All posts filed under: Featured

Karekare Waterfall

Mt Zion, the wetlands + a spectacular waterfall.

This loop track is another favourite of mine, the landscape changes along the way and the wetlands are filled with interesting birds.  It takes about 3-4 hours including stops to admire the west coast views.  The waterfall is near the car park and only takes a few minutes to reach. It’s definitely worth seeing but I like to leave it for the end of my hike. Track details below.  The track starts at the Karekare car park and I suggest starting early, every time I’ve returned from this hike the carpark is full and people are waiting for others to leave.  Early is 8-9am, any later and you’ll be looking for parks. Zion Hill is a steady climb with some fantastic views. Keep an eye out for a well-worn track on the right half way up, there is a seat overlooking the coast. Every now and then you’ll spot more well-worn tracks, check them out because often they will lead to something interesting.  The picture above shows the view out to Whatipu and the Pararaha Wetlands, …

Goat Hill Lookout Track

The highest point in the Waitakere Ranges

The challenge isn’t the height of this point, the challenge is how to get to this point.  It’s a damp rainforest with muddy tracks and often very steep terrain.  There are three ways to get here and we opted for the long way, 12.6km.  Refer to map details below.   We started the track at 9am from the Karamatura Car Park in Huia (approx 40mins out of Auckland city).  There are several tracks leaving from here and they all take you up the hill. Karamatura Track starts off nice and easy with a gentle incline to the popular waterfall, although this morning there was no one here.  From here it’s a steep climb most of the way up to the junction where it flattens out, slightly. Trees have fallen onto the track and in some places, they have continued to flourish where they land. Mostly, we are hurling ourselves over or under trees. At the junction, we head north along Huia Ridge Track.  It starts off pleasant but doesn’t take long before we’re in mud and …

Lake Wainamu and a Putangitangi Duck.

It’s hard to find a flat track in the Waitakere Ranges but this one is a delight if you’re looking for an easy walk and in my case, a rare encounter with a Putangitangi Duck. The track starts off following the stream for a few minutes until you reach the sand dunes. I head up and over but if you’d rather not attempt the dunes you can continue following the stream and walk the track clockwise.  I went anti-clockwise. The track at the lake takes you into the open bush where you can see views back to the sand dunes.  There is an abundance of Kereru along the track, you can hear them snapping branches, a sign that they are eating well. Further along the track I came across large Macrocarpa trees, I thought this would be a great place to take photos.  As I was setting up the GoPro, a Putangitangi Duck waddles past the camera and down to me.  At first, I thought I was near her nest but she was only interested …

Tom Thumb Bluffs

Huia Tracks – Fletcher, Karamatura, Tom Thumb

It had rained heavily in the last 3 days making the tracks rough. Fletcher adds a bit more, it climbs up a steep 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 ascent. It’s 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 ascends …

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 …

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 – a journey to my ancestors

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.  Maori/German. 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. When they didn’t have to fight for their land, I’d like to think they had time to 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.  They are for people to visit and to learn …