Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Tag: Snow

Part 3: Departure, Wellington and Picton

by on 21 December 2009, under Julekalender, New Zealand, Hiking

OK, from now on it will hopefully get better (fun fact: In the Danish text I write that I promise it will be better, but I’m actually not sure if I can guarantee that, I’m just too lazy to change the Danish text). It will (hopefully) get better since I will have photos to accompany my next many posts. Not only does it make the site much nicer to look at, it also means that I won’t have to tire people with too much nonsense (and I won’t have to write it) since a picture does say more than a 1000 words – everybody wins!

When I in the beginning of July went to New Zealand it was after a very short summer vacation which only lasted about two weeks. Therefore it was a well deserved vacation that took it’s beginning Saturday November 14 after the last exam was over. And it was a summer vacation that was delayed by half a year even though it felt weird at a time where the cold and dark winter was beginning to slowly infest innocent little Denmark (the winter has fully arrived by now, I can assure you). In New Zealand, however, it was of course summer (as far as I’m informed that is still the case) which fitted me perfectly since the vacation was going to be spend on traveling around in beautiful New Zealand.

Monday, after the goodbye parties in the weekend and the packing of all my stuff, I was ready to go road tripping. Of course it was a bit weird to have to say goodbye to so many people I had met during the last five months in New Zealand. Especially because I know there are a lot of them I will never see again. However, I was prepared for that to happen even before I left for New Zealand. It took some time to pack the car; not surprising since we were five people who had to stuff almost all of our possessions from the last five months into a single car. At the same time it was stated that some of us would actually like it if all five people could fit in the car at the same time. The observant reader will at this point notice that the group consisted of six people with two cars (as mentioned in the former post). However, Caroline had already traveled south a couple of days before. We were supposed to meet her in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital from where we were supposed to go with the ferry the following day. To sum up: Five people, a lot of luggage, one car, illustrated through photos:

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This photo is taken during the packing process. Not everything has been put into the car at this point.

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Skott is playing a special kind of Tetris where the rows unfortunately don’t disappear when they are completed.

Additionally, we had to put two surfboards (Skott’s and Søren’s) on top of the car.

In the end, we somehow got everything to fit. After a final visit at Burger Fuel, a New Zealand burger franchise which serves burgers with fairly fresh ingredients, we could start the trip towards Wellington, approximately 650 km or 9 hours of driving. We arrived late in the evening/night in Wellington where we met Caroline who had reserved beds for us at an expensive hostel. Of course we didn’t get to do more that day.

We were supposed to head for the South Island with the ferry Tuesday evening. Before that we had time to go around and enjoy the capital of New Zealand. It was a very pleasant experience; the city seemed far nicer and welcoming than Auckland. It was probably due to the smaller streets, better city planning and nicer architecture. For some reason I started to think of Wellington as New Zealand’s pendant to San Francisco, maybe because of the sun, the hilly streets and the famous cable car which we rode to a botanical garden which unfortunately wasn’t that impressive.

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You meet some interesting people in Wellington. Here: A ninja.

We also got to visit the parliament which is split up into several buildings. One of these buildings is named The Beehive due to it’s distinctive look. By going through some security checkpoints we got to get into the parliament to see the politicians discuss; rather boring but that was probably because I had no idea what they were discussing. Still, it was interesting to get to see where New Zealand is controlled from.

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Søren presents: The Beehive.

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Borghild presents: The central parliament building.

They had already begun to decorate for Christmas, a problem I will probably visit again later on: It seems very wrong to celebrate Christmas when the weather is so good and completely absurd to see decorated Christmas trees in bright sunshine.

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For me, this is a photo of contrasts.

In the evening we got on the ferry heading to Picton. If we had been a bit smarter we would probably not have sailed with the ferry while it was dark since it is supposedly one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. Luckily we also needed to take the ferry back later on so we got to experience it in daylight as well.

I am not used to travel in this way, but we had left from Auckland without any big plans about what we were going to see and where we were heading. Of course we had a general idea of “must see” stuff but nothing specific. After having spend the night in Picton we found out that we wanted to do a small hike, and so we did. We went along the water to a lookout spot where it is possible to see the ferry go through Queen Charlotte Sound. This is the sound that makes the ferry ride so beautiful. The hike was a small one, approximately four hours – an appetiser for what we could expect the next day, but of course we didn’t know that at that point.

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The view of the sound.

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When we came back from the hike we met a man with a homemade boat. We had seen the boat the day before on the ferry where it was strapped on top of a car and had been wondering what it was. He also showed us his homemade surfboard – pretty impressive.

In the evening we went to Nelson where we had some wonderful Indian curry. In the end we headed to Marahau to camp.

This post ends with a photo of the nice tents we had available and me looking like a possum caught in the light from the headlamps of a car. I will probably mention possums again later on.

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Caroline, Kristian og Søren had brought their very professional tents which could probably withstand the biggest snow storm. Especially Søren’s tent colored like something you would buy in a Danish toystore (Fætter BR) received a lot of nice comments.

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Exams

by on 12 November 2009, under New Zealand, UoA, Hiking

It has been a while since I last wrote on my blog. It is not because nothing is going on down here, though. The culprits are my exams which I have needed to focus on for the last couple of weeks.

Last time I wrote was the day (or night) before my birthday which went well. Not only did I receive some gifts, we also had a small party to celebrate my great accomplishment of having survived 23 years of life. The weather was terrible the most of the day but I guess that is because everything is acting the opposite way down here (the water in the toilet spins the wrong way when flushing, people drive in the wrong side of the road, it gets colder when you go south etc.). With that in mind, the bad weather on my birthday must mean that I have been behaving quite well this past year (this is one of the few cases where I can definitely agree with the weather). Now that we are talking about the weather (or rather, now that I am boring people with it) I can mention that it definitely starts to feel like summer now. We still have the occasional days with bad weather which makes me even more sad than normally since it can sometimes completely kill my beloved Internet. It seems so weird to have Internet which depends on the weather but that is at least my theory on how the speed can go from “modem like” (on the good days!) to “non-existing”.

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I got flowers from the two Americans Josh and TJ

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The rest of my gifts

Most days the weather has been pretty nice, though, and we have utilized that to have a few barbecues. The most recent of these was last weekend where David Ryan, the professor who has previously had us for dinner, had invited us for a late lunch barbecue at Waiheke Island, one of the small islands close to Auckland. Here Ryan owns a small summer cottage (or “badge” as I learned it is called in New Zealand) which is soon to be demolished in order for a proper house to be build on the ground. The idea is that he and his wife will move there when the new house has been constructed. That is quite understandable; the island was a lovely place with easy access to the beach and great views. Not a bad place to settle! Unfortunately I had forgotten my camera so you will have to take my word for it.

My biggest “adventure” took place a couple of weeks ago. Skott and a couple of my other friends down here have taken up surfing and had planned to go on a surf trip for a couple of days to celebrate the end of lectures. I have never managed to become excited about the prospect of surfing so I could instead look forward to some days all alone and sad (since no one wanted to go with me to Fiji or Tonga). At least that’s how it seemed until the night before Saturday (same day as my lectures ended) where I was offered to go on a trip to Tongariro the following day. The plan was to go down there Saturday and spend Sunday on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is known to be one of the very best one day hikes New Zealand has to offer. I can easily see how it has achieved this reputation: It was an amazing trip which went up active volcanoes, snow covered mountain tops, hot springs, beautiful lakes and ending in “rain forest” style surroundings. The highest point was Mt Tongariro at 1900 m above sea level and needless to say the view was fantastic from there. It was a long hike (approximately 9 hours, 23 km) but luckily I did not twist my ankle until after the steepest ascents. However, I did have to walk the last three hours with a somewhat sore ankle after having twisted it on my way down but that’s (my) life. I can also mention that Mt Tongariro along with e.g. Mt Ngauruhoe (an optional side trip of about three hours you can do if you think you have the time – we didn’t) were used as settings for Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.

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As I mentioned in the beginning I do spend most of my time studying for my exams at the moment. Today I have had my second one out of a total of three. I have done OK in both of them although I don’t think I have answered everything 100% correctly in any of them. My last exam is this Saturday which I am of course looking forward to. Afterwards I am going to the South Island for some weeks until I leave the country the 13th of December. I’ll spend a couple of days in New York and then return to the cold and dark Denmark.

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