Verfasst von: rbontour | November 22, 2010

Unconditional Love For The Kiwi Nation

It was always our dream to see New Zealand… the famous Kiwi country, sheep Island, cow nation and nowadays we also know it as the magical LOTR (Lord of the Rings) wonderland… and now that we are here, we realized, that it truly is a wonderland in all its glory!

We are here since nearly 2 weeks, cruising with another campervan through the North Island (from Auckland to Wellington).  From many people we heard that the South Island would be even more beautiful. Well, we don’t know, yet, but we ask ourselves: “Is more beauty even possible?” The countryside in the north is already mind-blowing and we have difficulties finding the right words to express the nation’s grandiosity. Even words like magnificent, wonderful, marvelous, fascinating or graceful do not make it justice. Note: Maybe you think we are overstating or exaggerating, but New Zealand simply touched our hearts.

We are driving between 150 and 200km per day, but it’s never boring. There is no chance to fall asleep on the passenger seat as the islands topography is breathtaking. Whenever we go around a mountain curve there is another panoramic, wide and unbroken view… everything is so incredibly green and the hills look a bit like Asia’s rice terraces (stunning!) and definitely, New Zealand reminds us of our Scotland vacation in 2005.

Every day we are gazing at valleys with picturesque lakes, streams and waterfalls flowing through them, succulent plateaus and lots of grazing sheep and cows.

Multifaceted countryside in a steaming wonderland
The North Island – still a volcanic zone – is widely known for its geothermal activity. We loved the region around Lake Rotorua and Lake Taupo. The area is a volcanic and thermal wonderland with sulfur smell in the air, steaming cliffs in vibrant colors all around you, hot pools, geysers and boiling or bubbling mud pools. While traveling in that region, we were sometimes able to relax and soak in a naturally heated hot pool before we went to sleep in our little campervan. This was fantastic – as by „hot“ we actually mean temperatures up to 42 degrees Celsius… ahhh, we slept like babies!

Trek of a lifetime through volcanoes
Although we planned to take things a little slower after Australia, e.g., engage in fewer activities, we came to the conclusion that New Zealand doesn’t really allow for it. Again we are quite active with mountain biking, trekking and exploring – but at our own choice and with new energy or positive spirit as we truly fell in love with this place. No worries, we feel fit and we are healthy!

Our time in the Tongariro National Park (World Heritage site) was especially energetic and exciting. We had an unforgettable day hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. In approximately 6 hours we managed to cover 16km (up and downhill) through amazing volcanic terrain. It was pretty cold and we still had snow up there as November is late spring in New Zealand. Still, it was a day full of sunshine; we hardly had any clouds in the sky and therefore we could enjoy striking views over mountain springs and lava flows, steam vents, vibrant red craters and turquoise crater lakes.

No doubt, hiking in the presence of some active volcanoes was thrilling, especially when you know that the last eruption was not too long ago, in 1995/96. (And by the way, the one still-active volcano named Mt. Ngauruhoe was used as Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings).

Where the heck are all the sheep?
Of course we saw lots of sheep so far, but we expected more! Instead we are passing tons of cows every day. We wondered why? We thought that sheep farming (milk, wool and meat) is still the main export market of New Zealand’s agricultural sector. Talking to some of the friendly Kiwis, we learned that things changed quite a few years ago (and somehow we missed this in the news… again, traveling means learning).

Firstly, the government removed the last agricultural subsidies in the early 1990s. This makes New Zealand one of the only developed countries worldwide without any agricultural subsidies at all. Before that time the nation calculated approx. 22 sheep per head of population – today they only calculate 8 sheep for every Kiwi (total population ~ 4 Million). Secondly, we also found out that cows cost a lot less to feed in New Zealand. They also produce much more milk. Hence, sheep are just not as profitable anymore for farmers. Focusing on cows and heavy dairy farming has become more and more lucrative in recent years.

Well, enough about “economics”… at least one thing remains kind of the same in the Kiwi nation: There are still more sheep (and cows) living here than people.

Let’s see what other things we will experience and learn on the South Island! For sure we will have some colder nights in our campervan, but luckily we packed for every weather condition. Three days ago we could cross the Pacific to enter the South Island…our lovely campervan and us spent the entire afternoon on a huge ferry voyaging from Wellington to Picton, where we will continue our amazing Kiwi journey to Christchurch…


PS: Although our camper is substantially smaller than our camper in Aussie, it’s so much more pleasant for us this time. We even started to feel comfy in our little “motor home”. The van is just much more practically built – no cabinet doors jump open while driving and no messy bits of leftovers all over… Or are we just getting used to it? Oh dear, are we eventually becoming camping-freaks or what???

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Responses

  1. Hi nach Neuseeland,
    haben grad Eure Bilder angeschaut u. Pa hat den Blog noch durch gelesen. Man kriegt einfach immer Fernweh – super schön gemacht 🙂 und btw Ihr beide seht gut aus …. paßt auf Euch auf okay?
    Bussi Ma

    Hi R&B,
    looks like New Zealand is quite a great experience. After looking at all pics we understand you are „not“ overstating at all. The remark about Scotland reminded me, you are right… and we agree on the hot pool as we have a Spa here as well, sleeping like a baby is important sometimes.

    The following pics were of special interest to me/us:
    #101 this plant remembers me of Bavaria, didn’t see it for years.
    #151B good looking Brigitte 🙂
    #204 + 300 typically hard core farmers life
    all the best from,
    Dad


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