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Hilo Jason

Exploring Lord Howe Island

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Hilo Jason

My wife and I just returned from a short visit (too short) to Lord Howe Island.  This was our first time visiting, after many years of wanting to go there.  I must say it was probably the most peaceful place I have ever spent time at.  The very small-town vibe, walking or riding bikes wherever you need to go, and friendly people make it a wonderful place to visit.  Then the scenery and of course the palms just puts it over the top!  I will include more information along with the pictures below.  Hope you enjoy.  

All flights come in on Qantas airlines into the small airport with just a 1km runway which makes for exciting takeoffs and landings.  The plane seats about 30 people.  

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You are greeted when you step off the plane with Mt. Lidgbird on the left and Mt. Gower on the right.

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We actually arrived a day late to Lord Howe due to bad weather on the island and the airline not wanting to fly us out there in the weather.  The day before we were supposed to depart the flight that day actually got all the way out to Lord Howe, but couldn't land due to a storm and had to return back to Sydney.  So we were relieved to not have to go through that, but it did cut a day off of our trip which was already too short.  Thankfully as you will see in the photos, we had excellent weather for our few days there so we were not affected at all once we actually arrived.  

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Hilo Jason

Upon arriving we headed down to the local bike rental shop and rented bikes for the time we were there.   I cannot say enough good things about our time on Lord Howe.  Riding bikes on these roads was incredible and made you feel like you were in a National Park, but almost had it all to yourself, and it's loaded with endemic palms!   

Towering Kentias (Howea Forsteriana) are all over the island at the lower elevations.  As seen on the road below:

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Our first beach stop was for a picnic lunch at Ned's Beach on Northeast side of the island.   Under the shade of a Kentia. 

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Enjoying the view of the beach:

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The hill you see in the photo above is part of the Malabar Hill Hike.  After eating our lunch we decided to check it out.   Don't fall off the cliff!  Looking down a bit at Neds Beach. 

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another view looking back from about halfway up the hill:

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Hilo Jason

As you approach the top of the hill at about 200 m in elevation, you start to see around to the southern part of the island and get a great view of Mt. Lidgbird and Mt. Gower. 

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More epic views:

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We only passed by maybe 3 other hikers during this hike.  Just us and the birds up there! 

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We then start to notice some Howea Belmoreana, these were mixed in with Forsteriana at this point.  Some were in full sun and very compact due to the sun exposure:

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Into the more forested area of the hike, we would see many Howea Belmoreana, some small, some overhead:

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Ending the hike at another beach with another great view of the mountains and some towering Kentias. 

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Also, it was great to see many Belmoreana and Forsteriana planted alongside of these trails.  There were many natural seedlings popping up as well, but you could see some that were intentionally planted in many areas that were maybe 1 meter or less in height for now and many times would be encircled by some protective mesh fencing.  

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Hilo Jason

Sunset that first night, looking out over Lagoon Beach.  

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GottmitAlex

So,  no rats, mice?

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Hilo Jason

We stayed at a very simple and comfortable place called Somerset Apartments.  I would highly recommend it if you are planning a visit to Lord Howe.  Here's the setting: 

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Kentia covered pathways leading out to the road:

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Lord Howe is an old volcanic island (like Hawaii) so there are some really interesting rock formations throughout the island:

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More and more Kentias!

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GottmitAlex

Beautiful!!

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Hilo Jason

We spent our second day exploring the entire island on bikes.  Not wanting to hike much because the following day we would be doing the Mt. Gower trek.  So we wanted to have fresh legs for that all day trek.  

Some random scenes from our biking day around the island:

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As mentioned, the next day we would be hiking Mt Gower.  You can see why it's a cloud forest in this photo below.  

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We rode back to town, watched another amazing sunset and went to bed early to be ready to go for Mt. Gower the next day.  

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Hilo Jason

I woke up early to take a short walk down to Lagoon Beach to warm my legs up before the big trek.  Have I mentioned how magical and incredible this place is yet?! 

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The Mt Gower trek starts right at 7:30am.  Groups are limited to no more than 15 people and one group per day is allowed to hike the mountain with the goal of being up at the top around 11:30am for lunch and then back down by 4pm.  

The beginning of the hike is flat for about 1.2 km and walks parallel with the beach, weaving in and out of low level forest with both Howea Forsteriana and Belmoreana.  

You then do some more vertical hiking with the aids of ropes and at about the 120 meter mark, you hike along a very exposed an narrow edge.  As someone who is afraid of heights, I was a bit nervous about this part.  Thankfully I did well going up, coming back down at the end was a bit more nerve-wrecking!  

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Helmets are required in this section of the hike due to frequent rock falls from above.  Fun stuff when you're on a narrow ledge! 

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Looking north up the island from this point:

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Hilo Jason

Heading up into beautiful forest! 

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Hilo Jason

About an hour and a half into the hike, we stop for a break along this creek.  Thanks to the rain that cancelled our original flight in, it was flowing nicely.  Our guide mentioned it was flowing more than she had seen in about a year.  

At this point in the hike we had gained about 180 m in elevation.  This is about 4.5 km into the hike.  

From this point, we only had 1.8km remaining, however we would be gaining another 700 meters in elevation! 

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Hilo Jason

We saw several palms that must have blown or fallen over at some point so they have some interesting growing habits

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More perfect jungle, still just the 2 Howea's at this point of the trek. 

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Hilo Jason

About halfway up (elevation speaking) we see our first Hedyscepe Canteburyanas! 

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JT in Japan

Hi Jason, first of all, great photos and thread. Very interesting.

You're posting some really clear photos with great lighting, easy-to-see perspective, great focus etc,... much different from most jungle photos people share. Can I ask what camera and settings you were using?

Thanks,

JT

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Hilo Jason

After the Hedyscepe's show up, you then get up to about 400 meters in elevation and what is called the Saddle.  This is the section of the hike that is up between the 2 mountains.   This is looking back at Mt. Lidgbird in the photo below. 

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Back up the ropes and at this point it's getting much steeper! 

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Hilo Jason

Higher up, mostly with the help (and need for) ropes.  The views get better and better and you can start seeing more and more Hedyscepes popping up through the canopy.

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Back into more jungle as we continue to head up into the cloud forest.  

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Hilo Jason

About 100 meters before reaching the top, we start to see Lepidorrhachis mooreana!!!!  

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You can really see the effects of the Cloud Forest with mosses growing all over and a much cooler temperature up there.  

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Along with Lepidorrhachis mooreana, there are also many Hedyscepe Canterburyana up along the top of the mountain, I did not see either of the Howeas up there. 

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Hilo Jason

Cloud forest! 

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More Palms! 

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Hilo Jason

We made it to the top.  875 meters in elevation.  

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At the very top were Ohia trees, just like what I see here on the Big Island of Hawaii.  

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Hilo Jason

Palms on the summit: 

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Hilo Jason

After a short lunch stop at the top, it's time to head back down.  I chose to eat very fast so I could spend more time up in the cloud forest.  I wish I had more time, but the guides are strict so that they can get back to the bottom on time, and allow time for any sort of issues that could come up on the way down. 

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Another amazing view on the way down:

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The walk back along that narrow lower ridge was a bit more challenging on the way down.  My legs were weak by this point and I just had to look straight ahead and not down!  

Zoom in and you can see the hikers along the rope where the green meets the bare rock.  

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Beautiful views of the lower Howea forest on the way down

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The finish line! 

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Sadly we had to fly out the next day and start the long trip home through Sydney, Fiji, Samoa, Honolulu and then finally Hilo.  

Our legs and bodies were extremely sore for 2-3 days after the Mt. Gower Trek.  But it was absolutely worth it.  Lord Howe is a place like no other that we have ever visited and I highly recommend it to anyone who gets the chance.  Heaven on earth is the best description that I can come up with. 

I hope you've enjoyed the pictures.  Thanks for looking.  

Aloha 

 

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GottmitAlex

Just majestic Jason!

I apologize for my impertinence. I erroneously thought the island was riddled with rodents. 

What an adventure you folks had! It's paradise!

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Darold Petty

GottmitAlex;  You are correct, the island does have a big problem with rats.

Hilo Jason;  Thanks so much for the excellent photos.  It is great to see the Dietes in bloom also !

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Hilo Jason
1 hour ago, GottmitAlex said:

So,  no rats, mice?

From May - October of this year they were doing a very extensive and thorough baiting / poisoning of the rats.  So we got there on the tail end of that.  We spoke with some of the people who were gathering the bait stations and they had 19,000 spread out over the island.  Anywhere that didn't have the bait stations, they applied bait in other ways.  I believe by hand on many of the trails and possibly even by helicopter.  I did not see any rats during our few days there so hopefully the baiting is a success.  

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Darold Petty

Wow, that is great news !

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sandgroper

Fantastic photos, looks like you had a great time there.

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Hilo Jason
1 hour ago, JT in Japan said:

Hi Jason, first of all, great photos and thread. Very interesting.

You're posting some really clear photos with great lighting, easy-to-see perspective, great focus etc,... much different from most jungle photos people share. Can I ask what camera and settings you were using?

Thanks,

JT

Thank you for the compliments.  All pictures were taken with my old iPhone which is an iPhone SE.  Thankfully the weather and the sky was great because I'm not a very good photographer, hah!  I can't take much credit when the surroundings are so perfect.  It was a bit trickier up at the top as it was midday and the sun was right above us up there.  

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The Gerg

Awesome pics Jason. Thanks for sharing. I will now appreciate my Howeas and Hedyscepe even more. And if I ever make it there I won’t have to make that exhausting looking hike myself.  :D

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Hilo Jason
17 minutes ago, The Gerg said:

Awesome pics Jason. Thanks for sharing. I will now appreciate my Howeas and Hedyscepe even more. And if I ever make it there I won’t have to make that exhausting looking hike myself.  :D

My pleasure.  I always get a greater appreciation of palms after seeing them in habitat and this experience was amazing so I'm now hoping to add these to my Hilo garden.  

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Palm Tree Jim

Thanks for sharing Jason.

It appears you had an epic trip.

 

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Meangreen94z

Spectacular 

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pietropuccio

Thank you very much!

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greysrigging

Maaaate.... fantastic pics ! I worked on Lord Howe back in Feb 2003 ( couple of weeks putting up a shed and doing maintenance on a Satellite Antenna ). 
Would you believe the place was suffering a bit of a drought and there wasn't much green grass at the height of summer.
We had about a day and a half of free time ( finished the job early ) and had the choice of the Mt Gower trek or fishing and snorkling in the Bay.... snorkling won haha... truth be known I was probably a bit too old for the difficult hike to the summit.
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cbmnz
5 hours ago, Hilo Jason said:

We made it to the top.  875 meters in elevation.  

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At the very top were Ohia trees, just like what I see here on the Big Island of Hawaii.  

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Recognized that right away as having to be a member of the Metrosideros family. We have three members in New Zealand with the same flowers.  Those high altitude palms have an upright habit, look a lot like our Rhopalostylis too.

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Stevetoad

Great virtual tour! What an awesome place. Thank you for sharing these. 

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bubba

Absolutely sensational! Thank you!

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PalmatierMeg

Wonderful! That place is magical. Thanks for that photo tour.

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Silas_Sancona

A fantastic journey to a remarkable place. Thanks for the tour and documentation Jason!

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