The Gondwana Rainforests can be found just in the north of NSW and south-east of Queensland. It’s two hours drive to the National Park entrance from Coffs Harbour.
Where there is rainforest, there is rain. The New England Gondwana rainforest is worth to visit throughout the year. Hiking and camping in such an ancient Antarctic beech forest is something very special and sensational. It may be 35°C hot at the Ebor Falls just 30 km north of the New England National Park, but in the forest, it’s cool with temps often around 16°C during spring and summer. Nights get pretty chilly. It’s a perfect example to experience the positive impact of forests for our environment and against climate change.
Weather New England National Park
First of all, precipitation can happen in abundance, and tents get flooded. On the other hand, dry and warm days can occur as well. Most important be prepared and check the weather forecast before visiting the park.
- Rainy Season
It frequently rains from November to March. Temps can be high on average 25°C and even more around 30°C is possible on a clear sunny day. If it’s misty and cloudy temps are on average around 15°C. Check the forecast before pitching your tent. The campground got already flooded a couple of times.
- Drier Season
In April the rain decreases and May to October are drier. May to August are the coldest months day temps on average are below 20° and night temps are around 7°C. However, be prepared if you plan to camp night temps can drop to 0°C with occasional snowfall.
If you like to experience nature without the crowds and awesome day hikes this is one of the rare places. The secluded Thungutti campground is very seldom fully booked. Usually, there are just four or five sites occupied. While hiking, we just met one family the entire day.
Camping New England and Dorrigo National Park
If you plan to visit the New England National Park make a stop at Dorrigo and its visitor center first. You can’t camp in Dorrigo, but there is one small campground called Thungutti at the entrance of the New England National Park. Just 20 sites are available, basic facilities and a picnic area with gas BBQ.
If you like to get close to mother nature and a digital detox this is the right place for you. Sugar gliders visit the campground during the night, and you can hear them in the kitchen/BBQ area searching for leftovers. The fee for two adults is $12 for one night. Nowadays booking online is essential. Map and campsite booking
There are three cabins to rent inside the National Park in the middle of the awesome rainforest. That's more comfortable during the rain. Toms Cabin is equipped with an oven, basic kitchen, and four bunk beds. Booking Toms Cabin and Booking the Chalet with an included balcony and The Residence for up to 10 people.
We arrived 2 ½ hours before low tide and enjoyed the stunning walk through the forest, along with a boardwalk until we reached Burning Palms cabins and beach.
The famous and popular Figure 8 Pools are safely accessible around low tide only! The tides and swell must have a low level without strong wind to enjoy the amazing pools without an accident. Many people got injured by sudden waves just for a perfect selfie. Check Official National Park Website - Alerts
Update Feb 2019: Safety First! A young international student got washed off the rocks on Monday 25th. 9 people died in the Royal National Park along the coast since 2016. Don't come here during high tide. Check the National Park Alerts first and the wave status. Two young men got hit by an extreme wave and one drowned. Want to be on the safe side? Book a tour with the only licensed tour operator for Figure 8 Pools (these guys are excellent): Figure 8 Pools Photography & Hike Tour from Sydney (via Viator - TripAdvisor Experience)
Tide Times and Swell (Safety)
Again, it's only safe to be at Figure 8 pools during low tide, low swell and without very strong wind or storm! What you should know:
- What does low tide mean? Like in most other coastal areas, you'll experience two tidal cycles over the course of one lunar day. Which means, each day there are 2 high tides and 2 low tides. However, due to park opening times (read below) you can only be there during one of the two low tide periods on a single day. Plan your visit accordingly: Garie Beach Tide Times and Heights.
- When to arrive at Figure 8 Pools? Plan to be at Figure 8 Pools about 1-2 hours before the lowest tide time. Example: Low Tide at 3 p.m. means you should arrive between 1 and 2 p.m. You need to take into account the drive from the park entrance to the parking lot (about 20 minutes) and the hike from the parking area to Figure 8 Pools (another 1 ½ hours or less). Read below for more details.
- Is it always safe during low tide? No! Keep in mind, that even at low tide it can be dangerous during critical ocean conditions when big waves reach the rock shelf. Check the official Figure 8 Pools Risk Forecast. When it's set to 'Extreme', don't go. You'll find the same information at the visitor centre when entering the park. However, we went despite of a 'High Risk' forecast (one level below extreme) and it was fine. But still, we were very careful. Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any injury, death, or consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided here. This is just our experience!
Opening Times (Royal National Park)
You can only get to Figure 8 Pools, when the park is open of course. The opening times are from 7 a.m. to 8.30 p.m (Visitor Centre from 8.30am to 4.30pm daily. The only day when it's closed is on Christmas Day). However, the park can be closed at times because of severe weather conditions or fire danger. Also, plan your way back: You have to hike back to your car and after that, drive back to the entrance/exit. That's a total time of about 2 hours. If you stay too long and get back too late, you might be stuck in the park. They always close the gates at 8:30 p.m.
Getting to Figure 8 Pools
To get to the Garrawarra Farm car park it’s a long drive through the park on sealed roads, only 1.5 km is gravel.
Space is limited, and you are not allowed to park the car somewhere else. The entrance fee is 12 $ per car if you don’t have a multi or annual park pass for NSW. The gate closes at 8.30 pm and opens at 7:00 am. The hike to Figure 8 takes a maximum of 1½ hours, and the trail is 3.5 km long one way. No worries the trail is well marked, and there is no need for a map.
Avoiding the Crowds
The park is mostly super busy during the summer holidays (mid-December to January) and weekends as well. There is a lot of traffic, and the car parks fill up soon. Come early in the peak season; the car parks get closed when they are full. Traffic jams occur pretty often at this crazy time of the year.
The area around Sydney experiences hot summers with average daytime temps of almost 30°C and mild winters with an average daytime temp of about 20°C. There isn’t a wet or dry season, but droughts happen more often nowadays. On average rain occurs throughout the year with more precipitation from January to June with its peak in March.
- From May to November you may spot whales along the coast.
- The Visitor Center at Audley is open daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
- From July to November more than 700 different plants are in bloom on the plateau.
The Xitou Bamboo Forest is one of the most popular parks in Taiwan. To experience the beautiful landscape of the park with fewer people you have to hike. Another important fact is the weather and the clouds as well which roll in around midday. Continue reading to get all the information for this stunning circular hike to the top of Xitou.
This is something which is almost impossible in Xitou. On weekdays it is a very popular place for the retired Taiwanese people, and they come here by bus for hiking. The first buses arrive around 8 am and from 9 onwards the park fills up soon. Around 3 pm the first buses leave the area, and from 4 onwards the park and the skywalk are less busy. We arrived midweek, and there were roughly several hundred busses. We got told by a hotel manager that it's always crowded like that. On weekends it's very popular for families especially in summer they come here to escape the heat.
In our opinion, the best option to enjoy this incredible beautiful nature is this loop trail which ends on the highest level of Xitou Nature Education Area. It took us 4 hours due to the long descent through the whole Xitou Park. The trail is 12 to 14 km long depending on the paths you chose on the way back through the park. The trail is almost not marked. Nevertheless, you don't get lost. Just follow other hikers or ask them how to continue.
Start the hike early morning; often clouds roll in around midday and spoil the incredible view of the mountains and the sea of clouds.
Opening Hours Xitou
Xitou is open from 7 am to 5 pm.
Due to the higher elevation, the air is cooler, and it often gets foggy. The wettest months are during spring and summer from April/May until August.
The park is called after the first European settlers Michael and Barbara Pfeiffer who built a house in 1869.
If visiting for hiking start early morning to beat the midday heat during summer. We even spotted a gray fox close to the Lodge although they are nocturnal. Foxes, skunks, and raccoons can be seen during the night. The Pfeiffer Falls are very popular either hike to them in the morning or late afternoon. They were not accessible in 2017 closed due to the powerful storms that flooded the Big Sur Coast with nearly 100 inches / 2540 mm of rain and remain closed. Opening was planned by February 2019 but it looks like they won't be open before mid-June 2019. Check closure
Nearby along the Highwy One are the famous McWay Falls which can be already seen from the road
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches/ 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from the evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.
If you like camping under the amazing redwood trees book the tent or RV site in advance at least 3 months before for the summer holidays even 6 months. Within the park are several campgrounds offering 189 tent and RV sites in total for $ 35-50 each night which includes the State Park fee of 10 $ (2019). From mid-June until September are two group campsites available which can accommodate up to 35 people. Reservations can be made six months in advance on the first day of the month. The campground is extremely popular even in the winter due to the mild climate. Click here for campground reservation
Best Accommodations at Big Sur
- There are cozy little cabins and a campground as well just close to the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground. The Riverside Campground and Cabins offers well equipped cottages with a kitchenette and bathroom and some share the facilities with the campground. It's beautiful located under redwood trees and an excellent alternative if the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is already fully booked,
- Our luxury top tip is the Ventana Big Sur - An Alila Resort situated in a breathtaking scenery. The food at the on-site restaurant is incredible. You can really forget about everything except your time. Don't come here in a rush. You will love this cozy place and regret it if you stay here just for one night.
- Excellent located at the park entrance is the Big Sur Lodge. The rooms are heated up with a cozy fireplace. The on-site restaurant offers tasty meals. Start your hike directly from the lodge and afterwards enjoy the outdoor pool during your stay.
Big Basin is California’s oldest State Park established in 1902. Created to preserve these extraordinary ancient coast redwoods.
It’s a popular State Park close to San Francisco, but less busy than Muir Woods. Somehow crowded at weekends and popular for camping under the astonishing trees. It’s a park you should not miss. During winter it gets wet and trails are slippery and muddy. Nevertheless, hikes can be done all year but ask for trail conditions first.
The wet season starts in November and lasts until February with most precipitation in January. It receives three times the rainfall of the Bay Area. This rain is much needed by the redwoods after the dry summer. The average night temp is around 41°F / 5°C and day temp under 60°F / 15°C.
Summer from June to September is mostly dry with dense summer fog in the morning. The mist provides the trees with moisture. Nights temps are much cooler than in the Bay Area with around 49°F / 9°C and day temps about 74°F / 23°C. Anyhow, in the hot summer months, it can reach up to 86°F /30°C and more.
Where to Stay
You can either camp for $ 35-50 which includes the State Park fee of $ 10 under the ancient redwood trees or choose the charming The Inn at Saratoga ideally situated. Included is a cold buffet breakfast.
I've backpacked in the Kings Canyon area twice, in May and September, which are what I would consider the bookends of the season. Any colder, and this would be for serious Winter lovers only.
May through October