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biking or zip lining, that’s the question?


View New Zealand - 2014 on Ils1976's travel map.

One day you get a bit depressed when you see rain, the next morning you wake up with a smile on your face when you see the sun shining. New Zealand is such a strange country and although I am here almost 3 weeks, I still can’t figure it out. Do I hate it or do I love it???

Like usual we had an early morning coz we needed to go on the road again and today we once again had a few hours of driving ahead of us, but luckily we were going to do something a bit more active as well and today we were going for a bike ride.

The trip from the small town of Te Anau to Arrowtown wasn’t that far, just about an hour and a half and as soon as we got there, we had some time to explore this old gold rush town a little bit more. Instead of trying to look for some lost gold flakes, me and Tania just relaxed on a terrace and enjoyed the sun on our face while having a marvelous cup of chai latte together with a yummy scone. I can’t describe how delicious the selfmade jam was without drooling, it was just that good!

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Now that we had a bit of real food in our system (because how long can a person survive on cereals and a piece of toast), we were ready for our 13 km long bike ride from Arrowtown to the Kawarau bridge where me and Tania jumped off just a few days ago. Thinking about that day made me wanna relive it and I guess Tania was thinking the same thing coz as soon as we all got our bikes, she went off like a rabbit on cocaine. I tried to follow but my scone drug of this morning wasn’t helping, so instead I just made it a relaxing one and together with a few members of our group we made sure this trip was going to be unforgettable. During our ride we made a lot of jokes, had some speeding contests, made a few picture stops, but most of all we just laughed and enjoyed the scenery.

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Upon our arrival at the bridge, we saw people jumping off it and although I knew that there wasn’t any time left for me to do this as well, I secretly hoped that Tania got her chance and could jump for a second time. When I met up with her, I was a bit sad to hear that she didn’t and as I wanted to ask Craig if it was possible to do the zip lining, he also declined. Apparently there wasn't enough time. On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t that bad after all coz there was so much wind, but still, instead I just resorted to looking at the jumpers but unlike a few days ago, the people were just hooked with a harness around their waist. The weather wasn’t really permitting a bungee jump, but a normal jump was allowed. We were so lucky that we could do the real one. It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes luck is a bit on our side. A bit that is! :)

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On the other hand, maybe I wrote this down too soon coz while almost our entire group waited for the last people to arrive at the bridge, we suddenly realized that we missed 3 persons. In the beginning we thought they were still coming because they were just slow riders, but when our driver Craig went on the track and tried to find time for about half an hour, they were no where to be found. What the heck???

During our bike ride, we always had to follow the stream, but it looked like those 3 had taking the wrong track which went all the way to Queenstown.

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Not something we wanted of course, so we left Helen behind and the search went on for a tall German guy and 2 petit Australian girls. In the beginning it was kinda funny, but after driving more than half an hour it wasn’t. I even started to think we were never going to find them because once lost, there are more than one side tracks you can take. Where the heck are they??? 

Thankfully Helen called that they were finally at the bridge and as soon as we were back on the road again, we drove all the way back to Kawarau bridge where our 3 missing „sheep" were waiting for us. All in all I am just happy to see that nothing went wrong, but on the other hand I am a bit selfish as well as I was thinking that while all this drama was going on, I’d better had stayed at the bridge so that I had time for a zip line adventure. Am I bad or am I bad!?

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With everyone back on the bus, we continued further along the road towards Lake Ohau, the place where we were going to spend the night. It was still quite a drive and while we passed once again some amazing sceneries, thanks to my great selection of music I fell asleep once more, only to wake up again when we stopped at a small shop alongside the road. This place was called Jones’s fruit stall where you could buy some delicious fruit as well as dried fruit, nougat and all kinds of nuts. If you are a fruit lover, you really would go „nuts" about it.

The two of us bought a nice selection of everything, some freshly cut pineapple, a box of cherries and of course, how can we resist it, nougat with honey and kiwi. What is not to like about that. If the weather isn’t good, the food has to be! :)

Back on the road again, we had one more stop in a small town called Cromwell. It is not like there is much to see in this little town except for a giant display of fruit while entering the town, but I have to admit, the Pad Thai they served in the local Thai restaurant was more than fine to me. For dessert we still had some pineapple and as soon as we all had the lunch we wanted, we could jump back on the bus for another 2 hours of driving towards the lake.

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During our ride, we saw the blue sky turn into some kind of thick pea soup of clouds and soon after even dark clouds where hovering around the Lake Ohau area. By the time we reached it, rain was pooring again. It seemed it was going to haunt us wherever we went. Instead of going for a run around the lake, I chose to relax in a hot bath and by the time I was totally zen again, it was time to have dinner as well. This was going to be our last meal together with the group and afterwards, a few of us met up at the bar. Not that we were such a big party group, but with a few drinks, some nice conversations and from time to time even funny dance moves, the evening wasn’t all that bad.

At 11 PM we all called it a night, after all, we all had to get out of bed early and in the end I think we made a wise decision coz as soon as I crawled into my bed, my Vodka Raspberry did his work and brought me straight to dreamland.

Posted by Ils1976 12:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains bridges art people sky water flowers town river plants clouds friends house sports road tour bike group oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

today is definitely not a good day to die !!!


View New Zealand - 2014 on Ils1976's travel map.

I don’t know what happened, but although I was mentally prepared for my bungee jump since a last couple of days, somehow this night I couldn’t sleep at all. I guess the movies Tania showed me on YouTube didn’t help all that well. We practiced our jump a few times last night and although I was sure I was going to be prepared, my dreams begged the differ. I kept on dreaming that the rope broke, that I couldn’t jump because my feet were stuck somehow or even that I jumped completely wrong. I kept on practicing my jump in my dreams till it was morning and when it was time for Tania to leave for her skydive adventure, I could finally close my eyes for a couple of hours, when I suddenly woke up at about 8 AM.

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Today was going to be a relaxing morning coz Tania was already high up in the sky and by the time that she was done at about 10 AM, I was going to meet up with her at the skydive shop, but till than I just got dressed and had some breakfast, which was simply a bowl of cereal and a toast with jam.

Not that much, but my stomach wasn’t up to something more. I still was very nervous, but can you blame me. I am afraid of heights and now I was planning to jump of a bridge, but I had to do it. If I want to achieve something, I need to take action, and this was as good as place to start with it. After all, I already overcome my fear of heights a little with skiing, so this is just another step in the right direction. Some people I would know, would tell me that this is a bit extreme, but it is my life, my decision!

On the other hand, that doesn’t made me less scared, so in order to put my mind at ease, I just went into town and walked all the way to the waterfront where a few people where feeding the ducks. It was such a reassuring picture and with the sun on my face, it felt like a real holiday and after all, that is just what this is!

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Earlier than expected, Tania send me a text message that she was done already, so I just walked up to our room again where we saw each other again after a few minutes.

Tania was really excited about her skydive and loved it so much that I was beginning the wonder why I didn’t join her, but on the other hand, my jump this afternoon is scary enough, falling out of an airplane from 12500 feet, that is a little bit more extreme. Maybe for next time, I have to think about it, if I survive this one of course.

Our jump was planned for 1.30 PM, so we had enough time to walk through the Gardens Park of town and have something small to eat for lunch. We didn’t wanted to eat something too heavy, so we just opted for a bowl of hot soup with some bread and that was more than enough for me.

All excited and nervous for what was about to happen, the two of us went to the shop and paid for our jump. We were not alone, two girls from our group, Kelly and Avril were going to join us and by the time we left with the bus, we were with about 20 people who were going to jump. Most of the group was going to do the higher one, the Nevis jump which is about 143 meters, but I was satisfied with the bridge of about 43 meters, think small I always say.

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The strange thing about it is, that I was really nervous this morning, but by the time things got closer and closer, I felt more and more at ease.

On our way up to the bridge, I sat next to a girl from Christchurch who was going to do the Nevis swing and she was so excited about the whole ordeal that I suddenly wanted to go for it. Although still very nervous, I had set my mind to it and once we arrived at the scene, the people were so friendly and nice that I almost forgot my anxiety and once I saw the bridge and walked over it, I knew … this is it!

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Tania and Sini (a girl from Germany) first wanted to have a look at the jumpers, but I knew that if I was going to do that, I got more nervous, so I just walked up to the bridge and within seconds I found myself right in front of my worst nightmare. Some Korean guy was in front of me and the next in line and I saw on his face that he was really nervous and a bit scared as well, so we started talking and made a few jokes and before I even realized it, he was gone and I was next.

I can’t explain the feeling exactly, but at the moment they put everything on me, I was just so relaxed that it didn’t even felt real. It was like I was sleepwalking and before I knew it I was standing on the platform when it suddenly hit me. One of the crew members just told me not to look down since I told him about my fear of heights and he told me to concentrate on the bridge in front of me. I just did that and by the count of one, two and three, I jumped when he told me to jump. It was just that easy!!

The feeling was just incredible and to be honest, I thought it was going to be much scarier, maybe this bridge was too low???  I don’t exactly know, but it was fun and the only thing that went through my mind at that moment was … I DID THIS!!!! Hell yeah!!!

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I can recommend it to everyone, even with fear of heights, one should once in a lifetime do something like this and it even makes me wonder if I could do the Nevis as well??? Maybe for the future???

Anyway, once I was down, Tania was up next and just like me, she had the feeling that it was going to be worse than it actually was. Are we good or are we good??? In a way I am just happy that nothing went wrong, but that's just me. I was so proud that I could finally do something of which I don’t have control over. It felt great, I can tell you that!

Since we still had a little bit of free time on our hands, we took some pictures with our goofy looking t-shirt and than it was of to the souvenir shop and a few minutes later, the shuttle bus was there again to bring us back to town. With a big smile on our faces we walked inside the bus, still feeling a little bit „high”.

Upon our arrival in town we were so hungry that we decided to go for the famous Fergburger. It is said to be the best burger of the whole country and although we had to wait for almost an hour, I must admit that it was a good one, but too big for me and I still don’t understand why people want to wait for almost 3 hours to get one in the first place!!!

By the time we left the place, it was already 6 PM, this meant that within an hour we had to go to dinner again with our group and food was the last thing on my mind right now.

The weather was still very nice, so we decided to do some souvenir hunting and of course we scored a few things. With our new purchases in our hand we walked back to our room only to leave it again about half an hour later. Tonight we were going to a pizza place which supposedly has to best pizza’s in town, but still not hungry, I ate only a bit of bread and one slice of pizza. It was just too much!

On the other hand drinks were no problem, especially the vodka with raspberry, that was way yummy, but when the alcohol started to kick in, I felt sleepy as well and by the time it was 9 PM, me and Tania went back to our room. No party for us tonight, we were way to tired, what a jump (or even two in Tania’s case) can do to a person.

By the time we closed our eyes it was already 11.30 PM, way too early actually, but I didn’t care much about it, I was completely knackered.

Posted by Ils1976 05:37 Archived in New Zealand Tagged bridges river adventure friends adrenaline oceania Comments (5)

a day of hiking through the most beautiful landscape

When we woke up early this morning and I noticed the beautiful blue sky, I was the happiest person on the world. It seemed that good luck was finally on our side and as soon as we had breakfast, we were picked up by some kind of a school bus to bring us to the Abel Tasman NP. The drive in itself was about an hour and we were not only Topdeckers, we picked up other people from their hotels as well.

During our ride, the weather changed however and dark clouds were hovering above us, I guess we were all thinking the same thing, please let today be at least a good day!!!

As we arrived at Abel Tasman, the weather changed for the better again and I could jump for joy, but not after saying a quick goodbye to the rest of our group first. They were going to do a kayak trip and afterwards they even had a short walk, so this meant that me and Tania were on our own today for a leisurely half day of hiking. Bring it on I would say!

Our water taxi was going to drop us of at Medlands bay, but before we reached this place almost an hour later, we first had a look at the split rock and some fur seals, who were enjoying their sunbath. 

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The walk from Medlands Bay towards Anchorage was about 11.5 kilometers, accordingly to the locals a fairly easy walk, so as soon as we got dropped of and Tania changed into some more "summery" clothes, we were on our way. The hike trough the forest was a bit steep and tiring, but as soon as we saw our first bay, this was all forgotten. There was even a lookout point, less than 1 km into the hike and by the time we got there I was out of breath not only because of the steepness of the hill but also of the beauty that surrounded us.

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We quickly ate some power food, in this case a banana, and then we were on our way again. The walk back to the main coastal track was a bit cursed, for me that is. Just as I wanted to tell Tania to have a look at her right to see the beautiful colors of the water, which were greenish by the way, I tripped over some kind of small tree root and I fell smack on my face. If I have to be honest, it was not immediately right on my face because my right hand and left knee broke the fall, but however you put it, it wasn’t pleasant. I scraped my knee and hand and I seriously hurt my right elbow, but after recovering for about a minute or two, everything was fine again. Even my camera survived, it seems that Sony is a good brand and shockproof as well.

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I know I am a clumsy person, but this is just downright stupid! On the other hand, I learned a valuable lesson today, no matter how beautiful the scenery is, look down as you are walking!!!!

Back on the main track, we walked for another few kilometers (we think anyway coz there were no signs to be found) in the sunshine when we suddenly saw another bay, called Sandfly Bay and since we still had enough time before we had to catch our water taxi back, we went for it and had a look at this bay as well. This time I remembered my lesson and walked very carefully, but by the time we arrived at the bay, the weather changed again on us and it started to rain. Bummer!

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The beach itself looked nice and it had its own small creek, so instead of walking through the rain, we decided to wait it all out and about a few minutes later it finally cleared up again and for the better as well coz the sun kept on shining. Following the coastal track all the way towards Anchorage, we came across a few bridges, but the neatest of them all was the suspension bridge crossing Falls River.

Only 5 people could get on there at each time, so it needs no explanation that even when hiking, you could end up in some kind of „traffic jam”. But as soon as we crossed over, a real challenge began as we had to climb several meters uphill. As the minutes passed and we were still climbing, I thought that it was never going to end. This was really a steep hill and for some odd reason lots of people were passing us. I know I am a slow climber, but that slow???

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Even when we finally came at a beautiful lookout point and the track was going downhill again, people were constantly passing us and at a given moment we were even scared that we missed out on something. What the heck was going on here???

We knew that we had to be in Torrent Bay before 2 PM because of the crossing and the low tide. If we weren’t on time, we had to take the long way up to Anchorage and there might be a chance that we were going to miss out on our water taxi, but now that everyone was passing us, we thought we had to move on as well coz maybe the walk was longer than we thought. We were utterly clueless when it came to the length of our hike. Where the heck were all the signs ??? Where we going in the right direction ??? One thinks of many things when you are all on your own in a NP, that’s for sure !!!

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I don't know what was going on, but one thing I do know, we arrived at Torrent Bay way in time! It wasn't even 2 PM yet and with still a little time to spare before the high tide was coming, we decided to have lunch together with some cheeky seagulls at a more than beautiful beach. This truly is the life sometimes.

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The crossing towards the low tide was only a few 100 meters away and while crossing it, we also needed to jump over a few creeks. Sadly enough they were a bit deeper than I thought and soon enough my walking shoes were a tiny bit wet. Maybe I should have followed Tania’s idea and brought a few sandals along, but hey, that was a bit too late now. The walk itself wasn’t that long and as we almost reached the forest again we had to cross an ever bigger stream so, time to walk barefooted. The water was surprisingly enough quite warm, but the ground was all squeezy, so I was glad that after walking a few meters, I could put on my shoes again and as soon as we walked up the stairs into the forest, we arrived at Anchorage Bay … surprise!!!

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I still don’t know why people were rushing the whole time because even the two of us arrived an hour before our pick up time. Not that this was too bad of course, we walked a little further down the beach and as soon as we found a good enough spot to put our bags, we enjoyed the sun for a while. It truly was an amazing day.

By the time we were going to be picked up, we met up again with our fellow group members and while listening to their stories, I was more than glad that we didn’t went kayaking coz they had to stop because of too bad weather conditions and in the end they were stuck for a while on some kind of island where a water taxi had to pick them up and while stranded in the rain, they couldn’t do anything, I am glad we had such a nice walk, except for my little accident in the beginning of the hike that is.

Exactly at 3.45 PM, our taxi is there to bring us back to the beginning of the NP and by the time we got back, Tania received the bad news that she could’ t go skydiving because of the bad weather conditions, what the heck, the weather is just fine now!!! Go figure???

Once back in Nelson, there wasn’t much to do than finding something to eat and we tried a local Italian place, but our pasta was just so tiny that we had to go to the golden arches for a second course, we were really hungry and tired as well coz by the time we got showered and packed all of our stuff again it was time to close our eyes. Time really flies when you are in NZ.

Posted by Ils1976 04:19 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes beaches bridges trees birds boats rain water river plants walk friends trail hikes mammals oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

what a day for hiking

My God, I thought it rained all night and although I expected the worse for this hiking day, by the time we actually woke up at about 8 AM and I looked through the window, I noticed it is the drainpipe which is making all the watery noises. Is this a good sign!?

The sky on the other hand isn’t looking all that good and the only thing we notice, are dark clouds. It seems that we are out of luck and I am afraid that even our 1 % chance for our hike has gone into thin air so to speak. By now I am almost sure that were not going to be able to walk the Tongariro Crossing today. After breakfast we still go and ask the reception if it is possible, but nope, not a chance at all, the crossing is sadly enough closed!

Since we still wanted to go for a walk (coz what else is there to do than feeling miserable like the weather), we asked everyone who wanted to accompany us on a hike to be ready at the reception by 9 AM. Although it seemed that in the beginning not many people were interested, by the time it was 9 AM, more than a handful of people showed up, to be more precise, it were almost more than 2 handfuls.

Not able to do the crossing, we went for the next best thing and we decided to do the 6 hour walk all the way up to the Tama lakes which consisted out of a lower and an upper lake.

Leaving the hotel, we just followed the track at the parking lot and slowly walked into he NP. After a good 15 minutes we came across our first bridge (not that spectacular actually, but great for pictures) and about an hour later we even saw a huge waterfall. This was the perfect stop for our first break and as soon as we all had rested enough, it was back on track towards the lake.

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The track itself went up and down a lot with quite a few steep climbs, but we all went on our own pace so it was more than doable. The thing that was the most unbearable though, was the rain and after about 2 hours walking, some of our fellow group members just quite and went back on their way towards the hotel. It is sad though, but if you are so wet and cold, I can understand that you don’t want to walk any further.

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After a good 3 hours walking, it could be less of course, I don’t know exactly, we arrived at the lower lake which had amazingly beautiful colors when the sun shined upon it, but as quick as the colors came, the quicker they were gone coz more rain was coming our way. Needless to say, by the time we wanted to eat our lunch, it rained and there was no place to hide, so the only left for us to do was to eat in the rain.

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For most of our group this was a sign to head back, but 5 stupid people remained : me, Tania, Alexander, Francesca and Kelly. It seems that only us Europeans wanted to go and have a look at the upper lake.

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This on itself wasn’t an easy walk. We first had to go through some bushes and then we had to undergo 2 climbs which were pretty steep and windy to say the least. More than once I thought the wind was going to pick me up and the only thing for us to do was to hide behind some rocks and seeing they weren’t always big, this became a major problem. Although the wind was bad, the rain was even worse. We had one rainshower going up hill and although it was just water, it felt like hail on your face. This was just not normal, but I have to admit, the reward of seeing the upper lake was worth it and the most important thing of them all, I climbed up a very steep hill and although not without danger, that on itself is quite a reward. I am so proud of myself!

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Not wanted to linger too much up that big hill or should I say volcano, we quickly made our way down again and braved yet again another downpour. Now that we were there again, we still had one quick glance at the lower lake again and than we were on our way back towards our hotel, where we arrived about 3 hours later.

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Tired but happy that we did the walk, we heard of some people wanted to go to the spa of our hotel and although someone of our group booked a hot tub, it seemed that she already went earlier on the day, so it was there for us for the taking and something like that sounds like music into my ears.

Together with Tania and Annelou we went to the hot tub and soon even Alexander followed as well. Sadly enough there wasn't space for all of us in the hot tub, so instead of going into the water, I enjoyed the warmness of the sauna, only I don’t know if they now the concept of a sauna in NZ coz normally you sweat a lot in such an „establishment”, but here it was like sitting into the warm sun. It wasn’t hot at all and although I kept on pouring water on the stones, it just wasn’t real hot and after about a bit more than half an hour, me and Tania just left the place and went for a hot shower instead.

After rearranging our luggage it was time for dinner and this evening we decided to go along with the group and went for the BBQ dinner at the hotel. The meat wasn’t all that bad and we had a bit of warm and cold veggies as well, so all in all the perfect meal after a long day of hiking. The dessert was a welcome surprise as well and was yummy to say the least. We weren’t going to bed with an empty stomach.

I was completely knackered after a full day of hiking, taking a not so hot sauna but a very hot shower and I didn’t even mention a good meal. So it wasn’t a total surprise that I slept like a baby the minute my head touched my pillow.

Posted by Ils1976 00:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes people lake river plants friends tour hike oceania grey_weather Comments (2)

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