When we shared our plans for the year off some time ago with a dear friend, he was in complete shock. How could we possibly NOT put New Zealand onto our trip schedule, while planning to stay for an extended period in Australia? That didn´t make any sense to him at all. And he had no problem stating that very clearly, either.
New Zealand is captivating. And confusing. Especially in autumn. In the most beautiful way, though. It almost does not seem to make any sense. On the one hand there is the full array of fall colours: yellow, orange and red in all imaginable shades. But on the other hand there are green palm trees and the freshest and brightest green grass you have ever seen in your life!
Bay of Islands
A magical day on a sailing boat. Perfect weather. Dolphins. Nice crew. Nice fellow travellers. Snorkeling. Kayaking. Setting foot on an uninhabited island for a small exploration. Can someone please pinch me? We seem to have been thrown into a dream. Thankfully a very nice one.
And by the way, whoever came up with the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” obviously has never been to New Zealand. Their grass is greener – always!! There is no other side!!
Otorohanga @ the Kiwi house. Learning about the Kiwi. The adorable national bird of New Zealand is threatened by extinction. Amongst other factors, many non-indigenous predators (e.g. possums) reduce the numbers of this adorable bird – either by killing it or eating its eggs. If it only would fight against them as bravely as it does against the caretakers at the Kiwi House. Every day, when they visit the sanctuary to put down a gourmet mix of worms and insects, the Kiwi bravely defends its territory. It runs towards the intruder, rams its beak into the (protective) pants and while holding onto the pants with its beak, kicks frantically with its legs. If they only applied the same technique against their other enemies out there…
Glowing in the dark
Just 20 minutes from the Kiwis, the next highlight is waiting: The Waitomo Glowworm Caves. And it seems that we somehow keep ending up on underground rivers. This time with the added benefit of thousands of glowworms (arachnocampa luminosa) being there to create an unique ambiance. They create their source of light in an entirely different way than fireflies, but are by no means less fascinating creatures. Examined during bright light conditions, they are maybe not love at first sight, but switch the lights off, and…wow!
Tongariro National Park
Dual Unesco World Heritage Site. Home to active volcano Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe. The world-famous alpine crossing hike unfortunately was closed due to severe weather conditions. Thankfully there is no shortage of hiking opportunities. Went for a short 4hr hike to the Taranaki Falls. Fresh air, exercise and beautiful sights guaranteed!
A 2 hour drive north from Taupo. Beautiful Waihi Beach! Campsite in walking distance. Why are we never getting tired of taking a walk along the beach?
Hahei Beach, the Coromandel Coast and Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove is a landmark and must-visit on the Coromandel Peninsula. Go to Hahei (just a couple of kilometers north from Hot Water Beach), hike from Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove and be mesmerized, all the way through by the coastline. And then of course Cathedral Cove: Water, wind and erosion have done their work and have left us with some awesome beauty there!
Daytrip to Te Puke from Tauranga. Famous for its Kiwi plantations (this time the fruit!), but also home of Comvita. A company specialised in making special Manuka Honey and other bee-related products (ever heard of Propolis or Royal Jelly?). Also a great place to learn about the bees and their amazing way of doing things. Just a small selection: When they have found a good spot with flowers, they come back to the hive and give direction to the other bees by dancing a navigational pattern. And did you know they have 5 eyes?