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