Archive for januari, 2010

Milford – the postcards

The Milford Sound is the most popular bit of NZ in case you didn’t know. Today I went and had a look, and I can see why its so popular.

Coming back from the Sound to the start of a small hike in the area, I picked up a hitch hiker by the name of Stephen. Turned out he was a regular hiker too, as well as excellent company, so we climbed to the Key Summit Viewpoint and beyond.

Strange little Japanese like garden on top of a hill.


And the views just kept getting better.

It is supposed to rain like 80% of the time here, so we were quite fortunate with these views. Tomorrow I start the Kepler track, so I hope to bring home more of the good stuff.


Read Full Post »

“Hogwarts”, really…

My first car-driving experience is not very spectacular. I decided to leave Christchurh a.s.a.p. (ugly town, I have already spent too much of my life in there during my two visits to NZ). And I drove 5 hours down to Dunedin. Now there’s a town that has something going for it, for as far as that is relevant in a country where you really want to avoid all cities and enjoy the real scenery. But Dunedin was in on the way to my next real destination: the Otago Central Rail Trail.

Incidentaly, my backpackers is called Hogwarts. I kid you not. But other than that it is an excelent stay (even though Funky Green’s rules unchallenged). The view from my 4 bed dorm is crazy, I have never had a cheap room with better view than this.

And the atmosphere is relaxed. Someone wrote in the logbook:

So what more could you possibly want?”

I’ll add photo’s when I have found a decent Internet place, this PC belongs in a museum.


Read Full Post »

My first car*

I have just purchased my very first car! Being advised to do so by Lesly from the Funky Green’s, I decided that I would spend at most two days in Christchurch searching for a cheap car. If it was cheap enough, I would always stand to gain money compared to renting a car. But I ended up buying a very decent car: a ’89 Mitsubishi Galant with only 88.000 kms on the clock. And its a clean car as well. Most backpacker’s cars are worn and dirty old things that have had at least 25 owners. I’m the fifth owner of this car. Seems like a scam? I had a legal check done, that tells you the milage for each mandatory yearly service check, as well as all the previous owners. And I had a mechanic look at it who was actually impressed with the quality of the car. I think I made a good deal, and we’ll have to see how things turns out.
The great thing is that I never planned to own a car here, but I guess I’m starting to enjoy the challenge and adventure of such things.

Proud owner

* I’ve had a company car for years now, but actually owning a car… that’s a first.

Read Full Post »

My last few days were spent in Rotorua and these days were good. Really really good!

I had been given the strong advice to say in the “Funky Green Voyager” backpackers and this turned out to be great advice. Lovely place, very friendly people and very conductive to socializing and making friends. The staff are strangely world wise, have better deals with all local attractions, so you actually end up booking everything via them, and they have encouraged me to try to buy a car when I go down south (island wise).

I thought I would spent a quiet two days there, but I thought wrong. In my four action packed days I did:

– Inspect the local thermal park
Beautiful poisonous green ponds

Bubbling mud thingies

– Visit the Museum (intersting bits on Maori culture)
– Visit a Maori diner entertainment show (cute, but a bit hollywood like)

– Spent a night in the local pub and making friends with the local English and Scottish working-visa tourists
– Spent the next day hiking with a bit of a hangover
– Did the Kaikura river white water rafting. (grade 5 because of the 7 meter waterfall drop)

This is the big drop. I’m in there somewhere…

A bit later, still having buckets of fun

– Spent an afternoon doing mountain biking in the local forest. Great stuff! Later I heard that these were supposedly the best mountain bike tracks in NZ. Nice!

But the best activity was still the guided tour in a local Maori village. The tour started with only me, but later others joined as well. The excelent guide -Sonny- was really passionate about telling about Maori culture, but also letting you experience his culture. So much better than the dinner show where you just get to watch and take pictures. And no high entry fee as well, just a -choose your amount- donation at the end. This really gave me the best insight into any strange culture I have yet learned about.

I took this picture of an earlier group, but the guide and the village are the same.

And then it was time to say goodbye. I thought it was about time that I started my way down, so I concocted the ideal plan for my voyage to the south island. First I’d take an overnight bus to Wellington, and there take a cheap flight to Christchurch. Flights are much cheaper than busses and ferries, so the plan was perfect. And since I am able to sleep on airplane seats, bus seats would be no problem as well.

And that’s where the things started going pear shaped. My bus was scheduled to leave 11:25 and head south to Wellington. The bus was coming in from Auckland, we were supposed to board it in Rotorua and then it would head on to Wellington and arrive at about 6:50.

But instead we left 11:45 heading north. The bus from Auckland had broken down about an hours drive north of Rotorua and our bus was the cavalery, coming to rescue them and then head back down. And so we did. Poor fellows waiting in the middle of nowhere some sleeping in sleeping bags on the grass. At about 1:00 they were all boarded and we started heading south again towards Rotorua.

Our bus never made it. A incessant beeping noise informed us that the cooling of the second bus had failed, and the engine was now overheating. No amount of extra water could help that, and the second bus was declared unfit for further travel. Hmmm. No worries, we met up with a third bus, a smaller one, that would take us. I helped out with transferring the luggage from our bus to the new one, and then just when I was about to board myself, one of the passengers started whining that there were no seats left. He really was annoying about it, but then again he was also right. I spent the next few hours lying on the floor in the bus, trying not to slide away when it took corners. Not too comfortable. When we reached the next stop some passangers left and I had a decent seat again. Didn’t get much sleep though, and in the end we arrived at Wellington roughly at noon, making for a nice round five hours delay. I think the whole thing was hilarious. But I might consider using a different bus company next time…

Last time I was in Wellington I arrived in the evening, not seeing anything of the city. This time I slept through the day, to wake up once again at night. It must be a nice city, but it’s always so dark when I’m there :)

Read Full Post »

New Zealand – Week one

Without time to upload foto’s this is going to be a bit of a bland read.

…just to let you all know I’m having a blast down here… well I am!

I visited to Bay of Islands at the start of the week and spent a few days in the beautiful scenery and enjoying the nightlife. Not bad, not bad at all :)

Mangrove forest

Then I spent two day driving around with Kevin, a German/English guy touring to Cape Reinga -or the north most tip of NZ. Really spectacular views there!

African look of some of the area around Cape Reinga

I did a one day hike in Opononi, and spent the night with three civilized and nice backpackers (all aged 50+) which was a nice change from the hectic bustle of the Bay of Islands.

Beautiful spot on the hike

And now I’m heading off to Rotorua to see some of the Maori culture while keeping my nose closed against the volcanic things going on there.

Cheers all!

Preview of Rotorua lake

Read Full Post »