Day 1: Ecstasy and Anxiety
With adventure in my mind and butterflies in my stomach my trip to Great Barrier Island was one of some trepidation. After all, no one I had spoken to had trekked the fabled Aotea Track and for the most part no one I met or knew had visited the sparsely populated island. As the plane landed on the grass tarmac after a smooth and picturesque 30-minute flight from Auckland I began to truly feel nerves and bounds of excitement.
After the plane had taxied to the terminal (Literal tin shack) my bag was handed to me by the baggage handler, who as a matter of fact was also the pilot. I filled what would be my 3-day supply of water in the airport’s toilet. Then, made sure all of my provisions were in order, consulted my pre-planned directions and simply started walking, for the first time in my life, I was truly walking into the unknown.
Kamui Ski Links - Open for the Season
Opting to venture further north than our fellow countrymen we arrived in Asahikawa around midday after an overnight train ride from Aomori via Sapporo. Powder was on our minds and the Japanese ski fields was where we could get our fix. There are few great pleasures quite like having a whole run to yourself that’s covered in fresh snow. The sound of your ski’s cutting through the flurry, echoing off the trees is like no other.
With the streets having a perpetual dampness similar to a soggy kitchen towel after evening wash up, Kyoto’s Kinkaku-Ji or “Golden Temple” shone with pride and dignity on the day of our visit. Flanked by school children we manoeuvred our way through the horde in the hope of finding solace and space, we would be disappointed. Albeit briefly, for the building has an aura and commanding nature that catches your attention like an air horn piercing the early morning silence. The charming enclosure allows the mind to wander and makes you think about a time when patience was a virtue and conversation was the norm.
Osaka Castle is one of the must-see places whenever visiting the city of Osaka. Containing historical artefacts spanning many centuries, the structure is an imposing sight to behold. Once you wander past the stalls selling the street food favourite Takoyaki (Fried Octopus Balls) the impressive architectural fortress speaks volumes towards Japanese ingenuity. The buzz of fellow travellers and the cawing of crows accompany a visit which is truly memorable.