The weekly #Frifotos tradition of sharing themed travel photos continues this week, highlighting one of my favourite things to do while traveling: getting amongst nature, on and off the beaten path and exploring. In the past I’ve shared fall photos (none of which had anything to do with trees) and then a whole post dedicated to trees! This week’s theme is hikes and I just couldn’t resist.
In the 4+ years I spent in New Zealand, I did my fair share of hiking on both the north and south island. While I haven’t done them all (yet) I have enjoyed the time I’ve spent outside
The Tongariro Crossing
With a 6am pick up in Taupo, at the beginning of July 2009, this was one hike that made me nervous! The day started out brilliantly with an awesome group and guide.
We made it to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe, but further into the hike, before reaching the Emerald Lakes, we were forced to turn around because a snowstorm rolled in rather quickly. I hadn’t signed up to scale the side of snowy mountains, crampons or not, so I was more than relieved when the guide finally turned us around.
The Crunchie Bar Trail
Not far from my house on 90 Mile Beach, in Northland, was a magical wonderland known as the gum fields. Gated by private land, I had the opportunity on a few occasions to explore on foot and horseback. The landscapes are stunning and fascinating.
After traversing through the bush on a old path, eventually you come out on top of the world. Okay, perhaps not really, but the sand dunes lead to the Tasman Sea, and I am easily convinced that it is.
Of course I didn’t hike Mount Cook, but while traveling around New Zealand with my grandmother earlier this year, we did take on one of the trails up to the Tasman Glacier together. We’d woken up to some miserable drizzle, but weren’t about to let it dampen our spirits. Under her influence, together we tackled the rocks, and hills to achieve her dreams of seeing a glacier, dreams that she’d had since her own parents visited New Zealand over 30 years ago.
This was one of the most special moments I’ve shared with my grandmother. I’ve always looked up to my grandmother for so many reasons, and intend to write about her inspiration and influence in my life soon, but this experience solidified my amazement. Step my step, together, we made it up and down, regardless of the obstacles in our path. Now my next challenge/goal will be to take on the same challenges at her age!
The Duke’s Nose
Another one of my favourite hikes in New Zealand is in the Whangaroa Harbour, in Northland. Thom and I have hiked it twice, both in May of consecutive years. This past autumn, we upped the ante of the challenge and ran most of it (having already seen and appreciated the beauty around us), as we went out to meet some friends. This time we added the scale to the top of the Duke’s Nose.
The climb was certainly a challenge, but the view was well worth it from the top!
And there was an added bonus meeting friends who were already out there… They kindly hooked me up with some abseiling!
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Our very first holiday overseas together was to Rarotonga in July 2011. Thom and I hired a scooter to explore the tiny island, and had heard from locals about this trail that takes you to the top of the mountain for stunning views of the mountains and beaches. We were easily convinced and woke up early on our last day, in order to avoid hiking in the late morning heat.
The climb was pretty tough in places, but the view was definitely worth it! I appreciated the shaded forest as the sun climbed higher, and we were descending once the heat really broke out.
Tofino, British Columbia
We did a whale watching tour in Tofino, which included a trip out to Hot Spring Cove Provincial Park. The boat dropped us off and we followed the 2km boardwalk trail through the rainforest, to the most amazing natural hot springs. It was wet, cold and raining, but still absolutely magical!
Valley of Five Lakes, Jasper Alberta
A 5km trail led us around – you guessed it – a series of five stunning glacial fed lakes. Each their own shade of blue/green hues, it was brilliantly exciting as we approached the next.
We were the only ones in sight, bar one elderly man who we kept passing and then dropping behind as we stopped to take photos. As we left the trail, we met a series of different/louder explorers and were secretly glad we’d been out early.
Fathom Five Provincial Park, Tobermory Ontario
The Bruce Trail winds along the Niagara Escarpment, from Tobermory to Niagara Falls. After waiting out the rain for a day, I was itching to hike and get out to explore an area I’d heard so many positive things about. First off, we did a side trail of the Bruce Trail, the Burnt Point track. About 5km long, Thom brought his mountain bike with, and spent more time walking it than ride it. The views of Georgian Bay were second to none though.
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Tobermory Ontario
Departing from Cypress Lake head of trails, we followed the main easy trail (I believe the Georgian) to the Grotto. The shallow water above the escarpment gave the impression of tropical waters – but don’t be fooled!
Thom led me over rocks, to a cave with no one else around.
At the Grotto, we heard the loud and obnoxious group ahead of us climbing down into the cave below. I was reluctant to join, but followed Thom’s lead as he found and easier route than the dramatic people ahead of us had taken. Boy, was I glad that I did, because this pool hidden within the cave was unreal.
Fish Point Pelee Island
One of my best friends from university has a family cottage on Pelee Island. Visiting her in Leamington, we took bikes on the ferry across Lake Erie, and spent 3 glorious days just riding around. We parked up at Fish Point, and hiked to the most southern point in Canada. The length of the point changes due to wind and water conditions – on this particular day, it was really long!
But we finally made it, through all the soft sand, past the gaggles of gulls and heaps of decomposing fish. The waves crashing upon themselves reminded me Cape Reinga, except this was all one body of water, rather than the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meeting.
Just a few of my favourite hiking photos, I do hope you’ve enjoyed!