I'm laying straight on the cool sand. Sand on my skin, in my hair, indelibly ingrained in my fleece. The sky is blue like cardstock, not a cloud in sight. I feel a light sea breeze on my left cheek and I hear birdsong somewhere to my right. A whip bird, actually. And in front of me, is the ocean, its waves crashing sometimes dramatically, other times peacefully. Slowly, I feel the sun's warmth on me. Inhale, exhale, eyes closed, heart wide open, head full of dreams.
I know I'm beyond lucky because I've spent countless mornings like this.
Getting on the road with no concrete plan is electric. Though I had a gist of where I wanted to go, I let wanderlust be my overruling guide. I wanted to go where my curiosity led and stay where my breath caught in my throat.
I'd never spent much time up north but the mid-north coast and the Great Lakes region seemed rife with idyllic beaches and bays to explore. I knew that I'd be spoilt for choice and that no matter which way whim led me, I'd be happy.
This is how I saw the Remarkables on my latest adventure to Queenstown in June 2017 with Jetstar NZ. In the space of a handful of days, I saw these mountains under all kinds of conditions - and under every single one of these conditions, they were true to their name - remarkable...
The word that comes to me when I think back on my time spent at The Sherwood Hotel is 'mindful'.
I could’ve gone anywhere in New Zealand. Logic tried to push me towards exploring the new instead of returning to a place I’d been two months back. But really there had never been a choice to be made. It was always going to be Queenstown, cinched in the moment I first stepped foot on New Zealand ground; on the tarmac, plane engine still rumbling, the Remarkables aglow and the cool, crisp alpine air a wonderful shock to this city girl’s system. The love affair was instantaneous and it only grew in strength and complexity, filling up this void I didn’t know I had.
He looked over at me, saw the uncontrollable grin spread across my face, and said, "happy.". Not as in a question, as there was no doubt about it, but just a statement, a fact, so simple but so powerfully true...Flying high over Queenstown and surrounds and over to Milford Sound with Heli Tours Queenstown is a day held preciously in my soul.
45 minutes from my doorstep lies a pocket of wildness; of bushland tumbling down into idyllic secret beaches.
Twice I've been to The Gap, in Sydney's east. By no means is it a secret. But the seascapes here, exclusively at sunrise, fill me with inspiration and both settle and send my heart soaring. Maybe it's because to get somewhere for that first light, you've got to really want it. Or maybe because it is just wild out there past the fencing. Either way, it fills the gap between true far-flung places and staves off those crazily itchy and daring feet.
The Warrumbungles; where the earth meets the sky. Ancient land under a night sky so starry and so bright that it became recognised as NSW and Australia's first Dark Sky Park.
At 3,157 metres, South Sister was my first real mountain - though it was a wonderful and pivotal experience, I just can't count Mount Kosciuszko, I'm sorry - and she was spectacular and absolutely brutal...
FOR ANYONE WHO is fond of the outdoors and especially for anyone who has even the slightest inkling of love for rock climbing, Yosemite is mecca. This widely beloved national park, protected since 1864, has been the source of inspiration, even obsession, for countless artists and explorers - I had no chance of escaping its charm.
Central Oregon sits at the convergence point of several geologic regions and has the Deschutes River running through it. Historically, it is a volcanic region. Put altogether, it means that this area is amazingly diverse and incredibly beautiful. Just over an hour's drive and you can cover flourishing forests and waterfalls, desolate-looking lava beds and glimpses of the Cascades. And that is exactly what we did, thanks to Luke's friend Casey's recommendation...
For me, one of the biggest drawcards of hiking and camping is the peace and solitude. 95% of Yosemite National Park is designated Wilderness so we knew that to truly experience Yosemite magic, we had to venture off into the backcountry. This means securing a Wilderness Permit which details which trailhead you are to start from and when, and which trailhead you are to exit from and when.
On the trail, especially in the backcountry, I find that everyone just loves life and welcomes every interaction. Maybe it is because everyone is dressed similarly so there isn’t that trap to prematurely judge someone based on what they are wearing. Or because we find ourselves all on the trail so we know that we must be similar-minded at least in that regard, removing some of the wariness we feel when we meet someone we feel we do not know anything about. Maybe it is because we are not in a hurry and so we have all the time in the world to learn about each other’s stories. Either way, I found that the trail is abundant with warm smiles and enthusiastic greetings.
In just three nights, we experienced so much more of Zion than I could have ever hoped for. I feel like we definitely made the most of our time there, even when we had to change our backcountry hiking plans due to a lack of water and when our car got a flat tyre! So if Zion is on your travel horizon soon, here are my suggestions to get the maximum out of your adventure.