I never used to be a goal setter. I always though it was a little bit lame. My thinking started to change when a friend bought me to their house, sat me down in front of a computer and asked me what did I want to do with my life and how did I want to live it? We opened up a google spreadsheet and broke down what seemed like the simplest things into a range of headings including travel, finances, health, career, and relationships and popped them into short, medium and long term goals. She then told me to turn off the spreadsheet and to not look at it again for a few months.
On the first sunny Saturday in December, I expected the Shine Falls track to be full of families trekking their way down to the falls for a swim - this walk is along a relatively flat track, safe, and with barely any uphill. Hence, you could imagine my surprise when we made it all 2km to the falls without passing another person!
If you're afraid of heights, cliffs, rocks, or being out of cellphone coverage - stay away from this walk. If those four things excite you greatly, then this walk is for you. Well, at least until the fun police turn up and fence everything off.
Mt Kaukau - the big mountain in Wellington with the giant transmitter on top. It' s the one place that you can see from pretty much anywhere in Wellington, and one of the places that makes most people say 'oh Mt Kaukau, I keep meaning to walk to the top but I haven't done it yet' (seriously, say to five people you've walked Mt Kaukau and that response will be one of the five).
If ever there was a day where I wish a drone would deliver me red bull into the middle of nowhere, and a host of other things to give me energy, today would have been it. A night in a hut with 25 others, rustling sleeping bags, and a body covered in sandfly bites meant my energy levels today were non existent - less than ideal for a full on day of hiking.
If you'd told me before starting this walk that I'd eventually reach the point that upon coming across another beautiful secluded beach I'd take a quick glance and keep walking I would have said you're crazy. But there's just so many stunning beaches on this walk that after a while you become quite picky about what ones you actually want to spend time at.
Field Hut is one of the oldest huts in New Zealand. It's had some work done to it over its nearly 100 year life span, but it still holds up remarkably well. There's lots of old photos on the wall of the guys that cleared the area and built the Hut, along with their stories. It makes for interesting reading and provides a neat point of difference for the Hut. It also has a helicopter pad attached to it if you want to save your thighs from burning and just fly on in!
The research says that New Zealand's environment is the number one reason visitors come here, and one of the most popular places has got to be Milford Sound - and after my first visit, I understand why. This place is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and you will spend most of your time here either taking in your surroundings in silenced awe, or exclaiming to the person next to you 'oh. my. god, it's just SO beautiful'.
If you asked a child to draw a mountain, I’m pretty sure they’d produce an image that looked very similar to Mt Taranaki. As you drive into Taranaki, the Maunga draws you in, and seeing her in winter, her top covered in snow, is just glorious.
Makara Beach is one of those spots that you can imagine yourself retiring to live, where you spend your days walking along the beach, collecting driftwood and paua shells, before returning to your cosy house to read books and drink cups of tea in front of the fire. It's that kind of place.
On a weekend where most people were curled up at home, watching Netflix and keeping dry, we decided to go for a hike and stay overnight in a 60+ year old Hut in the middle of nowhere with no power and no promise of dry firewood on one of the wettest weekends in Wellington.
It's an odd feeling when as a New Zealander, it takes someone visiting the country to not only take you somewhere you'd never been before, but take you somewhere you'd never heard of before, and so it was with Castle Hill.
When I went to pick up my friend to do this walk with me, he pointed to where we'd be walking. I may have slightly underestimated which mountain we'd be climbing and as we drove closer, it just seemed to loom even taller above us.
This gem of an island is in the middle of Wellington harbour and provides the perfect 360 degree view around the harbour. The easiest way to access the island is via ferry from central Wellington, or Day's Bay. If you're super fit and feel like a challenge, you are welcome to kayak or swim (!) on over.