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Hiking for Hope - Doing it with a Difference!

  • Mission Completed!

      27 March 2017
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    Mission Completed! Marc Williams and I conquered the Tongariro Crossing on Saturday with the aim of raising funds and awareness for Homes of Hope, a charity whose focus is to help and support children who are foster care due to serious neglect or abuse and, despite the best of intentions are often separated from their brothers and sisters. The day got off to an excellent start when my brother-in-law Darren Dempsey was the one to pick us up and take us to our start point - he even gave us a $50 donation from Dempsey Bus Company! Shot Darren :) and the day just kept on improving from there, despite "iffy" weather predictions leading up to the big day we had perfect conditions, overcast so not too hot and no rain. Thanks to the flag we got a lot of interest and managed to spread the word about the charity and even picked up a further $10 donation along the way :) Again we have been so blown away by the support and donations from everyone - thanks again to everyone who has donated to this amazing charity :)

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  • A Change in Direction...........

      21 March 2017
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    As per the news story contained in the link attached there has been a bit of a change in how our mission will be carried out this weekend!

    The Tongariro DoC Ranger has been on contact with us recently after finding out about our mission as members of the public together with Search and Rescue and the local Police have expressed their concerns about our plans to do the crossing in jandals.

    Its not that they don't doubt that we aren't capable of completing the trek its more about the less capable people that we may influence to try and do the same thing who may get into trouble / dire situations as a result.

    As it was never our intention to make life hard for DoC, Search and Rescue or the Police we are more than happy to ditch the jandals, however we are still going to complete the mission and are still doing to do it with a point of difference!

    We have decided to replace the jandals with a giant white flag which has the Homes of Hope logo in the middle and some of the children will be decorating it with their hand prints / foot prints and messages. It will be such an honour for us to carry this flag with us on our journey :)

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  • Te Rereatukahia Loop Track

      9 March 2017
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    The next trek on our list of training walks was the Te Rereatukahia Loop Track so on Saturday morning we loaded up our backpacks with our water bottles, spare jandals and lunch and headed out towards Katikati to give it a go.

    We came across the Te Rereatukahia Loop Track on the DoC website and it sounded like an ideal training mission due to being a 14km loop track that would take approx. 7hrs. The track has a hut at located just past the half way point where a picnic lunch at the top over the Kaimais could be enjoyed while soaking in the views out across Tauranga.

    The track, known as the Tuahu Track, started out at the end of Hot Springs Road, just as you come into Katikati and the weather conditions were perfect, a little overcast so not too hot. When we hit the track we had a nice surprise, it was graded and gravelled – wow, we thought – this was going to be easy!

    This however didn’t last for too long, it took us as far as the detour off the track where you could go and check out the two large Tuahu Kauri. We figured that the well formed track was to encourage tourists to go and check out these Kauri, on the plus side it eased us into our walk and made the first 20mins or so very enjoyable – a walk in the park even 

    The track then turned into a leafy bush path, wide and flat, with a gradual incline. The Te Rereatukahia Stream ran below and us for awhile in a basin like setting. While walking through this part of the bush we spotted a few young kauri and rimu along the way.

    After about an hour and a half of gradual climbing, where we experienced views out across the Mount and Mayor Island we came to a signposted junction in the track whereby the North South Track crosses the Tuahu Track.

    Here we turned right and before long popped out at a clearing on a top point of the Kaimai Ranges and experienced views out towards the Waikato / Putaruru which were spectacular! It was such an exposed part of the Kaimais and the wind up at this point was pretty ferocious!

    From here we walked along the ridge line until we reached the hut, popping in and out of bush along and admiring the sheer force of the wind and the panoramic views before us.

    The bush here strongly resembled goblin like forests, the trees were spindly and dripping with green lichen from being constantly shrouded in cloud and mist from being so high up.

    The exposed clearings along the ridge line were so impressively wild and windy – a truly refreshing part of being out on an adventure. It was an amazing thought to know were where trekking along the top of the Kaimai Ranges. To catch glimpses out towards the Waikato on our left and Tauranga and the Mount on our right was incredible.

    We were so stoked to finally reach the hut after about 2 1/2hrs since starting out. Time felt like it was going at snail’s pace at this point in time due to our tummies beginning to rumble - we were hanging out for lunch big time!

    I was delighted to spot the picnic table in front of the hut - it was definitely time put our feet up and devour what BP had whipped up for us – once again we had stuck with the tried and true chicken salad wraps which taste particularly amazing after trekking for close to 2 ½ hrs. I made a bit of an amateur mistake and decided that a ginger slice was a good sweet option to follow up lunch with while Marc stuck with the tried and true custard square. While the ginger slice was yummy it was not quite as delectable as the custard square and I have to admit there was a bit of food envy going on! I have learnt my lesson for next time that’s for sure 

    While we were refuelling at the hut a local possum trapper who was staying there for a few nights came by with his faithful companion Justice the black staffy. It was neat to have a bit of a yarn to him and hear about how Justice had recently developed an appetite for deer and pig hunting! It fascinating to here and learn about how other people live such different lifestyles.

    It was soon time to pack up the dregs of lunch and head onwards, it helped knowing that we had done the longer part of the loop track and that there wasn’t too much longer to go.

    The track heading away from the hut back towards Hot Springs Road was very steep. Making the decision to take this track clockwise played in our favour – the route we took was a more gradual climb than this way would’ve been!

    The absolute highlight of the trek down to the carpark was the grand Kauri Grove – there must have been at least 100 Kauri clustered together in spectacular formation! The ground below the Kauri was littered in rose coloured bark petals from the kauri – it looked beautiful and it was so awesome to see so many of these great native trees thriving in their natural habitat.

    After the Kauri Grove the path flattened and widened out again to a soft leaf covered bush path which briefly ran alongside the Te Rereatukahia Stream. Once we crossed this it was only a short walk up the bank on the otherside before we popped out to the carpark.

    We ended up completing the track in 4 ½ hrs which we were pretty stoked about given that we were prepared for a 5 – 6hr walk. Another great day out in our local backyard!

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  • #chasingwaterfalls - Part 2

      21 February 2017
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    Ananui Falls

    It was another scorcher of a day when we headed out on the Ananui Falls mission.

    Neither Marc nor I had heard about this walk before until it was recommended by a work mate, so I jumped on the DOC website to suss it out further.

    This track sounds like a perfect training expedition as it was a decent length, the DOC website said it would take around four hours was 10kms all up, in comparison Tongariro is 19.4km and roughly 7hrs (depending on fitness / weather etc).

    One bonus we have found with being able to train for the Tongaririo Crossing by bushwalking rather than pounding the pavements around town, is that it is usually always cool under the shelter of the trees so it is so much more enjoyable than what it could potentially be at this time of year!

    Ananui Falls is located in the heart of the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest and the track begins off the end of Woodlands Road, 10mins north of Katikati.

    The trek is a 10km return journey and the Waterfall itself is situated approximately 5km into the hike and is an impressive 106 metre in height!

    The walk, for the majority of it, was lovely and flat bush walk with a few minor river crossings. We did need to boost up a ridge which took roughly half an hour as we approached the waterfall. This was a little tough but was well worth it as this provided our first glimpse of the stunning waterfall.

    Once we managed to lay eyes on it, the waterfall was spectacular to behold! Despite the trek to get to it, we were surprised at how relatively unknown it is.

    It was amazing - once we reached the actual waterfall we were able to walk right out to it. It’s an incredible feeling to walk to the edge of a waterfall that drops 106 meters straight down to a pool in the forest floor! It was also rather special in that there was a cluster of Kauri trees growing right at the edge of the falls.

    The walk took us approximately four hours to complete and we had timed it just right as the daylight was just starting to fade as we headed out of the bush. We probably should have packed a picnic dinner this day, however it was a handy stash of delicious bliss balls that pulled us through until dinner time.

    At the end of the mission we were welcomed back at the car by a rather large and disgruntled chicken that appeared rather put out that we didn’t have any handouts for him! Poor Marc almost got a solid peck to the legs as he jumped into the car – maybe next time we will save a bliss ball for him as by this stage we didn’t have anything left in us to defend ourselves against an angry (territorial?) chicken!

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  • #chasingwaterfalls - Part 1

      21 February 2017
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    As well as doing some decent training walks during the weekends, Marc and I have also been taking advantage of the stunning summer weather (that we were experiencing a few weeks ago that is…), and daylight savings, to explore our beautiful backyard after work. Where we have been able to find the time, we have fitted in a few short walks (well short in comparison to the weekend hikes), some of which have involved some stunning waterfalls!

    This update is about Wairere Falls……..

    Wairere Falls is a very popular and well known track which is located within the Kaimai Ranges. It is on the Te Aroha side of the ranges, and only takes about 40mins to get there from Tauranga. On a clear day you can spot the falls across the plains when driving along State Highway 25, and is impressive when you approach the carpark to the start of the track. Wairere Falls is the highest waterfall in the North Island - the water plunges 153 meters and is an impressive sight to behold!

    The walk took us roughly two hours and was a total of 5km in distance. It was a good training opportunity as it is a consistent steady climb through the beautiful native bush to the top, which is great for the cardio - it really got the blood flowing!

    The track is well formed for the duration of the walk and the scenery is simply stunning the entire way. At the beginning there are a couple of sturdy bridges which provide great places to stop and view the river, natural pools and massive moss covered boulders.

    As you can imagine the view from the top is simply spectacular – providing panoramic views of the far stretching Waikato Plains. Sitting on the top of a waterfall on a warm summer evening looking at the lush New Zealand farmland was nothing short of blissful.

    Due to the short duration of the hike there was not pre hike food stop, however after the adventure we took our mud splattered Jandal wearing selves to a pub in Bethlehem for dinner. Much to one of the waitresses delight, Marc spread our large Kaimai map across the bar to ponder over while we waited for our meals – her comment was “I haven’t seen one of those things in years” – I guess most people rely on the digital versions these days!

    Another great blister free training adventure 

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  • Mt Karangahake

      13 February 2017
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    After our massive 30km training walk the following weekend, Marc and I decided that this time around we would take it slightly easier - instead of focusing on time and distance, we would work on our cardio as there is going to definitely be a bit of hill climbing as part of the Tongariro expedition to say the least!

    So for our next training walk we decided to scale Mount Karangahake, located within the Karangahake Gorge situated between Waihi and Paeroa.

    To put it in comparison, the elevation of Mount Karangahake is 544m above sea level and Mount Maunganui is 232m so it’s like walking up the Mount twice and then some!

    While the Karagahake Gorge is very well known for its walks through the old mining tunnels, the walk up to the trig at the top of Mount Karangahake seems to be less well known, or less talked about anyway. Why climb a mountain when you can cruise through mining tunnels and look at the ruins of the old mining days?

    We scheduled the training day for Waitangi day and it turned out to be yet another pearler of a day!

    Once again, the pre mission preparations involved a quick stop at BP Waihi where chicken wraps and custard squares where acquired for much needed mission fuel.

    We then headed to the main carpark at the gorge, which is located just off State Highway 2, this is where the majority of the walking track starts and boy was it was a hive of activity!

    After figuring out where we were headed, I have to admit we were a little bit daunted – we could only just make out the trig point winking at us cheekily in a morning sunlight at the top of the mountain.

    As we headed off on the walk from the carpark we crossed over the Ohinemuri River via a massive swing bridge, then took a track through bush to the Crown Hill Rd where there is a 2nd carpark for those who want to shorten the track. A short distance up the Mountain Track there is an unmarked but well-formed and well-used road which we followed the rest of the way up the mountain in jandals or in Marc’s case, bare feet (this tends to be his “footwear” of choice).

    When planning for the trip we had read up on the internet about the walk and found information saying that it should take us approximately 5hrs return trip, however when we got to the gorge every sign we saw seemed to tell us something different – the first one indicating that it would take us three hours one way…….

    However being the bushwalking extraordinaire’s that we are, it only took us a comfortable 1 ½ hrs to make it to the top - and once we got up there the view was simply breathtaking!! We got an amazing view of the top of Mt Te Aroha and out towards the mighty Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

    We have enjoyed pretty much all of the tracks we have walked so far but this one has definitely been one of the best so far. It was a gentle steady climb, soft underfoot, well marked and plenty of cover to shelter us from the sun.

    We have enjoyed pretty much all of the tracks we have walked so far but this one has definitely been one of the best so far. It was a gentle steady climb, soft underfoot, well marked and plenty of cover to shelter us from the sun.

    We even found part of an old mining tunnel along the way!

    The return trip was very quick and only took us about an 1hr 20mins as we were spurred on by the thought of lunch! Once we got back down the tummies were grumbling loudly so it was definitely time to rip into our goodies. We found a shady spot away from the tourists and other avid walkers, and quickly devoured our BP provided sustenance. After lunch we swapped our barefeet and jandals for walking shoes (which definitely felt strange!) and went for a gentle stroll around the Historic Walkway that takes you through the ruins of the old goldmining operation and through the old rail tunnel.

    To top a hot, energetic day off which involved four hours of walking, 544m of climbing and about 7kms of walking we made a pit stop in Waihi on the way home and got Grapefruit and Lemon Fruju’s and I tell you what – they have never tasted so refreshing 

    It was another great day and yet again no feet or jandals were damaged in the process 

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  • Lake Tarawera - Hot Water Beach

      7 February 2017
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    Tarawera Trail…..

    Wow so what a day!

    I have to say when the alarm clock buzzed at 5:15am I was not impressed! But then the thought of the day's adventure made it very easy to bounce out of bed

    Our first stop along the way was the servo where we fueled up the car with gas, ourselves with coffee – (two mocha’s thanks mmmm), custard squares & chicken wraps for lunch (yum!!) and then we were on the road to Rotorua

    We got to the carpark at 7.20am – at first we wondered why it was so empty, but then realised not many people are awake at that time in the weekend – especially on a Sunday morning!!

    The morning got even better when we wandered over to the start of the trail and saw the sign which said the walk would take us approx. 4hrs and not the 5 – 6 as said on the DOC website – we were pumped! So off we set with a spring in our Jandals - it was a great feeling hitting the track bright and fresh, & spotting the clear still lake through the Ponga Trees along the lake edge was stunning.

    We met some great people along the track, and had some amazing views of different part of the lake as we climbed up, down and around it. We just cruised along - we weren’t there to rush as we knew we had the whole day up our sleeve, however it only took us about 3 ½ hrs to get to the mid way point (15kms) which was hot water beach.

    This little lake side beach is amazing. You can dig into the sandy bottom of the lake and find hot water to soak in! If you stand in the lake and burrow your feet in you will even find it and boy is it piping hot – you can't stand still in it for long! There is also a campsite along the shore and there were heaps of tents pitched when we arrived, its definitely a popular camping destination – most people will go there by boat and stay the night and spend the day waterskiing and swimming.

    After we found a comfortable place to park up we ripped into our lunch and devoured our custard squares – there’s nothing like a decent hike through beautiful bush to make food taste extra good. A little nap in the sun was next on the menu and just before we conked out properly for the rest of the afternoon we managed to get back on our feet to make last 15km trip back to the car. A lovely couple we had meet on the way kindly offered to take us back to the carpark by boat – have to admit it was pretty hard to say no at that point but we were set on completing our mission!

    We have found on our bush trekking adventures that the return journey always seems to go so much quicker and this was no exception! We did the return trip in 3 1/2hrs – the same as the way there but boy did it seem like it went so much quicker! The last 5km was a bit tough tho as we kept expecting to see the carpark around the next corner – turned out to be about 10 corners and four flights of dusty stairs later – when we got to the carpark the backpacks were quickly tossed to one side while we lay down on some soft grass with our legs up a gentle slope, then the discussions of cold iceblocks and daydreams of swimming in the ocean began……

    Another great mission accomplished!! We highly recommend this track

    You will be pleased to know that no Jandals were damaged in the trek – not one pair fell apart! They hung in there and did us so proud!

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