On safari in Botswana – what you need to know about exploring the Okavango Delta


Few would argue there is nowhere better on earth to go on safari than in the legendary Okavango Delta in Botswana.

The closest thing to an Eden left on earth, the Okavango Delta, sits at the heart of Southern Africa, and it is one of the most significant inland deltas in the world. In a time when wetlands are shrinking into obscurity, the Okavango still holds its place at the top as one of the most unique and magical places to travel to.

As rain waters trickle down through Africa over several months, from the highlands of Angola into Botswana towards the Kalahari desert, it breathes life into the Okavango Delta. The world’s most renowned wetland, the Okavango Delta, is unquestionably one of the greatest places on earth to go on safari.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

Whether you’re falling asleep in a canvas safari tent listening to unfamiliar birdsong or spending hours bumping along in a safari truck tracking lions on the hunt, the Okavango Delta is an exclusive and extraordinary place on earth.

Nothing beats going on a safari holiday here in Botswana, and you’re guaranteed to have a lifechanging experience here. There’s no doubt about it, planning a safari in the Okavango Delta can be intimidating – where do you even start? How do you begin to prepare, and more importantly, how do you stay safe?

Here are my best tips for going on safari in Botswana, with everything you need to know to enjoy your African dream holiday.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

1. Where to go 

Spoiler alert – a safari in Botswana is expensive, and for a good reason. They try to limit the number of people visiting to protect the delta, which makes the prices a lot higher than what you might expect.

Luckily for you, going on safari is probably one of the most organized holidays you can ever indulge in. While you can certainly do it on your own, like self-driving, most people decide to choose a safari lodge or camp, which often sits in a private national park, and includes their own personal game drives.

Think of it as an all-inclusive experience, usually meals, accommodation, and game drives are included. Be prepared to drop thousands.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

The gateway into the Okavango Delta is Maun, where you can fly into from various cities in Africa and Botswana. It’s also where a lot of the small chartered flights to the safari lodges in the delta depart from.

The lodges of the Eastern Delta, Inner Delta, and Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana are some of the most luxurious spots you can choose for safari. I ended up staying at Tubu Tree Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve, which is run by Wilderness Safaris, one of the premier safari providers in Africa. Often people will choose to stay at a few different camps while on holiday to take it all in, flying in between them over a week or two.

Do your research into the camps to see what kinds of activities are available along with what type of wildlife to expect. For example, you will likely see a whole heap of elephants here, but no rhino.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

2.When to go

Before going on safari in Botswana, it’s essential to check out the seasons. In the Okavango Delta, high season (with matching price tags) runs from July to October, while the low season is from November to June.

Because the Okavango Delta is a wetland, the floodwaters from Africa begin to arrive in the main channels around May, and with it bring migratory herds of elephants, hippos, crocs, all kinds of fish and many more animals.

Your safari experience in Botswana likely will vary wildly from the wet and the dry season.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

During the wet season, the delta turns into an island of channels where many of the safaris operate from a mokoro (wooden canoes) on the water. Between July and September, hundreds of thousands of animals migrate to this Eden.

For example, if you visit the delta during the dry season, you likely won’t be on safari by mokoro, a unique and quintessentially Okavango experience, so take that into account when booking dates.

In May and June, when the floodwaters arrive, the grasses are the tallest, making it harder to view wildlife.

Prepping for safari is pretty straightforward. In an ideal world, plan to be there for two weeks, spending at least three nights at different safari camps in different areas; that way, you can see almost everything. Generally, you’ll go on an early morning game drive and a late afternoon game drive each day when the animals are most active (a nap midday is recommended).

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

3. Be prepared

Botswana is likely one of the easiest and safest places to visit in Africa, especially on safari. For a first time visitor to the African continent, it’s a fantastic place to start.

First things first, buy travel insurance. Often it’s required with adventure companies anyways, and in a place where you are up close and very personal with a lot of wildlife, it’d be dumb not too. As someone who is a magnet for misadventures and why-me moments, travel insurance is non-negotiable.

You guys know I buy an annual policy every year with Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI), my now go-to provider for all things insurance-related on all my travels around the world. They also offer individual policies for trips too, which are really affordable.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

Also, make sure you’re up to date on your travel vaccinations, especially Hep A, Hep B and Typhus.

The Okavango Delta lies in a malaria zone, which is at its riskiest in the wet season. Preventative malaria medication also isn’t fun. It can cost a fortune and comes with psychedelic dreams, but it’s worth it!

Whenever I go off the grid in places like Botswana on safari, I make sure to bring a kit in case I get ill, especially of the stomach variety. Nothing can ruin a trip more.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

4. What to pack

Packing for safari can be a pain. Often the charter flights to the lodges are super strict about weight and baggage. They also usually require you to travel with a soft duffel bag too.

During the high peak season in the Okavango Delta, temperatures are mild, ranging from 20°C to 30°C, which is lovely. The rest of the year is usually hotter and with more humidity. When I was there, it was extraordinarily hot and dry, making light clothing essential.

The stereotype of khaki-colored clothing is mostly a thing of the past. However, there are plenty of safari-goers that are my parent’s age who love to rock zip-off trousers and hideous vests. I ended up wearing the same light green flowy dress on safari. It covered me where needed but was super airy and lightweight, keeping me fresh.

I also tended to cover up at dawn and dusk to avoid bug bites, as I am a magnet for mozzies.

The key is comfort and layers.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

5. Photography tips

The vast majority of my shots from Africa are shot on a telephoto zoom lens.

On this trip, I decided to travel light and fast with my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera. Before heading back to Africa, I knew I wanted to bring a big and proper telephoto lens to shoot wildlife. After seeing all of my good friend Lauren Bath’s amazing animal shots from Zimbabwe, where she runs photo tours, I was ready.

Using the lighter Olympus OM-D system this year, I knew I had to get my hands on their 300mm telephoto for Africa (the equivalent of a 600mm focal length). A manageable lens and weight, I was able to capture photos of the most amazing creatures in Botswana without being bogged down by cumbersome gear.

I would recommend investing or renting a telephoto lens (with a focal length above 200) if you’re a keen photographer heading on safari.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

Also, make sure to bring a couple of extra batteries and memory cards. Don’t forget extra hard drives or chargers for your camera gear too.

The last thing you want is a dead battery or a full memory card in the middle of a game drive.

But also remember that the best memories aren’t photographs, rather the experiences. Be sure to sit back and enjoy what you’re witnessing too.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

6. Anything can happen, be flexible

Travel is nothing if not unpredictable. You can plan and plan and plan some more, but things can always change or go wrong. It’s essential to be flexible and be prepared for changes, especially on a safari holiday in Botswana.

This is another main reason I’ve learned to invest in travel insurance with SCTI.

From canceled flights and unexpected illness to losing your passport and breaking gear, travel is messy and complicated, even for the most organized of souls, of which I am not.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

For example, while I thought we would be in the peak season of travel in Botswana, Southern Africa was experiencing one of the worst droughts in years. Most of the floodplains and waterways that would have been filled with life-giving water were high and dry.

This meant that we could only safari by vehicle. The ordinarily lush green landscape had shifted hues towards brown and gold.

Instead of paddling by islands, we were following temporary dusty roads, an experience I know many weren’t expecting. That being said, Mother Nature is always the boss, and my experience in the delta was extraordinary, and I would return in a heartbeat.

Is going on safari in Botswana on your travel bucket list? Do you dream of visiting the Okavango Delta too? Have any tips to add? Spill!

Buy an SCTI TravelCare policy before 29 February 2020 and you’ll go in the draw for a chance to win $5,000 to go in your travel pocket! T&Cs apply.

safari in botswana

Many thanks to SCTI for sponsoring this post. Like always, I’m keeping it real. All opinions are my own like you can expect less from me!

The post On safari in Botswana – what you need to know about exploring the Okavango Delta appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

Campbell Island is my happy place


Some people love a tropical holiday. Others enjoy exploring a new city and falling in love with a foreign culture. And then there is me. One of my favorite places on the planet is a desolate rocky uninhabited island covered in bird shit.

In fact, that describes most of my favorite places. South Georgia. Svalbard. Antarctica. Give me birds over humans any day, and my happy little introverted heart will soar.

New Zealand’s remote Campbell Island is my happy place. I unashamedly love this rugged, inhospitable chunk of land deep in the Southern Ocean. Boggy, cliffy, and poopy with winds strong enough to blow you over, the wild atmosphere here profoundly speaks to my soul.

I love it. Campbell Island got under my skin and stuck around.

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

Haven’t heard of Campbell Island? Don’t fret. I hadn’t either before I visited a year ago either. No shame.

The last of the subantarctic islands slated on my two-week adventure south with Heritage Expeditions, Campbell Island was also one of the places I knew least about before disembarking. No time like the present to get learning!

There is only shame in ignorance if you refuse to learn and grow, am I right?

While I thought that massive colonies of penguins on Macquarie Island would win my heart, it turns out that actually, Campbell Island was my favorite spot on the entire expedition. I would go back in a heartbeat, and if allowed, I would happily live there as a hermit.

(DOC, I’m looking at you! Pleeeeeeease!)

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

I love to be surprised when I’m traveling. The lower my expectations, the higher the reward when I arrive. Set the bar low, and you’re never disappointed. That’s my mantra. I don’t know what that says about me, and I’m not sure I want to know.

Anywho, as I digress, I had zero expectations about Campbell Island before arriving. As the last stop on the Galapagos of the Southern Ocean expedition trip with Heritage, my mind had already been blown a dozen times and then some. What was next?

Seven hundred kilometers south of the South Island, you’ll arrive at Campbell Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to a lot of birds and not much else. How do you get there? Expedition ship through some of the gnarliest seas on earth.

And trust me, it’s worth it.

campbell island

campbell island

While uninhabited today, Campbell Island has a long history with humans that is fascinating for nerds like me.

“Discovered” in 1810 by Captain Frederick Hasselburgh, he named the island after his employers Robert Campbell & Co. Later that year, the Captain and others drowned when their boat capsized in the harbor on Campbell Island, including a woman named Elizabeth Farr, who supposedly haunted the island and inspired the Lady of the Heather.

At first, Campbell, Island was used by sealers, and once the seals were decimated, then a whaling station set up shop, also destroying the southern right whales who bred there.

campbell island

campbell island

When humans arrived, they also brought rats with them, which quickly began decimating the native birds, like on mainland New Zealand.

Once they tried to introduce farming (LOL) sheep, cats, cattle, goats, and pigs were also let loose, destroying the land further. Farming attempts were abandoned after a couple of decades, unsurprisingly. Campbell Island is home to quite possibly the worst weather on earth. I can’t believe they even tried to farm there.

Feral sheep and livestock roamed the hills for decades until the mid-90’s when they were finally culled. The island was also home to a coast watching station during World War II.

campbell island

campbell island

Campbell Island is home to some of the greatest stories of shipwrecks and adventures I’ve found around New Zealand waters.

In 1992 one of the workers on the island was snorkeling when a great white shark attacked him. A rescue chopper flew down from Invercargill and saved his life. This was the lengthiest ever single-engine helicopter rescue in the world.

What an incredible rescue!

campbell island

campbell island

Campbell Island is also home to what is said to be the world’s most remote tree. The great mystery is who planted it?

A solitary Sitka spruce tree sits just inland on Campbell Island, thought to be planted over a hundred years ago. It can’t regenerate on its own, so it’s been left to grow. Because of the harsh climate here, trees don’t grow in this part of the world generally.

The next closest tree is 400 kilometers away on the Auckland Islands. It was a moody morning when we visited this cove, the rain was pouring down, and one angry sea lion guarded the beach.

campbell island

campbell island

There are three main reasons why Campbell Island stole my heart, making it super unique in my books. The albatross, the wild plants – megaherbs, and the views here are unique and extraordinary.

Campbell Island is steep and rugged, rising close to 600 meters at Mount Honey in the south overlooking where we were moored. Most of the island is surrounded by cliffs, making it the perfect home for albatross but not for humans.

It’s truly wild and undiscovered for the most part; very few humans will ever step foot here, making it all the more lovable in my books.

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

Famous English botanist Joseph Hooker once wrote that Campbell Islands possesses a “flora display second to none outside the tropics.” What an honor for this wild island at the bottom of the world.

Home to over one hundred native plants, many of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world, Campbell Island is famous for its megaherbs – a word I hadn’t heard before I boarded the ship. Megaherbs are what you might imagine. Enormous wildflowers with huge leaves and bright flowers which have adapted to the harsh weather on the island. They are straight out of Jurassic Park!

We were lucky enough to arrive when there were many a megaherb field of pleurophyllum speciosum on Campbell Island, bright purple flowers. It was so spectacular to witness.

campbell island

campbell island

But of course, the reason I love Campbell Island the most is that it is home to so many albatross, with six species found here, including the largest albatross in the world: the southern royal.

Here you might also find the black-browed albatross, the grey-headed albatross, the light mantled sooty, and even Gibson’s Wandering albatross.

The sooties have to be my favorite albatross. Hard to see with their dark coloring, I love the way their beautiful eyes pop against their dark plumage. Seriously one of my favorite birds.

campbell island

campbell island

Luckily these precious birds, including albatross, have a chance at life again since the eradication of introduced pests on Campbell Island.

The world’s rarest duck, the Campbell Island teal, has been reintroduced on the island. We saw one nibbling on a seal carcass on our last day, surely an oddity!

I also won the award for spotting the first snipe, almost tripping over it on the track!

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

Voyaging to Campbell Island with Heritage Expeditions on their Galapagos of the Southern Ocean trip was one of the highlights of my life. I can honestly say I would do anything to return to this magnificent corner of the world, in any weather.

As one of the most highly conserved spaces in the world, it’s such a rare opportunity to walk amongst these iconic megaherbs, as beautiful albatross glide over your head. There is nowhere else quite like it.

Have you ever heard of Campbell Island? What kind of island holiday do you dream about? Share!

campbell island

Many thanks to Heritage Expeditions for taking me to the Subantarctic Islands – like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

The post Campbell Island is my happy place appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

On safari in Botswana – what you need to know about exploring the Okavango Delta


Few would argue there is nowhere better on earth to go on safari than in the legendary Okavango Delta in Botswana.

The closest thing to an Eden left on earth, the Okavango Delta, sits at the heart of Southern Africa, and it is one of the most significant inland deltas in the world. In a time when wetlands are shrinking into obscurity, the Okavango still holds its place at the top as one of the most unique and magical places to travel to.

As rain waters trickle down through Africa over several months, from the highlands of Angola into Botswana towards the Kalahari desert, it breathes life into the Okavango Delta. The world’s most renowned wetland, the Okavango Delta, is unquestionably one of the greatest places on earth to go on safari.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

Whether you’re falling asleep in a canvas safari tent listening to unfamiliar birdsong or spending hours bumping along in a safari truck tracking lions on the hunt, the Okavango Delta is an exclusive and extraordinary place on earth.

Nothing beats going on a safari holiday here in Botswana, and you’re guaranteed to have a lifechanging experience here. There’s no doubt about it, planning a safari in the Okavango Delta can be intimidating – where do you even start? How do you begin to prepare, and more importantly, how do you stay safe?

Here are my best tips for going on safari in Botswana, with everything you need to know to enjoy your African dream holiday.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

1. Where to go 

Spoiler alert – a safari in Botswana is expensive, and for a good reason. They try to limit the number of people visiting to protect the delta, which makes the prices a lot higher than what you might expect.

Luckily for you, going on safari is probably one of the most organized holidays you can ever indulge in. While you can certainly do it on your own, like self-driving, most people decide to choose a safari lodge or camp, which often sits in a private national park, and includes their own personal game drives.

Think of it as an all-inclusive experience, usually meals, accommodation, and game drives are included. Be prepared to drop thousands.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

The gateway into the Okavango Delta is Maun, where you can fly into from various cities in Africa and Botswana. It’s also where a lot of the small chartered flights to the safari lodges in the delta depart from.

The lodges of the Eastern Delta, Inner Delta, and Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana are some of the most luxurious spots you can choose for safari. I ended up staying at Tubu Tree Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve, which is run by Wilderness Safaris, one of the premier safari providers in Africa. Often people will choose to stay at a few different camps while on holiday to take it all in, flying in between them over a week or two.

Do your research into the camps to see what kinds of activities are available along with what type of wildlife to expect. For example, you will likely see a whole heap of elephants here, but no rhino.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

2.When to go

Before going on safari in Botswana, it’s essential to check out the seasons. In the Okavango Delta, high season (with matching price tags) runs from July to October, while the low season is from November to June.

Because the Okavango Delta is a wetland, the floodwaters from Africa begin to arrive in the main channels around May, and with it bring migratory herds of elephants, hippos, crocs, all kinds of fish and many more animals.

Your safari experience in Botswana likely will vary wildly from the wet and the dry season.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

During the wet season, the delta turns into an island of channels where many of the safaris operate from a mokoro (wooden canoes) on the water. Between July and September, hundreds of thousands of animals migrate to this Eden.

For example, if you visit the delta during the dry season, you likely won’t be on safari by mokoro, a unique and quintessentially Okavango experience, so take that into account when booking dates.

In May and June, when the floodwaters arrive, the grasses are the tallest, making it harder to view wildlife.

Prepping for safari is pretty straightforward. In an ideal world, plan to be there for two weeks, spending at least three nights at different safari camps in different areas; that way, you can see almost everything. Generally, you’ll go on an early morning game drive and a late afternoon game drive each day when the animals are most active (a nap midday is recommended).

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

3. Be prepared

Botswana is likely one of the easiest and safest places to visit in Africa, especially on safari. For a first time visitor to the African continent, it’s a fantastic place to start.

First things first, buy travel insurance. Often it’s required with adventure companies anyways, and in a place where you are up close and very personal with a lot of wildlife, it’d be dumb not too. As someone who is a magnet for misadventures and why-me moments, travel insurance is non-negotiable.

You guys know I buy an annual policy every year with Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI), my now go-to provider for all things insurance-related on all my travels around the world. They also offer individual policies for trips too, which are really affordable.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

Also, make sure you’re up to date on your travel vaccinations, especially Hep A, Hep B and Typhus.

The Okavango Delta lies in a malaria zone, which is at its riskiest in the wet season. Preventative malaria medication also isn’t fun. It can cost a fortune and comes with psychedelic dreams, but it’s worth it!

Whenever I go off the grid in places like Botswana on safari, I make sure to bring a kit in case I get ill, especially of the stomach variety. Nothing can ruin a trip more.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

4. What to pack

Packing for safari can be a pain. Often the charter flights to the lodges are super strict about weight and baggage. They also usually require you to travel with a soft duffel bag too.

During the high peak season in the Okavango Delta, temperatures are mild, ranging from 20°C to 30°C, which is lovely. The rest of the year is usually hotter and with more humidity. When I was there, it was extraordinarily hot and dry, making light clothing essential.

The stereotype of khaki-colored clothing is mostly a thing of the past. However, there are plenty of safari-goers that are my parent’s age who love to rock zip-off trousers and hideous vests. I ended up wearing the same light green flowy dress on safari. It covered me where needed but was super airy and lightweight, keeping me fresh.

I also tended to cover up at dawn and dusk to avoid bug bites, as I am a magnet for mozzies.

The key is comfort and layers.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

5. Photography tips

The vast majority of my shots from Africa are shot on a telephoto zoom lens.

On this trip, I decided to travel light and fast with my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera. Before heading back to Africa, I knew I wanted to bring a big and proper telephoto lens to shoot wildlife. After seeing all of my good friend Lauren Bath’s amazing animal shots from Zimbabwe, where she runs photo tours, I was ready.

Using the lighter Olympus OM-D system this year, I knew I had to get my hands on their 300mm telephoto for Africa (the equivalent of a 600mm focal length). A manageable lens and weight, I was able to capture photos of the most amazing creatures in Botswana without being bogged down by cumbersome gear.

I would recommend investing or renting a telephoto lens (with a focal length above 200) if you’re a keen photographer heading on safari.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

Also, make sure to bring a couple of extra batteries and memory cards. Don’t forget extra hard drives or chargers for your camera gear too.

The last thing you want is a dead battery or a full memory card in the middle of a game drive.

But also remember that the best memories aren’t photographs, rather the experiences. Be sure to sit back and enjoy what you’re witnessing too.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

6. Anything can happen, be flexible

Travel is nothing if not unpredictable. You can plan and plan and plan some more, but things can always change or go wrong. It’s essential to be flexible and be prepared for changes, especially on a safari holiday in Botswana.

This is another main reason I’ve learned to invest in travel insurance with SCTI.

From canceled flights and unexpected illness to losing your passport and breaking gear, travel is messy and complicated, even for the most organized of souls, of which I am not.

safari in botswana

safari in botswana

For example, while I thought we would be in the peak season of travel in Botswana, Southern Africa was experiencing one of the worst droughts in years. Most of the floodplains and waterways that would have been filled with life-giving water were high and dry.

This meant that we could only safari by vehicle. The ordinarily lush green landscape had shifted hues towards brown and gold.

Instead of paddling by islands, we were following temporary dusty roads, an experience I know many weren’t expecting. That being said, Mother Nature is always the boss, and my experience in the delta was extraordinary, and I would return in a heartbeat.

Is going on safari in Botswana on your travel bucket list? Do you dream of visiting the Okavango Delta too? Have any tips to add? Spill!

Buy an SCTI TravelCare policy before 29 February 2020 and you’ll go in the draw for a chance to win $5,000 to go in your travel pocket! T&Cs apply.

safari in botswana

Many thanks to SCTI for sponsoring this post. Like always, I’m keeping it real. All opinions are my own like you can expect less from me!

The post On safari in Botswana – what you need to know about exploring the Okavango Delta appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

Campbell Island is my happy place


Some people love a tropical holiday. Others enjoy exploring a new city and falling in love with a foreign culture. And then there is me. One of my favorite places on the planet is a desolate rocky uninhabited island covered in bird shit.

In fact, that describes most of my favorite places. South Georgia. Svalbard. Antarctica. Give me birds over humans any day, and my happy little introverted heart will soar.

New Zealand’s remote Campbell Island is my happy place. I unashamedly love this rugged, inhospitable chunk of land deep in the Southern Ocean. Boggy, cliffy, and poopy with winds strong enough to blow you over, the wild atmosphere here profoundly speaks to my soul.

I love it. Campbell Island got under my skin and stuck around.

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

Haven’t heard of Campbell Island? Don’t fret. I hadn’t either before I visited a year ago either. No shame.

The last of the subantarctic islands slated on my two-week adventure south with Heritage Expeditions, Campbell Island was also one of the places I knew least about before disembarking. No time like the present to get learning!

There is only shame in ignorance if you refuse to learn and grow, am I right?

While I thought that massive colonies of penguins on Macquarie Island would win my heart, it turns out that actually, Campbell Island was my favorite spot on the entire expedition. I would go back in a heartbeat, and if allowed, I would happily live there as a hermit.

(DOC, I’m looking at you! Pleeeeeeease!)

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

I love to be surprised when I’m traveling. The lower my expectations, the higher the reward when I arrive. Set the bar low, and you’re never disappointed. That’s my mantra. I don’t know what that says about me, and I’m not sure I want to know.

Anywho, as I digress, I had zero expectations about Campbell Island before arriving. As the last stop on the Galapagos of the Southern Ocean expedition trip with Heritage, my mind had already been blown a dozen times and then some. What was next?

Seven hundred kilometers south of the South Island, you’ll arrive at Campbell Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to a lot of birds and not much else. How do you get there? Expedition ship through some of the gnarliest seas on earth.

And trust me, it’s worth it.

campbell island

campbell island

While uninhabited today, Campbell Island has a long history with humans that is fascinating for nerds like me.

“Discovered” in 1810 by Captain Frederick Hasselburgh, he named the island after his employers Robert Campbell & Co. Later that year, the Captain and others drowned when their boat capsized in the harbor on Campbell Island, including a woman named Elizabeth Farr, who supposedly haunted the island and inspired the Lady of the Heather.

At first, Campbell, Island was used by sealers, and once the seals were decimated, then a whaling station set up shop, also destroying the southern right whales who bred there.

campbell island

campbell island

When humans arrived, they also brought rats with them, which quickly began decimating the native birds, like on mainland New Zealand.

Once they tried to introduce farming (LOL) sheep, cats, cattle, goats, and pigs were also let loose, destroying the land further. Farming attempts were abandoned after a couple of decades, unsurprisingly. Campbell Island is home to quite possibly the worst weather on earth. I can’t believe they even tried to farm there.

Feral sheep and livestock roamed the hills for decades until the mid-90’s when they were finally culled. The island was also home to a coast watching station during World War II.

campbell island

campbell island

Campbell Island is home to some of the greatest stories of shipwrecks and adventures I’ve found around New Zealand waters.

In 1992 one of the workers on the island was snorkeling when a great white shark attacked him. A rescue chopper flew down from Invercargill and saved his life. This was the lengthiest ever single-engine helicopter rescue in the world.

What an incredible rescue!

campbell island

campbell island

Campbell Island is also home to what is said to be the world’s most remote tree. The great mystery is who planted it?

A solitary Sitka spruce tree sits just inland on Campbell Island, thought to be planted over a hundred years ago. It can’t regenerate on its own, so it’s been left to grow. Because of the harsh climate here, trees don’t grow in this part of the world generally.

The next closest tree is 400 kilometers away on the Auckland Islands. It was a moody morning when we visited this cove, the rain was pouring down, and one angry sea lion guarded the beach.

campbell island

campbell island

There are three main reasons why Campbell Island stole my heart, making it super unique in my books. The albatross, the wild plants – megaherbs, and the views here are unique and extraordinary.

Campbell Island is steep and rugged, rising close to 600 meters at Mount Honey in the south overlooking where we were moored. Most of the island is surrounded by cliffs, making it the perfect home for albatross but not for humans.

It’s truly wild and undiscovered for the most part; very few humans will ever step foot here, making it all the more lovable in my books.

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

Famous English botanist Joseph Hooker once wrote that Campbell Islands possesses a “flora display second to none outside the tropics.” What an honor for this wild island at the bottom of the world.

Home to over one hundred native plants, many of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world, Campbell Island is famous for its megaherbs – a word I hadn’t heard before I boarded the ship. Megaherbs are what you might imagine. Enormous wildflowers with huge leaves and bright flowers which have adapted to the harsh weather on the island. They are straight out of Jurassic Park!

We were lucky enough to arrive when there were many a megaherb field of pleurophyllum speciosum on Campbell Island, bright purple flowers. It was so spectacular to witness.

campbell island

campbell island

But of course, the reason I love Campbell Island the most is that it is home to so many albatross, with six species found here, including the largest albatross in the world: the southern royal.

Here you might also find the black-browed albatross, the grey-headed albatross, the light mantled sooty, and even Gibson’s Wandering albatross.

The sooties have to be my favorite albatross. Hard to see with their dark coloring, I love the way their beautiful eyes pop against their dark plumage. Seriously one of my favorite birds.

campbell island

campbell island

Luckily these precious birds, including albatross, have a chance at life again since the eradication of introduced pests on Campbell Island.

The world’s rarest duck, the Campbell Island teal, has been reintroduced on the island. We saw one nibbling on a seal carcass on our last day, surely an oddity!

I also won the award for spotting the first snipe, almost tripping over it on the track!

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

campbell island

Voyaging to Campbell Island with Heritage Expeditions on their Galapagos of the Southern Ocean trip was one of the highlights of my life. I can honestly say I would do anything to return to this magnificent corner of the world, in any weather.

As one of the most highly conserved spaces in the world, it’s such a rare opportunity to walk amongst these iconic megaherbs, as beautiful albatross glide over your head. There is nowhere else quite like it.

Have you ever heard of Campbell Island? What kind of island holiday do you dream about? Share!

campbell island

Many thanks to Heritage Expeditions for taking me to the Subantarctic Islands – like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

The post Campbell Island is my happy place appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

9 day hikes in Wanaka that should be on your bucketlist


There’s no better place in New Zealand than Wanaka. There I said it, and I’m not taking it back.

Sure Milford is stunning, Queenstown can hold its own, but there’s something so idyllic about Wanaka’s small-town charm and instant access to epic peaks.

It’s unlike anywhere in New Zealand, and far too often it’s seen by tourists only in passing, as the quickly rush from Fox Glacier to Queenstown. I know that driving down the West Coast can be an overwhelming experience. The abundance of activities can make it hard to decide on where to go and where to spend your precious vacation time.

One of the best ways to have adventures here is to take in some of the famous day hikes in Wanaka.

day hikes in Wanaka

In a perfect world, you could spend months and see it all, but most of us don’t have that luxury, so if you’re looking for a reason to stay a few days in Wanaka, let me help convince you.

Wanaka is the perfect place for hikers. There are hikes for literally every ability within a short drive, all of which pretty much have epic views in Wanaka.

Here are my top recommendations for day hikes in Wanaka that are a 30-minute drive or less from the Wanaka city center. Here we go! 

6 epic hikes in Mt Aspiring National Park that will blow your mind

day hikes in Wanaka

1. Roy’s Peak Track

We’ve got to cover it, so let’s do it and get it out of the way. Roy’s Peak. The famous peak. The mountaintop every hiker dreams of summiting when they come to New Zealand. I’m not going to pretend I’m better than Roy’s Peak because, many years ago, when I too was a wide-eyed tourist ready to take on the world, I also dreamed of getting to this mysterious, other-worldly place.

Tacking one of these day hikes in Wanaka was number one on my South Island to-do list.

If this sounds like you, let’s clear the air. You should 100% do it, but before you lace up your boots and get walking, let’s get your expectations down to reality.

day hikes in Wanaka

The view from Roy’s Peak is unreal. There’s no question about it. The famous photo spot is *actually* about 2/3 of the way up the peak, not at the top, and the view is truly picture perfect.

Well, the more famous photo spot is Coromandel Peak, which is further along the ridge is accessed by helicopter.

The way the bays jut in and out of the turquoise water, the impeccably placed islands, the leading line of the trail culminating in what looks like a sheer drop off (spoiler, it’s not). Composition-wise, it truly does make for a magnificent photo.

Now that we got that out the way let’s get down to the reality of the hike, starting with the parking. This peak has become so popular that the parking lot often full by mid-morning. If you’re doing this hike, consider hitching or car-sharing to the trailhead. The walk itself is long and tedious.

day hikes in Wanaka

It follows a 4WD track that slowly snakes back and forth for hours before reaching the summit. There is no shade on the trail so, on a busy day, you need a sunhat and lots of sunscreen. There is also no water on the track. Because there are no trees, the views you get 100 meters up are essentially the same views you’ll see at the top, so there is no grand reveal.

Finally, the track is hella busy. You will be sharing the trail with hundreds of others, and if you want to get to that sweet, sweet photo spot, be prepared to wait in an actual line. On a mountain. In nature. Ugh. A better alternative would be to do the Skyline track, which goes from Cardrona Valley to Roy’s Peak. At the very least, you should try to get to Mt. Alpha from Roy’s, which is a fun track and less busy. 

Anyway, the peak is excellent, and if this hike is your New Zealand pilgrimage, go on and do it. Get it out of the way, then move on to some much better walks. 

5 of the best day hikes in New Zealand you can’t miss

day hikes in Wanaka

2. Isthmus Peak Track

As tourism increases for Roy’s Peak, nearby Isthmus Peak has become the default for those who want similar views with half the chaos for those looking for epic day hikes in Wanaka. This used to be a quiet little track, but its booming popularity means it faces many of the same problems that Roy’s faces. The parking lot can fit maybe max 20 cars, and parking on the narrow, winding, and the busy road can be dangerous.

The track is marginally more interesting as you get different views depending on what part of the trail you’re on.

It’s slightly less busy, and there is no one designated money shot, so at least you won’t have to stand in a line. 

day hikes in Wanaka

Once you get to the top of Isthmus Peak, you will be rewarded with the rare view of both Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka and the special place called “the neck” where they almost touch. Fun fact, an Isthmus is a narrow piece of land with water on either side. 

You can continue on to Mt. Burke if you’re really keen but no that there is no public access down to the road from there, so if you walk the ridge, you’ll have to come back to Isthmus Peak to get down. 

All in all, this a great alternative to an easy hike with stunning views.

day hikes in Wanaka

3. Grandview Mountain Track

With a similar grade to Roy’s Peak and Isthmus, the Grandview mountain track is another excellent option for day hikes in Wanaka.

The track, while steep, is not technical at all, so as long as you have some strong legs and bit of determination, this hike should be no problem. The hike starts in Hawea, a 15-minute drive from Wanaka.

For the most part, the trail is wide and usually not too busy, so if you’re looking to escape the crowds, this could be a good option. 

day hikes in Wanaka

You’ll start the hike going up the valley, which might require hopping over a few streams. You’ll walk along a well-defined track through the quintessential Otago tussock land. After 9km of walking, you’ll get to the Grandview summit where you will be rewarded with — ahem — grand views.

You’ll have 360 degrees panoramic views of Lake Hawea, Lake Wanaka, surrounding peaks, and if you’re lucky, you can even see Mt. Aspiring /Tititea’s summit on the horizon. 

If you want a big day, you can continue the tracks and follow along across the ridge-line over to Breast Hill, but it is a long way, so you’ll need to be sure you have plenty of time and food & water to get the job done. 

day hikes in Wanaka

4. Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Track

For those looking for a shorter, half-day hike, Diamond Lake is sure to impress.

You can find this trailhead by heading up the Matukituki Valley. Diamond Lake is a popular spot and is a beautiful wee lake for those just wanting a short 15-minute walk. For those wanting a bit of elevation, continue on the trail past the lake and start heading up Rocky Mountain.

Rocky Mountain and Diamond Lake are fantastic day hikes in Wanaka.

day hikes in Wanaka

The track past Diamond Lake towards Rocky Mountain is steep and often wet or, in wintry conditions, icy.

You’ll want some good grippy shoes for this one in the wintertime if you can access it at all! You’ll continue to climb until you get to a sign that points you on the east track or the west track, allowing you to do this hike in a loop. Both tracks are about the same, although the east gets less sun so it can be wetter or icier underfoot.

Nevertheless, the trail is relatively easy and straightforward, and after an hour or so, you’ll be standing on top of Rocky Mountain, looking down on Wanaka below. 

day hikes in Wanaka

5. The Motatapu Valley

Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forest in Wanaka as it was cleared for farming a century ago. A lot of our mountains are bare, meaning there’s not much shade cover, and your hike is probably going to look the same whether you’re in the valley or on the peak.

The Motatapu area is a rare gem where you get a bit of variation in the terrain with a short, but beautiful, stint through a magical fairy forest. It’s part of the land owned by Mahu Whenua, an incredible luxury lodge.

The main hike on the Motatapu Track starts by Glendhu Bay. You’ll see the signs for the Motatapu track. This hike is part of a larger hike that takes you from Wanaka to Arrowtown over three days.

But for those looking for just a day walk, this hike still provides a great adventure to the Fern Burn hut and back. 

day hikes in Wanaka

You’ll start by walking through farmlands for 3km or so before you enter the forest. You’ll follow a stunning little stream up the valley before crossing a bridge and continue up and out of the woods. Once you’re out, you’ll sidle along the tussock-covered hills on a well-maintained track for another hour or two before arriving at Fern Burn hut.

This is a great benchmark to get to for the day and an excellent lunch spot.

If you’ve got the time and energy, you can continue on a bit further to on the track and maybe even reach Jack’s Saddle. Where ever you feel comfortable, turn around and go back the way you came. 

day hikes in Wanaka

6. Corner Peak via the Timaru River Track

If you’ve driven down the West Coast into Wanaka, you likely remember the moment you turned on the highway from Lake Wanaka, went over a little hill, and then BAM — right in front of you was another stunning lake with a most impressive peak towering above.

This prominent peak that welcomes you to Hawea is called Corner Peak, and it’s a real beauty.

Corner Peak is going to be harder than any of the hikes, as mentioned earlier, but it’s well worth it.

day hikes in Wanaka

The trailhead starts in Timaru Creek, a 30-minute drive from Wanaka. This track doesn’t mess around, and from the get-go, your calves will be on fire. Fight through the pain; it’s worth it. 

The track climbs relentlessly for a few hours before starting to sidle along the tops. You’ll get to a point where you think you’re close, and then you’ll look at the ridge and see how far you have left to go. Don’t let that discourage you. It’s closer than it seems! Keep trudging on. While the track is fairly obvious, many people get lead astray by trying to follow the actual ridge to the summit. The trail actually sidles along the backside of the peak, and if you decide to follow the ridge, you’ll likely end up on loose rock scrambling precariously. 

The views from the top are truly unreal. You get a rare peek into the Hunter Valley, and you can see all along Lake Hawea as well as over to Dingle Peak and toward the Ahuriri. Your legs are going to be tired, but you won’t be sorry. Follow the track back down the way you came to get back to the car. 

day hikes in Wanaka

7. Breast Hill Track

Breast Hill is my favorite hike in the Wanaka area, hands down.

Part of the Te Araroa trail that covers the length of New Zealand, Breast Hill has everything I’m looking for in a local mountain: proximity to home, varied terrain, a bit more technical than merely walking, stunning views instantly. It’s simply exceptional.

The hike starts just outside of Lake Hawea, and as you drive to the parking lot, you’ll likely spot the steep switchbacks up through the scrub and make no mistake, the switchbacks are STEEP. As your calves burn and you suck air trying to get up the switchbacks, remember after 30 minutes of so, the switchbacks will end, and it will get slightly more relaxed.

day hikes in Wanaka

From there, you follow up the rocks and along the ridge. The trail can be scrambly at times, so you may need to use your hands to climb up or stabilize yourself. Keep mostly to the ridge until you get to a sign for Pakituhi Hut. This is a great hut to stay in if you want an overnight hut, otherwise, turn left and head up the mountain. The trail is obvious, and it won’t take you long to get to the true summit. 

I love this area because the options are truly endless. From the top of Breast Hill, you can connect it down into Timaru Creek (a 30km+ day, but doable), head over into the Ahuriri Valley (overnight) or get over and down Grandview Mountain (another big day but still possible.) 

The views from the top are similar to Corner and Grandview: sweeping vistas of the surrounding ranges, perfect views of Lake Hawea and the township, and even a little peek over into Aspiring Mountain if the weather is clear. Honestly, this is a must-do on the day hikes in Wanaka.

day hikes in Wanaka

8. Sawyer Burn Track

At the top of Lake Hawea, you’ll find this little gem at the Kidds Bush Campsite.

It’s not a particularly long or hard walk, but it’s great for an afternoon. Park at the campground and follow the signs for Sawyer Burn Hut. You’ll climb up steeply through the forest getting little glimpses of Lake Hawea below and Corner Peak over the east. After an hour or so, you’ll be out of the bush, and you’ll have epic views to soak in. 

You’ll get to a point where the Sawyer Burn track veers right, avoiding the obvious ridge in front of you. Follow the track and traverse along the mountainside for a while longer before getting to Sawyer Burn Hut.

This hut, in all honesty, is in pretty bad shape, so while you wouldn’t want to spend the night there, it’s a great spot to get to for an afternoon stroll before turning back and going the way you came. 

day hikes in Wanaka

9. Meg Hut

There’s something so subtly stunning about the Pisa Ranges.

Sure, the mountains are as dramatic and intense looking as some of the other rangers, but the Pisas certainly have their charm. While still tall mountains, the peaks of the Pisas are more rounded and covered in tussocks, making them look like alien land formations from afar. 

There are plenty of tracks to keep you busy in the Pisas, and because of their gentle nature, you could explore the area for as long as you want in one go. My favorite day mission is a peaceful, gentle walk to Meg Hut.

This is also an exceptional hut to stay in if you’re looking for an overnight mission, but it works great as a day walk too.

day hikes in Wanaka

You can access the trailhead by driving to Cardrona and turning into the Snow Farm road. You’ll see signs for the track (do not go up the snow farm road!) where you can park your car and start walking. The track is all smooth 4WD roads, so while it can be steep at times, it should be a much gentler walk than some of the others on the list.

After a few hours, you’ll hit Meg Hut, which is nestled into a little valley next to a stream.

You can continue if you want over to Deep Creek Hut and out over to Cromwell, or turn around and go back the way you came. It won’t have the epic lake views like Roy’s Peak, but the lack of crowds and the sound of the tussocks blowing in the wind are well worth the trip!

day hikes in Wanaka

Finally, one of the best day hikes in Wanaka, the Rob Roy Glacier track, unfortunately, is out of commission as of January 2020 – there was a dodgy slip (landslide) on the track worsened by some wild storms making the track too unstable to use. Fingers crossed DOC gets it back up and running soon – be sure to pop into the local office to check the status of these trails and the weather before venturing out.

Besides that, there are so many fantastic day hikes in the Wanaka area beyond the more well-known ones. Be sure to check them out on your next adventure in New Zealand.

What are your favorite day hikes in Wanaka? Have any more to share? Spill.

day hikes in Wanaka

The post 9 day hikes in Wanaka that should be on your bucketlist appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

9 day hikes in Wanaka that should be on your bucketlist


There’s no better place in New Zealand than Wanaka. There I said it, and I’m not taking it back.

Sure Milford is stunning, Queenstown can hold its own, but there’s something so idyllic about Wanaka’s small-town charm and instant access to epic peaks.

It’s unlike anywhere in New Zealand, and far too often it’s seen by tourists only in passing, as the quickly rush from Fox Glacier to Queenstown. I know that driving down the West Coast can be an overwhelming experience. The abundance of activities can make it hard to decide on where to go and where to spend your precious vacation time.

One of the best ways to have adventures here is to take in some of the famous day hikes in Wanaka.

day hikes in Wanaka

In a perfect world, you could spend months and see it all, but most of us don’t have that luxury, so if you’re looking for a reason to stay a few days in Wanaka, let me help convince you.

Wanaka is the perfect place for hikers. There are hikes for literally every ability within a short drive, all of which pretty much have epic views in Wanaka.

Here are my top recommendations for day hikes in Wanaka that are a 30-minute drive or less from the Wanaka city center. Here we go! 

6 epic hikes in Mt Aspiring National Park that will blow your mind

day hikes in Wanaka

1. Roy’s Peak Track

We’ve got to cover it, so let’s do it and get it out of the way. Roy’s Peak. The famous peak. The mountaintop every hiker dreams of summiting when they come to New Zealand. I’m not going to pretend I’m better than Roy’s Peak because, many years ago, when I too was a wide-eyed tourist ready to take on the world, I also dreamed of getting to this mysterious, other-worldly place.

Tacking one of these day hikes in Wanaka was number one on my South Island to-do list.

If this sounds like you, let’s clear the air. You should 100% do it, but before you lace up your boots and get walking, let’s get your expectations down to reality.

day hikes in Wanaka

The view from Roy’s Peak is unreal. There’s no question about it. The famous photo spot is *actually* about 2/3 of the way up the peak, not at the top, and the view is truly picture perfect.

Well, the more famous photo spot is Coromandel Peak, which is further along the ridge is accessed by helicopter.

The way the bays jut in and out of the turquoise water, the impeccably placed islands, the leading line of the trail culminating in what looks like a sheer drop off (spoiler, it’s not). Composition-wise, it truly does make for a magnificent photo.

Now that we got that out the way let’s get down to the reality of the hike, starting with the parking. This peak has become so popular that the parking lot often full by mid-morning. If you’re doing this hike, consider hitching or car-sharing to the trailhead. The walk itself is long and tedious.

day hikes in Wanaka

It follows a 4WD track that slowly snakes back and forth for hours before reaching the summit. There is no shade on the trail so, on a busy day, you need a sunhat and lots of sunscreen. There is also no water on the track. Because there are no trees, the views you get 100 meters up are essentially the same views you’ll see at the top, so there is no grand reveal.

Finally, the track is hella busy. You will be sharing the trail with hundreds of others, and if you want to get to that sweet, sweet photo spot, be prepared to wait in an actual line. On a mountain. In nature. Ugh. A better alternative would be to do the Skyline track, which goes from Cardrona Valley to Roy’s Peak. At the very least, you should try to get to Mt. Alpha from Roy’s, which is a fun track and less busy. 

Anyway, the peak is excellent, and if this hike is your New Zealand pilgrimage, go on and do it. Get it out of the way, then move on to some much better walks. 

5 of the best day hikes in New Zealand you can’t miss

day hikes in Wanaka

2. Isthmus Peak Track

As tourism increases for Roy’s Peak, nearby Isthmus Peak has become the default for those who want similar views with half the chaos for those looking for epic day hikes in Wanaka. This used to be a quiet little track, but its booming popularity means it faces many of the same problems that Roy’s faces. The parking lot can fit maybe max 20 cars, and parking on the narrow, winding, and the busy road can be dangerous.

The track is marginally more interesting as you get different views depending on what part of the trail you’re on.

It’s slightly less busy, and there is no one designated money shot, so at least you won’t have to stand in a line. 

day hikes in Wanaka

Once you get to the top of Isthmus Peak, you will be rewarded with the rare view of both Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka and the special place called “the neck” where they almost touch. Fun fact, an Isthmus is a narrow piece of land with water on either side. 

You can continue on to Mt. Burke if you’re really keen but no that there is no public access down to the road from there, so if you walk the ridge, you’ll have to come back to Isthmus Peak to get down. 

All in all, this a great alternative to an easy hike with stunning views.

day hikes in Wanaka

3. Grandview Mountain Track

With a similar grade to Roy’s Peak and Isthmus, the Grandview mountain track is another excellent option for day hikes in Wanaka.

The track, while steep, is not technical at all, so as long as you have some strong legs and bit of determination, this hike should be no problem. The hike starts in Hawea, a 15-minute drive from Wanaka.

For the most part, the trail is wide and usually not too busy, so if you’re looking to escape the crowds, this could be a good option. 

day hikes in Wanaka

You’ll start the hike going up the valley, which might require hopping over a few streams. You’ll walk along a well-defined track through the quintessential Otago tussock land. After 9km of walking, you’ll get to the Grandview summit where you will be rewarded with — ahem — grand views.

You’ll have 360 degrees panoramic views of Lake Hawea, Lake Wanaka, surrounding peaks, and if you’re lucky, you can even see Mt. Aspiring /Tititea’s summit on the horizon. 

If you want a big day, you can continue the tracks and follow along across the ridge-line over to Breast Hill, but it is a long way, so you’ll need to be sure you have plenty of time and food & water to get the job done. 

day hikes in Wanaka

4. Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Track

For those looking for a shorter, half-day hike, Diamond Lake is sure to impress.

You can find this trailhead by heading up the Matukituki Valley. Diamond Lake is a popular spot and is a beautiful wee lake for those just wanting a short 15-minute walk. For those wanting a bit of elevation, continue on the trail past the lake and start heading up Rocky Mountain.

Rocky Mountain and Diamond Lake are fantastic day hikes in Wanaka.

day hikes in Wanaka

The track past Diamond Lake towards Rocky Mountain is steep and often wet or, in wintry conditions, icy.

You’ll want some good grippy shoes for this one in the wintertime if you can access it at all! You’ll continue to climb until you get to a sign that points you on the east track or the west track, allowing you to do this hike in a loop. Both tracks are about the same, although the east gets less sun so it can be wetter or icier underfoot.

Nevertheless, the trail is relatively easy and straightforward, and after an hour or so, you’ll be standing on top of Rocky Mountain, looking down on Wanaka below. 

day hikes in Wanaka

5. The Motatapu Valley

Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forest in Wanaka as it was cleared for farming a century ago. A lot of our mountains are bare, meaning there’s not much shade cover, and your hike is probably going to look the same whether you’re in the valley or on the peak.

The Motatapu area is a rare gem where you get a bit of variation in the terrain with a short, but beautiful, stint through a magical fairy forest. It’s part of the land owned by Mahu Whenua, an incredible luxury lodge.

The main hike on the Motatapu Track starts by Glendhu Bay. You’ll see the signs for the Motatapu track. This hike is part of a larger hike that takes you from Wanaka to Arrowtown over three days.

But for those looking for just a day walk, this hike still provides a great adventure to the Fern Burn hut and back. 

day hikes in Wanaka

You’ll start by walking through farmlands for 3km or so before you enter the forest. You’ll follow a stunning little stream up the valley before crossing a bridge and continue up and out of the woods. Once you’re out, you’ll sidle along the tussock-covered hills on a well-maintained track for another hour or two before arriving at Fern Burn hut.

This is a great benchmark to get to for the day and an excellent lunch spot.

If you’ve got the time and energy, you can continue on a bit further to on the track and maybe even reach Jack’s Saddle. Where ever you feel comfortable, turn around and go back the way you came. 

day hikes in Wanaka

6. Corner Peak via the Timaru River Track

If you’ve driven down the West Coast into Wanaka, you likely remember the moment you turned on the highway from Lake Wanaka, went over a little hill, and then BAM — right in front of you was another stunning lake with a most impressive peak towering above.

This prominent peak that welcomes you to Hawea is called Corner Peak, and it’s a real beauty.

Corner Peak is going to be harder than any of the hikes, as mentioned earlier, but it’s well worth it.

day hikes in Wanaka

The trailhead starts in Timaru Creek, a 30-minute drive from Wanaka. This track doesn’t mess around, and from the get-go, your calves will be on fire. Fight through the pain; it’s worth it. 

The track climbs relentlessly for a few hours before starting to sidle along the tops. You’ll get to a point where you think you’re close, and then you’ll look at the ridge and see how far you have left to go. Don’t let that discourage you. It’s closer than it seems! Keep trudging on. While the track is fairly obvious, many people get lead astray by trying to follow the actual ridge to the summit. The trail actually sidles along the backside of the peak, and if you decide to follow the ridge, you’ll likely end up on loose rock scrambling precariously. 

The views from the top are truly unreal. You get a rare peek into the Hunter Valley, and you can see all along Lake Hawea as well as over to Dingle Peak and toward the Ahuriri. Your legs are going to be tired, but you won’t be sorry. Follow the track back down the way you came to get back to the car. 

day hikes in Wanaka

7. Breast Hill Track

Breast Hill is my favorite hike in the Wanaka area, hands down.

Part of the Te Araroa trail that covers the length of New Zealand, Breast Hill has everything I’m looking for in a local mountain: proximity to home, varied terrain, a bit more technical than merely walking, stunning views instantly. It’s simply exceptional.

The hike starts just outside of Lake Hawea, and as you drive to the parking lot, you’ll likely spot the steep switchbacks up through the scrub and make no mistake, the switchbacks are STEEP. As your calves burn and you suck air trying to get up the switchbacks, remember after 30 minutes of so, the switchbacks will end, and it will get slightly more relaxed.

day hikes in Wanaka

From there, you follow up the rocks and along the ridge. The trail can be scrambly at times, so you may need to use your hands to climb up or stabilize yourself. Keep mostly to the ridge until you get to a sign for Pakituhi Hut. This is a great hut to stay in if you want an overnight hut, otherwise, turn left and head up the mountain. The trail is obvious, and it won’t take you long to get to the true summit. 

I love this area because the options are truly endless. From the top of Breast Hill, you can connect it down into Timaru Creek (a 30km+ day, but doable), head over into the Ahuriri Valley (overnight) or get over and down Grandview Mountain (another big day but still possible.) 

The views from the top are similar to Corner and Grandview: sweeping vistas of the surrounding ranges, perfect views of Lake Hawea and the township, and even a little peek over into Aspiring Mountain if the weather is clear. Honestly, this is a must-do on the day hikes in Wanaka.

day hikes in Wanaka

8. Sawyer Burn Track

At the top of Lake Hawea, you’ll find this little gem at the Kidds Bush Campsite.

It’s not a particularly long or hard walk, but it’s great for an afternoon. Park at the campground and follow the signs for Sawyer Burn Hut. You’ll climb up steeply through the forest getting little glimpses of Lake Hawea below and Corner Peak over the east. After an hour or so, you’ll be out of the bush, and you’ll have epic views to soak in. 

You’ll get to a point where the Sawyer Burn track veers right, avoiding the obvious ridge in front of you. Follow the track and traverse along the mountainside for a while longer before getting to Sawyer Burn Hut.

This hut, in all honesty, is in pretty bad shape, so while you wouldn’t want to spend the night there, it’s a great spot to get to for an afternoon stroll before turning back and going the way you came. 

day hikes in Wanaka

9. Meg Hut

There’s something so subtly stunning about the Pisa Ranges.

Sure, the mountains are as dramatic and intense looking as some of the other rangers, but the Pisas certainly have their charm. While still tall mountains, the peaks of the Pisas are more rounded and covered in tussocks, making them look like alien land formations from afar. 

There are plenty of tracks to keep you busy in the Pisas, and because of their gentle nature, you could explore the area for as long as you want in one go. My favorite day mission is a peaceful, gentle walk to Meg Hut.

This is also an exceptional hut to stay in if you’re looking for an overnight mission, but it works great as a day walk too.

day hikes in Wanaka

You can access the trailhead by driving to Cardrona and turning into the Snow Farm road. You’ll see signs for the track (do not go up the snow farm road!) where you can park your car and start walking. The track is all smooth 4WD roads, so while it can be steep at times, it should be a much gentler walk than some of the others on the list.

After a few hours, you’ll hit Meg Hut, which is nestled into a little valley next to a stream.

You can continue if you want over to Deep Creek Hut and out over to Cromwell, or turn around and go back the way you came. It won’t have the epic lake views like Roy’s Peak, but the lack of crowds and the sound of the tussocks blowing in the wind are well worth the trip!

day hikes in Wanaka

Finally, one of the best day hikes in Wanaka, the Rob Roy Glacier track, unfortunately, is out of commission as of January 2020 – there was a dodgy slip (landslide) on the track worsened by some wild storms making the track too unstable to use. Fingers crossed DOC gets it back up and running soon – be sure to pop into the local office to check the status of these trails and the weather before venturing out.

Besides that, there are so many fantastic day hikes in the Wanaka area beyond the more well-known ones. Be sure to check them out on your next adventure in New Zealand.

What are your favorite day hikes in Wanaka? Have any more to share? Spill.

day hikes in Wanaka

The post 9 day hikes in Wanaka that should be on your bucketlist appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

A Hollyford Track adventure – exploring remote Fiordland


There is nowhere else on earth quite like Fiordland. And definitely nowhere like the Hollyford Track.

A wild and remote land of steep mountains along the sea, glaciers and dense temperate rainforests and home to some of the weirdest and wildest birds, Fiordland is spectacular.

Topping the bucket list of many is to take in the Milford Track or exploring the many incredible tramps in the region. Most are based out of Milford Sound, one of the wonders of the world, few go beyond its steep walls and thundering waterfalls.

But once you do manage to voyage beyond Milford, you’ll discover a pretty special part of the world.

hollyford track

hollyford track

After a couple of tedious and slow-to-recover injuries this winter in New Zealand, by the time early summer rolled around, I was itching to get back in the hills and pop my hiking boots back on.

Unfit and definitely not tramping fit, I knew I needed to start out on something more accessible and shorter than a week-long adventure to get my feet wet again before venturing further. Combined with a tight schedule right before moving house, I only had a short window to get out in the hills.

It couldn’t have been more perfect to try out the iconic Hollyford Track on their 2 day heli-escape. This historic Fiordland tramp that has been on my mind for years.

hollyford track

hollyford track

One of the many reasons the Hollyford Track has been on my mind is the connection there between the people and the land. The Hollyford Track sits on Māori land, Ngāi Tahu land, and it is owned by Ngāi Tahu Tourism.

As the original inhabitants of this part of New Zealand, it’s pretty special how they have come to share it with the world. Ngāi Tahu’s tourism roots extend back to when their ancestors were the guides for many of the first European explorers on the South Island. Now they are guiding a different kind of explorer, the modern traveler.

This connection between the people and the land around the Hollyford Track is powerful and impactful. It certainly made my experience there all the more memorable.

hollyford track

hollyford track

The 2 day heli-escape on the Hollyford Track should top all kiwi bucketlists and is a must-do for visitors wanting a taste of the best New Zealand has to offer.

You can also walk the Hollyford Track independently over 4 – 8 days in a variety of ways staying at DOC huts along the route.

The trip begins in the most epic way possible – flying via helicopter from Milford Sound to Martins Bay. Just the roadtrip out to Milford is impressive, but to combine it with a heli-flight? Next level awesome.

hollyford track

hollyford track

We flew directly out of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea, before following the coastline north some 30 kilometers before landing in Martins Bay.

Martins Bay is my new favorite part of Fiordland, and a place few know about. What I find fascinating is that if a few decisions were made differently, Martins Bay might have been another Queenstown and a massive hub for tourists – there was a plan for a long time to connect the Hollyford Road with the Haast Pass on the west coast.

Instead, few know about its existence at all.

hollyford track

hollyford track

Once a hub for local Māori on their pounamu (jade) trails and for gathering, by the time European settlers began to explore the area in the 1860’s, few people were left. Martins Bay and the Hollyford was (and still is) wild and remote.

For twenty-odd years, European settlers tried to make a life around Martins Bay, even building a settlement inland called Jamestown. There was hope it might turn into a commercial port, but eventually people realized it was just too damn hard with so many factors involved that it was slowly abandoned.

One of the last settlers, Alice McKenzie, wrote a book about her childhood as a settler in Martins Bay that is fascinating. I plowed through it on my evenings on the Hollyford, wondering how the hell they even managed to survive there as long as they did.

hollyford track

hollyford track

What was really cool is that on the guided track we got to see so many of the remainders and marks from the early pioneers in the area, something I probably would have never spotted on my own.

On the first day of the walk we spotted a massive maple tree in the middle of the Fiordland bush, marking the place where one of the settlers lived and planted this foreign tree.

How on earth they lived here I can’t even imagine.

hollyford track

hollyford track

After landing in Martins Bay, we were treated to a yummy lunch before heading off in the bush towards the coast for the afternoon.

In classic Fiordland weather, it absolutely bucketed us with rain. One of the wettest places in the world, rain comes with the territory here. Call me crazy, but I’m one of those people that thinks that Fiordland is more beautiful in the rain.

After all, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just being unprepared. Mostly.

9 ways hiking in New Zealand will change your life

hollyford track

hollyford track

Probably one of the best benefits of journeying along the Hollyford with the guided options is just a massive step up in comfort level than walking on your own. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Fiordland bush, and it’s wet. Really wet.

The first thing they did once we landed in Martins Bay was provide us with long, super waterproof rainjackets that covered me from my head to knees. It was perfect.

Then, once we got back to the lodge for the night, they have the most amazing drying room, full of warmth, where you can hang out everything you need to so it dries by morning.

I really don’t love putting on wet hiking boots, so this blew. my. mind.

hollyford track

hollyford track

On the 2 day heli-escape on the Hollyford you hike about 7 kilometers per day over easy terrain. It was beautiful, and beautifully flat.

Absolutely bucketing down with rain, we made our way through the dense, lush forest, learning about the local plants and animals while hearing the stories of the settlers who tried to make a go at life in remote Fiordland.

Spoiler alert – it didn’t go well.

hollyford track

hollyford track

We finished the first day out on the coastline looking at a seal colony on Long Reef and admiring how the mountains drop to the forest to the wild seaside. It’s a magical place.

We could see the coastline is brimming with food, like paua (NZ abalone) and crayfish, along with amazing wildlife.

Rugged and wild, it’s exactly the kind of place I love to explore.

hollyford track

hollyford track

Lucky for us, the Hollyford Track has its own jetboat – which comes with an absolute cracker of a jetboat driver – to come pick us up along the coast and whizz us back to the hut lodge in time for cheese, snacks, and wine.

Hello! This is the kind of tramping I could get used to!

There are hot showers and snacks and endless cups of hot tea, inside and out of the weather. I was in heaven! We curled up by the fire and immediately dozed off.

hollyford track

hollyford track

As the sun set, an epic thunderstorm rolled in. With thunder booming and rain tapping on the roof and windows all night, it made for the most magical experience.

I love listening to the rain, and it really felt like we were in the wild as the storm rolled out to sea.

I still can’t even begin to fathom how settlers tried to live here back in the day.

hollyford track

hollyford track

That night I barely remember falling asleep, tucked into a cozy bed with the pitter patter of the rain outside. It was so peaceful.

The next morning was still, clear, and fresh, with no rain and the sun breaking through the clouds as we climbed into the jetboat again and made our way to historic Jamestown to begin our hike back to the lodge.

Walking through the ancient podocarp was ethereal. The trees shimmered with the rain from the day before and it smelled damp, earthy and alive. I felt my lungs inflate with happiness and thought to myself, yes, maybe I could live here.

Then a sandfly bit me on the face, and I thought, nope, better just for visits.

hollyford track

hollyford track

I definitely rate the Hollyford Track as one of the best hikes and experiences you can have in New Zealand. It has everything.

History, culture, forest, sea and mountains, birdlife and plants, it’s a dream spot for people like me. And it’s still relatively off the beaten path.

I will definitely be back for longer next time!

Have you ever been on an adventure like this? Did you know about the Hollyford Track? Would you be keen to head into the Fiordland bush like the original settlers? Spill!

hollyford track

The pioneering days of the 19th century were the subject of Alice Mackenzie’s book The Pioneers of Martins Bay, which recounted her childhood as a settler at Jamestown and Martins Bay. You can buy at the hut on the track.

When the tide was low at Martins Bay by Alice McKenzie

I stood upon the sandy shore
As evening shadows fell;
The sun was sinking in the west
Across the ocean swell.

O’er the sea the sun was casting
Each brightly tinted ray
As the waves came sweeping onwards
To the shore at Martins Bay.

The moon was rising o’er the hills
As the sun sank in the west,
And her silvery light was gleaming
On the ocean’s heaving breast.

And those ever moving waters
Sparkling brightly as they roar
Are dashed in foaming billows
On that wild and lonely shore.

All around are wooded hills
No matter where your eyes are turning;
You see no human habitation
Except where one lone light is burning.

Here solitude doth reign supreme,
All scenes are lonely and drear,
But there’s music in the lonlineness
Which solitude will make us hear.

A whispering sound among the trees,
There is music in the ocean’s roar,
There’s a voice in the wandering breeze
Which is sighing along the shore.

And the voice of nature speaks to us
In every flower that grows,
And the voice of God is calling us
In every breeze that blows.

hollyford track

Many thanks to Ngāi Tahu Tourism for hosting me on the Hollyford Track – like always, I’m keeping it real. Like you could expect less from me!

The post A Hollyford Track adventure – exploring remote Fiordland appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

20 must-visit spots on New Zealand’s North Island


Often when we see images of New Zealand in the news or advertised as the most magical place to visit, for the most part, we see the stunning scenery of the South Island. New Zealand North Island must do – read on.

This, of course, makes sense, as the South Island landscapes are incredibly dramatic and picturesque. But as someone who has been calling New Zealand home for seven years now, I feel duty-bound to stick my hand up in support for the North Island, which also is exceptional and has heaps on offer.

I love the North Island, and there are so many compelling spots there worth exploring.

20 must-visit spots on New Zealand’s South Island

new zealand north island must do

new zealand north island must do

In some ways, the North Island is much more diverse than the South Island and home to hidden little corners waiting to be explored by the intrepid traveler.

From beautiful coastlines to old forests to volcanic landscapes to warm lakes and rivers, the North Island is lush and green and outstanding. With a much larger population, including Māori, often, there are more opportunities for cultural experiences here too.

After seven years in New Zealand, here are some of my favorite experiences and must do’s around New Zealand’s North Island – enjoy!

new zealand north island must do

new zealand north island must do

1. Explore the central North Island volcanic region

With love for the mountains, I can’t help but be drawn to their beauty when I’m traveling. Lucky for me, New Zealand has no shortage of incredible mountains to explore, even on the North Island.

What makes the mountains around the central North Island special is that they are volcanoes. The North Island Volcanic Plateau is impressive. Seemingly emerging out of nothing, suddenly, you’re in another world, marked by three iconic mountains: Tongariro, Ruapehu, and Ngauruhoe.

Home to two national parks and ski fields, there is so much to explore in this area, from walks, hot pools, waterfalls, big hikes, and adventures galore, I never get tired of this part of New Zealand.

My favorite walk to a Ruapehu waterfall here is to Tawhai Falls.

new zealand north island must do

2. Fall in love with native birds at Zealandia in Wellington

I can quickly pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with birds in New Zealand – when I first visited Zealandia in Wellington in 2013.

Zealandia is an urban eco-sanctuary in Wellington and conservation project. Massive, Zealandia feels like a giant national park in the heart of the capital city of New Zealand. Enclosed in a predator-free fence that keeps out invasive predators like cats, stoats, and possums, native birds like kaka and kiwi have been allowed to thrive here.

I joined in on one of their nighttime Twilight Tours and saw my very first kiwi.

new zealand north island must do

3. Channel your inner hippy in Raglan

Raglan is a coastal hub on the west coast of the North Island, and a bit of a mecca for surfers. Boasting the longest left-hand break in the world, Raglan has long been a relaxed and chill seaside surf spot.

Funky, relaxed and artsy, with good weather, Raglan is a great spot to escape to and chill out for a while, even if you don’t surf.

Don’t miss out on grabbing a cup of coffee from Raglan Roast while you’re there.

new zealand north island must do

4. Be amazed by Tāne Mahuta on the Kauri Coast

I reckon the Kauri Coast in Northland is one of the North Island’s best-kept secrets. Here I am blowing the lid on it, oh well.

Home to Tāne Mahuta, the largest known living Kauri Tree in New Zealand, the Waipoua Forest is magnificent. Go for a short walk and visit this ancient tree and marvel at this crazy canopy.

One of my favorite places to stay is to go glamping at the Highfield River Retreat.

new zealand north island must do

5. Get well off the beaten track at Tolaga Bay

Hidden away on the wild East Cape, Tolaga Bay is part of the area Captain Cook visited in 1769 on his circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Home to the second-longest wharf in New Zealand, Tolaga Bay is a classic kiwi holiday spot to chill out and relax, especially in the summertime.

Be sure to go for a hike along Cooks Cove Walkway.

new zealand north island must do

6. Hang out in a cafe in Wellington 

Before moving down to the South Island, I called Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, home for half a year. And I loved every minute of it. Except for the wind. I didn’t like that.

And one of my favorite Wellington past times was to go out for a fantastic cup of a coffee in a trendy cafe, and read or write. Wellington has so many amazing spots for coffee, and it’s part of their urban culture worth indulging in.

Egmont Street Eatery is my go-to brunch spot before exploring all around Cuba Street.

Where to wine, dine and caffeinate in Wellington, New Zealand

new zealand north island must do

7. Join in for a feast at Hobbiton

If I had to guess, I would say that Hobbiton is probably the most-visited tourist site on the North Island, if not all of New Zealand, and with good reason – it’s fantastic!

But here’s my pro-tip from a massive Lord of the Rings fan – try and go to their evening banquets, or even better, their International Hobbit Day party. It’s so refreshing to stick around Hobbiton after the sun goes down and take it all in at a big party.

So much fun!

new zealand north island must do

8. Explore around the Bay of Islands

Several hours drive north of Auckland in what seems like the middle of nowhere, and you’ll come across a truly incredible part of New Zealand – the Bay of Islands.

Subtropical and chill AF, the Bay of Islands was the first place Captain Cook landed on his exploration of New Zealand in the 18th century. Packed full of history, the Bay of Islands covers over 140 islands with lots of little towns and beaches worth exploring.

My favorite way to get out on the water is on a fishing charter; that way, I can catch my dinner.

new zealand north island must do

9. Marvel at all of the geothermal wonders around Rotorua 

Lovingly nicknamed “RotoVegas,” Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist towns. You almost always know when you’ve arrived because of the occasional whiff of sulfur you’ll smell in the air from all of the incredible geothermal activity there.

Home to geysers, bubbling mud pools, boiling lakes, natural hot springs, and lots and lots of steam, Rotorua is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been.

With heaps of geothermal parks and wonders you can visit, it’s worth spending a few days around here taking it all in – Waimangu is my favorite. Venture further afield to the nearby lakes and have a lovely holiday where the water is always warm and cozy.

new zealand north island must do

10. Get your ass kicked on Mt. Taranaki

Some of the best surf breaks in New Zealand are around Taranaki on the west coast of the North Island.

Somewhat off the beaten tourist track, this side of New Zealand is pretty impressive. Overshadowed by the mighty volcano Mt. Taranaki, the area beckons all who love mountains and sea.

Over 2,500 meters high and a perfect conical volcano often shrouded in cloud, Taranaki juts out from the flat landscape. If you’re fit and healthy, you can climb Taranaki in a day in good weather in summer, though be warned; it’s a deadly mountain. There are plenty of more comfortable and more relaxed tracks around the mountain worth exploring too.

new zealand north island must do

11. Spend a summer’s weekend at the Coromandel

The Coromandel Peninsula beckons many who visit the North Island.

With beautiful beaches, small quirky towns, lush forests, and a bit of mountain, it has something for everyone up here. Cathedral Cove is a marine reserve and a popular spot to visit, and I loved visiting here on a kayak trip from Hahei.

Digging your spa in the sand for a natural hot spring at Hot Water Beach is another must-do in the Coromandel for first-time visitors.

new zealand north island must do

12. Go underground at the famous Waitomo Caves to see glowworms

Visiting the iconic glowworm caves in Waitomo tops the bucket list of many, making it a super popular attraction on any kiwi travel itinerary.

Seeing glowworms is genuinely spectacular, and not something you can experience anywhere else in the world. With heaps of adventures on offer in Waitomo, it’s the perfect spot to take them all in for the first time.

Go Black Water Rafting for a truly adventurous way to experience the caves.

new zealand north island must do

13. Visit the Gannet Colony at Muriwai at sunset

I only just visited the Muriwai Gannet Colony last year, and it completely blew my mind.

Home to over a thousand nesting gannets, a large white seabird with stunning blue eyes, the colony of these birds is impressive. A short walk will lead you up to the colony, tucked seemingly precariously along wild cliffs, as hundreds of birds go to and fro.

It’s like watching a small city in action.

new zealand north island must do

14. Go wine tasting in Martinborough

One of my favorite boutique wine-growing regions in the world is undoubtedly Martinborough in the Wairarapa, just north of Wellington.

A small, boutique wine-growing region just north of Wellington, there are over 20 cellar doors in Martinborough, all of which are relatively close together. It’s fun to bike between them.

If you find yourself in the area come November, grab tickets to Toast Martinborough, their annual food and wine festival.

new zealand north island must do

15. Road trip around the East Cape

If you want to get well off the beaten path and take in classic New Zealand, plan a road trip around the East Cape.

From Napier up through Gisborne and around the easternmost part of New Zealand, the East Cape is likely the least visited region by tourists, leaving it unique and open.

Warm and quiet, I fell in love with the East Cape on my first trip around the area. Watch the sunrise from the iconic East Cape lighthouse and be one of the first people in the world to see the morning.

new zealand north island must do

16. Get sore legs on the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Self-explanatory.

The Tongariro Crossing is consistently ranked as one of the best day-hikes in the world. While this means it’s incredibly busy, especially on good weather days, it shouldn’t deter you from tackling it. Almost 20 kilometers long, alpine and unpredictable, and logistically somewhat complicated to start and finish the track, Tongariro is consistently underestimated by those taking it on.

Be sure to be fit and do your research on what to bring and how to prepare safely for it.

new zealand north island must do

17. Drink wine on Waiheke and snooze the day away

Waiheke Island is magic!

Less than an hour ferry ride from downtown Auckland through the Hauraki Gulf will bring you to magical Waiheke – an island paradise home to beautiful beaches, a charming town, and heaps of wineries.

With white sandy beaches, warm weather and bright blue water, it’s the perfect place to head first on a trip to New Zealand to recover from jetlag and get a taste for this incredible Pacific island.

Man O’ War Vineyard was such a nice off the beaten path vineyard to while away an afternoon on Waiheke.

new zealand north island must do

18. Go for an early morning stroll at the Hamilton Gardens

Now now now, I hear what you’re saying. Gardens as a must-do? But trust me on this one, the Hamilton Gardens are not to be missed, especially if you’re a plant lover like me.

More than just another urban garden, the Hamilton Gardens are a museum of gardens, and it’s pretty epic. I can spend more than a day wandering amongst the greenhouses and lawns there, hanging out, napping in the grass, and being inspired by the plants.

It’s a rad little spot.

new zealand north island must do

19. Hang out in Mount Maunganui

Nicknamed the Mount, just outside of Tauranga, is this historic seaside town with one of the best beaches in the world. White, sandy and warm, the vibe is Bali meets California meets the Gold Coast, with a bit of classic kiwi charm thrown in for good measure.

Climb up Mauao overlooking the town and sea for epic views.

new zealand north island must do

20. Stay in a bach near Piha

Piha is a laid-back surf town west of Auckland. With black sandy beaches and a dramatic, rugged coastline, it’s a pretty epic seaside spot to get away to on the North Island.

With a classic kiwi holiday vibe, Piha is the spot to rent a bach and get away from it all. Go for a bushwalk and check out some of the local waterfalls while you’re there.

new zealand north island must do

New Zealand is a special place; we all know that. When you’re planning your next holiday here, be sure not to overlook the North Island.

From waterfalls to geothermal marvels to volcanos to heaps or cute surf beaches, the North Island has so much to offer. Hopefully, this guide is a good start of where to begin with your New Zealand North Island must do.

What did I miss? Have you been to New Zealand? What are your must-visit spots on the North Island? Spill in the comments!

20 must-visit spots on New Zealand’s South Island

new zealand north island must do

The post 20 must-visit spots on New Zealand’s North Island appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

A Hollyford Track adventure – exploring remote Fiordland


There is nowhere else on earth quite like Fiordland. And definitely nowhere like the Hollyford Track.

A wild and remote land of steep mountains along the sea, glaciers and dense temperate rainforests and home to some of the weirdest and wildest birds, Fiordland is spectacular.

Topping the bucket list of many is to take in the Milford Track or exploring the many incredible tramps in the region. Most are based out of Milford Sound, one of the wonders of the world, few go beyond its steep walls and thundering waterfalls.

But once you do manage to voyage beyond Milford, you’ll discover a pretty special part of the world.

hollyford track

hollyford track

After a couple of tedious and slow-to-recover injuries this winter in New Zealand, by the time early summer rolled around, I was itching to get back in the hills and pop my hiking boots back on.

Unfit and definitely not tramping fit, I knew I needed to start out on something more accessible and shorter than a week-long adventure to get my feet wet again before venturing further. Combined with a tight schedule right before moving house, I only had a short window to get out in the hills.

It couldn’t have been more perfect to try out the iconic Hollyford Track on their 2 day heli-escape. This historic Fiordland tramp that has been on my mind for years.

hollyford track

hollyford track

One of the many reasons the Hollyford Track has been on my mind is the connection there between the people and the land. The Hollyford Track sits on Māori land, Ngāi Tahu land, and it is owned by Ngāi Tahu Tourism.

As the original inhabitants of this part of New Zealand, it’s pretty special how they have come to share it with the world. Ngāi Tahu’s tourism roots extend back to when their ancestors were the guides for many of the first European explorers on the South Island. Now they are guiding a different kind of explorer, the modern traveler.

This connection between the people and the land around the Hollyford Track is powerful and impactful. It certainly made my experience there all the more memorable.

hollyford track

hollyford track

The 2 day heli-escape on the Hollyford Track should top all kiwi bucketlists and is a must-do for visitors wanting a taste of the best New Zealand has to offer.

You can also walk the Hollyford Track independently over 4 – 8 days in a variety of ways staying at DOC huts along the route.

The trip begins in the most epic way possible – flying via helicopter from Milford Sound to Martins Bay. Just the roadtrip out to Milford is impressive, but to combine it with a heli-flight? Next level awesome.

hollyford track

hollyford track

We flew directly out of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea, before following the coastline north some 30 kilometers before landing in Martins Bay.

Martins Bay is my new favorite part of Fiordland, and a place few know about. What I find fascinating is that if a few decisions were made differently, Martins Bay might have been another Queenstown and a massive hub for tourists – there was a plan for a long time to connect the Hollyford Road with the Haast Pass on the west coast.

Instead, few know about its existence at all.

hollyford track

hollyford track

Once a hub for local Māori on their pounamu (jade) trails and for gathering, by the time European settlers began to explore the area in the 1860’s, few people were left. Martins Bay and the Hollyford was (and still is) wild and remote.

For twenty-odd years, European settlers tried to make a life around Martins Bay, even building a settlement inland called Jamestown. There was hope it might turn into a commercial port, but eventually people realized it was just too damn hard with so many factors involved that it was slowly abandoned.

One of the last settlers, Alice McKenzie, wrote a book about her childhood as a settler in Martins Bay that is fascinating. I plowed through it on my evenings on the Hollyford, wondering how the hell they even managed to survive there as long as they did.

hollyford track

hollyford track

What was really cool is that on the guided track we got to see so many of the remainders and marks from the early pioneers in the area, something I probably would have never spotted on my own.

On the first day of the walk we spotted a massive maple tree in the middle of the Fiordland bush, marking the place where one of the settlers lived and planted this foreign tree.

How on earth they lived here I can’t even imagine.

hollyford track

hollyford track

After landing in Martins Bay, we were treated to a yummy lunch before heading off in the bush towards the coast for the afternoon.

In classic Fiordland weather, it absolutely bucketed us with rain. One of the wettest places in the world, rain comes with the territory here. Call me crazy, but I’m one of those people that thinks that Fiordland is more beautiful in the rain.

After all, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just being unprepared. Mostly.

9 ways hiking in New Zealand will change your life

hollyford track

hollyford track

Probably one of the best benefits of journeying along the Hollyford with the guided options is just a massive step up in comfort level than walking on your own. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Fiordland bush, and it’s wet. Really wet.

The first thing they did once we landed in Martins Bay was provide us with long, super waterproof rainjackets that covered me from my head to knees. It was perfect.

Then, once we got back to the lodge for the night, they have the most amazing drying room, full of warmth, where you can hang out everything you need to so it dries by morning.

I really don’t love putting on wet hiking boots, so this blew. my. mind.

hollyford track

hollyford track

On the 2 day heli-escape on the Hollyford you hike about 7 kilometers per day over easy terrain. It was beautiful, and beautifully flat.

Absolutely bucketing down with rain, we made our way through the dense, lush forest, learning about the local plants and animals while hearing the stories of the settlers who tried to make a go at life in remote Fiordland.

Spoiler alert – it didn’t go well.

hollyford track

hollyford track

We finished the first day out on the coastline looking at a seal colony on Long Reef and admiring how the mountains drop to the forest to the wild seaside. It’s a magical place.

We could see the coastline is brimming with food, like paua (NZ abalone) and crayfish, along with amazing wildlife.

Rugged and wild, it’s exactly the kind of place I love to explore.

hollyford track

hollyford track

Lucky for us, the Hollyford Track has its own jetboat – which comes with an absolute cracker of a jetboat driver – to come pick us up along the coast and whizz us back to the hut lodge in time for cheese, snacks, and wine.

Hello! This is the kind of tramping I could get used to!

There are hot showers and snacks and endless cups of hot tea, inside and out of the weather. I was in heaven! We curled up by the fire and immediately dozed off.

hollyford track

hollyford track

As the sun set, an epic thunderstorm rolled in. With thunder booming and rain tapping on the roof and windows all night, it made for the most magical experience.

I love listening to the rain, and it really felt like we were in the wild as the storm rolled out to sea.

I still can’t even begin to fathom how settlers tried to live here back in the day.

hollyford track

hollyford track

That night I barely remember falling asleep, tucked into a cozy bed with the pitter patter of the rain outside. It was so peaceful.

The next morning was still, clear, and fresh, with no rain and the sun breaking through the clouds as we climbed into the jetboat again and made our way to historic Jamestown to begin our hike back to the lodge.

Walking through the ancient podocarp was ethereal. The trees shimmered with the rain from the day before and it smelled damp, earthy and alive. I felt my lungs inflate with happiness and thought to myself, yes, maybe I could live here.

Then a sandfly bit me on the face, and I thought, nope, better just for visits.

hollyford track

hollyford track

I definitely rate the Hollyford Track as one of the best hikes and experiences you can have in New Zealand. It has everything.

History, culture, forest, sea and mountains, birdlife and plants, it’s a dream spot for people like me. And it’s still relatively off the beaten path.

I will definitely be back for longer next time!

Have you ever been on an adventure like this? Did you know about the Hollyford Track? Would you be keen to head into the Fiordland bush like the original settlers? Spill!

hollyford track

The pioneering days of the 19th century were the subject of Alice Mackenzie’s book The Pioneers of Martins Bay, which recounted her childhood as a settler at Jamestown and Martins Bay. You can buy at the hut on the track.

When the tide was low at Martins Bay by Alice McKenzie

I stood upon the sandy shore
As evening shadows fell;
The sun was sinking in the west
Across the ocean swell.

O’er the sea the sun was casting
Each brightly tinted ray
As the waves came sweeping onwards
To the shore at Martins Bay.

The moon was rising o’er the hills
As the sun sank in the west,
And her silvery light was gleaming
On the ocean’s heaving breast.

And those ever moving waters
Sparkling brightly as they roar
Are dashed in foaming billows
On that wild and lonely shore.

All around are wooded hills
No matter where your eyes are turning;
You see no human habitation
Except where one lone light is burning.

Here solitude doth reign supreme,
All scenes are lonely and drear,
But there’s music in the lonlineness
Which solitude will make us hear.

A whispering sound among the trees,
There is music in the ocean’s roar,
There’s a voice in the wandering breeze
Which is sighing along the shore.

And the voice of nature speaks to us
In every flower that grows,
And the voice of God is calling us
In every breeze that blows.

hollyford track

Many thanks to Ngāi Tahu Tourism for hosting me on the Hollyford Track – like always, I’m keeping it real. Like you could expect less from me!

The post A Hollyford Track adventure – exploring remote Fiordland appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

20 must-visit spots on New Zealand’s North Island


Often when we see images of New Zealand in the news or advertised as the most magical place to visit, for the most part, we see the stunning scenery of the South Island. New Zealand North Island must do – read on.

This, of course, makes sense, as the South Island landscapes are incredibly dramatic and picturesque. But as someone who has been calling New Zealand home for seven years now, I feel duty-bound to stick my hand up in support for the North Island, which also is exceptional and has heaps on offer.

I love the North Island, and there are so many compelling spots there worth exploring.

20 must-visit spots on New Zealand’s South Island

new zealand north island must do

new zealand north island must do

In some ways, the North Island is much more diverse than the South Island and home to hidden little corners waiting to be explored by the intrepid traveler.

From beautiful coastlines to old forests to volcanic landscapes to warm lakes and rivers, the North Island is lush and green and outstanding. With a much larger population, including Māori, often, there are more opportunities for cultural experiences here too.

After seven years in New Zealand, here are some of my favorite experiences and must do’s around New Zealand’s North Island – enjoy!

new zealand north island must do

new zealand north island must do

1. Explore the central North Island volcanic region

With love for the mountains, I can’t help but be drawn to their beauty when I’m traveling. Lucky for me, New Zealand has no shortage of incredible mountains to explore, even on the North Island.

What makes the mountains around the central North Island special is that they are volcanoes. The North Island Volcanic Plateau is impressive. Seemingly emerging out of nothing, suddenly, you’re in another world, marked by three iconic mountains: Tongariro, Ruapehu, and Ngauruhoe.

Home to two national parks and ski fields, there is so much to explore in this area, from walks, hot pools, waterfalls, big hikes, and adventures galore, I never get tired of this part of New Zealand.

My favorite walk to a Ruapehu waterfall here is to Tawhai Falls.

new zealand north island must do

2. Fall in love with native birds at Zealandia in Wellington

I can quickly pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with birds in New Zealand – when I first visited Zealandia in Wellington in 2013.

Zealandia is an urban eco-sanctuary in Wellington and conservation project. Massive, Zealandia feels like a giant national park in the heart of the capital city of New Zealand. Enclosed in a predator-free fence that keeps out invasive predators like cats, stoats, and possums, native birds like kaka and kiwi have been allowed to thrive here.

I joined in on one of their nighttime Twilight Tours and saw my very first kiwi.

new zealand north island must do

3. Channel your inner hippy in Raglan

Raglan is a coastal hub on the west coast of the North Island, and a bit of a mecca for surfers. Boasting the longest left-hand break in the world, Raglan has long been a relaxed and chill seaside surf spot.

Funky, relaxed and artsy, with good weather, Raglan is a great spot to escape to and chill out for a while, even if you don’t surf.

Don’t miss out on grabbing a cup of coffee from Raglan Roast while you’re there.

new zealand north island must do

4. Be amazed by Tāne Mahuta on the Kauri Coast

I reckon the Kauri Coast in Northland is one of the North Island’s best-kept secrets. Here I am blowing the lid on it, oh well.

Home to Tāne Mahuta, the largest known living Kauri Tree in New Zealand, the Waipoua Forest is magnificent. Go for a short walk and visit this ancient tree and marvel at this crazy canopy.

One of my favorite places to stay is to go glamping at the Highfield River Retreat.

new zealand north island must do

5. Get well off the beaten track at Tolaga Bay

Hidden away on the wild East Cape, Tolaga Bay is part of the area Captain Cook visited in 1769 on his circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Home to the second-longest wharf in New Zealand, Tolaga Bay is a classic kiwi holiday spot to chill out and relax, especially in the summertime.

Be sure to go for a hike along Cooks Cove Walkway.

new zealand north island must do

6. Hang out in a cafe in Wellington 

Before moving down to the South Island, I called Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, home for half a year. And I loved every minute of it. Except for the wind. I didn’t like that.

And one of my favorite Wellington past times was to go out for a fantastic cup of a coffee in a trendy cafe, and read or write. Wellington has so many amazing spots for coffee, and it’s part of their urban culture worth indulging in.

Egmont Street Eatery is my go-to brunch spot before exploring all around Cuba Street.

Where to wine, dine and caffeinate in Wellington, New Zealand

new zealand north island must do

7. Join in for a feast at Hobbiton

If I had to guess, I would say that Hobbiton is probably the most-visited tourist site on the North Island, if not all of New Zealand, and with good reason – it’s fantastic!

But here’s my pro-tip from a massive Lord of the Rings fan – try and go to their evening banquets, or even better, their International Hobbit Day party. It’s so refreshing to stick around Hobbiton after the sun goes down and take it all in at a big party.

So much fun!

new zealand north island must do

8. Explore around the Bay of Islands

Several hours drive north of Auckland in what seems like the middle of nowhere, and you’ll come across a truly incredible part of New Zealand – the Bay of Islands.

Subtropical and chill AF, the Bay of Islands was the first place Captain Cook landed on his exploration of New Zealand in the 18th century. Packed full of history, the Bay of Islands covers over 140 islands with lots of little towns and beaches worth exploring.

My favorite way to get out on the water is on a fishing charter; that way, I can catch my dinner.

new zealand north island must do

9. Marvel at all of the geothermal wonders around Rotorua 

Lovingly nicknamed “RotoVegas,” Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist towns. You almost always know when you’ve arrived because of the occasional whiff of sulfur you’ll smell in the air from all of the incredible geothermal activity there.

Home to geysers, bubbling mud pools, boiling lakes, natural hot springs, and lots and lots of steam, Rotorua is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been.

With heaps of geothermal parks and wonders you can visit, it’s worth spending a few days around here taking it all in – Waimangu is my favorite. Venture further afield to the nearby lakes and have a lovely holiday where the water is always warm and cozy.

new zealand north island must do

10. Get your ass kicked on Mt. Taranaki

Some of the best surf breaks in New Zealand are around Taranaki on the west coast of the North Island.

Somewhat off the beaten tourist track, this side of New Zealand is pretty impressive. Overshadowed by the mighty volcano Mt. Taranaki, the area beckons all who love mountains and sea.

Over 2,500 meters high and a perfect conical volcano often shrouded in cloud, Taranaki juts out from the flat landscape. If you’re fit and healthy, you can climb Taranaki in a day in good weather in summer, though be warned; it’s a deadly mountain. There are plenty of more comfortable and more relaxed tracks around the mountain worth exploring too.

new zealand north island must do

11. Spend a summer’s weekend at the Coromandel

The Coromandel Peninsula beckons many who visit the North Island.

With beautiful beaches, small quirky towns, lush forests, and a bit of mountain, it has something for everyone up here. Cathedral Cove is a marine reserve and a popular spot to visit, and I loved visiting here on a kayak trip from Hahei.

Digging your spa in the sand for a natural hot spring at Hot Water Beach is another must-do in the Coromandel for first-time visitors.

new zealand north island must do

12. Go underground at the famous Waitomo Caves to see glowworms

Visiting the iconic glowworm caves in Waitomo tops the bucket list of many, making it a super popular attraction on any kiwi travel itinerary.

Seeing glowworms is genuinely spectacular, and not something you can experience anywhere else in the world. With heaps of adventures on offer in Waitomo, it’s the perfect spot to take them all in for the first time.

Go Black Water Rafting for a truly adventurous way to experience the caves.

new zealand north island must do

13. Visit the Gannet Colony at Muriwai at sunset

I only just visited the Muriwai Gannet Colony last year, and it completely blew my mind.

Home to over a thousand nesting gannets, a large white seabird with stunning blue eyes, the colony of these birds is impressive. A short walk will lead you up to the colony, tucked seemingly precariously along wild cliffs, as hundreds of birds go to and fro.

It’s like watching a small city in action.

new zealand north island must do

14. Go wine tasting in Martinborough

One of my favorite boutique wine-growing regions in the world is undoubtedly Martinborough in the Wairarapa, just north of Wellington.

A small, boutique wine-growing region just north of Wellington, there are over 20 cellar doors in Martinborough, all of which are relatively close together. It’s fun to bike between them.

If you find yourself in the area come November, grab tickets to Toast Martinborough, their annual food and wine festival.

new zealand north island must do

15. Road trip around the East Cape

If you want to get well off the beaten path and take in classic New Zealand, plan a road trip around the East Cape.

From Napier up through Gisborne and around the easternmost part of New Zealand, the East Cape is likely the least visited region by tourists, leaving it unique and open.

Warm and quiet, I fell in love with the East Cape on my first trip around the area. Watch the sunrise from the iconic East Cape lighthouse and be one of the first people in the world to see the morning.

new zealand north island must do

16. Get sore legs on the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Self-explanatory.

The Tongariro Crossing is consistently ranked as one of the best day-hikes in the world. While this means it’s incredibly busy, especially on good weather days, it shouldn’t deter you from tackling it. Almost 20 kilometers long, alpine and unpredictable, and logistically somewhat complicated to start and finish the track, Tongariro is consistently underestimated by those taking it on.

Be sure to be fit and do your research on what to bring and how to prepare safely for it.

new zealand north island must do

17. Drink wine on Waiheke and snooze the day away

Waiheke Island is magic!

Less than an hour ferry ride from downtown Auckland through the Hauraki Gulf will bring you to magical Waiheke – an island paradise home to beautiful beaches, a charming town, and heaps of wineries.

With white sandy beaches, warm weather and bright blue water, it’s the perfect place to head first on a trip to New Zealand to recover from jetlag and get a taste for this incredible Pacific island.

Man O’ War Vineyard was such a nice off the beaten path vineyard to while away an afternoon on Waiheke.

new zealand north island must do

18. Go for an early morning stroll at the Hamilton Gardens

Now now now, I hear what you’re saying. Gardens as a must-do? But trust me on this one, the Hamilton Gardens are not to be missed, especially if you’re a plant lover like me.

More than just another urban garden, the Hamilton Gardens are a museum of gardens, and it’s pretty epic. I can spend more than a day wandering amongst the greenhouses and lawns there, hanging out, napping in the grass, and being inspired by the plants.

It’s a rad little spot.

new zealand north island must do

19. Hang out in Mount Maunganui

Nicknamed the Mount, just outside of Tauranga, is this historic seaside town with one of the best beaches in the world. White, sandy and warm, the vibe is Bali meets California meets the Gold Coast, with a bit of classic kiwi charm thrown in for good measure.

Climb up Mauao overlooking the town and sea for epic views.

new zealand north island must do

20. Stay in a bach near Piha

Piha is a laid-back surf town west of Auckland. With black sandy beaches and a dramatic, rugged coastline, it’s a pretty epic seaside spot to get away to on the North Island.

With a classic kiwi holiday vibe, Piha is the spot to rent a bach and get away from it all. Go for a bushwalk and check out some of the local waterfalls while you’re there.

new zealand north island must do

New Zealand is a special place; we all know that. When you’re planning your next holiday here, be sure not to overlook the North Island.

From waterfalls to geothermal marvels to volcanos to heaps or cute surf beaches, the North Island has so much to offer. Hopefully, this guide is a good start of where to begin with your New Zealand North Island must do.

What did I miss? Have you been to New Zealand? What are your must-visit spots on the North Island? Spill in the comments!

20 must-visit spots on New Zealand’s South Island

new zealand north island must do

The post 20 must-visit spots on New Zealand’s North Island appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link