Of raging rivers, a temporary lake district and mineral baths

This year’s Easter escape didn’t take Gregor and me where we had intended to go. Right before Good Friday, a cyclone tore through our part of the world. Luckily, Auckland and anywhere southwards was spared the worst.

So it was just VERY wet but otherwise warm and humid. Just what you’d expect from a tropic storm.

The campground we had booked was closed because of the deluge, and so we drove a but further South towards Paeroa where we camped in the Karangahake Gorge.

This area is quite extraordinary with its amazingly steep and deep gorges:

The river looks pretty tame now but in the days before our visit, the water must have been around 2 to 3 metres higher telling by the debris along its banks. All the rivers were still quite swollen with most gravel banks submerged, and I cannot even imagine would they would be like during and right after the cyclone. Big raging torrents I suppose.

With the landscape still more than saturated with water, we adjusted our footwear accordingly.

Tramping boots cyclone style:

The main attraction why we had decided on the Paeroa area for our Easter trip are the mineral pools. This time, we treated ourselves to an hour in the mineral spa with private tubs.

Gregor and I taking a soak:

Not sure what the mineral composition is but the water had a rich soft feel to it and no hint of sulfur. Very pleasant and very relaxing.

We also explored the historic relics of the wood logging era.

Massive Kauri trunks were carted out on little wagons, one of which was still around:

Yet another fantastic weekend away for us in an otherwise challenging year.

Auckland weekend

I was up in Auckland over the weekend, the first time since April.

Gregor and I went camping in the Waitakere ranges which was really nice. When we did the Hillary Trail during the last Christmas holidays, we had passed through the Pararaha valley but not camped there, and we had wanted to come back to do that ever since.

It’s an easy two hours’ walk from the car park to the campground, through dunes dotted with wetlands. The valley itself is clad with regenerating bush, and a small creek runs along the bottom of it.

The weather was cooperative, too and it was pleasantly warm. We didn’t really do much but lying in the sun being lazy. Which was good as at home, there’s way too much for me to do to relax.

Coming back to Wellington was a bit of a shock to the system though with a Southerly blowing and a cozy 10 degrees….that’s Wellington…

 

Easter island escape

I went up to Auckland for the Easter weekend. Even with so much work to do, a long weekend at that time of the year just needs to be made use of for something other than sitting on a computer.

And there’s Gregor’s niece Julia who is currently in Auckland doing an internship and who wants to get out and explore.

So the three of us ventured out into the Hauraki gulf to spend a few days on Rangitoto and Motutapu. It’s a short ferry ride from central Auckland to get out there, and the weather was very nice. In my Wellingtonian’s view, it was a beautiful hot summer day.

We walked across Rangitoto to Motutapu and camped at Home Bay:

003 Motutapu Home Bay (400x300)004 Motutapu Home Bay am Abend (400x300)

We spent a day on Motutapu doing a loop walk around the island. Sweeping views over the island and out to the water and the city. Cows, and lots of bunkers dating back to the first world war. Fresh figs on the way, and on the campground itself, there were walnut and macadamia trees. I still have some fresh macadamias in the fridge and they are absolutely delicious.

It was a beautiful morning on the day we headed back. Sun shining, light breeze, stunning views. We stopped numerous times to take photos and enjoy the place. Here’s Gregor and Julia on one of those stops:

008 Gregor und Julia am naechsten Morgen (400x300)

Motutapu is all farmland with soft round hills, a few patches of bush here and there, and some picturesque trees. Looking back from volcanic Rangitoto, it’s almost like bucolic heaven:

013 Motutapu Causeway (400x300)

Rangitoto itself is rough and edgy. Most of the way, you have to watch every step you take on the sharp chunks of volcanic rock. There are still a few baches hidden in the bush which I thought really added to the atmosphere:

014 Islington Bay und Baches (400x300)

The walk back to the ferry was really hot, no breeze there and the black volcanic rock soaking up and radiating off the heat.

Occasionally, the bush opened up across lava fields with views across the water and towards central Auckland:

017 Rangitoto Kueste (300x400)

I’ve been to Rangitoto once before just for the day, but it’s definitely worth an extended visit, including camping on Motutapu. Make it a little island escape if you can, it’s well worth it.

Hillary Trail & encounter with an eel

Happy new year everyone!

Gregor and I did not go down South for the Christmas holidays this time, as we just didn’t want to have another holiday in the rain as had been the case the last couple of times.

Instead, I went up to Auckland, and the weather has been great. We went tramping in the Waitakeres for the first five days, where we did the Hillary Trail. The only rain we had was a light drizzle, for about half an hour over lunch right when we had hung out the tent for the dew to dry off.

But otherwise it was a pleasant mix of sun and cloud, with a much appreciated light breeze every now and then.

The Hillary trail is just half an hour by bus or train from downtown Auckland, it’s probably about the only multi-day tramp that is accessible by public transport in whole of NZ.

The Waitakeres therefore aren’t really remote, but the Hillary Trail is certainly no walk in the park. In fact, it’s got a decent number of decent sized hills which have to be climbed, and some rough and muddy spots on the way.

It’s a mix of bush, beach, views, and an opportunity for a coffee stop in Piha. With pohutukawas in bloom as an extra bonus. Here are a few photos.

Young kauri and Gregor:

002 Gregor im Kauriwald (400x300)

Myself in Piha:

006 ich am Strand von Piha (400x300)

Clifftop views with Pohutukawa in bloom:

015 Pohutukawas & Kueste (400x300)

Cutter Rock in evening light:

022 Cutter Rock im Abendlicht (400x300)

View of Windy Point:

024 Bucht und Windy Point (400x300)

Camping in Karamatura:

026 Zelten in Karamatura (400x300)

The weirdest thing actually was that I got bitten by an eel. One night I went for a dip in the creek by the campground to cool off after a hot day of tramping. Suddenly something grabbed my little toe and shook it! I jumped out of the water screaming and then felt like a fool wondering whether I had imagined this. There was some blood on my toe though, and then I saw the eel in the water. It seemed to live in some dead branches in the water, and I must have had disturbed it there.

Back at Gregor’s place, we spent the remaining week of our holiday working for our business. We’ve really dug in and worked hard, and have made the progress that we had wanted to.

On new year’s eve, we took a few hours off and went to see the Hobbit 3. Then back to work until just before midnight. It might seem crazy, but even with bits of time here and there you get stuff done. Starting a business is a journey, and every little step we take will get us there eventually. Just like doing the Hillary Trail.

Rotorua

I spent the last couple of days of my holiday in Rotorua.

The hot and sunny weather there was great as we do not have this in Wellington. I was in a short skirt and T-Shirt all days and felt slightly strange, not being used to wearing so little anymore.

But it was great, it felt a little bit like summer! And after 6 years of living in Wellington and therefore not having a summer, you can imagine how much I miss it and enjoy it on the few opportunities that there are.

I’ve been to Rotorua before, but there were still a couple of things I never had a look at. There is a nice walk you can do that takes you through a park with some geothermal mud holes, and then down to the lake to Ohinemutu, an old Maori village. This was really quite amazing, with steam and bubbling water right between people’s houses.

The marae’s meeting house has beautiful wood carvings:

043 Ohinemutu Marae Detail (400x300)

The walk then follows the lake shore to Sulphur point. There are sulphuric gases bubbling up in the water, which makes any plant life impossible there and gives the lake a light whitish turquoise colour. There are plenty of birds hanging around there on the rocks though, and the whole scenery looks quite gorgeous:

044 Lake Rotorua Sulphur Point (400x300)

As always, mud pools fascinate me most. Just a few minutes on, there was a particularly intriguing one. It’s called the coffee pot, and that’s exactly what it looks like, including some thick cream around its edge;

046 Coffee Pot mud pool (400x300)

Just as aside, as always, I stayed in a nice backpackers. One of the reasons why I like this is that you virtually always meet other Germans there. It can be quite interesting to have a chat with them, as this gives me a feel what’s going on in Germany which goes beyond what you read in the newspapers. And what I’ve heard a number of times by now is that the country is changing, in particular employers becoming more flexible and more accepting of people whose course of life has not been straight.

It will be an interesting thing to watch and see how this unfolds over the next 10 years or so.

So this was my holiday.

Manuoha and Lake Waikareiti

The walk over Manuoha, and to Lake Waikareiti and Sandy Bay really was the highlight of my walk. It was absolutely awesome.

From Whanganui Hut, the last hut on the Waikaremoana Great Walk, it’s a quick walk out to the road and then a short distance along it to the start of the track up to Manuoha. This is a backcountry track, and not that many people do it. In fact, I didn’t meet anybody on that day, and on the next just one other lady.

At Sandy Bay, there was a big group then for a night, otherwise it was very quiet – just an old man, almost 80 years of age and visiting Sandy Bay for the last time in his life. But that’s a different story.

The track up Manuoha is very pleasant. After the first bit up to a steep ridge which is hard work, it’s a very gradual climb up to Manuoha. The forest is absolutely fantastic all the way:

024 Weg hinauf zu Manuoha (400x300)

Up on Manuoha, the evening light was quite spectacular:

029 Manuoha Abendstimmung (400x300)

On the next day, it was a very gradual descent with no steep bits at all. It was a marked route, with frequent track markers. Once you’re out of the goblin forest (the best one I’ve ever seen) and there is more undergrowth, you actually cannot see the track anymore at all as it is overgrown by waist high fern. It was really quite cool to follow the track markers with my eyes, and my feet finding the track themselves.

The forest was just as great as on the way up:

031 Wald auf Weg nach Sandy Bay (400x300)

The weather was great, so when I arrived at Sandy Bay, I pitched my tent on a small grassy clearing by the lake:

033 Mein Sandy Bay Camp (400x300)

Very nice spot with evening sun, it was just a long way to the loo.

The bay itself is very shallow and the water can get quite warm. Great to have a dip in after a day of tramping.

I stayed at Sandy Bay for a couple of days, relaxing, reading, and talking to people when there were any. The weather was mostly sunny and dry with quite a lot of wind, and just one short interlude of showers. It got very cold at night though, with frost one morning. In fact, during the whole tramp the nights were unusually cold for the season and just below the comfort zone of my sleeping bag, brrrr.

Towards sunset, the wind usually died down, and even though it was cold, it was quite pleasant. The lake in the evening lake certainly was worth putting on thermals and a beany:

035 Abendstimmung am Lake Waikareiti (400x300)

On the day I decided to walk out, it was all blue skies and sun.

The golden sand on the lake shore, and the clear turquois blue water made it almost look tropical:

036 Lake Waikareiti (400x300)

It was an easy walk back to the motorcamp, on a good track along a few wetlands and through good bush.

I went up to Lake Waikareiti again on the following day, to escape a noisy schoolgroup at the motorcamp. It was very pleasant up there and I sat and looked out over the lake for a while. Peace came to an end when a few DOC people arrived, as they were doing some supply drop-offs by helicopter.

So I went back to the motorcamp again. Luckily enough, it rained quite a bit in the evening which got the schoolgroup to retreat to their camping area and tents.

I took the shuttle back to Rotorua on the next day. Back to the city, to fresh vegetables and fruit, to a soft bed. Luxury! But of course also back to fumes, car traffic, and boring walks no hard tarmac. If you asked me, bush tracks are so much nicer!

Lake Waikaremoana

Setting off from the motorcamp, the first day of my big loop tramp involved climbing up Ngamoko hill, and then down to Rosie Bay along the old Maori trail. It was a stunning day of blue sky and sun over the deep blue lake and surrounding green bush clad hills:

001 Lake Waikaremoana (400x300)

I pitched my tent close to the water, away from the other campers with their cars and vans;

007 Rosies Bay Camp (400x300)

The next day was just as nice, and again there was a big hill to climb. The views were stunning, and I took long breaks soaking up the sun with my feet up and admiring the scenery with the glittering water below:

010 Panekire Bluffs & See (400x300)012 Blick auf Waiharuru Halbinsel vom Bald Knob (400x300)

There were some guys who climbed up the cliffs from their boat bush bashing their way up, and who gave me some spare chocolate they didn’t want. Now that’s life – sun, views and surprise chocolate!

In the evening, a cold front moved in and the next day was a bit wet. It wasn’t too bad though, with being in the bush all day. The forest was really nice:

016 Wald mit Farnen (400x300)

I also did a short side trip to Korokoro Falls:

017 Korokoro Falls (300x400)

As it was still a bit drizzly, I pushed on beyond the campground I was supposed to stay at. When it started showering in earnest again, I just happened to walk past a private hut…with a big deck and roof…table & bench…spring water from the taps…and a sign in the window that it was welcome to use this shelter. Do I need to say more? It made for a very nice and quiet night.

As it was clearing up on the next day, I hoped for some good weather on the following couple of days for the next – more remote and challenging – part of my walk. So again I pushed on beyond the campground I was booked on and walked to the last hut on the Great Walk. This would enable me to get onto the next part on the following day, hopefully in good weather.

It turned out to be a good decision, with a very nice sunrise over the lake:

020 Sonnenaufgang bei Whanganui Hut (400x300)

The whole day was great, as was the walk up to Manuoha and over to Lake Waikareiti over the following days. I’ll tell you about this next week.

Weekend up the coast

I spent the weekend up on the Kapiti Coast. Just to relax, which I really need to but don’t get to do in Wellington.

The campground was really busy, but most of the time, I was out and about anyway, going for walks or reading a book in a nice sheltered spot.

View of Kapiti Island:

001 Kapiti Island (400x300)

Dunes stretch along part of the coast:

002 Duenen bei Paekakariki (400x300)

The coast faces West, with some pretty decent sunsets:

004 Sonnenuntergang in Paekakariki (400x300)

All this just an hour by train from Wellington. Not bad eh.

Easter

Over Easter, I was up in Auckland. The weather was fantastic, all blue skies and sun, which was well deserved after the lousy summer we had.

A friend of Gregor from his days in Cambridge and who currently works in Australia had come over here for a visit. So we did a couple of trips out of the city so that he could get to see a little bit of New Zealand.

We went to Piha, a black beach with a backdrop of gorgeous green hills:

001 Piha

The coast line further up is just as nice:

002 Kueste bei Piha

We also did a trip to a park with amazing bush and drinking water storage lakes:

005 Cosseys Speichersee