N E W Z E A L A N D
WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
BENEATH THE ICE
NZ $10.90 incl. GST
EXPLORING THE CENTRAL PLATEAU
660 Main Road, Stoke, Nelson, New Zealand
T:+64 3 547 5357
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Looking for the positives...
Over the last few months, we have seen massive change; to our lifestyle,
communities, and economy. It’s easy to throw out platitudes about ‘silver
linings’, but the reality is there are a lot of people, friends and associates whose
businesses have been devastated, years of work undermined. Now a murky
grey future of uncertainty still awaits them. Sure there are positives as in every
situation, but we need to look squarely at the future and know that what was in
the past will not be coming back any time soon – if ever.
But it is equally important to look at that which does not change – here at
Adventure we were astounded by the support that our online ‘free to the world’
issue received, which we brought out mid-COVID. I would love to say it was
carefully planned, but it wasn’t, it was us thinking on our feet trying to find the
best way forward. We sat daily bewildered by the number of people who read the
magazine. At one stage it was being read once every 25 seconds (you can follow
the link at the bottom if you wish to see that issue).
In a time of ‘whoa what’s coming next’ we had this beacon of positive
reaction. Regardless of what the world throws up, we are committed to an active
and adventurous lifestyle. Now more than ever, we generally believe that seeking
that adventures lifestyle is vital for us all. It makes us healthier, both physically
and mentally, it strengthens our environment and communities. We live in one
of the most incredible places on earth, and for every one of us, Adventure is
I am sure by the time you read this; we will be in Level One – embrace
all that it has to offer; visit local, buy local, and invest locally. Be an advocate
for your friends and family and encourage them to venture out. If they lack
confidence, then use one of the agencies that will introduce them and their family
safely to the outdoors.
You will see throughout this issue a new second logo associated
with Adventure called Taiao – it’s the simple symbol of a nikau palm and
the word ‘Taiao’ which means environment. It is time for us to grasp our
own environment. We can be proud of what kiwis have achieved through
this COVID experience, how it’s been overcome, how we have been
supportive of each other and how we have set a standard for the world.
Its now time to take that to another level and show the world how we as
kiwi can invest finically, emotionally and physically in our own Taiao our
own environment, because it is that investment locally, is what we can
control, what we can count on, that will give the most reward to both us
and our community for the future.
Steve Dickinson - Editor
Will Gadd ice climbs in a moulin on the Greenland ice cap
near Ilulissat, Greenland.
Image by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool
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implied, with respect to any of the material contained herein.
looking forward to
exploring my own
Proud to be Kiwi!
Digital, Hardcopy, Web, Social
Perfect cold weather insulation for every body.
Image by River Valley Lodge Image compliments of MSC Image by Daniel Price
Image by Red Bull
08//Beneath the Ice
Will Gadd explores Greenland's ice cap
Getting ready to revisit our favourite places
22//Alps to Ocean
Why do it guided, even if you're a Kiwi?
Staying safe on the snow
Explore the backcountry safely
32//The Day we Left
When surfing and snow collide
Exploring the Central Plateau
78//Adventure Van Life
• It's cool to travel when it's cool
• Live for AdVANture
• New Caledonia
86. gear guides
106. Active adventure
FOLLOW US ON
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
We know the dance that is winter hiking with a pack so we used heat-mapping to study
the way different bodies regulate heat while hiking in order to build the Ridgevent.
Heat-mapping shows that men retain
heat longer than women, so we’ve
increased the ratio of ventilation
to insulation in men’s styles.
Pictured: Men’s Ridgevent Hybrid Jacket / Sailor Blue
Many Paths. One Trail.
Blending 65% responsibly sourced,
waterproof goose down and 35%
ultra fine Primaloft synthetic
fibers for warmth even when wet.
ENGINEERED BACK BAFFLES.
Alleviates overheating with a
baffle construction that provides
warmth where you need it and
breathability when it matters.
02//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220
Takapuna Whangamata Christchurch Queenstown
BEHIND THE COVER
Photographer Christian Pondella, explains taking the cover shot while on
an expedition with Will Gadd to Greenland. See page 10 for the full story.
"In this kind of environment pretty much anyone with a camera or a phone
can take a really amazing photo because it’s such an amazing place, so
as a pro photographer you’ve got to find ways to exceed that. You’ve got
to be dynamic, evaluate the situation and give depth, use foreground,
middle ground, background, tr to do something that evoked emotion ,puts
the viewer into the picture, use dramatic lines and shadows, and then
draw them into the subject.
On this shoot, sometimes it was just a matter of hanging on a rope taking
photos, going up and down to line things up differently, shooting into the
light to make it dramatic, moody, bright and colourful. You always have
ideas before a shoot but you always end up changing your plan.
Every time I do a project with Will it turns out to be wild and adventurous. I
knew this one would be a tonne of fun and produce some amazing photos
and it turned out to be one of the coolest adventures I’ve ever been on."
COCKTAIL ON THE ROCK
Here is an Irish whiskey
that apparently will make
you think twice about it.
The engaging backstory
behind the birth of the
was created by friends
from Wicklow and
Dublin, with a desire to
set up a craft distillery
in Ireland to reflect the
heritage of the gone
by distilleries. They
took a risk by giving
up their jobs and created a distillery in the Glendalough mountains,
which was a favourite spot. Coupled with the sweet notes of cherry,
raisins, and fig flavour notes of the award winning double barrel
Irish whiskey, it was the right choice to use with a combination of
persimmon, pear, citrus and ginger. The tasting team commented
on the fruity, sweet but smooth whiskey flavour that shone through.
It was described as heavenly even when mixed with other fruit burst
flavour notes. Have you tried this whiskey?
• Muddle persimmon and pear together
• Add a few drops of essential black pepper oil thanks to @
• 2 jigger Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey @glendalough
• 1 jigger freshly squeezed lemon juice
• Bar spoon of Stones ginger wine
• Shake with ice, pour into glass and top up with a no sugar ginger
beer, and garnish with dehydrated pear and a matching rose.
Approx 10 carbs per serve
Follow Sue on Instagram: @cocktailontherock
To sign up for the weekly newsletter: www.cocktailontherock.co.nz
70,000 followers can't be wrong
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
06//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220
@ adventuretraveller @ adventurevanlifenz
Beneath the Ice
In the remote, icy wilderness on the
Greenland ice cap, a gaping hole marked
the spot where climber Will Gadd and his
support crew and film team would descend
into the unknown. A moulin is basically a
giant hole in a glacier, created when surface
water finds its way into a crack in the ice and
melts through. And in this dream project,
the plan was to climb into one and go deep
inside the Greenland ice cap to a place
nobody has ever been before.
Story and Images courtsey Redbull
What they discovered was a sparklingly
beautiful, but terrifying 90m-deep cavern,
with a roof made of hundreds of tonnes of
cracking, creaking and groaning ice.
Having become the first person to ice climb
up Niagara Falls, Will Gadd is no stranger
to perilous situations. But the Canadian
adventurer undertook his biggest and most
dangerous challenge in Beneath the Ice, an
exploration within the Greenland Ice Cap
with the aim of collecting global warming
data. Will tells us what motivates him to
embark on such a journey…
8//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220
Camp at the Greenland ice cap near Ilulissat, Greenland
Image by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool
"Curiosity, more than any other emotion or motivation, has always
pushed me forward. It has taken me to the edge of human understanding
and ability, a place that gets me up in the morning.
The excitement of answering “what would happen if we…” first drove
me to explore caves in my teens around the same time that curiosity
introduced me to ice climbing. I hooked up with an older crew of cavers
who brought me along primarily because I could squeeze my skinny
frame through holes that they couldn’t. We’d move through the rock
thousands of feet below the mountains, and then they’d send in “the
probe”. I’d squeeze into places no human had ever been, all because it
was wildly interesting and scratched the raw itch of curiosity.
Lately, more than three decades after my first caving experiences,
my worlds of ice climbing and caving have collided. Yet again, it was
curiosity: what is down those moulins, those big holes in the glacier?
Maybe it was time to send in “the probe” once again.
I researched what was known about glacial caves, and that took me to
Professor Martin Sharp at the University of Alberta. Together we worked
under the Athabasca Glacier, and found new life forms growing inside the
I kept digging on the research front and wound up in contact with
Professor Jason Gulley, one of the top experts on glacial caves in the
world. Together we hatched a plan for what would become Beneath the
Ice, a project that pushed me further than any other project I’ve ever
Come the summer of 2018, I was learning how to cave dive in Florida
with Gulley. Why? Because our plan involved going deeping into the
Greenland ice cap than anyone had ever gone before, and to do that,
we were planning to dive once we hit the water table inside the glacier.
When we emerged from the depths of the ice sheet, we hoped to have a
better understanding of how the ice cap ultimately moves and melts.
RIGHT: Topside view as Will Gadd
descends into a moulin on the Greenland
ice cap near Ilulissat, Greenland
Image by Christian Pondella
Red Bull Content Pool
10//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220 ADVENTUREMAGAZINE.CO.NZ 11
Will Gadd and Jason Gulley inside a moulin on the Greenland ice cap near Ilulissat, Greenland
Image by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool
We took two trips to Greenland, that made up the Beneath the Ice project:
the first took place in August, where we identified the moulin we hope to
explore further; the second took place in October, where we hoped to put
our full scope of ambitious exploration into action…"
Will and Professor Jason Gulley reached the ice floor where they planned
to dive however, with massive blocks of ice falling from the ceiling above
they were forced to pull out of the dive. They still achieved a vital insight
into understanding how global warming works and what happens to rivers
of melted ice and rising sea levels.
Joining them to capture the event was photographer, Christian Pondella. He
explains the trip from his perspective…
"Wherever there’s surface water on a glacier there will be a moulin nearby,
but this one was special because it had a big opening facing the same way
as the prevailing wind. That meant the snow would block up the entrance
while we were inside. Obviously, that was pretty important.
Just getting out there was an adventure. It was a half-hour heli flight from
Ilulissat, with amazing views and then we were dropped off in the middle
of this ice desert. Just flat ice, as far as you can see. Totally surreal. When
we first dripped into the moulin, we found this giant amphitheatre. It was
stunning, with tonnes of overhanging ice. We were in the fall zone most of
the time, which was pretty nerve wracking.
One day there was a big temperature drop and you could hear cracking
around us as we stood on the ice cap. When you go into a cavern like this
you’re extremely exposed, so you’ve got to continually look for signs of
instability. We all saw them, so we took the day off. It turned out we made
the right call. The next day, when things got more stable, we went back in
and at the bottom, where we’d been standing two days before, there were
huge chunks of fallen ice. Massive. That was eerie and scary. If we’d been
down there the day before, well…"
RIGHT: Looking back as Will Gadd
descends into a moulin on the Greenland
ice cap near Ilulissat, Greenland
Image by Christian Pondella
Red Bull Content Pool
12//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220 ADVENTUREMAGAZINE.CO.NZ 13
"When we first dripped
into the moulin, we found
this giant amphitheatre. It
was stunning, with tonnes
of overhanging ice. We
were in the fall zone most
of the time, which was
pretty nerve wracking."
ALL DAY, EVERYDAY
DREW DREW JOLOWICZ
POWGLOVES.COM / /@POWGLOVES / / P: P: TOSHI PANDER
14//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220
"The real joy of hiking up this
far is to experience the mountain
during the many stages of the
day and night. From listening
to avalanches crash in the
distance and the beauty of the
uninterrupted night sky, through
to the sight of dawn over the
ranges the following morning, are
all reasons to stay overnight."
Looking back through old photo albums uncovered one of my favourite hikes to Meuller Hut in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
L-R: Taking a break at the start of the climb to Sealy Tarns and Meuller Hut | Our crew at the start of the track in Aoraki Mt Cook village
included two Kiwis, two Canadians, two Aussies and one American | Jai Ralls on the trail to Meuller Hut
Words by Lynne Dickinson
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Located in the central part of the South
Island, Aoraki/Mount Cook is the highest
mountain in New Zealand. It boasts 19
peaks over 3000m with Aoraki/Mount Cook
standing at 3,724m tall.
Climbing the mountain is a technical
challenge crossing large crevasses with
a risk of rock and ice falls, avalanches
and rapidly changing weather conditions.
The first attempt to climb the highest peak
was in 1882 by two Swiss climbers and it
is believed they came within 50m of the
summit and it was successfully summited
in 1894 when New Zealanders Tom Fyfe,
John Michael Clarke and George Graham
reached the top.
Unfortunately, Aoraki/Mount Cook, is also
NZ's most deadliest mountain, with over 80
people perishing on it’s slopes.
However, the area is not just about
extreme mountaineering. There are plenty
of activities for all levels of fitness and
technical ability and you’ll find something to
challenge you in this National Park.
As people were coming to grips with the
travel restrictions imposed during the
Covid-19 epidemic and the loss of their
potential overseas travel plans, the focus
turned to New Zealand and what we
have to offer the intrepid traveller and the
adventurer at heart.
The strange thing is, that for overseas
visitors, New Zealand is considered the
adventure capital of the world, yet we often
look overseas first for our next adventure.
So while in isolation, as most New
Zealanders did I am sure, I got to sorting
out the spare bedroom and came across
photo albums from back in the day.
One of the things that struck me most about
them was that most of my adventures
in my 20’s were located in New Zealand
(possibly because I didn’t have the funds
to travel back then). I have since travelled
extensively abroad and it made me realise
how much we have to offer here at home,
and I vowed that no matter whether the
travel restrictions at our borders were lifted
or not, I would not be so hasty to head
overseas before I rediscovered what we
had on our doorstep.
"The faded images brought back
memories of a summer spent
road tripping around New
Zealand with a backpack, a tent,
a sleeping bag and a great group
of friends (many who had come
One lot of photos that stood out from my many
slightly faded albums was taken on the Meuller
Hut track in the South Island in Aoraki, Mt Cook
National Park. The faded images brought back
memories of a summer spent road tripping
around New Zealand with a backpack, a tent,
a sleeping bag and a great group of friends
(many who had come from overseas). One of
the things I remember most clearly about that
hike to Meuller hut, was sleeping in our tent at
night listening to the sound of the snow cracking
on the mountains around us as avalanches
fell throughout the night. It was an incredible
So the plan is to return to the scene of these
photos and relive some of those experiences.
This time we will be a little older (25 years older
to be precise) and we’ll be a little slower. We
may need to carry with us some self inflating air
mattresses and even a pillow, however I am sure
we’ll enjoy it just as much. I am looking forward
to seeing how much has changed in the years
since we last visited, but I am hoping, with the
absence of people over the past few months,
that nature has had a chance to restore itself to
its original glory. I will let you know what we find,
but in the meantime, here’s some information so
you too can plan for your next NZ adventure to
this beautiful part of our country.
Right:Sunset at Aoraki Mt Cook, Image by WIll Turner
The image above taken 25 years ago in 1995, not far from Meuller Hut.
The image on the right, taken at the same spot by Jamie Davies in 2018
Meuller Hut Track, Mt Cook (moderate to advanced)
This is the one we did, but as you can see by the photos, we were a lot
younger and therefore found it a lot easier than I would now.
Length: 5.2km one way
Duration: 4 hours one way
Meuller Hut: 28 bunk beds with mats, cooking gas and burners, drop toilets,
and running (but non-treated) water. The Mueller Hut costs $45 NZD per
person per night for adults, $22.50 for kids 5 to 17 years old, under 5 free.
Season: The track is open year round however, the best time of year to
attempt the Meuller Hut route is from December through to April, due to the
more settled weather. However don’t expect it to be hot, you are in alpine
conditions and temperatures range between 8-14 degrees Celcius. Be
prepared for all weather conditions; rain, strong winds and even snow. The
rest of the year, deep snow covers most of the track making it more difficult
to walk as well as increasing the risks of avalanches. The thing to remember
is that this is an alpine walk and if you want it to be enjoyable and safe, then
wait for a good weather window and make sure you are well prepared with
the correct clothing and shelter. Do not be fooled by the seemingly short
distance to the hut, the 5.2km rises 1000km in elevation, which is the reason
the estimated time to walk the short distance is around 4 hours.
The walk: As my memory is a little hazy
from doing this walk 25 years ago, I
consulted the Mountain Safety Councils
website, read a few articles and watched
a great trail information video. One of
the things I concluded, for my personal
journey to revisit this track, is that I have
to do this in good weather. The area is
subject to snowfall all year round and
parts of the track are exposed to high
winds, so this is something I would not
feel comfortable undertaking in less than
ideal weather conditions. For those of you
more accustomed to inclement weather,
I am sure you will enjoy the experience
regardless of the weather, but for me, not
The main difficulty in this is if you want to
stay in Meuller Hut you need to book well
in advance, so fitting it in with weather
conditions is not always easy. 25 years
ago we carried a tent and found a bit of
flat ground to sleep near the hut, this way
we could be spontaneous and picked a
day when the weather was just perfect.
I’m not sure how keen my friends will be
reliving the experience in its entirety but I’ll
keep you posted on how it goes.
The Meuller Hut route begins at the
Aoraki, Mt Cook village, outside the visitor
center, but do not let that fool you into
thinking this is another walk in the park, so
to speak. It begins on a well established
track called the Kea Point Track, which is
an easy 2km walk up the valley through
alpine meadows and native bush. Enjoy
this section as you will then turn off onto
Sealy Tarns track, and this is where the
going gets tough.
The track zigzags steeply up around 2000
steps and rises 520m till it reaches Sealy
Tarns, the halfway point. The track is
exposed and quite steep in places so you
may need to be able to use your hands as
support on the way up, but trust me when
I say the view from the Tarns is worth
every step. You will get hot walking up,
regardless of the weather, so take plenty
of time to shed and re-layer as you reach
the top and rest.
The tarns are a good spot to break for
lunch and is also a good time to reassess
your plans. If you found the first bit hard
it only gets more technical, so it’s a point
where you have to decide whether to
continue or to turn back. Keep in mind the
fitness of your overall group and make
sure you are all honest with how you are
feeling and make a sensible decision.
There is no shame in
turning round at this point.
If you decide not to go any
further, you simply retrace
your steps and return the
way you came.
For those of you who decide to carry
on you’ll notice the track becomes less
defined and you must keep an eye out
for the orange poles that mark the route.
The key is to make sure you spot the next
marker pole before leaving the one you
are at, easy to do on a fine clear day, but
not so easy if you have limited visibility.
The terrain is mainly tussock and boulders
and in places you will need to use your
hands to scramble over rocky steps.
The last section is through a scree rock
face with loose footing and you need to
take care on this section. Once you reach
the top, follow along the ridge until you
reach Meuller Hut.
The first ever hut here was built in 1914,
and since then the harsh conditions and
even an avalanche has meant there have
been four more built. The most recent one
was opened in July 2003 by Sir Edmund
Hillary, and is situated just below Mt
Ollivier – the first mountain Sir Edmund
climbed. Considering the last time we
climbed this track was in 1995 the hut is
one change we’ll see for sure.
Although some people treat the hike as
a day trip (crazy if you ask me), the real
joy of hiking up this far is to experience
the mountain during the many stages
of the day and night. From listening to
avalanches crash in the distance and
the beauty of the uninterrupted night
sky through to the sight of dawn over
the ranges the following morning, are all
reasons to stay overnight.
For those of us who have a few more
years under our belts, it’s often the walk
down that we find harder. Knees that
have been injured from years of outdoor
sports and activities can suffer under
the pressure of walking down so I would
recommend the use of walking poles.
Although they won’t be any help when
clambering over rocks, they can definitely
reduce the pressure on your knees when
If Meuller Hut hike seems a tad too
challenging, try the Hooker Valley Track.
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"This is one of the most
popular tracks in the
National Park, with
roughly a 100m change in
elevation the walking is
Hooker Valley Track (easy trail)
Length: 10km one way
Duration: 3 hours return
Season: The track is open year round but the
best time to go is at dawn when the rays creep
over the Southern Alps, including Mt Cook.
The Walk: This is one of the most popular
tracks in the National Park, with roughly a
100m change in elevation the walking is
relatively easy. This track starts from the White
Horse Campground but you can begin from the
information center in the village (just add an
extra 30 minutes each way). The start of the
track will take you through open grassland and
passes close to Freda’s rock and the Alpine
Freda du Faur was the first woman to climb
Aoraki/Mt Cook in 1910 and the rock is where
she had her photo taken on her completion.
Three years later she completed the Grand
Traverse (all three peaks) of Aoraki/Mt Cook
and Freda’s ROck is the site where her now
famous photo was taken just after her first
successful ascent of the mountain.
The Alpine Memorial is dedicated to the lives
lost on Aoraki/Mt Cook. The plaque reads, "I
am not gone – I am in these mountains, I am
in the stars, I am all around you, always near,
Both are just a stroll off the main trail.
From here the track crosses the first of three
suspension bridges over the Meuller River just
below the Meuller Glacier Lake and continues
to weave back and forth before crossing the
river again, this time above the lake. Here the
track opens to a wide valley where you will
gain your first view of Aoraki/Mt Cook. This
view will be visible for the rest of the trail, so
If you are walking between December and
February you are likely to see large daisies
amongst the foliage and the Mt Cook Lily,
which both flower during these months.
Continue walking up the valley until you reach
the boardwalk, which has been established
where the valley floor becomes swampy.
Continue up the boardwalk until you reach the
final suspension bridge before climbing above
the height of the moraine wall to a picnic area
with views over Hooker Lake. In summer you’ll
likely see icebergs floating in the lake, whereas
in the cold winter months the lake can freeze
The lookout point at the end of the Hooker
Valley track is the closest any walking track will
take you to Aoraki/Mt Cook itself.
Return the way you came and enjoy views
down the valley and over the Sealy Range.
Image by Tyler Lastovich
Alps to Ocean Cycle
Why do it guided, even if you’re a Kiwi
Words by Elaina Culbert and Natalie Tambolash - Images by Elaina Culbert
At a time where the world is closed to
international travel, it is time to delve
into those close to home adventures and
support local. Quite often, us Kiwis wouldn’t
dream of doing a guided or supported
trip here in NZ – we seem to have that “I
can do it” attitude. Elaina was one such
Kiwi. She would have placed herself in the
self-guided category before this, but after
cycling the A2O trail with her partner Tina,
it’s safe to say she’s had a change of heart.
Alps to Ocean Day 1 and my Word is
#Hot: We drove in sweltering heat and
started our first ride not far from Fairlie and
ended the day riding around the Tekapo
bike park plus got to have a favourite,
Emerson’s pilsner on tap! We are travelling
with two lovely Aussie guys and our tour
guide is amazing!
Alps to Ocean Day 2: Day 2 took us from
Tekapo to Twizel with a bonus explore
towards Aoraki/Mt Cook. Stunning scenery
and enjoyable once out of the insane wind!
Alps to Ocean Day 3 and my Word
is #Celebrate: What a way to spend a
birthday! We departed Twizel in high spirits.
About half an hour in, the rain came. We
TRAVEL NZ, SUPPORT LOCAL
Image: Rebecca Ryan
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle is the longest continuous ride in New Zealand. The trail descends
over 2000ft and travels 300km to the coastal town of Oamaru passing through glacial-fed
lakes, golden grasslands and limestone cliffs until it reaches the Pacific Ocean. The Alps
2 Ocean Cycle trail is a one way ride, so you’ll need to have a way of being dropped off
at the start point. There are quite a few companies that offer this service if you don’t have
someone who can do this for you.
We caught up with Elaina Culbert who recently completed the Alps 2 Ocean (commonly
known as A2O) with World Expeditions.
made it the first 20k where our amazing
guide was waiting with a hot cuppa and a
bday cake surprise. What a great team we
are with. The ride around Lake Ohau was
stunning in the misty, majestic scenery.
The track flowed beautifully. The rain came
harder. We celebrated making it to Ohau
lodge and it was a relief to have a complete
change of clothes. A beautiful platter was
served and we celebrated again with a
Next was the big climb over the saddle. It
was a day of determination. The rain set
in harder and the temp dropped. We were
soaked to the bone and FREEZING! As we
descended the other side the track became
a steady stream of water. By this stage
we just had to have faith that the ground
underneath was solid!
Finally made it to the next meeting point
where a warm van was waiting. We had
done 60k and celebrated our achievement.
Did we decide to pull out and take shelter?
Hell no, “let’s knock this off” Tina grins, so
off we go for another 20k of swallowing
mud! It was the best feeling to arrive tired,
numb and cold, celebrating once again.
Experience all that NZ has to offer!
Why not cycle an iconic trail - Alps to Ocean,
Otago Rail Trail, West Coast Wilderness.
Get out and explore your own backyard!
0800 350 354
Our thoughtful guide had already sorted
our room and bags were waiting for a
hot shower. We had beautiful salmon for
dinner, a well-earned drink and a soak in
the wood fired hot tubs. I couldn’t think of a
better way to celebrate my bday!!
Alps to Ocean Day 4 and my Word is
#Burn: Incredible scenery and riding today
around lakes and dams from Omarama
to Kurow. A cool start and the sun was
shining. A lovely picnic lunch by the lake
(we have been so spoilt by our guide who
is an absolute gem). The off-road tracks
were fast and smooth, just magic. Our
accommodation tonight is really unique and
we have just had the most amazing meal.
Oh, and the wine tasting was superb... and
the burn... well that’s sunburn on my left leg
Alps to Ocean Day 5 and my word
is #Peaking: After a fabulous night in
Kurow staying at the gorgeous Waitaki
Braids where we enjoyed luxurious
accommodation, outstanding food,
beautiful wine and the warmest welcome,
we set off for the next day of adventure.
I was peaking. The fresh air and scenery
was energising and happiness levels were
right up there. The riding today took us
into new scenery along the fast and high
flowing Waitaki river to the farm lands of
Burnside Homestead... magic.
Alps to Ocean Day 6 and my word is
#Exceeded: The high from yesterday
wasn’t quite as high upon waking to very
cold and drizzly weather. Luckily our
guide Jan was able to give us all a pep
talk to awaken the spirits! We set off from
"I feel like I’ve seen
NZ through new
eyes this trip and
learnt so much."
elephant rocks and 20mins into it I was
wet and muddy and grinning ear to ear.
Once out there I was loving it again. The
trail was a dream to ride with lots of little
ups and downs. We had some fun on the
downs, what a blast!
The scenery on this final day was so
interesting. I feel like I’ve seen NZ through
new eyes this trip and learnt so much
thanks to Jan’s exceptional knowledge.
After the last stop with only about 10k to
Our Stand Out Moments
• Stand out accommodation was Waitaki Braids (we
would definitely go back there, it's not just a bed, it's
• Biking along the Lake Ohau track, the scenery was
• Enjoying the experiences outside of the biking like
the meals together, the hot spa pools, the picnic
beside the lake, wine tasting, photography.
• We found the tour guide highly flexible so that we
could adapt when the weather wasn't right. This
made the trip much more enjoyable.
• We thought the trail was extremely well built and
lovely to ride.
• Benefits of guided travel in New Zealand - Even for
• Having the time and taking the time to stop at
places we never stopped at (as we were always on
route to a destination)
• Seeing NZ through fresh eyes, through the eyes of
a tourist. Exploring small towns we haven't been to
in many many years.
• Not having to drive!! For me, who is normally
driving, I loved relaxing and looking out the window.
I saw things I would never usually see.
• Not having to worry! All we had to think about was
getting up and biking! Everything was so well taken
care of, it was lovely being taken care of and not
have to worry about the minor details.
• Not having to take the time to pre-plan the trip
• Being able to explore cycle routes that started and
finished in different places (self-guided and we
always have to finish where we started)
• Having a guide meant finding out about places,
gaining knowledge we wouldn't have if self guided.
• It really felt like a holiday and it was great doing
something we wouldn't normally do.
• Would be a great trip with a group of friends
For more information on a Kiwi iconic cycle, discover the
Alps to Ocean Classic here: https://worldexpeditions.
go we gave it everything and sped along
the track, adrenaline pumping with the
finish line so close!
What an adventure! A special thanks to
our guide, Jan, I knew I would love this
trip but the whole thing totally exceeded
my expectations in every way. Would do
it all over again in a heartbeat. Thank you
Words and Images by Mountain Safety Council
What comes to mind first when you think of
‘avalanche awareness’? Is it taking a training
course? Perhaps it’s making sure you have
avalanche rescue equipment and know how
to use it. Or, is it checking the New Zealand
Avalanche Advisory (NZAA) to find your
region’s avalanche forecast? They’re all
Getting the training, having (and knowing how
to use) the gear and checking the forecast
are the three essential steps to ensuring you
are prepared to head into the backcountry,
whether you are ski-touring, mountaineering,
ice climbing, or tackling a winter tramping trip.
But is that it, if you tick those boxes are you
good to go? Short answer is, you’re on the
right path, but as you probably expected there
is more to it. There are the more critical parts
of the process that require deeper thought and
consideration, and they probably don’t come
to mind quite as readily as they should.
Critical thinking and risk management requires
asking ourselves the more challenging
questions, like ’what does this forecast mean
for my route?’, ’what time of day am I going
to be in that avalanche terrain and what
will that mean?’, and even something as
simple as, ‘does this trip make sense right
now?’ Your group’s skill level and whether
everyone’s goals are aligned also needs to be
These considerations are the soft skills you
learn about during an avalanche course,
but they can’t be left there, they need to be
transferred into real life situations. Critical
thinking and risk management are essential
tools (and skills) that belong on every trip, just
like your skins or your crampons, and they
should be taken out and used just as often.
At the New Zealand Mountain Safety
Council (MSC) we do a huge amount of work
compiling and analysing outdoor recreation
data in order to gain insights into what
incidents are occurring and why.
When we take a detailed look into avalanche
incidents, it’s not surprising to find that
those more challenging questions and
considerations appear to either be glossed
over or overlooked entirely.
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While there are plenty of reasons to believe that
that opportunities in the backcountry are scarce,
there is still no justification for downplaying
dangers that are present when you are out there.
Over the last 20 years a large proportion of the
avalanche fatalities in NZ involve the scarcity
heuristic trap. These were usually individuals not
who weren’t ignorant to the dangers in front of
them. Most would have been able to identify the
hazard. But, for various reasons, they decided to
accept an elevated level of risk because ‘scarcity’
influenced their decision making.
A clear, reoccurring example of this comes to
mind. I’ve heard numerous times ‘considerable’
avalanche danger referred to as “3 out of 5” or an
“orange”. This is missing the point. The danger
scale isn’t like ski-run grades or mountain-bike
track grades. In those cases, the black runs
are more difficult and dangerous, but they are
designed to be ridden. “Extreme” avalanche
danger is not, nor is “high” for that matter. These
are times to avoid avalanche terrain altogether.
“Considerable” avalanche danger effectively
means treating the snowpack like you would your
most challenging ski-runs and bike-tracks. It’s
going to require high-level experience and skills to
navigate through and pick the right line. And even
then, sometimes it’s just best to save it for another
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “I’ve got
this chance, I have to take it”. But as scarce as
those moments are (even in New Zealand!), there
will always be more. That might not be true if you
make the wrong choice and put the goal ahead of
“But it is one thing to read about dragons and
another to meet them.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea
What came as a surprise to us was that
the people who were skipping those
steps and making those errors should
have known better. These individuals
were typically experienced, skilled and
would have had the training to learn
about and then apply critical thinking
over the years. The avalanches they
were getting caught in weren’t one-ina-hundred-year
These were often text-book examples of
avalanches that we see and hear about
every day and can easily be overlooked
What’s clear is that heuristic traps
are a key component. If you’re not
familiar, heuristic traps are situations
we (humans) fall into where we may
make decisions (consciously or not) that
conflict with the evidence available or
the situation we find ourselves in. We
make assumptions, favour convenience,
or judge things based on a bias. These
‘traps’ are explained in different ways
depending on who you talk to, but
the acronym FACETS (Familiarity,
Acceptance, Consistency, Expert-Halo,
Tracks and Scarcity) is commonly
referred to and an easy guide. A quick
online search will lead you to a variety
of articles on this topic, many specific to
the avalanche space. It’s definitely worth
reading up on if you haven’t before.
Without diving into all of these (one could
devote a whole magazine issue to the
topic!), let’s focus on one heuristic trap
in particular, scarcity. Scarcity largely
revolves around the idea that we ignore
or discount elevated risks as they stand
in the way of experiencing something
rare or finite. Fresh, untracked powder
is a great example, or getting a bit of
summit fever on an alpine mission
because ‘I never get the chance to
get out anymore’. It’s fair to say that in
New Zealand, we all feel this pressure
from time to time. Our ski seasons are
short and rarely offer up the consistent,
powder-laden conditions often seen in
areas such as Japan or North America.
Likewise, climbing in NZ has a maritime
climate to contend with, greatly reducing
the frequency of suitable weather
windows for alpine climbing compared
to continental ranges like the European
Alps. Climate change isn’t helping any
of this either, with shorter winters and
retreating glaciers constantly adjusting
what the landscape looks like and how
we can access it.
For your regions avalanche forecast,
visit the New Zealand Avalanche
Advisory at avalanche.net.nz, owned
and managed by the New Zealand
Mountain Safety Council (MSC). Here
you can also find useful resources
such as our online avalanche course,
avalanche safety videos, and a list of
avalanche course providers around the
For more information about the
MSC please visit our website www.
mountainsafety.org.nz where you’ll
find outdoor safety tools, resources,
information and heaps more to help you
stay safe in the outdoors no matter what
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Words and Images by Aspiring Guides
After months of restricted outdoor access, we can all attest to
what a precious commodity time in the mountains is-- all the
more reason to ensure that it is time well spent. You might
have spent Lockdown stocking up on the latest gear, or have
the ability to carve it up like a pro, but planning a successful
backcountry ski trip is about taking a holistic approach. Here
are six tips to help you prepare for a season of safe and
memorable (in the right ways) backcountry touring.
• Use a variety of sources when planning
your route. Topographic maps are a good
source of information and can be useful for
approximations of slope steepness, but they
don’t necessarily contain enough information
to determine whether a route is feasible or not.
Vertical spacing between contour lines often
means that a lot of detail is lost, so use these
maps alongside other sources of information
that will fill in the gaps. These could be photos
or videos from the location, or check out online
visualisation tools such as Fatmap®.
Ski touring on Black Peak means epic views over Lake Wanaka.
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Above and below: Learning to interpret
snowpack is an important tool in your
avalanche awareness toolkit.
• In New Zealand especially, flexibility is key.
Have plans for a number of objectives ready
to go. Then when the dates draw near, you’re
able to choose the most appropriate trip for
the given weather and conditions. Locking
onto a single plan and stubbornly plunging
forward regardless of the circumstances is a
big red flag.
• Be aware of the avalanche danger scale
and the public danger forecast from the MSC
NZ Avalanche Advisory before accessing
the backcountry. This should be a given!
When interpreting the danger forecast,
make sure you consider the forecasted
avalanche character; this will dictate which
risk management strategies you should apply
when you do head into the field.
Terrain on Black Peak is for advanced skiers, with options for ski mountaineers to take it to the next level.
• Make a realistic assessment of the team’s skills, experience and
abilities. Ideally you’ll get to know the strengths and weaknesses of
each team member through a progression of trips or other activities.
Knowing what you each bring to the table increases confidence
and ultimately safety. It’s also useful for individuals to have a clear
understanding of their own goals and motivations, and how these fit in
with the others on the team. Both these and levels of risk acceptance
will be big factors in decision making during the planning and
execution of a trip, and good teamwork is never a bad thing.
• There is an inherent risk associated with any
backcountry travel. In the event of an emergency,
remember that weather and conditions in the mountains
might prevent attempts at immediate rescue. Have plans
in place and carry appropriate equipment to keep yourself
as comfortable as possible during an extended stay in the
elements, including the right emergency communication
tools. How much and what you carry will depend on the
level of commitment and remoteness of your journey.
• Once your trip is finished and you’re back at
home with a hot chocolate and epic photos, there
is yet another step. Take some time to reflect on
your trip, whether successful or not, and use this to
inform your ongoing improvement in trip planning,
movement, technical systems and all the other
factors that contribute to a long and enjoyable career
skiing in the backcountry. Then get onto planning
your next adventure!
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The day we left
Words by Forrest Shearer - Images by Jeff Johnson
As of yesterday, Heath Joske hadn’t been on a snowboard in 13 years
– too busy chasing surf around the world. Now, after a wrong turn, he’s
boot-packing with pro boarders Robin Van Gyn and Forrest Shearer in the
backcountry of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
There’s an unwritten rule in Wanaka that when it snows like it did last night,
you’re half-expected to cut from work or school (maybe at least for the
morning) to take advantage and get in a few runs. Well it dumped almost
two feet of fresh powder overnight and we’re looking at a bluebird day.
Robin and I are stoked to be chasing winter here in New Zealand, and it’s
even better that we get to show our buddy Heath a bit of our world on the
Heath's surf style is mirrored on the mountain when he finds some open terrain
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Heath, out of his element and yet leading the pack.
We’d all gotten in a few good runs before
Robin and I peeled off to the left to stretch
our legs away from the crowds, boot
packing up to check out the ridgeline. We’re
headed back up after a run and I hear
Someone is calling out behind me, but
it’s just me and Robin on this side of the
mountain. We had started as a four-some
but Heath Joske and Glen Casey, both
surfers, were sticking to the groomed runs.
As of yesterday, Heath hadn’t even been on
a snowboard in 13 years – too busy chasing
surf around the world.
“Casey!” I hear again. I turn around to see
Heath trudging towards me. “Shit mate, I
only followed you because I thought you
were Glen,” he says, frustrated, exhausted.
But I was glad to see him. If we’d left it up
to Heath to decide he’s ready to go off-piste
with us, it might not be this trip.
“Hell yeah, brother! You’ll be alright” I say
with a pat on the shoulder. I reckon this is
my favorite crossover to watch these days.
Surfers may be out of the water and out of
their element, but as soon as they get on
the mountain and strap into the board, the
froth is real.
“I’m still figuring out how to get off the
bloody lift” he says, sounding defeated as
we boot pack up a chute. Robin points out
to me that “even though he feels like he’s
out of his depth, he wasn’t anxious until he
realized you were the wrong person. He
was totally doing it.” She’s so right, it’s easy
to get intimidated when you’re in a new
arena, especially with people who are so at
home there. We’ve both been there before,
and will be again when we go surfing in a
But right now we’re still on a good 45-minute
thigh-burner and he’s not just keeping up,
Heath’s actually out ahead head of us.
Ocean or not, he’s still a top athlete.
Finally on the other side, the mountain
opens up into an epic view and a landscape
of options, and for a moment we’re just awestruck,
taking it in. Heath breaks the silence.
“I was shitting bricks back there,” he shares
from the safety of semi-flat ground.
“You’re good, Heath! Just do what you know
how to do,” encourages Robin.
Then there’s nothing left to do but drop in.
Right away we’re cruising some wide open,
uncrowded terrain. For the first time, Heath
has a length of proper powder to just glide
from turn to turn and let his surf style come
out. You can’t do that on the groomed runs,
especially on the best snow day of the year.
It’s a perfect day of riding with friends,
watching each other rip turns and seeing my
buddy quickly adapt his technique from the
ocean and apply it to the mountain, surfing
long, frozen waves, and conquering a few
burly hike missions with Robin and myself.
Ultimately whether on the mountain or in
the ocean, we’re all just after that feeling of
flying, and getting to share it only fuels the
fire. There’s something so gratifying about
taking someone with you who you know will
love it, and getting to show them your world.
Next we’ll be in on the coast in Heath’s
world. Hopefully he’s not holding a grudge
about that hike we took him on.
Heath, doing what he loves best
THROUGHOUT THIS ISSUE,
YOU WILL SEE THE GRAPHIC
A NIKAU PALM AND THE
WORDS HOMEGROWN AND
CENTRAL PLATEAU. THAT
IS A CONNECTION, AN
INDICATION THAT HERE IS
SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR
NEW ZEALAND. IN A WORLD;
FOR THE NEAR FUTURE
WHERE WE WILL NEED TO
SATISFY OUR ADVENTUROUS
APPETITE LOCALLY, WE HAVE
TAKEN A SEGMENT OF NEW
ZEALAND AND EXPOSED
JUST SOME OF WHAT IS
AVAILABLE IN THE REGION.
THE CENTRAL PLATEAU,
USUALLY RENOWNED FOR
RUAPEHU AND SKIING,
OFFERS SO MUCH MORE
THAN JUST SNOW. THERE
IS BIKING, HIKING, RAFTING,
FISHING AND KAYAKING, THE
LIST IS ENDLESS. SO WE
HAVE HIGHLIGHTED JUST
SOME OF WHAT IS AVAILABLE
TO WHET YOUR APPETITE.
3.7 MILLION PEOPLE LIVE IN
THE NORTH ISLAND THAT IS
3.7 MILLION PEOPLE WHO
DO NOT HAVE TO FLY TO GET
TO THE CENTRAL PLATEAU;
YOU CAN DRIVE THERE.
IT IS EQUALLY A SUMMER
DESTINATION AS A WINTER
ONE. START PLANNING
NOW – FULFIL YOUR
WITH NEW ZEALAND'S MOST
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The Central Plateau
The Central Plateau covers a large
area in the central North Island of New
Zealand. The heart of the area is the
mountains and volcanic area of the
Tongariro National Park and then it
fans out north past Taupo, to the west
past Taumaranui, and to the south
past Taihape. Each of the towns offer
The largest urban area in the Central
Plateau and the 20th in the country, Taupo
is located at the outlet of Lake Taupo, New
Zealand’s largest lake. Taupo is the heart
of volcanic and thermal activity providing
natural hot springs throughout the region.
With the lake and Waikato River on its
doorstep it’s obvious that Taupo is home
to a range of water activities. However,
there is a lot more to Taupo than just the
water. Mountain bike trails and river walks
allow you to get into the outdoors, but if
it's an adventure that you are after, you’ll
find plenty of things to do in Taupo, from
Bungy Jumping, skydiving, jet boating and
On the southern edge of Lake Taupo
you’ll find the town of Turangi. Developed
on the banks of the Tongariro River, it
was originally built to house workers
from the Tongariro hydro-electric power
development project and their families but
is now a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. With
the Kaimanawa Ranges and the Tongariro
River on its doorstep, it offers a range
of outdoor activities, from hiking, biking,
fishing, hunting, skiing, rafting, kayaking
Originally a Maori settlement at the
confluence of the Ongarue River with the
Whanganui, this is where important canoe
routes linked the interior of the island with
the lower Whanganui River settlements.
Its proximity to the Whanganui River
means there are plenty of water activities
on hand and biking trails, such as the
Timber Trail, are close by.
20km south of Taumaranui, you’ll find the
tiny town of Owhango. The Whakapapa
River lies 2km east of the town and
the vast expanse of Tongariro Forest
Conservation Area and bisecting the forest
is one of New Zealand's best mountain
bike rides, the 42 Traverse. The forest also
has excellent tramping, camping and deer
Skydiving over Lake Taupo and the Central Plateau
Nestled between the North Island main
trunk railway line and State Highway 4,
lies what for many travelling past would
appear as an unassuming village. From
the highway, travellers will see a petrol
station, pub, hotel and a few houses much
like many other small Kiwi towns they pass
At an altitude of 820 metres, National Park
Village can truly claim the title of New
Zealand’s top town, being the highest
urban township in the country. But that’s
not what makes the village a destination of
choice for thousands of visitors each year.
As its name suggests, National Park
Village is located on the boundary of
Tongariro National Park in the Central
North Island. This makes the village an
ideal base for those wishing to explore
the natural and cultural wonders of New
Zealand's oldest national park and Dual
World Heritage Area, all year round.
Just 6km north of National Park, is home
to the famous Raurimu Railway Spiral and
a selection of accommodation options set
among and on top of hills offering some of
the best views over the park, there’s also
a pub !
Further south along State Highway 4, lies
Erua where you’ll find a mountain lodge,
backpackers, motel units and access to
a mountain bike park – all at the base of
Hauhungatahi, one of the lesser known,
yet highest volcanoes in New Zealand, at
16km from National Park - meanwhile lies
within the Tongariro National Park and
hosts the historic Chateau Tongariro Hotel,
the Skotel resort hotel, a holiday park, café
Combined these villages offer the best
access to the Whakapapa ski area and
wider Tongariro National Park, along with
an exceptional choice of accommodation
and dining options catering for all budgets
Located at the southern end of Mt
Ruapehu, Ohakune is the gateway to the
Turoa Ski fields. But it is also a lot more
than just a ski town, with trout fishing,
mountain biking, tramping and bushwalking
all within easy reach of the town.
As well as boasting the famous Ohakune
Carrot (the worlds largest model carrot),
the world's first commercial bungy jumping
site was established just outside Ohakune
at the old railway viaduct. This was
operated during the 1980s until the bridge
became too unsafe to continue operations.
This bridge is now restored and a highlight
of the 'Old Coach Road' walk/bikeway.
South of Ohakune on State Highway 1,
you’ll come across the small settlement of
Taihape. Built near the confluence of the
Hautapu and Rangitikei Rivers, this town
offers a gateway to some great outdoor
adventures. Home of the gumboot, Taihape
offers an access to a taste of the “real” NZ.
Adventure starts here
Dual Heritage Tongariro
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Kayaking the Kuratau River
Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
Water, water everwhere: and most of it you can drink
When we normally write about water
adventure a lot of it is sea based
and salty. The Central Plateau boast
numerous rivers and lakes, the most wellknown
being Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo a
surface area of 616 square kilometres,
is the largest lake by surface area in
New Zealand, and the second largest
in Oceania (after Lake Murray in Papua
With that amount of aquatic room to
move there is a lot to do. One activity that
gets a lot of coverage is sea kayaking
to visit the water based Maori carvings.
The first question you ask is how did
it get there? The answer is when
traditional marae-taught carver Matahi
Brightwell paddled past a rock alcove
on Lake Taupo in 1976, he had a vision
of a tattooed face. His grandmother, Te
Huatahi Susie Gilbert of Ngati Rauhoto,
Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Maiotaki and
Ngati Whakaue, had asked the young
carver to create a likeness of her ancestor
Ngatoroirangi on a totara tree to create
a permanent connection for her family to
the land. When Matahi arrived in Taupo
there was no totara tree to carve so he
journeyed onto the lake for inspiration.
The rock alcove at Mine Bay became the
canvas for one of the most extraordinary
contemporary artworks New Zealand has
ever seen. Sculpted over the course of
four years and completed in 1980,
There are a range of guided sea kayaking
trip around Taupo some offer longer
trips and kayak hire so you can go solo.
Paddleboarding has also become popular
in recently years and these are also
available for tours or hire.
If you would prefer not to go under your
own steam, there are several charter
yacht companies offering day tours and
overnight options both skippered and
Moving away from the lake the Central
Plateau offers some of the most
significant rivers in New Zealand, some
to cruise and some to play in. Both the
Whanaganui and Waikato have been
used for centuries as a way of getting
around the country now they are used for
paddle canoe cruises. Companies offer a
gambit of options in terms of length and
The Whanganui River has been dedicated
as one of New Zealand’s ‘great walks’ –
or should be a great float?
The Waikato river also offer a range of
guided tours the most common around
the Taupo area both one and half day
tours some of which visit some of the
local attraction like the Bungee, Huka falls
Where there are flowing rivers and
some elevation you will find white water
kayaking – the Central Plateau is a
The most well-known waterfall would be
Huka Falls which produces breath-taking
power and only extreme adventure gurus
have run it (and its illegal). Below these
falls Aratiatia Rapids which rise with
awesome fury when the control gates
are opened, and this creates a great
spectacle. Its important be aware of when
these food gates are open as people have
been caught unaware. Ngawaapurua
Rapids, downstream from the Aratiatia
Dam, provide real Whitewater sport. A
huge breaking wave dominates the rapids
and a strong back-eddy facilitates reruns.
You can play here for hours -
locally call Full James. The is also
a doc camp site here so it has a
strong community feel.
Another river that rises out of the
sparkling snowfields, rock-strewn
slopes and windswept tussock
plains is one of New Zealand’s
most famous recreational river
systems. The Tongariro; is the
main river flowing into Lake Taupo.
It is both a renowned rainbow trout
fishery and a mecca for rafting and
kayaking enthusiasts. The most
popular run is a 3-hour, Grade 3,
full-on rafting experience through
60 rapids on the Lower Tongariro.
The put in is at the Poutu water
intake on the Waikato Falls Road
and the takeout is on the true left
bank of the Red Hut Pool.
Often forgotten the Whakapapa
River this is the major tributary of
the Whanganui and offers good
Grade 3 – 4 rapids after heavy
rainfall. The put in is the Rangipo
Hydro Scheme intake structure off
S.H.47. Experience is needed to
negotiate the tight chutes between
boulders and some rapids may
need to be portaged. The takeout
is below Owhango on S.H.4 before
the river joins the Whanganui.
Another little gem is the Mangakino
Stream, which flows into Lake
Maraetai south east of Mangakino
township. Put in at the Sandels
Road bridge after heavy rain and
ride some bouncy Grade 3 rapids
down to the lake.
This is just a small collection of
what is available in the region
Basically if there is any sort of
rafting operation in the area there
will be good kayaking – stick to
Viewing the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo
Image compliments of Sail Barbary
Canoeing the Whanganui River
Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
Lastly a phenomenon that has grown
in popularity because of tourism is jet
boating the most famous being the
Huka jet. Which is a white knuckle
tour for a close up look at the bottom
of the Huka Falls, flying over shallow
water, spins and turn like a natural
roller coaster ride. Jet boat tour
operators are now available on most
of the major rivers.
Jetboating the Whanganui River
Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
Water is the basis of so many
activities in the Central plateau
region. The natural central free flow
out to the edges of the region create a
playground that offers an experience,
an activity, a sport, a recreation –
something for everyone.
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UNtil the end of
Grade 2 family fun trip
Image compliments of Rafting New Zealand
There are a few commercially
raftable rivers in the Central
Plateau; the Tongariro and
the Rangitikei. Both rivers
offer options for day trips and
overnight experiences so you'll
find something to suit your
needs. Some of the best fun
you'll ever have!
Rafting on the Tongariro River with Rafting New Zealand
Image compliments of Rafting New Zealand
The headwaters of the Tongariro originate in the Central Plateau and wind their way down through
the towns of Turangi until it arrives at Lake Taupo. This is New Zealand’s most fished river, but it
also proves an excellent choice for rafting.
There are three main white water sections which provide excellent rafting options, with two
gorges which are usually considered unpaddleable, (Tree Trunk Gorge and Waikato Gorge). The
river levels are controlled by the dam and two of the three sections are only able to be rafted on
the release days of the dam. The lower section of the Tongariro River offers a family friendly
experience to give a taste for first time rafters or younger children.
Section Put in Take Out Difficulty Length Time
Access 14 Rangipo Dam Tree Trunk Gorge Grade 4 5.7km 1-3 hrs
Access 13 Tree Trunk Gorge Waikato Gorge Grade 3+ 5.3km 2-3 hours
Access 10 Poutu Intake Blue Pool Grade 3 13km 2-4 hours
Scenic beauty on the Tongariro River
Image compliments of Rafting New Zealand
Access 14 has a put in just below the Rangipo Dam and is the highest
and most narrow section of the raftable section of the Tongariro. It is
graded a 4, although there are only a few grade 4 rapids, however, the
continuity of the grade 3+ sections and the inability to walk out means
it keeps its grade 4 status. Also care needs to be taken to ensure that
the takeout is not missed, as just below this is Tree Trunk Gorge, which
could be fatal if entered on a release day.
Access 13 has a more difficult access and requires a walk in and
out and rafts have to be dropped down a 15m cliff into the river. It is
rated a 3+ and also has a critical takeout point just above Waikato
Gorge, another section of the river that could prove fatal. The riverbed
through this section is small, containing the rapids and making them
steeper. Due to the accessibility, this section of the river is rarely rafted
Access 10 is the most popular section of the river and most actively
rafted, due to the ease of access and the year round flow levels allow
rafting daily on this part of the Tongariro. There are over 60 Grade 3
rapids making for an excellent half day on the river. Take out is at Blue
Pool or you can choose to continue down to Turangi township, this
part of the river offers a fantastic grade 2 rafting experience, where as
young as three years of age can take part in the thrill of rafting.
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Rafting the Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River
The upper Rangitaiki River - Images compliments of River Rats
One of New Zealand’s longest rivers, the Rangitikei’s
headwaters are to the south east of Lake Taupo and
the river flows through the central plateau past Taihape
and Mangakiwa, before heading out to the coast south
of Whanganui. The grade of the river varies over the
185km stretch ranging from grade 1 through to grade 5,
all sections are raftable, it just depends on what you are
Due to the length and nature of the river, a multiday trip
is a great way to experience the area however there are
plenty of options to do day trips of varying degrees of
difficulty. The scenery is spectacular and secluded and
offers real variety.
The highlight for white water enthusiasts is the grade 5
section that ends at River Valley Lodge just out of Taihape.
This 11km section of river starts with grade 2-3 rapids and
builds to a section of the river with 10 major rapids, from
Grade 3+ - Grade 5 line up one after the other.
Situated 45 minutes from Rotorua or around 1 hour from Taupo,
there are two sections to the Rangitaiki River; the upper section is a
busy class 3 – 4 section and lower down there is a grade 2 section
suitable for children as young as 5.
The upper section requires good teamwork but without the drops
experienced on the grade 5 offerings it doesn’t feel as scary. It runs
through a beautiful river valley with a mix of native and plantation
The lower section runs through a stunning rock gorge with lots of
freshwater springs trickling into the river that you can stop and drink
from, there is even a spot to get out for a shower under a stunning
spring fed waterfall making for some great shots to ensure you have
a strong Instagram game. There are plenty of opportunities
to float down smaller rapids or swim in the calm pools. It has a few
bigger rapids but they are just nice rolling wave trains with not many
obstacles to avoid making it a great option for families or those
looking to experience the scenery without too much excitement.
The lower Rangitaiki River - Images compliments of River Rats
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Rafting New Zealand are based in Turangi and have been
operating for over 25 years and is New Zealand’s most awarded
rafting Company. A part-Iwi owned business along with Luke and
Pianika Boddington, Rafting New Zealand was established in
1991.RNZ love to raft and love to share their passion for rafting
rivers with all their clients, this enthusiasm for their excellent
product is infectious and helps to create the unique experience
that is white water rafting with Rafting New Zealand.
Rafting New Zealand first began as Rock ‘n’ River Adventures in
1991. It’s founders Rod Brown (Pianika’s dad), and Tui Brabyn,
had a vision to operate, not necessarily the biggest, but definitely
the best white water rafting business in Aotearoa (New Zealand).
This vision is realised and continued today.
Rafting New Zealand offers a range of rafting adventures from
their Grade 2 family fun trips, suitable for the whole family,
through to their Grade 3 White Water adventures and raft/
fishing adventures. They also offer multi-day trips camping on
the banks of the river. For more information check them out at
On the border between the central plateau
and the Bay of Plenty, lies the Kaituna River.
Beginning at the outflow of Lake Rotorua
and Lake Rotama, the river flows north until
it reaches the coast near Te Puke. The top
section of the river, near Okere Falls is where
the white water begins and has been rafted and
kayaked since the early 1990's.
One of the main draw cards to rafting the
Kaituna is that you get to run the highest
commercially rafted waterfall in the world, the
Tutea Falls. The 7 meter drop is super exciting
and suitable for anyone over the age of 13.
The Kaituna River has been run regularly
by kayak enthusiasts and rafters since 1991
and has become a winter destination for
paddlers from the northern hemisphere. There
is a slalom course that has been used by
international teams for off-season training at
the entrance to the upper gorge which itself
contains a number of play features including
the famous “bottom hole”.
Tutea Falls on the Kaituna River - Images compliments of River Rats
River Valley Lodge and adventure company, is conveniently
placed at the end of the Grade 5 white water rafting section of
the Rangitikei River. It is also the start point for several more
leisurely river trips. This Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River
has been placed amongst the top 8 rafting trips in the world by
the international brand, Red Bull. River Valley Lodge has been
operating for over 30 years and has grown to meet the demands
of the changing market.
What you will find at River Valley Lodge is a destination where
you can have fun on the river, choosing from a mix of day trips
and multi-day trips. Multi-day trips involve camping on the river
bank at night and exploring new stretches of the river by day.
They are a fun option for families or groups of friends.
There is no better way to explore the countryside, this beautiful
hill country, than by horse. Treks from a half-day to eight days will
be operating from October.
A River Valley Lodge stay, need not be just about rafting or
riding horses. The Lodge is also a great place to relax. There
are several short walks, a great swimming hole in the river, two
saunas and a spa, and plenty of places to just relax with a book.
River Valley Lodge is presently open for meals and
accommodation. Adventure activities, both on the river, or by
horse, will resume no later than the 1st October 2020, and
possibly earlier. Check out their website rivervalley.co.nz, to
start planning a stay at River Valley.
River Rats Raft & Kayak have been operating for 38 years and
have a wide range of trips so there is something for everyone.
The most popular trip is the Kaituna situated 20 minutes from
Rotorua, it features the world’s highest commercially rafted
waterfall, the awesome 7m Tutea falls. Although the trip provides
full on action it is suitable for adventurous beginners as all the
major drops run into calm water making it very forgiving for a
grade 5 trip. As well as the drops it has stunning scenery and
some fun surf holes.
River Rats also offers Grade 5 rafting on the Wairoa River and
grade 3-4 or grade 2 options on Rangitaiki Rivers and kayaking
on Rotorua's lakes. On Lake Rotoiti there are hot pools right on
the lake edge and fed from a natural hot spring. The paddle is
around an hour each way with plenty of time to relax and enjoy
the hot pools. In summer there is an evening option with a BBQ
dinner at the hot pools followed by a sunset kayak to a hidden
glow worm cave.
grade 2 &
hanger 14s rotorua airport
837 te ngae road
for a 20%
0800 333 900
River Rats operates year-round and provides excellent gear to
keep you cosy regardless of the temperature.While the borders
are closed to tourists they are also offering a great discount for
the local market. Mention this article or use the code ADV20 on
their website to get a 20% discount on any of the trips. For more
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Hooked on Fishing:
Worldwide, New Zealand is renowned
for its trout fishing and there is no better
location than the Central Plateau. We
can’t cover every aspect in these few
pages, but it will give you a taste of what
is on offer.
Almost every river, stream and lake in the
region has some ‘trout’ potential. Some
have world recognition like Lake Taupo
and the mighty Tongariro River (ranked
one of the best trout fishing rivers in the
world) but there are numerous rivers
and lakes many with easy access. Bank
walking, wading and boating are options
and provide superb fishing throughout
the region. Licenses are inexpensive
even guided trips are amazing value for
Nearly all of the central North Island
rivers and streams hold good numbers
of wild rainbow and brown trout, with
numerous on-and-off road access points
providing you with a wide choice from
small streams, spring creeks and lakes
to large rivers such as the renowned
Whakapapa and Tongariro. Most of these
major rivers also have smaller tributaries
of which many carry good fish.
If you employ a guide, (there are plenty
online or ask a local store) many have
access through private farmlands,
providing clients with an off-the-beatentrack
experience in almost untouched
back country rivers and streams. Or
you can venture into the remote ‘back
country’ yourself, where you will not see
a footprint all day. These back-country
fish have not been fished or even seen
a fishing rod, many are resident in these
rivers and grow to an impressive size.
Access can be a little more complicated
and it pays to go with a guide the first
time to anywhere too ‘remote’.
Fishing on Lake Taupo - Image compliments of Great Lake Taupo
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The Tongariro River:
Sunrise on the Tongariro River - Image compliments of Great Lake Taupo
The Tongariro River near Turangi has won
a well-deserved reputation as one of the
world's foremost fishing experiences. In
winter, an estimated 10,000 rainbows and
over 1000 browns migrate up it to reach
the spawning beds.
The river is wide and fast-flowing in places,
with long gravel runs, rocky stretches
and deep lies but there is easy access,
even directly off the motorway. The fishing
pools are not only historic but legendary
among angler worldwide: Major Jones,
The Admiral's Pool, The Judge's Pool, The
Hydro, Red Hut, Kamahi, The Duchess...
During rainbow trout migrations
out of lake Taupo through
April to September the lower
Hinemaiaia offers great fly
fishing, especially. The river
generally runs very clear and is
ideal for nymphing as well as
dry and wet fly. Its banks are
overgrown, but trails give good
access. The fish often lie deep
and close to the bank, making
them a challenge to cast too.
The middle reaches of
the 'TT' as it is called offer
easy access off the main
highway and casting and
good fish between March
and September for dry, lure
and nymph fishing. In places
the bank is very high, and it
is easy to see trout laying in
the deeper pools.
Guided Fly Fishing:
The Big Lake:
Te Whaiau Canal:
Regardless your ability to fly-fish,
highly skilled or novice, fishing lake
or river you will have something to
meet your budget and time frame.
Whether it’s a half day learning on
the bank of the Tongariro river for
first timers or a day trolling around
Lake Taupo with the family, there is
something for everyone.
Local guides know where to go,
what to use and how to use it. From
half day introduction package to
full week away in the hills, drive in
– walking or even helicopter. Most
guides will provide all the gear and
organise a licence. Be prepared
most guides will not let you keep the
fish you catch but you will get some
great memories and photos.
New Zealand's largest lake (surface area of 616sq
km) is situated in the middle of the North Island on a
volcanic plateau 359 metres above sea level. Due to
its very cold clean water and abundant food sources it
produces huge numbers of well-conditioned fish. It is
very deep in places (up to 185 metres) but has many
areas that provide excellent shoreline fishing. Some
of the best areas for shoreline angling are around the
many stream mouths where fish congregate during the
warmer months and to which they migrate during the
winter spawning runs.
The most popular method for fishing the lake is trolling,
including leadline trolling, wire lining, or the use of
downriggers to troll at a deeper level. Jigging the dropoffs
and fly-fishing around the lake shore and at river
mouths are also popular methods (though note that
boat fishing is not permitted around many of the points
where rivers and streams enter the lake).
The Te Whaiau Canal is short slow
moving and deep. It generally
has steep banks with quite dense
vegetation coming down to the
water’s edge. There are few areas
however where the land opens up
allowing for good casting. Much of
the length of this water is difficult
to both find a good place to stand
and cast from. The fish numbers,
particularly early and late in the
season can be very high and the
fish tend to free risers. During the
warmer months they can often be
seen chasing emerging insects.
That said they are often very difficult
to fool and will rise close to anglers
yet reject even the most beautifully
The upper river rises in the Tongariro National Park and
connects with Lake Otamangakau and the Whakapapa river.
It runs through beautiful native forest, spectacular gorges and
farmland. This river has a reputation for rising quickly so it
pays to keep an eye on the weather forecast. The Wanganui
river generally clear, easy to fish and contains a good number
of trout and is renowned to have some large specimens.
The Whakapapa is a large, clear river with some wild rapids,
deep pools and long boulder runs that flows down from
Mt Ruapehu it runs through rugged country which is not
advisable for the inexperienced. Lower down it features many
kilometres of spectacular and productive wilderness fishing.
But the upper reaches you need to know what you are doing
and again be watchful of the weather.
Trout fishing anywhere in the world give you great access to
some of the most unique and beautiful aspect of the country.
But trout fishing in the Central Plateau is like nowhere else it is
varied, spectacular, full of history and legend. It offer something
for everyone, from kids fishing at the Turangi Trout Farm to heli
trip to the back of beyond. Your only limitation is time.
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The Central Plateau offers a range of hiking options; from the
shores of Lake Taupo through to the Kaimanawa Forest and
Pureora Forest Park, but nothing quite beats the draw of the
Tongariro National Park.
Tongariro National Park is a land of volcanic wonders –
steaming craters, alpine rock gardens, surreal lakes and
tumbling waterfalls. Its hiking trails offer spectacular winter trips
complete with solitude and a backdrop of snowy peaks.
The 600-hectare national park is centred on three volcanoes,
Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. In their foothills,
Okahune, National Park and Whakapapa Village make great
bases for exploration, as do other little Ruapehu region towns
within easy reach.
Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park, established
in 1887. It holds dual UNESCO World Heritage status for its
cultural significance as well as its outstanding natural features.
The park’s striking natural beauty is the result of two million
years of volcanic activity. Ruapehu and Tongariro are two of the
most active composite volcanoes in the world.
Winter crossing of the Tongariro National Park
Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
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Know before you go:
Even experienced trampers have
come unstuck in this extreme
environment. The weather can be
especially unpredictable in winter,
with big temperature drops and heavy
downpours that can make streams and
rivers dangerous or impassable. There
are also volcanic hazards, so it’s vital to
obey all warnings and signs.
Check in with the Visitor Centre at
Whakapapa for advice, forecasts
and hut bookings. The Walks in
and around Tongariro National Park
brochure has further detail on these
tramps and others in the national park.
A topographical map is essential for
Above and right: Hiking in the Tongariro National Park - Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
Park’s spectacular day
walks venture into all
corners and will keep
you occupied for a
Tongariro Alpine Crossing:
Snowy surrounds and low crowds make winter a fabulous time to hike
the Crossing, but you’ll need to go with a guide unless you’re an expert
alpine tramper. This challenging track starts at 1120m and winds up
the Mangatepopo Valley to the saddle between Mts Tongariro and
Ngauruhoe. You’re into crater territory as you reach the crossing’s
highpoint at 1886m.
The descent is via a rock scree track to the vivid Emerald Lakes/
Ngā Rotopounamu (greenstone-hued lakes) and Blue Lake/Te Waiwhakaata-o-te-Rangihiroa
(Rangihiroa’s mirror). The track then sidles
around the northern slope of Tongariro to descend via a zigzag track
past Ketetahi Shelter and down to the road end.
Attempting the Tongariro
Alpine Crossing in winter is a
very different experience than
during other times of the year.
From May to October, snow
and ice mean alpine skills
and experience are essential.
Therefore, the best and safest
way to enjoy the Crossing in
its full alpine glory is to go with
guide. Two Tongariro Alpine
Crossing guiding companies,
with decades of experience
and approved by the
Department of Conservation,
operate from National Park
Village - Adrift Tongariro and
Adventure Outdoors Tongariro,
and can guide you safely
across this incredible, yet risky,
Multi Day Walks:
Round the Mountain Track:
Tama Lakes Tramping Track:
There are two classic multi-day tramps in
Tongariro: the Northern Circuit Great Walk
and the Round the Mountain Track.
The Tongariro Northern Circuit:
One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, this tramp can
be completed in the winter months by experienced
trampers with all the right gear, preparation and
It’s usually started in Whakapapa Village and walked
clockwise, winding first to Mangetepopo Hut to join the
Alpine Crossing with its craters and surreal lakes. The
circuit then continues down the spectacular Oturere
Valley and around Mt Ngauruhoe’s foothills towards
historic Waihohonu Hut.
The final day sees you hike over Tama saddle between
Ngauruhoe & Ruapehu – with a possible detour to
the must-see Tama Lakes – before heading past the
tumbling Taranaki Falls to return to Whakapapa Village.
A more remote and advanced adventure than the
Northern Circuit, this unforgettable tramp traverses
a variety of landscapes from mountain beech forest,
tussock country and alpine herbfields, to desert lands
and glacial river valleys.
As much of the track passes through alpine terrain,
it is recommended that winter trips are completed
with a guide. The rest of the year it can be walked by
experienced, well-prepared trampers when the weather
Starting at Whakapapa, it heads clockwise around Mt
Ruapehu taking in many of the park’s most famous
sights: Taranaki Falls, Tama Lakes, Waitonga Falls,
Lake Surprise and Silica Rapids. It also takes in the
Rangipo desert, with its barren and peculiar beauty. Six
huts along the way each have their own character, too.
This memorable walk starts at Whakapapa Village
along the Taranaki Falls Track with all its interesting
landforms and gushing streams. At the top of Taranaki
Falls, the track branches off through rolling tussock
country and alpine herbfields towards Tama Lakes.
Beyond the lower lake viewpoint (1240m), the track
climbs steeply to a 1440m-viewpoint of the upper lake.
Tama Lakes occupy several old explosion craters on
Tama Saddle between Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. In
winter, it’s essential to check in with Whakapapa Visitor
Centre on the current trail conditions.
Old Blyth Tramping Track:
Starting on the Ohakune Mountain Road, this track partly
follows the historic route up Mt Ruapehu through significant
vegetation including mixed beech forest. When Blyth Track
was constructed in the early 1900s, much of the route was
through alpine bog; you can see the remains of ‘corduroy’
laid across the muddy surface. Return the same way or
walk out to the Mountain Road via the Waitonga Falls/
Round the Mountain Tramping Track, and then walk back
down the road – the views are epic.
Few walks are as aptly named this, but a hidden lake
isn’t the only surprise on this amazing day out. Starting
high on Mt Ruapehu, this advanced trail heads through
epic boulder fields, bluffs and scree slopes with alpine
gardens boasting a colourful array of flowers, lichens and
moss. A climb into Mangaturuturu Valley follows a waterfall
flowing over an ancient lava cascade. You’ll also pass a
70-year-old tramping hut, nestled amongst stunted forest.
Ever-changing views stretch from Ruapehu’s peak to the
edges of the volcanic plateau. The lake itself is tranquil and
untouched. The trail starts 20 minutes’ drive up Ohakune
Historic Waihohonu Hut:
It’s well worth the half-day return hike to see this historic
hut, especially as you’ll get up close to the strange terrain
of the Rangipo desert, deep beech forest, and tussockland.
Built in 1903/04 as a stopover for stagecoaches, it’s
constructed of a double layer of corrugated iron with a layer
of pumice between. No longer used for accommodation, the
hut is preserved as an historical building and is classified by
the Heritage New Zealand. This track starts off the Desert
Rd (SH1), signposted 35km south of Turangi.
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A series of short nature trails in Tongariro
National Park take in the various habitats home
to fascinating and diverse native flora and
fauna, and are a great way to get to know the
park’s places and stories.
A popular short walk form Whakapapa Village, this track’s upper and lower sections
form a loop and cross a variety of landforms along the way. It also offers spectacular
long-range views, and takes in various alpine vegetation types including pretty alpine
shrublands and beech forest. On a clear day Ngauruhoe’s symmetrical cone and
the older, eroded mountains of Tongariro and Pukekaikiore can be seen. There are
plenty of lovely sights along Wairere Stream, too, including Taranaki Falls tumbling
20 metres over a 15,000-year-old lava flow.
Plenty of beautiful scenery to be found in the Tongariro National Park - Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
2 hr 30 min
This is a slightly longer outing, also starting near
the visitor centre in Whakapapa. It begins along
Whakapapanui Stream, meandering through beech
forest to meet the turn off to Silica Rapids. The track
soon crosses a bubbling stream with a gold coloured
bed caused by iron oxide clays from upstream swamps.
There’s some lovely alpine vegetation along this walk
and some delightful birdlife, too.
Skyline via the Sky Waka:
A ride on Mt Ruapehu’s new state-of-the-art Sky Waka
gondola is a must for any visitor to the national park.
It whizzes you up in six unforgettable minutes to New
Zealand’s highest café, on Knoll Ridge (2020m).
Depending on snow conditions and your level of alpine
experience, it may be possible to head further up the
mountain, but check with the Whakapapa Visitor Centre
or local guide companies first.
Whakapapanui Walking Track:
Another good leg-stretch from Whakapapa Village, this
trail begins just beyond the visitor centre, following the
gorgeous Whakapapanui Stream through beech forest
to reach the road 3km below Whakapapa Village. Take
in the epic mountain views as you walk back up to the
village via the highway, or return back along the forest
trail keeping an eye out for the endangered whio/blue
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Waitonga Falls Track:
You can walk to the national park’s highest waterfall
on a well-formed track through mountain beech and
kaikawaka (mountain cedar) forest. The track also
passes Rotokawa, an alpine bog where the reflection
of Mt Ruapehu can be seen on still days. The Falls
themselves are 39m high and quite the sight! This track
begins high on Ohakune Mountain Road, around 11km
Timber Trail, Pureora Forest
DISCOVER MORE AT VISITRUAPEHU.COM
There are so many
bike trails in the Central
Plateau, too many to list
here. So we've chosen
a couple that you can
access from each of the
major towns in the area.
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Maramataha Suspension Bridge on the Timber Trail - Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
Riders on the 42nd Traverse - Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
From National Park:
1. Craters of the Moon (50km worth of
This mountain bike park, situated just
north of Lake Taupo, offers tracks for
every level of rider, from family friendly
trails to those for the more experienced
riders. Some offer excellent views of the
lake and river. Spend an hour or a full
day exploring the trails.
2. The Timber Trail (87km)
Grade 2-3 (easy to intermediate)
This backcountry adventure starts in the
Pureora Forest Village, between Te Kuiti
and Mangakino. The first day is graded
intermediate due to the initial climb. There
is accommodation at the end of the day
that needs to be booked in advance
or you can chose to camp. Day two is
considered easy to intermediate. Over
the two days you’ll experience incredible
scenery, suspension bridges and ancient
3. Great Lake Trail 71km)
Considered by some, one of the best Grade
3 cycle trails in the country. This trail follows
the northeastern shoreline of Lake Taupo.
This is an all-weather, all-seasons travese
through native forest with incredible views
across the lake towards the volcanoes of
the Tongariro National Park.
The trail has three distinct sections and can
be ridden in one day if your fitness allows.
Waihaha to Kotukutuku Stream (31km)
Begins 54km from Taupo, highlights include
a fun and flowing trail and biking over the
Kotukutuku Waterfall. From here a water
taxi will take you to the start of the next
Whangamata Road to Kawakawa Bay and
This section begins with a graded climb to
Rocky lookout, but it's worth the effort for
the fantastic views.
Kinlock to Whakaipo Bay (14km)
The final section climbs gently over the
Headland to Whakaipo Bay. You can do an
additional 10km loop of the headland if you
wish or continue to the finish at Whakaipo
Bay. If you still have energy to burn then
continue to ride another 13km to Taupo via
4. Tongariro River Trail (15km loop)
Starting in Turangi, follow the
Tongariro River, through farmland,
native bush and across swing
bridges. Multiple entry points and an
easy ride with family. The Tongariro
National Trout Hatchery makes for a
great stop on the way.
5. Tree Trunk Gorge (12km one way)
Situated on the eastern side of the
mountain ranges this track takes you
through river crossings and magnificent
beech forest in the Kaimanawa Forest
6.Te Iringa (38km)
A track for expert riders only set in
the backcountry of the Kaimanawa
Forest Park. Navigating steep hills,
fallen trees, and wetlands this track will
challenge the most avid rider.
7. Fishers Track (17km)
2-3 hours one way
From the National Park Railway
Station, Fishers Track is a mostly
downhill trail with great views of the
National Park mountains as well as
Mt Taranaki (on a clear day).
8. Marton Sash and Door
2 hour loop
Leaving from National Park Village,
the trail follows a recovered
bush tramway route and some
backcountry dirt roads past a mix of
native forest and pine plantations.
9.The Pines Tracks (10km worth of
This mountain bike park, not far from
National Park Village, offers trails for
the intermediate to advanced riders.
10. 42nd Traverse (46km)
Bike along the 42nd Traverse
following an old logging road through
the remote and rugged landscape
of the Tongariro National Park.
Start point 19km from National Park
There are a number of challegning
sections on one of NZ most iconic
mountain bike rides known for its long
and rutted downhills.
The track surfaces are often rutted
with gravel and mud, and there are
plenty of stream crossings and uphill
sections to challenge you.
Although the trail can be ridden either
direction it is recommended that you
start at Kapoors road end and finish
in Owhanga. If you look at the crosssection
map you can see why.
Cross section of the 42nd Traverse
Image compliments of DOC
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Old Coach Road Trail - Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
Bikers on the Mountain to Sea Trail - Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
11. Lakes Reserve (1.6km loop)
Grade 1 (great for families)
An easy loop ride that takes you
around Lakes Reserve a short ride from
12. Old Coach Road (15km one way)
2-4 hours one way
Follow the old coach road that joins the
two railheads of the never completed
Northern Trunk Line in the 1900’s. The
trail goes through farmland, native
forest and across historic viaducts and
tunnels. See the information centre in
Ohakune for shuttle services to the start
and you'll be able to bike back to the
centre of Ohakune. The trail is varied
and scenic with plenty of historical
landmarks to break up the journey.
You'll can finish off at the famed
Powderkeg, a great place to reward
yourself with a drink for your efforts.
13. Rangataua Loop Track (18.7km)
Beautiful views of Ohakune and some
beautiful New Zealand farms including
great views of Mt Ruapehu along most
of Ratamaire Road! The ride uses
sealed roads and unsealed farm roads.
14. Ruatiti Road and Middle Road
3-5 hours one way
This gravel road is the link between
the Ohakune Old Coach Road at
Horopito and the Mangapurua Track
which leads to the Whanganui
National Park. Start at Horopito, just
out from Ohakune, and follow the road
alongside the Manganu-o-te-ao River
to a great free camping and picnic
spot in the Ruatiti Domain. Usually
completed as part of the Mountains
to Sea track but can be done alone.
Mainly downhill, however there are
some steep climbs towards the end.
Multi Day Trips:
15. Mountains to Sea (297km)
Grade 2-3 (easy to intermediate) Plus
one section of advanced terrain.
This trail takes you from the fringes
of Mt Ruapehu to the coastal town of
Whanganui, through alpine mountains
and native forest. The track uses local
biking tails, public roads and even a
jet boat ride. You can choose to do
sections of the track or the whole trail.
There is plenty to see and great places
to stop along the way.
Grade 1-2 = Easy: Flat. Few obstacles.
Grade 2-3 = Intermediate: Moderately
steep. Uneven terrain with some
Grade 3-4 = Advanced: Some technical
terrain and limited alternate lines.
Grade 4-5 = Expert: Mostly technical
terrain. Advanced features with no
Terrain Park: With multiple rides and
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Skiing the volcano: It's easier than it sounds
Like Mt Fuji, Ruapehu rises from a desert
plain and is a stunning site against a clear
blue sky, and it is still an active volcano.
There are three ski fields on Ruapehu, two
commercial; Turoa and Whakapapa and one
club field Tukino. The commercial fields are
serviced by local communities; National Park
Village and Ohakune. The two are operated
together, with a combined lift ticket for both
fields. Together, they are considered to be
the largest ski resort in New Zealand and
possibly the southern hemisphere.
Whakapapa is on the northern side of Mount
Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park. The ski
season is generally from late June to late
October, depending on snow and weather
conditions. The terrain at Whakapapa is
loosely divided up as 25% beginner, 50%
intermediate and 25% advanced. Recently
there have been several significant changes
to this side of the mountain with the
introduction of a multi-million dollar mountain
gondola which makes access quicker and
Access to the ski field is by Bruce Road, a
two-lane, 6 km (3.7 mi) sealed road. There
is the accommodation on the mountain, but
you need to join a lodge. There is also an
array of accommodation at the mountain
base and National Park Village.
Tukino Club Field
Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
Tukino on the eastern face of Mount
Ruapehu. The field is a club managed
field, but open to the general public. The
ski area is serviced by two tows and an
over-snow vehicle giving access for skiing.
Tukino is known for its untouched trails,
uncrowded slopes, friendly atmosphere
and good weather. Accommodation is
available at Tukino for those that want to
stay and play, but bookings are essential.
Access is via the Tukino Access Road from
the Desert Road and is suitable for fourwheel-drive
vehicles only during the winter
months. Transport can be arranged by
contacting the ski field.
Whakapapa Ski Field - Image compliments of Visit Ruapehu
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Image compliments Mt Ruapehu
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STAY AT ADVENTURE LODGE, NATIONAL PARK
RUAEPHU WINTER SPECIAL
3 NIGHTS BED AND BREAKY
$830 for studio Queen unit with My-Sky
Transport up the mountain with flexible pick up times
Ride up the Gondola to NZs highest restaurant for two
and lunch for two.
(Those wanting larger family accommodation
contact Gillian on 021351103)
Bed and Breakfast
Budget Lodge Accommodation
Self-Contained Motel Units
Packages available for skiing and Tongariro Crossing
adventurenationalpark.co.nz | 0800 621 061
Snowboarder at Turoa - Image compliments Mt Ruapehu
Turoa (or Tūroa) is on the south-western side of Mt
Ruapehu. The area has been used for skiing since
the completion of the Mountain Road, but the first lifts
opened in 1978.
There are two beginner areas, and many
intermediate and advanced trails. The upper field is
a mix of natural pipes, steep drops, fast plains, and
more accessible slopes. The field is 500 hectares and
has 722 metres (2,369 feet) vertical drops.
The ski field is reached via the Mountain Road from
the town of Ohakune. The Mountain Road was built
by locals from Ohakune, mostly during weekends
after they formed the Mountain Road Association
in 1952. They aimed to open Ruapehu's southern
slopes for skiing, partly as a replacement industry for
the decline in logging which had sustained the town
for the previous decades
On a good day, it is possible to hike to the top of the
mountain with skis or snowboard in hand, view the
Crater Lake, and then ski back down to the field, or
Whakapapa. Also on a clear day, Mount Taranaki can
Central Taupo Motel accommodation
searchers look for the best central location,
quality reviews and great service.
Welcome to Acapulco Motor Inn, the best
affordable Taupo Motel.
This Taupo Motel is a kiwi family run
business that loves their job and takes pride
in presenting the best choice for a Taupo
Motel. A short walk to central Taupo with an
array of shops and eateries. Try some local
kiwi flavours and some Must Do activities to
maximise your Taupo visit.
Acapulco Taupo Motor Inn has a range of
accommodation choices that can sleep from
1 to 8 guests. Some Motel rooms have a spa
Pool or spa bath. All Motel rooms have air
Check through our accommodation choices
to match your needs to the best Acapulco
Motor Inn room or apartment.
A: 19 Rifle Range Road, Taupo 3330 | T: +64 7 378 7174 | F: +64 7 378 7555 | M: +64 21 800 118
E: email@example.com W: www.acapulcotaupo.co.nz
The Alpine Centre
Home of Ski Biz and Snowzone!
When you're looking to buy or rent ski & snowboarding gear, or for workshop tuning or Hiking Gear rental – The Alpine
Centre located in National Park Village is the place to go.
The Alpine Centre is an amalgamation of two long serving winter businesses Ski Biz and Snowzone (Roy Turner Ski
Shop). At the end of the 2017 winter owners Shona and Robbie Forbes closed Snowzone @ Roy Turner Ski Shop for
the last time, a business that had operated in National Park since 1964. With a plan to build a massive extension of the
Ski Biz rental shop, joining the two long standing businesses, by creating one super store location for rental and retail
both winter and summer, The Alpine Centre was created. Now, two years on we have a well-established Alpine shop with
gear for hiking, camping, skiing and snowboarding and are open all year round.
With the Corona Virus pandemic causing delays for all
NZ ski areas its been hard to get an understanding of
how/what may open this season, many customers may
be turning to online buying of ski gear, and we also
now have around 80% of our stock listed on our online
However, Our primary focus remains to be
predominantly an actual, customer face to face service
store. We aspire to offer real service and advice to
everyone that comes in and are always prepared to
go the extra mile to find the right equipment for our
customers' needs if we don’t have it in store. For us
it’s not about making a quick sale, see you later, we
want to keep the customer, get the chance to tune their
gear in the future, and keep a repour for many years
We believe when purchasing ski equipment, it's not
a case of buying the cheapest, prettiest deal you
can find online, but offering great sound advice and
service means our customer has the best time on the
snow. E.g. When your boots are not fitted correctly, it's
like trying to drive with a flat tyre. Or you might think
you're getting a great deal buying a cheap ski jacket or
pants but are the specs good enough for our mountain
conditions (waterproof, windproof, and breathable).
Your helmet and goggles need to sit well together, but
also fit with your head and face shape.
Thankfully all our crew this season are returning
staff from various past seasons bringing a wealth of
experience and knowledge which is awesome for both
us and our customers and a real bonus in this post
(hopefully) Corona virus new normal.
Our winter 2020 team at The Alpine Centre all share a
passion for having fun on the snow and want to ensure
that everyone who comes into our store are equipped
with the right gear they need to have the best possible
and memorable snow experience!
Ski Biz / Snowzone @ The Alpine Centre
10 Carroll Street, National Park Village
Ph 07 8922 717
A range of skis for those that are never not sending. Those willing to create and explore.
Those who Ride Free. Each ski has a different personality. Designed to ensure you’ll find
the perfect match for your style. For the last three years we’ve tested all over the globe.
To ensure all conditions, terrain, and influences were considered. To build an all-new
vision of freeride. Progressive. Inclusive. Irreverent. Athlete-approved. Ready to send.
Welcome to BLACKOPS.
The all-new BLACKOPS range has been developed with a strong focus on
material sourcing and the product lifecycle. Each ski has been constructed
using PEFC certified poplar or FSC® certified paulownia wood cores
combined with recycled topsheet, base, and edge materials to help reduce
our environmental impact. Ride Free my friends.
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Words and Images by Active Adventures
Now that you’ve explored every inch of your
backyard, and house, and the internet – you’re
probably itching to reconnect with friends and
family and get back out adventuring in the great
outdoors. We get it – the virtual tours aren’t doing
much for us either anymore.
When we dream of travel, most of us go to places
in our minds that are far from our own backyards.
However, this is set to change for many Kiwis as
we collectively begin to look for adventure closer
to home. Your plans for a midwinter European
adventure being canned now gives you the
unprecedented opportunity to see some of New
Zealand’s best without the usual tourist buses or
people getting in the way of your perfect shot. If
you’ve always wanted to discover Milford Sound or
bring your family on a real backcountry experience,
now is a better time than ever.
With over two decades of experience up their
sleeves guiding thousands of happy travellers
around the world, Active Adventures take the
hassle and risk out of organising your trip. You
might think you know New Zealand, but their
knowledgeable Kiwi guides will show you some of
the country’s best kept secrets.
Here’s why you can say ‘no’ to organising a trip by
yourself, and instead get your family or group onto
an Active Adventure.
1. They’ll cater for all abilities
All their trip itineraries include a detailed
breakdown of the ‘activity level’ involved, from
‘What’s the Rush’ right through to ‘Challenge
Accepted’. They also provide detailed distance
and elevation information for each hike, so you
know exactly what you’re in for and you can make
educated decisions about which trip is right for you.
Within each trip they also have many options
available like add-ons for those keen for more, or
‘let’s just chill’ options for those who’ve reached
their capacity for the day. Their guides are also
there to help and encourage you through some of
the more challenging activities that you might not
feel so comfortable doing alone!
2. They’ll cater for all requirements
From specific diets to rooming requests to who
gets the front seat on the bus, their guides will
do everything they can to ensure that not only is
everyone catered for, but everyone can get the
maximum out of their holiday without worrying
about individual plans. They look after the big
stuff, so you can enjoy the small stuff. They also
offer private trips if your group is over 6 people,
meaning your experience will be completely
personalised to meet your groups specific needs.
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Your New Zealand Adventure,
3. They’ll bring you to new places, off
the tourist trail
Their trips have always included a mix of
must-sees and hidden gems, but as a Kiwi
visiting your own country, you’ve probably
seen a LOT of the must-sees already.
That's why they’ve developed 8 news trips,
from 2 to 6 days, taken straight from their
staff’s bucket-lists. From a backcountry
adventure in Nelson Lakes National Park,
to flying deep into Aspiring National Park
to hike to the insanely blue Crucible Lake,
to an assisted biking adventure on the Alps
2 Ocean trail or a more relaxed retreat
under the sun with amazing food and wine
near Nelson – just take your pick!
4. You know you’ll be in safe hands
They’ve been guiding adventures here
in New Zealand for 24 years now – and
passion for the outdoors has lead them
to start guiding in other parts of the world,
like Patagonia and the Himalayas, always
using New Zealand safety standards,
which are some of the highest in the world.
So, whether they’re talking about the food
on your plate or crossing a river safely,
they make sure their guides get the best
5. They make logistics a breeze
While on a trip with Active Adventures you
won’t have to worry about a thing. They
make sure the jet boat on the Wilkin River
is waiting for you just at the right time, or
Clockwise from top left: Kayaking, Incredible scenery, the beautiful Braemar Station
the boat onto the Milford Sound has your
name and personal requests before you’ve
set foot on board. You’ll get a packing list
telling you how many pairs of socks you
need, and even a pre-trip training program
if you wish. Even if you’ve travelled these
parts of the country before – logistics for a
group can be a headache and can take the
shine off your holiday planning. Let them
do that for you. They'll even help you make
sure you get to meet the trip at the right
place and time, and have onward travel
sorted for when it's time to say goodbye.
6. Guaranteed value for your money
Quite simply, it is now more affordable
than ever to have your whole trip
organised for you, and having someone
else take care of the nitty gritty details is
the most important ingredient in you being
able to enjoy exploring, hassle free.
Sure, you can book a trip by yourself, but
you run the risk of getting messed around
with accommodation that doesn’t live up to
its photos, unreliable and uncomfortable
transport, and you miss out on the
expertise, knowledge and care of local
guides. It’s better to invest your money in
a trip that is guaranteed to be seamless
and stress-free, than cut corners to try
and save a few dollars by throwing a trip
together yourself! Active Adventures trips
are all inclusive, providing great value for
7.Your guides will be the best of the
If you haven’t spent your lockdown
period from Coronavirus studying the
flora and fauna of New Zealand and the
history of each area… don’t worry. On
an Active Adventures trip, you will have
2 Kiwi guides along with you every step
of the way who are not only great cooks,
budding comedians, pack carriers, safe
drivers and planning gurus – they’re
also walking encyclopaedias. Traveling
with their guides means that you won’t
miss the opportunity to see the Southern
Lights, have a flowering Rata pointed
out to you, or hear about the history and
movement of the glaciers. It's the kind
of details that can take your experience
from great to unforgettable. Oh, and it
shouldn’t be forgotten that they know ALL
the best coffee spots across the country,
so you don’t have to waste your precious
mornings hunting down the good stuff.
They’ll do that part for you too!
So just say ‘no’ to wrangling your friends
and family for a trip. They’ll do it for you –
headache free. Just decide which of their
22 adventures is the most tempting to you,
or just reach out at info@activeadventures.
com or 03 450 0414 to get the advice of an
Trips for decades
The Kiwi way
LUXURY FAMILY BIKING
Choose Active Adventures this summer and have confidence you’re joining
New Zealand’s most experienced guiding company. An impeccable safety
record, garnered over 24 years and more guiding concessions than any other
Our flexible assurance allows you to change your plans up to 30 days before
your departure, so you can book stress-free.
Explore hidden gems
through our expert
local Kiwi guides
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or
call us at 0800 234 726 to plan your adventure!
Every detail covered
to maximise your time
4.5/5 from 18,580 reviews
the way you want
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IT'S COOL TO TRAVEL
WHEN IT'S COOL
By Jessica Middleton
"Chill when its chill for when
it's too hot you cannot. "
Don't turn the cold shoulder on winter. You might just warm
up to it, after all it's the perfect condition for soul-warming
activities and adventures.
It's honestly cool to travel when it's cool, and here's why.
YOU LOVE YOUR VAN
In winter most people hibernate because leaving the comfort
of your warm snuggly home to go seek adventure isn't
always inviting. Game changer, what if the adventure came
to you, right on your doorstep? This kind of accessibility
has now opened up a whole new world of opportunities to
you, am I right? There's peace of mind knowing when you
head out that your reliable van will be waiting for you with
doors wide open, warm supplies, food, shelter, and all your
essentials right in the car park. This means no freezing longdrawn
drives back from an outing wearing wet soggy shoes,
ugh the worst! We depend on our van to shield us in the
winter, you just want to go up and hug the thing, but don't,
because the exterior can remain pretty icy. Instead, you can
thank your van by treating it with regular servicing as during
colder months your van requires some close loving care.
HOT CUPPAS AND SNUGGLES
While you fix yourself a morning brew, make sure to take in
all the breathtaking views, you can stay tucked up in bed if
you want to. We have a habit of calling this - "Inside Out",
where you get to experience outdoor surroundings with little
guilt for lounging inside. It truly is the best of both worlds.
This is the perfect environment to set aside time to relax
and unwind, finish reading that book or art project you have
been working on. Chill when its chill for when it's too hot you
cannot. So if you have a travel companion take advantage of
all the snuggle opportunities you have now.
BUILT TO MOVE
Have you ever been at home freezing away to find you go
outside and surprise, it's warmer out than inside? I hate
when I find myself in this situation, frustrated that I hadn't
braced the day earlier. As good as downtime is, the winter
world is awaiting you with an abundance of trails, lakes, and
mountains to explore. Our top tip is to keep active daily, get
that blood flowing and core temperature rising. We are built
to move and so are our vans.
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A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
There is nothing worse than being in an incredible environment
to be so bogged down by the weather you simply cannot enjoy
it. I've had times I swear my brain has frozen over just from the
memory of a place. Being from New Zealand, I have braced
some arctic winters in my time, and to be honest growing up
I dreaded winter every year. To the extent where I relocated
to Australia just to escape from it. They say you don't know
what's good until its gone, so I returned to my arched nemesis
and went in with a different tactic - PREPARATION. I have had
a complete shift in my mentality and prefer van life in winter, it
truly is a breath of fresh air.
Warm clothes are the greatest protection against the winter
chill and staying on top of it before the cold shakes your bones
is highly important too. I seem to feel the cold far more than
the average person. I cannot express my love for thermals,
snow socks and beanies and wear them like it's going out of
fashion. You'll often find me wearing multiple thermals at once
and even in my snowboarding gear, do what YOU have to do,
and never underestimate the cold. If you are prepared, winter
van life is extremely rewarding, trust me.
The perk of having a van as your home base is that small
areas require little time to heat up. If you are at a powered site
you may have access to get that heater cranking which means
you'll be tucked up like a little burrito in no time.
Speaking of food, cooking in winter is a task that you will
look forward to and undoubtedly treasure. There's nothing
quite like comfort food, it's like being served heaven on
a plate, and this doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be
unhealthy. Fueling yourself after a great hike with heartwarming
meals and a warm cuppa is sure to keep your
body toasty and spirits lifted. Home-cooked hot soups with
buttered bread, mmm gets us every time.
HOWS THE SERENITY?
Do you ever just ache for those moments where you get to
experience a magic spot all to yourselves? As social media
has increased and tourism has spiked these untouched
encounters are unfortunately harder to come by. Winter
is a time where most people shy away, in turn, a vanlifers
dreams come out to play. Winters gift is a raw experience
without all the summer chaos and crowds. Peaceful and
soul-fulfilling adventures are topped with plenty of spots to
choose from with less competition.
If winter vanlife hasn't grabbed your attention yet I want
you to visualise it. Picture waking to the morning sunlight
glistening from the dewdrops on your window. Find yourself
awakening in a bed of clouds formed by the fog from rivers,
forests, and oceans nearby. These are perfect conditions for
a photographers dream, the adventure is honestly surreal
and provides a majestic start to your day.
THERMAL POOLS, BEACHES, AND ONSENS
This world is full of hidden gems and if you are traveling in
New Zealand, the most rewarding winter experience is the
moment you stumble across thermal pools and hot water
beaches. The only issue is you'll never want to leave! We
have hiked through the Kaweka Ranges and ended the day
by soaking in the natural hot springs, perfect for soothing
those adventure ridden muscles.
OFF SEASON IS IN SEASON
Looking to spice up your winter? Winter travel is regarded
as 'off-season' you will be thrilled to hear rentals come
at a lower cost. So our secrets out that vanlife is in fact,
enjoyable in any season. We encourage you to go discover
it first hand.
Traveled your country in summer and think you have seen
it all? I urge you to go back and do it in winter, you will gain
a totally different experience! Not only does the scenery
change it is accompanied by a complete shift in mood too.
Some places are even unrecognisable especially if they
have been sprinkled with snow, now that's something worth
FIRE AND STARGAZING
Fire packs a punch, it not only brings light on the
subject it brings warmth too, and the subject in this
instance is overcoming the tough winter vanlife
reputation that even I admit I once believed in. We
honor fire for the contrast between warmth/cold, dark/
light and I guess what it boils up to is we have complete
respect and appreciation for it. We have spent
countless nights by the firelight gazing up at all the
stars listening to the sounds of nature, time passing us
by as we lay there deep in thought.
For me, winter vanlife is like the story of 'Beauty and
the Beast' I had to give it a chance to see its amazing
qualities, see it for what it truly is. So now you know
its possible to do van life in winter, but that you can
completely fall in love with it too.
Follow Jess and Jordan: @our_van_life_ | @jessmiddletonxo | @jordan_whitcombe
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"There is nothing like driving
down the highway with no
air conditioning, seeing the
Colorado River, and jumping
in. There is no schedule and we
are free to explore whatever we
want whenever we want. "
By Brittany Henning
Karma has a pretty funny way of
making life work, putting people in
the right place at the right time. We
had a decision to make, chase our
career and move to New York or buy
a van and see the world. Well a few
months later, unbeknownst to us,
buying a van was the best decision
we could have ever made, not only
because van life is awesome but
also because there was a pandemic
coming and moving to New York
would have been a nightmare.
Drew Glickman: I am from
Templeton, California. I work as a
freelance cinematographer filming
everything from brand content, reality
tv, and documentaries. Traveling
has been a passion of mine since I
was small. When I was younger my
family would travel the west coast
and camp anywhere from the sierras
to Baja Mexico. These early trips
installed the love of travel in me.
Since then I have searched out every
way to travel for cheap and see the
Brittany Henning: I am from Aiken,
SC. I also work as a freelancer
in event marketing. I never really
started traveling until I met Drew, but
ever since our first trip to Thailand
four years ago I’m addicted.
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About a year ago, we started looking through Facebook
marketplace trying to find an upgrade to our 1998 Toyota
Tacoma. Drew built a bed in the back of it with storage and a
camper shell on top. It was perfect for short road trips, but no
way we could live in it. We wanted something more. We came
across a 2004 Sprinter Van 2500 with a 140 inch wheel base.
We drove all the way to Charlotte, NC to pick up our new
home. Drew, being 5’10, specifically wanted this van so he
could stand up in it without bumping his head. It’s small enough
to parallel park in a big city, but big enough to live in. Perfecto!
Ten months, $8000, and one million Home Depot trips later we
had our new home customized the way we wanted it. Drew and
his dad built everything from scratch with the help of Youtube
Vanlife Build videos. Their motto: “90% thinking, 10% working.”
As we hit the open road the first day you could only imagine the
feelings and energy that was going through us. The excitement
of what’s to come, the sadness of what we are leaving behind
and the fear of the unknown are only a few. That is, until about
3 stop lights from our old drive way that we got rear ended.
Luckily there was no damage but it sure got us started into
what Vanlife is realistically like.
What is full-time Vanlife like you ask? Oh man, it’s exhilarating!
Not everyone is cut out to live this way. There is nothing like
driving down the highway with no air conditioning, seeing the
Colorado River, and jumping in. There is no schedule and we
are free to explore whatever we want whenever we want. Just
the other day, in the Sedona desert we looked at each other
and said “Let’s climb up that mountain and do yoga.” It was far
away from everyone and so peaceful.
There are no rules and we can live in whatever state we want
to and have no obligations. The more terrifying moments
come the longer you live like this. As we find places to sleep
(Walmart parking lots and rest areas) we never know who
might come knocking at our door at 3am. A cop telling us to
leave? A scary man threatening our lives? We just never know.
We also have the anxiety of driving around our entire life that
could be taken from us at any second. Our van is our house/
car with everything we own inside. All of these moments put
together are what makes Vanlife so exciting and we wouldn’t
want it any other way.
There are challenges and there are rewards. Everyone asks
us, “Do you still love each other?” Yes, we do, but we have
both struggled living with another human in such a small space.
“Why didn’t you clean your dishes?” “You’re going the wrong
way!” “You killed my succulent!” I could go on, but our four-year
relationship is definitely being tested every day and we look
at it as just another experience. Other challenges we face are
keeping things clean and occasional boredom. Cleaning is hard
when you have limited amount of water to wash dishes. We
have three 6-gallon water tanks, but it still doesn’t seem to be
enough. Bugs LOVE to fly in the second you open the door. It’s
a fun game of “who can catch the moth before it disappears,
and we find it in our bed later”.
We have picked up reading a lot more since we don’t have a
tv to binge watch every show on Netflix. Drew plays the mouth
harp and I play the ukulele to pass the time. These challenges
are nothing compared to the rewards we receive in exchange.
We have traveled all over the world, but our wanderlust is
never fulfilled fully. Every city has a story and we want to
read every one. From hiking next to grizzly bears in Alaska to
wakeboarding in Brazil. We hope to take our home on wheels
to it all.
Drew and Brittany in their home away from home
82//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220
HYDRO FLASK 32oz (946mL)
Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail
Series: Clay, Obsidian & Slate
Our Lightweight Trail Series flasks
are 25% lighter, making it easier to
take your cold hydration wherever
your adventure takes you.
Ghost of Everest
Before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing
Norgay reached the summit of
Mt Everest, British climbers,
George Mallory and Andrew Irvine
attempted the same feat. However
they disappeared during the June
1924 attempt on the summit leaving
significant questions unanswered.
Ghost of Everest recounts the
expedition and the 1999 search for
their bodies in enthralling detail.
In the Kingdom of Ice
In 1879, the wealthy owner of The New
York Herald, sent Captain GEorge De
Long on a North Pole expedition which hit
pack ice and was stuck for two years. This
book recounts the epic tale of survival.
Enduring everything from snow blindness
and polar bears to ferocious storms
and labyrinths of ice, the crew battled
madness and starvation as they struggled
desperately to survive. With thrilling
twists and turns, In The Kingdom of Ice is
a tale of heroism and determination in the
most brutal place on Earth.
This is a book about the call of the wild
and the response of the spirit to a country
that exists perhaps most vividly in the
mind. Sara Wheeler spent seven months
in Antarctica, living with its scientists
and dreamers. No book is more true to
the spirit of that continent–beguiling,
enchanted and vast beyond the furthest
reaches of our imagination.
Nanopresso Black, built around
a newly patented pumping
system, is capable of reaching,
with the help of your hands, a
maximum of 18 bars (261 PSI)
of pressure for unparalleled
coffee extractions qualities.
The Nanopresso works best
with finely ground coffee that is
Fill your mouth with toasted malts, balanced
by dry-hop flavours, for an indulgent yet easy
drinking dark ale. NO artificial additives, NO
added sugar, NO colouring or preservatives.
Welcome to the Goddam
Icefall is a thrilling adventure story and
a report from the extremes of the planet,
taking you to collapsing Andean glaciers,
hidden jungles in Honduras, and the
highest points on Earth. In this gripping
account, our changing climate is not a
matter of politics; it's a matter of life and
death and the human will to survive and
thrive in the face of it.
Weaving fast-paced adventure
writing and ethnographic
journalism with elegantly wrought
reflections on identity, Welcome to
the Goddamn Ice Cube captures
the triumphs and the perils of
Braverman’s journey to selfdiscovery
and independence in a
landscape that is as beautiful as it
Our version of an American classic, the
confident malt base supports a lively hop
blend that delivers resinous, zesty, stone fruit
aromas. NO artificial additives, NO added
sugar, NO colouring or preservatives.
lyres non-alcoholic spirits
Lyre’s is a premium range of 12 unique non-alcoholic
variants, crafted to pay homage to the flavours of the
world’s most classic, time tested spirits.
84//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220
Looking for a jacket to keep
you warm and dry? We've got
what you need...
a: Rab Electron
The Electron Jacket is a mid-weight, technical down jacket, with a water-resistant Pertex® outer shell, designed for
year-round climbing and mountain use. The Electron is designed with a stitch-through construction throughout, with
varying size baffles to help reduce bulk in key areas and to help eliminate cold spots.190g/7oz (size Large) of 800FP
European Goose Down provides exceptional levels of warmth and features a small-volume helmet-compatible hood.
Key technical features include YKK® VISLON® zips throughout, elasticated stretch woven cuffs and a zipped internal
security pocket.The Electron Jacket is designed for cold weather climbing and mountain use, however with high levels
of comfort and packability, it is suitable for day-to-day winter use.
b: Rab valiance
With 170g of 800-fill power
European goose down, nylon
inner, Pertex Shield taped
waterproof outer, bonded
narrow box-wall construction,
synthetic insulation filled hood
and cuffs, helmet-compatible,
wired peak, YPP zips, hand
warmer pockets, internal
security pocket, drawcord hem,
stuff sack. 750g (m), 615g (w).
c: Rab Microlight Alpine
Filled with 143g of 750-fill
power hydrophobic down,
Pertex Quantum Infinity
Weave fabric, harnesscompatible
two-way front zip with
insulated zip baffle, stretch
cuffs fit over gloves, helmetcompatible
hood with an
internal stretch gaiter to seal
out wind. 470g (m), 430g (w).
d: marmot featherless
The light-weight jacket will
keep you warm and dry in
chilly, damp weather without
weighing down you or your
pack. 3M Thinsulate
Insulation is made with 75%
recycled loose-fill fibres that
feel just as warm as 700 fill
power down, but still perform
in wet conditions.
e: marmot featherless
The lightweight Women's
Featherless Hoody features
3M Thinsulate Recycled
Featherless Insulation that
is made with 75% recycled
loose-fill fibers that feel just
as warm as 700 fill power
down, but still perform in wet
conditions. This space-saving
jacket packs into its own
g: macpac Ascend Hooded Down Jacket
Made from a stretchy nylon/elastane fabric and filled with 650 loft RDS duck down — ‘RDS’ being the Responsible
Down Standard for the ethical sourcing of down — the Ascend Jacket is warm and flexible. In addition to the
elastane content, the unique fabric weave is designed to create ‘stepped’ baffles, which binds the fabric in a way
that still allows it to stretch with you. To maximise warmth, the elastic bound hood, hem and cuffs help to trap warm
air against your body, while discreet zipped pockets keep hands cosy when the temperature drops.
88//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220
A: Merrell Men's Glacial
Synthetic warmth when wet
insulation. A featherless
insulated jacket that uses
700 fill power loose synthetic
fibers, created by scientists
to mimic the qualities of down
when dry and is warmer than
down when wet. Designed
with a slightly longer length
for ease of wear in urban or
b: outdoor research alpine
down hooded jacket
Made with water- and windresistant
fabrics, the shoulders, sleeves
and hood feature a heavier
weight for durability, while
the lighter weight traps the
insulating warmth of 800-fill
in a baffled construction that
eliminates cold spots. (Men's
and women's available)
C: Rab Kaon
Hybrid jacket with 70g of
800-fill power RDS-certified
hydrophobic European goose
down in hood and body,
Stratos synthetic insulation
in shoulders, cuffs and hips.
Ripstop nylon fabric, stitchthrough
reverse coil chest pocket, YKK
front zip, half hem drawcord,
stuff sack. 250g (m), 235g (w).
d: Merrell women's
Ridgevent Hybrid Hoody
Perfect cold weather insulation
for every body. We engineered
the Ridgevent to alleviate
overheating while hiking in
cooler temperatures. Heatmapped
back baffles provide a
different balance of insulation
and ventilation for either men or
women. Blending 65% goose
down and 35% synthetic fibres
for warmth even when wet.
A: Patagonia Men's Macro Puff Hoody
We took the technology and successes of our revolutionary Micro Puff Hoody and expanded upon them to create the
Macro Puff® Hoody, an even warmer answer to biting cold. Its ultralight recycled nylon ripstop shell with DWR finish
stands guard against outside elements. The alpine helmet–compatible hood adjusts with a single pull for cocoon-like
warmth without messing with your peripheral vision. Inside, the Hoody features 135-g synthetic, down-like PlumaFill
insulation in the body and 90-g PlumaFill in the sleeves and sides (compared to 65-g overall for the Micro Puff),
wrapping you in deep, water-resistant warmth without weighing you down. PlumaFill replicates the structure of down
for great loft but offers the warm-when-wet benefit of synthetic. We quilt the insulation with a unique, minimal-stitch
construction to stabilize it and maximize loft. The two-way center-front zipper’s storm flap seals out drafts, and a soft
zipper garage at the chin saves your skin. Plenty of pockets sit where you need them, in and out, and the whole toasty
package stuffs down small into a separate stuffsack. Fair Trade Certified sewn. 434g.
b: Outdoor Research Refuge
The water-resistant Refuge
Hooded Jacket uses high-loft
VerticalX synthetic insulation
technology for resilient, breathable
performance that will keep you
warm even when wet and so
compressible you can stow the
jacket into its own hand pocket. Its
helmet-compatible hood and an
elastic-drawcord hem allow you to
further seal out the elements.
c: macpac NZAT Arrowsmith
HyperDRY Hooded Down
A winter down jacket for alpine
conditions, the NZAT Arrowsmith
features an ultralight Pertex®
Quantum shell, DWR (C6) finish,
800 loft HyperDRY RDS waterresistant
goose down, boxed
and sewn-through baffles, large
zipped hand pockets, two internal
mesh pockets, helmet compatible
hood and internal fleece cuff.
d: Outdoor Research
The MicroGravity AscentShell Jacket
is a lightweight, fully waterproof
jacket built to withstand the changing
conditions in high-alpine terrain
while also breathing when you're
working hard via award-winning
AscentShell technology. Dynamic
Reach underarm panels and the
ability to stow it in its own pocket
when the conditions improve.
e: Macpac Nazomi Pertex®
A lightweight alpine shell, the
Nazomi is waterproof, windproof
and breathable with a Pertex®
Shield Pro 3-layer construction,
AquaGuard® zips, high collar
with offset zip, helmet compatible
hood, raised harness compatible
hand pockets, underarm lift
A: RAB Xenon
Stratos recycled polyester synthetic
insulation, ripstop lining and outer
fabric, under helmet hood with
stretch binding, two-way opening
YKK front zip with insulated internal
zip baffle and chin guard, zippered
handwarmer pockets, internal
zippered pocket, stuffs into pocket,
elasticated cuffs, hem drawcord.
326g (m), 285g (w).
b: Merrell women's Whisper Rain
Focus on the trail, not the weather. Be present and in the moment while in the outdoors
with a rain shell so quiet you can hear the enthralling sounds of nature. The wind howling,
the rain pattering, the birds chirping and the leaves rustling. The Whisper Rain is highly
waterproof but feels as comfortable as a softshell.
+ 20K/20K fully seam-sealed waterproof and breathable jacket keeps water and wind out
+ Built with four-way stretch to provide comfort and ultimate ease of movement
+ A swish-free durable three-layer construction gives you long-lasting protection against the
+ PFC free Durable Water Repellency (DWR) finish
c: Cactus rain jacket
Built from ultra-tough 3 layer WTF-
3 fabric, this heavy-duty jacket will
protect you from rain, wind, snow,
and whatever else nature throws
at you - and is guaranteed to last
the distance in tough New Zealand
Widely referred to as New
Zealand’s No 1 tramping jacket.
Tested thoroughly through
hard wearing and drenching
conditions with length that
makes it ideal for tramping in
the wet or everyday wet and
wind weather protection.
e: Patagonia Men's
Torrentshell 3L Jacket
Using H2No® Performance
Standard technology the
Torrentshell provides comfort
and protection in soaking
storms and steady drizzles.
The 3-layer jacket features
100% recycled nylon face
fabric, DWR finish, and tricot
backer. Fair Trade Certified
f: Nano Primaloft Jacket
A Primaloft jacket with a
seam sealed waterproof shell,
the Nano is suitable for the
most testing conditions. The
combination of a lightweight
waterproof and breathable
Entrant shell and 135gm/m2
Primaloft Gold means warmth
you can depend on.
Issue #196//new zealand’s premIer adventure magazIne sInce 1981
NZ $9.20 incl. GST
AUST $6.90 incl. GST
don’t look down
colder than you think
more than just a puffer
Issue #196//new zealand’s premIer adventure magazIne sInce 1981
NZ $9.20 incl. GST
AUST $6.90 incl. GST
don’t look down
colder than you think
more than just a puffer
in the outdoors*
Back Country Cuisine
CHICKEN CARBONARA: A freeze dried
chicken and pasta dish, served in a
creamy italian style sauce.
MUSHROOM BOLOGNAISE - VEGAN:
Mushrooms with tomato in a savory sauce,
served with noodles. Vegan.
Available in one serve 90g or two serve
RRP $8.99 and $13.49
CHOCOLATE BROWNIE PUDDING: Our
take on chocolate self-saucing pudding,
with chocolate brownie, boysenberries and
chocolate sauce. Gluten Free.
RRP 150g $12.49
AND GO INTO THE DRAW TO WIN ONE OF THESE GREAT
JACKETS FROM OUR GOOD FRIENDS AT BIVOUAC
Back Country Cuisine
ICED MOCHA: Our mocha is made
with chocolate and coffee combined
with soft serve to give you a tasty
drink on the run. Gluten Free. 85g.
FOR 21 YEARS
Wherever your next
adventure is about to
lead you, we’ve got
the goods to keep you
Est. 1998 Back Country
Cuisine specialises in
a range of freeze-dried
products, from tasty
meals to snacks and
everything in between, to
keep your energy levels up
and your adventures wild.
Sunsaver Super-Flex 14-Watt Solar
Putting out over 2.5-Amps of output on a
sunny day you’ll charge your phone and
devices in no time at all, straight from the
Kiwi camping 1.2L Collapsible
Flexible, lightweight and durable.
Collapses for easy storage. Durable
translucent lid. Hard-anodised
aluminium base heats evenly and
efficiently. Heat resistant silicone is
PBA-free and easy to clean.
Sunsaver Classic 16,000mAh Solar
Built tough for the outdoors and with a
massive battery capacity you can keep all
your devices charged no matter where your
adventure takes you.
Outdoor Research Refuge Air Hooded Jacket
The Refuge Air Hooded Jacket is a water- and wind-resistant jacket
that helps you retain heat while working and sweating hard using the
adaptable VerticalX Air insulation that keeps you warm when you
need it and rapidly moves moisture the moment you start to perspire.
This jacket utilises ActiveTemp, a thermo-regulating technology that
keeps you cool, dry and comfortable on your highly-active adventures.
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FEED YOUR ADDICTION
Like a ‘perfect storm’, we have seen a dramatic growth and
development in online stores over the past 5 years. Now as we are
made to keep our ‘distance’, online, ecommerce takes on a whole
new meaning and value. We are dedicating these pages to our client’s
online stores; some you will be able to buy from, some you will be able
drool over. Buy, compare, research and prepare, these online stores are
a great way to feed your adventure addiction while you are still at home.
Ultra lightweight running shoes, made by runners. No
matter where the trail takes you, Hoka One One will
have you covered.
Earth Sea Sky has more than 25 years experience
in New Zealand’s outdoor clothing industry. Their
experience in design, production and sales fills a
growing need in the market for outdoor clothing that
combined comfort, style and performance.
Never have a dead phone
again! Because now you can
charge straight from the Sun
with SunSaver. Perfect for
that week-long hike, day at
the beach, or back-up for any
emergency. Check us out at:
A leading importer and
distributor of snow and
outdoor products in New
Zealand. Stock includes
Salewa, Lange, Dynastar,
Spyder and more.
Bivouac Outdoor stock the latest in quality outdoor
clothing, footwear and equipment from the best
brands across New Zealand & the globe.
Shop for the widest range of Merrell footwear, apparel
& accessories across hiking, trail running, sandals &
casual styles. Free shipping for a limited time.
The ultimate sandals
with core concepts like
durability, pull through
strap design and the ability
Full-service outfitter selling hiking
and mountaineering gear and
apparel, plus equipment rentals.
Specialising in ski & snowboard
touring equipment new & used;
skis, boards, bindings, skins,
probs, shovels,transceivers &
Whether you’re climbing mountains, hiking in the hills
or travelling the globe, Macpac gear is made to last
and engineered to perform — proudly designed and
tested in New Zealand since 1973.
The ultimate in quality outdoor clothing
and equipment for travel, hiking, camping,
snowsports, and more. Guaranteed for life.
Developing the pinnacle
of innovative outerwear for
50 years. Shop now and
never stop exploring.
Gear up in a wide selection of durable, multifunctional
outdoor clothing & gear. Free Returns. Free Shipping.
Offering the widest variety,
best tasting, and most
nutrient rich hydration,
energy, and recovery
products on the market.
Fast nourishing freeze dried food for adventurers.
Stocking an extensive range
of global outdoor adventure
brands for your next big
adventure. See them for travel,
tramping, trekking, alpine and
lifestyle clothing and gear.
Specialists in the sale of Outdoor Camping Equipment, RV,
Tramping & Travel Gear. Camping Tents, Adventure Tents,
Packs, Sleeping Bags and more.
Jetboil builds super-dependable
backpacking stoves and camping
systems that pack light,
set up quick, and achieve
rapid boils in minutes.
Supplying tents and
camping gear to Kiwis
for over 30 years, Kiwi
Camping are proud to
be recognised as one of
the most trusted outdoor
brands in New Zealand.
Outdoor equipment store specialising in ski retail, ski
rental, ski touring and climbing.
Making great gear for the outdoors,
right here in New Zealand: high
quality items that have been
crafted with care to include all the
features that are important, nothing
superfluous and, above all, that
are more durable than anything out
there in the marketplace.
Scarpa designs and manufactures top
quality ski boots, mountaineering, hunting,
rock climbing, hiking, alpine running, and
Excellent quality Outdoor
Gear at prices that can't
be beaten. End of lines.
Ex Demos. Samples. Last
season. Bearpaw. Garneau.
96//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/#220 ADVENTUREMAGAZINE.CO.NZ 97
Not just a summer destination
With its white sand beaches and sparkling blue
lagoon, it is easy to think of New Caledonia as a
summer destination. But, thanks to its semi-tropical
climate, it is perfect to visit year-round and a closeto-home
spot to escape the winter chill. Located just
less than three hours from Auckland, in the South
Pacific, New Caledonia’s average winter temperatures
sit between 20-23°C. The cooler temperatures in the
winter months are in fact ideal for experiencing the
litany of adventurous experiences on offer in New
Caledonia. Here are four ideas for people looking to
escape the winter chill and discover New Caledonia:
Notchup P2018144 - Crédit photo : Getty Images, © Pauline Massé / NCTPS, WorldAdventureDivers.com / NCTPS
Above: Blue River Park - © Terres de Lumière / NCTPS
You might also be surprised to learn that New Caledonia offers a range of biking
trails, and the sport is booming amongst locals. There are many options to get out
on two wheels, both just outside Noumea and further afield. Outside Noumea, Les
Boucles de Tina features 20 trails, some of which have been outfitted with wooden
obstacles, as well as a bike park and a pumptrack to challenge even the most
Another option is Blue River Provincial Park. Not only does it offer trails for all
levels, its bright red soil is a striking change from the lagoons and beaches New
Caledonia is known for.
On the West Coast, experienced bikers will love the challenge of the Grande Boucle
trail, which sits within the Tango Plateau in Koné. The trail is nearly 40 kilometres
long, about 510 metres in altitude and climbs more than 1,600 metres!
For a more family-friendly option, Deva Domain, which is just outside of Bourail,
offers a range of scenic biking trails.
Above: Exclusiv Golf Deva - © M. Dosdane / NCTPS
As learnt in the last issue, New Caledonia is a
surprising hiking hotspot, with many options for all
timeframes and experiences. For those that love
hiking, but only have time for a daytrip, head to
Fayard Park in Dumbea. A 30-minute drive from
Noumea, it is home to the ‘Trail Of The Old Dam’,
which follows the Dumbea River and offers views of
natural rock cavities along the way. Labelled an easy
hike, it is a round trip and takes just over four hours to
If staying in Bourail, on the West Coast, the Three-
Bay Trail is a must-hike. It follows the coastline from
La Roche Percée (a landmark of the region), to Turtle
Bay and onto Lovers’ Bay, and has striking views
of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed lagoon and a
range of unique flora. The Three-Bay Trail is an easy
round-trip hike, taking approximately one and a half
hours to complete.
For travellers staying a week or longer, it would be
remiss not to experience one of New Caledonia’s
long-distance trails. The GR1 Nord trail passes from
Ponérihouen to Touho, and takes approximately four
days to complete, while the GR1 Sud trail winds from
Prony to Dumbea and takes about seven days to
complete. Both trails are recommended for seasoned
For those who love to get out on the green, New Caledonia is home
to four golf courses and a driving range. Nearby to Noumea, Garden
Golf de Dumbea features one of the longest and most complicated
par-5 holes in the Pacific, alongside striking mountain views. Also
nearby to Noumea, Golf de Tina overlooks the world’s largest lagoon
and uses natural geography – it is quite a hilly course – to challenge
players. And the Pacific Golf driving range allows players to practice
their swing in the heart of the city.
North of Noumea, on the West Coast, there’s Golf de la Ouenghi at
Boulouparis. Set between New Caledonia’s central mountain chain
and the Ouenghi River, it sits at the gateway to New Caledonia’s
Further North, there’s Exclusiv Golf Deva, part of the luxurious
Sheraton Deva New Caledonia Spa & Golf Resort. Designed by
Cynthia Dye, it is the only Dye Designs course in the Pacific. It
features a driving range plus a 6,677 metre-long, 72 par course, and
has an onsite shop, equipment for hire and sessions available with
Another activity perfect for the cooler months is diving. New
Caledonia’s clear waters are home to spectacular coral reefs and
a myriad of marine life with options for beginners, as well as more
One of New Caledonia’s most picturesque dive spots is the
Isle of Pines. Located just an hours’ flight from Noumea, it has
an incredible diversity of marine life, including sea snakes and
loggerhead turtles. There are numerous dive locations in the Isle
of Pines, and divers of all experience levels will enjoy changing
underwater scenery including corridors, passages and seagrottos.
For more advanced divers, one stand-out grotto to explore
is the ‘Grotte de la Troisième’, which is accessible via a narrow
underwater corridor and features dramatic rock formations.
For anyone concerned about travelling with diving gear, there are
several professional diving centres across New Caledonia that
offer access to quality equipment and run great guided dives.
For more information on hiking, golfing, biking and diving in
New Caledonia, as well as equipment hire and more, visit
Above: Dumbea - © Terres de lumière / NCTPS
Right: Scuba Diving - © Darren Jew / NCTPS
Dive into a different world
Reef crayfish on a night dive at Hideaway Island
Home to stunning, healthy reefs, fascinating
wrecks and a wealth of ecologically diverse
marine life, Vanuatu’s teeming waters are the
perfect destination for scuba diving.
While snorkelling can offer a glimpse into the
world below Vanuatu’s gentle waves, scuba diving
immerses you in it. Outstanding locations for
diving can be found off Santo, Efate and Tanna,
with tours suitable for every level from novice
through to expert. From colourful reefs alive with
darting fish and gentle sea turtles to underwater
caves and forgotten shipwrecks, these places are
just begging to be explored. Discover life under
the sea with Vanuatu’s collection of exceptional
dive sites, renowned the world over amongst
those in the know.
Diving the President Coolidge, Santo
Tranquility Island Reef Dive
Banner fish and butterfly fish at Twin Bommies, Efate
Diving Efate Hideaway Island Bonzer Wreck
SS President Coolidge, Santo
Big Blue Cathedral Cavern, Efate
Million Dollar Point, Santo
Located off the southern end of Santo,
just 6 kilometres from Luganville, is
Million Dollar Point. After World War II,
this was a dumping site for thousands
of tonnes of US Navy equipment, said
to collectively be worth a million dollars.
Trucks, forklifts and bulldozers are all
slowly being covered by the corals. Pacific
Dive can provide you with equipment hire
and all the information you need to dive
both Million Dollar Point and the nearby
shipwreck of SS President Coolidge.
SS President Coolidge, Santo
The wreck of the SS President Coolidge is
one of the world’s most talked-about dive
sites. The Coolidge is a former US Naval
vessel sunk by mines in 1942. With the
hull almost completely intact, divers often
spend multiple days at this site traversing
the plethora of corridors, decks, guns and
discarded relics that litter this 200-metre
long troop carrier. Don’t miss 'The Lady'
(a beautiful statue of a woman riding a
unicorn) which can be found in the main
dining room, the highlight of the dive for
Cindy’s Reef, Santo
A dive not to be missed, there is a huge
variety of corals to be found here, from
staghorn corals to large plate corals and
even ‘potato head’ coral, which has only
been identified in Vanuatu. A relatively
simple dive that’s great for beginners,
Cindy’s Reef is also home to an
abundance of marine life, with a myriad of
tropical fish as well as turtles and sharks.
Tutuba Point, Santo
This reef is found off the northern end of
Tutuba Island, just a short boat ride from
Santo. Depth starts around 6 metres and
descends the wall to a maximum of 30
metres, with visibility at this site often
outstanding. As well as spotting an array
of crayfish, divers at Tutuba Point also
have the opportunity to explore plenty of
underwater caves and chasms. Both Aore
Adventure Sports and Santo Island Dive
and Fishing provide regular dive trips to
the sites off Tutuba Island, including both
Tutuba Point and Cindy’s Reef.
Blue Hole One + Blue Hole Two, Tanna
The volcanic island of Tanna offers a
dramatic underwater landscape with blue
water caves, swim-throughs and reef
walls. Opened in 2015, Volcano Island
Divers provides access to the dive sites
located off the island. Blue Hole One
consists of four connected sinkholes.
Access between them and (and to the
outer reef) is via swim-throughs and
tunnels, providing an exhilarating dive.
If you’ve got time, Blue Hole Two is also
worth a visit. At low tide, this dive site
is accessible from shore with another
array of interconnected tunnels as well as
intricate caverns and grottos to explore.
Throughout your dives in Tanna, keep
your eyes peeled for turtles, moray eels,
reef sharks, blue-spotted ray and even the
Shipwrecks are one thing, but how about
the opportunity to dive a plane wreck?
The Tasman offers just that. This is a deep
dive, down to 40 metres, and visibility is
often not the greatest, so the Tasman is
best tackled by experienced divers. For
those willing to take it on, the wreckage
of the ill-fated Qantas S26 Sandringham
Flying Boat (which hit the reef on takeoff
in 1951) is mostly intact, and divers can
climb through the cockpit, making this dive
one for the bucket list.
Hideaway Island, Efate
Hideaway Island is a marine sanctuary in
Mele Bay, just 30 minutes from Port Vila.
With a certified PADI dive resort situated
on the island, this is definitely a beginnerfriendly
dive, with training courses also
available through Hideaway Island Dive.
Calm waters provide crystal clear visibility
and a great variety of brightly coloured
corals are on show here surrounded by
prolific marine life.
Ollies Lolly, Efate
Not far from Hideaway Island and just
beyond Blacksands Reef is Ollies Lolly.
This large reef is only nine metres down
and houses an abundance of soft corals
as well as huge red anemone with playful
clownfish darting in and out of them.
This dive boasts excellent clarity, and its
shallow depth and vivid colours make
Ollies Lolly a paradise for photographers.
Twin Bommies, Efate
This popular dive site about 15 minutes
from downtown Port Vila consists of two
large coral ‘bombora’ as well as a steep
wall peppered with brightly coloured
coral formations. There’s a huge variety
of fish here to keep you company as
you explore, including butterflyfish,
lionfish, leaf scorpionfish and colourful
nudibranchs. Dive trips to both Twin
Bombies and the Tasman seaplane wreck,
as well as many of the other dive sites off
Efate, can be arranged through Big Blue.
MV Semle Federsen, Efate
This cargo trading vessel was sunk off the
Pango Coast and now forms an artificial
reef located not far from Port Vila. This is
another deep dive at between 40 and 60
metres but offers spectacular visibility the
whole way. If getting a spectacular view
of the whole ship as you descend isn’t
exciting enough, making your way through
the cabins and stern of the wreck certainly
The Cathedral, Efate
Located just off the Pango Peninsula, to
the south of Port Vila, The Cathedral reef
is a must for avid divers while in Vanuatu.
This dive site offers a vast cavern filled
with shafts of light, from which it gets
its name, and the effects created are
truly fascinating. As well as marvelling
at the optical effects, divers also get the
opportunity to explore a ‘chimney’, which
extends up to a large pool on the surface
inside the reef.
Mele Reef, Efate
Off the coast of Mele Bay sits a sizeable
reef that offers divers a vast range of
corals and marine life to explore. The
main reef rises to around 6 metres below
the surface and a dive here is ideal for
beginners. The bay that surrounds Mele
Reef is also home to two major wrecks,
both worth exploring while in Vanuatu,
the MV Konanda and the Star of Russia,
with Nautilus Watersports coordinating
dive trips to both. The MV Konanda was
purposely sunk, creating a safe diving
experience that’s ideal for those new to
wreck diving. Exploring the cabins and
holes and bridge areas makes for a fun
dive. For the more experienced wreck
divers, the 90-metre long sailing ship Star
of Russia sits 30-metres down in Mele
Bay. This grand vessel was crafted by the
same builders as the Titanic and it is now
home to schools of tropical fish.
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