Category Archives: Travel

Image of Little Barrier Island view

Hidden gems: Great Barrier Island

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.

Is it a hidden gem? Read on to find out! Continue reading

Image of SH1 to Turangi

Climbing Mount Ruapehu – NZ’s highest volcano

By now you may already know that I’m attracted by mountains, so it should come at no surprise that I looked at Ruapehu a few times and thought: “Why the hell not?” While it has been a few months already, here’s a little insight into the climb of Tongariro National Park’s uncrowned king. As it turned out, it is much easier than Mt Ngauruhoe (known as “Mt Doom” from Lord of the Rings – more on this beast another time) and well worth the effort. Continue reading

On the way through NZ, part 14: Queenstown

It’s time to have a look at one of THE destinations in New Zealand: Magical, annoying, stunning, crowded and love-hated Queenstown (which I will abbreviate as QT).

In the past, this wasn’t more than a sleepy settlement in the middle of nowhere and with the exception of a few years of gold mining, QT never got much attention by people until the middle of the 20th century. 50 years later it’s a madhouse and labels itself “adventure capital of the world”, which might very well be true given the myriad of activities it offers…let’s get into it. Continue reading

The start of the Denniston incline.

On the way through NZ, part 13: Denniston and Oparara Basin

There are certainly countless amazing regions throughout NZ, depending on what you’re looking for. Except for Eastern Canterbury, I was keen to see each area of the South Island, and one of the most intriguing destinations I’ve read about prior to travelling there was the West Coast.

West Coast, you ask? No, not the one known for LA and San Francisco, but the one where rain is the dominant form of weather throughout the year. Nevertheless people go there all the time, often as part of a round trip, either going down this route, moving east in Southland and going back up, usually to Christchurch, or the other way round. Back to the rain: This area sees everything from approx. 3200 mm up to figures exceeding 6000 mm of water annually, which is W-E-T (yet I didn’t make one of the various lists online on the wettest places on Earth). Don’t let that put you off, as there are some real gems to be found here (actual and non-physical ones!); I haven’t seen half as much as I want to see but at least have been to an old mining post called Denniston as well as the Oparara Basin, a fascinating limestone basin on the edge of Kahurangi National Park – come have a look! Continue reading

Hidden gems: Mount Tarawera

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

On the way through NZ, part 12: Abel Tasman National Park

Golden beaches. Sapphire-coloured water. Palm trees and sunshine. We’re talking about a Pacific Island, don’t we? Well…not exactly. This well-known area is the Abel Tasman National Park, likely one of the most visited national parks. The two most common ways to explore this, even for New Zealand standards, extraordinary environment are hiking the Abel Tasman Coast Track or kayaking along its shoreline. I did the latter and it was certainly a good decision for a first time kayaker! If you think about exploring the Abel Tasman via the waters too and want to get an idea about it first, read on. Continue reading

Hidden gems: Sentinel Rock

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

On the way through NZ, part 11: Picton and the Marlborough Sounds

It is a majestic feeling: Standing on the deck of the Interislander Ferry, which transports around one million people per year, and seeing the Marlborough Sounds coming closer every minute. Most people think the South Island beats the North Island in terms of natural beauty, and I’m no exception – I was pretty much in love with it already when I started reading about all the places and what they would feature. As already implied in the Wellington post, there’s no need for me to repeat all the things other NZ travel blogs, tourism operators etc. already provide; this is just a recap of my experiences (and, nevertheless, a few recommendations) in Picton and the Marlborough Sounds. Describing it in a single word? Fantastic, despite the fact that I haven’t seen much!

Continue reading

On the way through NZ, part 10: Wellington

New Zealand’s capital labels itself as the coolest little capital in the world and while I didn’t visit too many capitals yet, I’m tempted to agree that it does look like a cool city, but there is this “but”…see further below. Most of the world’s capitals are freakin’ huge compared to tiny Wellington, but that doesn’t mean the city lacks necessary transport systems, infrastructure in terms of shops, restaurants and so forth. However, even though I’ve been there three times by now, the city didn’t manage to fascinate me yet or really provide me with memorable places and events. Likely I never emerged in it like I should do as young person…well, I’ll surely be over there in the future soon. For these reasons this post will rather be a short, generic summary of my impression about it, and I’m 100 % sure other travellers on the net will have blogs telling you more about the local micro brewery culture, the best clubs and other details I’ve missed all these times.

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On the way through NZ, part 9: The Forgotten World Highway and Mt Taranaki

After leaving the Tongariro National Park there were two options: Heading down to Ohakune and investigate the opportunities doing a journey on the Whanganui river or driving to the Taranaki area to climb the famous extinct volcano, which is NZ’s most climbed mountain. When we figured we likely will go kayaking at the Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island and thus wouldn’t need to do it here, our first stop was Taumarunui, a dull township you probably won’t find in any travel guide. The reason for going there was filling up the petrol and starting our trip on State Highway 43, also known as “Forgotten World Highway” as it features tiny villages which look they didn’t develop in the past 50 years, old mines, old graves, an old tunnel and so forth from NZ’s pioneer times in the late 19th century. Continue reading