Friday, January 29, 2010

New Zealand - Piha - Canyoning - 15 January 2010

We met at the general store, got geared up and off to the Piha Falls.

It was a hot walk in the wetsuits but a swim in the pool of the chilly water below the waterfall was enough to cool one down.

The activity started off with an abseil down the narrow drop of thee last fall of the waterfall. The rest of the time we walked, swam, waded, climbed rocks, jumped into pools from various depths and squeezed through narrow rock fissures.

An excellent day!

New Zealand - Piha - 14 to 16 January 2010

The drive into Piha is steep and narrow but the view from the top overlooking Piha is awesome. A steep valley dotted with houses on the hillsides with a black sand beach with steep dramatic headlands at either end. Roughly in the centre of the beach is a huge rock, Lion Rock.

The beaches are crowded with people and surfers.

I walked south where a beach exists nearly landlocked except for a few places for water entry and exit. The headland here is steep and fun to climb.

Lion Rock is also a good climb with great views.


piha surfing

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Zealand - Puhoi River - Kayak - 14 January 2010

On the way to Piha, we stopped at Puhoi for kayaking down the Puhoi River. We picked up our kayaks and paddled and drifted down the river past farmlands, mangroves, piers and bridges. It was all very pretty. In the last section, the river widens considerable and the water colour changed from murky to blue. A van picked us up at a designated spot and returned us and the kayaks to base.

After that we had lunch at the Puhoi Hotel which was cramped full with memorabillia. The town is excellent to wander around.

New Zealand - Waipu Cove - 12 to 14 January 2010

This is another quiet area along the east coast in the Northland. There is a very long beach with sand dunes. Behind the sand dunes are wetlands of mangroves and grasses. There is a lot of bird life. The swimming was very good.

New Zealand: Goat Island Marine Reserve - 12 January 2010

Goat Island Marine Reserve is a picture postcard place not far from Pakiri. The view is an island with a small bay with calm clear water.

There were plenty of people on the beach and in the water. The fish were around you just metres from shore. The visibility was very good but the water was cold and seemed to get colder further from shore.

New Zealand - Pakiri - 11 to 13 January 2010

pakiri beach

Pakiri is a quiet area north of Auckland. It has a long white sanded beach with plenty of birdlife. A great place for quiet morning or afternoon walks. There is even a reasonable wave to surf.

pakiri beach surfing

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Zealand - Raglan, Manu Bay, Bridal Veil Falls - 11 January 2010

Raglan is a massive bay. The points of interest for me were the surf breaks.

rock at manu bay surf

mix of guys surfing at manu bay

Though the wind was strong, the waves were reasonably protected at Manu Bay. There were only a few guys out the back and they were a friendly lot. I had lots of fun waves. Some waves just seemed to go on forever.

After the surf, we drove around to Bridal Veil Falls. The falls were very high and powerful. The view points were nearly directly over the falls edge and looking across at the falls. The walk through the falls was through lush rainforest.

bridal veil falls

New Zealand - Waitomo - Black Water Rafting - Black Abyss - 10 January 2010

At Waitomo, there were a number of tours/activities to choose. We chose the Black Abyss with the Black Water Rafting Company.

We were picked up from the camping area and on arrival were shown the equipment and various safety items. We then drove to the cave entrance where we practise abseiling.

The cave entrance was a deep hole in the ground. We abseiled into the hole and then into darkness below. At the bottom we walked a short distance then rode a flying fox further into the darkness. It was pretty cool flying through the cave in the dark .

We then placed a rubber tube under our butts and jumped from our ledge into the cave stream below. The water was icy. We hauled ourselves upstream on our tubes along a rope. There were plenty of glow worms and it exciting moving in the dark.

At our furthest point upstream, we returned by drifting along the stream in the dark. We abandoned our tubes and began wading through the water. At one point we slid down a water slide and at other points we squeezed through narrow rock fissures.

Eventually, we exited the cave and into sunlight. We were driven back to the base and given a hot meal.

It was an excellent experience full of excitement.

New Zealand - Tongariro River - white water rafting - 9 January 2010

In the morning, we went white water rafting on the Tongariro River. The grade was three.

It was heaps of fun with great scenery and some cool rapids. At one spot, we swam and at another we jumped from a high ledge into the river below. It was a bit chilly. The guides were excellent and informative. It was a great activity for the family.

New Zealand -Tongariro Alpine Trek - 8 January 2010

Today was the big walk. We (I and my eldest daughter) left very early in the morning being taken by a small bus to the start of the track. The weather was light drizzle. It felt a bit refreshing.

The track was well defined and easy to follow. It varied from gravel to raised wood to rock scrambling to mud to volcanic scree.

The vegetation started off as heath but the view was obscured by the drizzle. The drizzle and wind gradually increased with the distance we travelled. Towards the summit, the wind was about 80 kph and the drizzle was now icy shards of rain. At this point, we could only take a few steps at a time as we had to brace ourselves from the wind and keep our faces turned away from the rain.

At points the track was mud and water. We were soaked and freezing but it was better to go forward with the wind at our backs. As a change, two guys jogged past us. Amazing and annoying.

After the summit, we eventually started the descent. At this time the rain stopped and the wind changed and was icy cold. We continued along a narrow mud path hugging the mountain side until the path turned to gravel. At short while later we reached a hut where we warmed up and rested. Until now we hadn’t rested as there was no place to get out of the wind and/or rain.

The vegetation had also changed to low alpine plants to dense alpine scrub and grasses to rainforest with a bubbling stream.

alpine trek

We reached the car park after 6 hours of walking. It was a wet, windy and cold trek but it was still a great experience. Still, I would like to do it again with a view and better weather. Apparently, some people were rescued that were behind us where the winds and rain became atrocious on one of the summit sections. The weather cleared by noon. Lucky us!!!

Discovery Lodge

We stayed at Discovery Lodge in the Tongariro National Park. It was an excellent camp area with very friendly and helpful staff. The view from the camping area was amazing.

views of tongariro national park


A relatively very cold winter in Australia. We had been waiting a long time for our next overseas trip and it always seems so far away but t...