A Travellerspoint blog

Auckland Again


13 °C

So after my early morning wake up on my last Hawaii day and my late flight leaving around midnight, I was quite tired and managed to sleep for the majority of my 9hr and change flight. Not sleep comfortably, mind you, but sleep nonetheless.

I landed around 7am and hopped the SkyBus to Base in Auckland. Why I stayed at Base again - I'm not sure. I won't do it again. I spent my morning hanging out in the lounge surfing the internet to find a car to buy. By 12:30 I had found one, seen and driven it and given the owner a deposit with plans to pick it up the next day. Went back home and checked into my room then tried to stay awake until a reasonable hour.

Next day the car owner and his gf picked me up and took me to get the car. We almost got in a car accident on the way. It kind of made me nervous about having to drive in the city but it was super quiet on the streets for a Saturday. Got the car and headed back to Base and tried all day to resist the urge to head for Paihia.

Had the craziest roommate there ever. French guy from Quebec who didn't know where PEI even was. Kept calling it Prince Albert Island. He had apparently just split with his wife so he had all his worldly possessions crammed into out little, windowless room. He smelled horrible. Drank a lot. And kept trying to sell me his stuff - CDs, baseball caps (strangely enough he had an Indians cap) and apparently his ex's stuff (purses etc.)

I was super glad to be getting out of Auckland.

Posted by karencook 21:32 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Back to Waikiki


Back to Waikiki and back to the Polynesian Hostel. Things have sure changed there in the last 8 months. I told myself that I was going to get around the island and see more this time instead of just walking the half block to waikiki beach and laying there all day. I failed on that for the most part. Spent a lot of time laying in the sun on Waikiki Beach and over at Queen's. Swam a lot. But managed to do some other stuff as well.

Went to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve one day. Ended up being a bad call. Visibility was really bad for snorkeling that day so it wasn't worth the cost - bus, entry fee, gear rental etc.

Hiked up to Makapu'u Light house another day. That was nice. An easy hike.

Rented a car with a couple of French girls to go see the west side of the Island. They spoke French 85% of the time - so it wasn't so much fun. The west coast is beautiful though, very quiet, much like some of the other islands.

Had a great night out with Erol at Anna Banana's.

Posted by karencook 21:30 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Island Air

Operated by Penn Air

When I booked my flights from Kona - Kahului and Kahului to Honolulu, I booked with Island Air. I had always flown with Hawaiian Air when I've island hopped before. It was the only option until recently. Now there are upwards of 4 companies to choose from including small charter airplanes.

The companies aren't really competitive with oneanother. There are dozens of flights between any two given cities daily. They depart about every half hour from early morning to late at night.

I went with Island Air just to try it and it would save me a few dollars with each flight as they have slightly lower baggage fees.

So my first ever flight with Island Air was actually operated by Pen Air. Small plane with about 30 seats in total. It's really not a long flight from Kona to Kahului. 30-40 minutes. The plane never really levels off in altitude - it simply ascends until it begins its descent. Just enough time for the 1 flight attendant go give all 18 passengers a small juice and then immediately go back down the aisle collecting the rubbish.

So the ascent went rather smoothly. Then we transitioned into the descent. I think this was the first time in all my travels that I ever legitimately thought I might die in a plane crash. It was ROUGH! And because it was such a small plane it just seemed to be getting tossed around like a toy. All around me people were looking rather terrified - eyes clenched shut, some covering their faces, and couples holding eachothers hands as tightly as they could. It was exactly like you would see in a movie before the plane crashes. Anyway I figured the odds of us crashing were pretty slim, and the view out my window was beautiful (and possibly the last thing I would ever see) so I decided to just chill and take some pics out the window, even though I had been told to put my phone away. Anyway, minutes later we landed safely on the ground.

A few days later, flight #2. I had low expectations of course. I got to the airport pretty early, settled in with a coffe and my book. I arrived at the gate area with 30 mins to spare before boarding was due to begin. Minutes later I was asked by an employee where I was going. I told her Honolulu. and she says, "Oh, We're waiting for you." Now I'm confused. Boarding was supposed to be at 6:00 and the flight was at 6:20. It's about 5:50 at this time, so how am I so late. I say "Isn't the flight at 6:20?" and she says "Yes, it's supposed to be, but everyone's here, so we're just gonna leave early." Ahhhh Hawaii. So laid back. I've never had this happen to me for a flight before and I honestly never expected it to happen in a million years. I know flights are notorious for being late, but a flight leaving early "just beacause" is unheard of. So I head down the jetway, where the pilot has the plane running as they wait for me to climb aboard. Sure enough, all 13 of us are here now and ready to go.

Posted by karencook 21:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)



sunny 25 °C
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I had been debating whether or not I should go to Maui or just head straight back to Oahu. On one hand I didn't really want to spend 12+ days in Waikiki but on the other hand going to Maui meant spending even more money (on an extra flight, higher cost for accommodation, etc.) Anyway, around Wednesday I made my decision that I was going to go for it. I hadn't been there in 3 years and I'm definitely glad I decided to go back. I had forgotten what an amazingly beautiful Island it is. It does have its downsides for a backpacker - hostels are more expensive, most are located in the town of Wailuku - which is not pretty and not close to ay beaches really, and public transportation kind of sucks (buses comes once an hour and if you happen to miss the one you wanted to get, too bad - you have to wait another to come an hour later).

I had left Kona around noon and arrived in Kahului in time for the 1pm shuttle courtesy of Northshore Hostel.

I had a very thorough check-in. Got to my room - it was a mess - and I could only chuckle when I discovered that, of course, it was room #5. Just like in Paihia.

I slept in a bit Saturday and then one of my roommates asked if I wanted to go to Baldwin Beach in Paia, Paia - Maui!, (sounds like Paihia - but without the 'H'). AS SOON as we got halfway from the parking lot to the beach it started raining. We tried to wait it out but got bored and it didn't look like it was going to stop any time soon, so we just headed back to the hostel. Spent the rest of the day mostly just hanging around the hostel. And then I met Will. I had seen him around the hostel before, but he came outside when I was on the balcony, started chatting and introduced himself (oddly enough, at the time I had been JUST thinking about 2 guys I had met on previous trips to Oahu whose names had been William and Will). Weird. Anyway we chatted away for quite awhile and then we decided we should eat and went for Thai food.

The next day I wanted to go to Lahaina, but since I had JUST missed the bus, I decided to head back to Paia instead of waiting around for another bus to Paia. I spent the majority of the day at the beach but it was crazy windy. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore and walked around the town and looked in the shops, many of which were closed because it was Sunday.

Monday morning Will asked what my plans were for the day, I told him I was going to go to Lahaina, and he suggested we go together and go snorkeling. We got snorkle gear in Laihaina and headed farther North to a couple spots. Had a great time and saw a few turtles. Around 4 we decided we had time to check out one more place and headed back through Laihaina and farther South. It was another great spot and once again we saw a turtle or 2 and this time a sting ray. The sun was going down as we headed to shore, me cold and both of us tired.

We took some time to snap some pics of the georgous sunset and then sat on a towel to chill (or in MY case - warm up!) for awhile. Dusk quickly turned to night and we found ourselves standing in the ocean, eyes to the sky, in search of shooting stars and looking for various stars and constellations. Amazingly I had retained a lot of what I learned from Greg on the trip up Mauna Kea and even managed to point out somce stars and constellations. When my limited knowledge ran out we downloaded Sky Map on his phone and used that instead haha. Before we knew it, hours had passed and we were both famished. Since I was losing the seeing shooting stars game 6-1, I agreed that we should leave to find food. We headed back to Lahaina and after spending the ride there discussing our pizza cravings, we ended up at Cheeseburger in Paradise where we both got - you guessed it - cheeseburgers...Afterwards we walked all over the town, window shopping and checking out landmarks. It was very late when we got home - after 1 - and we made our arrival known by setting off the car alarm. lol

Tuesday morning I awoke sore and still tired. I got up anyway because I wanted to get to the beach and make the most out of my snorkel rental before taking it back to Lahaina. Will decided to join me and we agreed to go to the south east area of the island and snorkel an area referred to as "Turtle Town" assuming that we would be likely to see turtles there.. We saw a few, took more pics of the beautiful scenery and headed to return our gear in Lahaina.

Will wanted to shop for a shirt and hat, so once again we hit the town, this time actually getting to go IN stores and galleries. My favorite place was an art gallery where there were signs all over encouraging people to touch the art.

After seeing the whole town again, we headed for Paia as will hadn't been there yet. We were hungry once again so we stopped at Paia Fish Market for some food and then, just like in Lahaina, checked out the shops and galleries. The last place we went went we bought each other a friendship bracelet. We're super cool like that. Then he dropped me off at home and headed to the airport.


The last day I was going to go to Kihei, but due to the slack bus system, it would have taken me about 3 hours in total travel time to spent 1 hours at the beach. So I just lazed around the hostel, reading and enjoying feeling warm.....

Posted by karencook 21:21 Archived in USA Comments (0)



sunny 25 °C
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I had THE BEST time on the Big Island with THE BEST HOST you could ever ask for.
My awesome time here consisted of:

lava, meteor shower, beers, kettle corn, machos, hiking, Mauna Kea Summit, cliff jumping or standing on the edge of a cliff, beaches, and goats.

So I arrived on the Big Island after traveling for 22-23 hours. I was exhausted. My AWESOME friend GREG picked my up at the airport, took me to his house and then left me there while he went out drinking with his friends. That was okay though because I was fast asleep before he even went out.

Woke up the next morning and was told I needed to go jump off a cliff..... I think he was sick of me already. Brief stop made to be disappointed by lack of tsunami slide and acquire kettlecorn. I spent most of my time standing on the edge of the cliff and NOT jumping. But I DO have the video to prove that eventually I did do it.

Next day. Next adventure. Driving around the south end of the island to Valcanoes Nat'l Park. Visitor centre. Jagger Museum. UNO in the truck. Winner. Seeing the glow of the lava lake on Kilauea. Then parking to sleep / watch the meteor shower. We began our hike into the lava field around 3am. About 3 miles of crazy hiking over lava field in the dark. eached flows by sun up. So Cool. I love lava now. It was soooo hot around it. Took tons of pics and videos. Hiked back out under the hot hot sun. Hit up a farmers market. Stopped at a beautiful black sand beach called Punalu'u (PUNALU'U BLACK SAND BEACH) on the drive back. Stopped at the most southern bakery in the USA for a sugar rush. Stopped at the donkeyball factory (DONKEYBALLS!!!!) on the way home. All awesome.

Monday and Tuesday Greg worked so I mostly just went to beaches and bummed around town. Checked out the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (HIBT) a few times. There were 5 teams from the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club (where I live in NZ).

Wednesday Greg was off again and it was back to the End of the World for more cliff jumping. There were tonssss of people there. I mostly just swam and got sunburn. Greg's friend and super-talented photographer - Joshua Lambus - (CHECKOUT JOSH'S AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHY HERE) was there taking pic of people. It was a super fun time. After we left we headed to Humpy's for a beer and some Thai chicken strips, then went to check out Josh's gallery. Hit up a happy hours at some random Indian restaurant / bar and watched the boats come to weigh in their fish for the tourney. Then off to Splasher's grill for more beer and Machos. That's right... Not just your everyday nachos... Brought Josh a beer at his gallery. Then headed home to eat ice cream!

Greg was back to work the next night. And there was space on his tour. So I just went wth him! Let's just say I forgot how cold 3C is. Ugh. Awesome tour though. Beautiful sunset. Amazing star show. No moon. Lots of shooting stars. Saw Jupiter like it was no one's business. Amazing!

All in all had the most fantastic trip to the Big Island.

Thanks to GREG!!!!

I'll be back!!!!


Posted by karencook 21:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)



sunny 22 °C
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I had about 5 hours layover in Van so my friend Andrew, who I met in Paihia, picked me up at the airport and we went out for lunch. SOOOOO awesome to see him again!! :)

Thanks Andrew!

Posted by karencook 21:04 Archived in Canada Comments (0)



sunny 25 °C
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Didn't really get to do a lot here. But that's okay I guess because there isn't that much to do here anyway. Bridal shower, stagette, stagette, dinner with friends, wedding, dinner with friends, beach. flying annnnnd gone. That pretty much sums it up. It was great to see the people who actually put in half an effort to make time to see me in the small window of opportunity.

Posted by karencook 21:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Leavin Paihia... For Now......

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So I stayed in Paihia until today. Had the best time ever. Lots of laughs, talks, adventures, tears (both happy and sad), and most importantly beers! Heading back to PEI for my sister's wedding. So sad to be leaving Paihia. It's like the end of an era.

Posted by karencook 20:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

More Paihia

Well... What can I say? I love this town! I've found a place to call home, that's for sure. Yes it's small, yes it's boring at times - mainly when the sun refuses to shine, but I love it just the same. So after arriving here in the beginning of the year, I find myself still living here with very little intention of moving on anytime soon. I really just can't bare the thought of leaving here.

I'm back to my pattern of cleaning the hostel each morning in exchange for accommodation, and working in a restaurant waitressing in the evenings. I'm working at Jimmy Jack's Rib Shack. Apparently I still work at the Thai Garden also, however I haven't done a shift there in almost 2 weeks bc I've been at JJ's. And I won't be there anytime soon seeing as I work at JJs every night this week.

I'm unsure if my method for saving money will really work out in the end, but I've decided that money doesn't matter that much and I'm quite happy here, so why leave and go pick fruit or whatever just to make more money..?

It's such a small place I've really gotten to know a lot of people in the town and have made some really great friends. I'm loving this because although I have some great friends at the hostel, eventually everyone leaves, so it's good to have local friends bc you know they'll always be around.

So I'm having a blast, working, partying, and just hanging out, loving life. Maybe partying too much haha When a friend asked about how my St Pattys day went, my summary of the night was:

5:49pm good from what i remember haha.. just got my camera back like 10 mins ago... and found out i went to the beach apparently... also marie bit me outside the salty.. she left a bruise.. and according to steve i punched a guy in the throat bc his name was brian... and i stole the majority of some dude's hotdog... i got home at 10am.. just in time to clean.. haha i practically ran across town i was at a friends house and apparently slept for awhile so they made me coffee, woke me up, made me drink it, then we just drank all night i was still drunk cleaning

I should probably note that I live right behind a bar. It's basically our front yard. I end up there a lot. Then on the other side of the hostel is 2 bars. In the same building. Next to that there's a bar/cafe and next to that is another bar. It's so convienent. No taxis, no leaving ur car then having to get back to it the next day. lol. These are my new priorities in life.

Posted by karencook 19:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Still in Paihia

Stillllll in Paihia... Loving it. I've been thinking about just staying here for a super long time but I'm told it's pretty dead in the winter, so I'll have to wait and see what it's actually like. It's pretty quiet now and it's the middle of summer.

I got a sweet new job as a photographer with Fullers/GreatSights. We do tours out into the bay everyday. Twice a day depending on what boat you're on for the day. So I get to see dolphins everyday, sometimes penguins and stingrays. Hoping to see some whales and sharks soon!

Posted by karencook 18:59 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)



-22 °C
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So it's been awhile and although I said I would write a blog for each place, I felt the need to update even though I plan on staying in Paihia for quite awhile.

I arrived at my new home, the Saltwater Lodge - SALTWATER LODGE, PAIHIA

and was greeted by the friendly face of Margaret - half of the couple who manages the place.

Definitely a cool hostel. Great hanging out space and I have met tons of amazing people.

Started cleaning rooms in exchange for accommodation the next day. Pretty sweet deal. It's a great way to save money since accom is the biggest expense when traveling.

Always done by 1 so the rest of the day is freeeeeeee.

When I first arrived the weather wasn't so great. Rained quite a bit. But since then it has been much much better with sun almost every day. I have been spending a lot of my time laying at the beach.

After a couple of weeks of mainly bumming around I started waitressing at a Thai restaurant. Not a lot of hours, but it's all good. I work ever evening at 6:30 til whenever it gets quite. The hours don't add up to much but it's a bit of pocket money and also I get to pick a delicious Thai dish to bring home every night. However, after eating Thai food 2 times a day for about 11 days straight it gets tiring... I actually started trading my thai food with my friends at the hostel for whatever food they wanted to make me.. lol.. traveling is awesome!!!!

Posted by karencook 18:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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