New Zealand we are exploring with our Belgian hometown tramping, sport and adventurous friends Tom and Tinne. Of course we hope you all keep following our blog, but if you want to know what’s really happening down under, you might be interested in Tom and Tinnes blog (Dutch written), which you can find here: http://tomtinne.shareyourstory.nl/
Why you shouldn’t travel New Zealand
It has to be said, arriving in New Zealand flying in from Nepal, we were quite disappointed the first few days. Especially because everyone said it’s the place to be for us, adventurous hiking people. There is nothing on the North Island we haven’t seen yet somewhere else. Sometimes we even compared it with our own Belgian Ardennes, of course slightly different and still beautiful, but we don’t fly around the world for that. Some people we met, called New Zealand “the best marketed country in the world”, and we definitely understand why by now. Probably a bad thing we just came from Nepal, which Himalayan range, in our opinion, is still the number one destination if you are looking for hiking regions which are wild, untamed and off the beaten track. In New Zealand, you must really search for those wild places in nature, because of course all marketing goes to the stuff you must pay for (also shame on you Lonely Planet and Rough Guide). Most walking tracks are way overdeveloped, especially “the great walks”. At this moment we can only compare with the North Island. People say things only get better driving further south.
Then there is the “you must pay for everything, and not just a small amount” thing, even if you want to watch a very small peace of nature like some small caves or one of those thermal areas. If one might think that’s normal, you can see the exact same things in for example Iceland, the US, Bolivia, … for free. There is even a place where they fake a geyser every morning at the exact same time, by use of washing powder. In the hotels, campings and holiday parks you read stuff in the brochures like: “… free (and inexpensive) things to do …”, which most of the time mentions something like: “you can walk around the lake” or “you can visit the beaches”. Spontaneously we start dancing the polonaise. “Yiiihaaa, we can walk around the lake for free, let us drink to that (the New Zealand wine is actually very good)”. Sometimes the marketed free wifi in hotels and parks isn’t entirely free, but costs for example 5 dollars. “Sir, 5 dollars is almost for free”.
Why you might consider travelling New Zealand
Of course this blog is started way to pessimistic. We are actually having a great time over here, arriving from underdeveloped Nepal. The food is great, the 5 kilos I lost in the Himalayas, I found again in New Zealand (Sabrina had nothing to leave behind in Nepal). The weather is really great the last 7 days, with nice temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius. “Summer has arrived”, they say. It’s nice to visit tropical beaches down here, after almost 40 days of hiking those rugged Himalayas. Signs of Christmas are everywhere, and for us that’s really strange with these temperatures. Strange but we’re not complaining. And last but not least, it’s really fun we met our friends, Tom and Tinne, again from Belgium to travel with. The 4 of us are having a great time together. I would dare to say these months of travelling I have thé time of my life. This will probably beat the summer of 69, but due to my age, I can’t really compare both.
The highlights of our New Zealand North Island visit are definitely our 2 day Whirinaki tramp and the Tongariro alpine crossing. On the second day of our Whirinaki tramp, we found one of those less developed walking parts, where we invented a new definition of the term “river crossing”. Normally it means you have to cross a river once in a while, but here I guess we walked about one third of the total 20 km distance through the water. Luckily the weather was great, so we really had an amazing time, and didn’t meet a single person during this river trek. The Tongariro crossing, although being way overdeveloped, we made a bit more challenging by adding the Mount Ngauruhoe summit, aka Mount Doom for the Lord Of The Rings fans, on top of the standard 19,4 km one day hike.
Why you must travel New Zealand
Arrived in Auckland
We had to destroy some evil jewelry. Jep, it’s not all vacation down here. We’ve got some work to do.
Playing around on top of Mount Doom. Quick, where’s my snowboard? Damn, I knew I forgot something.
Crossing the Tongariro alpine range