The Wentworth Valley on the Coromandel Peninsula is one of those little gems that are often hidden away from the main tourist routes in New Zealand. But if you take the time to hike up the Wentworth Valley then you will be rewarded with spectacular views across Whangamata from the top of the 50m Wentworth Falls.
Hiking Wentworth Falls Valley
Abandoned mines, secluded waterfalls, stony hiking trails crisscrossing rivers and lush native forest. The Wentworth Falls hike has enough natural scenery to make any Hobbit excited to go on an adventure up the Wentworth Valley.
Located just a short 15 minute drive from the Coromandel Peninsula town of Whangamata, Wentworth Valley is a short family friendly adventure hike lasting just over 2 hours. The Wentworth Falls hiking trail is well maintained and none of the sections are too steep.
Even though I have been visiting Whangamata on the Coromandel Peninsula since I was a baby, this would be the first time I was actually determined to make it all the way up the Wentworth Valley to scope out the view.
Because according to Mum and Dad, this would be the 5th time we had attempted to hike up to Wentworth Falls.
Not because the track was too steep or hard, but because as kids we would make it to the first river crossing and start building dams.
Apparently we never made it past here in 4 previous attempts… Oh to be young again!
With the dust still settling from the drive up the twisting gravel road into the carpark there was nothing to do but get the blood pumping.
Hiking up the trail quickly made me realise how much I have missed the New Zealand scenery while we have been travelling the world. We have been in some stunning locations such as hiking Cinque Terre in Italy, skiing the Three Valleys in France and spending the summer white water rafting in Jasper, Canada.
But nothing compares to home.
Being able to stretch my legs under a dense canopy of native bush was like walking through a cave. On either side of the hiking trail Silver Ferns hiding curled Koru spread across our path and Rimu trees draped their spiky branches to our feet.
Sunlight speckled between the leaves, while the occasional bird call and crunching of the gravel under our boots were the only sounds we could hear.
It wasn’t long until we did come across actual signs of ancient Hobbit inhabitants. Although it may have just been an abandoned gold mine. Unfortunately it only went about 50m into the darkness before stopping dead.
Barely breaking a sweat we continued to navigate between towering tree trunks as the path slowly wound upwards. Every now and then the sunlight would spill across the track as we wandered into a clearing or when we reached a river crossing.
Sturdy timber bridges spanned across the Wentworth Valley floor ensuring that we didn’t get our feet wet. They also proved the perfect spot to grab a drink while warming up under the summer sunshine. It’s amazing how being under the cover of the trees can cause the temperature to drop even in summer.
Within an hour we were at the crossroads to the Wentworth Falls lookout point.
Stairs dug into the banks led us onto the wooden viewing platform for our first glimpses across the valley to the plunging waterfall. Dropping in two tiers the water crashed onto the jagged rocks below.
If it had been the height of summer I might just have been tempted to have a swim in the naturally carved pool.
Although the waterfall seems distant here, it was only another 10 minutes hike up the track. But it was probably the steepest section and rockiest under foot which did make the thighs burn a little.
While only an hour to the top in total we had been delayed by boyish activities and adventures in the past. But after 5 attempts spanning 20+ years we had finally made it.
From the top of Wentworth Falls we could look in two directions. Either straight up the meandering and slow trickling river that turned into a torrent as it dropped over the 50m cliff.
Or we could glance over our shoulder across the Wentworth Valley to the Pacific Ocean glittering bright turquoise in the distance under the blue sky.
It was well worth the wait.
Summer Events to check out in Surfers Paradise
The weather is already heating up on the Gold Coast and everyone is getting ready for some hot days on the beach. Christmas is just around the corner and with it all the big summer events and festivals that happen at this time of year. Surfers Paradise is at the centre of it all and makes a great base for exploring the Gold Coast and attending the events on the Gold Coast’s summer schedule. There is plenty of places to stay in Surfers Paradise, so book yourself a room and check out some of these fantastic summer events.
Australian PGA Championship
Pacific Pines Resort is one of the premier golf courses in Australia. The country’s biggest golf tournament will make its way here from the 30th of November until the 3rd of December, where the best golfers from Australia and overseas will compete for the title. This is a must attend event for golfers, and there will be plenty of food and entertainment on offer across the four days.
The foreshore in Surfers Paradise comes alive every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night, with over 100 market stalls filling up the esplanade. The iconic Beachfront Markets will continue throughout the summer and provides the perfect opportunity to get out and about on those warm summer nights, browse the stalls for some unique buys, and then head out on the town for dinner.
Christmas in Surfers Paradise
Experience Christmas in true Aussie style by attending the popular Christmas in Surfers Paradise event that fills up Cavill Mall from the 13th – 24th of December. The entire mall is transformed into a festive wonderland, Surfers style. Even Santa himself will be wearing boardies and travelling in a surf boat sleigh. The kids will love getting to visit Santa in the mall, and the whole event ends with the popular Carols on the Beach on the 23rd of December. Where else in the world can you experience Christmas Carols on the beach on a hot summer’s night?
New Year’s Carnival
Surfers Paradise is one of the best places to celebrate the New Year in the country. The New Year’s Carnival happens on the foreshore of Surfers Paradise across five days from the 27th of December until the 1st of January. It will be one big celebration with lots of rides and fun filled activities, music and more. On New Year’s Eve, you can enjoy massive fireworks displays over the water, with three different displays lighting up the skies above the Gold Coast. There will even be an earlier fireworks display for the little ones. This is definitely the place to be to bring in the New Year.
Magic Millions Carnival
One of the first big events to check out in 2018 will be the extravagant Magic Millions Carnival. On from the 7th until the 13th of January, the Magic Millions Carnival is the premier event of the summer horse racing season. This is a $10 Million horse race and it is sure to be a huge event, with all the glitz and glamour and socialising that goes with it. On the 9th of January, head to the Surfers Paradise Foreshore for the Barrier Draw, where you can watch the horses on the sand and enjoy food and beverages from the stalls. The big race day will be held on the 13th of January.
Surfing is huge on the Gold Coast and one of the best surf spots is at Burleigh Heads. The Burleigh Pro has grown to become one of the biggest surfing competitions in Australia and will see some of the world’s top surfers compete for the title. Local surfers and visitors should definitely attend this one. The Burleigh Pro will be held from the 25th – 28th of January.
One of the more unique and interesting events to check out this summer will be the 2018 Sand Safari. This arts festival focuses on Australia’s talented sand sculptors, who will compete in the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships. These sand artists carve out incredible, often life sized sculptures entirely of sand, and you will often be truly awed by what they are able to create. The main sculpture competition takes place on the beach along the Surfers Paradise foreshore, however this is a big event from the 2nd to the 25th of February, and you will be able to find special sand sculpture exhibits all over Surfers Paradise.
Summer of Surf
The Summer of Surf is a massive event which will see the country’s best Ironmen and Ironwomen compete in a gruelling six discipline event across six rounds, including the highlighted IronMan and IronWoman competitions. These athletes are the epitome of endurance, and the competition will hit Surfers Paradise for round five of the competition on the 3rd and 4th of February.
The Village Markets
Burleigh Heads is one of the most picturesque and laid back places on the Gold Coast and well worth heading to for a few hours. A good time to visit is during the twice monthly Village Markets which have become an integral part of the Burleigh atmosphere. This popular and laid back market has a beachy, artsy feel to it, and you will find all kinds of unique buys here from the many stalls on offer. Street food stalls are also a big thing here so you can sample some delicious delicacies while browsing the stalls. Finish the day by relaxing on the beach, or sit down for a drink at the Burleigh Surf Club.
Whether you’re looking for a destination for a family holiday or just wanting a quick getaway to unwind this summer, Surfers Paradise is a great choice. With so much happening from cultural night markets to world class sporting events, you are sure to find something of interest in this iconic Gold Coast location.
Top 5 Adventure Activities for a Vacation to Las Vegas
Mention a vacation to Las Vegas and one of the first things people think about is the hotels and gambling. And while these are major attractions to the city, they aren’t the only things you can do in and around Las Vegas. Here are five ideas for fans of adventure holidays.
One of the best ways to see Las Vegas from the air is from one of the helicopter trips on offer around the area. These offer a unique view of the city and its startling hotels. It is also a great way to see more of the surrounding area – the Grand Canyon, the red sandstones at the Valley of Fire State Park and even the Hoover Dam. Helicopter trips are great fun and often come with extras such as rafting tours along the floor of the Grand Canyon or exploring the area on an ATV.
Las Vegas may be a largely desert area and pretty flat, but it is surrounded by mountains and that makes for great hiking opportunities. Mount Charleston is just to the west of the city and has some great locations to hike including Mary Jane Falls for beginners or Mummy Mountain for more experienced hikers. Look out for Raintree, the 3,000 year old Bristlecone Pine that is believed to be the oldest living thing in the state. If you want to upgrade the experience, look out for the rock climbing schools around the city that offer climbing for all levels.
As well as kayaking as part of a helicopter tour, you can go for a more comprehensive kayaking experience in a number of spots around the city. The Colorado River is one where you can visit spots like Emerald Cove that really lives up to its name. Lake Mead is another ideal kayaking spot and somewhere you can also try stand up paddle boarding. There are lots of little islands to explore around the lake, but the winds can be testing so don’t forget your safety gear.
Hire a bike when on vacation in Las Vegas and you get the chance to see some of the best of the area. The Red Rock Canyon Loop is a 20-mile loop that includes the famous Joshua trees as well as the red rocks that give the area its name. A lot of the loop is quite flat. There are also some good routes around Lake Mead including more challenging ones that use the landscape carved out by lava when there was volcanic activity.
Being in the desert, Las Vegas isn’t a place you would associate with snowboarding. But for a few months of the year, the Lee Canyon near Mount Charleston becomes a snowboarding heaven. It offers something for beginners and also some challenging areas for more experienced snowboarders including some good trails above the lift drop off point. There is even a lodge that offers hot chocolate and other drinks to warm up between runs.
Top 5 Unusual Luxury Cruise Destinations
If you love the outdoors and wildlife or are an adventure holiday fan, a cruise may not seem like the ideal holiday for you. But there are a few cruise destinations around the world that offer both luxury and something different. Here are five ideas to inspire you to book yourself a luxury cruise for your next vacation.
Australia and New Zealand
Tours around Australia and New Zealand offer the chance to see some amazing scenery, wildlife and also visit some of the top spots around these two Southern Hemisphere countries. Visit cities such as Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and Dunedin and Auckland in New Zealand as well locations such as the famous Bondi Beach and the island of Tasmania. For northern areas, April to September is a good time to travel while March to August is best for the more southern locations. Head to New Zealand in December to March for the driest months.
The ancient cities of Japan are just part of the attraction of taking a cruise around this country. Top spots to visit include the capital Tokyo, with its brilliant blend of historic buildings and cutting-edge technology that sums up much of Japan. Other locations to look to visit include Kagoshima on the southern edge of Kyushu with its palms trees and beautiful sea views. Hakodate is another popular spot where you can visit the Mount Hakodate Observatory looking out over the sea.
For wildlife fans, the fascinating islands of the Galapagos are one of the dream cruises available. Here you can see species of animal not found anywhere else in the world including giant tortoises, penguins and hilarious looking blue-footed boobies (a type of bird). Each island has its own species so there is plenty to see. December to May are the best times to visit when the seas are calmest and the animals most active.
Central and South America
While many people have experienced a Caribbean cruise, there is also plenty to see and do on the mainland of Central American and down into South America. You can even find large cruise ships that can travel a distance up the Amazon River, being that it is so wide and deep. Look for expeditions that allow you to visit Mayan ruins in Mexico or go kayaking in sea caves. And there is the rich wildlife of the area to enjoy – monkeys, parrots and big cats to name just a few. You can even find a cruise that takes you through the famous Panama Canal and across to the Pacific coast.
Antarctica might not be somewhere you associated with a cruise, but it is becoming a popular destination for people who want to go somewhere different. There are places like the Falkland Islands and South Georgia as well as parts of Antarctica itself. The wildlife is a big draw for people with elephant seals, fur seals and an amazing amount of bird life – who can resist penguins? It is also a good chance to see historic locations associated with polar exploration.
Meet Cole and Adela
We 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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