Trekking through Goblin Forests, surrounded in a bowl of clouds shooting dormant volcanos, climbing up cliffs with only a chain to pull myself up with and exploring black sand beaches with nothing but the company of a camera and the sound of the waves thundering the rock islands around me.. This kind of sums up my weekend in Taranaki! But heres the whole story..
In this blog I thought I'd talk about state of mind and how I look at life, cause I feel like I'm "living the dream" a bit, and I want to share how I've "kind of" achieved this state of mind haha
I'm certainly just learning how to live life, I by no means claim to be an expert or anything.. But I've figured out a few universal laws that have changed my life so incredibly, so I'll throw them in with my story of this trip!
So to start with, I'll fill you in on what this trip was about..
This awesome company Choice Hotels (@choice_hotels_nz follow them on instagram!) employed 10 instagrammers from around New Zealand to take part in their #ChoiceNZTravelGrammer2017 competition, where they sent each of us to a different location around NZ to stay in one of their hotels for a weekend, all expenses paid, with jam-packed itineraries of heaps of epic adventures!
The name of the game was to have as much fun and take as many awesome photos as we could, and share them on our instagram, while tagging them in the post to grow their following.. They kept our locations secret until the week before we left, so I was super excited when I found out I was being sent to New Plymouth, where the epic Mt Taranaki lives!!
Shooting this mountain has been on my bucket list for a few years now, so it was literally a dream come true to hear that they had booked me in for a hike to the famous tarns on the Pouakai Range to get the dream shot of Taranaki reflecting in the water! Not only that, but I got the perfect sunset and weather conditions, had an awesome guide, Dave from Top Guides Taranaki, to hang out with who was a bloody good bugger, and I was getting paid to do it! Doesn't really get much better than that ;)
So skipping back to a month ago before all this happened, I've been watching a lot of motivational videos from a channel, Esther Hicks, who channels a higher being called Abriham (youtube Abriham Hicks, it will change your life) and gives extremely profound life advice on how reality works and how thrive in this physical dimension :) In short, everything in reality is a vibration, especially thoughts and emotions contribute to your personal vibration as they are who you are! You attract to you, things that match your vibration, so a positive mind set in life is key!
One video really resonated with me where she mentioned meditating on what you want in life and your goals, focusing on those things and putting excitement and positive energy towards them. She said even just the energy of the idea itself is enough to manifest it into your reality, without necessarily any physical action needed..
So I tried this out, meditating on the idea of having more awesome adventures, meeting great new people, making a living from my passion, getting a faster computer and traveling more. In the 2 weeks following that meditation session I hiked up mountains and got epic shots nearly every day with great friends, also met some amazing new people along the way that are now some of my best friends! I had 3 big print sales go through, sold a few images to a local social media site for a good amount of money and then ended up getting the new MacBook Pro at a discounted price, since I had some money now! Went on an epic road trip shortly after that and ticked off the travel wish, but also received an email from Choice Hotels about this weekends job!
So I can confirm this works, and is a super powerful tool to manifest your life into what you want! And I only really did that one good meditation session! It all just happened in crazy ways I could have never expected, which makes life all the more exciting! But I'll get back to the trip for now..
It started off with a radio interview with More FM Taranaki at 7:30am about the weekend & competition Friday morning, I was a little nervous but it went great according my mum who was listening in online haha! While this interview was happening, there was an incredible sunrise happening outside.. So as soon as we were done, I rushed out to the car and boosted down the road to shoot this amazing scene! Absolutely mind blowing sunrise that was all over social media!
I proceeded to have an awesome day, hanging with mates & editing photos, flew out of Queenstown at 4:30 and got some epic shots of Mt Cook and some other mountains on my flight up!!!
I arrived at New Plymouth airport to pick up my rental car, only to find out that you can't have a rental car without a full drivers licence.. So me being on my Restricted licence was in a bit of a pickle.. But I had a feeling that would be an issue and laughed it off, and the awesome car agency lady gave me a ride to my hotel :) I have been trying to train myself not to react negatively when things seem to not work out, holding a positive vibration is key! And every time things have aligned and worked out just fine :)
My hotel room was awesome and pretty damn fancy! I certainly made the most of room service while I was there! It was pretty cloudy the next morning so I didn't shoot sunrise, but after an awesome breakfast in the hotel, I took a taxi to Back Beach to explore this place..
I was absolutely blow away with how beautiful and picturesque this beach is! With black sand meeting lush green grass and Pohutukawa trees, surrounded by epic rocky cliffs with a few islands out in the ocean, but to top the place off is Paritutu Rock, this huge epic peak right on the beach! It is so amazing for taking photos of with an ultra wide angle lens, so I had a blast exploring the place and finding so many cool foreground elements to play with :) I stupidly didn't bring my tripod for this one, however I managed to get this selfie above by balancing my camera on a sign and holding it in place with the neck strap haha worked pretty well! I did have to photoshop out a bit of the sign in the bottom right corner though.. Again, staying positive attracted positive results!
I throughly enjoyed walking down to the beach, ditching my shoes and enjoying the sand in my toes, just to be super cleche' haha but its moments like these, taking in the small things in life and really enjoying the beautiful moments nature gives us every day, that really make me happy.. I try to bring myself back to the current moment and enjoy things like this as much as possible and really be thankful for every little thing life has to offer, this state of mind leads to some awesome things happening!
My next mission was hiking to the top of this rock.. It looked pretty high so was expecting it to take a while to get up there.. It took about 10 minutes to walk around the road to the start of the track, where it then said 30 minutes to the top. I managed to do it in 6 minutes with a small break to let people past on a very steep and narrow section! So really only 5 mins haha I think they should update their sign ;)
Seriously though the track up here was hectic! The first half was wooden stairs which I ran up easy enough, but then all of a sudden your climbing up the side of cliffs with only a chain to hold on to and pull yourself up! I loved it haha certainly took me by surprise.. The views from the top over the islands were so amazing! I also met a really cool couple up here and had a good chat! I even ran into them at the airport on my way home the next day too which was cool :)
I then decided hitching back to the city was my best option, as catching the taxi out here wasn't too cheap!! I walked along the road for a bit when that cool couple pulled over to pick me up! Although they had surf boards and everything stashed inside and offered to put them on the roof to make room for me, I refused to put them through that mission and decided walking was a good option.. Not 5 seconds after they drive off, another awesome guy pulled over to offer me a ride haha gotta love the generosity of the locals here!
Next was hiring a bike and riding along the coastal walkway! This was a pretty damn awesome way to see the place and it was a really enjoyable track. Even for me who's used to riding big downhill bikes down mountains, I really enjoyed this one! Sadly things were quite cloudy so I didn't get any great photos of Taranaki lined up with a bridge near the end which was my goal, but it was so worth the ride! I did get this cool shot below of huge waves and an interesting old house on a cliff though.. Best of all, the bike hire was only $10!!! I couldn't believe how cheap it was haha thanks to Cycle Inn New Plymouth for that one!!
After this I headed back to the hotel to post a quick photo and then meet my guide Dave for my hike up to Mt Taranaki, the main even't of the weekend!! The weather wasn't really looking too amazing for the whole weekend, I never even got a view of Taranaki from New Plymouth so I was slightly worried that it might be a bit of a flop.. But I knew that if I stayed in a positive head space it would all be fine!
The walk up to the Pouakai Range is flippin' incredible! Its a lush green rain forest with moss growing on everything, ferns lining the track and epic trees forming a roof over the entire track! They call it the Goblin Forest, and for good reason too! The above shot is my guide Dave taking on some of the many steps along the track, below is some of the incredible trees along the way, I so loved shooting in this place!!! Need to spend a whole day just in this forest I think..
Stay tuned for part two!