All posts filed under: Featured

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

The best way to backpack across Central America is to have no plan and even less money.  It’s a plan your parents won’t agree with but unless they cough up and fund your trip, this may be your only option.  The upside to travelling like this?  Your wad of worthless coins will make you more adventurous and you’ll have fantastic stories to tell anyone who will listen. 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 but once border control are satisfied  your not smuggling drugs/weapons or people they douse you in insecticide to protect their country from a Chikungunya infestation. (Chikungunya is a mosquito transmitted disease similar to Dengue – there is no cure.)  Back on the bus and 30 mins later we get …

Lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu – Peru

“Machu Picchu is a trip to the serenity of the soul, to the eternal fusion with the cosmos; where we feel our fragility. It is one of the greatest marvels of South America. A resting place of butterflies in the epicentre of the great circle of life. One more miracle.” – Pablo Neruda Machu Picchu has every right to be listed as one of the new seven wonders of the world.  The great Spanish poet Pablo Neruda summarises it to perfection.  I cry reading his words they are so beautiful and true. Spiritually I’m connected.  I do have mixed feelings about the journey but let me tell you about this marvellous ancient site first. The layout is intense, the Inca thought of everything.  They put many of today’s city planners to shame.  The building structures are made from gigantic stones cut perfectly to fit together without mortar, some still standing over 300 years later.  The sophisticated irrigation system running through the terraced fields.   Zoned areas for farming, residential neighbourhoods, a royal district and a sacred area.  The perfectly positioned temples that align with the …

The worlds most dangerous road, Bolivia

200-300 people die each year on this road with an average of 26 vehicles plummeting over the 1000m cliff.  And since mountain biking began, 20 people have died.   So what made me decide to mountain bike down the most dangerous road in the world? I have no idea…. but I’m definitely petrified with my decision. I didn’t get much sleep the night before.  Amee (my cousin) wasn’t coming with me either, she was heading off to an eco resort where I’d meet her the next day.  I said goodbye and for a moment I wonder if I’ll see her tomorrow. 7am a group of us meet at the Irish pub in La Paz, not far from my hostel.  No one is saying much to each other, I’m not saying anything.  I don’t even take advantage of the cheap breakfast on offer.  Our guide Mo came in and he speaks English, thank goodness.  My Spanish is terrible. We start at La Cumbre (4,700m), still in the Andes.  Mo starts with the safety talk. I’m listening so hard I can hear conversations in the distance.  He goes over the brakes …

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. …