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Randonnées en Nouvelle-Zélande

Tramping in New-Zealand


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Je voulais à l'origine écrire des articles séparés pour chaque grande randonnée que j'ai faite en Nouvelle-Zélande mais avec le retard pris sur le blog je pense qu'il est plus avisé de condenser un petit peu... :)

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  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Après donc ce superbe parcours sur la rivière Whanganui, je suis resté quelque jours autour du Nouvel An dans un village appelé National Park. Village très tranquille entouré des chaines volcaniques Tongariro, Ruapehu et Ngauruhoe. Je parlais des "9 Grandes Randonnées" de Nouvelle-Zélande dans un article précédent, et bien ici il est possible de faire une randonnée d'une journée (environ 6 heures de marche), appelée Tongariro Alpine Crossing (la traversée alpine du Tongariro). Le chemin nous fait passer à travers la chaine volcanique du Mont Tongariro avec une option pour aller au sommet du Mont Ngauruhoe (celui-là même qui a servi de modèle pour le Mont Doom du Seigneur des Anneaux). Les paysages sont splendides, les couleurs magnifiques (on peut clairement voir les anciennes coulées de lave), bref on a vraiment l'impression d’être dans un autre monde...
Le seul point négatif fut la présence de milliers de randonneurs sur le même chemin qui donne vraiment des airs d'autoroute à ce trek. On ne se refait pas, j'aime la randonnée quand je suis le seul ou presque sur les chemins. Pour cette raison je donnerais à ce trek un 9/10 quant à sa beauté, mais la présence de touristes du dimanche le fait descendre a un misérable 2/10. Vraiment trop de monde à mon goût...

Le chemin suivi cette journée

Le chemin suivi cette journée


Mont Ngauruhoe / Mont Doom

Mont Ngauruhoe / Mont Doom


Admirez ce paysage lunaire où rien ne pousse

Admirez ce paysage lunaire où rien ne pousse


Quelles couleurs!

Quelles couleurs!


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Une ancienne cheminée / coulée de lave

Une ancienne cheminée / coulée de lave


Beaucoup de monde sur le chemin... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

Beaucoup de monde sur le chemin... :(


Lac volcanique

Lac volcanique


En gros "faites pas les cons et allez pas vous faire explosez la figure!"

En gros "faites pas les cons et allez pas vous faire explosez la figure!"


L'activité volcanique est encore intense...

L'activité volcanique est encore intense...

  • Gertrude Saddle's hike

Dans les Fjordlands, cette région au sud-ouest de la Nouvelle-Zelande, se trouve le Milford Sound, magnifique fjord qui attire chaque année de nombreux touristes qui viennent admirer les cascades qui se jette dans le fjord, ou bien encore les chaines de montagne environnantes. Du coup, un des treks les plus populaires en Nouvelle-Zelande est le Milford Track, randonnées de quelques jours finissant sur le Milford Sound, mais malheureusement les permis de trek sont limités et pour celui-ci il faut même réserver plusieurs mois à l'avance! Il me fallu donc trouver un plan B pour admirer ces somptueux paysages sans avoir besoin de réserver quoique ce soit.

Alors que mes amis avaient décidé de passer la journée en kayak dans le fjord lui-même, je me fis déposer à l’entrée du fjord, dans une vallée adjacente, et entrepris de faire une randonnée assez difficile appelée The Gertrude Saddle's Hike (La randonnée de la selle de Gertrude, ça fait moins classe en français je l'avoue) dont le nom vient du fait qu'une fois en haut, on se retrouve dans un col faisant vraiment penser à une selle de cheval car entre deux vallées, avec une vue magnifique sur le Milford Sound. Par contre cette randonnée intense (3 heures de montée raide qui parfois est à la limite de l'escalade) ne peut se faire que lorsque les conditions météorologiques sont réunies: s'il pleut ou neige, les rochers deviennent glissants et dangereux et jusqu’à la toute fin de l'hiver, les avalanches sont très nombreuses... Mais bon au moins j'étais sûr de ne pas me retrouver avec des millions d'autres randonneurs!
Et je ne fus pas déçu, cette rando fut sûrement une des plus belles que j'ai jamais faite! (une des plus dures aussi)

Bon bah c'est parti pour le sommet!

Bon bah c'est parti pour le sommet!


Hum.. au moins ils annoncent la couleur d'entrée de jeu!

Hum.. au moins ils annoncent la couleur d'entrée de jeu!


Même pas peur! <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Même pas peur! :)


Superbes cascades tout au long du parcours

Superbes cascades tout au long du parcours


La vue du sommet sur ce que je viens de monter

La vue du sommet sur ce que je viens de monter


La vue de l'autre coté, avec le Milford Sound (la tâche bleue) au fond

La vue de l'autre coté, avec le Milford Sound (la tâche bleue) au fond

  • Mueller's Hut Hike

Enfin, la dernière grosse randonnée que je fis en solo fut celle du refuge Mueller, près de la plus haute montagne de Nouvelle-Zélande, Mont Cook (3,724m). Cette fois je voulus tenter de passer la nuit en altitude pour pouvoir profiter des coucher et lever de soleil. La montée fut assez difficile, un peu comme la précédente même si cette fois le chemin était bien tracé mais de même, les vues au sommet furent splendides. Je pus même avoir la chance d'assister à des avalanches en continu car la montagne en face du refuge perd ses glaces tous les jours et cela crée de mini-avalanches qui font un bruit du tonnerre de dieu! Le coucher de soleil fut splendide avec des jolies couleurs rougeâtres mais malheureusement, il ne me fus pas possible de prendre des photos des étoiles ou du lever de soleil car les nuages s’invitèrent dans le ciel...

Le départ du trek, avec vue sur Mont Cook

Le départ du trek, avec vue sur Mont Cook


Le refuge est en vue, avec des passages assez techniques à travers des névés

Le refuge est en vue, avec des passages assez techniques à travers des névés


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Le soleil disparait...

Le soleil disparait...


Mais fait apparaitre également de superbes couleurs sur Mont Cook...

Mais fait apparaitre également de superbes couleurs sur Mont Cook...


La nuit d'apres (au village) etant clair, je sortis le tripod pour capturer ce paysage étoilé

La nuit d'apres (au village) etant clair, je sortis le tripod pour capturer ce paysage étoilé


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Posted by manolo84 01:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls mountains volcanoes french treks 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='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)

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)

Adventures in Belize


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Still trying to catch up with the blog as I am almost a month behind now, so I'll make a condensed one for a change with mainly pictures... :)

Caye Caulker was then the next destination, a small island located East of the Belize coast, not far from the coral reef. The first thing which strikes you when you arrive in Belize, is the difference in price compared to Mexico. Indeed here the currency is almost fixed on the US dollar (1 US$ = 2 Bz $) and this means that the prices are high. For example, a day trip on a boat to do some snorkelling costs around 65 US$, and other tours can easily reach 90-100 US$... Anyway, my aim by coming to Belize was not to stay here forever, but to see the reef and its wildlife, a few ruins across the country and then head off to Guatemala.

English is the main language of this country (all the other countries in Central America are Spanish-speaking countries), and it was therefore easier for me to deal and communicate with the locals than in Spanish, but I still felt that one week was enough to explore a few chosen places in the country. I am sure my bank account will thank me later on...

The first days then in Caye Caulker were therefore dedicated to snorkelling and I managed to see manatees (impressive!), nurse-sharks, sting-rays, barracudas and tons of other fishes and corals. Really an amazing experience. It would even have probably be better to do some scuba-diving but the high prices just discouraged me. However for those who like to dive (and have a bit of money to spend), you can easily arrange a day trip to the blue hole, one of the deepest in the world. Apparently those who did so warmly recommend it.

Among my group some people had waterproof cameras and I really wanted to show you some pictures taken "under" but I didn't manage to get the pictures yet. I will probably update this post at a later date then once I can get hold of them. In the meantime here are a few shots I took during these few days on the island.

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My tour agency... Easy boys!

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The streets of Caye Caulker

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On the right side you can see the waves created by the presence of the reef underneath. We are at about 1km from the island already.

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Let's jump!

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Our guide feeding the several nurse-sharks and sting-rays populating the area to attract them near our boat. Fierce battle! A few minutes later, we would be swimming in the middle of these totally inoffensive yet impressive creatures...

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The second stop (and last one) in Belize would then be San Ignacio, a town located near the Guatemalan border. From there there are several tours you can do, including visiting Mayan ruins (Caracol), swim near waterfalls, go to some caves adventures, well it's not easy to get bored. However as I said before your wallet will suffer a little...

As I am mainly interested in the Mayan culture and architecture, I decided to opt for visiting the ruins of Caracol instead of the popular ATM tour (caves adventures) and on the way our group also stopped to see a few natural caves and waterfalls.

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The streets of San Ignacio

And one week is a short time but I felt it was enough and that time had now come to pass the border of Guatemala, as Tikal and El Mirador were already calling me in the distance...

Posted by manolo84 13:38 Archived in Belize Tagged waterfalls islands snorkelling ruins mayas Comments (3)

Palenque or the Maya ruins paradise


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Next stop after San Cristobal, still in Chiapas, was Palenque, a maya city from the 7th century. Nowadays a modern city has been built next to the ruins so very little interesting things to see there, the main "attraction" being the ruins themselves.

Taking the bus from San Cristobal, you need approximatively 6 hours to reach Palenque and so I arrived there at about 10pm, gave my directions to the taxi driver and 50 pesos and 5 minutes later I was in a hotel right near the ruins, in the middle of the Jungle... The hotel was called El Panchán and had a few cabañas where you could stay for about 150 pesos a night (almost 10 euros). It featured also a nice restaurant which had every night live music and fire shows which were quite nice, especially because as I said before, it was right inside the jungle, with all its sounds. Temperature wise, it was about 30 degres and 86% humidity so basically every small effort you do, you end up sweating a LOT... but you get used to it after a while.

As I mentioned before, I don't have anymore the pictures from that period... so here are a few taken from the internet, jsut to give you a rough idea. Basically I had exactly the same pictures taken but in better of course! :-)

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The next day, I decided to pay a visit to some popular waterfalls around Palenque, especially one wich was supposed to have a really nice blue colour, called Agua Azul. Unfortunately it had rained the day before and it was more "Agua marrón"... but still nice to see:

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Misol-Ha, another waterfall I visited that day:

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Finally, the following day, before taking the night bus to my next destination, Merida, I took a tour to visit the most amazing and most impressive Maya ruins I have seen so far: Yaxchilan. In order to go there, you need to take a bus from Palenque for about 2-3 hours (it means to leave at 6am.. ouch!) then a boat for about an hour and you then reach the ruins of Yaxchilan, completely isolated in the Jungle, at the border between Guatemala and Mexico. To be honest I am so guted I have lost all the pictures and videos I took that day because they were so good... but anyway, we were in the middle of the Jungle, surrounded by monkeys everywhere (especially the howl-monkey, which is a tiny one but has a huge scream, surely to impress the other animals), and I even saw some tarentulas and other weird insects (without forgetting the f****** mosquitos which even managed to bite me through my trousers!). You could climb and go inside the buildings without problems and to be honest I could have definitely spent more than a few hours, just trying to get the mayan feeling...

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Finally we stopped on the way back to Bonampak, some more ruins which had some very well preserved murals.

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Posted by manolo84 22:48 Archived in Mexico Tagged waterfalls ruins mayas Comments (1)

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