It’s been 3 years and 1 month that I was in New Zealand the first time. After having spent 7 weeks on the South and North Islands I was determined to return since – to me – New Zealand offers the biggest and most beautiful variety of nature. So here I am again. I started in Christchurch and decided to head down the same route as last time because it was a nice way of getting into the “NZ-vibe”. Only that this time my first stop – Christchurch – was somewhat depressing. The whole city center is a ghost town, everything is fenced off due to the earthquake that happened 2011. I picked up my Jucy-van which would be my home for the next 5 weeks and drove south to Moeraki, Dunedin and then the Catlins which are in the very south of the South Island and which can be visited via the scenic route, passing beautiful deserted beaches, farmland with millions of sheep and quirky little towns which seem to be completely empty. Another highlight there is the abundant wildlife. Yellow-eyed penguins coming to the shores in the evening after a long day of fishing, the mighty Hooker sea lions which make you de-tour them in a big loop and the almost extinct Hector’s dolphins which are the world’s smallest and rarest species of dolphins. I spent 3 nights in wonderful camp sites right next to untouched beaches or coastline with massive waves breaking right in front of your camp site. I then continued to Tuatapere, New Zealand’s capital of sausages, but the city prefers to be known for its beautiful 3 day Humpridge Track. 3 days and 60 km of ups and downs, with rewarding views from the hut on the first night, overlooking the South coast and granting views all the way to Stuart Island. It was definitely a challenging track but the weather was excellent (for it usually rains 200 days per year in Fjordland) and that made me take my time to reach the days’ end destinations. Unfortunately my Achilles tendons got upset from the heavy backpack and the steep ascent but eventually I made it. My next destination was Te Anau and the Kepler Track. I had to give my tendons an extra 3 day rest and found a great physiotherapist who bandaged up both of my feet so that I was ready to take off for the Kepler Track on 20 April. The second day was definitely a highlight so far. 6 hours and 14 km of walking along the mountain ridge with stunning views of the mountains around and of Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. Once again I thought that I was in the middle of the Lord of the Rings and that Orks or Hobbits would come around the corner any minute. Actually they are filming only 45 minutes from Te Anau for “the Hobbit” right now. I also had my first KEA encounter that day. Check out the little video I made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zF7l4Wt3jY&feature=share%27%2C%29
Being „ontop“ of the world – that’s what it felt to walk first in clouds, making the surrounding very mystical. Then the skies started to clear and I had sunshine for the rest of the walk. After returning from the Kepler Track I went camping in the area of the Milford Sound and did day walks to Lake Marian and the Key Summit which boasts excellent views of the mountain chains in Fjordland. Tomorrow I am off to do the Milford Trek –this time it will get very wet for sure though.
P.S. Photos will be uploaded next week!
P.P.S. This posting is dedicated to you, Kathi. Kathi and HTS-Reisen are the world’s best travel agent. Thank you so much for all your patience and support throughout the trip. Without you I would probably still be sitting in Argentina!:)