There is a special time ahead. We’re waiting for Manu, a friend coming from Germany. We’ll travel together the next 5 weeks. New Zealand’s south island is going to be our main destination, so snowy mountains, glaziers, stunning beaches and impressive wildlife ahead.
After picking up Manu at the Auckland airport we don’t want to spend more time in New Zealand’s biggest city and after spending the night at a free campground 60km south of Auckland we’re on the road together. Manu is craving for nature and the sea so we stop for picnic at one of the stunning beaches NZ has to offer. Only three hours later potato soup is ready and we’re quite hungry. We had some trouble keeping the fire running and bringing the water to boil at that windy place….
We follow highway one in southern direction and pass Mount Taranaki, a perfect shaped volcano comparable to Japan’s Mount Fuji. It’s chilly but dry and we go on a short hike closer to the summit that’s still covered with snow. A beautiful scenery.
We take a few days to explore the western coastline passing beaches and small towns before we arrive in Wellington. New Zealand’s capital is meant to be one of the windiest towns all over the world. And yes, it’s windy. Maybe not exceptional intensive but enough to make me feel cold again. We check out some places and go on a guided tour through the Bee Hive Parliament. Pretty interesting.
After a 3 hours ferry ride we arrive on NZ south island and take the road to Abel Tasman National Parc and the Tui community. We heard about that place from people we met in Auckland. Tui is an intentional community on a 52 hectare farm land close to the National park with approximately 34 residents. We just drop in without appointment what seems to be no problem. People and friendly and welcoming an invite us for a cheese making workshop the next day. We decide to stay and in the evening there is a women’s gathering at the communities “spa” with music and drinks. The girls want me to join and it’s really kind of a girls event with lost of talking, laughing, singing and dancing. I really enjoy it. Manu and Sven decide to spend the night at the beach while I am staying in the car. It’s around midnight when the car suddenly starts shaking. Some days before we experience a small earthquake (5.4 magnitude) on the northern island. It felt like the car was hit by something and we were not sure about what it was. This time I know and I can feel that it’s not just that little daily event people in NZ are used to. But for some reason I am not scared so much. The heavy shaking is followed by smaller ones until the early morning and after meeting the Tui people in the community house we find out what happened. A heavy earthquake (7.8 magnitude) hit the area. Everybody is advised to leave the coastal areas and beaches immediately but all of us just went on sleeping. Especially for Manu and Sven this situation could have get serious in case of a Tsunami. Luckily nothing like that happened.
After joining the cheese making workshop and vising the Tui community factory, where they produce natural cremes and balms we follow the western coastline further south. Pretty beaches and stunning mountain views close together. We are passing Fox and Franz Josef Glazier and head on into New Zealand’s Fjord Land to go on a hike at the area of Lake Monowai. At the starting point of this hike signs are warning because of bad trek conditions but we don’t take it that serious. Our experience leads to the assumption that it’s not gonna be that bad and the first part of the trek seems okay. But it’s changing, more and more fallen trees are blocking the way and it’s getting more and more muddy. Some parts are even flooded and we have to cross a river. After arriving at the hut where we wanna spend the night we feel quite exhausted and we know, if there is going to be heavy rain we are likely to get into trouble on the way back. So we decide to start early the next morning. The evening and night was nice with having a warm fire in the hut. But now we need to hurry, it really started to rain. We are lucky to make the first part of the trek quite quickly and the river hasn’t been rising to much yet. But it’s hours and hours of walking in the rain and we are getting more and more wet….happy to be back at the car after around 6 hours of walking. Maybe enough trekking experience for the next days.
The weather stays unpredictable. Rainy days limit our possibilities and make us feel stucked in the car from time to time. We try to make the best out of it and are grateful for every moment of sunshine. We take the road along the southern coastline passing beaches with seals, dolphins and penguins. Short stopovers in Queenstown and in Christchurch, where many places are still under construction after the devastating earthquake in 2011.
Before we have to take the ferry back to the north island we take a scenic route through the mountain area around Arthurs Pass.
To show Manu the amazing Tongariro Nationalpark we take a different road back north passing Lake Taupo and the volcanic area of Roturua. It’s the second time for Sven and me but we are still impressed.
The next days are getting quite busy. Manu’s flight back to Germany is on the 8th of December and we are leaving NZ soon too. But first it’s time to sell “Lexy”, the car we spend the last three months in. Some fixing and organization is needed. But after getting all these things done the new owner, Steve, a nice guy from US, is happy with it. Have fun on the road!
It’s hard to say goodbye to Manu. We had a great time. Spending so much time together on such limited space with almost no privacy did not turn into a big problem. In just a few days we became a perfect team. We will miss you! Thanks for being such a wonderful friend!
The car is sold. Manu is on his way back to Germany. We stay one last week in Auckland volunteering at Kawai PuraPura again.
Next stop “Down Under”!