As I still want to have some kind of diary here – for me and anybody that is interested – I post monthly updates of what we did (including pictures), what we are up to and what our future plans are. Ideally that will also show a bit how much our plans change and how our progress and planning goes for the near future. You can find all entries until now here and for a bit more frequent reports you can head over to Agnès reports.
What we did
In early January we borrowed a car from Agnès brother to get out of Auckland for a couple of days and to do our first camping trip in and around the Hunua Ranges. Just a few days later we then finally bought a 2002 Nissan X-Trail in a pretty good condition. The only problem it had was that the driver side window didn’t work. After getting quotes for about 250$ we decided to have a look ourselves. After first dismantling our car and afterwards dismantling a whole bunch of other cars in a broken car yard, we found our spare part for 22$ and installed it ourselves.
After a bit of preparation we headed off to the South Island; on the way down we stopped to visit a couple of geysers and to get a lesson in Maori culture and language, before going to the Tongariro Alpine crossing, one of THE things to do in New Zealand. We teamed up with 2 other Germans for a shared driving scheme to save 30$ per person (as start and end of the hike are 40 kms apart from each other you have to find a way to reach your car after the hike). During the day we had an amazing view of the Ngauruhoe (“Mt. Doom” / “Schicksalsberg” from Lord of the Rings) and Mt. Tongariro. With a few stops here and there we finally arrived in Wellington to do the ferry crossing from one island to the other.
On the south island we stayed nearly a week in the north around Nelson to do visit several of the national parks around and to a small bit of the Great Walk in the Abel Tasman National Park. With a quick visit to Nelson Lakes National Park we headed down to Christchurch, where we could still see a lot of damage that was done by the 2 earthquakes a few years ago. Even the center of the city looks quite abandoned and most of the people in the streets seemed to be tourists. We spend a day there to have a look around; the parts that are still intact look quite nice and the locals try to make the best to fill the vacant lots with art and cultural projects (www.gapfiller.co.nz) Nevertheless it seems that the earthquake created problems that will last for a lot longer than anyone would have hoped.
We continued to go west afterwards through the Arthurs pass to visit the West Coast. The weather changed unsurprisingly from hot summer sun to heavy rain nearly every day at least for an hour or two. We stayed at Greymouth at a caravan park owned by an entertaining kiwi guy and visited pancake rocks the day after.
Until now we mostly stayed in DOC campgrounds (Department of Conservation) that were either free or really cheap. This government department is responsible for the national parks and everything around them. The infrastructure on these campgrounds is rather limited, so apart from a composting toilet and water (sometimes suitable for consumption – sometimes not) there is not much to expect. That also means that our “showers” usually consisted of dips in a river or lake with one cold shower at a beach so far.
On our way we also usually stop to take hitchhiker, although our car is pretty packed already. So far these are usually tourists like us so apart from maybe a tip on where to go or to stay nothing really interesting happened, apart from maybe the kiwi guy who moved to Christchurch a couple of days before the last big earthquake; he had some interesting things to tell.
What we plan to do
We have 4 weeks left in New Zealand of which we plan to spend the next 3 on the south island to explore the southern end and to do some more hikes and maybe one of the 9 Great Walks of New Zealand. The last week will then be spent to catch up with our friends from Warkworth, to pack our stuff for Australia and to welcome Agnès mum.
My phone problem got a bit bigger as I was asked to pay 90€ to “import” the phone to Germany. I might get that money back if I can gather all necessary documents and can be bothered to talk to German customs. At least my phone is on the way to New Zealand again thanks to my kiwi colleague from Schenker.
With the purchase of the car we spent way more than we originally planned. While it doesn’t really burst our budget we still need to either save or earn money; both not really easy when on holiday.
What I learned
- how a car window works and how to dismantle a car door
- a bit about maori culture
- that sandflies are far up on the “list of annoying animals”
- travelling the west coast means you plans get frequently destroyed by the weather
To Do List
Get a car Go to the south island
- Get a new passport
- Get a new phone
Book a flight back from Australia to New ZealandDecide where to go after Australia and for how long – and book the flight
- Get a chest X-ray
- Get a long-term visa for NZ
- Catch my own fish for dinner
- Go back to Auckland