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New Zealand

If you've been wondering what I've been up to, here it goes. I started my trip to New Zeland out in Auckland, the largest city in the country. After spending a night at the ACB (Auckland Central Backpackers) I decided to head out to an island called Wiaheke. Wiaheke island was fabulous and was terribly relaxing. As you can see the views from there were spectacular. I rented a kayak as soon as I got there and proceeded to get crispy burnt all over my legs (great start for the trip eh?) I met up with another backpacker I met at ACB, Alyssa, and we both stayed at the Hekarua Lodge on the island. I don't have any pictures of the hostel, but this place was great. Talk about layed back. The owner (Marcus I think his name was) had a deck party planned for that evening, but the deck wasn't quite finished. Several of the people who I met had been planning only a weekend at the hostel and ended up staying many months.

Auckland, NZ

View towards Auckland from Wiaheke island

I met up with Brett's friends Judah and Kelilah, whom I don't have pictures of either (I really got to work on that), and was formally introduced to the game of rugby (Go All Blacks!). Judah and Kelilah were great and even let me stay with them a couple of nights (thanks guys). Besides rugby we went for Steam Pot, where you cook your own food on this hot skillet looking thing with boiling broth of your choice, what a great way to eat.

Just kicking back on Wiaheke

Downtown Auckland and the Sky Tower


A large number of the paddocks in this part of New Zeland (Central North island) are lined with shrubbery

Ostriches near Wiatomo

After Auckland I met up with Heather and Murray Templeton in Te Kuiti. They were wonderful and let me stay at their place for several nights, drive their car to Tongariro (on the left hand-side of the road) and even let me help out on the farm. They have a lot of different animals on their farm including; deer, cattle, sheep, and goats.

Helping Murray and Heather out on the farm

I mentioned how they let me use their car, well, I drove down to Tongariro National Park and hiked for about 6 hours over the most inhospitable, but beautiful territory I think I've ever been through. The walk takes you from the barren rock strewn (Mt. Doom) fields around the base of Mt. Ruapehu and up into the smoldering craters and lakes of Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe, then you drop down into an alpine area with long grasses and no trees, across hot springs and finally into a thick jungle like bush towards the bottom of the mountain. Lonely Planet calls it, "The best one day hike in New Zealand" and I think I would have to agree.

The trail towards The Crossing

Barren crag filled land on The Crossing

Going up The Crossing

Frozen lake and snow field on top of The Crossing

Red crater on top of The Crossing, the steam you see is from the volcanic activity.

Top of Tangariro crossing.

Coming down the moutain hot springs just behind me.

Lake Taupo in the distance behind the first lake you see in the picture.

I love the poplars in this country.

Marokopa Falls near the natural bridge

After the hike I spent another day with the Templeton's, ate fish and chips (fush and chups) with the whole family before going to Wiatomo to meet up with the 'Stray' bus (a local bus tour group that runs all over the North and South islands of New Zealand).

Murray, Kirsty and Pepper (from left to right) on the four-wheeler on the way down to Waipa River.

The extended Templeton Albrechtson family.

Yes that is a kiwi bird I am sitting on. The Kiwi House in Otorohanga breeds the Kiwi in captivity for later release into the wild.

The natural bridge near Wiatomo

Sheep paradise!!! Near the Natural Bridge.

That morning I abseiled (rappelled) down into a ravine and did "blackwater rafting" (tubing through underground rivers) for about 4 hours. Inside the caves there are glowworms on the ceiling that light up to catch insects that think they are seeing a way out of the cave.

Wiatomo caving outfit, don't I look sexy?

Abseiling down 27m to the bottom of the cave.

I caught Stray and we headed straight for Hahei on the Coramandel Peninsula on the north eastern part of the island. The next morning it was kayaking around cathedral cove and a trip to the hot beach (not so hot if you ask me). Then it was down to Maketu for the "cultural" leg of the trip where we experienced some local Maori traditions (Native people of the New Zeland islands). Part of this cultural portion involved learning the Haka that the All Blacks do before ever game. Click here to see me attempting the haka (1.3 Mb).

Talk before the Maori challenge dance begins (known as the Haka) in Muketo


Living Maori Thermal Village, terribly stinky place.

Cathedral cove near Hahei and the hot water beach.

Hot water beach, what a touristy spot this was. There is a hot spring that shoots up right under the beach here.

Sunset in Maketu

Stray crowd

After Maketu we headed to Lake Taupo where I watched Cornelia a Catia (probably spelled wrong) skydive from 12000 feet. It looked like a lot of fun, but I think I'm going to give it a go in Australia or maybe elsewhere, but I will definitely try it before this trip is over. The next morning Marianne and I were the only ones left from the original Stray group still traveling together and we had about 2 hours before catching our bus back to Auckland. We noticed a floatplane on the water and decided to check it out, before we knew it we were flying high above Lake Taupo and the Waikato falls.

Cornelia and Catia (I think that's how you spell it) about to go skydiving in Taupo

Marianne getting off the floatplane on lake Taupo

Sunset in Maketu

Sunset over lake Taupo with the volcano Ruapehu in the background.

I've totally skipped over heaps of stuff and I've got about 200 pictures in all. Unfortunately I was unable to stitch my panoramics together, I might do that here in Australia (if I can find a place). I'm sending all the originals back home along with a number of movies. I know some of you would like to see the movies and I can send you a copy if you give me an email and address. I absolutely loved NZ, it was a really breath-taking and magical place place to be, on The Crossing I half expected to see a hobbit. I've heard equally amazing things about Australia and I'm excited to see what there is to see here. I've just arrived in Sydney and checked into the "Wake Up" hostel and have no clue what I'm going to be doing for the next week, but that's really the fun of it, isn't it? I hope if any of you will be in my vicinity we might be able to meet up. Until next time. Cheers Mate!

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