Monthly Archives: April 2014

Kalbarri

The coastline around the town Kalbarri is quite impressive. At the time we visited the lookouts we didn´t know what is awaiting us in Kalbarri itself. Because of the Easter Holidays the town was totally booked out. We were just lucky to get a spot for our tent at the overflow campsite. The campsite offered only basic facilities but still it was expensive to stay there. So, never visit Australia at Easter (and we were told also not for Christmas)

Like visiting Mars…

We had a quite nice flight from Alice Springs to Perth, because the weather was good to permit a good view of the ground. The plane also passed Uluru and the Kata Tjuta as an extra. Later on the surface beneath us really started to look like the surface of Mars. Once in a while a mine was in sight. Working here must be a tough job – but a very well paid one as we heard. That is the reason why the cost of living is high in Western Australia. You can compare it with Norway, where the oil industry is the reason for the high cost of living.

Threethousand threehundred and twentysomething…

… – that’s the amount of kilometers we drove within five and a half days. Doing a car relocation can be pretty stressful, but it is much cheaper than just renting a similar camper for this. Sometimes it felt like a neverending drive, specially in the Outback. So, to give this adventure the credit it deseves, I decided to create the biggest post of this blog up to now.

First thing after Melbourne was the Great Ocean Road. The weather was not so good, but still reasonable. We expected this road to be much more impressive in fact. Only at the end we really could enjoy this detour when we saw the Twelve Apostles (nowadays not 12 anymore) and the London Bridge (partly collapsed too). From the end of the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide it felt like eternity to drive.

We didn’t stop in Adelaide because there was no time and also we were told it is not worth visiting. So again a day with only driving – around 11 hours to reach Coober Pedy. One hour before we reached the town it started raining – it rained a lot. Unbelieveable for us, because we expected hot and dry weather in the Outback. We were told in Coober Pedy that such an intense rainfall that lasts for days happens only every 10 years. Lucky us…. We visited the Old Timers Mine and several underground churches. Tom’s Working Opal mine was flooded and couldn’t be visited. So, we resumed driving on earlier than expected.

Next day we reached the Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park. Weather was dry but with some clouds. When there was a bigger window with no clouds you could feel how strong the sun is. I’d absolutely not recommend to visit this place during summertime. We had something around 27 degrees and that was nice. But the flies are a pest at this place. Most People use hats with a mesh that keeps the flies away from the face. We survived without it, specially because we were told that the amount of flies right now is very low. Uluru was impressive as expected, specially the side you never see on pictures. Pictures are mostly taken from the sunset or the sunrise spots, because then the colour of the rock is more intense. So the backside is not of such an interest, at least for postcards and for travelling magazines. On the backside you can see a gorgeous structure that I would best describe as organic.

We drove also a Little bit further to the Kata Tjuta. Also very impressive as it can be seen on the pictures. Specially the green oases between the rocks were very surprising for us.

Sadly we had only one day at the Uluru and surroundings – but what can you do. The last 500km to Alice Springs felt again like a neverending drive. Main reason – there is nothing. Absolutely nothing – the landscape is most of the time the same and animals are next to never to see. At least we had luck to see Emus, but not a single Kangaroo during this long trip (we saw a lot of warning signs, that’s all).

Alice Springs – not much to say about that town. It’s there and it is a very important settlement for this region. It is a very tidy and good looking town, specially if you have seen Coober Pedy days before. There we saw at least 3 mid-sized Kangaroos in a public park.

After this trip we now have  a very good understanding of the dimensions of this country. It was good to do it, despite the exhausting drive.

Auckland – last stop in NZ

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So fast is a month gone like nothing. We´ve seen a lot in NZ and up to now we don´t feel like that we have missed something on our tour. Of course, here and there more time for hiking or for Sightseeing would have been great, but we really made the most out of the time we had. Now we are looking forward to Oz. The 5070km we drove during this month in NZ are nothing compared to the distances that are awaiting us.

In Auckland we did only a minimum of sightseeing. We tried more to get our stuff sorted out – like washing clothes, planning and booking for Oz, getting rid of some of the Camping gear and of course working on the blog.

Coromandel Peninsula

Here we had two major targets that we wanted to see – the Hot Water Beach and the Cathedral Cove. The two spots are quite near to each other located and we were lucky with the low Tide. Both attractions are mainly interesting at low tide because the hot water wells on the beach are under water at high tide and the cathedral cove – how should I say it – just see the pictures 😉 The weather was so great that we only had a short look at thermal spot of the Hot Water Beach and spent the rest of the time there at the normal beach. For the Cathedral Cove we were really just at the right time – half an hour later and we couldn´t have gone through the whole cove to the other side.

We decided to drive up the whole peninsula to Port Jackson – there is nothing except a camping site of the DOC next to the beach  and 2 farms. It was such a nice place and such good weather that we extended our stay for one night. We went swimming and also a bit hiking. A Highlight for myself was also to try out to cook something with this BBQ places that ere so common here around. The result was very tasty 🙂

Before we left this place we spotted a big ship in the distance that seemed to be huge. I made a Picture and later on I seached the Internet for this ship. It is simply called “A” and belongs up to now to the Top 20 super yachts of the world. The cost for this thingy is estimated to be around 300 Million US Dollar…..

Matamata / The Shire / Hobbiton

After “Mordor” we paid a visit to “The Shire” as a contrast. “The Shire” is the place where the Hobbits of Lord of the Rings are living. The movie set, where the “Hobbit holes” were built, is located near the city of Matamata. At this place only the outside shots were taken – all the scenes inside the Hobbit holes were filmed at studios elsewhere. Only the “Green Dragon Pub” is furnished at the inside, but the interior was not part of the movies.

In Matamata we had a great place to stay. We met some Kiwis (here: People from Newzealand) during our hike on Steward Island. They invited us to stay a few days at their place. We graciously accepted their Invitation. Our hosts were very forthcoming and we had a lot to talk about travelling and the differences between NZ and Austria – and also other countries. I hope we will meet again – perhaps when they visit Austria in the future.

Tongariro National Park aka. Mordor

We  kept ourselves busy – right after the canoeing we drove for about an hour to find a proper accommodation to do the Tongaririo crossing on the next day. The weather forecast was reasonable, so we prepared ourselves for this 7+ hour tour. The bus dropped us at the start at 8:30 and the weather looked not very promising. But also the pickup at the end of the track was booked and paid, so there was no return. After about 2h it cleared a bit up, but areas like the one of “Mt. Doom” never were completely free of clouds. But the weather was good enough to make this tour one of the best we did during our time in NZ. Specially we were in very good shape to do the detour to the peak of Mt. Tongariro. There on the peak some young people from the Netherlands asked us if we had taken the 6:30 or the 7:30 bus to the start. It made my day when we could honestly answer “We took the 8.30 bus”. As it can be seen on the pictures, the scenery was perfect to do some of the reality shots for Mordor at this place.

Kanufahrt am Whanganui-Fluss

Mitten durch den relativ kleinen Whanganui Nationalpark im Süden der Nordinsel fließt der Whanganui-River, der über weite Strecken naturbelassen und mit Booten befahrbar ist. Man kann mit einem Kanu oder Kajak für 1 – 5 Tage den Fluss befahren und zwischendurch auf am Ufer gelegenen Campingplätzen bzw. in Hütten der Naturschutzbehörde (DOC) übernachten. Wir haben uns für die 1-tätige Variante entschieden. Diesmal mit einem Kanu, was sich wieder ganz anders verhält als ein Kajak. Die ersten paar kleinen Stromschnellen (Rapids) haben wir mehr oder weniger gut gemeistert, bei den “50:50 Rapids” (die heißen nicht umsonst so…) sind wir dann aber umgekippt und ins Wasser gefallen. Und es war gut, dass wir davor die ganze Ausrüstung sogfältig am Kanu befestigt haben. Aber ohne zumindest einmal zu kentern wärs nur halb so lustig gewesen… 🙂 Robert und ich waren in einem 2er Kanu unterwegs, mit uns ist ein Australier in einem Kajak mitgefahren. Ein interessanter und ein bisschen verrückter Typ, der schon seit 3 Jahren auf Reisen ist und plant, auch noch die nächsten 10 Jahre unterwegs zu sein. DAS ist richtiges Aussteigen! Keine Sorge Mama, so lange bleiben wir nicht weg 😉

Wellington: Te Papa, Zelandia and Weta-Cave

Wellington, the capital of NZ, isn´t a really big city. You can compare it with Graz concerning area occupation and number of inhabitants. Overall it is a nice town, but there are not so many special things to see.

For us there were three things that are worth to mention:

First, the Te Papa Museum, that can be described as a national museum.  It is for free and absolutely state of the art. We spent there at least 3 hours and there were still a lot that we haven´t seen. But it was so a nice sunny day that we couldn´t spent the whole day inside a museum.

Second – the Weta Cave. This is the name of the movie production facility in Wellington. There costumes, movie settings and digital effects are made. Working on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy made them famous. With a short tour they give a tiny insight into the great things they are doing. Working there must be amazing. After the visit we were absolutely in the mood to spend time in a cinema to watch some of the movies where Weta Cave has participated.

Third, Zelandia – formerly known as Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. Background: NZ was a land of birds until the humans arrived. First victim of the humans, that conquered this untouched Islands, were the Moas. Later on more and more creatures were brought to NZ by the humans. Like the possum from Australia for the fur industry or rats as blind passengers on the ships. Both kind of animals are a big and constant threat to the diverse bird life in NZ. So the government of NZ and also a lot of NGO´s are putting a lot of effort into the creation of bird sanctuaries. To clear islands of animal pests is comparable easy, but for Zealandia they try to do something big. In 1999 they erected a fence around a former water reservoir valley and then started to eliminated all mammals that aren´t belonging there. Hunters killed alone in this small area 700 possums – the rest, together with the rats, were poisoned. After clearing the Zone of Zealandia endangered birds (like the Takahē – only a bit more than 260 birds of these species exist right now) and plants were brought to this sanctuary. The vision is that by the year 2500 this area will be a jungle full of indigenous life, like it was before humans came – of course without all the animals that were already extinct.

 

Sailing to the North

Afer approx. 3 weeks on the South Island of New Zealand it was time to have a look at the other Island. Between the 2 Islands is a regular ferry service by several companies provided. The ships need three and a half hours to travel from Picton to Wellington – when good weather conditions  are given. We had very good weather conditions, and thats not so normal for this passage. As soon as we arrived in the Wellington Bay the wind strenghten up and it became more and more cloudy.