All posts filed under: Travel

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 …

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 …

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 …

Pinnacles Walk and Billygoat Track, New Zealand

Usually when I go hiking I take my camera but this time, I took the GoPro.  If you want to skip the detail for now, here’s a summarised video of the track and hut. YouTube Link to Video Pinnacles Walk – Kauaeranga Kauri Trail Difficulty: Medium/hard Length: 17km Hours:  3 hours to Pinnacles Hut 90 minutes return to Pinnacles and back to the hut 4 hours from Pinnacles hut to car park via Billygoat Track Cost:  $15 adult/night, $7.50 child/youth/night (5 -17 years), preschool free (0 – 4 years). Bookings https://booking.doc.govt.nz/Menu.aspx?sg=KKT The history of the area is very interesting. Kauri trees once covered this entire area but it was cut down by the first settlers in the 1870’s until 1920’s.  Today we only have a few Kauri left and unfortunately those trees are endangered due to a disease that is wiping them out. Kudos to DOC rangers who look after the huts and tracks. The drive to the track start is about 2 hours from Auckland city, we left 7am Friday morning so missed the traffic.   We started on the …

Surviving an invasion – Lake Titicaca, Peru

It may have been the Spanish invasion that caused the Uru (reed) people to flee from slavery in the 16th century. Or maybe it was the Inca Empire who bullied them off the mainland to the water.  Either way, it is clear that the Uru people of Peru are survivors.  Their defence tactics would have left any foe envious. Today however, the only invasion is that of us tourist.   We arrived in droves, armed with camera’s and Peruvian Soles (dollars).  I’m embarrassed to be this tourist, but sometimes to learn about a culture you have to experience their way of life.  It is said that we give financial opportunities for natives.  I don’t entirely believe this, greed is everywhere.   To remove my suspicions of corporate greed I handed my money directly to the women on the islands, I’m keen to learn. The Uru people made islands from the Totora reed which is sourced on the lake.  Each island has a watch tower and if needed, the entire island can be shifted to another place.   Pigs and cows are fattened up on isolated islands, there is no escape they are surrounded by …

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 …

Gasping for air in the Andes – Bolivia

I had to convince my lungs several times to keep going, it felt like they were going to explode!  I wondered if my mind was going to pack it in too, why am I doing this?  I’m walking up Mt Chacaltaya, in the Andes, to reach the summit at 5,421 meters!  The summit is higher than Everest base camp, or for us Kiwi’s its higher than Mt Cook (3,700 meters).  No wonder I’m struggling!! The altitude is thin, every breath feels like a gasp.  Its cold but it’s not snowing, its dry, its empty. The sun is close, I can feel each UV Ray striking my face.  Should have put that sunscreen on like I was told too! I’m feeling the effects of altitude sickness and no way will I turn back.  It doesn’t matter how fit and healthy you are, the sickness will pick anyone!  Amee my cousin, was back at the hostel suffering badly from altitude sickness.  She was out for 4 days and due to the lack of oxygen her lips turned blue!  Amee is extremely fit where as I’m only average.  50% of people who arrive into La Paz will experience …