Long weekend on Great Barrier Island

 Look out spot on the way to Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

Look out spot on the way to Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island is a place where you wave to every car you pass, you can be totally off the grid and the views will take your breath away.

Getting there

The island is a 30-minute flight from Auckland Domestic Airport or a 5-hour ferry from North Wharf on Auckland's viaduct with Sealink. The ferry is NZ$84 one way or NZ$105 return, which is slightly cheaper than the flights, which start at $89 one way with Barrier Air. I took the ferry there and returned on the plane which was great, I wanted to take the ferry because a lot of the time people see dolphins or whales. I saw one dolphin so that was awesome, but I think next time I would just fly there and back; it still offers incredible views and involves much less travel time. 

The Beaches

The beaches on Great Barrier Island are a huge drawcard. I visited Pah Beach, near my friend's bach in Tryphena which is a gentle harbour beach with some cool rock formations near the local store and pub. On the east side are some stunning surf beaches, which I didn't have a surfboard for sadly, but I did some boogie boarding and body surfing anyway. Medlands was about a 10-minute drive from Tryphena, has a cool island in the middle of the beach and some great little waves. Apparently, they have surf comps there too! I really loved Awana Bay, which was another 15 minutes north, on the east. The waves there were great too, and the beach itself is stunning and very empty due to its location further afield. Great place to stop after doing the punishing Mt Hobson. 

 The Island of Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

The Island of Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

 Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

Mt Hobson

 View from the walk to Mt Hobson, Great Barrier Island

View from the walk to Mt Hobson, Great Barrier Island

 Made it to the top of Mt Hobson, Great Barrier Island

Made it to the top of Mt Hobson, Great Barrier Island

Speaking of Mt Hobson, what a cool walk! It's a 40 minute drive from Tryphena to the start of the walk, and the walk itself isn't very long, just quite intense. I think it took us between 60-90 minutes at a good pace, stopping a few times, to reach the top. We definitely didn't time it well though, we started the walk before lunch time, I think around 10 or 11 am and boy oh boy it was hot! Did I mention this trip was in January, the middle of New Zealand's summer? I think it was around 26°C and there were parts where it felt much hotter.

The first third was in the bush, lots of stairs with uphills and downhills. Then there's a lot of walking along a ridge out in the sun, but unfortunately the wind wasn't blowing in the right direction and this part was sweltering. The final third was in the bush again but it was a lot of stairs, all going uphill. The view along the path, and especially at the top, was really worth it though and I'm so glad we pushed through to reach the summit. 

Waterfall hike

My friend Bri has been going to Barrier for years and knows all the good spots! So naturally, I was keen for her to show me the waterfall while I was there. It's off Aotea Road, and about a half hour walk. Like Mt Hobson, it's a very steep walk. This one was straight downhill to the waterfall and straight back up to the road when we were done. Unfortunately, the steepest bits didn't have stairs and due to recent rainfall, we were slipping a lot on the way down. Poor Bri landed on her rear about 3 times, each one looked so painful. 

 Waterfall hike, Great Barrier Island

Waterfall hike, Great Barrier Island

Food & drink on the island

Because the island is quite far out, the food at the local store isn't cheap, and you have to buy water or boil it to make sure it's drinkable. I saw a lot of people taking 10L bottles of water over on the ferry which is a great idea because they had none in stock when we were there so we were constantly buying 2L bottles or boiling water, which gets expensive. Head down to the local pub in Tryphena, Currach Irish Pub, for a delicious wood-fried pizza and a beer, or try the cute little food stalls on the way out to Medlands Beach. Even better, enjoy some of the kaimoana (seafood) that you catch yourself, like kingfish or scallops, there are plenty of great spots! Just make sure you read up first to see what the limits are etc, you can find more information here.

Have you ever been to Great Barrier Island? Would you consider a trip out there? 

Fiji & Springbreak highlights video

Yeah, I know it has been a wee while since I was in Fiji (OK, maybe a long while), but after tossing up whether or not to post my video, I've decided I will. Bit of a waste to take so much footage and not use it! So, here goes:

Check out my full blog post on the experience here.

Fiji video

SpringBreak Fiji 2016

It was a week of dancing on the sand, swimming with tropical fish, toxic cocktails, half-assed togas and non-stop partying. I am definitely glad I decided to join a friend on a whim and go to SpringBreak Fiji 2016 on Beachcomber Island. 

Springbreak 2016 1

My friend used to work for George FM, who promote the event, and when she asked me to go to Spring Break with her this year I thought "why the heck not?". We always have a great time going out, why not do it on a tropical island? Lucky for me she is really organised and sorted it all for us, and by the time we got there we'd paid for it, so all we had to worry about was which cocktails to buy (food was included). 

While we were there, we were able to purchase tickets to a party on a sandbank or tickets to Cloud 9, a giant floating bar pontoon, as part of Spring Break. Beachcomber island is taken up by the one resort, and they offered free snorkelling trips twice a day, and the option to pay to go parasailing, jet-skiing, sea-biscuiting or snuba-diving. We went to the sandbank party, snorkelling and on the sea-biscuit, but weren't able to go to Cloud 9 until after the trip. 

Spring Break Fiji 2016 2
Springbreak sandbank
Spring Break Fiji 2016 3
Spring Break underwater

There were several NZ DJs on the trip with us, including SACHI, Marina Katerina and Bulletproof, and they kept it pumping all week, props to them. I must say though, our group (I think we had close to 200 people) was really chill and and kept a constant pace throughout which was cool. When you're on an island that talks 5 minutes to circle on foot it's easy to get annoyed with people and start drama but our week was fine.

Along with the sandbank party and the trip to Cloud 9, there was also a paint party, toga party and foam party (paint, togas and foam supplied, cheers!) and several beach parties, so we were well entertained the whole time. My personal favourite was the last night when we were treated to a cultural performance with fire dancers and ladies doing a Fijian version of the Hula, can't recall the name of it though. We also tried Kava, which is a Fijian drink that makes your lips feel numb and causes you to hallucinate if you drink too much. I wouldn't want to drink enough to find out, it tastes like muddy water. 

Spring Break firedancers
Spring Break toga party

My tips if you're keen to do something like this? 

  • Take lots and lots of bottled water with you from NZ as it is really expensive in Fiji. You will really need it after a night (or few) of drinking in that heat. 
  • Don't neglect your sunblock. My mother goes on and on at me about the hole in the Ozone and skin cancer, and this time I finally listened and avoided getting sunburnt. No regrets! So many people looked like lobsters but I just build up a gradual tan. I still managed to get heatstroke though... 
  • Don't worry about who you're going with. Whether it's a group of mates, a couple, you and your ride-or-die, or just you, you're bound to make heaps of new friends regardless.
  • If you can afford it, get a room with air con. Otherwise, invest in one of these: 
Springbreak water bottle
  • Don't bother with underwear. Apart from a pair for each of your flights, you won't need them because you'll just wear togs the whole time, the beach is literally 15 seconds away for when you want to cool down. 

If you like the sound of that, keep an eye on the website for announcements for next year, or sign up for Spring Break Raro next January, I think they still have tickets! Let me know if you do decide to go too, would love to hear from you! 

The Great Ocean Road (Take 1)

Over the weekend I was treated to a roadie by two of my new Melbournian friends and they took me down the Great Ocean Road! This post is Take 1, because I hope to go again in Summer when there's a bit more sunshine and a bit less torrential rain. 

We were aware on Saturday that the forecast wasn't great for Sunday but went anyway. I've found that Melbourne only rains for a few hours max, so was really optimistic that we'd only get a few showers. Boy was I wrong! 

Great Ocean Road - Wet Selfie

In spite of the terrible weather, we had a great time. Or maybe it was because of the weather? We certainly had a lot of laughs on the trip and I'm so glad the weather didn't stop us.

STOP 1 - THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD SIGN

Great Ocean Road -sign

What's a road trip if you don't get a photo in front of an iconic sign? Our first stop was the only one where we didn't look like drowned rats and we were all very glad we took plenty of selfies there and at the little nearby beach.

Great Ocean Road - Beach

The sign is on The Great Ocean Road, according to Google Maps it's numbers 689/721 in Eastern View, Victoria. You can't miss it! 

STOP 2 - KOALA SPOTTING

Great Ocean Road - Koala spotting

The next stop was really exciting, we got to see Koalas! I do apologise that you can't see them either, it was raining really hard so I left my DSLR in the car and it was just a mission getting a good photo. That's the best one...

There's a bit of bush just by Kennet's River that is known for being home to koalas and friendly Australian birds. There were several parrots and cockatoos that will accept seed from you if you offer it to them, and although we didn't have any, that didn't stop me from pretending, and getting a snap with a curious parrot.

Great Ocean Road - Parrot

Then we went for a little walk up the hill to spot some koalas. We saw three of the poor things, they looked so miserable just huddled in the corner of their branches getting soaked by the rain. I didn't take my DSLR out for that point because it was so wet, and couldn't really get a good shot of them on my phone - another reason to go back in the summer. 

STOP 3 - THE 12 APOSTLES

Great Ocean Road

The 12 Apostles were what we were really there for, and despite the weather we were still able to get some really nice shots of them! Apparently it's normally really packed and hard to get shots of it without having people's selfie sticks in the shot so I guess the rain was good for something. 

You can't see all 12 of the Apostles anymore and from the lookout point you can see two to the East and about 7 to the West. They are slowly being eroded away by the waves, the most recent one to be swallowed by the ocean was called "Judas" and it collapsed in 2005.

Great Ocean Road - 12 Apostles 2

STOP 4 - LOCH ARD GORGE

Great Ocean Road - Loch Ard Gorge
Great Ocean Road - Loch Ard Gorge 2

My dear Melbourne natives had never heard of Loch Ard Gorge when I was trying to describe it to them! I had recently seen pictures of it on Instagram and assumed it was well known but apparently not. It is only 5 minutes away so we headed down the road to take a look at the spectacular beach hidden between the cliffs. It was well worth the trip! 

Have you been down the Great Ocean Road before? Got any hidden gems that I can check out next time I go?! 

Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint

Some days I feel like being alone, and the best place for that is the beach. There's nothing like hearing the waves hit the shore as you walk along with the sand under your feet and the salty air blowing through your hair. 

One of my favourite things about Auckland is the beaches and now that I'm in Melbourne I have the pleasure of exploring it's beaches. So far I haven't been wowed by what I've found, but I have been pleasantly surprised, and it was definitely the case when I took the train to Sandringham this weekend. 

The beach itself looked really similar to Hampton, there wasn't anything that stood out or caught my eye. That is, until I walked around the corner and found this:

Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint 1
Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint

Once I'd taken some photos I kept walking, chuffed with my little discovery. But when I got to the next point, at the other end of that section of the beach,  I climbed up to find even more of the rich yellow/brown rock formations that look like they should be in a dessert somewhere. 

Day trip t0 Sandringham and Blackpoint 3
Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint
Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint 5

On the walk back to the train when I was done, I came across a briefcase of poetry! I was really random, it was a really dry old thing, chained to a park bench and inside was a whole bunch of poetry that people had written and left in there. The "Poetry Pouch 3.0" wasn't really filled with modern works of genius, but there were some funny bits in there and it's such a cool idea. 

Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint Poetry Pouch
Day trip to Sandringham and Blackpoint Poetry Pouch 2

Would you leave something in the Poetry Pouch? 

Kanye in Cremorne

Last week I heard there was a new Kanye mural of his latest music video just up the road from me, done by the same artist who did the Taylor Smith memorial on Hosier Lane, so I decided to check it out. I don't really give a shit about Kanye or the family he's married into, but I love Melbourne's street art and Lush Sux's work is always top notch.

Cremorne We the lost girls

Cremorne is a weird little suburb nestled in between Swan St and the Yarra. From my apartment I can see it across the river, it's a bunch of old warehouses that are now filled with digital agencies and covered in graffiti art. Even peoples' garages are colourfully decorated. 

Cremorne 2 We the lost girls
Cremorne 3 We the lost girls
Cremorne 4 We the lost girls
Cremorne 5 We the lost girls
Cremorne 6 We the lost girls
Cremorne 7 We the lost girls

When I got to Cremorne there was not one, but several Lush Sux murals. The first ones were the 100 emoji and a weirdly muscular Kurt Cobain captioned "Come as your are at me bro".

Cremorne 100 We the lost girls
Cremorne Kurt We the lost girls

Then there were the heads of Kanye, Kim, Donald and Lenny, captioned "I dare you to Snapchat Faceswap with this wall". 

Cremorne 1 We the lost girls

The faceswap results were horrific and will never see the light of day. 

Then there was the main event.

Cremorne Taylor We the lost girls
Cremorne Kanye We the lost girls
Cremorne Kim We the lost girls
Cremorne full We the lost girls

The large mural of Kanye's controversial music video for "Famous" can be found along Stephenson Street, though I haven't been back in the last week so it might've been taken down. You can see heaps of Lush Sux's other work on his Instagram feed

What's your favourite piece of Melbourne street art? 

Melbourne in spring

I'm always the girl who is hanging out for summer, long hot days spent lounging around at the beach, evening BBQs and nighttime swims. I've really enjoyed living to Melbourne these last few months; even though it's winter, there's been so much to see and do, and I've heard it just gets better as the weather gets warmer. 

Melbourne in Spring flowers

It must be true too, already there are so many great things coming up I can tell I'm going to love being in Melbourne in spring. Check out some of the many things on offer in the world's most liveable city (6 years in a row!), it looks like spring is going to be a real treat. 

MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL

I'm going to be honest here and admit that until now, I had never been to the races! But I figured since moving here, a city where going to the races is a tradition, I'd better don my best and head along, right? The Melbourne Cup Carnival includes 6 events from September to November, including the Sofitel Girls Day Out (Saturday 10th September), AAMI Victoria Derby Day (Saturday 29th October) and Emirates Melbourne Cup Day (Tuesday 1st November). I headed along to the Sofitel Girls Day Out (thanks to Visit Victoria) and it was great fun but it was pretty quiet, I guess because the weather had taken a turn for the worst and it's only the start of the season. Will definitely have to head along to the Emirates Melbourne Cup Day though! 

Melbourne in Spring Races 2
Melbourne in Spring Races 3

MELBOURNE FRINGE

This one is a lot less fancy dress, a lot more culture. The Melbourne Fringe is an eclectic mix of dance parties, light shows, poetry slams, furniture exhibitions and much more. There's something for everyone, if you're ready for some raw, unadulterated art. Not sure where to start? Head along to the Nando's PERi-PERi Spotlight Stage at Fed Square for a taster of all the acts in Fringe 2016. 

Melbourne in Spring Fringe Festival

ROYAL MELBOURNE SHOW

I love a good fair, going to the Royal Easter Show back home was always a treat as a kid and I had a pleasantly nostalgic experience going as an adult. The smell of farm animals, the noise of the carnival rides and the taste of candy floss assault the senses, and you can't help but forgive the long queues and screaming children. I'm not sure if the Royal Melbourne Show is the same but it looks like a great place to take the kids, or round up a group of mates to head along and go on some of the rides then watch the fireworks at night. 

A DAY ON THE GREEN

A Day on the Green promises "good food, good wine and great music" which sounds good to me! It features a number of gigs at vineyards around the country, with artists including The Temper Trap, Garbage and Mi-Sex. Plus you can bring your own picnic (food only) which is a huge bonus, although if you're like me you'll forgo the average sandwiches and carrot sticks you brought with you for a much more appealing, hot option anyway. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, unless the bird in your hand is a cold chicken salad and the bush has 2 wood-fried pizzas. 

Melbourne in Spring a day on the green

JUNIPALOOZA

Junipalooza is a celebration of gin, and that's all I needed to know. 

WHO RUN THE WORLD (GIRLS)

I'm all about seeing women succeed and it's really cool that more women are getting into the DJ scene. My housemate worked at an EDM/dance/D&B/dubstep radio station (George FM, sorry if I butchered the description there!) back in NZ and through her I've met some great female DJs including MayaVanya and Marina Katerina but they still only make up a small percentage of the scene. I'm really excited for WRTW (Girls), to see how the ladies drop the beats. Gosh I can't pull that off! 

OKTOBERFEST

Oktoberfest is a traditional German festival that has been around since 1810, and is pretty much a festival for drinking lots of beer. I have only recently started liking beer, so it has never appealed to me in the past. But this year I'm definitely going to make the most of it. There are numerous places to celebrate Oktoberfest in Melbourne with the biggest being Oktoberfest in the Gardens. You can also celebrate it at the European Bier Cafe, Hophaus (where you can see the Daschund Race, below), Munich Brauhaus or at the Oktoberfest St Kilda Foreshore.

DASCHUND RACE 2016

Okay, this one is pretty stupid but at the same time...HOW FREAKING CUTE, RIGHT?! Nicknamed "Melbourne's favourite sausage fest", this might just be my favourite part of spring. I love love love dogs, and am all for a ridiculous event when the silliest of the species all race each other. Oh, and there's also a costume parade, so I'll be there. 

What are you looking forward this spring in Melbourne?