughter and chatting and another delicious “home cooked meal.”  Tomorrow was going to be our last day on the track and we needed to be up early and on the track by 7.30am in order to be there waiting for our taxi-boat at 3.30pm.

Day 6:   Portage Bay to Anakiwa – 20km – 6.5 hrs

By the end of our walk today we were convinced that the DOC signs had an added hour or so onto their times as we made it to Anakiwa with 2 hrs to spare.  There is a little shop caravan at the end of the trail so we all enjoyed our reward of ice-creams, cold drinks or a coffee.

QCS Track 053We had walked 71km over 4 days with a rest day added in the middle.  The days were simply perfect and the views, the tranquility and absolute beauty of the Queen Charlotte Sounds totally won us all over .

Yes, the “glamping’ added an extra element of fun and ease to the walk but in no way did it detract from what is, we believe, one of New Zealand’s finest walks.

For more photos, check out the album in the Photos Gallery.

PS:  I’ve already “pencilled in” some of the accommodation for Feb or Mar 2015.  So if you missed out this year, then don’t worry, I’ll definitely be doing it next year!

 

 

 

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1 2013 Jul

Bay of Islands Tramping Weekend – June 2013

Saturday morning 8.30am and my van was loaded and packed with 7 other women and our gear for our tramping weekend in the Bay of Islands – and what a perfect weekend it was!

We arrived at the Base X backpackers (they had a great deal of; accommodation, free glass of beer or wine – and we’re talking a good healthy sized glass of wine – and a really good hearty BBQ), we got ourselves settled in and strolled ofBay of islands June 2013 039f into Paihia for our packed lunch sitting on the wharf watching the busyness. After lunch we literally “hitched” a ride with a friendly local tour opBay of islands June 2013 041erator who took us up to the top of the Haruru Falls.  With all the rain we’ve been having the falls were very impressive.  We learnt that Haruru Falls is one of only two waterfalls in the world that is horseshoe shaped.  The other one is Niagra Falls…..just a bit bigger!  We walked along the very pretty track and out onto the Waitangi Reserve where we visited the grounds and the Treaty house.

A PD (pre-dinner drinks) stop at Shippey’s Bar on the old Tui boat was very welcome, before we continued on our walk back to the backpackers.

Some of us had a not very hot spa 🙁 before our delicious BBQ meal of steak, sausages, baked potatoes and salads.

Highlight of the day – the 2 lt tub of ice-cream drizzled with Kahlua shots that we all shared!

The next morning we were up bright and early, it was a very chilly morning, there was even ice on my van….I didn’t know they got ice up in the “winterless north!”

After a good Bay of islands June 2013 050healthy breakfast we were off on our 6 hr Full Day Circle Walk.Bay of islands June 2013 045

Starting from Paihia, we strolled around the waterfront, along the beach, over rocks and followed a coastal path as it meandered around some very pretty little bays and into Opua.  A coffee stop at the local general store right on the wharf and then we caught the 5 min car ferry over to Okiato.   From there the walk was easily signposted.  There were a few hilly bits as walked through the bush track but nothing too challenging at all.

We came out to a lovely little bay, “Orongo Bay” where we stopped for our packed lunch.  It was one of those stunning sunny, calm and clear mid winter days.Bay of islands June 2013 053

 Around the bay a bit further and heading for Russell was the ‘boardwalkey’ bit.  Lots of lovely long boardwalks that made for very easy strolling along. Bay of islands June 2013 056  A little bit of road walking before we were back on the track and coming in to Russell.  We then ambled easily along Florence Ave and right into the heart of Russell.  Russell is such a pretty little place, hard to believe it was once the “hell hole of the Pacific!”

Within half an hour wBay of islands June 2013 060e were on the ferry and on our way back over to Paihia.  This was definitely a walk I would highly recommend.

Highlight of the day – sitting on the little jetty eating our lunch in the sun in such a beautiful little bay.

19 2013 Mar

Kepler Track Hike – Milford Sound Te Anau, New Zealand

19 2013 Mar

NZ Tramping Video

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19 2013 Mar

Debbies Top Tramping Tips

Independent Hiking in New Zealand

Independent hiking, tramping or walking is a very popular activity in New Zealand; something you need to consider if you are planning an overnight hike.

Throughout the New Zealand summer (December – February) and school holidays, many top tracks – especially Great Walks like the Heaphy Track, Routeburn Track, Milford Track and Abel Tasman Coastal Track – are in high demand, so it pays to book hut accommodation well in advance. Read more→

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18 2013 Mar

Safety Tips for hiking in New Zealand

Safety Tips for Hiking in New Zealand

When hiking (at any time of the year) it is important to remember that New Zealand conditions can become treacherous, so you need to be well-prepared for any change of weather or mishap!

A great resource is this site www.adventuresmart.org.nz which has a wide range of resources as well as an intentions form which you should complete before heading itno the mountains.

ALWAYS check the track and weather conditions at your local Department of Conservation (DOC) centre before beginning, and let others know of your intended departure and return times. Read more→