A Travellerspoint blog

Whanganui River Trip


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In New Zealand, the DOC (Department of Conservation) which takes care of all the hiking trails, forests, huts, etc... have chosen 9 hiking trails and called them the 9 Great Walks of New Zealand. Most of these hikes take a few days to complete but however, one of them is not a hiking trail but a river trip, in the North island. Basically you pack in some waterproof bags whatever you need for 3 to 5 days, rent camping gear like tent and cooking tools, rent a canoe and you go down this amazing river called Whanganui, going through small rapids and very quiet sections.

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So when preparing my trip in New Zealand, I saw this "great walk" and decided that "yes, this sounds pretty awesome"!

Therefore just before New Years' Eve, my friend Daniela and myself took out on the river, with all our equipment in waterproof bags and barrels, on an indian canoe. The weather wasn't perfect as during the first two days we got washed out by the rain a few times but soon enough the sun came back to dry us out.

Instead of the 5 days circuit, we had opted for the 3 days option (you start lower down on the river) because of the timing and availabilities of the camping sites along the river, but still, this was an amazing and relaxing experience. We had really the feeling of becoming one with the nature...

The river is surrounded by some kind of cliffs, giving you the feeling of being in a small canyon. And the colours were so green... Simply surreal!

The river is surrounded by some kind of cliffs, giving you the feeling of being in a small canyon. And the colours were so green... Simply surreal!


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One of the several waterfalls we saw along the river

One of the several waterfalls we saw along the river


Stretching my legs...

Stretching my legs...


The Bridge To Nowhere

The Bridge To Nowhere


The last campsite, Tieke Kainga

The last campsite, Tieke Kainga


Our campsite the last day

Our campsite the last day


Preparing food

Preparing food


A possum (considered as a pest here in NZ) trying to steal our food...

A possum (considered as a pest here in NZ) trying to steal our food...


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Finally, here is a short video I took while on the river:

Posted by manolo84 23:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rivers english canoes Comments (0)

Looking for Bilbo and the Hobbits


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Being a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings (the books, the movies a bit less), I wasn't going to spend almost two months in New Zealand without seeing nothing of the movies stages, where some of the scenes were filmed, etc... And here in New Zealand, the Lord of the Rings and now the Hobbit trilogies are a big thing so throughout the country you will find countless tours to visit some of the movies location or buy the movies merchandising...
And probably one of the most impressive locations is where the hobbits village scenes were filmed, in a village called Hobbiton, near Rotorua, on the north island of New Zealand.

Actually after the first Lord of the Rings movies, most of the hobbits houses and other things which were part of the landscape got teared down and only rebuilt for the Hobbit movies a couple of years ago, in an agreement between Peter Jackson (the director of the movies) and the farmer's family who owned the property where the scenes were filmed.

Anyway now it has become a very successful attraction, with a LOT of tourists visiting every day, and a bit overpriced in my opinion (about 70$) for a couple of hours but it still allow me to take some great shots and to be honest, I was feeling a bit like a kid in Disneyland (though Disneyland never attracted me that much...).

The only disappointing thing was that I didn't get to see any real hobbits. And I swear I have looked everywhere! :)

Welcome to Hobbiton!

Welcome to Hobbiton!


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All the details have been thought about, even the very small hobbit clothes

All the details have been thought about, even the very small hobbit clothes


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Welcome to my humble house! <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Welcome to my humble house! :)


The real Bilbo Baggins's hobbit hole!

The real Bilbo Baggins's hobbit hole!


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The massive oak tree in front of which Bilbo does his last speech before disappearing

The massive oak tree in front of which Bilbo does his last speech before disappearing


The Green Dragon's inn

The Green Dragon's inn


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Inside the Green Dragon's inn, some real ales...

Inside the Green Dragon's inn, some real ales...


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My friend Daniela and myself celebrating this rainy day with a hobbit ale <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

My friend Daniela and myself celebrating this rainy day with a hobbit ale :)


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Posted by manolo84 11:29 Archived in New Zealand Tagged english hobbits Comments (0)

Adventures in Kiwiland


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I feel like a post is now long overdue but I have been quite busy these last weeks or too tired to take the time to upload pictures and write something. So rather than a long post, here is a selection of about 40 pictures taken during my 7 weeks in New Zealand, on both the North and South islands. I have also tried to update the map to show you where these pictures were taken. Finally, I will post a bit more in the next few days to cover some of the big hikes/treks I did and which I think all require separate posts to avoid surcharging the blog with pictures.

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  • North Island

First stop after Auckland was in Hahei and I took the opportunity to explore the sea while kayaking

First stop after Auckland was in Hahei and I took the opportunity to explore the sea while kayaking


Still Hahei, which apparently as an air of Thailand...

Still Hahei, which apparently as an air of Thailand...


Cathedral Cove beach, one of the main spots in Hahei. The rock forms an arch and link the two beaches on each side.

Cathedral Cove beach, one of the main spots in Hahei. The rock forms an arch and link the two beaches on each side.


Next to Hahei was "Hot Water Beach", a beach where streams of really hot water comes from under (almost 80 degrees). So people gather when the tide goes up and try to get a hole in the sand while mixing this hot water with the sea water, to have a nice bath... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Next to Hahei was "Hot Water Beach", a beach where streams of really hot water comes from under (almost 80 degrees). So people gather when the tide goes up and try to get a hole in the sand while mixing this hot water with the sea water, to have a nice bath... :)


Next stop was Raglan, the most popular surf spot in New Zealand

Next stop was Raglan, the most popular surf spot in New Zealand


And they even named the beach after me! :D

And they even named the beach after me! :D


Learning to do the Haka with some Maoris... I'm definitely missing a few tatoos... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Learning to do the Haka with some Maoris... I'm definitely missing a few tatoos... ;)


Nice water reflections near Rotorua

Nice water reflections near Rotorua


Fishing eels at night in a lake, here is my only catch of the night, but what a catch!

Fishing eels at night in a lake, here is my only catch of the night, but what a catch!


Bridge near Whakahoro

Bridge near Whakahoro


Waterfall, Whakahoro

Waterfall, Whakahoro


Same waterfall, Whakahoro

Same waterfall, Whakahoro


A few days later, here we are in the Tongariro National Park. Here is a view of Ruapehu.

A few days later, here we are in the Tongariro National Park. Here is a view of Ruapehu.


Next to it is mount Ngauruhoe which was used to represent Mount  Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Next to it is mount Ngauruhoe which was used to represent Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.


And still about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, here is the Tahui falls, used in a scene with Gollum (the second movie of the trilogy)

And still about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, here is the Tahui falls, used in a scene with Gollum (the second movie of the trilogy)


Tahui falls again, different angle.

Tahui falls again, different angle.

  • South Island

Beginning of January, it was time to take the ferry and to cross to the South Island, reputed for its amazing landscapes and home to a lot extreme sports.

First stop was the Abel Tasman National Park, where you can hike or even rent a kayak and explore the surroundings that way.

First stop was the Abel Tasman National Park, where you can hike or even rent a kayak and explore the surroundings that way.


Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman


Seals relaxing on the rocks in Abel Tasman

Seals relaxing on the rocks in Abel Tasman


I call this bird the "day kiwi" for its resemblance with the kiwi which has a longer beak.

I call this bird the "day kiwi" for its resemblance with the kiwi which has a longer beak.


More seals around Punakaiki

More seals around Punakaiki


Here in Punakaiki there is an interesting rock formation called Pancake rocks, because of the shape of the rocks which look like a stack of pancakes one of top of each other

Here in Punakaiki there is an interesting rock formation called Pancake rocks, because of the shape of the rocks which look like a stack of pancakes one of top of each other


Pancake rocks

Pancake rocks


Beach near Punakaiki

Beach near Punakaiki


Punakaiki

Punakaiki


Sunset on Punakaiki

Sunset on Punakaiki


Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier


Waterfalls near Franz Josef Glacier

Waterfalls near Franz Josef Glacier


Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls


And also on our way that day, we made a short stop to Lake Matheson. Splendid...

And also on our way that day, we made a short stop to Lake Matheson. Splendid...


Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson


In Wanaka, I decided to sign up for a course about piloting a stunt plane and doing loops and other stunts... I'm glad my stomach held up until the end!

In Wanaka, I decided to sign up for a course about piloting a stunt plane and doing loops and other stunts... I'm glad my stomach held up until the end!


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Wanaka's team <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Wanaka's team :)


A day later, we arrived in Queenstown, little town set in a amazing location, between mountains and lake.

A day later, we arrived in Queenstown, little town set in a amazing location, between mountains and lake.


Our group in Queenstown

Our group in Queenstown


View from a hike I did near Te Anau, in the Fjordlands

View from a hike I did near Te Anau, in the Fjordlands

Posted by manolo84 21:32 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises lakes beaches birds nature kayaking english Comments (2)

Trip to Cape Reinga


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The first part of my journey in New Zealand, after having taken a deserved rest in Auckland for a few days, was to go North to the most northern point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga, where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific ocean. We decided then with a few friends to rent a car for 3 days and also take the opportunity to visit a few places on the way.

The landscape was indeed really scenic, as we expected, and the first interesting stop was to explore some dark caves and admire the famous glow-worms of New Zealand.

"In New Zealand and Australia, glow-worms are the larvae (maggots) of a special kind of fly known as a fungus gnat. Fungus gnats look rather like mosquitoes, and most feed on mushrooms and other fungi. However, a small group of fungus gnats are carnivores, and the worm-like larvae of these species use their glowing lights to attract small flying insects into a snare of sticky threads."

When switching off all our lights, the cave suddenly turns into an amazing sky filled with millions of stars. Truly spectacular.

Daniela and Ben enjoying climbing in the cave

Daniela and Ben enjoying climbing in the cave


Glowworms in the dark...

Glowworms in the dark...


This time with the reflection of the water running in the cave

This time with the reflection of the water running in the cave

We then carried on to the Bay of Islands, one of the very touristic places in New Zealand and spent the night in Pahia, while admiring the nice bay. The next day, still carrying north and after having picked up other people, we stopped several times along the way to enjoy waterfalls, beaches, sand dunes and to finally reach Cape Reinga and its famous lighthouse at the end of the day (see pictures below).

The way back the next day was less spectacular as we had a lot of road to cover but I could definitely had a first taste of what New Zealand is during those 3 days. And not a bad one!... :)

Reflections on Mataury Bay beach

Reflections on Mataury Bay beach


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The New Zealand fern

The New Zealand fern


Sandboarding on the Te Paki sand dunes, really fun!

Sandboarding on the Te Paki sand dunes, really fun!


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My companions for this short adventure

My companions for this short adventure


Finally, the lighthouse of Cape Reinga!

Finally, the lighthouse of Cape Reinga!


Bay next to Cape Reinga

Bay next to Cape Reinga


Another sunset... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Another sunset... :)


London... quite far away!

London... quite far away!


The trip wouldn't have been complete without a jump picture! <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

The trip wouldn't have been complete without a jump picture! ;)


One of the biggest Kauri trees, the native tree in New Zealand

One of the biggest Kauri trees, the native tree in New Zealand


Kiwis ahead...

Kiwis ahead...

Posted by manolo84 15:03 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trees caves english dunes Comments (0)

Auckland and the Waitakere Ranges

sunny 30 °C
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My first days in Auckland were how to say it... quite relaxed. I had been travelling non-stop for the last 6 months and a half and I needed to rest a bit (especially after that tiring flight). Besides I had no idea yet about what to see in New-Zealand, nor how will I see it.
So the first days were spent visiting a bit the Kiwi biggest city, catching up with my friend Dave I had met a few months before in Peru, trying to establish an itinerary and so on...

One of the ideas I had in mind was to find people in order to rent a camper-van or something similar. At that time it seemed the best option to travel freely without too much constraints. However as I would find out, there were a few issues to that last point. Indeed we were in the high season, when all New-Zealanders are also on holiday and that meant that renting wasn't an option anymore. Buying could have been ok but it would have meant that I needed more time to find the right vehicle and also allow time at the end of my trip to sell it back. And last issue, the costs for petrol is quite high here, and also the cost of the ferry in order to cross from the North Island to the South Island (and back again). Even with 3 or 4 people with me it wouldn't have been worth it.

Another idea was to use the bus networks like Intercity or Naked Bus but the problem with that is that you can indeed go to the cities or big villages but once there you are kind of stuck and cannot go to that nice spot a few kilometres further that you have heard of. Besides I would have had to book everything in advance to avoid the transportation being too expensive.

Finally someone (thanks Daniela!) recommended a bus company called Stray which offer different fixed itineraries throughout New Zealand in a hop-off / hop-on basis. Basically it means that if you find a nice place, you can easily decide to stay a few more days and to take the next bus passing by. Besides they allow time everyday for a few activities (which you are free to do or not if you don't want to) and are going "off the beaten track" which means that they make you discover some non-touristy places, which is always appreciable. It wasn't the best option but definitely the "least worse" and therefore I opted for that one.

During that time, we took the opportunity with Dave and his brother to go for an afternoon of waterfall jumps in the bush, in the Waitakere Ranges off the Lone Kauri Road, not too far from Auckland. And it was quite fun actually, even if we almost ended up lost in the middle of nowhere...

The Sky tower in Auckland

The Sky tower in Auckland

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Welcome to the Bush!

Welcome to the Bush!


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Caution, freezing water ahead!

Caution, freezing water ahead!


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Just before we got lost...

Just before we got lost...

Posted by manolo84 18:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls cities nature buses bush english Comments (0)

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