Amanda Redden

Tramping in a New Zealand Winter

Last year, from June – December 2016, my sister had the opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand. Summer for us was winter for her in a new, unexplored place. She went on many tramping trips and shared her New Zealand experiences with us! Let’s see what she has to say.

  1. What is tramping?

Tramping is similar to hiking, however tramps are typically multi-day and often include huts at regular intervals for trail walkers to use overnight. The New Zealand hut system is extensive with over 950 huts of all shapes and sizes managed by the Department of Conservation, which all kiwis refer to as D.O.C

Sam Summers Hut on the Mt. Crichton Loop Track. The smallest and oldest hut, which slept only four people.

Routeburn Falls Hut on the Routeburn Track. Located in Fiordland National Park

2. Where in New Zealand did you go tramping?

New Zealand is comprised of a Northern and Southern Island. During my time in New Zealand I studied in Dunedin, which is located on the South Island. Queenstown, Wanaka, Milford Sound and Te Anau are a few of the beautiful places I was fortunate enough to tramp.

  1. Which spot was your favorite?

My favorite tramping trip in New Zealand was the Copland track. The track was 18 kilometers, which took about 6 hours of walking and snacking to reach the hut. The hut itself had an actual toilet. Literally FLUSHING! It is pretty impressive that they got plumbing into the middle of wild New Zealand bush. Believe it or not, the toilet situation was not the best part of the track. There were natural hot springs! It was fantastic to soak in a hot pool after six hours of walking! But there was a catch to the hot springs, they were filled with a lethal amoeba that would kill you within 10 days. Not to fear! No one got hurt by the springs.

  1. Did you go on overnight trips and day trips? Did you have a preference?

I went on a mix of overnight and day hikes. The longest hike I went on was the Kepler track. Located near Te Anau, the Kepler track was 60km, and I completed the trail in three days and two nights. My favorite day hike was the Pineapple track located in Dunedin where I was studying. I love both overnight and day tramps. However, I don’t think that I could last much longer than three nights in a hut.

View from the Kepler Track.

  1. What hiking essentials did you bring in your pack?

When packing, the idea was to bring as little as possible. When walking for kilometers, you can easily regret packing a third set of socks. I would typically pack a single set of walking clothes. Yes, I would walk in the same smelling clothing for two days. In addition to walking clothes, I would bring a pair of dry clothes to wear while hanging out in the hut. This outfit consisted of fleeces, flannels, wool leggings, and a dry pair of socks! I also packed food, toiletries, a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, wool beanie, and a pair of hut shoes. I learned how to live minimally, and I loved it!

  1. What did you wear since it was during New Zealand’s winter?

WOOL, WOOL, WOOL! The answer to the cold in New Zealand is wool. They have twelve sheep to every 1 person, so it is safe to say that there is no shortage. Besides the surplus, wool is an amazing material. It is sustainable, keeps you warm even when it gets wet, and is flame resistant. Depending on the predicted temperature, I wore one or two layers of athletic/wool pants. On the top, I would wear a long sleeve wool shirt, an athletic shirt, a fleece top, and a raincoat. My rain coat was probably the most important piece of my entire outfit. Rain in New Zealand is unpredictable and unforgiving. Wool socks and hiking books were enough to keep my feet warm.

  1. What was your favorite part about tramping in New Zealand?

Although many people would assume the best part is the view, for me it was something else. Don’t get me wrong, everything was beautiful, breath taking, and captivating. However, I enjoyed the silence and the isolation. In Southern California, there are always signs of human impact. When at home, I feel like I can’t escape the people, the buildings, and the noise. The New Zealand outback shows no sign of human interference. Everything you can see is untouched, pure nature. Everything you can hear is soft, and gentle. The sounds of the rustling bush and running rivers will forever ring true in my heart.

View of a natural waterfall on one of the tramping tracks.

  1. What hikes have you done in California?

I have not hiked nearly as much in California. In fact, I have never done an overnight hike. I have hiked Saddleback Mountain in Orange County a few times. I’ve also explored trails along the Orange County coast, but my experience in California is much less than New Zealand. I hope to keep branching out and exploring California. This weekend I will be exploring the Santa Cruz Mountains!

  1. How does hiking in the two different regions compare?

Besides the amazing views in New Zealand, there is an entirely different culture around the outdoors and hiking. A huge reason I hiked so much in New Zealand was because virtually everyone I met was into hiking and exploring the outdoors! At my university in California, not nearly as many people are in love with the outdoors. Surrounded by a passion to explore outside made hiking in New Zealand a unique and unforgettable experience.

  1. Overall thoughts? Would you recommend to a fellow hiker?

I would recommend that everyone who can go to New Zealand should! It is beautiful for more reasons than just the amazing hikes. But getting outside, hiking, and being active don’t require you to wait until you’re in a beautiful, foreign place. There is beauty and nature all around us so get out there and explore!

Milford Sound mountains.

10 Patriotic Cocktails to Liven Up this 4th of July

Many Americans believe the 4th of July is the best day of the year. I’m not arguing. No work, BBQ foods, sandy beaches, patriotic outfits, fireworks, free country…you get the point. This holiday doesn’t need much else to make it a great day, but a few drinks never hurt. These 10 patriotic recipes will for sure boost your American spirit!

  1. Blueberry Strawberry Mojito

This colorful cocktail has a subtle spin on a classic mojito. Just throw in fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries and there you have it! Easy to make, easy to drink.

  1. Red White & Blue Vodka Lemonade Slushies

You’ll need a blender for this recipe. Separately blend up three different slushies: cranberry, blue curacao, and vodka lemonade. Layer the flavors and admire the aesthetically pleasing drink you’ve just made.

  1. Boozy Snow Cones

Snow cones make for a refreshing treat, especially on a hot 4th of July day! Head to the kitchen and whip up red & blue alcoholic syrups for an All-American boozy snow cone.

  1. Blueberry Lavender Hard Lemonade

If you’re a fan of the unique lavender flavor, then test out this cocktail. Personalize the sweet taste by adding in however much agave nectar. Add blueberries for a pop of patriotic color!

  1. Red White & Blue Sangria

Nothing beats Sangria in the summer. Top off this drink with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and apples to give the perfect 4th of July vibe.

  1. Watermelon Blueberry Cooler

Watermelons are the epitome of summer fruits, so why not make a cocktail out of them? Dip the rim in blue sugar and create star-shaped watermelon slices to complete the patriotic look.

  1. Red White & Blue Strawberry Jell-O Shots

If you like strawberries, Jell-O, and shots, then check out this recipe. It’s a red, white, and blue cocktail that you can eat!

  1. 4th of July Layered Cocktail

This recipe is for the people who have mastered the art of layering drinks. If that’s not you, make the drink anyways (it all tastes the same).

  1. Blue Mule Cocktail

Everybody loves a good Moscow Mule. Liven up this tasty drink with blue curacao and blueberries to complete the American holiday.

  1. Red White & Blue Margaritas

There can’t be a cocktail list without a margarita on it. This explosive ‘merica margarita is a great addition to the party fun!

Fun Things To Do This 4th of July

Looking for something to do this 4th of July? If you don’t already have block-party plans, check out these ideas that will keep the whole family entertained!

  1. Backyard BBQ

If you’ve already had a hectic start to the summer, keep it simple this 4th of July with a Backyard BBQ. Throw some hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill, invite over some family and friends, and turn up the Turtle Shell! There’s nothing better than sippin’ on a cold beer with good company.

  1. Freedom Run – Ladera Ranch

Participate in the 10th Annual Freedom Run on 4th of July morning to burn off those calories you know you’ll be drinking later. Choose from the 10k, 5k, or 1k Little Firecracker Dash!

  1. Founders Park – Ladera Ranch

After the Freedom Run, watch the 10:30am community parade and get free pancakes until 11:30am! From 3-9pm, Founder’s Park will have live music, food vendors, and other activities going on. Make sure to stay for the fireworks once the sun goes down!

  1. Emerald Bay – Laguna Beach

If you know friends or family that live in Emerald Bay, then hit up this spot for the 4th. You can lounge out all day on this private beach and catch the fireworks above the ocean at night! Just remember you need a wristband to get into the gate.

  1. Fireworks Extravaganza – Doheny State Beach

Doheny is a great spot in Dana Point if you want to spend this 4th of July at the beach. There are BBQs for lunch and fire pits to sit around at night! If you tune in to the KSBR radio station FM 88.5, you’ll be able to listen to synchronized fireworks once they go off at night.

  1. Old Glory Boat Parade – Newport Beach

If you’re looking for something new to do this 4th, check out the boat parade at the Newport Harbor! There will be lots of fun boat décor for this year’s theme “America – Where Freedom Sails.” How patriotic can it get?

  1. Golf Cart Decorating Contest

Don’t have a boat? Well a golf-cart is the next best thing. Enter a contest and put together an original design for your speedy cart! Pressure is on.

7 Best Food Places in Orange County

  1. The Old Spaghetti Factory – Newport Beach

If you’re looking for traditional Italian food to satisfy your craving, then head over to The Old Spaghetti Factory! This space is great to host big parties for special occasions. I highly recommend trying the Mizithra Cheese & Browned Butter as your sauce choice!

  1. Alessa – Laguna Beach

Alessa is another Italian favorite located down the street from Main Beach. This restaurant spot can get crowded though, so make sure to call ahead and get your name on the list! Their gnocchi is top notch, so definitely test out this special dish.

  1. Carmelita’s Kitchen – Rancho Santa Margarita

On the hunt for quality Mexican food? Carmelita’s Kitchen has a variety of awesome choices. The best part about this restaurant is its prime location. The outside dining area sits right on the Rancho Santa Margarita Lake, so head over on a warm night to get a table outside!

  1. The Loft – Laguna Beach

Enjoy great American food with a breathtaking view over at The Loft. This food spot is great for brunch, lunch, or dinner, so head over anytime! Don’t forget to make a reservation!

  1. Anaheim Packing District – Anaheim

Not sure what type of food you’re in the mood for? Head over to the Anaheim Packing District and choose from over 20 merchants! They’ve got crêpes, Indian flavors, authentic Italian options, all sorts of comfort foods, and much much more!!

  1. Urth Caffé – Laguna Beach

Another hot spot in Laguna Beach is Urth Caffé. If you’re sticking to a nutritious diet then test out Urth’s sandwich and salad options. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then Urth has plenty of baked goods for you. I recommend trying their Thai Boba tea or a fresh fruit smoothie!

  1. Sundried Tomato – San Juan Capistrano & San Clemente

This American Bistro is often overlooked, but their food will definitely satisfy any craving! For first-timers, I recommend the Comfort Combo. There’s nothing better than grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup.

Eight Places the Kodiak Power Line Comes in Handy

Wondering when you could use a Kodiak Powerbank? Here are eight situations where a portable charger will save the day.

  1. Beach Day/Pool Party

There can’t be a complete beach day or pool party without good music. The Big Turtle Shell is ready for some tune action, but your phone battery must keep up! No worries. A water-resistant Kodiak Powerbank will fuel the party fun and keep up the energy.

  1. Flights

Flying coach on long flights can become quite miserable. Sometimes the only way to get through it is to binge watch that Netflix series your friends have been raving over! Maybe you want to catch up on work emails while watching Game of Thrones. Good thing the heavy-duty Kodiak Plus 2.0 will provide all the power you need to endure those dreaded flights.

  1. Concerts

Being a frequent concert-goer comes with consequences. Situation one: Record the live show and deal with a dead phone afterwards (good luck finding your way home). Situation 2: Phone stays charged all night, but you have minimal videos and pictures for memories (pics or it didn’t happen). Whether you’re making your way to Coachella or Burning Man, you’ll need the Kodiak 2.0.

  1. Amusement Parks

Did someone say family Disney Day? I am sure the excitement is real. After all, it is the ‘Happiest Place on Earth.’ Camera dead? Phone dead? No charger? 90 minute wait for Space Mountain? Not so much fun anymore.

  1. Sporting Events

No matter what time of year, there is always some big game coming up that can’t be missed. Say, a friend magically lands two tickets for the Super Bowl or World Series. Or, for us average folks, the reserved seats are the two best couch spots in the house. Either way, keep your phone handy and charged to document any crazy score that might happen.

  1. Road Trip

Taking a road trip with some friends or family? Whether the drive is two hours or ten hours, you’re going to need some sort of entertainment to help the time pass. Bring a portable charger to stream movies or play music during the drive.

  1. The Slopes

If you’re the type of person who loves to listen to music while cruising down the mountain, then a Kodiak Mini 2.0 is for you. It is small enough to fit securely in your snow jacket and powerful enough to boost your phone for long ski days.

  1. Fishing/Camping Trip

Outdoor activities like fishing and camping are well supported by our Kodiak Power Line. Whether you have a day fishing trip planned or a weekend long camping expedition, a portable charger is a must. No one will believe you caught that huge fish or saw a wild bear unless you have a charged camera to snap pics!

How to Build the Perfect Backyard Oasis

With Summer approaching, these June Gloom days are no lie. Have you ever noticed that the sun is shining bright at home, yet coastal skies turn grey? We all just want to lounge around on our sandy beaches, but it’s hard to get that perfect tan when the sky is overcast all afternoon. What’s the next best thing? A Perfect, Personal Backyard Oasis. If you want in on our secret to the ideal backyard set-up, follow the steps below:

  1. The Ideal Set-Up

Locate the sunniest spot in your backyard, preferably under direct sun to achieve that glowing tan. Or, if you want, set-up near a shady tree to get a break from the heat. Go grab your favorite striped beach towel and beach chair and set them up in your designated lounge spot however you’d like.

  1. Necessary Accessories

I know you’ve heard this before, but don’t forget sunscreen! Everyone prefers a suntan, not a sunburn. Also grab your sunglasses and a hat for more sun protection. Remember to make a nice drink for yourself! Ice-cold water, margarita, beer, or whatever beverage is calling your name.

  1. Quality Sound Entertainment

Music is the last step to achieve your Perfect Backyard Oasis. That means it’s time to pull out the Big Turtle Shell. Simply pair with Bluetooth to enjoy your personal music favorites. Try out the Turtle Shell 3.0 Bundle to pair two speakers for an even louder experience. What’s the best part? You can jam out to whatever you want, as loud as you want, in the privacy of your own backyard.

Gift Guide for this Father’s Day

This Father’s Day get your Dad an awesome gift that shows how cool he really is. Sentimental, make-shift cards are appreciated and all, but portable and wireless sound will for sure amp up his life. Outdoor Tech will top all your past Father’s Day presents and will definitely make you the favorite daughter/son.

  1. Buckshot Pro – $79.95

Upgrade from the Buckshot 2.0 and get your Dad the Pro. The Buckshot Pro provides a 3-in-1 speaker and a powerbank for when he’s on the move and needs to charge-up. The best part? There is a built-in flashlight for the Dads who like to think of themselves as Mr. Handyman or Mr. Prepared.

  1. Big Turtle Shell – $199.95

Let me guess. The Bigger the Better? That’s right, so why not give your Dad the Big Turtle Shell this Father’s Day. BIG dual speakers create the loudest audio experience that fills any space. Perfect for family beach days, a campfire setting, or the backyard BBQ your Dad has had planned for weeks.

  1. Rhinos – $129.95

These wireless, waterproof headphones have a Walkie Talkie feature that will really get your dad excited. Maybe get yourself a pair too so you can answer your Dad’s questions without even having to go downstairs! Not in the mood to talk? Don’t worry, wear the Rhinos to tune out fatherly responsibilities for a little afternoon break.

  1. Tags 2.0 – $39.95

The last thing your Dad wants to do before rocking out to his music is deal with a tangled mess of cords. Good thing the Tags 2.0 snap together to prevent the frustrating cord chaos! These are the perfect wireless earbuds for any Father, whether he’s the kind of guy who enjoys music while strolling along the beach or hiking up rugged trails.

  1. Kodiak Powerbanks – $24.95 – $99.95

Lastly, if your Dad is always the man on the go, get him a powerbank from our Kodiak Power Line. Take power anywhere and everywhere so he doesn’t miss out on any Proud Father Moments.

If none of these awesome items win over your Dad, check out some other stuff you probably want to get for this upcoming Father’s Day.