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. (...)