Around the world

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

 
05Sept
2017

Spring at the Mount <3

The first of my three weeks up at the Mount is already over and it has been a great one. Next to work I also managed to pretty much finish my Uni work and am now enjoying five weeks of holidays before starting my final Modules to finish my BA. 

I still cant believe i just missed out mount maunganui the last time I was up and around the north island. For many backpackers 'the mount' ends up to be there favourite place and the most permanent place to live. Many of my friends have spend months around Tauranga and the Mount working in Kiwi Pack house, volunteering in hostels or just surfing the beaches and enjoying the sun and holiday chill atmosphere of the town. While we are working in the mall down in Papamoa we are living in a relatives holiday house about half way between Papamoa and Mount Maunganui (which are about 12 km apart). Probably the most exciting thing for me - we are only about two Blocks away from the beach AND I got to use a super neat and shiny and awesome road bike while we are in town. Thanks again to Danielles mum :)

On my first day off from work I left our house in the morning and cycled up the Beach roads all the way to the beach beneath the mount. Living at 'the Mount' it is impossible to not climb up to the top at least once. The views from the 300m high hill across the town, beach, pacific and harbour on the other side are truly amazing. The 30 minute hike up to the top is well worth the views and strolling around the summit one can easily find a rock to enjoy the views a bit away from the crowds. 

After exploring the summit, I slowly made my way back down to the beach and after getting some well deserved coffee I went on another little tour along the small peninsula which offers spectacular views back across the beach and towards the mount. While in summer the beaches are usually crowded and full of tourists, backpackers and kiwi holiday home owners these first few days of spring it has been rather quite and peaceful. 

I'm looking forward to the next two weeks I get to spend in town and have quite a few day trips still lined up before we will return back to Christchurch for 5 weeks before finally going on one of multiple longer road trips around the South island planned. 

Spring in New Zealand and many more adventures are just about to start!! 

26August
2017

Waiheke Coffee Tour

I know it has been far too long since I last updated this blog. I was very busy working down here and simply didn't get around to doing much else let alone writing about it. 

For the last month I have been working and living in Auckland in the North of the North Island. After leaving this city so many months ago with Jenn on our big roadtrip around the Island, it was the first time back in this city and also likely the last longer stop here. Next to working 60 hour weeks back to back and staying on top of Uni work to hand in in September I didn't do all that much while I was staying in NZ's big city. 

 

On my last weekend in town however, I finally came around to going on a little day trip over to Waiheke Island. Friend of mine from home happens to also live in Auckland at the moment and had the day off, so she came along for the day. In true backpacker style we got up at 5.30 am to get the early bird discount ferry over to the island and simply spend the day walking up and down the hillsides in between rain showers and sun shine, stopping at a few of the many many beaches and small bays all around the Island. Traditionally Kiwis visiting Waiheke do so for one main reason - Wine tours.

 

The Island is home to many of the local wineries and with a ferry ride from just under one hour it's an optimal escape from the huzzle of Auckland CBD and of course TRAFFIC. If I learnt one think about Aucklander's in the past month, it is completely normal to plan your entire life around the rush hour and driving anywhere around 5 pm is believed to be almost impossible. Just to clarify - the traffic isn't that bad, after all Auckland only has about 1,5 million ppl living in the city. For Kiwis however, this is more than the entire population of the South Island. 

Anyways, Natalia and I had a great time simply walking around the Island and pretty much went on our personal coffee tour stopping regularly to fill up - pretty much when ever a coffee shop just so happened to be on our way, or on the ferry, or close to the supermarket. 

   

The weather was pretty much an Auckland classic - ranging from clear blue skies to heavy rain and harsh winds. Over the cause of the day, I lost count of the times I took of all my layers only to bundle up again some 15 minutes later. 

Some 20 km and 9 hours later we made it back to the ferry terminal ready to leave this pretty and peaceful (at least during winter months I guess) island behind and had back to the big city. 

And with this my five weeks in Auckland came to an end and Adam, Danielle and I spend our Sunday saying Goodbye and packing all our belongings into the Van to make the 2,5 hour drive down to Tauranga - one of the few places of the North Island I haven't been to before. 

Adventure time!!

23August
2017

My home in NZ

It is official now. I have been gone for over a year.  Crazy to think that a year has past since I stepped out of the plane in BKK and took a bus boat to my hotel not having a clue how to get there. In the end I made it, and looking back at it, it was a brilliant time moving around Norther Thailand and making friends from all over the world.

Lately I haven't been much of a real backpacker down here in NZ. Working and studying hasn't left me that much time to be a wandering explorer. I'm missing the carefree times I spend on the road, while at the same time I love being part of a 'normal' life. Having friends and celebrating hen-dos on my weekends off. Instead of hunting the next big adventure, I love exploring the Kiwi culture everyday I get to spend in this country. Starting of as my substitute for Canada, NZ has recently become so much more for me and in a way it feels more like home than Canada ever did. Staying in one place for six months (compare this to my five weeks max. sty while in Canada) really made me feel like a part of a group and although this is not the big road trip story most people back home would probably expect to hear, in the end this might be what makes me want to return to NZ. For now, I got 4 more months to enjoy down here and I have at least some awesome things planned for my time down here. Next week, we will leave Auckland but instead of returning straight to Christchurch, we will actually be working in Tauranga for 3 weeks. Tauranga is one of the few places on the North Island I haven't been to just yet and therefore I'm super excited - also there's a beach!!

In late September it will finally be time to return to Christchurch and I'm honestly looking forward to returning to my NZ home for some weeks before going on a camper road trip in late October. In early November I will return to the North Island one last time to party with Danielle and Adam at the wedding - and if the hen-do was any indication, it is going to be great! 

After the weeding I have some great hikes planned, starting with the Routeburn Track in mid November and the Kepler Track following in December. 

There is still plenty of things waiting to be explored in NZ before saying Goodbye on Christmas and leaving this amazing country from my Kiwi Hometown to start a new adventure - coming home at least for a while. 

 

20August
2017

1 year ago I left home...

12August
2017

Hen-do in Auckland

Sometime a photo is truly all you need and Danielles Hen-Do clearly was one of those occasions. 

Perfectly timed on our  weekend off we spend a night downtown partying followed by a lovely breakfast right at the waterfront. After weeks of working +60 hours this short trip downtown felt like a holiday and I'm super excited for the weeding to follow in early November. 

        

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.

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