It’s strange. Would you, if you already live on a remote island, sit in your living room and think the following: “There’s this even more remote island which is not even connected to the national power grid, let’s go!!!” Well, I did.
If you ask Kiwis about Great Barrier Island, you might get a comment like “Is this by the Great Barrier Reef? Nah, haven’t been!” (In fact I did get something similar). This even seems to be true for Aucklanders, despite possessing the easiest access to NZ’s sixth biggest island. I was curious about the place, and, of course, had eyed with the Aotea Track – a tramping track that crosses the island’s highest mountain Hirakimata (also called Mt Hobson) – before when browsing the DOC website. It appears pretty overlooked: Most visitors I encountered were from Auckland, and only more intrepid backpackers make their way here while travelling Aotearoa.
Sometimes one doesn’t have to venture far off the beaten path to find a real gem – this is especially true in New Zealand, no matter if North Island or South Island. “The beaten path” I will start this post with today are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, which are about one hour drive from Hamilton, that rather soulless city in the Northwest of the Waikato.
Being on most NZ tourist itineraries, virtually everybody has done “blackwater rafting” or a related activity with one of the many tour operators that own licenses to go into the caves. Yes, I’ve done it too, and don’t get me wrong: It’s a cool activity and often a highlight for many of Aotearoa’s visitors. Very few of these tourists though wonder where the road that continues past the big visitor centre leads to: Te Anga Road can bring you all the way to the coast, and it’s a really nice drive scenery-wise, albeit very windy and narrow, like so many of NZ’s backcountry roads. It also allows you to reach the destination I present to you today: The beautiful Tawarau Forest. Continue reading →
Volcanoes. There’s certainly no lack of them in New Zealand, especially in what’s called the Taupo Volcanic Zone: A vast area which encompasses most of the Bay of Plenty and serves as my playground on many weekends for quite a while now. Fortunately for me and many Kiwis, most of these volcanoes are dormant, leaving mountains with interesting shapes, landscapes and histories behind (although it would be amazing to climb an active one – yes, I know it’s nuts, but adventure is the spice of life!). A few weeks ago I made my way up to Mount Tarawera, semi-famous for destroying the Pink and White Terraces in the 19th century and giving the name to the eponymous waterfalls and lake in the area. Calling the view from the summit spectacular is almost an understatement!Continue reading →
Coming to NZ was a revelation for me in many aspects. Not did I only realise that I knew much less about our planet and the progress of globalisation than I thought, I also underestimated that travelling around the world is more a trend these days rather than an exception. Excuse my early naivety, but I really didn’t expect that many European, North American and other youngsters, let alone all the “standard” tourists when I came here…only to find that apparently half the world has made its way to Australia and NZ. Despite being one of them, often I would get annoyed by my own people or hordes of tourists in general, since I came to “escape” them! No, I’m not anti-social, but sometimes I prefer to be in unspoiled places not or only less known to the public. Continue reading →