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Back in the Land of the Long White Cloud

Hello there everyone and thanks for visiting and taking a read of my first blog on my new website; first one of many to come! Through my blogs you will be able to catch up with all my ventures in New Zealand, taking on some of the finest mountains and hikes the country has to offer!

The land of the long white cloud - New Zealand. It's always refreshing coming back here, mostly for the fact that the weather always seems to be much better than where my home is back in the UK; Birmingham.

As soon as I landed, February 14th at 2pm, I was due North for a reunion with old friends and some Scuba diving at a place i just can't seem to get away from, Tutukaka and the Poor Knight Islands.

Having trained as a Scuba diving Instructor here at New Zealand's no.1 dive centre, Dive! Tutukaka, it was great to be reunited with familiar faces and friends. The Poor knight Islands is a place EVERY diver has to visit at least once in their lifetime, what you will experience their both above and below the water sets the diving standards sky high! The day out was fantastic, some great dives at Northern and Middle arch with amazing visibility and clouds of fish like no other, man i've missed this! I'd highly advise going with Dive! Tutukaka, the days experience you'll have with them is second to none! (www.diving.co.nz)

I was on the move once more heading down to Auckland to walk a trail i'd much anticipated; the hillary trail. Measuring 75km in length, i planned to just do a day hike due to a tight schedule to get down south. The weather was unfavourable, gloomy clouds overhead and spitting rain, but often that brings out the best in the New Zealand bush. Not long into the trail I stumbled upon a decommissioned tramline, the Nihotupu tramline. Decomissioned in 2014 and has had no further use since, nature has seized this opportunity to grow over the tramline to provide an eery setting along the tracks, in particular the various tunnels that the tramline used to run through.

Moving onwards and ever southwards, I took a 12 hour overnight bus to get me from Auckland to Wellington, and then a quick flight over to Nelson and eventually Golden Bay. I have lived in Golden bay previously a couple of years ago, a slow town which many would argue has some of the best coastlines in New Zealand. Neighboured by 2 national parks, The Abel Tasman and The Kahurangi both providing one of New Zealand's "9 Great walks" (The Abel Tasman Track and The Heaphy track. Here in Golden Bay i'll be remained for a few months whilst working as a Field Ranger for the Department of Conservation and what a great job it is to have!

My first week of work entailed heading up to the Cobb Valley, a less renowned walk in relevance to the Heaphy and Abel Tasman but some places are best kept this way. The Cobb is known for it's great reservoir, which is located 819m above sea level and delivers hydroelectric energy via the Cobb power station.

I flew in by helicopter, along with Lana and Kieran, friends of mine who also work for DOC. Our goal, to fix a slip that had come down over the trail and re-route a trail across the slip, not a bad start to work in the bay! It was an awesome week where we stayed at restored "tent camp", one of the last offical tent camps left in New Zealand. It was an amazing setting, meals cooked over the fire, the sounds of the river running nearby and of course the infamous Weka, one of New Zealand's flightless birds attempting to steal any food they could get their beaks on!

Post work, I would make the most of the location and head to various different places along the valley to explore and take photos. One of them being Fanella hut which has a swimming hole nearby which is elevated 1100m above sea level, an amazing spot to cool off especially on a hot day!

Life back in the Bay and New Zealand itself is great, now the adventures really begin. Stay tuned and I'll have more updates on more exotic locations i'll be visiting as well an attempt at all 9 Great Walks!

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info@jackaustin.org

07487699860

Evesham, United Kingdom

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