August 23rd 2016 – New Zealand Day 3

Today I woke up at about 7:00am. I had a pretty lazy day today but I had some house keeping stuff I had to do. I needed to dump my waste water, and pickup fresh water. I drove to Kaikohe and used a dump station there. It was fairly easy, considering I had never done this before.

I then started to drive towards Omapere where there was a beautiful lookout overlooking the sand dunes that I had read about. I got distracted along the way and saw a sign to Wairere Boulders, which I followed. I’m glad I did! It led me down a gravel road for about 12km until I reached a private property with signs on it. A Swiss gentleman named Felix drove down from his house on his quad and reached the visitor hut that I had parked at. He greeted me and asked me where I was from, and then he told me a bit about the property, the history around the property, and a bit about himself. There was a $15 entry fee, which I didn’t mind paying. This place was rated one of the best 50 locations in New Zealand to visit, and the photo’s he had on display made it seem worth it.

The boulders are reminiscent of volcanic activities from thousands of years ago, and they are very unique because they are very hard basalt rock, but they are eroded. The erosion is due to debris from Kauri leaves, cones and branches, which created a very acidic environment. Felix is a geologist and a civil engineer and he said this is extremely rare.

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The amount of effort he put into building bridges and steps on his property is incredible. He said that it took him nearly 5 years with the help of his wife. You can tell that he over engineered everything because there was absolutely no flex in anything, and the wood was fairly beefy. He even had some drawings left up to show the detail of his work. Very Swiss indeed!

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I then continued on my way to Omapere, where I was absolutely awe struck by the beautiful views that were to be had!

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After Omapere I continued on my way to the Waipoua Forest, where I stopped to see the worlds oldest and tallest Kauri tree, which stands nearly 60 metres tall, and is around 2000 years old!

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My friend Anne, who I met in Australia on my tour contacted me via Facebook and told me that she was in Auckland tomorrow and that we should meet up. I was headed back that way anyways so I said I would drive as close as I could and we could meet up tomorrow. It was time to find a camping spot as it was starting to get a bit dark. I headed to a beautiful campsite overlooking Port Albert around 70km away from Auckland. There was only one other camper in the parking lot besides me; another Britz rental.

I had a shower, made some dinner, and did some photo editing, and wrote my blog, before heading to bed.

Tomorrow I’ll be off to Auckland to meet up with Anne for breakfast!

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August 17th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 8 of 10

Today I woke up at 5:00am and had some complimentary toast and coffee for breakfast from the hostel. I the. Packed my bags and got ready to be picked up for our scheduled 6:05am departure. 6:05am rolled by and there was still no sign of the bus. It wasn’t until 6:30 that a huge 4×4 rolled up. We got upgraded to a 4×4, better meal services, and better tents complimentary due to not enough bookings so no complaints on my end! Our tour guide Nat (Natalie) introduced herself and we got on our way! I’m down to only one person from my original tour, as well as three others from my previous tour. The new group of people are not as fun as my previous two groups, which we’ve become to know as “family” in the outback.

Our first stop, 1.5 hours away, was Stuart Well, which was a place where we could do optional camel rides, but nobody felt like doing any. We had a short break, and I took some photos or some kangaroos and camels. We learned that camels were introduced to Australia from India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan because they were in need of an animal that was heartier and stronger than the horse to help built to overland telegraph line in the 1870’s. Camels could carry almost twice as much (400kg) as a horse, and don’t need water for weeks at a time. After the telegraph line was completed they were no longer in need of the camels so they set them free into the land. This created a massive over population problem and eventually lead to culling of the camels. At their peak they had over one million camels, but they are now down to a much more reasonable 300,000 camels. Camels in Australia are about as purebred as they come and are sometimes sold overseas.

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The next stop was Mount Ebenezer Station about another 1.5 hours away. This stop has a restaurant and bar, as well as an aboriginal art centre. The aboriginals paint here and their art is sold. They’ve even been invited to paint in the Sydney Opera House. We stayed here about half an hour before continuing on.

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The next stop was Fooluru, or Mount Conner. From afar it looks like Uluru (Ayres Rock), but it isn’t. We climbed the sand dune to see a better view of Mount Conner on one side, and a salt water lake on the other side. The reason for this is that Australia was an inland sea about 400 million years ago.

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After our stop at Mount Conner we went to Curtain Springs cattle station for a quick stop before continuing on to our campsite. We stopped on the side of the road at noon to pickup firewood for tonight. We arrived at camp at 12:45pm, had some sandwiches for lunch, and dropped off our bags, before leaving towards Uluru.

It was 2:30pm when we arrived at Uluru. We went inside the cultural centre to learn about Uluru, the aboriginals, and the general history in the area. Uluru was originally owned by the aboriginals until 1958, when they were pushed out by white people. The area was eventually returned to the aboriginals on October 26th 1985, but tourism was still allowed with a special 99 year lease, which is overseen by a board of management. Uluru is a pretty special place because it has received two awards; in 1987 it was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and in 1994 it was recognized for its cultural landscape as well.

After visiting the cultural centre we did two walks; the Mutitjulu Walk, and the Mala walk. After completing our walks we drove to a lookout overlooking Uluru to have champagne and watch the sunset.

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After the sunset we drove back to camp to have dinner, which was rice and chicken stir fry. The dinner was already prepared for us upon our return, due to having an upgraded package. I was really tired so I went to bed at around 10:00pm.

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July 1st 2016 – Rockbound Lake & Tower Lake Hike

Today I went on a beautiful hike to Rockbound Lake and Tower Lake with my friend Sara. I woke up around 6:30am to pick her up from Lake Louise (where she is living for the summer). We started the hike at about 9:30am. The hike starts off gently, and gradually turns into a gradually steeper hike that is switchback after switchback. You eventually reach Tower Lake after approximately 7km. Tower Lake is a beautiful emerald green colour, with Castle Mountain as a beautiful backdrop off to the side. The hike continues another kilometer or so up to Rockbound Lake. The view is absolutely stunning, with mountains surrounding it on all but one side. We sat down here on some rocks to eat some lunch and admire the views. The hike took 2 hours 45 minutes to get to Rockbound Lake, and about 2 hours to get back to the car.

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April 8th 2016 –Hanakapi’ai Trail

Today I woke up at 8:30am, partially because I was tired, and partially because I had too much to drink the night before. I made myself some coffee, and had breakfast and drove towards the trailhead, which was about a half hour away.

The trailhead taunts you with what is going to be a pretty difficult hike, but well worth it in the end. The hike is brutal in some parts, but easy in others. Here’s an elevation profile so you can see what I’m talking about.

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The views are spectacular all along the way. You basically run alongside the ocean for the first 2.0 miles (3.2 km).

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After the 2.0 miles you reach a beach called Hanakapi`ai beach. The beach doesn’t have much sand at all, but it has a lot of amazing rock formations that people have placed.

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After the beach you continue inland another 2.0 miles (3.2 km) to Hanakapi’ai Falls. You cross over the river multiple times to get there, and I’ll be honest I fell in once and it wasn’t pretty. At least I got a good laugh, as well as others. I could hear the falls getting louder and louder as I approached. Even the photo from a far was quite beautiful.

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When I arrived at the falls there was a ton of people there, some even swimming in the little lake at the bottom. I quickly noticed that someone was sitting on the rocks enjoying herself, and thought it would be a neat photo to take a picture of.

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I then gazed my eyes up and down the falls and was quite overwhelmed by how beautiful they were.

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Oh yeah and there was a random kitten just hanging out by the waterfalls… Nobody knew why it was there or how it got there. Poor kitty, but it looks like many people were feeding it.

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It took 2.5 hours to hike to the falls, and 1.5 hours to hike back to the car. 22000 steps later, and I’m exhausted. I drove back to the condo, showered, and then got some beer, chicken, and mashed potatoes from the grocery store. I talked with Kirsty for a bit, downloaded my photos, went for a swim in the pool, and now I’m just going to relax for the rest of the day.

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