Jeju Olle Trails have been the highlight of my last two years. With international travel being limited, I looked inwards to get my travel fix and was not disappointed. The Olle Trails quickly became hands down my favorite thing to do in Korea. Now having finished all 26 trails, I can finally compare them to each other and tell you which are the best. I’ll try to say enough to get you interested but not give away too much. And of course, this is just my opinion, and yours may differ.
#5 – Olle Trail 2
Olle Trail 2 is really the one that set the tone to what I love about the Jeju Olle. You start in Gwangchigi Beach, one of the most crowded spots in all of Jeju. 10 minutes into your hike and you’re in an abandoned fish farm without a soul in sight. The calm lake reflects like a perfect mirror which leads to stunning pictures. There are plenty of surprises from view points to nice villages along the way. Make sure not to miss the fantastic Vietnamese restaurant “Tot Tot” at the end.
If Korea is known for something other than kpop, it is hiking. That begs the question, “Where is the best place to hike in Korea?” Sure, everyone may have their opinions, but if that opinion isn’t “Jeju,” they are just wrong. Jeju Island is the best place to hike, case closed. You may have heard of the Olle Trails, but Jeju has a ton more hikes to satisfy niche preferences. Here are 10 sets of trails ready to be explored.
Despite the forecast swearing that there was an 80% chance of rain, we would not be denied! Sid and I had the same day off, something that is becoming more and more of a rarity, so it was time to get out of Auckland and explore. Rotorua was in our cross-hairs.
What is a Rotorua Anyways?
Rotorua is one of the most popular stops for visitors in the North Island of New Zealand and I must say, the reputation is very much deserved. This town sits on volcanic land and with that come geysers, mud pools, natural springs, tons of spas and of course, a bunch of volcanic lakes! Our only regret was not having enough time to explore more of it, but if there is one travel advice I have taken to heart, it’s “some travel is better than no travel and waiting for the ‘right time.'”
Off We Go
We left Auckland at the crack of dawn and after a few pit stops, arrived well before noon. Unfortunately, we found out that the main geyser shoots off at exactly 10:15 AM every day, so we missed it. Instead, we decided to check out the mudflats and went for a hike up Rainbow Mountain.
Where is the Rainbow?
Upon deciding on this hike, I decided to look it up on my phone and see a couple of pictures. My mind was blown away when I saw this! I was in such a rush that I didn’t even notice that I was looking at pictures of Rainbow Mountain in China, not New Zealand! The view from the top was nice, but it is the blue crater lake a third of the way up that made the hike worthwhile.
Dinner and a Walk
We had some Tunisian food and couldn’t help but notice how everything in town was just lovely. The locals were friendly, the food was great (and not as expensive as in Auckland), and the whole ambiance was just perfect. After dinner, we went for a walk around Rotorua Lake where we spotted tons of New Zealand diving ducks. You might have seen this bird before on the back of the $10 NZ note.
The sun was setting in two hours so we decided to kill some time on the north side of the lake and check out the Hamurana Springs. Who would have thought that this short hike would have been the highlight. Pukekos greeted us near the parking lot, and by now, you must be aware of how much I like this cute blue bird. The entire trail is less than an hour long in theory, but I dare you to do the whole thing without stopping multiple times and just standing in awe. There are wonderful pools, redwoods (yeah, the California variety), and some cool native birds just flying around. I managed to get a picture of a ‘tui,’ but also spotted parrots and fantails that were just too fast for my camera.
As for that Sunset
It never came! It got very cloudy and what would have otherwise been a spectacular sunset was a long streak of red in the distance. Everything else was great though, so we didn’t really mind. We packed up for the long drive back to Auckland where the empty roads reminded us that besides the city up north, this really is the edge of the world.
Another wonderful Tuesday came by a few weeks ago (which is currently, my only day off), and it was not going to be wasted. We had a choice of either going hiking or taking a long trip to check out Hobbitton, but after reading that it is $75 for a 90 minute guided tour, we opted to hike.
The Hunua Ranges is a huge park in the greater Auckland area about an hour south east of the city center. Since we were pretty impressed by Piha, we decided to give it a try! The first thing to know is that it is massive, with quite a few entry points and hiking trails. Since Sid and I are both grossly out of shape not at the zenith of our form, we went with the easy one to a 23 meter waterfall.