Thursday, February 26, 2009

Me and Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings

The hunchback sits in a crater, a prequel by Victor Hugo

We make it to the Emerald Lakes, bright lakes in between volcanoes and craters

Crater behind one of the Emerald Lakes

View through a mini tiki hut on the beach out at the Pacific Ocean

New Chums Beach, an unbelievable oasis of a cove amongst the rocks and trees

Nice long, private beach for us

Today we went to a beach that is in the top 20 in the world. Unbelievable. A perfect sheltered bay surrounded by cliffs, palm trees and caves. Felt like we had just been shipwrecked with hardly anyone around. Took a decent hike to get there through water, rocks, a hill forest and a palm tree forest, coming out on the super soft white sand. Spent several hours there loving it before heading back to grill up some mussel sausages, something the locals go crazy for out here. Big seafood feast.

A few days ago we hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which passes through 2 volcanoes, a couple craters and some amazing emerald lakes high up amidst it all. A lot of Lord of the Rings was filmed here, with one of the volcanoes being used as Mt Doom. After making it through sideways rain to get there, up mountains in midst and almost snow, the craters were well worth it. The one we crossed felt like we were in Star Wars and the red crater did not look natural with its strong colour.

I'll update more soon as my battery is about out and we have no power source. Luckily found a wireless hotspot out in the middle of nowhere next to a pub. That's all there is in this town. On the way to Hot Water Beach, a beach with hot springs under it. Supossedly it'll burn your ass, cause it's so hot.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Fishing for pacific salmon

Caves, beaches, tourist bathrooms, sand dunes, oh yeah

The Wellington Ukulele Orchestra at the Cuba St Carnival

Big Blue enjoys a sunset on Cape Egmont

The largest and oldest Kauri tree in New Zealand

The Dodgers and the Sugar Loaf Islands

Cape Reinga Lighthouse, the northernmost point of the north island

Sandboarding in the northland

Chilling with Big Blue and the ocean background

Big Blue and the Bay of Islands

Famous, crazy artistic toilets

Does this count as spelunking?

So after 2 weeks, I get to go online for the second time. Been busy out around the country, exploring the north island, seeing a ton and living it up. The van is still going great, been driving a lot and put on 3000 kilometers so far.

After leaving Auckland we went up to the Bay of Islands passing through Kawakawa, the place of the infamous Hundertwasser toilets. Austrian artist Hundertwasser designed some crazy toilets with no straight lines in a town in the middle of nowhere, which has become a spot to come, relieve yourself, take a photo and leave. Gotta love it.

Explored some sweet caves nearby the Bay of Islands which were off the beaten path and better than some of the other touristy, expensive ones. Hiked in through slippery rock, to wade through knee deep water through funky rocks, glow worms and lots of darkness.

The northland was my favorite part of the north island so far. Super white, soft beaches with hardly anyone around. Great sandboading, sliding down super steep hills at rocket speeds. At the top we cooked dinner after bodysurfing where the two oceans meet and chilled with the sun setting in one of the most isolated places in NZ.

Down in New Plymouth we went on a tour of the seals around the Sugar Loaf islands, catching heaps of pacific salmon along the way, two of which we were able to take back with us for a huge feast. Fresh fish, along with roasted sweet potato and sweet corn, oh that's the life. Not eating like normal travelers, eating quite well and living it up.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

First 5 days of travel / PHOTOS

So I've been gone from Wellington for 5 days now, on the road in Big Blue, Stefan and I traveling around seeing the north island of New Zealand. It's been a blast so far, as expected. We are up in Auckland now, having got here late last night. Been taking our time, enjoying it and see heaps of the country. Haven't been slowed down by sheep yet, but we've been on plenty of windy roads, green countryside and dirt roads that NZ is famous for.

After a day in Waikane, getting things taken care of on our van (oil change, fastening seats, air filter etc.) we went to Turangi to some wicked hot springs. Stefan hit up bungy jumping along the way in the highest place in the north island. Pretty high jump down to the river, some 80m down. We stayed overnight at some private hot springs, off the main path, being able to chill with no one around, just lots of heat and moisture. The next morning, waking up to heat, and moisture in the van, we cooked breakfast over a hot spring, which some Maori locals had shown us. Super fun way to cook food, slow, but it got the job done naturally, using heat from the earth.

Lake Taupo was huge, famous for trout fishing. Cool city too, and we camped on the outskirts near a huge waterfall at a free campground. Super strong river there, which was refreshing after organizing the inside of the van. The gas cooker worked great and the next morniing after another good swim in the river, we had breakfast and on the road again to the west coast to the big beaches. It rained the whole day, but that didn't stop us from swimming in the Tasman Sea in the biggest waves I've seen so far in NZ. Found some hot water springs on the beach too, that weren't too hot due to the rain and tide and one hour later after swimming and coming out drier than before, they weren't too much hotter.

Now we've explored Auckland and are off to an island tomorrow morning nearby to do some wine tasting and hiking.

Private hot springs in Turangi, dug out by the locals

Cooking breakfast of eggs and ham over the hot springs, old fashioned Maori style

Big Blue with breakfast table out back at free campground in Lake Taupo

Big Blue and I, rocking the North Island

Fresh corn, enough said

Green countryside, dotted with cows, and covered with summer clouds

Stefan, Big Blue and the Tasman Sea near Kaphia

Auckland, as seen from Mt Eden, the highest volcano in the city

Queen Victoria with palm trees? Must mean I'm on a south pacific island

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Big Blue!

Check out my new van that I'll be traveling around New Zealand in:

Pretty excited to have the van finally. Way wicked. The best part might be the carpet. Right now Stefan is putting a roof rack on it and we're putting in some seats in the back as well to transport mates around town in. Pretty fun to cruise around in, with a good stereo system and lots of character. Couple small problems with it, but those are being taken care of by the experts, us and our mates.

Wellington by Night

Photo from Mt Victoria