Adventure

Penguin Discovery

It was my birthday on Sunday last week and what better way to spend it then getting up close and making friends with penguins! Seriously - every birthday from now on needs to include penguins. Unfortunately, I couldn't fly over to Antarctica but Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium in Auckland was the next best thing. 

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The aquarium itself is worth the trip and can be found on Tamaki Drive, just 10-15 minutes from Mission Bay - so you can also include a trip to the beach. Inside, you'll find an abundance of sea life such as jellyfish, mandarin fish, stingrays, seahorses, king crabs, pig fish and moray eel. Sometimes they have turtles which have been rescued and are due to be released back into the sea. A main attraction is the shark tunnel where you can watch as Sand-tiger and Broad-nose Seven gill sharks swim above your head. With over 1,500 sea life inhabitants across 50+ species, regular talks and feedings - there’s so much to learn and discover! Plus there are special exhibitions such as the recreation of legendary explorer’s Antarctic hut with authentic memorabilia showing just what it was like for the adventurers over a hundred years ago.

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The best part was taking part in the Penguin Passport which allowed us to go behind the scenes and on the ice with the penguins. First, you are taken to see the penguins as normal and the keeper gives you a detailed talk about the Gentoo and King Penguins. The rules and regulations of being on the ice are explained to you and then you are taken to get changed into your arctic gear (a fleece, warm trousers and big boots). You're not allowed to touch the penguins as they don't like it but they are pretty friendly and curious so they come up to you and stay with you. They love anything shiny so you have to take off jewelry and tie up hair but you take bubbles and a plastic ball with you for them to play with. It was a pretty special experience and I reccomend you try it for yourself if you are ever in Auckland. 

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What you need to know

  • Open 9.30am - 5pm (last entry at 4pm), 365 days a year

  • Sea Life Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium, 23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, Auckland, NZ, 107

  • 7 days a week Kelly Tarlton's operates a FREE shuttle service from downtown Auckland!

  • Shuttle departs from 152 Quay Street 

  • The shuttle runs hourly on the HALF hour from 9:30am until 4:20pm, with the final pick up from downtown being at 3:30pm.

24 Hours: A Photo Story

On Saturday 9th June the Nikon Auckland Photo Day returned to the city as part of the Photography Festival!  NIKON AUCKLAND PHOTO DAY (initiated by the festival in 2004) is an open access public competition run over a period of 24 hours. For one day only Aucklanders were asked to capture an image which reflects their Auckland. I spent the day travelling around the city and here is what I captured: 

Thing's You'll Learn During Your First Northern Winter

My first experience of Canada was in winter - and it happened to be one of the worst they had experience in a long time. Coming from England where the idea of snow is laughable, I learnt a lot of new things. Here are a few things you will learn:

You Can Never Have Enough Layers! 

One coat will definitely not be enough for a Northern Winter but it is worth investing in a quality coat because it will be a lifesaver in the snow. The coat should be waterproof/windproof and thermal if possible. However you will also need layers! thermals, long sleeved tops, jumpers, fleeces, coats, good socks – the works!

No Amount Of Layers Will Be Enough

A jumper (even twelve) will not be enough because once the cold gets in past your layers then there’s not much you can do except go inside and warm up! In the Northern Winter you have to think about your body and what it needs to survive, but on the bright side that means lots of fires, hot chocolates and food! 

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Your Clothes Will Fall Apart

You find out pretty quickly which brands of clothing are built to last and which ones are built for fashion. Be prepared to replace a lot of clothing and it’s worth buying the important stuff like shoes and coat once you are there.

The Snow Won’t Listen To The Seasons

Winter doesn’t have a start and a stop date. Just because it’s March or April doesn’t guarantee an end to the winter. My friends tell me it’s still snowing there in June. Try to wait it out and don’t look at pictures of beaches or sun.
 

You Will Get Pale

It’ll be the palest you’ve ever been in your life. You’ll be made fun of by your friends and family back home. Prepared to be as white as a ghost — perhaps even sometimes scaring yourself in the mirror!

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Hand-Warmers Will Be Your Best Friend

Stick them in your gloves. Stick them in your socks. Stick them everywhere you can.

Snow Will Make You A Child Again

If your lucky then you will learn all the fun things you can do in the snow like snow slides, snow fights, building snow people, making caves and all the other winter culture that the North has.

It Will Be The Best Time Of Your Life!

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Life Lessons Learnt From Snowboarding

Whilst I was in Canada I tried snowboarding for the first time. It was a lot of fun and as a longboarder I knew it was going to be something I enjoyed. However, I didn't realise how difficult it was going to be! 

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Snowboarders have this amazing freedom and flow of movement and watching the more experienced riders I was determined to learn. However, I quickly realised that this was not going to be something you can just pick up and do brilliantly, Olympic athletes definitely don’t learn double back-flips overnight without breaking a sweat. But like all great things, it’s worth it! During my lesson while I was listening to the instructor, it occurred to me that a lot of what he was saying could be applied to life. So here are a few things I picked up while learning to snowboard

1. You are going to fall down

When you learn to do any board sport, the first thing you have to learn isn’t how to go or how to stop, it’s how to fall. You are going to fall down and the fear of falling is what stops most people from learning. We are scared of getting hurt and we let that fear hold us back from taking risks or doing the things we could really enjoy.

2. Persist with patience

However after a few falls you realise that it actually isn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be. And even if it was as bad as you thought it was going to be, get back up. Get right back up each and every time you fall.  Be patient and know that within time those falls will happen less and less and you’ll only gain more and more confidence as you ride. Try not to take those falls as a direct hit to the ego either, nobody knows how to everything straight away.

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3. Confidence! 

Attitude and mentality really does mean everything and having confidence changes the way you feel and the way you act. This applies especially when fear, anxiety or risks are involved. Most of my falls happen from mental moments of weakness. Psyching yourself out is a phenomenon that is so common — fear just loves to creep up into the crevices of our minds — yet so easy to fix because your mind has the power to push those fearful thoughts away. Falling over hurts but I know that if I have confidence in my abilities that I’m not going to fall.  I like to envision myself ending it with sheer satisfaction… hitting every turn, every jump with pure ease… helps to regain my confidence. Dare yourself and eventually you will conquer every trail on the mountain

4. Find your rhythm

When you start learning to ride, you don’t have a rhythm or your own “flow.” Flow is the rhythm you obtain from sequentially carving and connecting turns. Once you have the basic mechanics of a turn, your rhythm will naturally develop. When you’ve reached the top of the mountain, strap in and start the descent, your flow will take control and gracefully glide you all the way to the base. My favourite thing is carving, I love the feel of my hips moving and the ease with which the board moves with me. I also like speed. I love the adrenaline and fear of going fast. Once you find your rhythm, confidence will follow and there’s nothing like it!

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5. Embrace your surroundings

When you start learning to ride, you don’t have a rhythm or your own “flow.” Flow is the rhythm you obtain from sequentially carving and connecting turns. Once you have the basic mechanics of a turn, your rhythm will naturally develop. When you’ve reached the top of the mountain, strap in and start the descent, your flow will take control and gracefully glide you all the way to the base. My favourite thing is carving, I love the feel of my hips moving and the ease with which the board moves with me. I also like speed. I love the adrenaline and fear of going fast. Once you find your rhythm, confidence will follow and there’s nothing like it!

6. You can always do better

Some of the best riders I’ve seen never stop pushing themselves to be better. No matter how good you get at something, there are always more things to learn and practice does make perfect. The more you ride, the more you learn, and taking each time you go to the mountain as an opportunity to focus on a new area is one of the best ways to actively improve. That’s not to say that you can’t have fun either!

Off Grid in the Sahara

Going off the grid isn't something that we get to do often - rarely is there a place to escape to in our modern society of social media and smartphones. Every once in a while an opportunity presents itself and the rewards for taking yourself offline and into the moment are certainly worthwhile!  I was lucky enough to spend a night in Sahara desert on my recent trip to Morocco. 

I walked the desert and slept under the stars like a true Berber nomad. The Berbers lived in north Africa long before the arrival of the Arabs, and their culture probably dates back more than 4,000 years, today the Berber people live a nomadic life wandering the Sahara desert. 

Getting There

To reach our camp in the Sahara desert we had to cross a large portion of the desert - the best way to get across the sweeping sand dunes is to ride camels. You can ride a camel for around 200 dirhams or you can do what I did and walk. My guide and I walked alongside the camels barefoot in the sand and then left the group to explore the sand dunes. It can be tough to walk in the desert and the sand switches between hard and soft but it can also be a free massage for your feet! 

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Berber Camp 

We reached the Berber camp after two hours of travel and stayed at a traditional camp alongside the camel drivers. The sleeping tents at the Berber desert camps are made of the traditional Saharan ‘haimas’ materials and were actually quite comfortable! There were beds with plenty of blankets and pillows for the cold night and there was a toilet facility on site. There was a separate dining-salon tent and outdoor space for relaxation and enjoyment of the camp-fire.

At the camp we enjoyed the sunset before tucking into a traditional Moroccan tagine. Afterwards we gathered around a campfire to enjoy some drumming from Obama and El Med Juba. 

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Fun In The Sahara 

The sahara desert is a giant play area! Let loose - jump, roll and leap! Run up and down the sand dunes until you are too tired! Here is a place to be free. 

Sleeping Under The Stars

Nothing can prepare you for the experience of sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert. The night's are cold and harsh but more than worth it for the view of the night sky. Far from the light pollution of the city, the sky explodes with thousands of tiny stars and the constellations become clear. 
We may never know how many stars there are but astronomers estimate there are 100 thousand million in the Milky Way alone and countless galaxies beyond that. They glow with a light as icy cold as the desert at night but they are really on fire. And some are so far away that we are seeing light from a star that's now extinct.
It makes me dizzy to think of all this vastness and I always wonder if there's anything beyond these trillions of miles of galaxies. Are they all swept up into a tiny music box on the coffee table of a grande dame called Eve, who inhabits another cosmos of a trillion stars? It's impossible not to contemplate the universe with a view like this:

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