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April 2005

Monday 11 April        Te Anau

It's been a good choice, buying a car. I've had such a beautiful time until now. the Bluebird hasn't let me down jet, and is not going to I recon, because she's doing good.

Starting off in New Zealand, I walked out of the airport and the first thing that comes my way is a guy wanting to sell his car. For me that moment was a little bit to fast and I wasn't even sure about what I was going to do and how, but this probably started the idea of it all.

Anyhow a good friend of mine, Iris, Lives in New Zealand now and has one of the most amazing jobs for DOC (Department of Conservation). Iris and I did the same studies and have worked together in Panama 3 years ago. The day I arrived, she was out with her colleges in the forest, working, so she sugested to pick me up in Auckland the day after.

In the backpackers @ Auckland I met the same guy from the airport again, telling me more about buying a car and travelling around like that. All bus-tours and other possibilities were quit expensive, and that is exclusive lodging and food. A car could kind of provide me my lodging if it is a station wagon or even a van?! He gave me the idea to go and have a look in the Backpackers Car Market, where indeed everybody was trying to sell their car, with a lot of useful equipment included (campstove, boxes, chair, table, etc...).

It made me a little nervous all of it. I wasn't sure and wanted to do the right thing. I felt a little lost? there was this one car though that I saw, Nothing special but..

Not wanting to decide, I just looked at them all, got some more information about travellers and just let it all sink a little bit.

I took a train out of the city to meet up with Iris, and she took me to this super cute little cabin, where she is living at Thames, 125km out of Auckland. Her little home was very cozy and situated inside Coromandel National Park. It's DOC's property, but she can live there as long as she works for them.

The next day we went on a car hunt, because she adviced me to go for it. She confirmed that it was the best way and the most flexible trip to see New Zealand. After Hitching the less expensive option as well as long as you can sleep in the car.

We ended up going back to Auckland, because I saw that car, and around that area we couldn't find anything. We went, me all nervous, and I came back with the Bluebird.

I gave it a proper clean up before installing myself and two days after I hit the road. Down to the South Island!

There is a big Ferry that goes up and down the Two Islands 4 times a day, so the 29th I could book a ticket and that was planned.

On this Ferry I meet Jim, a Helicopter flyer, logging trees with helicopters, heading down to his familie in the South Island, where they own a little farm. After some talking he invites me to come and have a look and ride one of the many horses they own.

This beautiful family is living in an old Woolshed, where the shaving gear for the sheep was still hanging on the walls. With a group of dogs, sheep, cattle, peacocks, ducks, chooks, etc... a Kaketoo, Nigel and many other animals, super nice. They took me to a typical cattle sale the next day and that was fun. Later that day I left for the trip, with Marylin's brother Matt. He was staying over at his sisters for a while and needed a lift home, which was further down the West Coast @ Whataroa.

I was going there anyway, so suggested if it was alright for him to spend a little longer than just driving down straight on the way, because I wanted to visit some spots on the way, then he could come with me, no problem. The family ends up having relatives all over the South Island, so if I ever need some adresses for on the way, I'm that lucky to being able to stay with them.

This is without a doubt the most beautiful country until now. Just so beautiful! even that word is not doing it any justice! Driving to West-Port, Cape Foulwind, Punakaiki, Greymouth (he said it was woth going to see Arthur's pass and seemed to like it showing me around on his way home) Arthur's Pass (This amazing bridge built through a couple of mountains to get through), Hokitika and than Whataroa the place where his parents and he lives.

And so I get to meet this amazing people, Heather and Dennis, Matt's and Marylin's parents, living in this really old and brown but so interesting little house, with a farm further in the back, dogs and a great hospitality. The Next day Matt showed me around the Glaciers, Frans & Fox. These are huge Glaciers moving about a meter a day. It is like a huge river of Ice, gliding through the mountains, with the highest point of Mount Coock in the background. It's all about beautifull mountain ranges, lakes in between and many valleys, undescribably green everywhere even when the temperature is so cold, all trees remain green and plenty of leaves. Just Paradise 2 my eyes.

Matt needed to fly out to Austarlia the next day, so I went along with him and his mom, to say goodbeye and accompany Heather on the way back, thought it might be easier for an old lady to have somebody to change the wheel with after 200km driving. I ended up driving all the way, but she ended up taking me to her sisters place in Kaikoura. Another amazing spot on the East Coast of the South Island, with seals on the beach. Lyn's house was amazing, one side of the house you had the view on the ocean and the other side the mountains with the tops filled with snow.

The Next day we went back home through Lewis Pass, another amazing journey through Paradise. They gave me a couple of amazing meals, a lot of potatoes, meat and cooked vegetables with desert. I stayed another day with Heather and Dennis, wanted to help out on their farm, but she showed me around and we replaced a group of sheep but did nothing much but chatting and she showing me the places and telling me her stories. I just felt so lucky, blessed even and enjoyed that so much.

Wednesday I felt like moving on and it was again bright and shiny, a nice day to travel.

On my way I picked up two Hitchers, the first didn't need a long lift, but the second was Suzi, a US girl from Florida, wanting to reach Wanaka to meet up with some of her friends.

Finding them, I ended up having some party times with them, 4 girls on the road. Rosi and Jo had a Campervan and were travelling for a year through NZ. They met Suzi in Oz some time before... we all ended up partying in Queenstown. A beautifull town in the middle of Paradise.

The following day we were hanging out in the Queens gardens when some guys turned up with whom we played some frisby and scrable until the time we made up a plan, going to buy some food, find a nice spot somewhere out of town and built a nice campfire for the cool night. Jo could play the guitar and I could built a nice campfire, the others helped out while Rosi cooked hamburgers. Fun and just cool next to the Remarkables (range of Mounaitns), next to a lake and under a breathtaking heaven of stars.

The Milky way is clearly visible over here!

I left the group of friends the next morning, heading on towards the Fiords. The amazing South of the South Island. Mavora lakes and Milford Sounds. What can I say, just so beautiful! It was nice to do some trekkings and enjoy a unique sunset through the Fiords, very very cold at night in my car, but worth it all!

Now I'm sheltered by another son of Heather that lives right down here in Te Anau, Mark. He knows the area very well, so can provide me with some good informations about what to do and see. Cathy and Mark are also so friendly, and this time I'm able to help them out as well, there Cathy just got out of an operation, I can be a good help in the House.

Yesterday I went 4 a 8hour trek onto the Kepler track. Here in New Zealnd it is all about trekking, some of the tracks are constructed to walk through for 3 or 4 days, hut's on the way to spent the night. The Kepler track is one of the well known one's and I did the first hardest bit and went back down, climbing 1085m to see the both lakes on each side of the mountain... so beautiful!

Just look at the pictures to know what I mean, because describing this place is to hard for any words.

What I find interesting is that there's not that much Wildlife in NZ. They don't have any Native mammals except for the Bat. Why is that? Such a rich place Nature wise, a lot of farming is done throughout the Country, probably mostly farmers. Deerfarms, Sheepfarms, Dairyfarms, Cattle....

Doc is the Department for Canservation and is a powerful organisation in this country, that's why you can find those 3 day during tracks, hut's on the way, all Naional Parks well protected and maintained like nowhere else.

Yesterday I was very proud of myself doing that track in that little time, proves me that I'm still fit enough to go fot the Job in 13 days @ Tongariro National Park. & weeks of being a Hutwarden trekking all days, staying in the small huts in the Park...wooow... COOL JAZZ!


Friday 22nd of April 2005


I’m becoming a farm-lady…

Meeting Murray, a friend of the Sweeny’s family (the people that have taken care of me and sheltered me and guided me through the South Island) was a great thing.

Murray owns a big Farm just outside of Te Anau. I have discovered so much during the time I hung around the farm… including meeting Nathan, Mack, Birdbirdand seeing Heather and Dennis again. This meeting forwarded me in another amazing experience down in Harihari, where I’ve stayed for to nights in a spiritual suite in the most amazing place!

Murray owns about 2 or 3000 sheep and 70 cows, steers and bulls… he has 5 dogs and some chooks… I learned how to separate calves from mum-cows, all about the different races and treatments… grazing patterns and so on.

I shared a sheep in Waituna lagoon, saw the most beautiful beach ever ever… had some oysters and was driven around the south coast.

Nathan bought my car of me and offered me the chance to go along the Sweeny’s and help them out with the sharing and the cattle sale.

Very lucky I am, because otherwise I would have had to spend at least 3 days in Christchurch to try and sell the car in low season. But no, I could go and learn more about farming.

It is sad when you take the calves from there mum, but fun to chase all these cows through the swamps, cluster them together and try to drive them towards a certain paddock. The same for the sheep, they need a haircut, and the wool here in New Zealand is a precious item… so there we went for a 100 sheep to collect from out of the bush and swamp and than share them short!

Good fun and I loved the farm-life.

The cattle sale went better than ever and good prices fell, which is good news for the Sweeny’s. They really need the money.

In Hari Hari, I met up with Kath and Dan, two friends of Nathan.. they opened up a self constructed backpackers over there, built and designed by own hands… amazing, no words do it any justice!

They have a big shed with all woodcarving materials and brew there own wines and beer.

They make there own honey, grow there own grass, made a bath tub outside and above a fire place, so you can go and lie under the stars in a hot water bathtub.

It were a couple of days that made me very silent, a place where you could reach your inner self and feel peaceful inside… very spiritual.  

I could sleep in the suite with views on the meadows, completely made out of wood… smelling oils like sauna’s, just what I fancy really!

Heading for Christchurch after that, wish I didn’t have to leave that place…it was just the place where you can stay for while and stand still…. But a ticket was waiting for me flying to Auckland….



Friday 29th April 2005, Turangi


So much to tell you all, don’t know where to start.

Right now I am in the most beautiful position within a magical place… a Hut warden in Tongariro National Park. We (Stefi, Virginie, Jeremy and I) Just finished our introduction week and passed the tests to fulfil the 6 coming weeks the outstanding opportunity to be hut wardens. This morning we came out of the National Park and are preparing ourselves for an End of Season party at nr.6, the common house where everybody can stay whilst not working in the Park. The other 4 hut wardens have finished there season, the last 6 weeks are starting now.

Jimmy is our instructor and leader and is a man with talent! He’s guided us for the last 5 days through all things you are supposed to know and understand to complete the job.

4 Huts; Mangatepopo, Ketetahi, Waihohonu, Oturere… each week a different hut, a different location in the National Park, different things to look after… They’re all far away from civilisation; just one of them has electricity provided by solar panels, we have to be there to keep the place clean and safe. To check the hut passes and provide trampers or day walkers with some information. Every day we have to call the base twice with walki talkie’s, write down the weather forecast do some inventarisation, and we can meet up with each other during the day if we like…

This is a magical place… really something everyone has to come and explore… it is an adventure packing a backpack, sleeping stuff and food for a hike of 3 or 4 days and walk through this still active volcanic area. You can find dried out lava-streams, volcanic bombs, valleys and high mountain ridges… beautiful rock formations and delightful coloured plains of bush and stones, mosses and alpine flowers.

There was some snow last week, but all melted already….with some luck I will have the chance to go for some skiing in June.

Monday is the real start, so am looking very forward to this… it’s quiet amazing staying out there in the alpine conditions by yourself with some responsibilities and nevertheless these most ‘’wwaaooooaaaaaaw’’ views. Sunsets and rises, freezing cold mornings and nights, probably a lot of the days as well…. but the tramping makes you sweat!