Exploration: Whakatane, New Zealand

We traveled all over Ohope and Whakatane this last week.  Whakatane is a must visit spot on the North Island.  Lots of locals told us that Whakatane is the “sunniest place in New Zealand.”  There is an extensive Maori culture.  For you budget backpackers driving around, there are great free activities; you can surf and there are awesome hikes.  Enough cool stuff to do to keep you busy for a few days.

Here are some photos and descriptions of our hikes.

Here is a photo of the Marae that is behind the Ohope Christian Camp on the main street of Ohope Beach (Across from the petrol station).  Paul and Daphne are great hosts!  They have inexpensive places for budget travelers.  We hiked up the mountain behind the Marae to check out the beach town from up high.  You can see down at the end is a spot called “The West End.”  It’s got pretty good surf, but it’s a bit unpredictable.
We walked back down the steep cliffs back to the Marae:
Later on we went into town to hike from the middle of town up to a beautiful overlook.  There is a really inspiring mosaic staircase art piece that builds images as the stairs climb.  The bottom stair represents the bottom of the sea while the top represents the sky.  Here is a photo of the bottom:

The hike was beautiful and refreshing.  The next day I worked a day or two with a brick layer while Veronica helped with the Christian Camp.  Duty called and she volunteered to go help save a beached pilot whale with the camp director!  Beached AZ!

The Kiwis really came together to save the whale.  Here is a line of people carrying buckets from the ocean to the whale to help keep it alive:

After our days apart, we reunited to go visit the Marae in Whakatane, New Zealand (Whakatane pronounced: fuck-a-tan-e)

Maori Carvings are stunning:

After this we drove out of Whakatane towards Ohope Beach.  After going over the hill towards Ohope there is a lookout to the left.  We drove up there to check it out.  Of course, the view was stunning.

We decided to hike a little while.  We were definitely unprepared, but the hike was so sweet we just kept going and going until we couldn’t turn around!  Barefoot and without water, we walked all the way back to Ohope Beach.  Here are some photos of the spontaneous 3 hour hike:

We made it!  At last!  So worth the trip!  All the best things happened, beautiful photos, great sea shell collection and a greater understanding of the geography of the place.  Our feet are sore, we are thirsty and all we have to do it get back to the bach and get a ride back to the car.

Hope you enjoyed this little blog about Whakatane.

If you read this, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear back from the folks that read this!

IV Travel Blog #1: Te Anu, New Zealand

So we left Hanmer Springs!  Yehaw!  On the way to the coast we had to pull over to check out the free wine tasting:

We headed to the coast and slept near the beach.  We spent the morning laying around reading and watching the waves.  A nice family of Kiwis from Nelson invited us to eat some Paua (Pronounced “power” its Maori for abalone) on the beach.

Of course, we had to take the ferry across the Cook Straight.  We took the BlueBridge and learned that we recommend the InterIslander!  BlueBridge and the InterIslander are both ferry services, but InterIslander is without a doubt a superior service!

We found our way north via the east coast.

Here is our first Travel Blog Video! More to come! We will get more professional as time goes!

Get your travel guide from here and keep V and I on the road!

Become a Jackaroo

Six Steps to finding Cattle Station Work in the Australian Outback

This is a quick guide to getting yourself into an amazing and dangerously adventurous position where you can make money and have a wild time.  The Australian Outback is big and scary so I really only recommend this path to really hardy people.  You need to have a lot of common sense and guts to make it as a jackaroo (or inexperienced Australian station hand).

  1. Get yourself a passport.
  2. Get a working holiday visa in Australia by filling out the online application. It costs about $200 USD. Mine took 3 working days to have it issued. The Australian Immigration office will send you a e-mail with a visa number on it. Then you have the green light to go work in Australia. It’s really easy for American citizens.
  3. Fly to Australia. Use kayak.com or studenttraveluniverse.com (I got a cheap student ticket after already having graduated 2 years ago.)
  4. Travel to a very isolated area in the outback. Mt. Isa, Queensland will be your quintessential wild Australian outback mining/cattle town. I recommend the Mt. Isa area if you really want an adventure.
  5. Go to the information center and ask for a list of cattle stations in the area.
    1. Cold call all of them. Either chat with the station manager or leave a message with your phone number and your name. If you don’t have the guts to do this, then I really don’t advise going on this mad adventure.
  6. Get a job and stick to it. Last at least 2 months, otherwise your a sissy.

What to expect:

  1. The Pay: I earned $550 a week as a level one station hand (jackaroo.) I saved 95% of it because there was nowhere to spend money in that super isolated place.
  2. The Time: 5-6 days a week. Expect to start as the sun goes up and finish about an hour before it goes down.
  3. The Work: Sometimes the day goes so fast you don’t even know what happened. For example: mustering days are adrenaline pumping days on horse back or motorbikes in the mad dust and heat. The work is wild and fun. Sometimes te days are slow and monotonous. You can end up mixing concrete and cleaning out water troughs all day.
  4. The Good Times:
    1. Rodeo: small scale rodeos in little towns. This is where you can get into some awesome stuff; bronc/bull riding, calf wrestling, tug-a-war, or just beer drinking
    2. Race days: great events where you can gamble on the horse races and check out all the pretty girls (or cowboys if your into that sort of thing) in their facy dresses and unique hats. Great times at the pubs after a day at the races.

Tips:

  1. Keep a positive attitude. Being sociable is really important out there.
  2. Always do your best. Australia is a huge country but a small community. Being an honest memorable bloke/shelia (Australian for guy/chick) will pay out in the long run.
  3. Be proactive: no one wants to have to tell you everything to do and when to do it. Find problems and fix them before you need to be asked.
  4. Work for a reputable person. In the outback there are some scumbags so don’t even start with them. I heard about a Spanish guy who worked 4 months at a station in Western Australia. The station owner then bought him a ticket to Brisbane. The spaniard never got paid. Don’t fall into a trap. If you find yourself in a trap, leave right away.
  5. Have fun. It’s one hell of a time in the outback. Enjoy it.

Down South Island – New Zealand

Catching up on nearly a month of inactivity.  Sorry! 🙂

Veronica and I found a lovely place at theFarm near Whangaruru (pronounced: fangaruru) in Northland, New Zealand (theFarm website).  Mike and Ellen own the place and they are the coolest people in all the land.  Mike is an avid dirt-biker who is brainwashing the future generations of Kiwis to get on a motorbike and shred.  Ellen is an excellent provider of natural horsemanship; one lesson with her and you will be able to break horses without breaking your back.

We absolutely loved our time at theFarm and recommend whomever visits New Zealand, to go there.

While there we had some awesome times.

-Shocking surf at Elliotts Bay.  A six footer gave me the axe out past the break and I was sore for the next few days.

-Awesome horse treks up steep cliffs in the mountains.  (Video to come as soon as I work YouTube out better)

-Great motorbike rides up and down rolling green hills and down aggressive muddy trails.

None-the-less. we felt that we had to move on and look for more opportunities.  While there I got a job offer from Hanmer Horsesthat would allow for Veronica and I to both work together as horseback trail guides in the alpine village of Hanmer Springs!  Wow what a great deal… or so we thought.

So we packed up and headed south.  We drove along the coast.

Got to Wellington to go to our first Rugby World Cup game.  Australia vs. USA!

Took the ferry from Wellington to Picton.

Arrived at Hanmer Horses.

Unfortunately, the woman who runs the place is a cruel sort.  She treats her horses like royalty and the people who work for her like scum.

So thats where we are now.  We have stopped working for Hanmer Horses and have instead decided to do some more traveling.  Traveling north of course.  It’s bloody cold down here.

Thanks for reading!  We will get back at ya later!