A Travellerspoint blog



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Arrived in Auckland around 6am on Dec 28. Completely lost the 27th. I was really tired. The flight seemed really long for a 9 and change hr flight. I was lucky enough to not have anyone sitting beside me, even though the flight was almost full. That let me use the two seats to nap in positions so awkward and uncomfortable that you can't even imagine it. Also I seemed to be surrounded by a lot of children. One couple alone had like at least 4 on the go. They liked to take turns crying.

I got through customs pretty easily and got the Air Bus into the city. I arrived at my hostel around 7:30 hoping to take a quick nap then get up for the day. This idea was quickly sqaushed when they informed me that I couldn't check in til 1pm... 1pm!!! ugh... 5.5 hours away.. So I hung out in the lounge and napped anyway! On and off for hours..... I probably looked like an idiot, but I just didn't care.

Spent the next few days sleeping and getting settled - bank acct, phone, tax number etc. All the fun stuff.
It didn't take long for me to realize I didn't like it here. I missed the beach and the sun and decided to get out a map and look for somewhere further north and close to the beach.

Posted by karencook 18:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Meanwhile, Back in Waikiki.......


sunny -26 °C
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So trying to blog almost every day just isn't going to work. I can't remember what I did or when by the time I get to write. So instead my new plan is to try to blog by location. Just sum up my experiences in each place I visit.

So, back in Waikiki..... As soon as I got there and was checking in my friend Marcio came running up to me and hugged me, super glad I was back and said let's go to the beach. So we went to the beach. Then we got back and drank. I met this awesome guy named Shintaro and he likes to pour saki down people's throats... But it's ok because he's also a massage therapist and gives great massages. So a few of us stayed up late drinking.

Next day.. Christmas eve day actually. Once again, I go to the beach. Marcio makes our Christmas dinner - BBQ chicken, rice, salad, squash and zuchinni. And Rick - well, he went off in search of a chocolate cheesecake at my request, and came back a solid hour later with just a regular chocolate cake for dessert, It was delicious!

After we ate, and actually while we ate, and before we ate, we also drank. Played some Jenga... haven't played that in years.... Created freestyle jenga.. still not sure if it's a good idea. Anyway, eventually we get kicked out and move the party to the beach.... So we hung out and drank there... At some point I wandered into the ocean and convinced all the people left out that it was WARM (it was) and they should all come swimming... So we did that for awhile. It was hilarious. The we drank more... Then we all got cold and headed home. I was SOAKED and covered in sand. Shintaro had to tell me about 6 times to go change my clothes so I didn't get sick.... Finally I did and I got a TON of sand in the bathroom. Anyway, changed and went back downstairs.....

Wake up christmas morning feeling like everyone else must be awake and I HAVE to get up because I can't waste the day... Brendan is already in our room cleaning, so I sit up and just see sand allll over the floor... Obviously my bad because my 2 roommates don't ever leave the room.... Also I see a sand covered flip flop that TOTALLY isn't mine.... Then I lean further and see it's mate, which isn't it's mate, but is my actual real flip flop... You have to understand that these 2 ff's don't look ANYTHING alike..... at all.. one was a black old navy type.. the other was brown, soft material and the strap was wide and multicolored...... soo yea, not even close.... I was bummed cause I love my ff's... the colorful ones... So I went downstairs and there wasn't a soul around other than Jesse working the front desk. So I said where is everyone? And he made a face that indicated they were all sick.... So I went on a search and found a pair of flip flops that looked a lot like the ones I had in my room, only opposite and with a lot less sand on and around them... I also found some of my other ramson belongings...

Then I went to starbucks. then had a nap after my coffee... then I convinced Marcio that we should surf... So we grabbed boards and headed to the beach. There were no waves... We ended up just paddling around and taking pictures. We actually drifted really really far out without noticing....

Funny story: we were talking about Shintaro and how we should have got him to come with us (we love that guy) and wondering if he surfed or even swam..... like less than 5 minutes later we see this guy come swimming in from soooooo far out, and it's Shintaro!!!!! So he came and hung out in the ocean with us for awhile...

After he left we realized that all the boats were super close to us and we looked at the beach and saw that we were like a mile out to sea.... It was a fun paddle back in... not... the wind was against us... It took awhile but we made it. Crashed on the beach for a bit then Marcio had to go to meet a friend. I stayed with some girls from Quebec. I roasted for awhile and then left. Went back later for a quick swim though :)...

Christmas night we drank lots, as per usual. And we watched Elf! Such a classic.. haha it just isn't christmas without it. It was great because so many people there had never seen it before. Somehow I ended up until like 4 or 5 am again...

Woke up the next morning and SO didn't want to pack. NONE of my stuff was actually in my bag because when I got back to the hostel from the North Shore I had to do laundry - and I mean all of my laundry - because I hadn't done any since I was in Calgary..... so yea.. it had been awhile.... So I had like 30 minutes to check out but I thought instead of packing, a better idea would be to break into Marcio's room and just take armloads of clothes and stuff and throw it on his floor and leave it there all day and then pack last minute.... So that's what I did...

Went to the beach with Marcio for awhile. We were both soooo tired we just kept falling asleep. I did some last minute shopping, as if I had spare room in my backpack haha... Then finally packed, went to Teddy's Bigger Burger for supper and took it to the beach to watch the sunset. After that it was almost time to go so I just said my goodbyes and we just waited for my shuttle.

Posted by karencook 18:33 Archived in USA Comments (0)



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I literally layed on the beach alllllll day. It was great. Except that there are always sporadic rain showers and they are coooollld.

I swam a bunch of times and read my book. When I got back to the hostel around 3 David and I went to rent bikes and then foolishly biked 6 minles to Haleiwa. These bikes are insanely old and crappy. Also don`t know when the last time I actually rode a bike is.... Anyway, we made it and biked around the town a bit and checked out some beaches, Went to some deli and had an insanely huge and awesome sandwich. Then headed back to the beach for the sunset and then headed home. Which was sketchy because by then it was dark and we were on a major highway where people drive fast, But we made it. Took a shower and then resumed the drinking festivities of the night before.

After 11 we headed down to the beach and had a bonfire. My buddy Tim stepped on Three Tables Joe - some random bum asleep on the beach. It was hilarious. He felt really bad.

Then he realized he lost his room key so he and I headed back to his place to assess the ways in which we may be able to break in.

I managed to use a pocket knife and random kitchen knife to get the door open just as Shaun and Dan were coming to check our progress. It only took me about 25 seconds.. The looks on their faces when I just swung the door open was PRICELESS. The were in shock - haha all 3 of them wide-eyed and jaws dropped haha.... So I just pretended it was no big deal like I do it all the time haha... Tim was pretty happy with my skills because he had to leave around 5am and didn't know how he was going to get his stuff out of the room.... He was only concerned about his expensive things though.. haha including 3 surfboards and his ipad...

Anyway - watched tv and then said bye to Tim and headed back to mine at a reasonable hour for a change...

Posted by karencook 18:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sunset Beach

Pupukea, Hawaii

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Woke up today and didn`t really feel like doing much of anything, Which worked out ok because the morning was pretty rainy. After lunch I hopped on my sweet rental bike and biked a couple miles down to beach and just hung out in the sun, napped, watched surfers etc. It got old fast though and I decided to bike to Sunset Beach to check things out. Met one of the guys from the hostel on the way and he turned back and came with me.

When we got back I had to return my bike and right after I dropped it off I ran into my friend Dan, so we headed to Three Tables Beach and Sharks Cove and walked out across the super insanely sharp and dangerous rocks. The we just chilled at the beach for awhile.

Then when I got back from that I had to attempt to pack for my retutn to Waikiki. After dinner I went to Dan and Sean`s place and we just hung out and watched tv til it was bedtime.

Headed back to my place and Gus and Ari were there so I stayed up with them for a bit. Louie showed up (it was after midnight) with a random Christmas tree. So we put that up in the lounge to surprise everyone in the morning :)

Posted by karencook 18:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)



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So I woke up today and it was super nice out. I checked the weather forecast for the rest of my time here and it didn't look as good. I wanted to do a helicopter tour of the island because:

They say that only 20% of Kauai can be seen from the ground. Leaving the other 80% that can only be seen from the air.

Also - I love flying.

And helicopters... and flying IN helicopters...

So due to weather, I decided that I wanted to do it TODAY. Which wasn't an option when I tried to book online, so I headed down the road to Snorkel Bob's where a lovely dude named Jim totally hooked me up with a 2:30 flight with Safari Helicopters.

It was pretty sweet. Oh except for one annoying guy who got to sit in the front and wore a hawaiian print shirt so that no one could take pics out of the door window because of the reflection.... oh well

went to the beach afterwards

Posted by karencook 18:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Another day in Kona


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Slept in. Hit up the beach. Did errands. Met Greg for coffee and we just hung out there for hours. Went to Kona Brewing Company for dinner. Then went to his place and jammmmed on the ukelele. I have mad skills.

Posted by karencook 18:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)



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So my friend Greg - formerly my Mauna Kea tour guide took me on adventures today. I spent the morning chilling out at the beach, then he came and got me at my hostel and we drove doWn the highway to a seemingly random spot. Pulled over. Hopped out. Hiked across lava. Young black lava. And ended up at this beach where there were tons of turtles just basking in the sun. We waded across a lagoon type deal to an almost island and walked along taking pictures and throwing rocks, not at the turtles of course, at each other.

After the turtles we went cliff jumping. Kind of, one jump then it was dark. Then we went to grab some foods then called it a night.

Posted by karencook 18:21 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Manta Ray Night Dive

with Big Island Divers - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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Went to the beach this morning/early afternoon. At 3 I headed to the marina for my dive trip with Big Island Divers. They were cool guys. We did a late afternoon dive around a reef which was cool. Saw tons of fish and hundreds of garden ells, which was neat to see. Then we chilled on the boat til it was dark and did a night dive with manta rays, which is supposed to be one of the best dives in the world and probably IS the best night dive. They informed me that my dive career is all downhill from here haha.. We say 2 mantas, They're huge and super cool. You had to be there...



The manta ray (Manta birostris) is the largest species of the rays in the family Myliobatidae. The largest known specimen was more than 7.6 metres (25 ft) across, with a weight of about 1,300 kilograms (2,900 lb). It ranges throughout waters of the world, typically around coral reefs. They have the largest brain-to-body ratio of the sharks, rays and skates (Elasmobranchii),[2] a brain which is kept warm during lengthy dives to as deep as 500 metres (1,600 ft) in cold water. They are exceptionally graceful swimmers and appear to fly through the water on their large wings. Individuals have also been observed to jump clear out of the water, possibly in a form of communication or play.

Manta rays have a distinctive body shape with triangular pectoral 'wings' and paddle-like lobes extending in front of their mouths. The disc width is up to 7.6 metres (25 ft) and the weight up to 1,400 kilograms (3,100 lb).[2] They are generally dark on the upper surface, ranging from black to greyish-blue and brown, with pale undersides; individuals have a unique pattern of blotches and scars that can be used to identify them. The large, cavernous mouth is situated at the front of the body and contains 18 rows of teeth on the lower jaw.

I got home around 930 and had a massive headache so I went right to bed.

Posted by karencook 18:12 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Mauna Kea

with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures

-2 °C
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Checked out of my hostel and headed west. Drove over the middle of the island to Kona. The weather was horrible for the east side of the drive and then BOOM - sun. Weather in Kona was much much nicer. Headed out for my Mauna Kea tour at 2pm, I was the first pickup so I got SHOTGUN! Our next pickup was at the airport like 25-30 mins away so my tour guide and I totally bonded on the drive.


For those of you who don't know:

Mauna Kea (English pronunciation: /ˌmɔːnə ˈkeɪ.ə/ or /ˌmaʊnə ˈkeɪ.ə/, Hawaiian: [ˈmɔunə ˈkɛjə]) is a volcano on the island of Hawaii. Standing 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level, its peak is the highest point in the state of Hawaii. However, much of the mountain is under water; when measured from its oceanic base, Mauna Kea is over 10,000 m (33,000 ft) tall—significantly taller than Mount Everest. Mauna Kea is about a million years old, and has thus passed the most active shield stage of life hundreds of thousands of years ago. In its current post-shield state, its lava is more viscous, resulting in a steeper profile. Late volcanism has also given it a much rougher appearance than its neighboring volcanoes; contributing factors include the construction of cinder cones, the decentralization of its rift zones, the glaciation on its peak, and the weathering effects of the prevailing trade winds. Mauna Kea last erupted 4,000 to 6,000 years ago.

In Hawaiian mythology, the peaks of the island of Hawaii are sacred, and Mauna Kea is the most sacred of all. An ancient law allowed only high-ranking tribal chiefs to visit its peak. Ancient Hawaiians living on the slopes of Mauna Kea relied on its extensive forests for food, and quarried the dense volcano-glacial basalts on its flanks for tool production. When Europeans arrived in the late 18th century, settlers introduced cattle, sheep and game animals, many of which became feral and began to damage the mountain's ecology. Mauna Kea can be ecologically divided into three sections: an alpine climate at its summit, a Sophora chrysophylla-Myoporum sandwicense (or māmane-naio) forest on its flanks, and an Acacia koa-Metrosideros polymorpha (or koa-ʻōhiʻa) forest, now mostly cleared by the former sugar industry, at its base. In recent years, concern over the vulnerability of the native species has led to court cases that have forced the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to eradicate all feral species on the mountain.

With its high altitude, dry environment, and stable airflow, Mauna Kea's summit is one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observation, and one of the most controversial. Since the creation of an access road in 1964, thirteen telescopes funded by eleven countries have been constructed at the summit. The Mauna Kea Observatories are used for scientific research across theelectromagnetic spectrum from visible light to radio, and comprise the largest such facility in the world. Their construction on a "sacred landscape"[4], replete with endangered species, ongoing cultural practices, and viewplanes used in the traditional Hawaiian measurement of time, continues to be a topic of intense debate and protest. Studies are underway to determine their effect on the summit ecology, particularly on the rare Wēkiu bug.


Don't say I never taught you anything...

So we stopped at the visitors center to eat and get used to a bit of altitude, then we headed up, checked out the observatories a but then hit the summit for sunset AND moonrise.

It was COLD... Well it was about 0 or -2ish.. The sunset was beautiful. We took tons of pics and then headed back down to near the visitor's center where the guides set up a couple of telescopes and we checked out some constellations and had hot chocolate.. It was pretty amazing. I got home around 11. It was a long tour but an absolutely incredible experience.

Posted by karencook 18:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Volcanoes National Park

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Volcanoes National Park, Big Island Hawaii, USA

I had booked a helicopter tour over the volcano for the mornig but the weather was too poor to go. They had room on their 2:30 flight for 1 more so I booked that time and went to a couple of waterfalls and stuff just to kill some time. Headed back to the airport and once again too crappy to go... Although the time in between my times got to go.. Just saying...

So after that was cancelled I decided to drive to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I drove the rim drive and did a couple of hikes, went through a lava tube and then when it got dark I drove down Chain of Craters road and hiked across some lava that had covered the road until I could see actual current lava flow... I was still pretty far away but it was cool anyway.

Posted by karencook 18:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Big Island


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Well, I left Oahu today and headed to the Big Island. The flight was about 50 minutes. It was raining when I arrived :(, grabbed my car and headed to my hostel after getting a bite to eat. I just hung around there most of the day because I was so tired and the weather was so crappy. Plus Hilo doesn't look like much of a town and I don't think I'm missing much out there....

Posted by karencook 17:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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