Tag Archives: Waterfalls

FIJI // TRAVEL DIARY // AUGUST 2016

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The fourth country on my travel list for the Summer of 2016 was Fiji. It was a place which always made me think of sun, white sandy beaches, blue skies and even bluer seas. It did not disappoint. I flew from Auckland, New Zealand to Nadi International Airport in Fiji on the 2nd of August. As soon as I landed, I was greeted with relaxing ukulele music, beautiful leis and lovely people. After leaving the airport I got driven to my accommodation for the night, a backpackers and hotel right on the beach called the Tropic of Capricorn. That night I ate my dinner by the beach and relaxed in a hammock on the shore, watching tiny crabs run under my feet and into the ocean.

The following morning, I was up early with my suitcase and was picked up by my guide, who would be with the travel group and I for the rest of the trip. After meeting my new companions for my time in Fiji, we were driven to a little boat port. We boarded a shikara-style boat and travelled on a river cruise, then across the lagoon to our first island stopover – Robinson Crusoe Island. It is a small island off the coast of Viti Levu (the main island) and has a 3,500 year history. As we pulled up to shore, we were greeted by singing ukulele players who were standing on the beach ready to help us unload and unpack. After exchanging pleasantries, we were then taken to our accommodation which was a large hut 13-bed dorm. It had a shared bathroom with a bucket shower which I was really looking forward to using. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent relaxing on the white sandy beaches, swimming in the turquoise sea and watching people play volleyball on the shore. As the evening moved into the night, we were given a performance by the island employees which included traditional Fijian dancing, chanting and singing, as well as a fire dance show, all whilst eating the amazing food which was prepared for us.

After Robinson Crusoe Island, we then travelled back to the main island and headed to Uprising Beach Resort where we stayed in a traditional Fijian hut. This resort was absolutely stunning with the friendliest people, a swimming pool to relax near and a bar which served the best cosmopolitan cocktails! Other excursions and activities we partook in around this time included visiting a local village for a traditional kava ceremony with the village chief and bilibili rafting along the river.

A couple of days later we drove along the scenic coast, headed towards the village of Biausevu where we took part in another kava ceremony with the village people and where we also had a chance to buy a variety of different trinkets and souvenirs, made by the local people. After the ceremony we then went on a hike through the near by Coral Coast rain forest, crossing streams and climbing rocks to get to the Sava Nu Mate Laya waterfall.

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After spending time swimming and jumping off of waterfalls, we then travelled to Beachcomber Island where we spent our time relaxing on the beach, eating good food and drinking cocktails with other travellers and gap year students who were also staying on the island. Even though it rained for the majority of the time we stayed on Beachcomber, that did not stop us from enjoying ourselves alongside our new friends.

Our next stop was Mantaray Island which I definitely think was my favourite stop. After travelling there by boat (with occasional seasickness on my part), we were greeted by resort employees who gave us a welcome speech and then sent us to our various dorms. The accommodation was incredible and the island offered lots of activities to entertain us including snorkelling, surfing, manta ray spotting (hence the name of the island), boating and for people who preferred indoor activities – karaoke, movie nights and indoor crab racing! I met new friends on this island and we spent time together taking photographs on the beach (it didn’t matter how many shots were needed for the perfect photo), snorkelling through the reefs and eating together at the island restaurant, chatting and laughing. This resort was definitely aimed at families with young children as well as backpackers which was really lovely to see.

After our island hopping had come to an end, we then travelled back to the main island where we had two nights to do what we wanted and stay where we wanted.  I spent one night at the backpackers where I started the trip at, and one night in a hotel by the beach.

I will definitely be returning to Fiji, it was everything I imagined it would be. How many of us can say that we’ve stayed in a tropical paradise for two weeks?

ARIA

 

Places Visited/Mentioned: 

NEW ZEALAND // TRAVEL DIARY // JULY – AUGUST 2016

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Before I begin talking about this beautiful place, I just need to say that I definitely did NOT get enough time here and I will DEFINITELY be going back in the near future!

New Zealand was the third country I visited during my three month trip around the world and it was also the first place I went where I was completely alone and not linked to a travelling group. It initially sounds quite daunting but I felt so much relief when my plane landed in Auckland and I knew that for the next two weeks I would be in a country with a notorious welcoming committee.

On the 17th July I flew into Auckland International Airport and took a taxi to my accommodation. It was quite a relief to walk out to a much milder temperature compared to how hot and humid it was in Sri Lanka. For the first of the two weeks I was staying in a beautiful cultured suburb called Ponsonby, which was full of places to shop, eat and stroll around. This was a huge advantage because the first thing I had to do when I arrived was to buy new clothes which were more suitable to the rainy, cool weather I had been greeted with in New Zealand. I ended up buying a bright red waterproof coat, a pair of jeans and a few jumpers, all from a local charity shop. I didn’t really think about the way I looked mainly because I really just needed to feel comfortable and protected against the rain. However, I must have looked like a tomato walking down the main street to go to the supermarket which was VERY LONG by the way and probably took me around 45 mins to an hour depending on how fast I walked. However, it was lovely to casually walk around picturesque Ponsonby and a lot of the shops were completely unique and were really interesting to check out. There were farm food shops, soap and body cosmetic shops as well as Maori fashion and jewellery shops.

For the second week, I stayed in the Haka Lodge hostel at the top of a long road which then led to downtown Auckland. So far, it has been one of the best places I have ever stayed in. Each member of staff was kind, helpful and supportive and I met some amazing people. The rooms were clean and tidy and they held movie nights for travellers to get to know each other. The staff also arranged excursions out to other parts of New Zealand which would’ve been difficult to access as a lonely traveller. More on that later!

One of the things I was told that I needed to do whilst I was in Auckland was to do the Sky Jump from the top of the Sky Tower. Baring in mind when I booked it I hadn’t actually SEEN how tall it was in person, just on brochures when it looked as tall as my thumb. Obviously this was not the case! The Sky Tower in Auckland is 328 metres or 1,076ft tall. I definitely noticed how tall it was putting on my jumpsuit in the changing rooms on the second floor. I also noticed how tall it was going up in the elevator to the jump point. It didn’t help that there was a glass floor in the elevator and a glass “front” so I literally could not escape going higher and higher. The people who organise the SkyJump set me up with a GoPro on my wrist so I could record myself going down, and I’m not going to lie to you, I was shouting and screaming all the way down to the ground. I’ve jumped out of a plane before at 15,000ft so this shouldn’t have been as scary and daunting as it was, but I believe it had something to do with being able to see a birds-eye-view of the buidlings I was about to jump “into”. I would still definitely go back and do it again, it was an incredible experience!

Whilst I was in Ponsonby, I booked a organised day trip for my second week in New Zealand to go to both Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves. The company who organised the trip was called Great Sights New Zealand, and they were incredible. We had an amazing tour guide who was both informative and hilarious which helped a lot during the long coach journeys between the sites. We went to Hobbiton first which even in the rainy July New Zealand weather, it was still so incredibly breathtaking and beautiful.

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It was such an immersive experience. We walked around the permanent “set” and some of the hobbit house doors were open so we were able to step inside. We learned some of the secrets about the filming of Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit as well as being able to have a drink in the Green Dragon Inn and have food in the party marquee next door, all of which were included in the price of the tour. Hobbiton is a stunning place and it should definitely be something on everybody’s bucket list – even if you aren’t a fan of Lord of The Rings, it is still worth it to see the incredible artistry put in by everybody involved in the films.

After Hobbiton we then travelled to the Waitomo Caves, a series of underground caves inhabited by glow worms. Google it. It’s gorgeous. However, due to the protection of the glow worms, I was unable to take any photos, but it’s understandable. Just please take my word for it. We walked through the caves which were lit up by lights and then went deeper and lower into the caves until we came to an underground river. We then got into a little boat and drifted on the water, looking up to see the blue glowing canopy above us. There were no words. Everybody was completely silent, just taking it all in. Another one for the bucket list, it is a beautiful experience. I went during New Zealand’s winter, but if you go during the summer, you can wade through the water in addition to going on the boat as it’s a bit warmer which I am sure would be just as amazing!

During the final days of my trip to New Zealand, I went on a Bay of Islands tour which was organised by the Haka Lodge I was staying at. There was only a small group of us with our tour guide and we visited beautiful beaches, Whangarei Falls in Tikipunga (the three photos at the beginning of this post) and saw the Tane Mahuta “The Lord of The Forest” in the Waipoua Forest, which is the largest kauri tree which exists today -and it is huge! We also visited Paihia, Kawakawa and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

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The Waitangi Treaty Grounds gave me an incredible insight into Maori culture and tradition. I also learned about the historic Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and the Maori Chiefs which was signed on the 6th February 1840 and is New Zealand’s founding document.

New Zealand is such a beautiful place, I met some lovely friends for life and I definitely didn’t get to spend enough time there! There is so much more to see and I will 100% be returning. Maybe I’ll bring my partner or friends and family so they can share the gorgeous experience with me.

ARIA

Places visited/mentioned: