Posts Tagged With: hot

Cathedral Cove and Waiheke Island

After Hobbiton, it really felt like our trip was starting to come to a close, but we still had a few fun activities left. One that I was really looking forward to was a day at the beach at Cathedral Cove and had my fingers crossed for nice weather. We stayed in a small town called Hahei at this lovely backpackers lodge and spent the afternoon exploring around the town – getting ice cream, walking along the beach, and having a few local beers. Beach towns always have a great vibe and we felt really relaxed.

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The next day the weather was great and we decided to skip the water taxi and hike out to Cathedral Cove, but not before renting some snorkeling gear at the local dive shop. It’s not too long a walk to Cathedral Cove, about an hour, and there are gorgeous views of the ocean and cliffside all along the trail. We took our time on the way there and decided to stop at the first beach to do the Gemstone Snorkel Trail. It’s basically a series of buoys in the water that you can snorkel between and there’s supposed to be all kinds of cool fish.

I ended up having a great time, but I’d advise that if you’re visiting Cathedral Cove, the snorkel trail is really better off done by boat. It is a little bit of a swim to get out to the buoys. I’m a strong swimmer and a former lifeguard, so I thought it was fine, but I was concerned about Seth and would really have felt better if we had lifejackets, which we didn’t. Seth swam out to the first buoy, but it was his first time snorkeling and he couldn’t really get used to it and had no where to stand up, so he bailed, but I had a great time swimming around. I didn’t end up following the buoys, but rather just swam around inside them until I found the fish. I did a bit of research after and I’m pretty sure I saw some blue maomao, red moki, banded wrasse, and maybe some snapper. The red moki was my favourite and looks like a zebra fish.

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We continued on along the trail until we finally arrived at Cathedral Cove! It was a weekend, so it was a bit on the busy side, but we found a nice little spot at the back of the beach to hang out for the day. The main feature of Cathedral Cove is the archway/cave that goes through the rock from the first beach to the second beach. There are several sea stacks around and beautiful golden sand, so it makes for a really picturesque location. Plus the water is really warm, so I had a blast swimming and we spent a ton of time in the water since it was so hot. Seth tried out the snorkel again and had a lot more fun with it in the shallows. We found some more fish swimming around and Seth was way more interested (then I would have been) in all the organisms growing on the rocks.

We planned to take a water taxi back, but there were so many people using them that it was a 2 hour wait to get on one, so we just walked back to Hahei instead and grabbed another ice cream before hitting the road for the last part of our road trip.

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It was back to Auckland for round 2. Although we didn’t actually end up spending that much time in the city. We wanted to finish up most of our food, so we had dinner at the hostel and had a lazy evening. The hostel was pretty interesting actually, it’s basically an old train station that has been reconverted into a hotel/boarding accommodation. So half the people actually live there for months at a time and the lobby is a huge train station entrance.

Our next day was devoted to a trip to the nearby island, Waiheke, which is known for it’s wine. It’s about a 45 minute boat ride to get there and we had booked a hop-on hop-off tour for the day. It was still a bit too early for wine, so we did the first part of the bus tour, stopping for an hour at the local beach, before starting our wine trail for the day. New Zealand definitely has some good wine, but it also makes for a pretty expensive day. Very few places do free tastings, so you usually have to pay $10-15 for a tasting. We each had our own for the first few places, but the more liquored up we got, we started sharing the tastings instead.

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I think we ended up doing 5 wineries. We had a light lunch at the first one, Wild Estate, and Seth went for a beer tasting since it was also a brewery. We stopped briefly into Stonyridge, which is one of the island’s most well known and most widely found wines. It was one of my least favourites though and I only ended up doing a small sample. Gorgeous views though! Next we went to Tantalus, which was probably my favourite of the day. It has this gorgeous building and the truffle fries were TO DIE FOR. The wine was great too and we each did a taste, but I still dream about those truffle fries.

The last two wineries were more memorable for the views. We went up the hill to Batch Winery, which has an amazing view looking out over the island, and then finished at Mudbrick (another really popular winery) for one last taster. In terms of decor and landscaping, Mudbrick was probably my favourite, It’s on the west side of the island and had a great view looking out over the water to Auckland. Plus the buildings are all made of a pretty red mud brick and there were flowers and a lavender garden sprucing the place up! We did stop briefly in the village to do a little shopping around before heading back across the water to Auckland.

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Categories: Exploring New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rotorua’s Geothermal Wonders

After hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, we finally took some time to chill. We’d already burned up one of our days in Taupo white water rafting and we decided to explore all around the area on our way from Taupo to Rotorua. There are so many geothermal parks and wonders in the area, and none of it’s cheap, so it’s hard to know where to spend your time and money. A friend recommended Waimangu Volcanic Valley and we decided to just go with it and ended up having a great time!

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Waimangu Valley is the world’s youngest geothermal system and one of few (maybe the only?) whose date of birth is actually known. Mt Tarawera and Lake Rotomahana erupted on June 10, 1886, destroying all life within a 6km radius and birthing a new geothermal system in the valley. The valley has gone through many transformations since then – it was once home to the world’s largest geyser – but is now better known for its frying pan and terrace features. Its also ecologically important because it’s one of few places where you can see how flora and fauna have re-established in the area.

For a tourist, it’s basically a big valley with a walk running through it to all kinds of interesting geothermal features. The frying pan is the largest hot water spring in the world and runs a temperature of around 45 degrees. But my personal favourite was the inferno crater, which is a brilliantly blue hot pool almost 100 degrees in temperature. It was cool to see the hot rivers and springs flowing throughout the valley and the interesting terraces and formations that have been created from the mineral deposits in the river. We spent about 3 hours wondering around exploring the area.

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It was a hot day, so I wasn’t super tempted by all the hot springs in the area, but still wanted to visit at least one, so we decided on Kerosene Creek, which is a free, local hot spring. Word has definitely gotten around about the hot spring, but nothing compared to how busy they get in BC. There were quite a few people hanging out in the hot river and pool, but it was big enough that there was enough space to spread out. It has a nice little water fall before the biggest pool that you can soak your shoulders under.

After that we drove the rest of the way to Rotorua to check into our hotel for the next few days. There was a street festival on at the same time, so we dropped over to the market for a delicious dinner and then did some shopping. Merino wool is super popular in New Zealand, understandably since there’s so many sheep, but it is surprisingly expensive. A lot of it is mixed with possum wool and we did some shopping around to pick some items to bring home with us.

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The next day we took in some of the cultural sites. Rotorua is home to a lot of different indigenous groups and we decided to visit Te Puia to take in a local performance. You can find Maori culture all over New Zealand and it was fun to learn about some of the local history and customs. Seth learned the haka with the men and I learned a few poi skills with the women. Te Puia is home to a weaving and carving school for Maori students, so we got to see artists working and some of their beautiful artwork.

The village is also filled with its own geothermal wonders. Well… all of Rotorua is filled with geothermal wonders. You kind of get the feeling that the earth’s core is almost trying to burst through the ground in Rotorua and that the crust must be extremely thin in the region. We went to Kuirau Park and for a walk along the edge of the lake and we were constantly running into warnings of dangerous thermal zones. All of Kuirau Park is dotted with fenced off areas where the land seems to be almost burning away, Although they have set up a nice foot spa in one area of the park with hot water piped to soak your feet.

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Te Puia is also home to another kiwi sanctuary and they regularly breed and release kiwi. They had 2 young kiwi when we visited and I’ve never seen them so active! They’re hoping to breed the two kiwi, but didn’t think they were going to be successful because the female really didn’t seem to like the male, which became very obvious when we entered the enclosure and the two were running around fighting something fierce (kiwi are very territorial). It’s unreal how fast they can move and we barely caught a glimpse of them! We returned later when they had calmed down and were able to watch one of them feeding.

Besides Te Puia, the rest of our time in Rotorua was dedicated to relaxing. I found a lovely little bookstore that I was thrilled to explore and we decided to treat ourselves to thai massages, followed by a soak in our hotel’s hot tub. I feel like maybe we should have visited a few more hot springs, but New Zealand was finally treating us to beautiful hot and sunny weather and we just couldn’t be bothered. Overall Rotorua is a bit on the smelly side (hello sulphur!), but it was fun to explore around for a few days.

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Categories: Exploring New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Hot Start to Summer

Summer has been off to a great start this year! I think I’ve alluded to how much I love spring in BC and this year summer has been just as much of a treat for me. Temperatures have been in the high 20’s since the end of May and it always amazes me to realize that I’ll actually get to enjoy three full months of summer!

Our warm and dry winter led us into an even warmer and dryer summer. The grass that was beautiful and green all winter has turned golden brown in the summer heat. I can only recall two days when it has rained since the beginning of June. I love the sun, but the heat has definitely required a little bit of an adjustment from what I’m used to. At any given time it’ll be between 27 and 30 degrees in our house and I’ve taken to leaving all the windows open and sleeping without blankets and the fan pointed right at my face. Unfortunately, the dry heat and lack of rain hasn’t been great for the wildfires across the province and the air quality has been pretty bad in recent weeks.

But I won’t complain because I absolutely love the sunny weather! I’ve been planning my summer activities with abandon, not worrying about how the forecast might turn out. We’ve already crammed in a ton of summer activities and knocked a few more items off my bucket list.

The fun started right after my return from Brazil with a visit from my wonderful parents! They came to stay with us for the May long weekend and we took advantage of the holiday to travel down to Washington State for the weekend. It was Mom and Dad’s first trip to Seattle and we did a little exploring around famous Pike Place Market and then cheered on the Boston Red Sox at a baseball game at Safeco Field (I think it was my first time not cheering for the home team). We didn’t spend too long in Seattle though and opted instead to spend the weekend exploring enormous Olympic National Park.

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The Park is located south of Seattle along the west coast, just below Vancouver Island. It was quite a bit larger than we thought, so we spent two days driving around the park trying to fit in as many of its diverse attractions as we could. We had a picnic lunch at a waterfall in Elwha, hiked through the forest near Crescent Lake, went tidepooling at Rialto Beach, and took in the amazing views along Hurricane Ridge. It’s a beautiful park and I wish we’d had a bit more time to spend there. We tried to fit in a few small hikes so we could see a bit of everything, but we did have to spend large portions of our time driving.

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Olympic National Park is also home to another setting you might be familiar with, Twilight. The area serves as the setting for Stephanie Meyers popular franchise and we passed through many of the towns from her book. Rialto Beach is located just across the river from La Push and we had a good laugh when we drove through Forks on our way there. They’ve definitely capitilized on ‘Twilight Fever’ and we saw a lot of references to the books around the town. The sun came out for us though, so we didn’t see any vampires around!

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Towards the end of May, Seth and I bought bikes as a new way to explore the city. Steph joined us for a bike ride around the Stanley Park seawall at the end of May, but otherwise we’ve mostly been biking around New West. We discovered one of the outdoor public pools within biking distance is free, so that’s been a great way to cool down on hot days. New West is very hilly though, so I really need to work on my leg muscles for biking!

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In June we kicked off our camping and hiking season. Our first camping trip was out to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. Karen and Grant joined us and we had a fun drive out, stopping for a pretty memorable meal at one of the local bars called Tractorgrease. We spent the weekend BBQing, lounging by the lake, working on our frisbee skills, and making s’mores over a campfire. We ended the trip with a short hike up to Lindeman Lake, one of Chilliwack’s many mountain lakes.

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We also made a trip out to Golden Ears Provincial Park in early June with some of my colleagues and went on a nice hike out to Viewpoint Beach, nestled in the mountains along one of the freezing, snow-melt rivers. The river would numb your toes, but we went for a swim in gorgeous Alouette Lake at the end of the hike, one of my favourite places from last summer.

One of the biggests excitements of the month was the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which I’m sure you know was hosted in Canada this year! I bought a set of tickets to several games in June of last year and I couldn’t wait to finally see the women play. We had tickets to two games from the group round (Cameroon vs. Ecuador and Japan vs. Switzerland), two games in the round of 16 (Canada vs. Switzerland and Japan vs. Netherlands), and the quarterfinals (Canada vs. England). It was so incredible to cheer on Canada twice at sold out games with more than 50,000 people in attendance! We finished off the tournament with tickets to the final; it was a bit of a disappointing game since we decided to cheer for Japan, but still an incredible event to witness! Most of all, I was happy to support women’s sports and I hope that Canada came to appreciate their awesome female atheletes a little bit more.

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Some other highlights from June included going on a tour of UBC and Wreck Beach with Amy, seeing Ed Sheeran in concert, and celebrating my 25th birthday. I didn’t manage to get tickets to see Ed Sheeran in the first sale, so I had to pay a lot more to get tickets from a third-party, but it was so worth it! Ed is such a fantastic performer – it’s just him, his guitar, and a loop station on stage. Steph and I had such a blast watching him, we decided if he ever comes back we’ll be shelling out for floor seats! I also had a great birthday. I’m pretty sure we gathered up all the Newfoundlanders we could find in the city and had a nice BBQ at the house; although sadly, I forgot to take any pictures.

Our most recent exploit was a Canada Day hike in Garibaldi National Park. I’d heard a lot of good things about Garibaldi from people at work, so we wanted to check it out. We did the 18km hike with one of my colleagues and it was just as impressive as everyone raved it was! The hike itself is a bit of a slog – you start with about 6km of steady uphill through the trees before you really get to any scenery. We stopped for a snack at the 6km mark and encountered one of our favourite birds, Gray Jays (or as they’re known in BC, Whiskey Jacks), which don’t need much enticing to eat straight out of your hand!

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The scenery improves a little after that and we hiked through some peaceful meadows before finally reaching gorgeous Garibaldi Lake. It’s a glacial lake and has some of the clearest, blue-green water I’ve ever seen. It’s surrounded by snow capped mountains with the Sphinx and Sentinel Glaciers on the far side of the lake. My colleague was doing a dry run with his big pack for a weeklong hike he’s doing in August, so he had his bag filled with every sort of sandwich fixin’ imaginable and we had a delicious meal on the shore of the lake. After lunch, we all went for a swim in the freezing, crystal clear water to cool down before the hike back. We ended the day with the New West fireworks show, which truly made for a perfect day!

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That’s my summer thus far in a nutshell. I’m looking forward to lots more camping in July and I’ll be home for a full two weeks in early August. Sending lots of love and sun back to Newfoundland!

Maria

Categories: Life in British Columbia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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