Monday, 8 September 2014

Wai-o-Tapu - The Thermal Wonderland

Back in Germany there is a lot to do, so I had to pause the Blog for a while. I'd like to finish telling the story of our journey though and I have just worked on some pictures of our last stop before Auckland:

Wai-o-Tapu, or “Holy Water”, the Geothermal Area in the middle of the North Island is one of the main attractions to see in New Zealand. It is close to Rotorua, a town that's all about Maori culture and built on boiling earth.
In the whole area, the smell of sulfur is in the air. Walking through and around the town, you find plenty of hot springs, like Kerosene Creek which we have seen on our trip down south.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Way back North - Art Déco and Thermal Spas

Could paddocks be any more beautiful? After the rain on the North Island


The coastal town of Napier is well known among travelers for its unique Art Déco Achitecture. Even though Napier is quite small, there is a lot to see if you are into details. Almost every building shows the style Napier is famous for, most of them newly painted in bright colors and showing off their geometrical ornaments. They also have a cute beach promenade stretching from one end of the town to the other.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Back Home - What's next?

Hey everyone!

We are back from the other end of the world, after 23 hours of flight. Germany has a lot to do for us - jobs, studying and first of all getting all our stuff out of the cellar.
But once we settled a little bit more, there are still some photos left to be published!

I will keep uploading stories and impressions from our way up north again, over Taupo and The Wonders of Rotorua up to good ol' Auckland. Also, I'm planning to give everything a nice overview with a map as navigation, and maybe some general information about traveling in New Zealand.

So keep looking every once in a while!

See you soon,


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A beautiful sunrise

This time, going back from Picton to Wellington, we had a nighttime Ferry. Luckily, we decided to see more of the Sounds before we left the South Island: we made a “little” detour on the winding roads up to French Pass. Most of it is sealed road, just the last 20km are gravel. An exciting trip with stunning views over the numerous bays an land outcrops stretching into the sea, the road winding along the top of green hills.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Working and Living in Motueka

Motueka is famous for its apples and kiwifruit, bringing workers from all over the world into the orchards and packhouses each season. We worked at the Thomas Brothers Packhouse for two months and got a first hand impression of what seasonal work is like. We also discovered Motueka and its surroundings a bit. Here are a few impressions of what life was like for these two months:


From early in the year up to April the main fruit to be packed are apples. Everything from Braeburn over Jazz to more exclusive varieties like Koru and Envy grows in Motueka. The apples need to be washed, graded (which means sorting out the bruises, cuts, etc and separating between grade I and grade II), packed into boxes and stacked on pallets to be shipped all around the world.
The same happens to the kiwifruit, coming in from mid to end April until the end of May. There are surprisingly many varieties of kiwifruit as well, not only the best known Green, but also Gold, Charm and other new varieties.

Kay and me were packing the fruit and checking them for any kind of marks, bruises, wrong colours/sizes and so on. Sometimes we had very quiet days with lots of stops in between, sometimes it was really stressful and chaotic. The job itself was rather boring, but with all the people around us (mostly backpackers from Asia, Europe and South America) to talk to it was really a great way to earn money without working too hard. The supervisors were great, too, and took each problem with heaps of patience and a smile on their face.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Ocean, Beaches and Sunshine

The Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most idyllic places in New Zealand. The Tasman region gets a lot of sunny days, Nelson being the sunniest city in the country. The landscape is made of hills and lush native forest, covering the land up to the ocean, where the trees open up into beautiful beaches. The water has a shimmering green/turquoise color and the quiet bays are perfect for swimming.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Takaka Rocks

Takaka is famous for its rocks and they come in many shapes. Just next to town is Paynes Ford Scenic Reserve, a paradise for rockclimbers with a campsite (The Hangdog camp, 10$ per night. They hire climbing gear as well.) full of motivated climbing folks. No matter how cold, rainy or windy it gets, there are always people on the wall. We have been there a few times, with friends and colleagues from work, and we have only seen a fraction of what Paynes Ford has to offer. It is known for its big variety of grades and many tricky climbs with typical slopy holds.

Just five minutes from Takaka visitors can have a short walk through the Labyrinth Rocks (free entry), a natural maze of rocks with interesting shapes. On every corner you find some old puppets, toy figures, Disney & Cartoon miniatures or similar scurrilous objects. We most appreciated the beheaded Ronald McDonald halfway through the maze – a real artistic message there.
When we rounded one corner, we found ourselves in a graveyard of cattle skulls draped on the rocks. The best time to go there is probably at night to get the real maze feeling :)

Monday, 5 May 2014

The North of the South

The counterpart to Cape Palliser (where we have been in January) , Cape Farewell is the northern tip of the South Island. To the east, it stretches out into the ocean and forms a 26km long sand spit. Farewell Spit is accessible for short walks and some tour buses go out further towards the narrow tip.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Shimmering waters

Their nickname might not suggest much, but “Pupu” Springs between Takaka and Collingwood are well worth a visit. Their full name is Waikoropupu. The beautiful shimmering waters are one of the clearest springs in the world and you can definitely tell from the look of them.

A pleasant short walk brings you to the main springs, leading through the forest and the maze of small lakes and streams, all filled with the crystal clear water bubbling straight out of the earth.

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Deep Black Hole

The Canaan Downs

North of Motueka the road starts winding in endless curves up the Takaka Hill. Close to the top is a lookout spot with a wide view towards the Abel Tasman National Park. A first glimpse on the place where we planned to go Sea Kayaking very soon!

Right next to the lookout, the Ngarua Caves can be visited (but only with guided tours.)
Just a bit further ahead, a small turnoff leads into the innards of the National Park. At the end of this gravel road lies Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve, a beautiful area filled with yellow grass, amazing blueish rocks sticking out of the plains, and the largest campsite we have ever seen. Entering the plains you see an insignificant sign next to the road, welcoming visitors to the Canaan Downs campsite. Further into the vast landscape, you can barely make out one of the wooden hovels that turn out to be eco toilets at closer view.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Nelson Lakes

Straight through the Wairau Valley Blenheim is connected to Saint Arnaud and the beautiful Nelson Lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa. We stayed a night at a DOC site there and were greeted in the morning by countless sandflies. Oh how we missed them...

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mission Impossible: Finding work in Blenheim - Jobs, Jack's and Cyclones.

Having seen most of the South Island, after the stay in Christchurch we made plans to start work and restore our savings again. Up we went, along the coast with a pleasant stop in Kaikoura and to Blenheim. The area of Marlborough is famous for its wineries. Vineyards cover every inch of land.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Climbing around Christchurch

Our second stop in Christchurch was filled with a lot of sunshine and rockclimbing. Our amazing hosts took us to several locations around town, in the forest, on top of the hill, and hidden on the end of a usual residential street. Christchurch has a lot to offer to climbers, and afterwards you can just stop by at the beach to cool down. See for yourselves:

From West to east - Arthur's Pass

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Coast and Glaciers

The southernmost pass over the alps is the Haast Pass, quickly crossing in between the mountains following the Haast river. It is fascinating how different the weather can be on the two sides of the Island: as we started off, the mountains where barely visible behind thick rainclouds. After maybe 20 minutes of driving, the sky was crisp and blue and sunshine greeted us on the westcoast.
As we learned, it often is the other way round, with the West Coast getting all the rain. We were lucky and the clouds got stuck in the east this time.

The whole West Coast is quite remote with only a few settlements along the only highway there. We took the way south first, a beautiful road through the unique West Coast forest to Jackson Bay. There you can find some nice bush walks and a funny Fish& Chips restaurant located in an old caravan.

Back to Queenstown & Wanaka

Before heading over the alps, we returned to our favourite area: Queenstown and Wanaka and the beautiful Mountain ranges around them.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Up to Aoraki

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park

On the road to the tallest mountain in New Zealand you can take in all the striking blue glory of Lake Pukaki. The Highway leads along its shore, crossing farmland and logging forest. The stunning colour of the lake created by minerals washed down from the mountains makes you overlook the not so pretty wasteland of choppped trees around it.
The mountain becomes clearer and taller with every mile and slowly you can guess how big the snowy peaks actually are. With its 3724 meters, Mt Cook towers over the few houses in the valley.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Elephants rock!

On our way through Waitaki Valley towards Mount Cook there where some nice spots we stopped shortly to enjoy the landscape. Some of them were old Maori rock paintings - sadly, most of them are faded already, but here and there an info panel shows how they have looked like. 
The country along the road offers some fascinating rock formations the Kiwi ancestors used for shelter.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Steampunk City!

Just another small town along the highway? Not at all! Oamaru is the most amazing town we have seen so far. Before you enter it, an old rusty tank announces the entrance of the 'Steampunk Capital of NZ'. That made us curious, but we thought it is just a small movement of Steampunks who take that claim because they are the only ones to represent that style in Kiwi country. It does look like any other small town at first – but as soon as you get closer to the waterfront, it reveals its magic.
Whole streets consist of victorian style buildings with beautiful ornaments, artful pillars and rustic wooden interior. Old carriages stand in the middle of the street and from time to time you see someone riding a 19th century style bicycle (huge front wheels, tiny rear wheels) as if it were completely normal. The oldest street is filled with shops selling handmade wares of all kinds – here you get the first glimpses of Steampunk jewellery and clothing, and the shop owners proudly present their wares by wearing them.
Vintage cars are found on every corner, not only for watching but for everyday use, as is common in New Zealand (everything that doesn't literally fall apart gets a warrant of fitness here). Rounding the streetcorner to the wharf, some seemingly random industrial gear stands rusting on the railway lines and lies scattered around it. At a closer look you find the aging metal painted or otherwise turned into artworks.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Waddling Wildlife

The Yellow Eyed Penguin colony next to the lighthouse in Moeraki town is an amazing opportunity to see the waddling birds up close, especially in the hours before sunset when they come ashore and present themselves without any fear of the gawking humans on the other side of the fence.

When you arrive at the lighthouse, there is one path with a little gate going straight down to the ocean – the one on the right leading along the fence is the better one, because there you can spot the young ones on their hideouts and later on their favourite places at the rocky shore.  

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Moeraki Marbles

Moeraki is a quiet fishing village on the east coast north of Dunedin, with not much more than a holiday park and a bar representing the town centre. Don't let yourself be fooled, though – it has much more to offer.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Largest birds and steepest streets

Watching the kings of the sky

Heading off the highway just before Dunedin, we wound our way along the countless little bays of the Otago Peninsula. It is a nice road to get a good look at the city over the harbour, surrounded by soft hills to either side. At the end of the peninsula, New Zealand's wildlife offers a good evening's entertainment – unfortunately it's the humans who charge you for seeing it. The Royal Albatross centre, the Penguin colony and most of the viewing possibilities nearby cost entry, and are not very cheap. Though, if you are lucky, you can get a good close up look at the winged giants from a viewing platform next to the carpark. It was quite fascinating to watch them hovering through the air, soaring high without the faintest move, only lifted by the wind in their huge wings. They made the little seagulls around them seem really pathetic with their constant fluttering.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Southern Scenic Route

Having seen all the stunning landscapes around Queenstown and Milford, the Southern Scenic Route felt a bit boring in comparison. It leads south from Te Anau down to the Coast, through paddocks, fields and some more paddocks. The country flattens toward the ocean and opens the view to the endless farmland.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Magic Fiordland

Entering Fiordland means entering another world. (...)

A 'Remarkable' place

Queenstown left us completely stunned again – though for entirely different reasons than Christchurch. (...)

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Towards the Mountains - Queenstown & Wanaka

The Remarkables, Queenstown

After our city-shock in Christchurch we spent three days on a climbing trip with another two Auckland friends in Queenstown and Wanaka. The highway from Christchurch starts off quite boring, cutting through endless flat fields, but as soon as you get closer to the mountains it is super amazing. The hills get higher and the rocky and snowy peaks come into sight. We drove past the beautiful blue lakes of Tekapo and Pukaki, with amazing views on the mountains on the background. The highway crosses several deep valleys, always allowing great views on every side. The high peaks covered in white are amazing and the weather was all nice and clear for us.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Christchurch, the fallen City

The few days we spent in Christchurch left us completely stunned.
We stayed with two friends from Auckland and thanks to them had a sightseeing trip of a quite unusual kind. Having heard about the huge Earthquake 2011 did nothing to prepare us for the sight of a completely levelled city. Years later, the whole inner city still lies shattered, most of the buildings have been demolished, there are vast empty spaces filled with rubble, many of the streets are still closed and look like the quake had just happened two days, and not two years, ago.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Une excursion á France

Our way lead us down the east coast, towards Christchurch. There are quite a few worthwhile places to stop on the way, like the cute town centre and amazing golden hills of Blenheim, Kaikoura with it's many wildlife watching opportunities and lots of nice coastline and beaches.
We saw heaps of seals, too, just next to the highway sitting on their rocks. They are just part of nature everywhere here on the South Island, not rare sights like in the north.
And the further we drive, the more glances we catch at the mountains to the west. They are beautiful and we can't wait to see them up close.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Bye bye North Island!

After a little detour north along nice Kapiti coast, we finally reached Wellington – our gate to the South Island we heard so much praise of. Originally we were booked in for a night ferry, but thanks to our last hosts we knew that there was a good chance to get a place earlier by getting into a standby list. So we thought we should try our luck and have a look at the city while we wait. And, surprise: an hour later, Sammy was parked in the belly of the ship and we were on our way. They seem to have more room than expected in most ferries, so if you have the time, it is worth just going there and take a chance to get the ferry you want.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Searching for Elves

The last days before getting the ferry we spent hunting for Lord of the Rings movie sets. After camping next to 'Lothlorien' forest (never had that much wind before – Sammy (the car) and we inside, were shaken and rattled all night long) our next stop was Rivendell – the city of the elves. 

Cape Palliser

On our way down towards Wellington we had no major stops, following the road until Palmerston North, spending the most quiet New Years eve ever at a remote camp site next to Ruahine Ranges and then heading on south. Both Christmas and New Year felt strange to us – it is supposed to be cold and dark at this time of the year, not hot and sunny. We are very glad that we don't have to deal with minus degrees at the moment, but it also takes away all sense of natural rhythm. It's like being outside time, outside our familiar seasonal changes. So, apart from a new calendar, New Years came and went without further notice. We gave up fixing our confused sense of time and just enjoyed the warmth, and the views from the road and occasional walking tracks we are doing on the way.

Sunday, 5 January 2014