Kia Ora!12.Feb 99 Friday After leaving the Gold Coast at 4 a.m. I flew from Coolangata to Sydney, then to Auckland and then to Roturua, which one can smell a long time, before it is seen.. There I got the last bed in the Hot Rock Backpackers. With some of my new roommates (12 bed dorms) I went to the close Lava Bar and decided to join them on their next day mountainbike tour. Tired from the long journey I went to bed early.
13.Feb 99 Saturday After getting up early (this time at 8), Jaap (Holland), Marc (England) and me left for breakfast (baked beans, ham + eggs) and rented a mountainbike. Armed with that and a map we cycled to the famous geysirs and vulcanic mud pools.
The sights were fantastic! It was actually looking close to that, what the church likes to refer to as "Hell". A roll of film later we went for the Blue Lake, but the trip was interruppted by the breaking of Marcs bike chain. A helpfull young "Iron Maiden" (means a female ironman competitor) on her "relaxed day" run helped us to find the fastest way to the bikeshop (and told us that we were heading in absolutly the wrong direction), where Marc got a new bike. With that, we took allmost the fastest way to the lake and had an incredible scenic and exhausting ride close to the Green Lake. We arrived at the Blue Lake hungry and thirsty at 6 p.m. and went home after a long break at the lakeside which I urgently needed (I definitly should do more sports :). After this great day we jumped into the thermal pool of the hostel, after which we had some dinner (Pizza) and went exhausted to bed.
14.Feb 99 Sunday Waking up at 10:00 our group had grown by two more guys: Steven (England) and James (Wales). We rented a big Ford Falcon 4l and ticked the sights of our iternary, we missed the day before. First we bought some food in the supermarket and went then back to the end of our bike tour, the Blue Lake, where James took a quick bath. While we were there, a powerboat race took place. After having our breakfast, we went to the buried city, which was destroyed with the white and pink terraces in 1886 by a vulcano. There we went also for an easy hike to the waterfall, which was spectacular. After visiting some more lakes we went back and to Hellīs Gate.
Hells Gate is another great place to see the magma bubble under Rotorura doing its work. Its full of steamy and smelly places and if someone with a trident would run around that area, no one would be suprised ;). Thereafter we finished our tour around Roturura Lake with a nice dinner at the Pig & Whistle microbrewery and retired after some beer in the Lava Bar. 15.Feb 99 Monday Waking up early I started to pack my stuff to check out of the Hot Rock Backpackers. We then drove to Lady Knoxīs Geysir (10-15m high) and that was it for me in Rotorura. I took the bus to Lake Tapo with Steven. And then it happened: I missed the bus after a short lunch with Steven, so I had to stay in Taupo to catch the night bus. The main reason to go to Wellington is to attain a student visa from the USA embassy before going to Hawaii. But this mistake soon turned out to be the better deal: I had one whole day at Lake Tapo and a free accomodation for the night (the whole thing would have been better of course, if I had it PLANNED like this...). Nevertheless, I enjoyed a beautiful day with Steven and had a great dinner with white wine and fresh salmon. After I finished viewing the lake, I went to the Holy Cow! pub, where I remembered, that it was Rosemonday (the biggest day in Karneval!). So I kissed some girls and called Alaaf! and left the happy scene at 12:30. In the bus I took my usual sleeping place in the aisle and slept surprinigly well there (only disturbed by some blind idiots, who had to step on me). 16.Feb 99 Tuesday I woke up at 6:30 to see the bus homing into Wellington and was astonished: the city seemed to look like Jerusalem put to the seaside. After I found my lost luggage with some very nice help from the busdriver, I went for a coffe and saw, what I had read in the Australian paper: a Kiwi shilah in a short black skirt with sneakers on! Ha! but my further checking on the rest of the population left me standing there with my prejudgments. Wellington turned out to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It looks like hilly Jerusalem put to the seaside. But despite the beauty of the place and the overhelmingly friendliness of the Wellingtonians, it was one of the unluckiest days on my journey. First I had to find out, that the US embassy in Wellington does not issue visas (my main reason to go to Wellington at all!), then I could not take any early bus to Kaikoura, because none of the big bus companys met the incoming ferries from Wellington in Picton. So I went to the TE PAPA museum (which was excellent), and had to find out, that my niegelnagel new Nikon (10 days old) BROKE! So I used the rest of the day to organise an spare receipt for it from the shop in Southport (QLD, Australia), because my guarantee papers were in the bag back in Auckland. Calling Nikon NZ for help, they didnot want to help me fast ("just send it to us, and u wikk have it back in 2 to4 weeks"). So no camera for me :((. S o I took the ferry to Picton and booked a place in the Bavaria Lodge, which was a rip off. The washing machine was only running on cold water (haalf of my t-shirts kept beeing smelly after the washing, and they did not have a drier. Worse than that I saw, that thewe had been a bus to take me to Kaikoura meeting the ferry before mine. So, a bad day only enlighted bythe fact, that Alexandras oral exam fields had been published and she had had the luck of the day :). 17.Feb 99 Wednesday After a small breakfast I took the bus to Kaikoura to go diving eith the seals!! Diving with the seals is fantastic: they come to check u pout and are absolutly curious, what kind of seal u are. They swim and jump around u and I got a bit seasick while trying to play with them. Play with them means doing loopings and swim on the back the way they do. I did that longer than I actually could and attracted 8 seals. After that I went snorkelling with them to shot some pix with a disposable underwater camera and it took me 1h after that to feel good again, but it was extremly unreal: I felt all the time as if I were in a national geographic movie. After that I had some fish & chips and fed some of it to the seagulls, who cought the pieces in the air. I was Prinzkarneval for them and they screamed Allaf (ok, I know, it was Ashwednesday, but in Cologne was still Tuesday ;). So I took the last bus to Christchurch after I booked a bed in Charlie Bīs hostel (my 6th try). 18.Feb 99 Thursday Omega rental cars picked me up at 9:00 and so I got my wonderful Mazda 323, which broke on my way to Dunedin to pick up Rachael at the airport.
In Christchurch I bought me a substitute for my SLR to keep my memories on paper. 400km later after a broken radiatorbelt (the car was obviously NOT used to a german driver) and an hour delay Rachael and me went to the Otago Peninsula to see the albatrosses.
These tiny little birds have a wingspan of 3 meters and can
lock their wings in gliding positions. After visiting the penguins we went for a nice dinner on the peninsula and after that to a backpackers, where I met my old mate Lasse (first met him in Cairns). 19.Feb 99 Friday We left Dunedin at 10:00 in the morning and headed south for the Catcliffs, which reminded me of pictures of Ireland I have seen. There we visited some nice waterfalls and the famous cathedral caves, which are washed out by the sea and are only accessible at low tide (we had luck with our timing, but got wet feet). After them we drove to Invercargill and then to Te Anau. The road to Te Anau reminded me of Alaska (or what I think it should look like), with beautiful mountain ranges and birds of prey circling in the themals, as the sun slowly sunk in the west (actually I think, thats her usual sleeping place).
In Te Anau we found our backpackers to be a warm lodge with a fireplace, where we had a yummy bottle of red wine. The air was cold and clear.
20.Feb 99 Saturday We hit the road after a nice breakfast (and a too soft bed for me) and drove to Milford Sound.
The road is a 120km long scenic highlight and I shot 3 rolls of film on that day. This area is looking like the eurpean alps, but are on sealevel.
So we went for a boatride on the sound and out to the Tasman Sea (thats the part of the Pacific between NZ and Oz). There I met Ian, a worldtraveller from Halifax, Canada, who took a (he called it a religious experience) shower in one of the waterfalls.
After the ride we went back and headed for Queenstown, where we arrived at 11:00 p.m.. 21.Feb 99 Sunday We woke up early for Rachelīs big thing on the NZ list: the shotover jetboat ride. This boat does 360° turns and flies with incredible speed over the water, leaving space for a pubic hair between the boat and the rock walls of ravine.
After lunch we left Queenstown for the Foxglacier, adding a new travelmate to us two: Elan from Seattle.
The road to the glacier crossed the alps and therefore we saw wonderful scenery again, the place of the first bungyjump, where I almost jumped myself and passing an old ghosttown from the time old the gold rush (18sth). At the Westcoast we found strange looking forests and bushes and made some sandfly hunted pix there.
We arrived at the Fox Glacier at 5 past 10 and used our last chance to get a key to our room. We went to town for a fast dinner and then to bed. 22.Feb 99 Monday We got really early at 5:45 to take the "perfect" picture from the "view of views", but were cheated by some clouds. So we went back to bed and slept till 11:00, when we went to town for lunch. After a long relaxing lunchbreak, we decided to climb on the glacier and so we did.
On the way down I felt like a child trying to get off that appletree. We took our time there and brought Elan afterwards to the Franz Josef glacier, where we had dinner. I got my first roast lamb there, after seeing some of the 60 million sheep beside the road. After dinner we went home and went early to bed. 23.Feb 99 Tuesday We left the glacier at 10 after going back to the "view of views" in better weather
but worse timing. After a while on the road we realised, that it made no sense in pressing for our goal in reaching Kaikura, so we canceled our diving with the dolphins an our accomodation there (finding out, that I booked a room for the FOLLOWING night; very embarrassing). With the extra time we took a walk at Hokitika, where one can see the glaciers in the east,.and the sea in the west. To get to our new destinaton, Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, we had to cross the alps again, which we did via Arthurs Pass. This was a absolute fantastic drive and would have been even better with a bigger motor. 50km east of Arthurs Pass village lies a cave formation, carved by a river still flowing through it. To our luck we lacked the right equipment to try climbing it, but maybe I can do it next time ;). We met some other travellers there, who showed me some great shots of Hawaii and informed me, that there are about 2000 whales there in the moment :)), looks like whalewatching there instead of Kaikura. We arrived late in Akaroa and slept in the Grand Hotel.
24.Feb 99 Wednesday We checked out the picturesque town and then went to look for the lighthouse. We got a bit lost but found an excellent view over the town and the bay instead. After a short hike we headed for Christchurch and bought some wondeful cheese and red wine on the way.
In Christchurch I found, what I was searching for for a long time: souvenirs! So I bought myself two pullovers, both big bargains (gehackte meziehe: yiddisch for saving more than 60% :). I then called my divebuddy from the Yongala wreck Patricia, who gave us a warm and hearty welcome with a tour through the art centrum of Christchurch and her husband Michaelīs studio. He gave me a short introductory to modern art and opened my eyes for his paintings: glorious stuff!. 25.Feb 99 Thursday We slept at her place and gave the car back after 7 days and 2600km.
We then worked our money spending out (the whole trip was by far not as expensive as I had expected) and Michael drove us to the airport, where Rachael cought a flight to Dunedin and then Brisbane, while my plane went for Auckland and then Honolulu.