Tag Archives: trekking

Stewart Island

Stewart Island is a truly magical area of New Zealand situated only an hours ferry ride from the south coast of South Island. As we approached the island by boat, the dazzling colours of the surrounding forest paired with the harmonious sounds of a plethora of wildlife ushered us into a hidden paradise – immediately we felt we had ventured to an, almost, sacred place.

Renown for its bird life, the island attracts many bird watching enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Oban township itself is the only residential area on the island, which is
otherwise dotted with DOC huts and tramping routes through the magnificent wilderness. The local boozer in Oban is an old fashioned hotel which boasts a stunning view across the shore. The pub is constantly alive with the warm hum of chatter and gleaming eyes of the locals who are on their 5th pint of the day. Donned with black and white photographs of Stewart Island from decades past, the pub emits a welcoming atmosphere, creating a harmonious space for locals and visitors alike. To top it off, they serve the best Blue Cod and chips we have tasted in New Zealand thus far..so it’s worth a visit, if only for that reason!

The 3 day Great Walk around a small portion of Stewart Island ranges from beautiful, golden beaches to day long tramping through the thick forest which is populated with a wide range of native bird species. At every rustle within the forest, we found ourselves pausing, searching for the unmistakable shape of a Kiwi. We weren’t so lucky on our 3 day tramping expedition but, on our last day, we took a boat over to Ulva Island – a protected
wildlife sanctuary. There is no accommodation on Ulva Island and no humans reside there – the island is purely for the array of bird life and other wildlife who inhabit the forests and beaches. Void of any pests, the islands wildlife live a luxurious life and prosper there. It was within these forests we heard a loud rustle in the trees beside our path, and turned around to see a large brown kiwi pecking into the ground in search of his next meal – the Kiwi wasn’t bothered by human presence and carried on for the next 5 minutes in close proximity to us.

Stewart Island is one of those very rare places left on Earth which is yet to be ruined by humans. The magical atmosphere, which encompasses you while you’re visiting, stems from a knowledge that wildlife and nature continue to rule the roost of this beautiful island. It is, as of yet, much too isolated to be a target of commercial building, despite its attraction for tourists. I would urge anyone visiting New Zealand to witness the phenomenon of Stewart Island, and maybe as you do so, you might notice how magnificent the natural world is, void of any of our own fine tunings.

 

Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

Be weird. Be wonderful. 🙂

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From Jungle to Ocean

Koh Phi Phi. I am a sucker for the island life…from chilled out beach vibes to trekking into the wilderness of the forests, what’s not to love? Phi phi is definitely no exception to this island life love of mine. Situated on the south west of Thailand, Phi Phi emits a simplistic, yet immense beauty from its shores. With no main roads, the island is navigated by narrow lanes which each interlink with one another creating an intricate maze filled with restaurants, bars and stalls selling souvenirs. These streets are bustling with both tourists and locals – the locals often towing large metal trolleys behind them. As there are no cars on the island, these trolleys aid in the transportation of items between places. I also saw one used as an ambulance – a girl was being towed along with a bandaged wrist and a Thai woman next to her holding a drip!

Although renown as one of the predominant party islands in Thailand, Phi Phi retains a certain charm to it which goes beyond the fire shows and pool parties. We stayed about ten minutes walk from the main hub of the island at Maney Resorts majestic bungalows.

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Nestled among the trees, with a beautiful view over Phi Phi and right the way to the ocean, Maney bungalows are ideal, middle range accommodation if you don’t mind a wander into the centre. From Maney Resort, it is a thirty minute hike up to Phi Phi viewpoint which boasts stunning views of the island below and miles into the distance. I would definitely recommend the hike – it is a tough climb, but the views from the top are more than worth the sweaty-ness!

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Behind the beauty of Phi Phi, it is difficult not to notice the ongoing building which tells tales of a recent tragedy. The island is still rebuilding following the 2004 tsunami which destroyed many buildings, homes and lives. When we did a day trip to Maya Bay (which is a must!), our long tail boat captain had been on the beach at the time of the tsunami and as a result had a full set of fake teeth and a scar protruding from his stomach where the tsunami had injured him. Although we cannot know to what extent the tragedy haunts him, he was a wonderful captain and made our trip to Maya Bay and Monkey Island even more amazing. As there were six of us we decided to hire a boat ourselves rather than go on a tour which was definitely the best option! The long tail boat to ourselves, we enjoyed a blissful day of snorkelling, beer drinking, swimming in the beautiful waters of Maya Bay and playing with the monkeys on Monkey Island.

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If you’re looking for a hangover cure but on a backpackers budget…head to the lane from the central maze which leads to Maney Resort. Here you will find a few bamboo huts with small kitchen restaurants inside – cheap, super yummy Thai food cooked in a family kitchen…and put into takeaway boxes so you can crawl back to your hostel and curl up in bed.

Although Phi Phi is rapidly becoming more heavily populated with tourists and party seekers, I would say at present it still continues to hold a certain charm. With a multitude of options to occupy your time – from boat trips to Maya bay or bamboo island, to hikes, to beach parties – you definitely won’t find yourself bored on Phi Phi.

 

Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

Be weird. Be wonderful.:)