Monday, 30 December 2013

Mingling with seals in New Plymouth

Before heading towards Wellington, where our ferry goes at 8th of January, we spent another couple of nights at a couchsurfing place near Inglewood. It is a super friendly, welcoming family from Holland, living in a house they built themselves on a little hill surrounded by paddocks. They are amazing hosts and we are having a great time filled with playing guitar, interesting talks, relaxing and catching up with our photos and the blog.


Arriving in Taranaki region, we continued straight ahead, towards the Mountain. It is visible from afar, but almost always hidden behind clouds. Locals warned us that it is a very shy mountain. For that, we were quite lucky.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Forgotten World

Leading from Taumarunui southwest towards Taranaki, Highway 43 is a seemingly endless curving road through green hills, sheep- and cow farms and more green hills. It's called the “Forgotten World Highway”.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Rotorua and Taupo - the Central Plateau

Boiling Earth

Rotorua, the geothermal centre of New Zealand, one of the main tourist attractions, turned out to be a rather short stop on our way. Before you even get close to the city, you are welcomed by the unmistakable, ever present odour of sulphur, blown into the air by the many geothermal hotspots along the highway. The most popular one, Wai-o-tapu ('holy waters'), charges you around 35$ for the smelly experience. The colorful lakes must be interesting, but for our taste it was just too much money for something so focused on artificially drawing tourists.
They put up Maori style poles and decorations everywhere, which would be a good thing, if it weren't just for getting more people and money there and forcing the towns popularity just a bit more (quite small and not soo remarkable by itself, but with what felt like thousands of rather pricy hotels and motels lined up everywhere). To keep the tourists' good mood up, they even 'help' the geyser with some chemicals to spout off at exactly 10:15 each day.
Long story cut short, for us it was all a bit too artifical and too smelly.

Of Forests and Lakes

East Cape and Waioeka Gorge

State Highway 25 follows the Pacific Coast down to Waihi, where it becomes SH 2 and leads around the remote East Cape. We saw a lot of softly curving sanddunes, waves and puhutakawa trees, painting Red on the green hills with their flowers.
We stopped at Matata, a cute DOC campsite with super friendly owners next to the Ocean. We didn't only get a night's sleep, but also a copy of the 'Pacific Highway travel guide' and two home grown Avocados for our supplies.
After studying the guide we decided that the more interesting route would be the one straight through the middle instead of all the way around the cape.
So we fueled up at Opotiki and turned inland to Waioeka Gorge. It was definitely a good decision in terms of views: Untouched bush on steep hills and a winding river always close.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Cathedral Cove & Hot Water Beach

Highway 25 changes its face completely once it turns away from the seaside into Coromandels inland. The steep dark structures of the Coromandel Ranges come into view and the Highway fights its way through the bush in endless winding ups and downs. Strong stomach recommended!
The scenic lookouts along the way are amazing. Over the tips of the green hills there is always a bit of ocean to see.

Coming to the east coast we had a detour to Whangapoua and a short, pleasant walk to New Chums beach, supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand. It stays true to its reputation: golden sand, turquoise waters, surrounded by old trees and fascinating rock formations. It stretches for quite long and there where not that many people there. A beautiful place to have a rest!

Coromandel Peninsula

Coromandel and its beaches were our next goal. We followed the Highway all the way up north, through Thames (for us it was just another town – not really interesting), along the shore with some stunning lookouts on the way, to Coromandel town, where we had a little stop for an iced coffee and a power plug to load cameras and laptop.
From there the roads got smaller and worse, until we got the sealed road behind us and watched the sun sink below the ocean and the moon rise over the green hills and gnarly trees of Coromandel's far North. The gravel roads up there are a bit scary at night, because they are literally right next to the sea, and quite high above it in parts, so if you look out and down from your window, sometimes all you see are the waves crushing against the rocks. But the views make up for the driving. After about an hours worth of gravel, we reached the first of three DOC camp sites and gratefully took the chance to fall into bed.

Karangahake Gorge - this time in the sun :)

After leaving Hobbiton we spent the night at Dickey Flat, a free DOC campsite next to the Waitawheta river. It's a beautiful spot, very close to Karangahake Gorge. Since I have only seen the Gorge in bad weather before, I was glad to wake up to sunshine the next morning. I had a nice little walk along misty fields and when the sun was a bit further out, we had a bath in the river. The weather is great so far, we have warm, sunny days and mild nights. And the actual summer hasn't even started yet!

After our encounter with the cool river we headed out into the sun again – onto the Karangahake walkway, leading alongside the river and through the bush, with old pipes running along the way and many great views of the Gorge. The walkway partly leads through old mining tunnels and along railway tracks. They dug their way all through the steep hills and way underneath, creating a tunnel network of many levels, with entrances everywhere along the track.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Hobbiton - Kay's photographic impressions


Waking up the next day without any plans, we had a look at the map to decide where the road would lead that day – and saw that on our way to the Coromandel Peninsula we could have a stop at one of THE tourist attractions: Hobbiton.

For two 'Lord of the Rings' lovers a must-do. So we headed off to Matamata, the town next to the movie set. They take a lot of pride in their Hobbit neighbours and even the i-site (the visitor centre) of the town is built to look like a hobbit house.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Leaving the big city!

Merry Christmas to everyone!
A lot has happened since we are traveling again and we will start to update the blog bit by bit, beginning with our departure in Auckland on 15th december...

Packing up all our stuff in Auckland felt weird. We lived here for several months and it was like home for a while, we got to know awesome people at work and around it and had something like an everyday life within the working holiday. From time to time, we even forgot that we are in a foreign country.
Still, getting out of the big city was a relief and we were very excited to hit the road again and discover all the beautiful places that are waiting for us!

Monday, 2 December 2013

A cloudy day at Karangahake

Karangahake Gorge is a beautiful area of steep hills south of the Coromandel Peninsula, covered in native bush and divided by the winding Waitawheta river. There are old railway tracks and mining tunnels you can follow and everywhere the rusty remains of pipes and other constructions peek through the rocks.
I definitely want to do one of the walkways when I'm there again.

We were there for the climbing - which gets you to even better views of the gorge on top of the cliffs!
We only managed one climb, though, because our map (and our orientation :) led us through the bush for more than an hour before we actually found the rock - and after the first climb it started raining. We were warned that this is the wettest spot in the North Island :)
Still it was beautiful and I'm looking forward to go there again!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sun and Rocks - Day Two at Froggatt

Sunburned and exhausted, but happy we left Froggatt this monday, after almost nine hours of climbing, cheering, laughing, lying in the sun and enjoying the views. It was quite a contrast to the last time we were there: Blue sky and a hot sun instead of wet walls and rain.
We did some great climbs and came to the conclusion that the grading doesn't really make any sense at Froggatt - but it's fun anyway :)

We left late in the afternoon and were rewarded for our climbing efforts with a beautiful rainbow and a glowing red sunset behind the hills. (And an icecream at Mc Donalds. :-)

Here are some pictures...

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Climbing at Froggatt

I had my second outdoor climbing trip last Friday, and it was amazing!
Froggatt has great rock, nice views and all kinds of different climbs from super easy to super hard :D
It was worth going there only to see this beautiful place. The weather wasn't perfect and in the end we had to run from the rain, but before that it was a lot of fun!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Smiley Face

Found in Britomart Train station, Auckland.

Who can see the photographer? :D

Lights in Auckland

Diwali - The Indian Festival of Lights

Last weekend Auckland celebrated the Indian Festival of the returning light, with a lot of music, performances, vegetarian food, henna tattoos and colorful clothing around the city square. Diwali (coming from deepavali, 'row of lights')  is the festival of light's triumph over darkness. It's one of the most important festivals of the year in India. The atmosphere was great and so was the food :D And, finally, I found one of the comfortable Indian style trousers I love so much - ready for summer now! 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Halfmoon Bay

My last day off work I spent exploring the area by bike and rode to Half Moon Bay via Pakuranga. I'm always keeping an eye open for interesting houses, mailboxes, etc - I am building up a nice collection and it's amazing what you find when you really look around.

Spring is showing itself slowly and the days are getting warmer. I'm really looking forward to summer!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Waiheke Island impressions

These are from our trip to Waiheke Island. We only managed to do one bushwalk this day but it was beautiful and we will probably go there again - if only the ferry weren't so expensive :)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Walk around Mt Wellington

This is where we live at the moment: Mt Wellington /Panmure, just next to one of the many volcano craters in Auckland. Right next to the mount is my workplace, the rockclimbing hall :)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Pizza from Hell

Isn't it cool? Pizza straight from the fires of hell. And it tastes good, too :)

So that is what it looks like when we discover our surroundings. By now, we moved from our Couchsurfing place to a shared flat near my workplace at Mt Wellington. It's quiet here, but it's perfect concerning the position: We have a huge shopping center with several supermarkets in walking distance, as well as a train and a bus stop.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Rock Climbing!

We are slowly settling down in Auckland and are going to earn some money before we start off again in summer.
I am lucky to be working in New Zealand's largest climbing hall and just had an awesome daytrip with two of my collegues to a rock near Te Aroha (about an hour south-east into the country). My first outdoor climbing trip :) It was a great experience and the views were amazing!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Addition: Our footprints at the Healing Retreat

A bit late, but here it is: my finished sign for the Waitapu Retreat.

Below are Maia, who came to our door each morning and guarded us, and the second, small sign pointing to the cabins, I painted as well. It was a great time we had there, we will never forget our two amazing hosts - and we have left an imprint of ourselves there with the signs, the totem pole and one of Kay's photo prints on their wall. Praised be the WWOOFing idea! :D

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

New things...

We are in Auckland again and we are looking forward to earn some money for our travels!
I will probably work in New Zealand's largest climbing hall and Kay is hoping for a very interesting promotion job - we let you know more when we have anything confirmed ;)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway

I did a great walkway along the coastline at Mangawhai today - finally a day of sunshine after a lot of rain. Isn't the water a beautiful color?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A look out of our window

Here are a few more impressions of the healing retreat.  We are happy to be here, but it is time to change places again this weekend. We are looking for jobs at the moment and will try our luck in Auckland.
It's easiest finding a job when you just walk into the places and ask, though we are also applying for jobs on websites such as Backpackerboard or Seasonaljobs. We will also try and get a job via an agency - we'll let you now how well this works out.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Monday, 19 August 2013

New looks

What do you think about our new Blog Design? We think it's a bit more friendly :)

And it's not the only thing we changed these last days: Sammy got a new interior! We managed to build in a bed and some storage room beneath it. Great, isn't it? Now we don't have to move all our stuff every night and have some more room for sleeping :)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Painting again

We are back at Susan & Tahe's Healing Retreat near Mangawhai. It is beautiful and I am doing my favourite 'work' again: painting. The current mission is a sign to Waitapu Retreat, supposed to stand next to the beginning of the driveway.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Wild wild (North-)West

New Zealand's secret desert

Blue sky, immense hills of sand stretching for miles, yellow rocks, wind blowing the masses of sand onto you with such force it feels like getting your skin rubbed off – it must be a desert! When you see the pictures you will believe that we felt like being in the wrong place. You really get every kind of landscape here, from jungle to volcanic rocks to desert dunes. Except that it isn't a desert, but Te Paki's giant sand dunes, stretching along the ocean for miles and miles on the westcoast. It was an amazing experience and such a strange sight, the ocean next to the desert, next to the deep green forest hills.

Where the Spirits go...

Cape Reinga & Far North

Blue skies and golden sand marked our way north, from Kerikeri up to Whangaroa Harbour, along the coastline to the cute town of Mangonui, where we had a classical Fish&Chips lunch, to idyllic Coopers Beach and finally to the single Highway leading to the very north of Aotearoa: Number one, direction Cape Reinga.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bay of Islands by car and boat :)


Yesterday we very effectively emptied our tank by driving the long way to Russel. It was a beautiful trip, partly on gravel road, through the bush and some more amazing untouched landscapes.
We were forced to fuel up in Russel on the only gas station within miles - New Zealand's oldest gas station operating since 1930. The age added to the price, obviously: 14c/litre more than elsewhere.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Rainbow falls

Today we found the rainbow at Rainbow Falls and saw the natural habitat of New Zealand's Fairies. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

On the road again - up North!

After a week of housesitting, and sitting it was, mostly, we are very keen to be on the road again. Our goal now is to discover the Bay of Islands and go up to Cape Reinga, the most northern point of New Zealand and the unique view of two oceans meeting.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Discovering Whangarei

Today the view from 'our' house presented itself in a beautiful morning mist, covering all the fields and leaving only the hills on the horizon. We agreed that we should try to find this sight in a more natural area, like one of the national parks... We are really looking forward to trave again.

I drove to Whangarei to have a walk around the town. Since it is not really big, there is not so much to do, but it has several art centers and beautiful surroundings.
What I didn't know before is that most of the museums are closed on mondays...
So I discovered the surroundings. I followed a beautiful walking track through the bush up to Mt Parihaka. It winds along a little stream through fern, palm and Kauri trees. It was a great walk and had a nice view on the top, though it was mostly on the town. It's a pity that Kay didn't come, would have been some nice photos - you will just have to imagine :)

On my way back I had a look at the town basin. There is a mystic walkway through the mangroves, which are not very big, but nevertheless were a great sight in the glittering sunlight of today.
When they open up, you find yourself in the marine, filled with nice small (and probably very expensive) boats and yachts.

I finished my day with a late lunch at one of the riverside cafés and drove back, having a breathtaking view on the green hills in the evening light.