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The Needle Hike (Te Rua Manga) in Rarotonga

TRAVEL DESTINATION: The Needle (Te Rua Manga), Rarotonga, Cook Islands TRAVEL DURATION: Half day hike Wherever I go and travel to, I always try to scout out some hills or mountains to climb. There sure is something about that 360 degrees top view. I love to see the place I am visiting from a bird’s-eye perspective. Maybe for some, the airplane view would do, but for me, the hiking and climbing are much more rewarding. There is a challenge involved as well as the experience and, without the exception, the numerous surprises by the end of the hike. This was my third visit to Rarotonga in Cook Islands, and about the time to put on the hiking shoes. Sharing the experience with my brother and sister just made it all the more special. Hike Anticipation When I think about it, this was my first hike in the tropics, I guess. I started without…

10 Things I Love about Rarotonga

TRAVEL DESTINATION: Rarotonga, Cook Islands Rarotonga is the biggest and most visited island out of the 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands. It’s become my favourite go-to getaway place whenever family comes to visit New Zealand. With a warm climate all year round, it’s just the perfect and also the obvious travel choice for making some happy memories. For me, it’s quite easy to unwind here. Time slows down quite a bit in Raro, but days spent on the island are far from being boring or uneventful. New things and experiences pop up every time I find myself near these clear blue waters. There’s obviously a lot I love about Raro, so I gathered my 10 top reasons why I keep returning to this beautiful island. Small Island Although the biggest of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga is still a small island, where everybody knows everybody. The circumference of the…

Flowers and Plants of French Polynesia

TRAVEL DESTINATION: Islands of French Polynesia Once in a while, it’s just the right time to slow down and smell the roses. Literally. When I traveled to French Polynesia a month ago I was forced to take it a notch down because of my unplanned running injury. None of those are planned, I guess, and especially not the ones that happen while traveling. Time to slow down After overdoing the whole thing on a treadmill for two consequent days in the resort’s gym, my toe was hurting so bad I almost wasn’t able to walk or even step on my left foot. So I turned to Google for some answers and gave myself a laic diagnosis of ‘Metatarsalgia’. That’s a condition that can basically be treated by resting, slowing down and potentially getting new running shoes for the future runs. All in all, nothing too serious. The rest of my…

3 Must Do Experiences In Far Northland

TRAVEL DESTINATION: Far Northland, North Island, New Zealand TRAVEL DURATION: 1 Day Trip / Weekend Getaway During these winter months, we’re probably all thinking and dreaming about warmer north places. At least here in New Zealand. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to take a long break and travel to those countries and places that are currently under the hot summer weather. Far north part of Northland, New Zealand, is sometimes as crazy as we can go to come close to those exotic islands, Asia or even Europe. I love returning to Far Northland. For me, it’s sort of an escape. It certainly has something to do with being on the edge and also being a bit closer to my family and some of my dear people. Coming to far Northland is mostly a trip to nature and to myself. I discover something new and unexpected every time I visit this area of…

Exploring Auckland’s West Coast Beaches (Part 2)

TRAVEL DESTINATION: Auckland’s West Coast Beaches, North Island, New Zealand TRAVEL DURATION: 1 Day Activity Continuing with exploring Auckland’s West Coast Beaches further north from Piha, I put together all the interesting facts and activity ideas for the remaining beaches. Anawhata Beach Anawhata Beach sits just north of Piha Beach. On Piha Road take a right turn to Anawhata Road and continue for another 10 kilometers on a gravel road through the lush forest, until you reach the car park. A quick workout downhill from the car park (partially gravel road and partially the bush) is needed to reach the seashore. It will take no more than 15-30 minutes. You’ll most often have the beach for yourself, so do head down from the car park if you’re seeking some quiet time and solitude. So worth it! Because of the slight remoteness, this beach doesn’t have a surf patrol, so be extra careful…

Exploring Auckland’s West Coast Beaches (Part 1)

TRAVEL DESTINATION: Auckland’s West Coast Beaches, North Island, New Zealand TRAVEL DURATION: 1 Day Activity Think black sand. Think rugged landscape, vast ocean, rough winds, endlessness. Imagine the most beautiful sunsets, long walks, sense of freedom and belonging all at once. Beaches can evoke many feelings in people. They can bring back memories or give birth to daydreaming thoughts. Auckland’s West Coast beaches are the synonym for rugged and unspoiled part of the biggest New Zealand city. The first thing I notice when coming to any West Coast Beach is the almost black sand that easily warms up and becomes quite hot during summer months. It’s hard to walk on it barefoot without getting burnt. The other thing is the constant, steady wind and a background noise buzzing in your ears. The ocean is loud here. West Coast Beaches are very much exposed, naked and raw. This is where the Tasman Sea…

Coromandel Coastal Walkway

TRAVEL DESTINATION: Coromandel Coastal Walkway, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand TRAVEL DURATION: Weekend Getaway The Coromandel Peninsula offers some amazing activities. There’s a reason it’s packed during summer days when many Aucklanders take a long break and switch to vacation mode. The Coromandel Peninsula is located just far and remote enough to make you feel special when you want to change the scenery. The landscape is versatile and time slows down for a notch there. This area sort of holds a special place in my life as well. Hot Water Beach was the first beach I visited outside the Auckland area when I first came to New Zealand. One of my earliest explorations of beautiful New Zealand landscape happened right here. Returning to Coromandel was never in question. Since that first time, I’ve always been in for a new surprise as I’ve kept discovering numerous special spots like The Pinnacles summit, a warm…

Do’s and Don’ts of Hawai’i

Hawai’i might be the destination you’ve been dreaming about for a while, especially if you’ve been contemplating an escape from long winter blues in the Southern Hemisphere. Direct flights from Auckland to O’ahu make this tropical paradise easily accessible. While exploring O’ahu and Maui Islands, I gathered some definite do’s and don’ts of Hawai’i that I now want to share with you. DO: Koko head Crater Trail (O’ahu Island) Best sweat with a view you can get on O’ahu in my opinion. You can never be too fit not to feel the burn when conquering those 1048 steps of the Koko Head Crater. The hike is straightforward, with railroad ties set as stairs. There are the railway bridge tracks with no bottom at about half way up that require a fair amount of caution. You might find it a bit challenging if you’re afraid of heights, especially when descending. Also,…

7 Travel Tips for Bad Weather

We all know that feeling when our travel or vacation plans seem to go downhill. Pouring rain. Cold. Thunderstorm. Snow. Hail. Blizzard. It’s finally our turn to take that time off work and responsibilities, and now it gets all ruined because of bad weather. It can happen whether you’re planning your trip half a year upfront or traveling on a whim. Sure, there are parts of the world, where the weather forecast is on point every single day due to the stable and predictable conditions. But there are also destinations where it’s more or less a guessing game. Think tropics, Oceania, far North or South,… Bottom line, we can’t control the weather. It just is. You can certainly do your homework and plan ahead to travel at the most convenient season, but as we all know, even that can’t always turn out as it should. I collected tips and ideas…