As far as the eye can see: "Kerrygold Land". The most common landscape while driving around the North Island are atomic green fields with happy cows and sheep. The whole scenery seems to be a reminiscent of the Kerrygold Butter...
Our first stop were the Waitomo Caves. They are famous for their huge number of glow-worms. First the tour led us through stalactites and stalagmites into a large cavern from where we took a boat into the pitch black. After a while the whole cave ceiling started to glow – looking like the Milky Way. By producing light Glow-worms attract mosquitos or flies which follow the river into the cave. With their sticky fishing-rods their prey gets caught.
Next stop Hollywood. Most of the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie scenes were not shot in some film-studios but in different places around New Zealand. Hobbiton is one of them. If you like the movies we'd highly recommend going there. You'll feel like being in the movies themselves. The whole scenery is very beautiful with a love for detail some might call sick. The tour guide gave us some insights of director Peter Jacksons work. He must be a crazy perfectionist. For example, he made the workers built a tree with 10th of thousands of leafs. After the tree was built he didn’t like the color, so every single leaf had to be recolored by hand.
The next few days we met Dimi and René (see section "People"), who were also travelling in New Zealand. While chatting and eating a lot, time flew by. Due to the very good and plentiful food we needed some activities after saying goodbye. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is supposed to be the best day walk in New Zealand was the solution to our growing bellies. The whole track is 19,4 km with an altitude between 900 and 1.800 meters above sea level. The views of the volcanos and the beautiful green colored lakes were amazing - worth every single step. After staying near Wellington for the night, we gave the city a short visit before finally saying good-bye to the north island. The Ferry ride to Picton through the Cook Strait offered nice views of the Marlborough Sounds.
View of the Lake Taupo
The grass is greener on the other side (of the world).... The day has come: Picking-up our new home for the next 5 weeks. We got an "upgrade" straight away to the premium brand. Right from the start Eva wasn’t satisfied with the “upgrade” because it wasn't cozy. Everything in the camper seemed to be alright but nothing was well thought-through. The two employees convinced us (mainly Niels) give it a try. The camper was new, a German brand and a diesel, so we gave it a try.
The journey started. Heading north to the black sands of Piha at the west coast of “Norckland” (north of Auckland). The view of the coast as you drive down is great as well as the beaches themselves. On the way we hardly saw any cars and the beach was completely empty. Not fare from the beach we stayed on a shabby D.o.C. (Department of Conservation) "campground" with dumping toilets.
The first night came and we soon should find out why noone else wanted our premium brand camper van: it wasn't possible to sleep in the camper (neither in the top bed nor in the bottom one). The top bed was designed like a hammock, which is nice for 2 hrs but not for more. The bottom one is even more of a disaster: you basically sleep on a metal frame. The next morning our choice was easy: the camper needs to be returned. It took us only 1 hour to drive back and after some discussions and waiting time we were happy to received the camper we booked.
It was love at first sight and everything changed. This time the journey started with a great feeling. The next 6 days we explored Norckland. Starting on the east coast with a cruising tour to the famous Bay of Island, where the dolphins played around our boat on a perfect sunny day. Then we headed further up north to Cape Reinga the place where the Tasmania Sea and the Pacific ocean meet. We walked in the sand dunes at the 90 Mile Beach, wandered around the Waipoua Kauri Forest with its gigantic trees, and were enjoying our camper. Only the windy roads were a bit of a downturn. The 1.000 km from and to Auckland with an average speed of 40 km/h took us about 25 hours, which is insane (in European measures).
Best burger in camper/town
On the way to Cape Reinga
One of our favorit places - Spirits Bay
Niels found a human eating plant 😉
People walk, talk and work slow! during the week most shops close at 5 pm (apart from grocery stores, restaurants and bars) and after 7 pm the city is deserted. Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand with around 1,2 Million people. But it feels more like a small town. Everything is unbelievable relaxed. The busiest Café-restaurant and bar district of Auckland (Ponsonby) which is supposed to be "damn cool" is still too quite for us: On a beautiful and sunny Saturday afternoon in spring only a few people were sitting in the Cafés and bars. Besides a crazy group who are having a “pub golf” it was disappointing empty. After the last month in South America, where most things are exciting as well as exhausting it’s a complete change and it seems we need to get used to it.
Walking through the CBD feels like being in Asia. The high number of Asian people is unexpected. In the streets you mainly hear mandarin. Chinese grocery stores and restaurants are on every corner with products, we have never seen before.
Everything in Auckland is very nice - but nothing is stunning although the environment is beautiful. Auckland has two lovely harbors, a lot of water, great parks and its close to gorgeous beaches which makes it a perfectly situated city. But still we didn’t fall in love with it. Sorry Auckland!
Crazy group having a pub golf in fashionable Ponsonby
and one of the plenty gardens in the city
Best cookies in the world! Our favourite is the caramel taste. Follow the instruction to eat them (although it might be a little messy when you aree not used to it):
1. Nibble one corner off the Tim Tam to reveal the wafer.
2. Flip the Tim Tam and bite the opposite corner off.
3. Dip one end into a warm cup of tea or coffee and suck. The Tim Tam will work like a straw, drawing up the liquid.
4. As soon as you feel the tea or coffee in your mouth you need to be quick and put the whole Tim Tam in your mouth. It will melt.
Ps. Niels will bring 10 packages to Germany - we are more than happy to share 😉