IN­TER­NA­TIONAL AD­VEN­TURES

Outer Edge - - Australian Adventures -

Bula! If you’re plan­ning your next ad­ven­ture hol­i­day and you’re not quite sure where to go: Fiji is eas­ily the ul­ti­mate adren­a­line des­ti­na­tion for lovers of ev­ery­thing wa­ter! Fiji is an archipelago of more than 300 is­lands, where warm tem­per­a­tures meet sea breezes, palm trees meet white sands and crys­tal wa­ters meet na­ture’s par­adise. It is a world that is un­like any­thing else; and it is a world where ad­ven­ture awaits.adrenalin Fiji pro­vides you with ev­ery­thing you could want for an ex­cit­ing hol­i­day in this beau­ti­ful part of the world.

Op­er­at­ing since 2005, Adrenalin Fiji is based at Port De­na­rau Ma­rina and pro­vides mem­o­rable trop­i­cal out­door ex­pe­ri­ences. If you want to feel the wind in your hair and your heart pound­ing with ex­cite­ment, a guided jet-ski sa­fari off­shore ad­ven­ture goes ei­ther to Beachcomber Is­land or Cloud9 on a 2.5 hour thrill ride to en­joy Fiji’s is­land scenery and trop­i­cal weather.

There’s noth­ing quite like catch­ing the “big one” and Adrenalin Fiji op­er­ate game fish­ing tours from a num­ber of ves­sels, in­clud­ing a 25ft cen­tre con­sole, a 36ft Kevla­cat, and a 51ft Riviera. You’ll yell, laugh and pant your way through the fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time as you chase tuna and mahi-mahi, or cast a line for the elu­sive Golden Trevally. Tours are half day, full day in the nearby Ma­manuca Is­land or overnight in the Ma­manuca and Ya­sawa Is­lands. Feel a lit­tle more like re­lax­ing? Their leisure cruises will de­light with a pri­vate char­ter boat tak­ing you around the wa­ters of Fiji, al­low­ing for swim­ming, snor­kel­ing, is­land hop­ping and much more. Bel’mare is an 86ft mo­tor yacht avail­able for pri­vate char­ters, pop­u­lar for fam­ily & friends, wed­ding or cor­po­rate in­cen­tive groups. Cruise the stun­ning Ma­manuca Is­lands and savour meals pre­pared on­board by the chef, lo­cal beers, NZ wines and wa­ter toys that in­clude a jet ski ride, kayaks, pad­dle boards and snor­kel­ing gear. If a pri­vate char­ter is out of bud­get, ask about the Bel’mare All In­clu­sive Day Cruise (where guests pay per per­son) which takes guests cruis­ing around Malalo Is­land.

For an ul­ti­mate ad­ven­ture, char­ter both Bel’mare and Op­u­lence to­gether for a full cruis­ing, jet skiing and fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the beau­ti­ful and re­mote Ya­sawa Is­lands. Closer to your re­sort, and from Port De­na­rau, if you want to es­cape and take a bird’s eye view of the beau­ti­ful re­gion, they also of­fer para­sail­ing flights that will blow you away! What­ever ad­ven­ture it is you seek in the wa­ters, there’s no bet­ter place to go, so join Fiji’s most ex­pe­ri­enced wa­ter­sports team at Adrenalin Fiji.

www.adrenal­in­fiji.com

Queen­stown Raft­ing is owned by Queen­stown & Fiord­land lo­cal busi­ness Real Jour­neys and is New Zealand’s largest white wa­ter raft­ing com­pany. The com­pany is re­garded as Ne w Zealand’s leader in safety op­er­a­tional pro­ce­dures for raft­ing, hav­ing rafted in Queen­stown since 1974. Pro­vid­ing an ad­ven­ture ex­pe­ri­ence from calm to wild wa­ters and half day to mul­ti­day, there is some­thing for ev­ery­one.

The three day Lands­bor­ough Val­ley ad­ven­ture, gives you in­cred­i­ble views of stun­ning New Zealand scenery, with the per­fect mix of tran­quil­lity and ad­ven­ture. The tours are all in­clu­sive and in­clude 3 course meals, wine, beers, he­li­copter flight, trans­fers and all the re­quired raft­ing and camp­ing gear. Imag­ine vis­it­ing one of New Zealand’s most re­mote ar­eas - un­touched, un­spoiled and vis­ited by only a priv­i­leged few. Pad­dling and camp­ing your way down the mag­nif­i­cent Lands­bor­ough Val­ley, you will glide past 2,500m moun­tains, hang­ing glaciers and through dense rain for­est. There’s also a 5 day tour op­tion which in­cludes a guided walk over the Bro­drick Pass and into the Lands­bor­ough Val­ley.

For a sin­gle day ad­ven­ture, you can’t go past their Sho­tover River raft­ing tour. Start­ing with a drive into the fa­mous Skip­pers Canyon with its ex­cit­ing cliff edges and gold mining his­tory. Your Queen­stown Raft­ing river guide gives a safety brief­ing, be­fore be­gin­ning your white wa­ter raft­ing jour­ney through the spec­tac­u­lar canyon. Raft­ing from Deep Creek over peace­ful wa­ters at first, you’ll head to­wards the ex­hil­a­rat­ing rapids of the lower canyon. Your adren­a­line will be pump­ing as you pad­dle through ar­eas aptly named After­shock, Squeeze, Toi­let, Oh Sh*t, Pin­ball and Jaws. From there you pad­dle through the 170m Ox­en­bridge Tun­nel be­fore shoot­ing Cas­cade Rapid to com­plete your ad­ven­ture. If you’re a first timer to raft­ing, the Kawa­rau River is ideal. It’s suited to those look­ing for a more re­laxed raft­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, or for groups of mixed abil­ity and ages. There is plenty of white wa­ter ac­tion, but also time to sit back, re­lax and en­joy the spec­tac­u­lar scenery.

The Kawa­rau River might be fa­mil­iar to some, be­ing fa­mously cast as the River An­duin in The Lord of the Rings. The grandeur of the canyons im­parts a feel­ing of pad­dling through the heart of Mid­dle Earth. The un­for­get­table 400m long Dog Leg rapid that closes out this ad­ven­ture is New Zealand’s long­est com­mer­cially rafted rapid. If you’re after rapid ad­ven­ture…queen­stown Raft­ing is the way to go.

www.raft­ing.co.nz/lands­bor­ough

New Zealand is one of the best off road driv­ing des­ti­na­tions in the world and NZ Ad­ven­tures pro­vide first hand ex­pe­ri­ence of this – with the azure blue alpine lakes, farm­land, rain­forests, river val­leys and lakes – this is the New Zealand you didn’t know ex­isted. The 6 tours cur­rently on of­fer are of ei­ther 5 or 6 days du­ra­tion with a range of high­lights and des­ti­na­tions from the Marl­bor­ough hill coun­try in­clud­ing Molesworth Sta­tion in the north to Queen­stown in the south and a wide range of high coun­try sheep sta­tions ,con­ser­va­tion parks and back coun­try roads and tracks in be­tween. Pop­u­lar with the peo­ple on the tours is the in­ter­ac­tion with the landown­ers on the sta­tions and the land­scapes un­fold­ing in the back coun­try far off the es­tab­lished tourist routes.

NZ Ad­ven­tures 4x4 tours has reg­u­lar ac­cess through more than 65 High Coun­try Sta­tions, sev­eral plan­ta­tion forests and ex­ten­sive DOC man­aged Con­ser­va­tion es­tates in Marl­bor­ough, West Coast, Can­ter­bury Otago and South­land. The High Coun­try Her­itage Tour will take you from Marl­bor­ough through high coun­try sta­tions ; tiny moun­tain streams to great im­pos­si­bly blue lakes. It is a 6 day tour, 1250 kilo­me­tres, from Blen­heim south down the spine of the is­land to Cardrona near Queen­stown. A 5 day tour, the Eastern Ex­plorer heads South East through the Moun­tain Ranges of South Can­ter­bury, and down to Alexan­dra in Cen­tral Otago. The South­ern Ranges 5 day tour is the most di­verse in terms of scenery and will as­tound you as you pass through the seem­ingly bar­ren and high moun­tains of the Lindis Pass to the lush fer­tile Waimea Plains west of Gore.

Ex­pe­ri­ence the vast ex­panses of the Macken­zie Basin and sur­round­ing ar­eas (in­clud­ing amaz­ing views of ma­jes­tic Mt Cook and the flat­lands be­tween the Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau rivers), with the 5 day Macken­zie Ex­plorer Tour. Or the West Coast Ex­plorer Tour which is 5 days and starts in Han­mer Springs trav­el­ling through the West­ern side of Molesworth Sta­tion where we leave the tawny brown tus­socks of North Can­ter­bury and plunge into the ver­dant Beech forests that are a fea­ture of the jour­ney. The new­est tour is the 46 South Tour, loosely based along the 46th par­al­lel, an imag­i­nary line that crosses South­land. Th­ese trips are fully guided with peo­ple driv­ing their own ve­hi­cles or hir­ing a ve­hi­cle. Ra­dio Com­mu­ni­ca­tion to all ve­hi­cles with a com­men­tary along the way.

www.nzad­ven­tures.co.nz

I meet the group for the first of this year’s Kokoda Treks in early Fe­bru­ary. A warm morn­ing in Mel­bourne’s Dan­de­nong Ranges is the start of a jour­ney that will take 6 months to com­plete. After friendly hand­shakes and in­tro­duc­tions we start our first as­cent. Th­ese train­ing walks that I host are an es­sen­tial, and en­joy­able part of pre­par­ing to walk through the for­mi­da­ble Owen Stan­ley Range of Pa­pua New Guinea, from one side to the other.

The closer we get to the trek, the length and in­ten­sity of the train­ing in­creases, as does the fit­ness and morale of the group. By the mid­dle of July when we meet for the last ses­sion, the im­prove­ment in ev­ery­one’s well be­ing is vis­i­ble, friend­ships made,and I leave them to head for PNG con­fi­dent in their abil­ity to com­plete one of the most ar­du­ous walk­ing treks in the world. Ev­ery­one is ready to go.

Upon leav­ing Jack­son’s air­port in Port Moresby,we can all feel the change in con­di­tions. Heat and hu­mid­ity are mixed with the smells and sounds of a vi­brant coun­try. Arms wave and faces smile as we drive past, and the warmth of the peo­ple al­ready out­weighs the tem­per­a­ture. After a brief tour of the city, the real jour­ney be­gins.

En­ter­ing the Bo­mana War Ceme­tery the head­stones of hun­dreds of Aus­tralian, Pa­puan and Allied forces from WWII ap­pear, sur­rounded by pris­tine lawns and fo­liage. The ex­pe­ri­ence is emo­tional, con­fronting, ex­tremely hum­bling and a big part of the rea­son we are here. The Kokoda Track is about far more than the chal­lenge of walk­ing it. It has a life of its own. His­tory and cul­ture, moun­tains and rain­for­est, and some of the friendli­est and gen­er­ous peo­ple on the planet.

Our first night is spent at the Sogeri Lodge which is lo­cated up on the Sogeri Plateau some 40 km north of Port Moresby. Here we pre­pare for set­ting off to be­gin the trek the next morn­ing, and meet the mod­ern day Fuzzy Wuzzy An­gels who will ac­com­pany, and sup­port us for the en­tire trek. A 45 minute drive brings us to Ow­ers Cor­ner, and the start of the trek. In the early morn­ing light, the mist ris­ing from the val­ley floor below can still hide the ranges be­yond, and as it burns off, the task ahead comes into view. Lines of steep jun­gle clad ridges ap­pear and the Track dis­ap­pears through the Ku­nai grass as the first de­scent be­gins. Slip­ping and slid­ing, try­ing to main­tain con­trol can be a tough in­tro­duc­tion to what lies ahead, but with the care of a lo­cal and con­cen­tra­tion, we melt into the jun­gle and ex­pe­ri­ence the magic of the track for the first time.

Early in the af­ter­noon we have climbed our first ridge, and stand in the sad­dle of Imita Ridge, where in 1942 the Dig­gers were or­dered to with­draw no fur­ther, and fight to the last if nec­es­sary. It is here I be­lieve the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, and the task the Dig­gers had be­fore them, comes into the con­cious­ness of all of us there. l am asked how the wounded got to safety: Pa­puan Car­ri­ers with im­mea­sur­able care, com­pas­sion and strength did the job, im­mor­talised by their ac­tions, and the poem, The Fuzzy Wuzzy An­gels by Sap­per Bert Ber­ros.

An­other steep de­scent takes us into the pic­turesque Ua-ule Creek where the rel­a­tively flat ground is a wel­come respite. Our first camp­site by the creek, and a re­fresh­ing wa­ter­hole com­plete our first taste of the Track. As light be­gins at 6am, and dark­ness at 6pm, its early to bed and early to rise. The ket­tle is al­ready boiled by our won­der­ful cook, and the car­ri­ers help to get all the trekkers or­gan­ised for day 2.

The walk con­tin­ues along the creek un­til the as­cent of Iorib­aiwa Ridge be­gins. False ridges, one after an­other are climbed, and the ben­e­fit of the pre-trek train­ing starts to show its true worth, as the real bat­tle of wills be­gins. At the top after pass­ing through the vil­lage, we are at the point of the fur­thest Ja­panese ad­vance along the Track. Look­ing back there is the re­al­i­sa­tion of how close the Ja­panese were to reach­ing their goal.

Over the course of the jour­ney we shall as­cend and de­scend over 5,000 ver­ti­cal me­tres. Day 2 also has the Mag­uli Range to tackle in the af­ter­noon be­fore ar­riv­ing in the scenic vil­lage of Nauro, where a hot meal and our in­di­vid­ual tents are wait­ing. A com­fort not shared by the Dig­gers 74 years ago. From here we walk down into the Nauro Swamp be­fore an­other chal­leng­ing walk into the beau­ti­ful and wel­com­ing vil­lage of Me­nari. To­day we are in camp early, and can en­joy the nat­u­ral spa and the com­pany of some of the vil­lage peo­ple.

From Me­nari we walk up the slopes of Bri­gade Hill to the knoll at the top. A site of fierce fight­ing and un­ques­tion­able courage. It is a place that for­ever will be etched in your mem­ory. Here I tell the sto­ries of the bat­tle and those of some of the Dig­gers who l have had the priv­i­lege to know. I can never leave Bri­gade Hill with­out a heavy heart. The sac­ri­fice here can never be for­got­ten.

Sweep­ing views of the ranges and vil­lages ap­pear as we round the north of Bri­gade Hill and de­scend into Efogi vil­lage for lunch. More climbs and de­scents take us to the high vil­lage of Naduri, after an ex­haust­ing but re­ward­ing day. Next morn­ing we walk up into the ex­tra­or­di­nary moss for­est. We are now hov­er­ing around the 2000m mark, where mon­sters of pan­danus and soft com­post­ing tracks take us to the beauty of the My­ola lakes.

Th­ese “dry” lake beds were used by the Aus­tralians for the drop­ping of sup­plies, but were known as a place of ghosts by the lo­cal peo­ple. We camp at the scene of a B25 Mitchell bomber crash site, in a camp­ground that ri­vals the botan­i­cal gar­dens. The tem­per­a­ture at night is now like a win­ter’s night in Mel­bourne, and the ther­mals show their true worth.

We walk over the high­est part of the Track early the next morn­ing and into the val­ley that will take us to Kokoda. Fol­low­ing Eora Creek we swing up and down the side of the val­ley. An area of both a des­per­ate with­drawal and gru­elling ad­vance it is still hard to fathom the dif­fi­culty and sheer re­silience of the forces who fought here.

Day 7 takes us through the vil­lage of Alola and onto the memo­rial at the site of the bat­tle of Isurava. This is where we camp and have the whole af­ter­noon to en­joy and pon­der the scene of one of Aus­tralia’s most im­por­tant bat­tles. It is a great re­ward after the jour­ney we have all en­dured to get there, and sep­a­rates it from any other memo­rial.

We con­duct a dawn ser­vice at Isurava be­fore our fi­nal de­scent to Kokoda, and a chance to rest some weary bod­ies. The sat­is­fac­tion of com­plet­ing the Track beamed from ev­ery­one’s faces, in­clud­ing the car­ri­ers, who made ev­ery step that lit­tle bit eas­ier and spe­cial.

Fly­ing back from Po­pon­detta north of Kokoda, we re­turn to the Sogeri Lodge for a tear­ful thank you and good­bye to the Pa­puans who have shared ev­ery mo­ment with us over the jour­ney along the Track. The friend­ship be­tween us forged by our an­ces­tors res­onates to­day, and will be a con­stant mem­ory of this amaz­ing place.

You don’t just walk Kokoda, it be­comes part of you. www.koko­da­tribute.com

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