Exploring Cornwall Park in Auckland New Zealand

Acacia Cottage is Auckland's oldest surviving building located in Cornwall Park, Auckland New Zealand

Auckland is a city built for recreation, and there is no better evidence of this than it’s lush green parks. Cornwall Park is no exception. It’s a picnic under the trees, an exploration of Auckland’s oldest building, or a hike to the summit of a volcano that was once a Maori Pa. Cornwall Park was […]

Uphill – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Walking to the lookout on Mt. Victoria in Wellington

U is for uphill. Practical Information:  New Zealand is a country created on volcanic fields, so up is a common direction. This photo was taken when we had hiked about half way up Mt Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. For an uphill walk, it’s a relatively easy climb to 196m above the city, where we were […]

Rangitoto Island – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Rangitoto Island is the youngest volcano in Auckland New Zealand

R is for Rangitoto Island . . .  or run if she decides to blow. Practical Information:  Rangitoto is Auckland’s youngest and largest volcanic field and home to the world’s largest pohutukawa forest (a native tree that blooms with red flowers in December, earning the nickname “New Zealand Christmas Tree“) Getting to Rangitoto Island is easy […]

Hiking – #AtoZ Postcards of New Zealand

Hiking on Waiheke Island, New Zealand

H is for hiking. Practical Information:  With our reputation as being clean and green, of course there are a seeming unlimited number of hiking options, through subtropical rainforest, glaciers, parks, forest, and so much more. There are nine “Great Walks” in New Zealand, offering Department of Conservation shared cabins and requiring reservations. Total walking enthusiasts […]

Arataki: Gateway to the Subtropical Rainforest in Auckland

Arataki Visitors Centre in the Waitakere Ranges, Auckland, New Zealand

Arataki Visitor Centre is the gateway to the Waitakere Ranges, the subtropical rainforest that is a half-hour drive from downtown Auckland. Here we found ourselves surrounded by the rugged natural beauty one expects to see in New Zealand. The landscape changed rapidly in the 30 minute drive and with windows down, I enjoyed the fragrant aromas of the rainforest. to […]

Hiking Mount Victoria in Wellington

View while hiking Mount Victoria in Wellington New Zealand

A few eyes rolled when I suggested hiking Mount Victoria during our recent visit to Wellington, one of my favourite New Zealand cities. At 196 metres, it is taller than any natural point in Auckland, and the 360 degree views from the top are well worth the effort. And effort it was. We were later told we […]

Stunning Coastal Walk Over Volcanic Rock: Takapuna to Milford

Takapuna to Milford Coastal Walk in Auckland New Zealand

Yesterday was a day made for celebration. It was my birthday, complete with fireworks (It was also Guy Fawkes Day, but I am claiming at least a few of the fireworks). I had my great medical appointment earlier in the week. And it was a perfect spring day for a coastal walk from Takapuna to […]

Great Views of Auckland from Extinct Mount Eden Volcano

The Auckland city skyline seen while looking over the 50 metre crater of the extinct Mount Eden Volcano, Auckland New Zealand.

Being built on a volcanic field of 48 cones, the city of Auckland is loaded with great views. Many of these views are free and sit at the rim of an inactive, dormant or extinct volcano, whilst others like the viewing platform on the Skytower or the Auckland Bridge Climb offering tourists (and locals) an […]

Catlins Rainforest – New Zealand’s Often Missed South Coast

Purakaunui Falls in the Catlins Rainforest, South Island, New Zealand

It’s been eight years since we drove through the Catlins rainforest along the southern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. We have done a lot of traveling since then, yet the Catlins is still one of my favorite spots. Looking at the old photos, two things occur to me, first our girls have grown up […]

Cape Byron Headland Reserve, NSW, Australia

Cape Byron Headland Reserve, Byron Bay, Australia

We hiked in the Cape Byron Headland Reserve about five years ago, just before I began blogging. Today I am consolidating my photos onto one back-up disk (to keep off-site) and I came across this beautiful spot that I had nearly forgotten about in New South Wales, Australia. In 2010 we spent 6 weeks in […]

Coastal Hiking: Interesting Rock Formations in New Zealand

Coastal Hiking in New Zealand

Swirling patterns in the cliffs and unusual rock formations dominate the coastline on the east side of Shakespear Park (Auckland, New Zealand). With a bit more energy, I could actually walk from my house to the steps leading down to Pink Beach. Yet, before last week I had never been here on the outgoing tide, […]

Wondering Why It’s Called Pink Beach? (Auckland, New Zealand)

Is this really named Pink Beach?

Pink Beach is a destination I had somehow missed until last week. We have set out many times along the Tiritiri track in the general direction, but it’s only accessible at low tide. This time we checked the Auckland tide tables and planned around them. Starting from the Shakespear Park campground we climbed, then passed […]

Kauri Trees: New Zealand’s Oldest and Largest Natives

Kauri trees along the path in Parry Kauri Park, Warkworth, New Zealand

The 800 year-old McKinney Kauri greeted us as we walked towards the boardwalk of Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth, New Zealand. On the day we visited, a group of students were at the base of the tree listening to their guide talk about the largest native tree species in New Zealand, growing only in the […]

Views from Mount Iron Summit, Wanaka New Zealand

View of the Southern Alps from the top of Mount Iron in Wanaka New Zealand

Several years ago we hiked to the top of Mount Iron. It only took about an hour, and the views from this glacier-carved rocky knoll are rather impressive. The 4.5 km loop track climbs 250m to reach the Mount Iron summit, and is labeled as an easy walking track. From my memory parts were steep, […]

Intimidated by Cows: How is it a Weekend Travel Inspiration?

Brown cow in a paddock in Shakespear Park, Auckland New Zealand

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I had limited exposure to farm animals.  Why would I?  Farmers farmed, suburban girls  . . . didn’t, so it’s no wonder I am intimidated by cows. On a recent, rather long hike with my daughter, I cringed as I looked over the next paddock gate. I took […]

Islands of the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand – #AtoZ

Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island

In the dozen years we have called Auckland our home I believe we have visited 11 of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Each has their own personality, but all reflect the clean, green lifestyle and natural beauty of New Zealand. It was easier to visit when we still owned a yacht, but now we […]

Hunua Ranges, Hunua Falls and a LARP in the Woods

Hunua Ranges, Auckland, New Zealand

The Hunua Ranges extend beyond the southeast edge of the Auckland region, a direction we don’t generally travel.  However, one of our girls was participating in a LARP event (Live Action Role Play), and I was a photographer/chaperone.  As we passed a sign for “Hunua Falls,” I made a mental note to return as I […]

Zealandia, New Zealand Wildlife the Way Nature Intended

Tuatara in the bush in New Zealand

Tucked up over the city of Wellington is Zealandia, an eco reserve reminiscent of the days before humans arrived in New Zealand. A predator proof fence surrounds the sanctuary, creating an “island” within New Zealand’s capital city and allowing birds and other native creatures to live wild as nature intended. In contrast to the Wellington […]

Hiking Faraway, New Zealand’s Descriptive Signage

Faraway - the name on a paddock in Shakespear Park, Auckland New Zealand

Ever wonder how far is faraway? Today I found out. One of New Zealand’s idiosyncrasies is naming things exactly as they are.  Why else would its two main land masses be named “North Island” and “South Island”? It does come in handy at times.  Recently Shakespear Park redid its paddock gate signage, with new signs […]

Pied Shag – Bird Watching in New Zealand

Pied shag in Shakespear Park, Auckland New Zealand

New Zealand is currently home to over 170 different types of birds so it’s not surprising that we see interesting birds like the pied shag when we go hiking.  This one was spotted in Shakespear Park, north of Auckland. While I took this shot on the east coast of the North Island, I have previously […]

Sarah’s Saturday Snapshots #20 – More Mahurangi West

Crab along the Cudlip coast at Mahurangi West

Today I’m sharing the second part of my adventure for my Bronze level Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award hike, which was at Mahurangi West regional park in Auckland. If you haven’t seen the first part yet, you can read it at Sarah’s Saturday Snapshots #19 – Mahurangi West Tramp. We returned to our base camp after the Mita Loop […]

Sarah’s Saturday Snapshots #19 – Mahurangi West Tramp

Mita Bay Loop Track at Mahurangi West in New Zealand

Last weekend, as a follow-up to the Tawharanui park tramp I did a few weeks ago, I had my qualifying Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award tramp. This one was at Mahurangi West regional park, and though it rained for a bit, we had an excellent time and I seriously enjoyed myself. Among other things, we need to write […]

Sarah’s Saturday Snapshots #17 – Tawharanui Tramp

Standing at the edge on our Duke of Ed tramp

Last week for my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze practice ‘adventurous journey‘, I went with a group of seven other teens on a Tawharanui tramp. Tawharanui Regional Park is a peninsula on the east side of New Zealand’s North Island, North of central Auckland. It is one of my favourite parks, and is an awesome place for […]

Giveaway: Clean Me, Guard Me, Heal Me – My Travel Essentials

Girls hiking in Shakespear Park, Auckland New Zealand

Hidden in the bush behind our house is a small fairy garden.  I don’t go there, because alongside the fairies (which I have never seen) are mosquitoes.  I don’t like mosquitoes.  More to the point, I don’t like their bite. So, when I was asked to try out Guard Me, an all natural bug repellent […]

Sarah’s Saturday Snapshots #14 – Waitakeres Tramp

Gorse flowers on Waitakeres tramp

Last week I went on a Girl Guide camp to Manukau for my Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award training, and while there we went to Karekare beach in the Waitakeres for a tramp with our packs. It rained a bit and was quite muddy, but it was really fun and I enjoyed the hike. I took a few […]