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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='https://tp.daa.ms/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='https://tp.daa.ms/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='https://tp.daa.ms/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='https://tp.daa.ms/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='https://tp.daa.ms/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)

New-Zealand, finally!


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Yeah! I can finally write about this wonderful country, after having landed here a bit more than a month ago. Sorry for the delay but maintaining a blog up-to-date is a lot of work... ;)

On the 11th of December then, I made my way to the airport in Santiago de Chile and was ready to check-in, but only to be told that in order for the Quantas Airways agents to check me in and allow me on the flight I had booked and pre-paid, I needed an exit flight from New-Zealand. Yes, the New-Zealanders are really welcoming and as a European you don't need to arrange a visa beforehand (a tourist visa lasts for 3 months), but they also want to make sure you won't stay longer...

So in a bit of a panic, I had to run in the airport and find an internet spot and book (and pay) an exit flight from New-Zealand to Asia for 2 months later... Fortunately I had thought in the previous days about how long exactly I wanted to stay in Kiwikand but maybe I could have saved a bit of money trying to compare different flights if I had had more time. Anyway 30 minutes later, I came back to the check-in desk and could board the the plane without issues.

Conclusion: ALWAYS plan enough time to check-in to avoid panic rush and last minute urgencies like that. I had arrived 1 hour and a half before my flight and I was lucky I did otherwise I might have lost a lot of money and have had to book another flight...

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However the flight I had booked wasn't direct so after flying over the edge of Antarctica (see picture of the icebergs on the right) I landed in Sydney and immediately boarded another plane in direction of Christchurch where I would spend the night (in the airport) before boarding another flight in the morning to Auckland. Not sure why the flight comparison website I had used to book my flight wanted me to do a stop-over in Christchurch but it was probably the cheapest flight combination at that time. Of course with that many connections, there is always something going slightly wrong and my backpack didn't follow me to Christchurch but instead was sent directly to Auckland the next morning. Not a big deal but I had to explain the problem to the immigration officers, persuade them that I wasn't a drug lord trying to smuggle illegal things in their country from South America, and manage to trace my bag to be sure I could collect it (after a full bag search obviously) in Auckland the next day.

Finally, on the afternoon of Friday the 13th of December, I arrived in my hostel completely exhausted, after having spent more than 2 days (technically you "lose" one day when flying from South America to New-Zealand) in the air and airports. But I was here and my luggage as well! Phew! :)

Plane ready to be boarded! Yeah!

Plane ready to be boarded! Yeah!


First leg to Sydney, 13 hours... Hopefully the movies on-board selection is good...

First leg to Sydney, 13 hours... Hopefully the movies on-board selection is good...


The route the plane will take

The route the plane will take


On the edge of Antarctica...

On the edge of Antarctica...


Auckland, finally!

Auckland, finally!


Oh I forgot it was almost Christmas!! It's definitely a weird feeling to think of spending Christmas when it's hot and sunny... Where is the cold and snow??

Oh I forgot it was almost Christmas!! It's definitely a weird feeling to think of spending Christmas when it's hot and sunny... Where is the cold and snow??

Posted by manolo84 14:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged english flights immigration Comments (0)

Six months later, trip review...

Version française de cet article par ici...
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Time has now come to look back on the last 6 months (and a half) as this is now the end of my trip in Latin America. I honestly cannot believe that it has been more than 6 months since I left Paris on that grey and rainy morning. The time flew so quickly...

In 6 months, I have covered more than 14,000 kilometres on the road (without counting the flights) and visited 13 different countries, sometimes just crossing them, sometimes staying more than a month. At the exception of Belize, all were spanish speaking countries, but unfortunately I have to report that I am still not a fluent speaker, though I can now manage a basic conversation. Certainly being a native French speaker helped a lot as the two languages have a lot in common.

I should have probably wrote it sooner as well but by this post I want to thank all the people I met during that time, friends of a few hours or for some, now friends for life. Some of my friends back home were asking before I started travelling if I was not actually scared to travel alone, and of course I was a bit, this being the first time I was going to travel by myself. But I have to say that I hardly felt alone during the last 6 months. Travelling alone not only forces you to open up with all kind of travellers you meet along the way, but also to interact with locals and the latter is probably invaluable as a traveller. Speaking the local language makes your whole trip totally different and I wished I could have been fluent in spanish from the start, but I know I will come back one day. I have only scratched the surface of Central and South America and there is still so much to discover!

So thank you all, I am so grateful of all the experiences and moments we have shared together and let's hope that we can keep in touch in the future.

I also wanted to come back on some words I heard several times during this trip. Some people I met were indeed complaining that a lot of the interactions they were having during their travels were superficial because most of the time when they met other people, it was only for a couple of hours or a few days, before each moved on to a different place. Whilst this is partly true, I still wouldn't call these interactions or short friendships "superficial". Of course it is impossible to keep in touch with the hundreds of people you meet during a long travel. Even with the help of the social networks, you cannot send a message regularly to every contact you have, but no one expects you to do so as well. Calling these relationships superficial are denying one important fact I think. The fact that everyone can teach you something and that you will never know beforehand what it is.

Along the way I met so many people who shared their stories with me, that I have also learnt more about the different world cultures in 6 months than in my previous 29 years. And while travelling there is also no "social pressure" of having to behave like everyone (family, friends back home) expects you to, so you can really be yourself without constantly trying to please everyone around you. By this I am not saying that back home, everyone acts "fake" but you see what I mean, there are social conventions which make you sometimes not behave like you would like to or to not say everything you would like (at work, in your friend's circles, etc...). And by freeing yourself from these social chains, you actually realise who you really are, what you really like, what you really don't like, and many more other things. In other words you really discover yourself.

In one hand you are a bit more selfish but in a good way if I can say so. On the other hand you need to keep in mind that you can actually learn from everyone, even from the people you wouldn't expect to (it's probably those ones who will surprise you the most). And it is also likely that some people will probably learn from you and your experiences, no doubt about it.

All that to say that travelling is all about sharing, about opening up to the world and to the others. About not judging on the appearances. And as usual in life, the best things and experiences happen when you least expect them...

To finish this post here are a few stats about these 6 months spent on the road:

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Posted by manolo84 15:49 Archived in Chile Tagged english review Comments (4)

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