It takes nothing to be kind


I’ve been an American expat in New Zealand for seven years, and I’ve never been more grateful for this country welcoming me with open arms, especially now amid the COVID 19 pandemic. In a few short weeks, I will qualify for permanent residency, which I can’t wait for. 

I love everything about New Zealand.

From the wild landscapes to the quirky culture to the DIY friendly attitude, it’s a great place to live. No wonder it consistently ranks among one of the happiest countries in the world. But unfortunately, as we sink into the total shitshow that is 2020, the stark contrast between my birthplace and where I call home now has never been more apparent.

Kindness. I can’t think of a more straightforward way to put it.

be kind coronavirus

Last Friday, an NBC correspondent asked Trump, “What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?” to which he replied, “I say that you’re a terrible reporter, that’s what I say.”

What. An. Asshole.

Even seeing it now I can feel my face flush red with anger. I feel so ashamed of where I’m from, and I’m terrified for my friends and family in the US. You deserve so much better. It shouldn’t take a pandemic and a failure of the federal government to bring fundamental human rights to a country that once was “the leader of the free world.” 

be kind coronavirus

Cruel, petulant, and heartless.

This is not how you lead. This is not how you talk to people. This is not how you comfort a nation of 330 million human beings who, you know, have hearts, fears, worries, and families to think about. Where is the respect? Where is his dignity?

What frightens me, even more, are all people who agree with him. It’s reflective of how selfish the American culture has become (has it always been that way and I’m only seeing it now that I’ve left?) There is no place in this world for that “me, me ME” attitude. We have to look out for one another. Politics don’t matter right now; nobody wants people to get sick and die.

Damnit, I’m furious all over again writing this.

be kind coronavirus

In contrast, our excellent PM, Jacinda Ardern, has been comforting and reassuring Kiwis almost daily, live-streaming, and answering questions, including running a press conference just for kids around COVID 19. She even does spontaneous FB lives from her sofa in sweatpants after putting her toddler to bed.

Each time she addresses us, you can see the toll this experience is taking on her face. She didn’t sign up for this, but she is leading us the best way possible. Her hope and belief in keeping Kiwis safe above all else ring through every word she speaks. Compassion and understanding radiate from her. She talks to us with clear plans and objectives of what we need to do to get through this, usually with scientists by her side.

Jacinda is the kind of figure you want to comfort you in times of crisis. We are all facing an unknown future, and it’s scary.

be kind coronavirus

And every single time Jacinda speaks to the New Zealand community, she reminds us to be kind and to support one another. There is even a page on the NZ government response website to COVID 19 about kindness.

And she reminds us to be strong. Acknowledging what she is asking all of us is massive, she wants us to unite against spreading COVID 19 by staying at home.

To be honest, considering what humanity has gone through over the millennia, it’s not that hard.

Staying home is easy. Being kind is harder. And being kind to yourself? Well, that’s a challenge, especially for people like me.

be kind coronavirus

We are facing unprecedented times (to echo every politician on earth), and it’s pretty freaking scary. If we aren’t careful, we can be consumed by terror, fear, anxiety, depression, and all those other nasty thoughts that like to lurk in the dark recesses of our minds.

But it’s never been more critical to share compassion, empathy, and love. It’s what makes us human, after all. Kindness is a choice.

As we move into four weeks (minimum) of home isolation here in New Zealand, Jacinda’s message of kindness couldn’t be more poignant. We are being tested.

Now is the time to work harder than ever at being considerate, helpful, and selfless. Remember to think of others and not just ourselves. Perhaps we aren’t staying at home because we are worried we will get sick, but rather remember we are doing it for everyone else.

be kind coronavirus

If we all stop moving, COVID 19 will stop moving. It’s pretty easy yet tough.

Now is the time to think beyond ourselves, to think of our collective communities and groups. It’s not about “me” anymore, it’s about everyone. Make your decisions with that in mind. I chose kindness. Don’t be an asshole.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a heartless world. I hope and believe we will come out of the other side of this stronger and better. Kia kaha, as we say here in New Zealand, which means “stay strong” in Māori.

Be kind, be compassionate, be helpful, and supportive. Above all, be human. And for god’s sake, stop trying to make Instagram Lives a thing. It’s so annoying. And stay the fuck at home. Deal?

How are you coping during this new future we’re facing? How are you staying kind to yourself and others? Spill!

be kind coronavirus

The post It takes nothing to be kind appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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Love in the time of Coronavirus – how one little kiwi town is surviving


You always hear me talking about our little bubble of paradise here in Wanaka. A place that seems immune to the problems of the rest of the world, a place that attracted friendly people who loved the outdoors.

A month ago, it seemed that nothing could disrupt our bubble. We ignored warnings and statistics from the rest of the world and reassured ourselves, “not here.”

The chaos that was suffocating other countries wouldn’t bother us much. But before we knew it, Coronavirus in New Zealand was beginning to spread its reach.

coronavirus in new zealand

Oh, how young and naive we were just a few weeks ago.

With a rapidly changing situation, New Zealanders around the country are coming to grips with the severity of the Coronavirus and the threat it poses not only to our health but to our tourism-fed economy as well.

As of now, our cases are under control, and our government is reacting much quicker than other governments around the world (Hi USA and UK!). Still, despite our denial, COVID-19 is here in New Zealand, and our country, much like many other countries, is preparing for an uncertain future.

coronavirus in new zealand

New Zealand’s economy is projected to take a worse hit than the global economy.

Our national carrier, Air New Zealand, has canceled 85% of long-haul flights and is on the brink of bankruptcy. Our borders are closed, ensuring whatever hope we had reviving our tourism economy is officially squashed. As a result, thousands have lost their jobs overnight.

There’s no question about it. We are in scary, uncharted waters here. Still, despite the grim outlook, the Wanaka community remains hopeful and is leaning into each other for support (from a distance of course!) Our streets may be empty, and our loved ones may be out of work. Still, we’re down here spreading the positivity as much as we can.

Let’s take a break from the doom and gloom and look at some of the ways Wanaka is thriving in a time of crisis.

Neighbors are offering to cook food for people in self-isolation

Last weekend, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, ordered a mandatory self-isolation period of 14 days for any person (Kiwi or otherwise) upon entering the country.

As you can expect, not everyone has chosen to obey the new rule (looking at you, tourists here for only ten days). However, for the most part, the people in our community are obeying and laying low.

They are restricting contact with other people and staying put, which, as you can imagine, makes it hard for them to go to the grocery store to get food. One community chef has offered up free meals (delivered without contact) for anyone in isolation while supplies last. Others offer land for seasonal workers to camp out on. Posts on the Wanaka community Facebook page are encouraging others to reach out if they need help.

The compassion is flowing, and damn, it’s a good look on this town.

coronavirus in new zealand

Landlords are preemptively reducing rent

This town is run mostly one tourist dollars, and for as much as the locals love to complain about the tourists running all over the town, it’s become blatantly evident that we need tourism to operate.

People who work in tourism and hospitality are losing their jobs at an alarming rate, and Wanaka, unfortunately, doesn’t have the industry to sustain many workers outside of tourism.

Kiwis freshly out of a job are looking to help fill rosters at the local grocery store or picking fruit as they struggle to make rent and buy groceries. We’ve seen several tenants already praising their landlords for offering reduced rent for the next few months or allowing late payments.

In a town that has never typically favored tenants, it’s remarkable to see the humanity in the housing market.

coronavirus in new zealand

Grocery stores are offering call-in delivery services

As things begin shutting down in the coming weeks, grocery stores and pharmacies will be braving the risks and staying as Coronavirus in New Zealand spreads.

Our local grocery stores in Wanaka know how important it is to have access to food. Still, they also recognize the uneasiness that comes with going into the store right for those who are self-isolating, whether out of instruction because they are high risk. They have started to offer phone and email orders delivered to your doorstep.

They are encouraging Kiwis to shop as usual and avoid panic buying. They are assuring us that as longs we do our part to buy normally, their supply chain will remain healthy and ready to serve the community.

coronavirus in new zealand

Kiwis are calling out those who refuse to protect the community

Most people arriving from overseas are complying with the order to self-isolate for 14 days after their arrival to halt the spread of Coronavirus in New Zealand. Still, a few travelers are not willing to cut their holiday short by self-isolating, and our local Kiwis do not have it.

Many Wanaka businesses have reported travelers who have admitted they have just arrived in the country and are not following self-isolation rules. The local iSite has been refusing to assist customers who have only just come to the country.

One couple who flew in from Hong Kong took a scenic help flight over Franz Josef only to have their heli pilot fly them straight to the police upon finding out on the glacier they had only just arrived in New Zealand.

Others in the community are being vigilant and confronting travelers who are not complying and alerting immigration. Our community knows what’s at risk, and they’re not afraid to get in your face about it. Our health is more important than your holiday.

coronavirus in new zealand

The distillery is springing into Action

While the Wanaka community seems to be doing a better job of shopping regularly to avoid shortages in the supermarkets with Coronavirus in New Zealand, hand sanitizer has been out of stock for weeks with no end in sight.

Our local distillery, the Cardrona Distillery, has recently offered up free Cardona-made disinfectant spray for household surfaces, which is also safe on hands.

They have encouraged members of the community to bring an empty spray container, and they will fill the container up to 500ml per household per week, all free of charge.

coronavirus in new zealand

People are learning what their priorities are

New Zealand is an island nation, and many of us have moved here from overseas. As an expat, I moved here under the assumption that I was only just a phone call away from home. If needed, I could hop on the plane and be home within a day. None of us could have predicted our new reality. In many ways, New Zealand feels even more isolated than before.

As our economy crashes and jobs are lost, a small silver lining is a communal reckoning of what our priorities are.

Yes, the economy is going to be bad for a while, but at the end of the day, lives are more important.

coronavirus in new zealand

It has been an uncomfortable but necessary reminder that the only things that matter are our health and the wellbeing of the people around us.

Wanaka has always been a gathering spot for the curious. While there are undoubtedly dark days (and months) in our future, we are leaning into our community now more than ever. We are lifting each other’s spirits, supporting local businesses where we can, and helping each other put one foot in front of another.

Must of us here are not Wanaka-born and as the reality sets in of Coronavirus in New Zealand, while many of our biological families are thousands of miles away and out of reach given the drastic decrease in international flights, our chosen families in our community are just as essential and will be there when we need a shoulder to lean on.

Kia Kaha New Zealand and the rest of the world. We will get through this one day at a time.

coronavirus in new zealand

The post Love in the time of Coronavirus – how one little kiwi town is surviving appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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It takes nothing to be kind


I’ve been an American expat in New Zealand for seven years, and I’ve never been more grateful for this country welcoming me with open arms, especially now amid the COVID 19 pandemic. In a few short weeks, I will qualify for permanent residency, which I can’t wait for. 

I love everything about New Zealand.

From the wild landscapes to the quirky culture to the DIY friendly attitude, it’s a great place to live. No wonder it consistently ranks among one of the happiest countries in the world. But unfortunately, as we sink into the total shitshow that is 2020, the stark contrast between my birthplace and where I call home now has never been more apparent.

Kindness. I can’t think of a more straightforward way to put it.

be kind coronavirus

Last Friday, an NBC correspondent asked Trump, “What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?” to which he replied, “I say that you’re a terrible reporter, that’s what I say.”

What. An. Asshole.

Even seeing it now I can feel my face flush red with anger. I feel so ashamed of where I’m from, and I’m terrified for my friends and family in the US. You deserve so much better. It shouldn’t take a pandemic and a failure of the federal government to bring fundamental human rights to a country that once was “the leader of the free world.” 

be kind coronavirus

Cruel, petulant, and heartless.

This is not how you lead. This is not how you talk to people. This is not how you comfort a nation of 330 million human beings who, you know, have hearts, fears, worries, and families to think about. Where is the respect? Where is his dignity?

What frightens me, even more, are all people who agree with him. It’s reflective of how selfish the American culture has become (has it always been that way and I’m only seeing it now that I’ve left?) There is no place in this world for that “me, me ME” attitude. We have to look out for one another. Politics don’t matter right now; nobody wants people to get sick and die.

Damnit, I’m furious all over again writing this.

be kind coronavirus

In contrast, our excellent PM, Jacinda Ardern, has been comforting and reassuring Kiwis almost daily, live-streaming, and answering questions, including running a press conference just for kids around COVID 19. She even does spontaneous FB lives from her sofa in sweatpants after putting her toddler to bed.

Each time she addresses us, you can see the toll this experience is taking on her face. She didn’t sign up for this, but she is leading us the best way possible. Her hope and belief in keeping Kiwis safe above all else ring through every word she speaks. Compassion and understanding radiate from her. She talks to us with clear plans and objectives of what we need to do to get through this, usually with scientists by her side.

Jacinda is the kind of figure you want to comfort you in times of crisis. We are all facing an unknown future, and it’s scary.

be kind coronavirus

And every single time Jacinda speaks to the New Zealand community, she reminds us to be kind and to support one another. There is even a page on the NZ government response website to COVID 19 about kindness.

And she reminds us to be strong. Acknowledging what she is asking all of us is massive, she wants us to unite against spreading COVID 19 by staying at home.

To be honest, considering what humanity has gone through over the millennia, it’s not that hard.

Staying home is easy. Being kind is harder. And being kind to yourself? Well, that’s a challenge, especially for people like me.

be kind coronavirus

We are facing unprecedented times (to echo every politician on earth), and it’s pretty freaking scary. If we aren’t careful, we can be consumed by terror, fear, anxiety, depression, and all those other nasty thoughts that like to lurk in the dark recesses of our minds.

But it’s never been more critical to share compassion, empathy, and love. It’s what makes us human, after all. Kindness is a choice.

As we move into four weeks (minimum) of home isolation here in New Zealand, Jacinda’s message of kindness couldn’t be more poignant. We are being tested.

Now is the time to work harder than ever at being considerate, helpful, and selfless. Remember to think of others and not just ourselves. Perhaps we aren’t staying at home because we are worried we will get sick, but rather remember we are doing it for everyone else.

be kind coronavirus

If we all stop moving, COVID 19 will stop moving. It’s pretty easy yet tough.

Now is the time to think beyond ourselves, to think of our collective communities and groups. It’s not about “me” anymore, it’s about everyone. Make your decisions with that in mind. I chose kindness. Don’t be an asshole.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a heartless world. I hope and believe we will come out of the other side of this stronger and better. Kia kaha, as we say here in New Zealand, which means “stay strong” in Māori.

Be kind, be compassionate, be helpful, and supportive. Above all, be human. And for god’s sake, stop trying to make Instagram Lives a thing. It’s so annoying. And stay the fuck at home. Deal?

How are you coping during this new future we’re facing? How are you staying kind to yourself and others? Spill!

be kind coronavirus

The post It takes nothing to be kind appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

Love in the time of Coronavirus – how one little kiwi town is surviving


You always hear me talking about our little bubble of paradise here in Wanaka. A place that seems immune to the problems of the rest of the world, a place that attracted friendly people who loved the outdoors.

A month ago, it seemed that nothing could disrupt our bubble. We ignored warnings and statistics from the rest of the world and reassured ourselves, “not here.”

The chaos that was suffocating other countries wouldn’t bother us much. But before we knew it, Coronavirus in New Zealand was beginning to spread its reach.

coronavirus in new zealand

Oh, how young and naive we were just a few weeks ago.

With a rapidly changing situation, New Zealanders around the country are coming to grips with the severity of the Coronavirus and the threat it poses not only to our health but to our tourism-fed economy as well.

As of now, our cases are under control, and our government is reacting much quicker than other governments around the world (Hi USA and UK!). Still, despite our denial, COVID-19 is here in New Zealand, and our country, much like many other countries, is preparing for an uncertain future.

coronavirus in new zealand

New Zealand’s economy is projected to take a worse hit than the global economy.

Our national carrier, Air New Zealand, has canceled 85% of long-haul flights and is on the brink of bankruptcy. Our borders are closed, ensuring whatever hope we had reviving our tourism economy is officially squashed. As a result, thousands have lost their jobs overnight.

There’s no question about it. We are in scary, uncharted waters here. Still, despite the grim outlook, the Wanaka community remains hopeful and is leaning into each other for support (from a distance of course!) Our streets may be empty, and our loved ones may be out of work. Still, we’re down here spreading the positivity as much as we can.

Let’s take a break from the doom and gloom and look at some of the ways Wanaka is thriving in a time of crisis.

Neighbors are offering to cook food for people in self-isolation

Last weekend, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, ordered a mandatory self-isolation period of 14 days for any person (Kiwi or otherwise) upon entering the country.

As you can expect, not everyone has chosen to obey the new rule (looking at you, tourists here for only ten days). However, for the most part, the people in our community are obeying and laying low.

They are restricting contact with other people and staying put, which, as you can imagine, makes it hard for them to go to the grocery store to get food. One community chef has offered up free meals (delivered without contact) for anyone in isolation while supplies last. Others offer land for seasonal workers to camp out on. Posts on the Wanaka community Facebook page are encouraging others to reach out if they need help.

The compassion is flowing, and damn, it’s a good look on this town.

coronavirus in new zealand

Landlords are preemptively reducing rent

This town is run mostly one tourist dollars, and for as much as the locals love to complain about the tourists running all over the town, it’s become blatantly evident that we need tourism to operate.

People who work in tourism and hospitality are losing their jobs at an alarming rate, and Wanaka, unfortunately, doesn’t have the industry to sustain many workers outside of tourism.

Kiwis freshly out of a job are looking to help fill rosters at the local grocery store or picking fruit as they struggle to make rent and buy groceries. We’ve seen several tenants already praising their landlords for offering reduced rent for the next few months or allowing late payments.

In a town that has never typically favored tenants, it’s remarkable to see the humanity in the housing market.

coronavirus in new zealand

Grocery stores are offering call-in delivery services

As things begin shutting down in the coming weeks, grocery stores and pharmacies will be braving the risks and staying as Coronavirus in New Zealand spreads.

Our local grocery stores in Wanaka know how important it is to have access to food. Still, they also recognize the uneasiness that comes with going into the store right for those who are self-isolating, whether out of instruction because they are high risk. They have started to offer phone and email orders delivered to your doorstep.

They are encouraging Kiwis to shop as usual and avoid panic buying. They are assuring us that as longs we do our part to buy normally, their supply chain will remain healthy and ready to serve the community.

coronavirus in new zealand

Kiwis are calling out those who refuse to protect the community

Most people arriving from overseas are complying with the order to self-isolate for 14 days after their arrival to halt the spread of Coronavirus in New Zealand. Still, a few travelers are not willing to cut their holiday short by self-isolating, and our local Kiwis do not have it.

Many Wanaka businesses have reported travelers who have admitted they have just arrived in the country and are not following self-isolation rules. The local iSite has been refusing to assist customers who have only just come to the country.

One couple who flew in from Hong Kong took a scenic help flight over Franz Josef only to have their heli pilot fly them straight to the police upon finding out on the glacier they had only just arrived in New Zealand.

Others in the community are being vigilant and confronting travelers who are not complying and alerting immigration. Our community knows what’s at risk, and they’re not afraid to get in your face about it. Our health is more important than your holiday.

coronavirus in new zealand

The distillery is springing into Action

While the Wanaka community seems to be doing a better job of shopping regularly to avoid shortages in the supermarkets with Coronavirus in New Zealand, hand sanitizer has been out of stock for weeks with no end in sight.

Our local distillery, the Cardrona Distillery, has recently offered up free Cardona-made disinfectant spray for household surfaces, which is also safe on hands.

They have encouraged members of the community to bring an empty spray container, and they will fill the container up to 500ml per household per week, all free of charge.

coronavirus in new zealand

People are learning what their priorities are

New Zealand is an island nation, and many of us have moved here from overseas. As an expat, I moved here under the assumption that I was only just a phone call away from home. If needed, I could hop on the plane and be home within a day. None of us could have predicted our new reality. In many ways, New Zealand feels even more isolated than before.

As our economy crashes and jobs are lost, a small silver lining is a communal reckoning of what our priorities are.

Yes, the economy is going to be bad for a while, but at the end of the day, lives are more important.

coronavirus in new zealand

It has been an uncomfortable but necessary reminder that the only things that matter are our health and the wellbeing of the people around us.

Wanaka has always been a gathering spot for the curious. While there are undoubtedly dark days (and months) in our future, we are leaning into our community now more than ever. We are lifting each other’s spirits, supporting local businesses where we can, and helping each other put one foot in front of another.

Must of us here are not Wanaka-born and as the reality sets in of Coronavirus in New Zealand, while many of our biological families are thousands of miles away and out of reach given the drastic decrease in international flights, our chosen families in our community are just as essential and will be there when we need a shoulder to lean on.

Kia Kaha New Zealand and the rest of the world. We will get through this one day at a time.

coronavirus in new zealand

The post Love in the time of Coronavirus – how one little kiwi town is surviving appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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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.



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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.



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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.



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15 photos to inspire you to visit the Bay of Islands


There aren’t many pockets of New Zealand I’ve yet to explore, but there was one genuinely iconic spot missing from my list – the Bay of Islands.

While I’ve been to Northland before and loved it, the top of the North Island is pretty huge. From Auckland to Cape Reinga, the tippy top of New Zealand is well over 400 kilometers long and roughly six hours driving.

So over the years, I’ve just taken my time and explored bit by bit. I fell in love with the ancient forests along the Kauri Coast and fell asleep listening to kiwi calling at night. I’ve met one of New Zealand’s grandest trees and spent days hiking the coastlines around Whangarei.

But I held off on visiting the Bay of Islands. Knowing that one day I’d get there and be able to take it in properly, I waited.

bay of islands

And this January was finally the time! Giulio and I headed up to the North Island for a week to see friends, do a bit of work, but mostly have a holiday. Until we arrived, I didn’t know how much I needed a proper holiday.

The end of 2019 did a real toll on me, physically and mentally, that I wasn’t quite aware of until the holidays hit and I became a zombie. Without the impending feeling of constant deadlines and jobs hanging over my head like a guillotine, my body just sagged into a dire state of fatigue.

It turns out; you can only go at full speed ahead for so long before you crash.

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

bay of islands

By New Years, I just slept and slept and slept some more, and luckily in New Zealand, things quiet down over the end of December and January, so I caved in to my body’s demand for peace and just relaxed.

And let me be the first to say, there’s nowhere better to relax than in the Bay of Islands.

There was so much that I wanted to see and do in this magical part of New Zealand. I had a list a page long of bucket list spots and things to check off my travel list. Your girl loves a list.

As we unpacked our bags after arriving in Russell, I put my phone away. We basically did sweet fuck all the whole time, and it was great!

And it was awesome!

bay of islands

We based ourselves in Russell, hiring a car in Auckland and driving up north for three hours. There’s a car ferry that links Russell and Opua that runs every ten minutes or so. This makes it easy to access, though there’s a road a long way around as well.

While Russell isn’t an island, it operates on island time and feels like an island here.

The vibe is most definitely beachy and relaxed. Russell is tiny and exceptionally charming. No one is in a hurry here, and the tropical climate invites you to sit back, relax, and enjoy life.

bay of islands

Russell is historically an important place in New Zealand. It was the first seaport and first European settlement. Russell was also New Zealand’s first capital in the 19th century.

Before Europeans arrived, Russell was called Kororāreka, and it was a lawless and wild, full of prostitution; it was even nicknamed “the hellhole of the Pacific!”

Nowadays it’s charming to the extreme, with lots of traditional historic buildings, beautiful flowers, and warm, inviting beaches. Russell is also home to New Zealand’s first hotel, bar, and restaurant – The Duke of Marlborough. It’s a popular spot, right on the waterfront, and the perfect base for Russell itself. We spent heaps of time here.

bay of islands

After a week in the Bay of Islands, I didn’t take too many photos.

But I did reset my soul, which I desperately needed. From falling asleep on a beach and getting sunburned to fishing and siestas, it was the perfect getaway for a holiday.

Every morning I would wake up, sip coffee, and read a chapter from Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things to begin my day before taking it easy. It was extraordinary.

Even though I didn’t come home with a hard drive of images, I thought I’d go ahead and share a snippet of my favorite shots from the Bay of Island with the hopes it might inspire you to take a break too – enjoy!

bay of islands

The view from Donkey Bay Inn – the beach below is a nudist beach

bay of islands

Our room at the incredible Donkey Bay Inn – quirky boutique accommodation in Russell, and one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed.

bay of islands

Oysters at Terra Restaurant in Paihia, we took a short passenger ferry over for dinner here one night.

bay of islands

bay of islands

bay of islands

My partner Giulio Sturla prepping a fantastic dinner at Donkey Bay, with all ingredients sourced from their garden with the fish we caught the day before.

bay of islands

bay of islands

I caught a massive snapper when we went fishing

bay of islands

bay of islands

The post 15 photos to inspire you to visit the Bay of Islands appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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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.



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15 photos to inspire you to visit the Bay of Islands


There aren’t many pockets of New Zealand I’ve yet to explore, but there was one genuinely iconic spot missing from my list – the Bay of Islands.

While I’ve been to Northland before and loved it, the top of the North Island is pretty huge. From Auckland to Cape Reinga, the tippy top of New Zealand is well over 400 kilometers long and roughly six hours driving.

So over the years, I’ve just taken my time and explored bit by bit. I fell in love with the ancient forests along the Kauri Coast and fell asleep listening to kiwi calling at night. I’ve met one of New Zealand’s grandest trees and spent days hiking the coastlines around Whangarei.

But I held off on visiting the Bay of Islands. Knowing that one day I’d get there and be able to take it in properly, I waited.

bay of islands

And this January was finally the time! Giulio and I headed up to the North Island for a week to see friends, do a bit of work, but mostly have a holiday. Until we arrived, I didn’t know how much I needed a proper holiday.

The end of 2019 did a real toll on me, physically and mentally, that I wasn’t quite aware of until the holidays hit and I became a zombie. Without the impending feeling of constant deadlines and jobs hanging over my head like a guillotine, my body just sagged into a dire state of fatigue.

It turns out; you can only go at full speed ahead for so long before you crash.

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

bay of islands

By New Years, I just slept and slept and slept some more, and luckily in New Zealand, things quiet down over the end of December and January, so I caved in to my body’s demand for peace and just relaxed.

And let me be the first to say, there’s nowhere better to relax than in the Bay of Islands.

There was so much that I wanted to see and do in this magical part of New Zealand. I had a list a page long of bucket list spots and things to check off my travel list. Your girl loves a list.

As we unpacked our bags after arriving in Russell, I put my phone away. We basically did sweet fuck all the whole time, and it was great!

And it was awesome!

bay of islands

We based ourselves in Russell, hiring a car in Auckland and driving up north for three hours. There’s a car ferry that links Russell and Opua that runs every ten minutes or so. This makes it easy to access, though there’s a road a long way around as well.

While Russell isn’t an island, it operates on island time and feels like an island here.

The vibe is most definitely beachy and relaxed. Russell is tiny and exceptionally charming. No one is in a hurry here, and the tropical climate invites you to sit back, relax, and enjoy life.

bay of islands

Russell is historically an important place in New Zealand. It was the first seaport and first European settlement. Russell was also New Zealand’s first capital in the 19th century.

Before Europeans arrived, Russell was called Kororāreka, and it was a lawless and wild, full of prostitution; it was even nicknamed “the hellhole of the Pacific!”

Nowadays it’s charming to the extreme, with lots of traditional historic buildings, beautiful flowers, and warm, inviting beaches. Russell is also home to New Zealand’s first hotel, bar, and restaurant – The Duke of Marlborough. It’s a popular spot, right on the waterfront, and the perfect base for Russell itself. We spent heaps of time here.

bay of islands

After a week in the Bay of Islands, I didn’t take too many photos.

But I did reset my soul, which I desperately needed. From falling asleep on a beach and getting sunburned to fishing and siestas, it was the perfect getaway for a holiday.

Every morning I would wake up, sip coffee, and read a chapter from Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things to begin my day before taking it easy. It was extraordinary.

Even though I didn’t come home with a hard drive of images, I thought I’d go ahead and share a snippet of my favorite shots from the Bay of Island with the hopes it might inspire you to take a break too – enjoy!

bay of islands

The view from Donkey Bay Inn – the beach below is a nudist beach

bay of islands

Our room at the incredible Donkey Bay Inn – quirky boutique accommodation in Russell, and one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed.

bay of islands

Oysters at Terra Restaurant in Paihia, we took a short passenger ferry over for dinner here one night.

bay of islands

bay of islands

bay of islands

My partner Giulio Sturla prepping a fantastic dinner at Donkey Bay, with all ingredients sourced from their garden with the fish we caught the day before.

bay of islands

bay of islands

I caught a massive snapper when we went fishing

bay of islands

bay of islands

The post 15 photos to inspire you to visit the Bay of Islands appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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