Volcano number 22: The Timber Trail Volcano

20190105_133933After the #WalkNZ rigours of the Mangaokewa River Track and a tough 38km one-day road walk, it was time for a decent trail – surely.

So thank you Te Araroa for delivering me the Timber Trail, an 80ish kilometre cycle track between Te Kuiti and Taumarunui.

Described as a highlight of Te Araroa, this is a beautiful, wide, flat, well maintained track (everything the Americans are looking for in a hiking trail).

The inclines aren’t too onerous, there is no mud, no tree roots to navigate, no overgrown foliage to whip at the face or legs. It presents blissful, mindless walking through native New Zealand forest.

The only thing you have to look out for are the cyclists that zoom past.

I decided to take the track easy and enjoy the stroll – four days of walking, while many TA hikers power through in two days.

Plus I could add in another volcano in my #40by40 challenge. Continue reading

Day 60 of #WalkNZ – WTF was the Mangaokewa River Track?

20190103_114953Day 60 of #WalkNZ didn’t start well – and it didn’t get any better.
What with a terrible night’s sleep and then being shadowed for a kilometre by a greasy-haired, gap-toothed cyclist out of Te Kuiti, I guess it didn’t bode well for what was to come – the Mangaokewa River Track; a 15km riverside walk that takes the Te Araroa hiker out of Te Kuiti and into the back country farmland of New Zealand.
I hadn’t heard any rumours about this track so what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

Volcanoes 18, 19 and 20: The Auckland volcanoes

20181213_115443So far, #WalkNZ has been a solo journey – but it was always meant to be.

Last week I was asked if I was bored of walking by myself. An interesting question.

I said no – I’ve met many people along the Te Araroa trail and, for the most part, I’ve spent each night with an eclectic group of random fellow trampers.

That said, I have to admit I am a little bit over listening to myself think while I’m walking. Mainly because all I seem to be thinking is how much my feet hurt, how much my shoulders hurt, how boring and monotonous this road walk is, and where I should put my foot so I don’t a) slip over b) twist it or c) fall off the trail/down the hill.

So, it was quite a joy to have one of my best friends join me on the Coast to Coast trail across Auckland, which just so happened to conveniently cross over three dormant volcanoes – part of the 40 plus volcanoes in the Auckland volcanic field – and thereby ticking off volcanoes 18, 19 and 20 in my #40by40 volcano challenge, and reaching the halfway mark. Continue reading

Volcano number 16: The sublime crater lake volcano

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The Yellow Bus’ door closed and it accelerated off before I could figure out if that was the stop I needed. I looked at the brochure and my map amid high-speed twists and turns. Yeah, I probably should have got off at that stop, I realised.

Oh well, final stop it was then – the Vista do Rei viewpoint that overlooked the magnificent and photo-famous Lagoa das Sete Cidades in the north west of the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores.   Continue reading

Volcano number 15: The not-what-it-was-supposed-to-be volcano

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“I guess I should be grateful that I’m actually on my way to see a volcano,” I thought as the ‘Yellow Bus’ hurtled through the Azorean countryside, passing fields of maize and languid dairy cows.

It had almost been a no-volcano day after a caffeine-deficient, panic-fuelled morning. I’d arrived in the Azores – the volcanic archipelago off the coast of Portugal – the night before rearing to tick off four more volcanoes in my #40by40 challenge.

But it didn’t start the way it was intended to. Continue reading

Volcanoes number 13 and 14: The train strike volcanoes

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It had been an awesome three days in the Auvergne region in France walking a section of the GR400 route and climbing volcanoes.

In three days we had hoped to climb four volcanic peaks as part of my #40by40 quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 but we’d only been able to tick off three (because of our leisurely pace) – Puy Mary, Puy Chavaroche, and Puy Griou (the latter hadn’t even been on the original list).

I’d been a little bit gutted that we hadn’t been able to make the last two, Puy du Rocher and Plomb du Cantal, but as I was quickly coming to learn with this challenge, it was no easy street and there were bound to be blips and bumps and failings. I just had to be flexible, not give up, and remember that everything would be ok in the end. Continue reading

Volcano number 12: The last-minute volcano

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After a wet day with thoroughly uninviting views, we awoke in the little French town of Mandailles to what promised to be better weather. There were pockets of blue in the sky (hurrah!) and while the tops of the higher mountains were still shrouded in cloud it looked like it was only lingering like a bad smell.

Today was to be our last day of our three-day hike along a section of the GR400 route in France’s Auvergne region. So far, we had been buffeted by gale force winds in an almighty thunderstorm, my hiking companion’s tent had nearly blown off the side of the mountain, and we had climbed two volcanoes as part of my #40by40 quest to climb 40 volcanos by the age of 40.

Today’s aim was to take on two more volcanoes – including the immediate region’s highest peak Plomb du Cantal. Continue reading

Volcanoes number 10 and 11: The thunderstorm volcanoes

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – what a difference a day makes.

We’d started out on our trek along a section of the GR400 in the Auvergne region in France in the presence of azure skies and a scorching heat. The mission: three days to climb four volcanic peaks of Europe’s largest stratovolcano – all part of my #40by40 quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40.

As the sweat ran rivulets down my spine and soaked into my clothes, we worked our way slowly up above the tree line and were rewarded with rolling French countryside stretching out to the horizon, dyed deep green from hearty rainfall – not that you would have guessed it given there was barely a cloud in the sky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEight hours later, however, and my clothes, which had been damp from sweat, were now sopping, having been drenched by a monstrous deluge of rain.   Continue reading