New Zealand

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.

Self-Care at the Polynesian Spa

I'm what some would call an 'active person.' I always like to be doing something! It can often feel like my brain won't switch off. This can be great sometimes when you need to get something done but when you're like that all the time, it can easily lead to burn out and stress. It's important to find balance in life and find a great self-care routine to look after yourself. So once the stress of life started to pile up, it seemed the perfect time for a weekend away in Rotorua. 

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Rotorua is said to be a place where all you can do is eat, sleep, and spa. Located in the North Island just three hours drive from Auckland, the region is highly geothermic so you can enjoy the benefits of boiling thermal mud and relax in the therapeutic hot pools. Although we were warned that the Polynesian Spa was expensive and that there are plenty of free hot pools to soak in, we decided to go anyway and treat ourselves - and I regret nothing! I can see why it is voted in the top 10. 

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Polynesian Spa’s geothermal mineral waters are sourced from two natural springs and feed into 28 hot mineral pools. The slightly acidic Priest Spring waters relieve aches and pains while the alkaline waters of the Rachel Spring nourish skin. There are four options when visiting the Polynesian Spa. Firstly, for $10 you can bathe in the Family Pool which is the cheapest and most communal pool. Secondly, you can pay $30 for the Adult & Priest Spring pool which is adult only. Thirdly, you can pay $50 for the Deluxe Lake Spa or lastly, you can pay between $20-100 for your own private bathing experience.   

We decided to go all out and indulge ourselves with a massage which gave us access to the Deluxe Lake Spa where we spent a blissful couple of hours. The massage we got was a scrub and full body whilst lying under warm water that jets onto your body. It was the best massage I have ever had and I can't recommend it enough! The pools themselves are split into five with four shallow Rachel Spring alkaline mineral hot pools and one Priest Spring acidic mineral hot pool and they range between 36 - 42 °C.

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Where?

1000 Hinemoa Street, Rotorua, New Zealand

 

 

 

Bream Head / Te Whara Track

The Te Whara Track is a true hidden gem and one that is not on a lot of people's radar. This 7.5 km one-way track is a tough thigh-burning but rewarding one day hike. The walk takes you through some of the best coastal forest on the the North Island and you can also stumble across the ruins of a WWII radar station. The views along the track are pretty spectacular and you can see all the way up to Cape Brett to the north and Cape Rodney to the south. 

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We started our day at 6am from Auckland where we drove 3 hours up to the Te Whara Track. We parked at the Ocean Beach car park, took a leisurely stroll across said beach and then immediately began the hike up to the summit of the mountain. This meant that we did the hardest part of the trek first but was rewarded when we reached the top by the stunning panoramic views. For anyone doing this trek, I will warn you that it is a hard trek to the top with a seemingly endless amount of stairs! You will need to be fairly fit and take plenty of water for this hike. From then onwards we hiked up and down the mountain to reach the junction that can take you all the way across to Smugglers Cover or down to Peach Cove. We decided to continue on for a while but soon decided to descend to Peach Cove because the sun was setting soon. 

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The hike took us around 5 hours including our lunch break. From Ocean Beach to Smugglers Cove takes around 5-7 hours. My advice would be to take the road back to where you need to be as this is much easier and quicker than doing the whole route backwards. We took this hike in July which seemed to be a good decision because the weather was clear and sunny but not overall hot - I would not want to do this hike in Summer! At the end we were tired and achy but happy. A great day hike if you're looking to get out into the bush. 

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These birds are called Fantails and they will fly close to you. They won't hurt you but are quite playful and follow you around the track. 

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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: