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Competing in the Auckland Harbour Swim

Most people go on holiday to relax. I choose (was coerced) to compete in the annual State Ocean Series Auckland Harbour Swim. Find out what its like.

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Auckland Harbour Swim start line

Neoprene clad arms flail about me, and not just my own. There are hundreds of them. All fighting atop the frigid ocean. Slowly churning the seawater surface into a white froth that a barista would be proud of.

Green, blue, red and white capped heads bob between the arms. Heads turning and mouths agape gasping for breath between strokes.

Not for the first time I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Auckland Harbour Swim

Competing in the Auckland Harbour Swim

When most people go on holiday they think about relaxing on a beach sipping a cocktail, or fine dining and experiencing local cultures. So what the hell was I doing lining up to race in the 2.9 km (1.8 miles) Auckland Harbour Swim?

And more so, what the hell was I doing lining up to race in the 2.9 km Auckland Harbour Swim without ANY training!

Auckland Harbour Swim Course

Auckland Harbour Swim course, 2.9 kms (1.8 miles)

To say I grew up in the water is probably an understatement. Living in New Zealand meant that we were always near the ocean. My family have all represented New Zealand in Underwater Hockey (yes, it is a sport and it is where Adela and I met). My older brother, Moss, even swam in two Olympics and won Gold at the Commonwealth Games.

So I am no stranger to competing in ocean swims. What I am stranger to, is that this was all quite a few years ago.

Mum had convinced my two brothers and I to join her to raise money for depression which she fights on a daily basis. I only had two problems. One being that she had told us that we were doing it 2 weeks before I flew back to New Zealand, and two, that we had no time to train.

Auckland Harbour Swim before

Before: Cole, Mum, Dane and Moss, slightly nervous…

Staring out across the course for the Auckland Harbour swim would put most people off attempting it.

Add to that the slow gathering of darkening clouds overhead, heavily laden with rain. The wind howling under the majestic arch of the Auckland Harbour Bridge sweeping the ocean surface into a swarming mess of waves and whitecaps. And even the most sane would decide to back out.

But still the hundreds of the pre-registered swimmers turned up in their droves. Most squeezed into their slick wetsuits with the aid of a little vaseline. Some mad ones choosing to brave it in just a pair of budgie smugglers.

It was only now that apprehension began to seep into the pit of my stomach. The porridge I had consumed at breakfast for its slow releasing energy threatened to release a little quicker from my mouth as my stomach twisted in butterflies and knots.

All too quickly we were ushered into the sea. Barely enough time for a last tightening of goggle straps and hugs all round.

The hooter sounded as we bobbed up and down like corks. The frenzy began.

Auckland Harbour Swim start line

The starts are always the worst in these events.

Struggling to find a rhythm we stroked away from the line as everyone else took off with blatant disregard for the total distance we had to cover. All thoughts of their own training gone out of their heads as the fight for space ensued.

Boxing Mum in-between us to keep other swimmers out of her path we splashed on. Clawing our way across the Auckland Harbour in a ragged line we followed the marker buoys.

Thoughts rolled uncontrollably through my head.

The salt water spraying from the top off rolling waves quickly dried my throat. Why didn’t I drink more?

Each breath I took increased the raw chafing beginning to burn around my neck where neoprene met skin. Why hadn’t I applied more vaseline?

Weary arms flopped uselessly from my shoulders. Why hadn’t I trained?

Minute after minute we pounded on. Fatigue slowly wearing us down. Yet with each stroke the distant shoreline creeped closer. The rolling waves that had been tossing us about began to subside.

Auckland Harbour Swim Finish Line

My nostrils filled with the sudden scent of diesel fuel mixed with the ocean. A smell only familiar with moored boats. Through my foggy goggles the outlines of the sun-stained and exposed pilings from the wooden piers plunged into the Auckland Harbour.

Strangers lined the docks cheering us on as if we had just returned from war. Perhaps we had. A war fought against the sea.

A surge of energy flowed through my leaden limbs urging me on.

Blood rushed into our feet as we staggered up the finishing ramp. Legs trembling , barely able to hold my weight. Hands clutched together, grins cracking our weathered faces we stepped across the line.

A moment of triumph.

Finished Auckland Harbour Swim

After: Mum, Dane, Cole and Moss.

If you want to compete in the Auckland Harbour Swim, or any of the six excellent State Ocean Swim Series around New Zealand next summer, check out their website for more information. I highly recommend it. But maybe train a bit more than me first! I would also advise you booking your Auckland travel package in advance, so you get the best deals on your flights and hotel accommodation

Special thanks to all our supporters who donated to our Swim for Depression. We managed to raise $1100!

A huge thank you to the Organiser of the State Ocean Swim Series, Scott Rice, who supported us in the Auckland Harbour Swim. And also Rebecca Barlow for the professional photos taken on the day.

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    January 24, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    What an awesome thing to do with your family! Glad I finally got to see pictures of this! Congrats!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 24, 2013 at 9:10 AM

      It was horrible weather on the day but still so much fun! Glad my Mum twisted my arm 🙂

  2. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    January 24, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Amazing swim and for such a good cause (your mum!).

    • Cole Burmester

      January 24, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      Well she is worth it 😉 would do it again in a heartbeat!

  3. Laura @Travelocafe

    January 24, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    One more great adventure.

  4. Christina

    January 24, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Wow congratulations! I would never have been able to finish that swim.

    I’ll also have to look up underwater hockey. I spent almost a year in NZ but never heard of that sport.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 25, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      Don’t worry, most Kiwi’s haven’t heard of Underwater Hockey either. It is played in over 40 countries too! So probably someone near you plays somewhere!

  5. T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

    January 24, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Wicked fun with the family it looks like 🙂 I’m not a good swimmer…one day I need to get out there and get more comfortable with it. As it stands now, totally not for me, but I can cheer from the sidelines LOL

    • Cole Burmester

      January 24, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      We love the ocean. Helps that I basically grew up in it. Thought you would go swimming since you are based in a pretty perfect place 😉

  6. bronwen

    January 24, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    Yes it was a 10/10 experience for me. Thanks sooo much guys for doing it with me, sorry Cole B for entering you without your permission or warning!! I would love to do some of those Ocean swims they have in Croatia and also Samoa. One day!!!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 24, 2013 at 9:35 PM

      Hopefully we get a chance to do a Greece or Croatia swim this summer! Maybe you can join us 🙂 and was awesome doing it with you!

  7. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    January 24, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    Congratulations! Looks like your mom raised her boys right 🙂

    I’m glad you could be there to help support your mom and the cause.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 25, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      Thanks Mary 😀 Was great fun and well worth the effort, even just to see her so pleased at the end!

  8. Vera

    January 25, 2013 at 2:32 AM

    Well, it’s no news to me that Kiwis are pretty much bonkers when it comes to sports;)! I’m kidding, although ‘you guys’ do love your adrenaline-pushing activities – and your families! Congratulations on raising that much money, and also on doing it all together. Very good read:)! I still think y’aaaall crazy;)

    • Cole Burmester

      January 25, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      Hahaha I still think I am crazy too but wouldn’t stop me from doing it all again 😉 We are researching a few swims in Greece for the summer. Basically Island hopping along the way so hopefully we can step it up now!

  9. Jennifer

    January 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Congrats on finishing and raising that money for a good cause! I’ll have to read about underwater hockey. I’ve never heard of it before!

  10. carolynaishkiwikate

    January 26, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    I love how you all ‘boxed your mum in’. That is one hell of a family get together! How far did you manage to do that for?

    • Cole Burmester

      January 28, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      We basically swam beside her the entire way, although the start is the only chaotic part. After about 500m everyone has stretched out into a ragged line so much easier then! 🙂

  11. Ali

    January 28, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    I would not survive that! But wow, what a cool thing to do for such a great cause!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:27 AM

      Thanks Ali. Was a great swim although I was buggered by the end of it haha.

  12. Nico

    January 29, 2013 at 5:19 AM

    The water looks pretty damn cold, I’m not surprised that so many people are wearing wetsuits.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      It was freezing to begin with Nico but quickly warmed up 😛

  13. Anne

    January 29, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    Great you have a good heart for those needy people.

    Congratulations

  14. Danyelle Franciosa

    January 30, 2013 at 2:40 AM

    Wow! Congrats to that achievement… That experience is really memorable.
    I wanted to achieve that swim as well.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 30, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      There are lots of swims all around the world you could join in Danyelle 🙂

  15. Kristy

    January 31, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    It’s nice to know that aside from travelling you are also good at swimming. Anyway, I also want to join a fundraising such as this one so that I can also help people too.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 1, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      We were lucky to grow up beside the sea so swimming has always come naturally for me 😀 Lots of charitable causes and races such as running for you to be involved in too!

  16. Faisal

    February 11, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Sounds like a fun experience that you’ll be able to talk about for a long time, much better than just sipping drinks with umbrellas in them 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      February 11, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      Haha I dunno if it is much better sipping drinks with umbrellas in them, but it sure if different 😉

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Adventure Travel

Perfect Your Car for an Offroading Adventure

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There is something awesome about offroading – the ability to just drive is so freeing it can get addictive! But if you don’t want to get stuck or find yourself in a jam, you will need to make sure that your car is properly equipped to handle the terrain in front of you.

Road trips are the best way to discover what the wild has to hold and travel beyond the safety of the city. There is so much land to explore and so many opportunities to get back to nature that you just can’t pass up a road trip when it comes along. Wherever you plan to go, here are the things you should never be without.

Car Snorkel

It sounds weird, but it does work exactly like a regular snorkel and allows you to take your car through deeper ravines without messing up the engine or exhaust. Airflow 4X4 Snorkels are great models to try and you can use their CAD templates to double check your measurements.

Even if you aren’t planning to cross deeper water, having a car snorkel ready is perfect for a spontaneous change of route or if the weather takes a turn and there is a lot of water to deal with all of a sudden. It’s also good to have when you find that you are going through a lot of mud.

The Right Tires

Depending on the terrain you plan to drive on, you will need to make sure your tires can handle it. Regular tires are just made for fairly smooth tarmac so if you want to go anywhere that doesn’t have a road like that, you will need to step up your game and have a look at an off-road tire guide to see which is best for your trip.

Getting the right tires is important because you need to have enough grip on multiple terrain types to get to your destination. You also need to make sure that the car is stable while you drive so you aren’t going to put your back out going over a bump. The better suited your tires are to different terrains, the more comfortable your trip will be and the safer it will be too.

Storing Extra Fuel

When you are far away from anywhere, fuel stations are, obviously, few and far between. This means that you need to think carefully about how much fuel you will need as running out in this environment is extremely dangerous. You could think about installing a long range fuel tank or bring jerry cans of fuel just in case.

Whichever method you choose, you need to make sure that you have enough plus spare to get to your next fuel stop. However, do remember that your vehicle will be weighted down with all your food and water as well as your clothes and whatever else you want to take. This means that you will go through fuel a bit faster than normal – especially if you are using your car battery to cook.

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Adventure Travel

The Best Destinations For Sun, Splendour, And Sightseeing

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Whilst an explorer should be seeking eye-opening experiences on his or her travels, there’s no denying that a healthy dose of sun helps to make the adventure a little more enjoyable. There are heaps of cold destinations (Greenland, Russia, and even England) that are visually stunning and a lot of fun to explore, but we’re going to talk about some of the hotter places on the planet that have a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing. You might as well have the perk of sunshine and warm weather whilst you’re exploring the world, right? After all, there’s no reason as to why you can’t relax during a big excursion. That being said, you need to find some destinations that meet all the criteria we’ve mentioned. If you’ve no idea where to go on such a travelling experience then you should check out these top destinations for sun, splendour, and sightseeing.

California, United States.

California fits the bill perfectly when it comes to a place that promises endless sunshine and a lot of things to do. There are many beautiful places to visit in the U.S. that promise sunshine and adventure, but this state is a common favourite for both domestic and international travellers. And there’s good reason for that – we’ll prove it to you. First of all, no tour of this gorgeous state is complete without a visit to Los Angeles. The city of L.A. is unlike anywhere else in the world. You should start by exploring Hollywood, as it’s something that everyone should do once. You’ll get an intriguing look into the world’s most famous films and actors behind the veil – and the Hollywood Hills are worth exploring for a look into the natural beauty surrounding this area. But once you’ve seen the intriguing truth of this surreal place, you should head into the heart of L.A. You’ll feel as if you’ve entered a different world. Whether you head to sunny Venice Beach or the busy downtown area, there’s so much to do. Find the Grand Central Market if you want a quirky L.A. dining experience; there’s often live music to go with the food. And this is only one city of many to explore in the sunny state of California. Make sure you had to San Francisco too.

Victoria, Australia.

If you want a real adventure in one of the sunniest places on earth then you need to visit Australia. It’s a huge and incredibly intriguing country with desolate uninhabited areas and dense cities that are heaving with people and things to do. The land down under finds the perfect balance when it comes to a destination that promises both natural beauty and lively culture. Whether you want to explore vast unexplored wilderness or a glitzy modern city, Australia has it all. The state of Victoria in the south-east is definitely the best place to start your journey, though. You should head to the Great Ocean Road for a journey that’s both scenic and historically relevant (the road is the world’s largest war memorial). You’ll get to see the Twelve Apostles along the way (ginormous limestone stacks that have become an iconic landmark in their own right) and the bewilderingly beautiful towns of Port Fairy and Portland. You’ll even have the opportunity to see whales and other fantastic sea life if you pay attention to the ocean at your side.

But the natural side of Victoria is only the very surface of what this state has to offer. You can expect sun and sweltering wherever you go and whatever you do in this massive state, but you probably want a little more than that out of your adventure. After all, you’ve travelled to such an exciting part of the world. This isn’t any ordinary beach holiday. You should head to the city of Melbourne if you want to see the vibrant and lively side of this state. The capital city boasts such a powerful modern-day and historical culture. You should visit The State Library of Victoria and head into the La Trobe Reading Room if you want to see both mesmerising architecture and a fascinating place. The Princess Theatre also boasts sublime architecture and a whole heap of wonderful performances to enjoy once you step inside. Once you’ve had your fill of culture and entertainment in Melbourne, you should definitely try some of the fantastic cuisine that the city has to offer. Check out www.vamos.net.au if you like the idea of eating at a tapas bar in Melbourne’s theatre district. This is just one example of a dining establishment that is influenced by cultures from around the world. The point is that Melbourne is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the state of Victoria. If you want a diverse and extensive experience of Australia with the perk of near-permanent sunshine then this is the place to go.

Barcelona, Spain.

You can’t explore the sunny cities of the world without visiting Barcelona. It’s not only a sunny and vibrant city – it’s a sunny and vibrant Spanish city. The culture that pours out of every building is part of what makes this city such a beautiful place to visit. As explained over at www.traveller.com.au, the work of Gaudi is part of what makes Barcelona so stunning. This famous Spanish architect designed so many of the unique aspects of the city. In fact, La Sagrada Familia is a gargantuan church that he designed and it’s still being built today (nearly a century has passed since his death). As suggested over at www.tripadvisor.com.au, you might want to take a private tour of the city if you want to get a full experience of the place.

The Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Whilst it’s not a continent that tourists explore as extensively as some other regions of the world, Africa boasts a lot of natural beauty along with sweltering heat. And the country of South Africa is definitely a fascinating place to visit if you’re looking for an enriching and educational experience combined with the chance to see some visually awe-inspiring sights. The Kruger National Park, in particular, is one of the most beautiful locations in the country. We’ve discussed it before, but it’s worth discussing again. If you want to see stunning animals in their natural habitat then this is the place to go. There’s something about seeing cheetahs, giraffes, monkeys, elephants, and many other stunning creatures in their natural habitat that fills you with a sense of elation. It’s an incredible experience.

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Adventure Travel

Tips That Will Help You Make More of Your Trip To Thailand

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Are you thinking of taking a big trip to Thailand this year? If so, you need to learn a bit more about what you should do and what you should expect when you eventually get there. There’s something for everyone in Thailand; it’s that kind of country. But making the most of it and knowing the key attractions and ways to spend your time is important, so read on to learn about this and more.

 

Remember, You’ll Get Further When You Smile 

Manners matter a lot in Thailand, and there are certain things you should never do. Pointing at people with your foot is seen as a sign of disrespect, as is touching another person’s head. So make sure you don’t do that. You will probably notice that Thai people smile a lot, so you should do the same. Being positive and smiling when you meet new people will help you go a lot further.

Explore the Markets and Don’t Forget to Haggle

Markets are a big deal in Thailand, and experiencing them for yourself is something you won’t forget. There are the conventional markets that are very loud and busy, and there are also floating markets that are navigated by boat, as you can see below. Whichever type of market you visit, soak in the atmosphere and don’t forget to haggle because it’s expected of you.

Sample the Street Food, But Do So Carefully

Street food is abundant in Thailand, and it can help you to get a taste of the real thailand by eating what the locals eat. As you walk through the streets, the smell of the street food will hit you first, but before you tuck in, make sure you take care and eat safely. Seek out food that has been cooked freshly in front of you and not the food that’s been left sitting around.

Find Time to Relax and Slow Down

Thailand can be a fast-paced and overwhelming place to visit, but you can’t let it get the best of you. If you want to experience the country to the max, you need to find time to relax and slow things down a little. The Shiva Samhita is a classic Thai text on yoga, so maybe you should take some inspiration from it and find time to do some yoga. You’ll find plenty of courses there to help you.

Don’t Miss the Nation’s Many Beautiful Temples

Thailand’s temples are not to be missed. Anyone who’s interested in religion, spiritualism or beautiful architecture can’t help but be astounded by the temples that are found throughout Thailand. No matter what point of the country you find yourself in, you’re sure to find incredibly buildings like the one you can see below. So make time to see as many of them as you can.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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