Around the world

First stop...Canada / Now on to New Zealand

 
22Juli
2017

11 months and goodbye to CHCH for now

It's hard to believe that a month has passed again and I dont really have that many exciting stories to tell. The last few weeks I spend me days cycling around chch and working or studying and finishing up some uni projects because in only two days I will be leaving Christchurch!!

After working in this city for the past four months I will be based in Auckland for work for the next five weeks before coming back down south in September.

 

Hopefully I will have a bit more time up there for a few daytrips to the Islands I missed out on last time I was up north. 

 

 

20Juni
2017

10 months..can u believe it!!

 

 

IT's been ten months, can u believe it?

Over 300 days have past while I traveled across six countries and made incredible friends from all over the world. Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and finally New Zealand. 

6 months ago I arrived in Auckland, and to be honest I didn't really know what to expect. I was (and still am) so in love with Canada, that I didn't believe New Zealand (or anywhere) could ever compare, today six months later I LOVE New Zealand. Canada will always hold a special place in my heart just like Wales and I know I will be back someday, but for now and for the next six months to come I'm happy to be down here at this end of the world. 3-months of working in Christchurch and I truly like living in this city and biking around town, stopping in coffee shops along the way and going for walks in Healey Park on my days off. However, I'm excited for the next 6 months down here in New Zealand, for all the roadtrips yet to come and for everything that happens after, that is still in early planning stages.

After all the world is a big place full of places just waiting to be discovered!

For now though, I will stick around Christchurch for a wee bit longer.

22Mai
2017

Fall days, friends and a road trip up the coast

After 5 weeks spend around Christchurch, my danish friend Sanne decided to move on further up the coast and hang out in the beautiful coastal town of Kaikoura for a couple of weeks. Since it was a sunny Monday and I was off from work for the day I decided to come along for a drive.

Kaikoura is a small fishing and tourist town on the National Highway No 1 where usually plenty of tourists pass through on their way from the ferry in Picton down to hristchurch which is only about a two hour drive away. However, Kaikoura was the town that suffered tremendously in the latest earthquake in November 2016 and the highway from town down to the rest of the South Island as well as further North to the ferry is still blocked off and under construction after massive land slides cut the town completley off for weeks late last year. By now, one can take the Sceneic Inland route from Christchurch to get to town, while the Northern Part is still inaccessible and requires a 6 hour detour all the way over to the Westcoast to get back up to the North Island.

Since we jsut went for a scenic drive, we didn't mind taking the longer route inland up (which took a bit more than three hours). Sannes collegue from the bar even offered to drive and we were all set to go around Noon.Driving up we passed beautiful hill sides and mountain passes as well as plenty of construction sides and fields housing a number of sheep that could compete with the most crowded welsh valleys.

  

Stooping for coffee and singing along to good tunes we reached Kaikoura in the afternoon and went to the View Point and Waterfront before checking out Sanne's new downtown shops and the hostel.

After a couple of hours spend around town Omar and I got back in the car and drove back to Christchurch admiring the pitch black countryside and hundreds of starts up and around us. Even though it was just a really short stop over in Kaikoura it was still very nice to go and see the small sea side town. Just standing on the beach and listening to the waves was all I needed after mountains and city life for the past months.

 

20Mai
2017

9 months! Settling in Christchurch

11Mai
2017

Gondola Ride

After finishing off some of my uni work the other day, me and Sanne ( a friend from Denmark) decided to spend the sunny day out and go for a ride up the hill sides with the Gondola. Undoubtedly the most touristy thing one could possibly do in Christchurch, but also definitely the most beautiful view across the city I have found so far.

The Gondola takes less than 10 minutes to get up the hill side and for the fit and active people there's also the possibility to simply hick or clyde up to the viewpoint. After buying cheaper tickets on bookme the day before, we still went on the ride. From the top on can see across the entire city plains. Over to the seaside and town the other side of the hills to Lyttelton and the Akaroa peninsula. On a clear day apparently one can just about see the Bay of Kaikoura in the far far distance.

We spend a good two hours or so walking around the top and along some of the walking tracks before checking out the Time tunnel attraction inside and having a little rest stop inside the cafe.

Although just a 20 minute drive from downtown I can't believe it took me almost two months to make it out to the hillsides. After today, I'm sure it won't be the last time.

28April
2017

Christchurch - a home away from home

Traveling across NZ everybody has an opinion which places to go to and which to avoid. Christchurch as well as Auckland for most fall into the second category. Whenever I told anyone I'd be moving to ChCh people would start and ask me why! Even if they'd never been to town themselves, they seemed to know that nobody could possibly like to live there. 

Well, I do.

To me Christchurch is not just the largest city one the South Island. It is a symbol. An example. A vision to move on and never to let bad things bring you down.After the 2011 Earthquake destroyed most of the city centre and historic sights like the cathedral downtown, there'S construction work EVERYWHERE! And I get it, construction is loud and messy and noisy and not pretty at all. But at the same time it shows that the city is still alive. Its building itself up again coming back still breathing. 

 

Picking itself up, dusting off and starting new. Modern architecture can be found all around town. The Restart mall is a great example innovation and the Art Gallery is one of the most interesting designs I've seen in NZ so far.

There are parks and cycle lanes and at least a thousand coffee shops on my way to work down New Regent Street alone. Wandering around the Botanic Gardens going to cathedral square to check out the weekend food trucks ensemble or hitting the bars around Montreal Street, there is plenty to do in this city still.

Many Backpackers skip this city all together or just stop by for a day before leaving the country and honestly I don't mind that. NZ is full of backpackers it's sometimes hard to meet a Kiwi. And though I love the backpacker community, it's also nice to just be a part of the everyday life down here. 

And with the sun shining and the leaves changing I start to feel at home out here in this ever-changing city. Exploring the town on my "new" pink bicycle ( what can I say - it was for free) I believe the message written outside the Art Gallery and really spread like a rumour all across the city - It's all going to be alright!

 

In the past two months since moving down here, I had a great time. I really enjoy my job and hanging out with some friends passing through the city or staying in town for a while. Going to the movies, drinking in Irish bars or checking out the Museum on a rainy day downtown, there's always something to do and I'm looking forward to another 5 months spend around this city.

20April
2017

8 Months and still going.

11April
2017

Good tunes, sunnies and finally a road trip

After weeks of working and settling down in Christchurch I had a long weekend off and decided to finally go on a little road trip down south. Just me, good music, my camera and a lovely little rental car I proudly named Louis. 

    

Finishing work on Friday, I picked up my car on a cloudy Saturday and was all ready to hit the road. Driving down the highway towards the great lakes of the south island, the sky cleared up and by the time I arrived in Lake Tekapo (about 3 hours from Chch) it was a clear blue skied day with great views across the lake towards Mount Cook. With open windows, sunnies on my face and singing along to the radio I drove up and down the mountain passes through small towns of Twitzel and Omarama where I picked up some french backpackers that had plans to go to Wanaka. 

Since I've been on the receiving end of the good karma vibes throughout my entire journey up I felt this time around I should be the one offering a ride. So we spent the last two hours of the six hour drive to Wanaka talking about travels across New Zealand and future travel plans. 

After dropping my two new friends off in Wanaka, I drove over to Lake Hawea to stay for the next two days. 

   

Early on the next morning, I grabbed my camera bag, some food supplies and made my way to the starting point of Roy's Peak Hike about a 30 minute drive from Lake Hawea. Now, for everybody going to Wanaka it's "THE HIKE" to do in the area. Not because it is an especially beautiful and fun walk (quite the opposite actually). The walk itself just slowly creeps up across fields all the way along the hillside with now even parts or shady spots. While the views are breathtaking and constantly get better while walking up, three hours of constant uphill across fields is not my definition of a fun hike - at all.

Still, by the time one finally finally reaches the top (or rather the viewpoint since the actual peak is another 300m up the hillside) the views are truly breathtaking. Looking all across the lakes and valleys over to the Glaciers of Mount Aspiring NP in the distance and back down to the small town of Wanaka and across the deep blue lake, I finally saw that beauty everybody kept telling me about. 

So far, I though NZ was nice, pretty even but in my mind I was always comparing it to Canada's great landscapes and simply stunning beauty. Now, standing on the top of Roy's Peak I finally saw a spark of NZ pure and wild side. High mountains and valleys and lakes and glaciers all combined under a bright blue sky while the leafs slowly changed as fall kept crawling closer.

Having lunch up on the mountain top, definitely one of my favourite places in NZ so far.

 

After another 1,5h walk back down the endless hillside I went for a cruise further down the road and around the lake before spending some time wandering through Wanaka and finally 7 months after my tripod broke that first week in Bangkok I bought myself a new one! Who would have thought this day would come!

 

After a quite evening at the hostel, the next morning I drove back up across the mountain passes of Linids Pass and through Twitzel to turn off the Highway and spend my last night of my short trip over in Mt Cook Village right in the centre of the National Park with amazing views of NZ's highest peaks and biggest glaciers. Driving down the mountain road and stopping multiple times for photos I went for a short hike up to the glacier lakes where I met a nice girl from Denmark that - surprise - was just about to move to Christchurch! New friends in town!! YAY!

 

The afternoon I went for a casual 10 km stroll down the Hooker Valley Track offering stunning views of the mountains and the glacier lakes.

 

Walking across the valleys and three swing bridges further and further away from the village, deeper into the National Park and as close as one can get to Mt Cook without actually climbing up (which is possible with Ice climbing experience and a really well educated Guide). Strolling down the easy trail, climbing down to the river and up the rocks around the lakes I spend a perfect couple of hours out and around the  trail while the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountain tops and gave room for the million stars and a massive full moon lighting up the sky.



 

By Tuesday morning the clouds finally crept across the mountain tops and the predicted rain started soon after so after a few hours spend around the iSite of the Village watching a documentary about the National Park, I packed my things, turned the volume up and drove back up to Christchurch after a perfect couple of days away from the city and simply enjoying being on the road again. 

   

And while driving back to Christchurch, I realised that when you are travelling it's not really about the tourists hotspots you click of your list. Not at all actually. It's really about all the crazy shit that went down the road in order to get there. The songs you sang along to and the laughs you had along the way.  

Those moments are the things that define our journeys and those are the scenes that will forever play on loop in your head when you think back at all the good times you had.  

All these journeys will be the things you'll always remember. The places you originally planned on going? Not so much. This road trip will for sure be one of them. 

 

20März
2017

7 months of traveling

20März
2017

Hanmer Springs

Of course I wouldn't be much of a traveller moving straight from one house and job to another. Which is why I decided to spend two nights in beautiful hammer springs on my way to the big city. Hanmer is not a big town by any means, but coming from Murchi after a month in which I not once   left the town, I was excited to be moving again. With summer still on I spend two days with about 25°C and clear deep blue skies mostly hiking around all the walking tracks close to town.

Starting on my first afternoon around Hanmer I went for a stroll around the Woodlands Walkway  and than continued on up Conical Hill for some pretty great views across town and to the Alpine Mountain passes looming in the distance. The next day I literally walked all day. 

I left my hostel (dorm room all to myself wohoo!!) after breakfast and started the long way up Jollies Pass Road to the trail head to than pass over Jollies Pass and Isobel Mountain all across the settle to finish at Jacks Pass and make my way back to town from there. Looked easy enough on the map. And Mount Isobel is only about 1500m high so surely nothing compared to some of the hikes I did up north in the past months, and while all this is true it was still a really long walk. Quite steep stretches leading up to the summits and even steeper parts moving back down on the other side. And while it was a lovely blue skied day, the wind at the top was so strong I had to hold onto my beanie had to not have it blown away. 

Still the views all along the way were spectacular and just what I needed on my little vacation before moving to the city. With the town tiny and far in the distance, I just concentrated on walking and enjoyed the beautiful scenery (no so much the winds of course), still though after a total of 7,5 hours spend looping across the mountain tops I was glad to be back in town and spend my final half day just relaxing and strolling around maybe have a look at some of the small shops, or go for one last hike to see the waterfalls not too far from town. 

After all though, Hanmer is only a 90minute drive from Christchurch and I'm fairly confident I might end up back here on a day off from work occasionally.

But for now, let's see what Christchurch is all about.

17März
2017

I lived in a blue house in Murchison

Some people might be content living a small town life, happy that the local coffee shop knows your favourite after only two visits. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those. Most definitely not. 

 

Surrounded by hillsides and rivers, no doubt Murchison is a beautiful place. Peaceful and quiet. Great to save money and spend a few months taking a break from the fast paced backpacker life. 

I told myself all these things many times over, really ever since accepting the cafe job in town. 

Looking back at it now, I realise I tried to convince myself of something deep down I already knew wasn't for me. I left my home in a small town in Germany only to move to an even smaller town at the other end of the world, now did I really expect this to be different?

I met great people while living in this small town and if it wasn't for my uni work, itching feet and wandering heart, slowly dying to hold a camera again, I may have tried settling in for a while longer. But through out all my travels I always promised myself that my uni degree would come as first priority and simply put: It's not working from Murchison. Truth is though, even with no course work to consider I'm not sure how long I would have lasted. 

I like nature and climbing mountains, but I love busy streets and cities with things to do. I still miss Toronto and love remembering my time living in this amazing town, taking the tub through a winter wonderland and meeting friends for nights out around town. So how could I think I'd be okay moving to a town with about 400 people? A town with exactly one major intersection, zero traffic lights, one small supermarket and a single yoga lesson once a week? No need to lock the door to your house and giving directions without street names or an actual address, all these things are great of course, but it should have been a clue how small a town can really be. 

Throughout the four weeks spent in Murchison, I had fun times around town and loved going for walks around the countryside. I made good friends and spent a brilliant time with my flatmates and colleagues, but in the end this simply wasn't enough to keep me tied down. Maybe this time it will be different, at least I feel like it will be, but then again sometimes even I wonder, if I am just trying to recreate a place I've already come to love.

After one month in Murchison, I'm moving on. Christchurch get ready!

 

20Februar
2017

6 months on the road

Months of travelling have past and just like hiking the mountains there are ups and downs along the way. Six months and the same number of countries have taken me quite literally to the other end of the world. With almost 20,000 km from home one would believe the world grows smaller the more you travelled, I believe quite the opposite to be true. With every mile I go, new opportunities and challenges are awaiting and every day I get a clearer and more detailed picture of the world we live in. 

Even though I love travelling and my bucket list is definitely growing faster than I can check the boxes, every once in a while there are those moments when you miss a former life. Times when I remember the veggie gardens of Anutara Ashram in B.C., days when I miss walking home from work across the snowy streets of Toronto, quickly moving around the sidewalks to meet up with friends outside a bar or cinema, or just brief moments when you see a newly wed couple in central Hanoi getting their wedding photos taken, and it reminds you of the numerous times you've taken those photos. 

The amazing thing about travelling though is, whenever you feel the melancholy creeping in there's new experiences and adventures waiting for you to take your mind elsewhere. Hiking the mountains and reaching the top, enjoying the view and getting a new perspective, from above the world looks very different and when before I was feeling a little sad or alone in this new unknown place, now I can see clearly, reset my mind and focus on this new memory I might one day look back to longingly. The thing with memories is after all, often we will remember the small at first almost insignificant moments in between the big adventures, times when you would go for yoghurt coffee around the corner in Hai Phong or singing Christmas carols while scootering the streets of Bali.

Throughout the past months I have often looked back and wondered what all the characters I have met travelling throughout the past years are up to - where have they moved to and what moments are they looking back upon? Truth is, the world might be a big place, a picture constantly expanding, the backpacking network not so much and there's always the chance to meet a familiar face half a world away again.

For now my travels have me settled in a tiny little town called Murchison in the north of New Zealand's South Island. I've once been told everybody should try the small town life once and I guess this is my turn trying. Maybe this town will turn into one of those cherished memories one day. If not, I can only hope there are enough mountains to keep my mind busy for a while.

 

19Februar
2017

Hello Abel Tasman, Goodbye GoPro!

So after a few nights in Picton I took down my tent and via Nelson got to Motueka in the afternoon, ready to explore the Abel Tasman from there the next morning.

Here I once again slept in my tent in the backyard of a small family run hostel in the centre of town. Motueka is a cute town of about 10,000 people and next to some orchards the main work can be found during the summer months when a lot of tourists stay around town as it is only about 20 minutes from the Abel Tasman NP. After going for a wander and buying a few supplies for work and my move to the small town, I was picked up to explore the park the next morning and took one of the many bus boats to Medlands Beach further North in the National Park before then walking back along the trail leading around the coast and trough the woods up and down the hills with some great views across the cliffs and great bays to rest and track down to the beach. 

I hiked a total of 20 km that day with the whole Coastal Track being more of a three day hike adventure. I met many people actually caring their big packs and trekking the whole way, I unfortunately didn't have the time this time around, but still really enjoyed the one day I spend on the trail. 

It was a beautiful day with blue skies and the sun was up and shining.

After a lazy day in Motueka preparing everything for my move and my job down in Murchison, I spent my 'last day of freedom' in a kayak going around the able tasman for another day. Unlike the first day, this time the weather wasn't quite as great but it was still a lot of fun Kayaking and turns out my kayak guide from Canada actually used to work for someone I also know from my time back in Nova Scotia a couple of years ago. It's a small world being a backpacker, isn't it?

Anyways, me and four others spend the morning paddling around split apple rock and took some time exploring the beaches around, unfortunately my GoPro only made it about half of the way before falling of my west and drowning in the clear blue waters. Even paddling around for a while and thinking about jumping right after it I couldn't find it anymore, so there's only one image of the kayak tour taken with my phone (which isn't that great either since it's a cheap NZ phone after my Samsung broke down back in January).

On the upside though, one of my kayak companions actually planned to drive straight from the park down towards the west coast and I ended up scoring a free ride all the way to Murchi after our kayak adventures.

14Februar
2017

First stop on the South Island

I made it! After night with little sleep spent on the ferry I arrived in Picton bright and early in the morning and was greeted by a cloudy sky and heavy rain. Luckily my hostel and therefore tent side was only about 100m walk from the ferry terminal and due to the rain I din't mind just hanging out in their very comfy lounge for the greater part of the morning. By the time I was allowed to pitch my tent all the showers had past and the sun actually made an appearance for the rest of the day. 

Picton itself is a small town with a couple of hiking and biking trails around.

A handful of tour companies also offer excursions all around the Marlborough Sounds and across to the starting points of the Queen Victoria Trail, one can go on dolphin tours, biking, wine tasting or just explore the small town and the harbour and museum.

Since this was my last week before starting my job a little further south from here, I actually went on a dolphin viewing and swimming tour and we were all dressed up and wearing our wet suits for about 4 hours on the boat while we toured the sounds. The weather was great, it was nice and sunny with just a view clouds and a little bit of wind. Unfortunately we couldn't find a single dolphin or really anything in the waters all morning and were all a little disappointed when we returned to the shore. Still it was nice to see the landscape and the sounds from the water and spend some time on the boat and hopefully I will end up seeing some dolphins somewhere else.

The afternoon I hiked around the coast and along a few of the trails all the way to the land tip out of town, before returning to the hostel and making some plans for my last stop on the south island before starting to work… Abel Tasman National Park.

   

10Februar
2017

Another Mountain Adventure - New Plymouth

After saying Goodbye to Jenn in Napier, I made my way once across the North Island and put my tent up in New Plymouth, a town on the west coast with that famous picture perfect mountain looming in the distance at the centre of Mt Egmont National Park, no surprisee the volcano is called Mount Egmont or Mount Taranaki and with over 2500m it's the second highest mountain in the North Island and last erupted 1854 so quite a few years back.

 

 

I spent three days in and around town, hiring a bicycle and cycling up and down the coastal path for about 30 km the first day, before heading out to climb the famous mountain the next morning. Luckily, I met some nice people with a car at my hostel and got a free ride to the National Park. So at 6:30 the next morning we left town and set off to conquer the mountain. With the trail only being a little over 6 km long one-way, but an elevation gain of 1.6 km over this the trek starts fairly easy before turning really steep from the half way mark on.

 

Moving across millions of stairs onto slippery soft sand and than scrambling up rocks before crossing the snow covered crater had me and everyone else stopping for short breaks on a regular basis. Than the final stretch goes up the side of the snowy field across lava rocks of every colour before final hitng the top! The total climb took about 4 hours including stops and a lot of chatting to other hikers I met on the trail. Along the way the the clouds slowly started crawling in and by the time I reached the top, unfortunately the view was gone and the peak was somewhere covered in a cloud. 

 

I still think the climb up was worth it, I managed to take some nice photos along the way up and actually really enjoyed the final stretch rock climbing up to the top. Almost harder than the way up, was the way back down again, that had me fall over and slide down big parts of the sandy slope (definitely the worst part of the entire track!) After another three hours of constant down hill adventuring (with the distance now actually feeling twice as far as on the way up) I met up with the rest of my hostel gang at the bottom again, before slowly heading back to town almost crawling from my tent to the shower and lounge for the rest of the evening. 

 

My final day in New Plymouth, I really slowly made my way to the art gallery (FREE!) definitely feeling my previous days adventure with every step I took. Checking my audience at the gallery, I tried to avoid stairs as much as possible (esp. going down) but otherwise enjoyed my time at the gallery. After taking advantage of the free wifi at the library to make final arrangements for my journey over to the south island, I spent the evening hanging out with fun people at the hostel before getting a ride with some of them up to Whanganui on my way to Wellington the next day. 

 

Still recovering from my mountain hike, I arrived in Wellington in the late afternoon hours and got a ticket for the overnight ferry to Picton leaving that night.

Which is how I slowly had to say 'Goodbye' to the North Island after almost two months of amazing adventures all around. I'm sure to be back at some point this year, but for now it's time to hit the South! 

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