22nd April 2009

New Zealand

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  • finnish
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Green hills, loads of golden beaches, water falls, snowy mountains, glaciers, mud pools, hot springs, fjords, old forests, penguins, whales, heaps of sheeps. New Zealand has all of this and more. New Zealand was the place that Netta had waited for the most of all the destinations on our trip, mostly because of the amazing, variable nature.

Looking at the map New Zealand doesn’t look that big. Inhabitants are only four million, so plenty of empty space. We had evaluated that a month should be quite enough to drive around the country and to see the main attractions. Well we managed to see pretty much all the main attractions, but felt all the time like we had to hurry to move on. Many roads are curvy and mountainous which equals slow. Six weeks would have been better allowing us stopping more when we want, taking more walks and completing the parts we didn’t have time for. But one could easily spend two months in here. Although Chris thought four weeks was enough as the country was too English for him ;)
English influence can strongly be been seen here, for example in houses. They do have however plenty of different kinds of houses, mostly quite nice and big. We arrived here in the time of recession, which likely affects to the fact that many houses were on sale.
The food in the restaurants at the moment is about one third or half cheaper than in Finland, in shops less. Typical fast food, fish and chips you can get for few euros.

On the second day of our stay in New Zealand we did as many other back packers do, bought a car. Cars are cheap, and if you are lucky and manage to sell your car for a good price in the end, you can travel around without paying much at all.
Our car was Toyota Estima, and we had a bed behind for sleeping, and nice sun roof for watching the stars before falling asleep.
Well, we were not lucky, and our car broke down after a bit over two weeks in the middle of nowhere. It was not worth it to repair the car as the engine would have had to be replaced, so we had to leave it in a garage of the nearest village.
As there is so many travelers in New Zealand, it was luckily no problem to get a ride further. We asked around in hostels where we stayed if anyone was going our direction and if they had space in their car. This worked really well and fast, and we traveled with three different people/group for a week. Especially people traveling alone were happy to get company and share the petrol cost. This way we also met nice people and got plenty of travel tips about destinations we are heading next. So in the end loosing the car didn’t matter and bother us anymore that much, as we would have paid nearly as much for renting a car for the month.
Last week we took a bus from Dunedin to Christchurch and flew from Christchurch (in the south island) to Auckland in the north in order to catch our plane to Australia on time.

The weather in New Zealand was in places warmer than we expected, very sunny, 20-30 degrees even now in the autumn. So they have autumn here when we have spring, and they moved the clocks an hour backwards.
But in the glacier and Fiordland area and around Invercargill in the south it got chilly especially at nights. In the beginning we did some snorkeling in the north island, but the water is pretty cold through the country both in the sea and the lakes. The isolation and heating is not good in all the hostels and extra blankets can be useful.

Really nice thing in New Zealand compared to the previous places so far is that there is free public toilets everywhere and there is no street dogs.

North island

The Northland north from Auckland should not be missed on a trip to New Zealand. There is beautiful sandy beaches and dunes, green hills which remind of Ireland, nice kauri forests including enormous tree called Tanemahuta, interesting gumdigging history, and breathtaking views around the most northern tip, Cape Reinga. Trying sand boarding in the sand dunes was fun.
Photos

South from Auckland we only had time to explore the Bay of Plenty, east from Auckland, and the middle part. In the middle is located Rotorua volcanic plateau with mud pools, hot springs and geysers. In Rotorua we also visited a native’s, Mauri’s village called Whakarewarewa. They live interesting life cooking their food in hot springs and bathing in the water heated by the ground.
Photos

In the South part of the North island, a lot of towns and cities surround Wellington, the capital. Some of them were used to stage the movie “Lord of the Rings”, but to be honest, it’s hard to recognize without decor and effects. From there, the “Interislander” ferry takes passengers to Picton, on the South Island.
Photos

South Island

In the south island our first destination was Abel Tasman national park. In the south part of the park we took a day kayaking/walking trip. The guide was very good, and the day really pleasant. We were a bit disappointed for the north part of the park to where you need to drive for three hours. But on the way there we made a great find, Ngarua caves. Really nice, beautiful cave.

Next we headed down the west coast. Definitely picturesque drive, where you want to stop many times to take pictures of the rocky cliffs and the coast line. Pancake rocks in Punakaiki are worth checking out.
Photos

When we got to Franz Joseph glacier, it was rainy. They hadn’t been able to run any trips there on the day we arrived, so the next morning there was loads of people queuing for it. We got to know only around 8 am if it was possible to take the trip that day as it was still raining. On a rainy weather it is too dangerous to go on/close to the glacier, and sometimes they close the roads leading to them too. Luckily for us the trip was on, as we didn’t have too many days to spare for waiting.
We got to borrow some clothes and shoes, which were already wet to start with, so we had our feet wet all day. The walk was pretty demanding, but not as hard as we had expected. Unique experience.

After the glacier we headed to the Fiordland area and Milford Sound fjord. The fjord and the sceneries were quite nice, perhaps not as impressive as in Norway, but the fascinating thing in New Zealand is really that they have a bit of everything.
Photos

Easter we spent in Queenstown, Milford Sound and the most southern part of the country, Invercargill, Bluff and Stewart Island. We were a bit disappointed as we still didn’t manage to see New Zealand’s national bird, kiwi. We thought that they would be everywhere, but as they are shy nocturnal animals, they can only be seen at nighttime, except in Stewart Island. But you need to have enough time to go on the other side of the island to spot them, or pay a guided trip. We ended up going to see kiwi in a kind of zoo on our last days in NZ in Christchurch. It is surprisingly big and very interesting looking animal.
Photos

One of the highlights in New Zealand was seeing some blue penguins in the nature late in the evening in Otago peninsula next to Dunedin. They are the smallest penguins in the world, and they make really funny noise.

Only thing really that we missed out and wanted to do was watching the whales. Hopefully we can still see some in Japan and South Africa.
And we were planning to get back to New Zealand when we are sixty for our 30th wedding anniversary…

Auckland Photos

Our tips for people traveling to New Zealand

– If buying a car, consider the possibility that it can break down, you need to be able to afford the loss.
– Take petrol when it is possible, there might not be any for the next few hundred kilometres.
– Spare enough time for the activities. Some of them, such as glacier walk and whale watching are weather dependent, and cannot be run if too rainy/windy.
Also going into some places or seeing them at their best is only possible during high or low tide, so you might need to wait.
– In Rotorua you can enter to see geysers from two places, Whakarewarewa Mauri village, and government park. Whakarewarewa is half cheaper plus you get to visit their village and learn about their habits for the same price.
– There is two glaciers to take a guided tour in, Franz Joseph, and Fox. We took a day walking tour in the first one. The glacier was nice but we were not happy with the company organising the tour, so cannot recommend them. Barely giving any information unless asked, show off attitude and not customer focused. Plus the tours are more crowded than in Fox.
Physically FJ was more demanding, what we were happy about, but we had no caves which you are supposed to have in Fox. Plus the tour in Fox is cheaper.
You can access to see both of the glaciers without paying (but not walk on them).
– From the two fjords, Milford Sound and Doubtless Sound, Doubtless Sound is bigger and nicer from what we have heard, but also much more expensive. That’s why we did Milford Sound, which was nice, but quite short.
– We recommend Ngarua caves close to Abel Tasman national park – very cool!
– If visiting Stewart Island, one day is not enough to do walks anywhere else but around the main town. Stewart Island is the only place to see kiwi birds during the day, but only in the other side of the island. The boat trip to the island is often quite rough.
– Glenorchy close to Queenstown has some awesome sceneries. They got many of the landscapes to Lord of the Rings movies from there. Unfortunately we had no chance to get there due to the car story.
– In Auckland a good place to stay is Formule1 hotel, a bit nicer than a hostel for the same price or even cheaper. Just a bit noisy on the weekends.
– Next to Wellington a good place to stay is Matahari B&B in Upper Hutt. We got a huge one family house just for us for a good price with free internet and all (not usual in New Zealand, normally you always have to pay for the internet) Many Lord of the Rings shooting scenes close-by.
– In Christchurch eat in the Stone Grill – very good!
– In Auckland do not eat in the Steak House in Queen Street – really not worth it!
– At your arrival at Auckland airport, take all the brochures you can: they are full of discounts for hostels, park entries, restaurants, etc.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 9:18 and is filed under in English please !, news, voyages, worldtrip'09. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 3 responses to “New Zealand”

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  1. 1 On April 22nd, 2009, Irma said:

    Vau!! Kiitos, luin ja ihailin kuvia ainakin tunnin hienoa ja kaunista. Rikas luonto olette nähneet paljon ja kiitos että viitsitte välittää tunnelmia matkasta myös meille. Hyvää jatkoa matkallenne terv. Irma

  2. 2 On April 26th, 2009, Päivi ja Emppu said:

    Hello!!

    It’s been a while! :) NZ sounds interesting especially the way you told about it. Where to next?
    We are going to Salerno on Wednesday (the 29th) and coming back on May 4th. It is supposed to be raining, at least on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully we’ll see some sun and the sea too…

    A very happy (early) birthday to Netta!! :)

    Hugs,
    Päivi and Emppu

  3. 3 On May 3rd, 2009, Päivi N. said:

    Heippa!

    Teidän matka vaikuttaa aivan mahtavalta!:) Käyn säännöllisin väliajoin lukemassa kuulumiset ja aina tulee hinku maailmalle! Mukavaa reissunjatkoa!

    Terkuin Päivi täältä Riihimäeltä :)

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