As someone who calls hiking (NZ English: “tramping”, “New” English: “trekking”) a passion, I absolutely wanted to go to the majestic Fiordland in New Zealand’s South West and walk the Milford Track, supposedly one of the world’s finest tracks. The problem: You have to book it about one year in advance, no good if you haven’t got a clue where you will be in one month’s time. After all however, I got very lucky and booked the huts as well as transport about five days before the planned start. Read on if you love mountains with waterfalls coming down, rainforests in between and anything related to a stunning, rugged and pure natural landscape! Continue reading
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
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!
Arriving in National Park Village, which is located in the centre of the North Island, was my personal first highlight – I looked much forward to see the impressive, alien landscape the three (still active!) volcanoes formed in the Tongariro National Park, one of the places most worth visiting when travelling this particular part of NZ. This settlement lives almost purely from the tourists visiting the National Park, of which almost everybody is planning to do the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a well-built hiking walkway over the alpine pass formed by Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. Of course this was our goal as well, so we arranged transport by the hostel we stayed at and went to bed early the day before. Continue reading