Stories from New Zealand #1

I know you’re all dying to hear about our trip so here are some updates of what we’ve been up to since getting to New Zealand! Actually, not that much. We landed in Auckland and decided to look for a campsite as we didn’t feel like going to the city. Ambury regional park was the perfect spot to spend our first night in NZ. It’s just 6km away from the airport (people are so sweet here we didn’t even have to raise our thumbs to get a ride all the way there) and is also a sort of educative farm with lots of sheep (well, obviously), goats, chickens, horses and so on. Super quiet, hilly and green, everything you expect really. We then headed south towards Raglan to meet up with my dear friend Jonathan. He’s a great surfer and wasn’t scared to take us for a ride on the beautiful Raglan waves. We also did some kayaking, cycling and hiking, great little spot.

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Raglan and mount Karioi in the background

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Kayaking aound Raglan

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Meet Jonathan!

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Matt and me

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Post surf discussions

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Mountain biking around Mount Karioi

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Hiking up Mount Karioi

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A field with a view

We decided to travel with the bare minimum but figured out pretty quickly it would be quite challenging to get off the beaten track without any car here. We started to look for one in Raglan, then Hamilton, but there weren’t much to chose from so we decided to look in Auckland so we can get to know the city while checking out cars. If you ever look for a car in NZ, make sure you take it to a pre-purchase inspection so you know what is right and wrong with it. Basically everybody here had a tragic story about buying a car and they all warmly recommended it. We took one car which happened to be in “poor conditions for its age” which saved us spending money on a piece of s***. After hours of reading about cars (well, mostly Matt I admit) we found The One and bought it. It’s even red, can you believe that? There we are, about to leave Auckland with our brand new old car!

I had very often been told Auckland wasn’t that exciting but it was actually much nicer than I thought! Very green and hilly, we quite enjoyed walking around, interesting museums and city stuff, the Art Gallery is awesome (and free!).

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Random Auckland #1

Random auckland #2

Random auckland #2

Random Auckland #3

Random Auckland #3

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Random Auckland #4 Vulcan Lane – used to be a locksmiths street, now just shops and cafes

The famous skytower

The famous skytower

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Random Auckland #5

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The Wintergarden near the Auckland museum – all around is the (massive) Domain with several trails in large forest areas

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Inside the glasshouse

Water lily

Water lily

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Orchids

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More orchids

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Random Auckland #6 – Camouflage building

All cosy on Kosie!

Where do mountains get their names? You’d think from people who have been around for years and years right? Well it’s rarely the case. Pretty much half way between Sydney and Melbourne, about 3 hours away from Canberra, are the Snowy Mountains. It’s the only place in Australia where you can go skiing in winter and escape the worst of the heat in the summer. For thousands of years, the Snowy Mountains were visited by Aboriginal people. They call its highest ‘peak’ Jagungal, meaning ‘table top mountain’, which describes the area quite well. But on the 15th of February 1840, Paul Edmond Strzelecki, a Polish explorer, made it to the summit and decided to call this mountain Kosciuszko as it reminded him of a hill in Krakow where another Polish man named Kosciuszko was buried. The name got adopted and Mount Kosciuszko actually is the highest ‘peak’ of Australia, despite its modest 2228 masl. As you may know, Australians love to shorten words. You won’t hear ‘Tasmania’ but ‘Tassie’, ‘Australian’ but ‘aussie’, ‘barbecue’ but ‘barbie’, thus Kosciuszko is usually refered to as ‘Kosie’ by locals.

A few years ago, I decided to boycott new year’s eve parties as they usually suck and I rarely get to be around my loved ones anyway. I then decided to dedicate the last and first day of each year doing what I actually love doing (better late then never) and that makes me feel good about myself: climbing whatever peak is around me. After Costa Rica and France, Australia was a natural choice since I just spent 2014 in Sydney.

Being the highest summit in Australia, Kosciuszko is considered part of the 7 summits. But as it looks more like a gentle hill and is by far the easiest of the 7 summits to get to, Puncak Jaya in the Papua province of Indonesia steals its fame with its proper 4884masl.

We took a bus to Canberra (a strange deserted city at that time of the year) then hitchhiked to Charlotte’s pass where we camped the first night. I’ll be honest, we took it super easy and we did in 3 days the walk people usually do in a day so we spent more time relaxing and reading than challenging ourselves. I think that’s the good thing about the Snowy Mountains. The day after, we took our time, made coffee and walked to the Blue Lake, hiked towards Kosciuszko, slept at its foot, had wine and cheese for dinner on New year’s eve. We went to sleep way before midnight so we could get up early enough (4.30 am, you read it right) to walk up to admire the first sunrise of the year on top of Australia. It was truly magical…

Happy New Year 2015! I hope you get whatever makes you happy.

We are now about to leave for new adventures in New Zealand and I’m overexcited to visit those landscapes I’ve been dreaming of visiting as long as I can remember…

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Surrounding landscape, large valley and gentle hills

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Ages ago, those mountains were shaped by glaciers

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My favorite part of camping, waking completely alone in the middle of nowhere…

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…and have a delicious coffee!

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4.30 am, leaving the tent…

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Here comes the sun on Mount Kosciuszko

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At that precise moment I was the highest person in Australia! You can’t see but I always get very emotional…

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Matt and me in the sunrise light…It wasn’t really cold but super windy up there.

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The summit of Kosciuszko is so unimpressive you need a sign to make sure it’s the right hill…