Tuesday, 18 September 2012

New Zealand - no predators land


Classic in NZ
There are three ways to travel in NZ – doing the Kiwi Experience which means lots of bus rides (also called the “fuck bus”, won´t explain why), renting a car or hitchhiking. We pitched on the second option – just providing much more flexibility, you see more and turns out to be cheaper too.
Low population density = empty spaces, good personal security, brilliant roads, fantastic I-SITE visitor information centers, DOC ((Department of conservation) camp sites everywhere make it easy to get off the beaten track. Only the weather could fuck things up cos in NZ you never know, it changes rapidly, you might experience the four seasons in just one day.
Milford Sound
We were told that pure Maori people don’t exist anymore but a few times we saw some that looked pretty Maori to me (all the face was tattooed) but of course Im not able to tell. There are lots of places to get familiar with Maori culture if someone is interested or the Maori traditional dance “haka” (the well-known dance performed by All Blacks before rugby matches). The kiwi´s knowledge of Mauri language is usually limited to “Ke Ora” (Hello).
The kiwis are quite shy and distant at the beginning but once you get to know them they are the nicest and friendliest people. Pretty often after meeting someone shortly on a bushwalk or just a short break in the mountain, you end up staying in their house like old friends. They would go out their way to help you, open up their home, introduce you to their family and friends and make sure you taste every bit of this kiwi hospitality. The first 2 weeks we found difficult understanding the accent, especially when “e” was involved, like ten, tent, Ben, bed, bread, egss (they pronounce it as if it was iggs)…
South Island

Christchurch
South island
Arrived on the 8th of Jan after an 11 hour flight from KL. My host Nadeem was nice to wait for me at the airport (really thankful for that cos I arrived at quite stupid time at night). He and his girlfriend Jessica gave me lots of tips on how to plan my route in NZ, what´s worth seeing and so on. The bonus was that Nadeem was a professional cook and Jessica loved talking!
The city is still recovering after the two earthquakes that hit it in 2010. The city center was completely destroyed and it is still not functioning.  Lots of people lost their homes and jobs, many moved to other cities. Nadeem told me how he saw that the restaurant he was working at, collapsed in front of him. Right when he decided to go back in for his laptop, good he didn’t have time to do it. Still quite a big part of the population is unemployed. There was a small earthquake on my first night there which woke me up but they told me on the next day that was normal. Many tremors are being detected after 2010.
When I was still in Indonesia I posted on Christchurch CS group that I am looking for people to rent a car/campervan, a few people replied but finally we set out just 3 of us: me, my friend Pesho (he arrived from Bulgaria on the 10th) and Stacey - an American girl who just came from Australia to spend a year in NZ on a Working holidays visa (same one she used in Oz). We were quite lucky with the car rental – when I was already fed up with the online search and ready to book one for 29$ per day, I came across this deal for 7,70$ per day (90% discount), booked it straight away, thinking that it was too good to be true…But here we are, quite happy with our Subaru.
First stop was Lake Tekapo, famous with its turquoise blue water and beautiful landscapes. We camped at a pretty and peaceful lakeside camp site full of campervans and families. Next lake was Lake Pukaki – as blue as Lake Tekapo. We took a dip despite the coldness. On the way we stopped at Mr Cook Salmon Farm – the plan was to fish our own salmon there but they don’t offer this kind of services any more, Peter was quite disappointed. 



First of many night camping throughout the country

Lake Tekapo


It was cold but had to do it


Lake Pukaki

Aoraki, Mt Cook National Park
Walk up the Hooker Valley to Tasman Glacier View, passing the Blue lakes on the way. Pretty stunning views and pleasant and easy walk. We camped there as well at the DOC camp site. Most of the DOC camp sites are between 4 and 9 NZ $, usually have toilets, tables and tap or stream water (usually drinkable). There always lost of campervans or caravans and only a few like us camping in tents.
Mt Cook National Park
The campsite at Mt Cook





Tasman glacier
On one of the many short walks
Next stop was Oamaru – stayed at YHA hostel cos Stacey and I had the membership and got the discount for Peter too. The biggest attraction in town was seeing the yellow eyed penguins. We went there around 7, 8 pm and there were so many people already. For some reason we were expecting to see many of them, like the documentaries on the TV, 100s coming out of the sea (ocean). Imagine the disappointment when only 3 of them showed up! 200 people waiting 2 hours for the penguin "wave" and just 3 little ones came up! And the distance was huge (it was forbidden to go down to the beach) so we almost couldn’t see them. Funny birds though, real cute!
We were too tired and hungry to go and see the blue eyed ones. Supposedly, there is like a procession of them (not free though!).  I regret it now, being on the other side of the world, still have not seen much more than these 3 little ones.

Oamaru

Yellow eyed penguins in Oamaru.
So cool watching how it waddle on its way out of the water
Elephant rocks near Oamaru
Internet in NZ is not an easy thing, unless you wanna pay at least 4 NZ$ per hour. So the only solution is...libraries. But even the libraries are not free sometimes which is annoying. In hostels it is never free. Never!
Dunedin. Charming town with lots of backpackers, took us a while to find a hostel with 3 free beds, it was full everywhere. We ended up playing Rummicub till 2 am (I won!) with other travelers in the hostel. We all loved the town, it is a big University town and later on I kept running into people who studied in Dunedin. Almost every town has its Farmers market, where you can usually buy organic food or just fruits and vegetables, honey, cheese and meat coming directly from the farms. Before leaving we went to one of them buying lots of fresh vegetables and other goodies.
The steepest street in the world is in Dunedin as well or at least that’s what they say (I always thought that it was Lombard street in san Francisco). 
Dunedin
The steepest street in the world in Dunedin (I always thought it was Lombard street in San Francisco)

Otago peninsula near Dunedin

Next stop was Catlins National park, we went to one of the DOC camps again and were the only ones with tents. it was so  fucking cold! I wore all the 3 pairs of socks I had and my feet were still freezing. All of us had only summer sleeping bags and we woke up in the middle of the night freezing. Poor Stacey, she was even colder (at least Pesho and I were sharing the tent) and she went in the middle of the night to the car, hoping to find some warmth there but no success either. After that night Stacey went a bit crazy and paranoid, buying thermal socks at every town we went to.
Invercargill (15.01). Not much happening here, a zoo and a hostel full of Germans, all usual (well, there were 3 screaming Israelis in our room for a change, even worse!) and a free parking lot. NZ has no native mammals, apart from the now extinct flightless moa (up to 240kg) and a few other birds and marine mammals.  Until the arrival of the humans, roughly 1000 years ago there were no large land predators (one of them was the giant Haast's eagle). Wanted to go to Steward island, the only place to spot kiwi birds in the wild (there are only like 300 left) but the ferry to the island is quite expensive and the forecast wasn’t very promising for the next few days so we had no choice and kept on going. Instead we went to the zoo before leaving town. The days are really long at this part of the island, the sun goes down at almost 10pm so you can play with lots of sunlight.



To Te Anau

Te Anau. The town is nice and quiet, it’s a good base for trekkers and perfect to recharge you batteries before you head trekking again – there are a number of famous bushwalks in the area, Milford track may be king but Kepler, Routeburn, Greenstone and Caples have one end here too. We did some shopping, Stacey bought another pair of thermal socks (17 NZ$) and I bought leggings…we were ready for the next camping adventure. It was amazing how we were freezing in the middle of the summer in the lowlands in New Zealand. After the usual visit to the library (free internet) and took off to the wild again. Camped at DOC camp site Lake Gunn. I think here we finally realized that when they have the sign “potable water” (usually a stream), they mean the river or the lake. So you just get to the lake, get the water in a bottle, pot or whatever you have and drink it. No purifying tablets, no filters. And it´s safe, good and tasty. New Zealand has the best water in the world.

Camping at DOC camp Monowai lake. It was free, secluded and in amongst some beautiful woods. We had a good fire going and a nice dinner before an early night to escape the pesky sand flies.

Finally making a fire was allowed


And more sheep

Another day, another camp site
Te Anau – Milford highway is one of top scenic drives in Fiordland – 119km “Oh, wow” road to Fiordland. You can pull off the road and explore the many viewpoints and nature walks en route. Milford Sound is the most famous Great walk in NZ but booked till April next year. The only option was to do part of it without sleeping at the huts or go on a cruise. We voted for the cruise option. It includes the fiords, seals, waterfalls, sheer rocky cliffs…






Stacey & BG



We went on one of the day walks along the Milford and Routeburn tracks and then headed back to Te Anau. Camped at Te Anau camp river site, a few km away from town, just beside the river. It was sunny, the water freezing cold but after almost 3 days with no shower, we all jumped in it. I couldn’t resist and as always did my laundry, hanging my clothes on all the bush and trees around the tent. A German guy Stacey knew virtually from CS came along bringing beers and we all had dinner together.

The fearless Kia
Peter´s pool



Mirror lakes


The menu tonight - sausages, beans and beer
Queenstown, the party city on the South island. Its also the biggest ski resort in New Zealand and the center for the extreme sports. There were lots of bars and clubs, we went to Buffalo (horrible place with horrible music and lots of 18 year olds, but we had a voucher for 25 $ in alcohol cos a dog at the guesthouse ate Stacey´s dinner so she got it as compensation). Leaving we found this other pretty laid back bar with nice music…After staring at Pesho for a while, a group of kiwi boys in the bar told him that he looks identical with a famous rugby player.
Bagpipes are more popular than in Scotland
Fish&Chips time
Queenstown

On a scenic drive to beautiful Glenorchy near Queenstown we passed the fortress of ‘Isengard’(lord of the rings). Kinloch camp site. Even more remote than the small town of Glenorchy, Kinloch is nestled on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu and makes a great base for exploring the valleys or doing day walks on the start points of the Routeburn, Caples or Greenstone tracks.  
Some of Lord of the rings´scenary
Fresh water from the glacier


We stopped watching some groups doing canyoning

Somewhere on the Routeburn track
Definitely not for globe-trotting budget travellers



Back to Queenstown for a night and headed to Wanaka. We found the town boring and didn’t stay long. Just like in Queenstown, no free internet in town, not even the libraries. Later on, when I actually met people from Wanaka, I was told about many beautiful places we could have seen there but of course you need a local to show them to you and so far didn’t look very easy to make friends with the locals. It was quite frustrating actually, the CS didn’t seem to work and the only locals we met, didn’t act very friendly. No luck with kiwis!

The hostel in Queenstown
Camped at Gillespies beach – lots of sand flies and lots of people, just backpackers like us, no families this time. Cooked and ate quickly cos the sand flies were monsters here and made it for sunset to the pebble beach.



Lake Matheson
Franz Josef glacier– we did the “rough” Callery-Haiko walk finishing at Roberts point (5,30h return). It was a beautiful walk, not as easy as the usual ones, which made it more exciting. The name of the glacier in Maori means “Tears of the avalanche girl”.
Franz Josef glaciar
Franz Josef

Left Stacey in Franz Josef village cos she was heading to a festival as a volunteer and we continued north.
Passed by Greymouth – the biggest city on the West coast (13 000 people!).
Camped at Lake Lanthe and headed to Punakaiki. Slept in the best hostel so far (YHA but known as Te Nikau retreat) – looked like a fairy tale, little dwarf houses hidden away in the rainforest, separated from the main building. Weather was cold but we venture out to have a look at the pancake rocks; cool limestone rock formations that look like stacks of pancakes and have archest and blow-holes, that are pretty dramatic at high tide. 

Pancake rocks
Next day the weather was good enough to continue towards Abel Tasman. Booked the huts for the walk and spent the night in Motueka (camped in the hostel´s yard for 13 NZ$ each) and set off in the early morning to Abel Tasman (20 min away).
Hitchhikers. We´ve been picking up hitchhikers all the time, sometimes 2-3 a day, always foreigners, always quite young. A different one was Peter, the paraglider. I think he just landed a few minutes before we picked him up, there was a paragliding competition happening, which, unfortunately he didn’t win. He was very cool and thankful and invited us to his house in Abel Tasman.
Abel Tasman – one of my favourite parts in NZ
The Abel Tasman Coast Track follows the stunning coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island, making its way along golden sand beaches, through tidal estuaries, and up to coastal lookouts. This 51 kilometer 3-5 day walk in the warmest and sunniest of the country's national parks is the most flexible of New Zealand's Great Walks, offering the chance to walk short stretches of track between water taxi pick-ups, and to combine walking with kayaking in the beautiful emerald coloured waters around the bays. 
We took a water taxi to Awaroa bay and made it to the hut when it was almost high tide. Had to walk in water quite a lot and once we made it to Awaroa hut around 11,30 am (booked the hut the day before), we couldn’t make a move till 5pm when it was close to low tide (1,5h before) so Awaroa estuary was crossable again. We quickly went up to Totaranui (5,5 km going up) and made it back in less than 3 hours afraid that the high tide would leave us on the other side of the river.  
The DOC huts have communal bunkrooms, toilets, and drinking water, but you must bring your own cooker. No electricity either. Hut spaces and campsites need to be booked all year round and overnight stays are limited to two consecutive nights in any one hut or campsite. Onetahuti and Awaroa Estuaries are only passable at low tide.




Second night we spent at Bark bay hut. Met Lucy and Amanda there, played rummy and cards with them till quite late, when everyone else was asleep already, using head torches and candles. They were the first kiwis we were meeting properly and they invited us to stay with them in Wellington which we did in a few days. I was getting a bit disappointed already that after 20 days travelling in a country, I haven’t made any friends with the locals! There were three 59 old Canadians who were quite fun to talk to. They were quite worried about crossing the river and the tides cos a few years ago two people drowned doing it and they were 59 J.
The next day summary - 30 hours down to the car, relaxing at beaches and enjoying the views. Didn’t find Peter´s house (the paraglider we picked up a few days ago), gave up and went to a beach for a couple of hours. Then, full of energy, I decided that we cant just give up and have to find it – he was really insisting to visit them and promised us real kiwi hospitality, fishing and taking us to some islands. We went back for another 6km, still unsuccessful. The reception was pretty bad so I couldn’t contact him. Apparently he made a mistake with the instructions he sent me, saying a Computer ribbon instead of Red ribbon (we saw the red ribbon the first time but didn’t follow the path next to it)…Anyways, wasn’t meant to be..






Went back to the same hostel in Motueka, next day slept in Nelson, in a hostel with a big crowd of backpackers (including one of the hitchhikers we picked up a few days ago). Most of them were heading to a busk festival in Abel Tasman next day. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do it cos had to drop the car off in Picton and go to the North island. Bumped into Stacey in the kitchen, was nice to meet an old friend. Went to the Queens gardens and to the “Centre of new Zealand” – half an hour walk to a lookout of Nelson. And…Attention everyone  - finally I started driving. My first hour driving since 4 years ago! Im hopeless!
Stayed up quite late talking to Stacey and some Germans and Canadians in the lodge and then couldn’t fall asleep for ages cos there were some drunks outside the bar, shouting and being drunk (we were sleeping in the tent in the hostel yard – it is much cheaper and usually quieter).

North Island
Drop the car off at Picton and took the ferry to Wellington (almost 4 hours). Lucy came and picked us up from the train station. Stayed for 2 nights with Lucy, Amanda, Nick and Lidia in Wellington. Had fun, nice people and cozy house. Lucy took us around town a bit and helped us rent another car taking us to the outskirts of Wellington to book it. We cooked together, had some drinks and rummy of course. The city itself is also very cozy (windy though), and maybe first time of my life I enjoyed being in a museum – the famous Te Papa Tongarewa – one can spend the whole day in there.



The top of the cable car route
Rummy is intense sometimes
On 1st of Feb we visited Jane & Grant in Whandanui – Lucy´s mum and step dad. Such a lovely couple, they treated us like their own kids – proper dinner and proper drinks afterwards J. Lucy´s mum is a swimming coach and when she was 16 she broke a world record at the Olympics, quite impressive! They were so sweet in their worries that we have to share a double bed and not being a couple that even offered us different rooms (as if it was a problem after sharing a tiny tent for such a long time!). Had a real great time with them and the dogs. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay longer cos had only 10 days left for the north.
One of the cutest babies I´ve seen
Jane and her granddaughter
I drove for 3 hours on a winding dirt road, really proud of it. Probably didn’t exceed more than 60 km/h but hey, I was improving.
Tongariro alpine crossing – the best one day walk in NZ! With its towering active volcanos, its one of NZ´s most spectacular parks, best known for its cameo as Mordor in Lord of the rings. We camped down at Wakapapa (pronounced fa-ka-pa-pa) but unfortunately didn’t do the track because of the shit weather. Before you set out, its advisable to stop at the DOC  Information center and check the weather forecast for the day cos pretty often is too cloudy and even if you decide to do the crossing, the visibility is close to 0.
I kept on driving, staring to get better J. Soaked  in Tokaanu Thermal pools for an hour or more at Turangi (much cheaper than the ones in Taupo and Rotorua lakes). Passed through Lake Taupo, visited a few sights – like the Craters of the moon – steam vents and bubbling mud pools; Slept at a campsitre near Rotorua lake.         
One of the many thermals around

Craters of the moon
Craters of the moon


Camping near Taupo
Huka Falls
Coromandel peninsula known to Maori as Hauraki. We drove through big part of the peninsula but stopped properly only at Puketui valley and Hot Water beach.
Broken hills camp site – beautiful DOC camp site, situated in Puketui valley, near the historic Broken hills gold mine workings. It was recommended by a couple we met at Tongariro camp site and they were right. It was Pesho´s birthday so we had some meat, vegetables and bears for dinner. It was a pretty spot by the river, quite spacious and green. I found a pair of nice sunglasses under a tree and it was the perfect present for Pesho since he lost his sunglasses the day before.
I was told that we could see the glowworms on short bushwalk and looking for that walk I met the weirdo Roger. He offered to take us there and I was, sure, great. Im convinced now that i´m like a magnet to all the weirdoes and madmen.  Alcoholic and a bit loony (even diagnosed), we spent the night listening to his nut stories and later he took us to see the glow worms in the forest. That was quite cool cos finally we saw the glowworms for free, we´ve been refusing to pay for the tours. There was a cave and a small prison as well, we saw some eels in the river…
Hot water beach – near Hahei, for two hours, either side of low tide, the hot water oozes up from beneath the surface. The idea is: bring a spade, dig a hole and you have your freshly dug personal spa pool. It was a cloudy day but yeah, there was hot water, almost everyone had a spade digging for hot water, looked quite ridiculous at the beginning cos there was no sign of even a bit hot water. But after an hour or two of digging, they found it. 
The beginning

A bit later...still searching
Found! And totally crowded
Passed Auckland on the way to Northland&Bay of Islands – the main drawcard here are the beaches and they are present in profusion. You can take your pick from surfy or sheltered, huge or tiny, fashionable or forgotten, and from sand that is golden, grey, pink or pure white.
The goal was to dive at Poor Knights islands so we headed to Whangarei first. Stayed in a small YHA hostel, sharing a room with 2 big German guys snoring their lungs off the whole night. The best thing to do are the Abbey caves (free) – 3 caverns full of glowworms and limestone formations. Be ready to get wet cos the water gets till almost you bum, depends how tall you are I guess. A torch and good shoes are essential. It´s worth it though, I quite liked it.
Pesho wading in water
The glowworms

Glowing
Next day we passed by Tutukaka, in order to check the diving conditions for Poor Knights. Poor Knights marine reserve is rated as one of World´s Top 10 diving spots. The public is banned from the islands in order to protect them. As regards the dive shop, we chose Dive!Tutukaka. Due to the weather forecast, we decided to go to the Far North first and dive on the way back when the weather was supposed to be better.
The Far North – if it sounds remote, that´s because it is. Since the traffic was not bad at all, I was the one who drove all the way to Cape Reinga, so proud of it. Mauri consider Cape Reinga as a jumping-off point for souls as they depart on a journey to their spiritual homeland. This is where the Tasman sea and Pasific ocean meet. Contrary to expectation, it is not the northernmost point of NZ, it is Surville Cliffs, further to the east. We parked the car and walked the 1km distance to Cape Reinga Whitehouse. Spent the night at one of the DOC camp sites there which was pretty spacious and windy.
Cape Reigna lighthouse




 Another sight on Aupouri peninsula is the Ninety Mile beach and the giant dunes. The golden sand dunes could be found everywhere along the Ninety Mile beach but we went to the ones at Te Paki Recreation Reserve. That was pretty cool and so empty like almost all the places we stopped at the peninsula. All the beaches are gorgeous and you feel so free and tiny being the only person there.


On the giant dunes






After the Far North we headed back to Tutukaka. Decided to sleep at the closest DOC camp site which wasn’t that close actually and we were so close to not making it for the dive in the morning but somehow the car made it to the dive shop – running on air for the last 50km (when it went on red and no petrol stations on the way). It was Pesho´s first experience snorkeling and he couldn’t stop throwing up even while snorkeling. It must of been hilarious for those who were watching J. The group was cool, mostly couples. The Tutukaka dive crew was all the time making jokes about the Australians (Don’t worry, we won´t leave you behind, not like the Australians; Don’t worry, its not poisonous, not like in Australia…). Did two dives, saw cool animals, colourful vegetation and lots of nudie branches. It was quite different from the Indonesian marine life. We also saw dolphins and rare seabirds.  




Diving with Dive! Tutukaka
Anothe secluded beach on the way to Auckland

An hour away from Auckland
View from Mt Eden
Auckland
Bungee jumping right in Auckland's centre
Sushi night at Mt Eden
Frisbee championship at Mission beach
Mission beach
Auckland´s port
Some street musicians
After the dive we drove all the way to Auckland with a 2 hour stop at a deserted beach.
And here my visa saga got started. Until this moment I kept telling myself that I still have time and I´ll get it but now It was time I had to face reality and think what to do if I don´t. Pesho got his visa 2 weeks ago and we applied almost the same time, providing similar documents. By the way, whoever needs to apply for E-visitor visa for Australia and have any doubts, don’t hesitate to ask! Im your guy, they could not possibly ask you for any document I haven´t provided.  
Got to Auckland a on the 8th cos we were supposed to fly to Oz on the 10th at 7am but wasn’t meant to happen. I stayed for 20 days at George house…poor guy, probably thought that one night and we are gone but noooooooooooooooo J)). Pesho left on the 10th to Cairns, Australia and I lost my flight cos my visa was still pending. I “celebrated” it properly the same night (at one of George´s flatmates birthday party), got so wasted that was completely useless the day after. Luckily George and his flatmates didn’t mind me staying a few more days (at that time I thought I would get the visa pretty soon). There was a great vibe in the house and all of the 7 people living there were very friendly.
I remember talking to a friend of mine in Spain and saying that im staying in house with 7 kiwis and he asked me confused “seven kiwi trees?” (¿Que? Siete arboles de kiwis??). In Spain they don´t know that the New Zealanders are called kiwis. Actually it is quite important how you use the word kiwi in NZ – the kiwi we all know is called kiwifruit, the bird is kiwi bird and the word kiwi refers only to people.
Kiwi bird in Auckland´s museum
The next few days were just pure relaxation, mostly going to places with Dwayne (George’s flatmate)  without planning in advance. We went to Raglan, camped on the beach (finding the spot when it was already dark, the mattress got a bit wet because of the high tide),  met Dwayne´s cousin Ben at Manu bay – one of the most famous surfing spots on the west coast, then hopped to Hamilton with Ben for a day.
Morning!
The tide almost got us
I guess not supposed to camp here...
Dwayne and I had a deal that when my 4 year old niece and his 3,5 year old nephew are old enough, we are gonna match make them. He even show him a photo of my niece but the boy wasn’t impressed (well, he will be when he is old enough to appreciate her beauty J). 
The future matchmaking: Yana & Monty
Other than that, I played some tennis with Dwayne (he is a tennis coach), destroyed him at ping pong (like most of the guys he thought that a guy cannot lose against a girl)…and basically was waiting for my visa to arrive any moment. But the whole uncertainty was killing me and I started to feel very uncomfortable staying in the house for such a long time. I kept trying to find some woofing near Auckland but got no response or they needed help in a few weeks.
I had a second chance to do the Tongariro alpine crossing with George and Dwayne. This time the weather was nice and sunny. It was definitely worth the double effort and im really happy that have actually done it. On the way back we stopped in Hamilton for a party at Ben´s house. Ben´s flat mate Ashley took some time to find me some flat shoes cos I only had flip flops with me and they wouldn´t let me in bars (and kiwi girls always wear high heels when go out). 

Dwayne and George
Posers
Morning in Hamilton
Boys playing cricket in the back yard

Spending such a long time just in one place I got a bit bored so looked for Bulgarians on CS in Auckland. That´s how I met Mariana and her Argentinean boyfriend Juan. Right after I sent her the message she invited me to her house for a beer (leftovers) which turned into a few beers. Was nice to meet another Bulgarian in this part of the world and get to know how they live here, what they enjoy or dislike, what they miss…And Mariana was so sharp and talkative that there was no way not to like her.  She cut my hair at my second visit as well. We also went to North shore for a drink one night with Dwayne and some friends of hers.


There are only two sports in New Zealand (and one of them cannot be called a sport in my opinion but…) – cricket and the national obsession – rugby (winning the World cup in 2011, now they are even more obsessed). The logo of All Blacks (the most successful rugby team in the history) can be seen everywhere. So I had to see a match before I leave: Auckland-Christchurch, most of the time didn’t understand a thing but some things one has to do without understanding them J

Auckland-Christchurch

On the 22nd of Feb when I had almost given up, I got the long-awaited visa YEYEEYYEYE. After 50 days of no answers and uncertainty…Bought a flight straight away and flew out on the 26th to Brisbane. Beautiful country, incredible nature and the friendliest people ever. I was lucky to have met all of you and I´m looking forward to the next time we see each other.

The cheapest flights in Europe