I had only just arrived in New Zealand to start my internship at Hiking New Zealand and I was already flying to Auckland and joining the Northland Discovery – what a great surprise!
Early in the morning on our second day we arrived at Oke Bay Scenic Reserve to do the Cape Brett Track, a 16km day-walk in the middle of the lovely Bay of Islands.
Our guide, Linda, asked beforehand if we prefer doing two different smaller bush-walks which might be possible or a single long loop. We agreed immediately to enjoy thelatter.
Starting from Russell, it took around 35 minutes driving to reach the starting point. Climbing up the first hill, we were welcomed with an amazing view of the ocean – glistening in the morning sun. This outlook and the expectation of spending the whole day outdoors already made my heart skip a beat. After the long car drive northwards, I wanted to release some energy.
We continued walking the hilly path through the bush, rewarded with stunning moments at the 360° viewpoints - capturing numerous islands dotted along a backdrop of blue. The walk had the bay on one side and the ocean on the other as we wound around the mountains in between. We were the only hikers for miles around, unbelievable but this paradise was ours – at least for a day!
The whole group was immensely interested in the native birds and plants and the nature surrounding us, sparking an intense conversation. Being the only European in a group of New Zealanders and Australians, I had good fun following their unusual sounding names and explanations. I tried to remember them: Manuka, Kauri, Weka …
It got quite warm as the day went on. After approximately 3 hours of walking we stopped at a wonderful bay and jumped in the turquoise water to refresh. Putting on my bikini and running in the warm sea felt so unrealistic as I had just escaped snow-covered and -12 degrees cold Germany! Before leaving this beautiful beach, I asked our guide Linda for a beach picture of me - a super touristy and girlie one, but I definitely wanted to capture this moment somehow!
About half way through the trail we stopped again, at the Whangamumu Whaling Station - it was the only one in the world that caught whales with nets, and it was Northland’s longest running and most successful station.
With the sun reflecting off the water the feeling of being in paradise lasted. A few sailing boats anchored and their owners enjoyed the bay on stand-up paddle boards. Their faces shared our expression of happiness. I overheard one of them say ‘You don’t wanna be anywhere else in the world, do you?’, I could not have agreed more.
While wandering through the bush and talking with my fellow hikers I discovered, that one of the Australian ladies knows my favourite nearby mountain in Bavaria – isn’t that incredible? We kept on chatting and I learned a lot about Australia and got an invitation to Tasmania. Fantastic! That’s what I’d like my overseas experience to be all about: meeting many different people from all over the world and broadening my knowledge as much as possible.
The last part of the day-walk started with another climb uphill and some group-members were beginning to tire. To keep on going and motivate them, we used my GPS to make the success visible: 800m elevation gain!
All in all, the trail was easy to follow and is well maintained.
I feel so lucky that I got the opportunity to go on this trip, being able to enjoy Northland in good company. I couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off with Hiking New Zealand – and still hoping it was not the last trip!