A fully face-tattooed Maori at McDonalds, green teletubby hills, beautiful movie sceneries, more sheep than people and tremendously friendly inhabitants – if you experience all that you finally arrived in New Zealand – the country of desire for numerous travellers. For me it marks the grand final of my world trip.
Read about smoking courtyards, fantastic sceneries and what finally became my personal favourite – the north or south island.
After 13 hours nonstop from Chile I finally landed in Auckland – with 1.4 million inhabitants the biggest city of the country. 1/3 of the population is living in this fast moving city. After having been to Central and South America for such a long time, it is kind of weird for me to be back in a rich industrial country.
At the main shopping street Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis are parading, people are walking around with expensive watches, designer bags and show their smartphones without any worries.
Every second store is a fancy coffee shop. A completely different reality compared to lot of South American areas. Also Auckland is pretty special as lot of wealthy Asian families are sending their kids for the prestigious studies abroad – a bit like in Vancouver.
I don’t care and just want to see as much as possible of the beautiful country sides.
Together with CyCy , my French working colleague of my hostel in Montreal and “Buffy” – our refurbished Honda Odysee – we are heading from the very northern top via the beaches of Coromandel, the Mordor filmsetting for “Lord of the Rings”, the capital Wellington towards the South Island Fjordlands and Franz Josef glacier back to Auckland.
New Zealand actually presents itself as one of the most diverse countries I have seen so far – at the top of the North Island a Scandinavian lighthouse is marking the point where the Tasman and the Pacific ocean are getting reunited.
The Maori believe that the souls of their ancestors enter the land of eternity over here. A very special, spiritual place.
Everywhere at the “Far North” county stunning beaches are welcoming us. We stay in our car at (almost) free campsites right next to the ocean and staring at the milky way every single night.
I especially love the breakfasts at the beach. Sitting in the white sand with a cup of coffee, watching the few morning surfers, wandering around lonely bays.
At every corner there are green hills and opportunities to get amazed by beautiful panoramic views.
On our numerous hikes we are passing several disinfection areas for our hiking boots at every trail as they want to protect the up to 2,000 year old Kauri trees. Also at my arrival at the airport my hiking shoes were scanned very carefully for any mud.
Having pased the 90-miles beach we are heading towards the Coromandel island – possum country. Everywhere in the south island as well as in some areas of the north island they are becoming a plague and the Kiwis love to overrun them by car. Creepy.
New Zealand is a country of another world. At some corners you can find Asian looking lagoons like at Cathedral Cove, a few miles away the beach is smoking because of thermal activities.
Drive a few hours more and you have volcano craters, colourful lakes and think you are at a steam bath and not a hike.
Everywhere in the country you can find sheep, cows, the typical green teletubby hills (unfortunately caused by tree clearing of the first settlers), beautiful wine yards in Marlborough and spectacular valleys formed at the ice age in the Fjordlands area.
Usually the cities are not this spectacular especially when you are a like me a fan of historic architecture.
Nevertheless we really liked the “Yes, we can spirit” of the earth quake damaged Christchurch and the national museum in Wellington.
Especially New Zealands action capital Queenstown attracts tons of young party people. Ice bars, fancy restaurants, Chinese souvenir shops, coffee shops and action sports companies are getting us out of the roadtrip feeling back to the mass tourist reality.
At the end of my world trip I am looking forward to now realize one more of my small dreams – paragliding. It’s actually a bit like scuba diving – not this much action but a nice and calm activity making your mind relax.
Before going back to Auckland we are finally also stopping in Roturua for a couple of days – a smoking city in super active thermal area. At every courtyard steam is coming up and the huge geysirs remind me of pictures I have seen about Iceland.
At the end of our roadtrip I also got the chance to watch the national bird which gave its name to the fruit as well as the inhabitants. The Kiwi is a pretty funny looking night active animal – like two big eggs with over dimensional strong legs.
In the evening we are getting invited to see a Maori performance including the traditional Haka dance. In lot of cases the Mauri adapted to Western traditions but there are still numerous cultural centers all around the country to keep the tradition alive.
As you could read Aotearoa, the country of the long white cloud was fascinating for me.
There are still a few things on my New Zealand bucket list I have not seen or done – so I probably have to come back an other day 🙂 My favorite by the way was actually the North Island.
For now I am leaving New Zealand with mixed feelings as leaving this last country also means leaving my world trip.
To be honest, after having been on the road for so long I am really looking forward to stop the vagabond live for a white and stay at one place for longer. That place will be – for the next year – the Maldives. I hope you are looking forward to stories and pictures about diving, snorkeling and the life at a resort island.
Here just a small a selection of more beautiful pictures: