All posts filed under: Feature

Foraging in the Waitakere Rainforest

I’m taking friends out on a guided hike today, they are keen to explore the Waitakere rainforest and I’m keen to show them how bountiful the bush can be if you know what you’re looking for.  We are hiking the Upper Huia Dam Track It’s been raining heavily the last few days, the track is rougher than usual.  We look like ballerina’s leaping through the bush, or maybe we look like monkeys swinging from branches trying not to get our boots stuck in the mud.   Above us we can hear the Tui singing and a Kereru watching us plot our way through the mud.  The Miromiro ahead of us darts back and forward guiding us along the track. It’s an advanced walk, even if you are fit it can still be challenging.  I met two groups of people turning back warning me that the track is too difficult and muddy.  This is true if you are unfamiliar with the Waitakere Ranges, some of these tracks will put many people off.  It’s not a track for …

Tom Thumb Bluffs

Hiking around the Huia Bluffs.

It had rained heavily in the last 3 days making the tracks rough. Fletcher adds a bit more, it climbs up a step spur then onto a ridge following the bluffs to Don McLean Track.  I’m following Fletcher – Karamatura – Tom Thumb Tracks in Huia. The first section is a steep climb, moving quickly towards the ridge.  The rain had washed debris down the hill, completely disguising the track. I followed the markers for a good part of this ascend. Its not a well worn track, maybe in the summer but I’m walking in winter and I don’t expect to see anyone.  I do know that there is one other person is on the track because I could see his tracks (I knew he was male because of his boot size, bush skills I learnt from my father finally come into play).  I did catch up with him later, he’s from the South Island and needed some time out in the bush.  I related to this very well. I reached the ridge and it …

A 2am arrival at the woolshed to have our blisters looked at.

How to get through the 100km Oxfam Challenge

For years I’d wanted to enter the Oxfam Challenge, not just for charity (because that in itself is a big motivator) but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.  I’m not unfit, nor am I very fit.  However, 100 km’s is a long way and I didn’t have anyone to do it with until one of my friends had to pull out of the event and I happily signed up.  I had three great team members who were encouraging, considerate and they’d all done this before.  I was the newbie. I didn’t get a lot of sleep before the race, I was too excited and I wanted to be sick. Knowing that your going to be walk for the next 30 hours is daunting.  I’d gone over the route so many times in my head.  I’d learnt every part of the track, the altitude and the different terrain.  I studied the weather and knew that it was going to be humid (uncomfortable) and possibly rain.  Rain I can handle, I live …

Fresh water sharks and volcanoes – Nicaragua

Our plan was to enter through Panama and exit from Mexico travelling through Nicaragua, with $300USD.  You become very creative when on a tight budget, a $9 room, a $10 ride on a truck and a bag of rice will do just fine.  You become more adventurous too, meeting people at hostels who can tell you of the beautiful places they’ve been and your confidence builds to a level you’ve never experienced before.  If you are on a tight budget, don’t let it bother you, get out of your comfort zone and travel freely.  What you see and the people you meet will be with you forever.  By the time Amee and I arrived into Central America we were happy to do whatever came our way and that just happened to be Nicaragua.  Although its the second poorest country in the west – after Haiti, it should be on everyone’s list of places to go.  I’d like to return to Nicaragua and explore every part of it. Crossing the border from Costa Rica takes a while …

Sailing the Amazon River – Peru to Columbia

The only reason we were sailing the Amazon river was because we missed our flight to Columbia then randomly met a Dutch man staying at our hostel who told us about the river.  I don’t even remember his name but I can see his face perfectly, he was an older man probably in his 60’s.  He was well travelled with many romantic stories about the women he’d encountered along the way.   He had lots of energy and was very white, its an odd comment I know.  If you’d seen the area we were staying in you’d see why it was strange to come across him.  I guess the universe wanted us to miss our flight, meet this one guy who insisted we sail up the Amazon river, cross the Columbian boarder and have a once in a lifetime experience… it was meant to be! We said goodbye to our new Dutch friend and parted ways, we will probably never see him again.  Life is so bizarre sometimes. There are many travel agents near Lima’s airport so we booked a cheapish flight to …

Life in the Vidigal Favela – Brazil

 I had butterflies when arriving into the favela but they were butterflies for adventure!  I’m not sure staying in a favela (Slum) is on everyone’s list of places to go, but it was for me and my cousin Amee.  We had no idea what to expect, would we be shot in the cross fire, will we be kidnapped? We questioned our sanity, as did everyone else when we told them of our plans.   We don’t have favela’s in New Zealand, nothing AT ALL compares to a favela!! This is partly the reason why we needed to experience a favela, both of us knew that in order to live life you have to step out of your comfort zone!  The Favela Expeience comes highly recommended by many travellers on Trip Advisor and the statement from their website had us on board! “By allowing meaningful and authentic dialogue between favela residents and guests, we show both the positive and challenging realities of life in these communities and do not glamorize poverty in favelas. Ultimately, we practice sustainable tourism because …

Waiotahi – roadtrip with a half-caste

I’m almost in Waiotahi, my jandals are off and I’m driving bare feet.  The smell of the ocean is swirling through my car.  This is how I like it.  Waiotahi is where part of me comes from, I’m a half-caste! Half Maori / Half European. I’m here for a family reunion on my Maori side, my Great Grandparents Mariana & Te Waihirere.   Our Kaumatua (Maori elders), including my mum, tell us stories in Te Reo (Maori Language) as we visit the pa and the house my mum grew up in. My ancestors roamed this land, they had food, water and each other.  Some lived on a pa, like this one I stand on.   A pa was not always a village though, they were often used to spot the enemy and defend their land.  Warriors! When they didn’t have to fight for their land, I’d like to think they had time to chill out and look at the view.  I’m also pleased to say that most pa sites in NZ are protected so no one can build a house on them. …

Omaio Bay

Te Huinga (Jack) Karauna… my Nana Pa, built this little bach for my Nanny Rima and his whanau. They have both since passed but the memories are still very close, both very loving people who taught me a lot about living off the land. Omaio is a secluded bay and remains as it was yesterday, there are no beach front developments and I’m yet to see a yuppie walking with latte in one hand and cell phone in the other.  The locals are friendly, most of them speak Te Reo which was so beautiful to hear.  The weather is hot.   There is no shower, there is a creek! There is no cell phone reception here, you are completely oblivious to what is going on in society, which is fantastic!   There is no power,  this makes you get up, go collect Kai Moana (Seafood), go for walks, talk to people and at night, you play cards next to the candle and you write the scores on the back of a beer box!  … this is my family bach in Omaio Bay, …