A Travellerspoint blog

Kiwiburn

Burning down the man, and the temple....and....the....cow?

sunny 24 °C

We awoke early on the 27th, packed up the remainder of my flat, and moved all our luggage to the sidewalk. Our ride was late, but it was alright, because we had lime milkshake. After more sidewalk chilling, we were eventually picked up and headed out of Auckland.

The drive to Kiwiburn was without incident, and we found our friends relatively easily after checking in. Checking in involved confusing the box office people, being hugged by a sunburnt hippie, and crawling through a fabric maze. After completing the tunnel we rung a bell, shouted out that we were home and got to choose a rare, medium, or well done paddling. I chose medium.

After this was all done and finished, we called up Nils and Patrick and were escorted to the place which they reserved for us to set up our tents.

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We arrived Thursday morning, the man burnt on Saturday evening, and the temple burnt on Sunday evening, so we had a lot of spare time in between goings on. Considering that this blog entry is supposed to cover four days, it will actually have relatively little content due to our main activities being napping and eating.

However, despite most of my kiwiburn experience being spent unconscious in the shade, I did somehow find the time to go kayaking, photograph Nils and Patrick doing their fire poi, and join a drum circle.

It was a relatively small festival, with only about 400 or so people there, but it was a nice small community atmosphere. A great way to unwind and relax after too much working in Auckland.

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Posted by Jadabond 20:33 Archived in New Zealand Tagged kiwiburn Comments (0)

Going Outside My Comfort Zone With Water Sports

sunny 27 °C

Yesterday James and I had our first intro lesson in stand up paddle boarding. Stand up paddle boarding is a new sport which is really catching on fast in New Zealand at least, where you stand up on what looks like a giant surf board, and you can either paddle yourself around on flat water, or take it into the waves like a regular surf board. I got a really good deal on the lessons through the voucher website grabone.co.nz where you get half price deals which change every day.

After a short intro on land, we took our boards into the water. I chose a wider, shorter board for more stability (don't want to get my hair wet!) and got onto our knees. After about 3 minutes of paddling on our knees, which was not enough time for me to get used to the idea of standing on a board which was floating in the water, the instructor showed us how to stand up properly. If it wasn't for peer pressure, I would never have done it as I was terrified of it all. I managed to stand up though, despite my legs visibly shaking. I got my balance, and we started paddling around the bay. I actually got the hang of it quite easily, but didn't want to get too cocky about it so as not to jinx myself. When we got to the end of the bay the instructor, Craig, showed us more advanced moves... like how to turn quickly if you are about to catch a wave. I did not try these moves as I was too terrified of falling in, but James gave it a shot. He fell in. I laughed.

In the end, I managed to get through the whole 90 minute lesson without getting my hair wet. Bonus! I think that paddle boarding is one of the water sports that I enjoy the most so far, but I don't think I would do it in the waves...it would be more of a leisure thing for me. Since we were on the water, trying our hardest to keep our balance...there are no photos of us. So you will have to suffice with this photo I took off google images of some paddle boarders so you can get a idea of what we were doing.

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The other water sport which I recently tried out (also due to a grabone voucher) was scuba diving. My friend Sam and I took advantage of the voucher deal the day before Christmas eve. We drove out to goat island marine reserve, which is about an hour north of Auckland and a place that is famous for having the friendliest fish in the world. This is because they used to feed the fish in the reserve, and of course, no fishing is permitted. They no longer feed the fish, but they still have no fear of humans. This makes is a really great place for scuba diving and snorkelling.

When we arrived at the dive centre we met our instructor (who was well fit, believe me...droool) and went into the classroom for our "lesson". I have put lesson in quotation marks because it consisted of watching a 20 minute instructional video of how not to die, and then having us sign a waiver listing all the horrendous ways in which we could die. Awesome.

After the video was over, the instructor was like Ok guys...lets go to the ocean. I was not feeling prepared. At. All. We suited up, strapped cement blocks to our selves (yes...the girl who can't swim got into the ocean wearing fucking weights around her waist..... smart right?), and attached our oxygen tanks. Luckily the wet suit and the inflatable buoyancy jacket thing made it easier to not drown as you could adjust your buoyancy to either sink or float.

We were taught how to equalize the pressure in our air space (so as not to explode our lungs....awesome right?), how to get the water out of our regulator (the thing that gives you air) if you drop it in the water, and other techniques important for not-death. Then we descended and began our underwater adventure. Breathing under the water is really strange. I can't explain to you how strange it is really. Even though I was assured that the regulator was delivering exactly the right amount of oxygen, it doesn't feel like real breathing and at times I needed to go to the surface just to gulp in some real air. It's really cool being underneath the water, but at times it started to freak me out. Breathing in while underwater didn't really scare me too badly but for some reason, seeing the bubbles go up in front of my mask as I exhaled freaked me right out. After descending about three metres, I started having trouble clearing my air spaces, and also started mildly freaking out about you know....being under water. So I had to go up a few times to rest in the real air. After a while, I decided to let the others go deeper, and just stay without the first metre or two of the surface.

In the marine reserve we saw heaps and heaps of massive snapper. They were really friendly, and came right up to us and even followed us around. But the coolest thing we saw was when we were nearing the shore and it was more shallow. I was sticking close to the instructor for two reasons: 1) I didn't want to die and 2) He was really really good looking. Suddenly he motioned for me to look, I looked over and there was an eagle way inches away from me. I froze in what can only be described as pure joy and terror for what seemed like eternity, but was probably 30 seconds, and then swam away as fast as possible. After achieving what I decided was a safe distance, I just hovered there in the water, staring at this amazing creature. Eagle rays are slightly smaller than sting rays, but this one was a fully mature adult, and believe me, was big enough.

Enjoy this google image of an eagle ray.
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Posted by Jadabond 14:45 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sup goat_island Comments (0)

Rainy Piha

storm 17 °C

The cyclone seems to have passed, taking the rain away with its fury. But before we go back into sunshine and spf 50 mode, I want to tell one more story that occurred on a rainy day.

When I moved to Auckland I had three jobs, I later narrowed this down to two jobs, but I was still rather busy. Which meant that when I had a day off, I took advantage of it - regardless of the weather.

One sunday I decided that I must do something. Thanks to the joys of facebook chat I found out that both my friends Eva and Owen were not up to much that day. Owen decided that he wanted to go to Piha - a nearby black sand surf beach - to scout out future photoshoot locations. Since I had not yet been to Piha, I decided to join.

We made plans to meet at Britomart (the central train station) and have lunch at a nearby cafe. The rain was coming down harder than I have ever seen before, completely negating the usefulness of my umbrella. After swimming the hour to Britomart - and yes - the rain was so torrential that it was more of a swim than a walk, I found my friends. It ended up being that the cafe was closed, so we went somewhere else for lunch.

After a nice cafe lunch, we ran through the rain to the car only to find that Owen had left his lights on and the battery was now dead. By this point, Eva was wanting out of the adventure but I used my peer pressure skills to keep her there. Owen managed to find someone to jump start the car, and somehow in the process broke the rear view mirror off.

So now we were soaking wet, with no idea how to get to Piha, with a broken mirror - but at least the car was running. I read the map whilst at the same time trying to 1) fix the rear view mirror and 2) not be car sick, as we made our way to Piha. After getting slightly lost somewhere in Te Atetu, we made it through the beautiful Waitekeres and came to Piha.

Despite the rain, I changed into my bikini and played in the water for a bit before Owen played around with lighting techniques whilst taking photos of Eva and me. It wasn't long however, before hypothermia threatened to set it. so we decided to head back to the city - and to dryer clothes.

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Posted by Jadabond 13:28 Archived in New Zealand Tagged piha Comments (0)

Hot Water Beach On A Cold Cold Day

rain 15 °C

Its raining tonight in Auckland. Which reminds me of another rainy day in which I haven't written about yet. About a month ago I met some other couchsurfers who had a random week day off as well, and we decided to make the most of it and rent a car to explore the coromandel peninsula. There were five of us; Annika from Germany, Andy from the UK, Bryan and Kristy from the USA, and myself from Canada.

We rented the car and left Auckland super bright and early in the morning. We had to leave super early, because our main point of interest was hot water beach. And it was imperative that we get there at low tide.

Hot water beach is famous as it is a one of a kind place where you can dig a hole in the sand and instantly create your own hot spa pool due to the hot water that seeps from the ground as a result of geothermal activity in the region. However, what no one told us is that you can't just dig a hole anywhere on the beach, you need to first hunt out a good spot.

In the end, the five of us taking shifts using our hands and the one small shovel we rented dug and fortified the most impressive hole on the beach. But alas, no matter how deep we dug, there didn't seem to be any hot water. In fact we only had cold water from the sea and cold water from the sky. Did I mention it was raining the whole day? But we persevered and kept digging and digging and digging. In our defence, we were slightly misled by a women who said we were in a good spot and to just dig deeper. Eventually we gave up, but at least our cold water pool was the most impressive hole on the beach.

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Andy was not impressed with our hot pool
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Teamwork

In the end, we did find a hot spot on the beach, but by this time the tide was too high to dig a hole. Instead we would just wiggle our toes an inch into the sand until the water became too hot that we had to jump away.

After being thoroughly rained on, we drove up to the start of the hike to cathedral cove. You have to hike about 30 minutes to get to the cathedral cove beach, but one you do you are rewarded with the most tranquil and peaceful spot you can imagine. You may remember me speaking of cathedral cove before, because it is where we went back to camp during Christmas.

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Hiking in the rain
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After enjoying the scenery and getting even more soaked from the rain we had to hurry back in order to return the car in time. On the way back to Auckland though we had to stop to have our pictures taken with the giant L&P bottle (a soft drink famous in New Zealand). Everyone was very sleepy at this time and the rain was relentless, and those two factors probably combined to explain what happened next. I was dozing in the passenger seat to wake up to Annika breaking hard. In what seemed to be slow motion we suddenly crashed into the car in front of us, completely totalling the rental car.

After much discussion and waiting, a police car finally showed up and pushed us to the side of the motorway. Since it would be a while before the tow truck showed up, the police officer drove us back into town in the back of this car. Random fact about New Zealand: not only do the police not carry fire arms, but there is also no barrier separating the back from the front in police cars.

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Posted by Jadabond 03:31 Archived in New Zealand Tagged cathedral_cove hot_water_beach Comments (0)

The Path Goes Nowhere, And That Seagull Scares Me

Hiking on Rangitoto Island

sunny 25 °C

Rangitoto. It translates to red sky. Which is probably an accurate description of what local Maori people saw when Rangitoto erupted from the ocean just 600 years ago. New Zealands youngest island and youngest volcano, Rangitoto provides a extremely surreal day trip.

After only about 3 or 4 hours sleep, James and I hurried off to the ferry. Rangitoto is a nature park run by the DOC which means that there are not as many ferry runs as there would be if it was inhabited. The ferry journey took about 20 minutes to reach the island from the central business district of Auckland.

The island terrain was very strange for me as it was all strange, sharp black volcanic rock. I only wore my high tops, which were sufficient, but if I was carrying any weight on my back I would have definitely needed proper hiking shoes. James and I chose to do the island circuit first, with a side trip to boulder bay before hiking up the summit and visiting the lava caves.

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The coastal circuit had slightly misrepresented itself as it was not really coastal at all, and most of the time we were walking through strange scrub/jungle with no views to the sea. I am still amazed at how those trees anchor themselves in that rocky soil, but somehow they manage.

There are loads of interesting birds on the island, and some of the species are doing quite well due to the DOC's efforts to keep Rangitoto pest free. Rats are a huge problem in New Zealand as many of the birds nest on the ground making them very vulnerable to having their eggs made into a meal. We saw several fantails, and despite best efforts to take a picture, we mostly just have blurry jungle pictures. So you will have suffice with this image from google.

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The boulder bay walk was the most exciting part of the hike for me. It led to a small bay where old ships were taken to be decommissioned. It is best to go here at low tide and you can see more of the wrecks. We had lunch here, in front of the skeleton of a ship from Dundee Scotland.

Since the island is basically a huge black rock, the temperature here is hotter than it is in Auckland. Also, there is no safe drinking water or sources of food on the island, so make sure you come prepared. We thought we had packed quite well, bringing three litres of water for the two of us on a half day walk, so we were shocked and surprised when we ran out of water about 3/4 of the way through the day. Running out of water on a hiking trip could be rather dangerous, but luckily this was only a day trip.

From the summit of Rangitoto you can see amazing views of Auckland and marvel at its ridiculous amount of sprawl. You can also see most of the Haruki gulf and even out to the coromandel peninsula. On the way down from the summit, we passed the lava caves. Some of the caves you can go all the way through and emerge at the other side. With some coaxing on the part of James, I did go through on of the caves, and didn't even break a nail! (Obviously much more frightening than running out of water.)

We were having so much fun at the caves that we didn't pay attention to the time, and ended up running the last segment of the track to catch the ferry, We luckily made it and were the last passengers to board.

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Posted by Jadabond 14:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland rangitoto Comments (0)

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