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New Zealand - North Island (October 2013)
Where do we even begin?! Since we arrived in New Zealand over a month ago we have done and seen so many amazing things that it is very hard to put them into words... We are writing this blogpost while we are sitting in the sun at the beach of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown after having eaten a delicious, massive Burger - the famous Fergburger. But that's another story...

Our New Zealand trip started - as for most people - in Auckland. We spent some days there organizing things and - most importantly - buying a Van which became our home for the following months. We were very happy to have our own car again as it gave us the freedom to go everywhere we want and stop as often as we like. As a result in some cases it takes us ages to get somewhere because sometimes we stop every 10 minutes ;-)
After spending all these days in the city we could not wait to leave and go to the countryside. Our first stop was the Coromandel Peninsula. As we were seeking loneliness and nature we started with the less travelled west part of the Peninsula. We spent a couple of days driving along the beautiful coastline and exploring the area.
the lonelier west part of the Coromandel Peninsula
the lonelier west part of the Coromandel Peninsula
Our next stations on the Coromandel Peninsula were Cathedral Cove (where we got up early to see the sunrise alone on the beach) and Hot Water Beach. At Hot Water Beach natural hot water rises up at the beach and at low tide you can dig a sand pool with a shovel and make a pool with hot water. The only thing is: the water rising up is so incredibly hot that we got our feet and bum burned a lot and had to sprint back to the cold ocean quite often :-)

After the Peninsula we continued to Tauranga and Rotorua. In Tauranga we visited the school Edgar's cousin will go to for a year in some weeks and went up Mount Manganui where we enjoyed the view from above.
Rotorua is the area with the biggest geothermal activity in NZ. You can see bubbling mud pools, geysers, hot water and steam rising from the ground and ponds with intensively colored water. A side-effect to all the geothermal activity is that there often is the smell of sulphur (which - in it's strongest form - smells like rotten eggs...).
bubbling Mud in Wai-O-Tapu (near Rotorua)
bubbling mud in Wai-O-Tapu (near Rotorua)
After the rather busy and touristy Rotorua we took off to drive around the East Cape. Most of the travellers will skip this part of NZ. There was nothing special (like a major attraction) to see but we enjoyed the scenery and the loneliness a lot.
sunrise at the Eastcape - New Zealand's most eastern point
sunrise at the East Cape - New Zealand's most eastern point
After a short stop in the art-deco city Napier we continued our journey to our next destination Taupo. Our main interest in this area was the Tongariro crossing - a 20km day-walk through volcanic terrain over a pass and along several intensely colored lakes.
For those who like Lord of the Rings: the scenes from Mordor and Mount Doom were filmed at the Tongariro crossing. During our trek we had a mystic, misty atmosphere and Edgar (being a huge fan of the movies) sometimes felt like walking through Mordor - luckily we did not cross any Orcs during our trek ;-)
during the Tongariro crossing - view over the Emerald lakes
during the Tongariro crossing - view over the Emerald lakes
After the hike we took a very scenic drive southwards. The winding road went up and down beautiful hills and with music in our ears, the sun in our face and a beautiful road like this the journey was indeed the destination...
rolling hills on the way from Taupo to the South
rolling hills on the way from Taupo to the South
Our last stop on the North Island was Wellington. As you might know we are not the biggest fans of big cities but "Windy Welly" (Wellington is the windiest city of NZ) had a special charm and we ended up liking it quite a bit.
the cliché shot you just have to take while in Wellington...
the cliché shot you just have to take while in Wellington...
From Wellington we took the car ferry over the Cook Straight to the beautiful South Island.
to be continued...

words New Zealanders like to say: awesome, heaps (lots of), sweet, sweet as, Kiwi (referring to a New Zealander - not the fruit)
after travelling through South America it feels weird that you have to fasten your seat belt again:-)
even the escalators (German: Rolltreppen) are going up on the "wrong side" - whenever we want to go up an escalator we would try to get up on the right side (which is coming down)
after two days of driving on the left side of the road it became quite normal
all power outlets have a switch next to it to turn it off
most juices in the supermarket have an apple base - pure juices are really expensive