Month: January 2018

Jess is a Wanderer at Te Paki Dunes

Jess is a Wanderer was on the Aupouri Peninsula in search of Cape Reinga and absolutely couldn’t pass up the chance to visit Te Paki Sand Dunes. A 10km long, 150m high, 1km wide block of sand, it’s an incredible work of nature.

Located less than thirty minutes away from Cape Reinga, it’s a must-see whilst on your way up (or back down) the coast. The dunes are enormous and constantly changing shape leaving various patterns around as the wind blows.

You can hire sand-boards from a number of places along the road for around $10 or directly from the people at the foot of the dunes. Prices may vary according to season. I arrived after 5pm so the people hiring boards weren’t there but I still enjoyed running up and down the
dunes. Or parts of the dunes anyway, gees it’s a good workout!!

The views at the top are pretty fantastic and at one point I forgot I was in New Zealand and thought I may somehow have ended up back in Egypt!
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Jess is a Wanderer at Cape Reinga

Jess is a Wanderer drove north in search of the top of New Zealand – Cape Reinga. A beautiful spot located on the northernmost tip of the western side of the north island. It can be accessed by driving along the beach – 90 Mile Beach, or by taking state highway 1 from just about anywhere.

The scenery is quite lovely whilst en route. If you’re driving slowly to conserve fuel (like me), be prepared to pull over to let the locals pass you in their giant utes. I didn’t go on the sand because Agatha (my little Toyota BB) just wouldn’t cope very well and then I’d get stuck and whilst waiting to be rescued, a wave would sweep me away and, well, you get the idea, it’s best left to the professionals! If you are desperate to drive on the sand, you can hitchhike, couch-surf with a local or go on a bus tour for about $50 which includes lunch and sand-boarding.

All along the way there are various stopping places to see different views. You can also go to little beaches that crop up as you go. With plenty of camping areas too, there’s a whole heap of ways to spend a week on this little pointy bit of the island.
Once you arrive at the carpark, there’s a little walkway with some information about the place. Follow the path down and around and down and around until you get to the lighthouse. Stop to read the information that’s scattered along the way – it’s all very interesting indeed. That’s not me being sarcastic. Enjoy the views and if it’s an overcast day like when I went, I hope you have the same luck with the sun coming out just in time!

At the lighthouse, of course, there were lots of people but if you wait around long enough, they’ll all eventually disappear. I had just over fifteen minutes by myself to claim the title of ‘northernmost person in New Zealand right now’. A real life achievement. I’d recommend arriving after 3pm as that’s when the tour buses leave so it’s naturally less busy.

All in all, a most enjoyable outing and plenty of trails and walks nearby to entertain you after driving all that way.
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Jess is a Wanderer at Ngatu Lake

Jess is a Wanderer drove to the Aupori Peninsular (home to 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reinga) to see Ngatu Lake. Located less than 20km north of Kaitaia it’s a lovely place to spend a couple of hours.

The perimeter of the lake is 4km so takes around an hour to walk – or if you’re on some crazy mission to see just how fast it can be done, it takes 40 minutes and 44 seconds. There are two places to park – north end and south end, depending on the road you take to get to the lake. You can park up right where you’re going to hang out if you’re sunbathing or swimming or whatever.

Surrounded by greenery, it’s a fab spot for a picnic or a swim. Plenty of people were hanging out in their tents, kayaking and simply enjoying a paddle.
The trail around the lake is well-signed with orange markers. Parts do go on a gravel road and other parts run parallel to the main road so be careful if you’re doing it with kids.
Well worth a visit if you’re on the west coast!
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Jess is a Wanderer Hikes Maunganui Bluff

Jess is a Wanderer set off in search of some beautiful views and a sweaty little workout along the beach. Maunganui Bluff was the perfect trail featuring some steep rises, bush, farmland and clifftops galore. Not only that, I did the hike fairly early in the morning so there was a lovely misty haze adding to the scenery.

The climb starts at Maunganui Beach and crosses open land. Shortly, you arrive on to the edge of the cliff and begin the climb. The climb goes on for the next 3.5 or so kilometres and is quite relentless. You’ll cross tree trunks, streams, rocks and open farmland before arriving at the summit of Maunganui.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can carry on even further down the other side and beyond. I didn’t have time for that as I was off on another adventure but it would definitely be a fun thing to do.

If you’re lucky, you might run into some wild goats or see a pod of whales out at sea. Don’t forget suncream because there’s no shelter at the top and you’ll absolutely want to spend a few minutes up there to recover from the climb. Especially if you did it without stopping!
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Jess is a Wanderer in Waipoua Forest

Jess is a Wanderer stopped in the Waipoua Forest en route to the northernmost point of New Zealand. Staying with fantastic couch surfing host, James, and his dog, Tui, I had a great few days exploring.

Tane Mahuta is New Zealand’s largest Kauri tree with an incredible trunk width of almost 14m and a height of over 51m it’s absolutely enormous. It can be seen by simply pulling off state highway 12, washing your footwear (to prevent tree-killing diseases from spreading) and heading around five minutes into the bush. Well worth doing to see the enormity of the great tree.

Slightly further along from the infamous Tane Mahuta, there is a sign for ‘Kauri Walks’. This is a gravel road which turns into a carpark and is the starting point for three different walks. Varying in length there is something to suit every itinerary. I managed to do all three in under two hours – including stopping to take photographs. If you’re into running (which I’m not) but just for fun, you can jog the trails and, well, that makes things more exciting.

If you don’t have time to do all three trees then definitely go for Yakas. The boardwalk goes right up to the trunk so that you can stand in front of it and really appreciate just how thick it is.

You mustn’t forget to clean and wash your shoes on entering and exiting the Kauri Forest because of the tree-killing diseases that can be spread. It only takes two minutes and you can help to save some of these incredible natural giants.
Here are some more pics of the Waipoua Forest:
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Jess is a Wanderer at Kai Iwi Lakes

Jess is a Wanderer headed north from Dargaville on New Zealand’s North Island’s west coast. Kai Iwi lakes is a camping, beaching and tramping area made up of three lakes. Perfect for swimming, watersports or sunbathing on the beach – it’s a great summer destination.

Lake Taharoa is the largest – approximately 8km around the perimeter and can be walked in around two hours. Lake Kai Iwi is a lot smaller and there’s also a trail that can be followed. The two are connected by a narrow channel. Lake Waikere is the third lake that can be visited. For more info see the official lakes website.

I enjoyed strolling around the lake and seeing all the beautiful views. It was a hot day but plenty of shade was provided from the bush. Definitely make sure you take enough water. If you’re organised – and not like me – you can also take your swimmers and stop half way for a dip.
Here are the pics from one of the most beautiful places I’ve found on the North Island so far.
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Jess is a Wanderer on Mount Tutamoe

Jess is a Wanderer left the town of Dargaville and drove approximately 30km east in search of Mount Tutamoe. Just off SH14, it’s well-posted and you follow the logging trucks down a gravel path until you see the sign for the mountain.

I definitely underestimated just how much effort would be required to summit this peak. Having read that it’s around 770m high, I thought I’d have no problem getting up and down within the three hours one way time limit… oh how cocky I’ve become!

The walk starts with following the gravel path for roughly 2km. There’s no access for ‘civilian vehicles’ here, only logging trucks. Fortunately, there was no logging going on during my visit so I didn’t have to worry about being flattened by an oversized road-train.

After leaving the gravel road, you head into the bush which definitely feels like you’ve taken a wrong turn. In fact, it’s easy to miss and I ended up wandering around some abandoned tree trunks looking for the little markers. Keep following the orange signs and you’ll be fine. It’s a bit overgrown to start with and if you’re there early in the morning you might get wet feet from the dew in the tall grass but that’s not going to phase an explorer. Although, soggy socks half way through a 4.6km hike are never a good thing!

Following the bush, you go really off-piste and wind your way through some pretty dense forest. Don’t forget to look behind you before you disappear into the trees, the view really is quite spectacular even at this early stage. It’s super soggy (especially if you’re there less than 48 hours after a pretty mean spell of rain!). I was slipping and sliding everywhere on the way up. It was also a super sweaty affair.

Different parts require different skills… sometimes it’s over a trunk, sometimes it’s under a branch, other times it’s actually climbing up a tree’s roots. Yes, that’s an actual thing. I loved the wild-ness of the path and the fact that it was so natural.

Once at the summit, you’ll see the trig and enjoy some mighty fine views. Be extra careful on the way down because the challenges you thought you faced on the way up now seem like child’s play and you’ll suddenly find yourself walking like you’ve had a double hip operation due to being so cautious.

Extra tip: Do not leave your sunglasses at the top resulting in reaching the summit twice… nobody likes a show off and my legs tonight are aching like never before!

Also, do take your time on the drive to the mountain as there are some beautiful views to be seen.
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