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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hammock vs Tent Camping
Camping with a hammock is slowly but surely becoming more popular in recent years with new and improved hammock designs being preferred by some campers, compared to the traditional tent.
In this article we will discuss some of the key benefits and drawbacks of sleeping without a tent, and analyze key criteria so that you can choose your preferred shelter choice!
Most tents work well in the rain; however, you’ll need to bring a tarp if you’re using a hammock. Traditional hammocks are not waterproof, and are generally open at the top, allowing water to find itself inside if you don’t have an adequate tarp. Moreover, a decent under quilt is also a good idea so that you can stay warm and cozy during cold and stormy nights.
Packing up your hammock after a long night of rain isn’t too bad, whereas packing up a soaking wet tent is always annoying. You almost always get wet in the process.
For first time campers, pop-up tents are the simplest to setup. All you need to do is find flat ground, and bam, your setup is complete! The beauty of pop-up tents is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out where to insert the poles and erect the tent. Although, traditional tents are usually more robust, and have a longer life span.
Essentially, a tent is simple, but a hammock can become a little more complicated for first timers. You’ll need to find 2 trees facing a good direction and tie each end of the hammock to them. If your hammock setup is too tight, you will generally wake up with sore ancles, but if it’s too loose, you run the risk of the hammock touching the floor, and insects crawling in with you.
If your campground doesn’t have many trees, or if the trees are dead (they could break and injure you), hammock stands come to the rescue! Basically, hammock stands allow you to pitch a hammock if there are no trees nearby. They are portable, adjustable, and are easy to setup. The only drawback is that the ground should be relatively flat, whereas if you were to hang a hammock between 2 trees, there won’t be any stands touching the ground, so a rocky floor wouldn’t be a problem.
One of the main reasons for choosing a hammock is the comfort that it provides you! It has a basically has in-built seat which is arguably more comfortable than a standard blow up mattress. You need to pick your tree’s wisely though! You don’t want a pinecone falling on your face mid-sleep.
If you have constant back pain and find it hard to sleep inside tents, you should give hammocks a try as they cause you to sleep sideways, similar to a banana shape, which a lot people find much more comfortable.
Hammocks are usually lighter and don’t include a wealth of poles and gear that tents do. Depending on the type of hammock that you purchase, they are usually quite similar to tents. You can however, find very cheap tents <$60, but they most likely won’t last long.
A good tent or hammock can cost between $200-500 without accessories. If you need a hammock stand, that will add to your cost, just like a mattress and other tent necessities will to its cost.
Yacht Charter Destination Of The Month: The Middle East
Mysterious and exotic, the Middle East is full of surprises, blending fascinating cultural heritage with stunning contemporary architecture. What’s more, with guaranteed sunshine and warmth, the winter months of November and April are the perfect time to visit. That’s why we’ve made the Middle East our yacht charter destination of the month.
An ideal starting point for your luxury yacht charter, Dubai is famous for its tax-free designer shopping, five-star resorts and world-class gastronomy. Thrill seekers can head into its vast desert for four-wheel-drive adventures across the dunes, while families will love the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Legoland, or the magnificent water park at Atlantis on The Palm.
Neighbouring Abu Dhabi offers a more relaxed yacht charter destination – here, lovers of art and architecture will appreciate the iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi, which boasts some 9,200 m2 of galleries within its striking contemporary design.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the world’s largest, and its open-door policy encourages visitors from around the world. The elegant Qasr Al Hosn museum, former home of the ruling family, is Abu Dhabi’s oldest standing structure, and displays artefacts dating back to 6000BC.
The understated, hidden gem of the Middle East, yacht charter destination Oman has an abundance of natural beauty, from spectacular mountains and wind-blown deserts to a pristine coastline.
At its northernmost tip, visit the red-hued fjords of the Musandam Peninsula. Action-seekers can admire the rugged Al Hajar mountain range by microlight, while land-based activities include desert sand-boarding, jeep rides and quad biking.
Capital city Muscat is steeped in history, with centuries-old souks where you can pick up fine pashminas, spices and frankincense, or even dazzling jewellery in the Gold Souk.
It is said that diving was invented in Bahrain, and pearl diving is considered the quintessential Bahraini experience. Expect to find up to 30 types of coral and over 200 species of fish, too, making this yacht charter destination ideal for underwater enthusiasts.
Bahrain’s rich trading history is palpable in the Qalat al-Bahrain fort and museum, a registered UNESCO world heritage site. The Bahrain National Museum, found next to the Art and Cultural Centres, blends cultural heritage with contemporary ambience. Or, to indulge in some retail therapy, enjoy a traditional shopping experience at the Manama Souk, selling natural-oil perfumes and incense, fabrics and handicrafts.
The Red Sea is another popular Middle Eastern yacht charter destination due to its year-round sunshine, warm water, coral reefs and incredible dive sites, including one of the world’s best wreck dives, the WWII British cargo ship SS Thistlegorm. In the south, the relatively undiscovered Marsa’ Alam promises incredible shore or beach diving around its natural fringing reef.
Mysterious, timeless and alluring, the Middle East is a yacht charter destination full of contrasts and surprises. Better still, it’s best visited in winter. What are you waiting for?
Hiking Adventures in Bryce Canyon National Park
If you are on the lookout for the perfect environment for an adventurous and challenging hike, look no further. Located in the Southern Utah region is the best park that is most suitable for your hiking adventure, the Bryce Canyon National Park. This is a great option to relaxed after you are through playing in $5 minimum deposit casinos.
This park hosts hike lovers from time to time and people even come from other countries in the world to experience the wonder of this park. The landscape and beautiful trails make this a choice venue. There is a rental service at this location if you love to stay behind.
You can enjoy the priceless glimpse of the sunrise and sunset from the different landscape. The part also permits visitors to create traditional camps at different locations for a more adventurous experience.
There are a couple of trails that you can choose from for your hiking adventure, and no matter your level of experience in hiking, you will find a track that matches your taste. Even if you are totally new to hiking, there is something for you at the Bryce Canyon National Park . Below is a list of some of the trails to try when you take a trip to this park.
The Rim Trail
This is the most accessible trail at Bryce Canyon National Park. It is suitable for those who just want to have a good time walking around and savoring the magnificent scenery of the park. From any part of the park, you can connect to this trail as it goes all the way around the park.
When lodging at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, it is a good idea to start your hike from the place known as the sunrise point. Just as the name implies, if you wake up early to start your walk, you’ll be able to watch the sunrise. If you have a camera with you, you’ll take some fantastic pictures.
Also, you’ll get a clear view of the Bryce amphitheater from this point. Just like in an adventure movie, you have to find a way to link up to boat Mesa, and on your way, you walk through some sites like the Mormon temple and Queen garden. This hiking trail is easy, and all you have to deal with is a total of approximately 200 feet elevation. You will surely have a nice time on this trail.
Navajo Loop Trail
On the order of difficulty, this trail comes next after the rim trail. The starting point of this trail begins from the sunset point around the southern area of the Bryce Canyon Lodge. Just like for the rim trail, the trail presents a nice view of the sunset, and with a good camera, you’ll be able to take exciting photo shoots.
Walking this route involves a visit to the Silent City, which is an aesthetic combination of limestone and urban expansion. During the hike, you will also walk through Wall Street, which happens to be a distinctive attraction at the Bryce Canyon park. You won’t ever want to miss the narrow walls. From this point, you may decide to go back to the sunset point or take other shorter hikes like the Peekaboo loop trail and Queen garden trail. Both routes are challenging and adventurous, but you will enjoy every bit of the challenge. After you have done this, you can then go ahead to have some fun in a $5 minimum deposit casino.
Mossy Cave Trail
This Trail presents an entirely different sight than the one that we have previously mentioned. From this trail, you will be able to catch the view of the towers in the park nearby without descending to the amphitheater. This hiking course begins at approximately 4 miles from the entrance to the Bryce Canyon park. However, if you visit this park and would like to enjoy something completely different from the other common tracks, then this is an exciting hiking trail for you to try.
Hiking is more than a walk, it is a fun and adventurous experience. All trails at the Bryce Canyon National Park are worth trying on your next visit. Whether you seek to have some fun or you just want to catch some beautiful scenery and feel close to nature, you will find the right place that suits you. Get ready to have an amazing hiking experience.
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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