Here we are, back home after this incredible trip. Still “high” from the experiences. Friends were welcoming us with open arms again. We had a ball last weekend having some of them hanging out with us. Somehow we were thinking about this home coming thing as yet another stop on the tour but to a place we are totally familiar with.
But guess what. It’s not, we are finally home and the thing we were planning and looking forward to is over now, gone, done! What’s left? We need new targets to focus on now on the long term and we have some stunning ideas and hope to share this very soon with you all. But for now, here we go for the first part of the road trip in freaking beautiful and amazing New Zealand.
As said, we left Australia with the monster cyclone in out backs and headed over to the Island. You might guess that we have learned something about booking things a bit in advanced and so we did. We booked a hotel for the stay in Auckland in order not to experience some high prices again. We spend two (rainy) days in Auckland wandering around and having some great fun watching Rugby for the first time. Carmen kinda fell in L.O.V.E. with this sport, who knows why :-)
We really enjoyed going out for dinner after a very long time without spending a fortune on food and drinks. Totally like New Zealand already even though we haven’t seen anything yet :-)
Also we took a closer look to the camper vans available there. Jucy is in New Zealand as well and they offered us a discount as we had them in OZ. We donno why but they were far away from being competitive with e.g. Wickedcamper or Escape rentals.
We went for the Escape camper and loved it from the moment we saw this guy! It was fairly new and totally clean as well it had a stunning air brush art all over. Every single one of these campers is different and local artists create really cool work. Check out there website for other designs if you are into stuff like that or even planning to travel there. It’s worth it.
Our first stop was “Hot Water Beach” which is about 180km east from Auckland. Imagine there is hot water bubbling from the ground just right on the beach. People were digging little pools and hanging out there. Sometimes, depending on the tides, the “cold” seawater is mixed with the hot water in this pools and it just makes you feel like in a natural spa. Well it is a natural spa.
We continued to Hahei the next day in order to give Carmen some Kayak time. She loves kayaking and near Hahei is the so called Cathedral Cove where one can book a three hours tandem kayak tour. Sure we did that and totally had a blast. Beautiful place and wonderful whether. Our guide was killing us after landing at the Cove. Guess what he said: “While you guys are having your 20 minutes break I can either make you a Cappuccino, Frappuccino, moccachino, Café Latte, <<fill in any type of coffee you have ever heard>>, Hot chocolate, Tea”
We all thought he was kidding as he repeated the list three times. Sure enough he made us one of the best cappuccinos we have had for a very long time. Hats off!
The tour itself was not cheap but worth any money. We totally enjoyed it and a wonderful day. It should be one of the last really hot days in New Zealand actually.
Next stop, Rotorua! When we came to New Zealand both of us actually did not know a lot about this country. We heard from very different people that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world and that adrenalin sports are present on every corner. Lotsa well known movies were shot there too. But that’s basically our details we had about NZ. So we did not had any expectations at all. Heading down further south through the wonderful nature made us now and then feel like at home in Austria. Mountains and vegetations looked very familiar in some places. And then again, totally not even close! Like in Rotorua for example, the entire area seems to be a big spa with natural hot pools in every backyard. Endless steam came out in the middle of the town. (Well this happens in Munich sometimes too, at least in that part we live :-)
Rotorua is famous for the Maori culture as well, so we were searching for a so called Moko (full facial tattooed Maori) and met some very interesting people.
On the way to Lake Taupo we stopped literally every 20km to look at something spectacular, either a big park with mud pools or hot steaming lakes next to a Vulcan. You almost can’t miss these places.
Before we stopped to sleep next to Lake Taupo we spent some time in the natural hot water spa, which was totally relaxing. It was actually pretty cold and not too good whether for a couple of days and a spa was exactly what we wanted. Finishing that day with Indian food made us to stop in time forever :-)
Our route down to the south island sure leads us to Wellington for the ferry, which is btw a very expensive trip to do. If you ever need that ferry between the NZ islands, be sure you either consider booking a new car on the other side, book very early or at least research for a discount code (e.g. ARRIVAL10 :-)
We did nothing of all that. How come?
However, Wellington is such a nice place and best part was, that we were kind of invited by a elderly couple to stay with them. Peppo, he left Austria (Villach) in 1953 to work in NZ, and Gillian (72), original Kiwi Woman, are the loveliest, sweetest couple we have ever met. They really have a story to tell and we felt so extremely welcome even we did not know each other before. He turned 81 recently and he takes care of his wife so wonderful and lovely that everyone of us can learn a lot from them. Their lives have been quite rough in the past few years and still are as Gil is suffering from Alzheimer since about two years. It’s heart breaking!
Carmen was concerned about the evil reputation from the ferry to Picton during bad whether but we were very lucky to head over to the south island without any issues. Even it got colder and colder the more we got south, we stopped quite often to get out of the van for things like the seals. Literally thousands of them hang out along side the coast and are very attractive for tourists to watch. We have never seen seals in the wild. Our target that day was Kaikoura, the only place in NZ where one can go out for wale watching. How exciting is that?
The night before we went out to see the wale was the coldest night we had for a very long time. Guess what, we had to use the heater we got with our van. It was about 12°C which we did not really like much.
Wale watching isn’t cheap actually, but we have never done it before and donno when else to do it. So we booked a trip for the following day in the late afternoon. It was very rough in the morning and you may know, that since Vietnam, Carmen is somehow afraid of big waves in combination with being on a ship/boat :-) But we had fantastic whether this time!
However, we ignored the high seasickness warning and jumped on the boat the next day. It was fantastic to first, ride the hugest waves we have ever seen with a very fast, safe and cool boat and second to see this incredible huge creature in real life. Also the people guiding this tour are very cool. While the wale was getting some fresh air (approx 10-15 min) they could bang in time tell you when the wale was going down again. “Get your cameras ready, he is going down in 3, 2, 1! *diving*” Very impressive!
All went well for us, did not had to use the bags as lots of others did on the way back ;-) One woman did not even see the wale because she was too busy. Bad luck!
On the way back to the coast, we also saw some dolphins jumping as well as other spectacular school of fishes hunting for food. After that very remember able day, we drove further to Akaroa (near Christchurch) in order to see the next water animals or even swim with them: Dolphins! But that story is coming soon! Stay tuned for part two.
Love from back home
Carmen and Ingo
Our fantastic snail home for the New Zealand road trip!
this was some great fun feeding this birds
Great guide, had a blast that day and learned a bunch too! Amazing coffee as well!
20 minutes exposure and iphone flash light painting inside and outside
this is supposed to be the “Lord of the Rings” Mountain (Schicksalsberg)
who wants that green pool in his backyard. it’s all clean and nice
Wai-o-tapu, the “champagne pool”
Gil and Peppo, what a wonderful couple!
ferry to Picton
school of fishes hunting other fishes :-)