Saturday, February 27, 2010

26th of February 2010

I left Takaka around noon the next day, turned out to be quite a queue, but after 1,5 hour it was my turn. A couple of rides later I arrived in Picton just to miss the ferry by the minute. I did get on the next though and 3½ hours later I arrived on the North Island in the capital of NZ, Wellington.
Arriving eleven in the evening in a city is not the best of ideas if you haven’t booked a place to stay, especially if there is a big music festival coming up the next day. I had to walk through the city centre forth and back with everyone out partying. I went through every hostel in the centre of the city until in the last one the receptionist felt sorry for me and put me in a room that was already full, but had a lots of couples in it. During the night though these young kiwis that were in the city for the music festival came into the room several times turning on the lights and screaming, I probably would have slept better at a park bench!
The next morning I headed out of the city as fast as I could, took a train to the outskirts and started hitching again. Now my luck took a 180 degree turn!
The next guy was David whom was on his way to his brothers 48th birthday at his sisters place, so he invited me to come with him and I spent the evening in this beautiful valley with Dave and his brother and son, sister and brother in law which were both professional sheep shearers, going to Norway every year to shear. We had a big barbeque and drank plenty of beer and whiskey that night. I had a great night but a little to topped up on beer I successfully ruined one of the zippers on my new tent, so now I wont be able to sell that either (really don’t like it), and I hope it doesn’t rain to much because then I will get wet!
The next morning Dave drove me a bit back on the way and bought me an ice-cream before dropping me off. From there I hitched south and 3 rides later Duncan and Sarah and Sarah’s mom whom was visiting from England for their wedding which they just had a few days earlier picked me up. Duncan had sworn that he would never pick up a hitcher again because of some weird previous experiences, but who can resist me standing there?
They had a Sheep station down by Cape Palliser where I was heading, 7000 acres and 3000 sheep + some 300 cows in the Aorangi Range, really hilly country! They told me I could put up my tent by their woolshed if I wanted which I did so I would have access to a toilet and a lunch room.
The next day I hitched to the Putangirua Pinnacles and went for a hike looking at the rock formations that was used in the Return of the King during the Dimholt´s Road scene. Then I hitched down to Cape Palliser which is the southernmost point of the North Island. A lighthouse and a big seal colony kept me busy there for quite a while before I hitched back to my tent at the woolshed where a cold beer and fresh eggs was waiting for me.
The next morning after having breakfast with my hosts I went with them to muster sheep in one of the “paddocks” because they were getting sheared the next week. This turned out to be harder then one would think considering the area is covered in wooded hills up to 600m high. So we drove to the top of the hills then two of us started hiking down trying to find and herd as many sheep as possible with the help of the dogs, Duncan just kept going up and down these hills, guess you would get pretty fit doing this so often. After the mustering and having lunch in the house they drove me up to the town of Masterton and bought me an ice-cream in the same place Dave had before dropping me off.
Yet another couple of rides and heading away from the highway to the less trafficked roads this woman Vicky dropped me off just outside their house, which was also a sheep station and told me if I didn’t get a ride within a half an hour I should come over to the house (Was around seven in the evening, so dusk was approaching). So after a while I went over to the house where she fed and let me sleep the night in the house, later on her husband George also came home. George and Vicky had 1000 acres and 2000 sheep + cows, quite different from Duncan and Sarah and in the morning after breakfast I went with George to do some mustering, moving sheep and cows between paddocks. Doing it in these lands which also were quite hilly but not covered in forests we never even had to get off the quad bike unless we were going through/opening gates. Maybe Sheep Herder is something I should become in the future? Afterwards Vicky made me some lunch to take with me and I said goodbye and kept hitching on yet smaller roads until I reached the Waihi Falls which is a very beautiful waterfall but very unknown to the public because it isn’t mentioned in any of the guidebooks. I ended up staying by the falls for 20 hours with only one couple from Auckland coming by to have a quick look. I spent the day swimming in the pool below the falls and sitting in the shade reading and listening to the noise of the falls, I did slip though walking around on the rocks by the waterfall (I never learn do I?) and hurt my left foot.
The next morning I left around 10 and two sheep farmers (yes, there is still a lot of sheep in NZ!) later I came to Dannyvirke from where I hitched north to Norsewood which is a town founded by Norwegians! There is also a wool fabric called Norsewear in town which makes very good and cheap wool socks so I had to make a stop and buy me some new hiking socks before continuing. A few rides later I arrived in Napier where I am now, have to run a couple of errands and wash my clothes and stuff so staying at the backpackers here two nights while my foot recover, half of it is blue now by a huge bruise.
So far I only seen one hitcher on the North Island, way less compared to the south but they still are around.
Oh and by the way, I don’t know if I mentioned the animal thing about NZ yet. But one thing they have for sure and lots of it is sand flies, and god do I hate them, they keep on having a blood feast on my feet every day, not a nice sight. At least they don’t carry malaria so they wont kill me!

Friday, February 19, 2010

18th of February 2010

I ended up staying 12 days at the Sans Souci Inn, helping mainly with the cleaning in the morning or the serving of the meals and doing dishes in the evening. The whole place is really beautiful and environmental, built with clay bricks, grass roofs and probably the cleanest compost toilets I ever seen! Working only a few hours a day gave me lots of time to explore the area, and boy is the Golden Bay area worth exploring!
I explored scenic reserves full of cycads and limestone cliffs which made you think there could jump out a velociraptor around every corner, I went and looked at a beautiful waterfall, a huge cave, the Pupu springs which has the second clearest water in the world (only Antarctica has a clearer water) and the springs just creates a river out of nowhere. Visited several great beaches and I also went up to the north passing the famous Mussel Inn trying their beer and all the way up to the top having a look at the amazing Wharariki beach and doing the Hills track which gave me great views of the Farewell Spit and the cliffs on the way.
But this Monday I said farewell to Vera and Reto and headed to the Abel Tasman National Park to do one of the great walks of New Zealand. On the way there I was picked up by an American dude, Scott, whom was doing the final research for his guidebook, NZ Frenzy, for the south Island, he gave me his guide book for the north island and signed it. An awesome book I have to say, because its his personal view on places and it doesn’t list rubbish like accommodation and restaurants, just different waterfalls, beaches, hot springs and similar.
The hike was 42 km long and took me 3 days. I have to say it was a little bit of a disappointment though after being around the Golden Bay area. It was very crowded and had these houses and even a village in the middle of the park which kind of ruins the experience.
I did pass a couple beautiful beaches and bays though, and had a few really awesome sunrises and sunsets.
Coming out in the south end of the park yesterday I hitched back to Pohara and Sans Souci Inn again and here I ran into a problem with NZ, as I mentioned in the previous entry hitching NZ is really easy, it’s Childs Play! So there are a lot of hitchers around which causes another problem, every now and then the spot you get dropped at already has another hitcher trying to get a ride.
Being a polite hitcher you of course walk further up the road and get behind the hitchers already there, first come first serve. This though can delay you ride quite some because the other hitcher most of the time needs to get a ride before you have a chance of getting picked up. Then we have all these newbie hitchers which actually don’t get behind you, but is a complete ass instead and starts hitching in front of you!
Anyway, I did get a ride back (even before the guys in front of me!) and picked up some stuff I left at the Inn which I didn’t want to carry with me during the hike. It had started rain quite a lot now so I hitched into the nearby Takaka and found a hostel for the night, today it is still raining (supposed to be nice tomorrow) so I decided to stay yet another night.
I have probably been riding in around 30 different cars the last 2 weeks, but because most of them have just been shorter rides I haven’t taken any photos except off this German tourist that picked me up 3 different times the same day and the following days I kept running into him everywhere. And the other photo is of Scott, the NZ Frenzy author.

Monday, February 8, 2010

4th of February 2010

Landing in Christchurch, New Zealand, I was a bit confused what I would do next because I had expected Veronica to be by my side. But as I was now here and got a one year working holiday visa I headed into town and found myself a hostel. The next couple of days while trying to come up with a plan I also got myself a bank account and tax number and I tried to have my phone unlocked, which was a lot harder then one would think.
So after a few days messing around and actually catching up with a friend from back home which just happened to be passing through Christchurch I gave up (on the phone part) and just decided I would leave town and see where the road takes me. I took a bus to the north outskirts of town (I never been north of Christchurch before, but I was in NZ in 2007 and went around the rest of the South Island) and started hitching, as usual its hard to get out of a city but once I got a ride everything started rolling and the next few days was just great.
The first guy to pick me up bought me an ice cream when he dropped off, the second guy adviced me about great WWOOFing places he knew about in his area and gave me a bunch of organic fruits that he had grown himself. The third guy showed me a great spot to camp for the night. Later on two American guys came and put up their tent close to me and we got talking and the day after they gave me a ride further up north to Picton. From there I went west on a scenic route with a dutch dude followed by a brittish couple on their honeymoon!
The thing about New Zealand is that hitching is still going strong here, just in 3 days I have seen 12 other hitchers out there, compare that to Australia where I hitched for 150 days and saw in total 1 hitcher on the roads! So getting a ride in New Zealand is really easy, people around here are used to the hitchers which is great. But then on the other hand it does take away the uniqueness of what I am doing and doesn’t make me that exciting to people that do pick me up.
Finally I got to the town of Nelson in the north and checked into another hostel so I could have a shower and go through my options of what to do next.
That evening and following morning I called a few different WWOOFer hosts, I have explained this on my Oz hitch, but WWOOF stands for willing workers on organic farms, in short it means you work at a place for 4-6 hours a day and they feed you and give you a place to sleep as well as teaching you about what they do and show you around the area. Finally I found someone that had room and it just so happened to be one that the guy recommended to me the other day!
So I hit the road again and two quick rides later I arrived in the small town of Pohara in the Golden Bay region where I’m now at.
So the next two weeks I will be working here a few hours a day at a place called Sans Souci Inn. It’s owned by a lovely Swiss couple, Vera and Reto, and they have accommodation and a restaurant at a really beautiful spot just 50m from the beach.