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22.01.2020 Bye-bye boat life. Our two weeks aboard Carola have come to an end, and we will definitely miss our fellow crew members and the awesome times we had with the gang. Thanks to Jo, our marvellous captain, who is an excellent teacher that soon trusted her crew enough to let us do most of the steering, trimming and tacking during the day. And on top of this, she treated us to freshly baked bread rolls now and then, and played the violin for us! When sailing, there was always time to read and chat, play games and take naps, and in the mornings and evenings we could relax in the hammock, go for walks, runs and swims, or give the paddleboard a go. Grocery shopping was always something out of the ordinary, as we did not do it often and stocked up for many days at a time, taking heaps of provisions back to the boat in our inflatable dinghy. In Marsden Cove marina, we gave our floating home a thorough cleaning, installed a bigger front sail and wind cups, completed a couple of other maintenance jobs and also did some laundry, with our clothes drying on long lines on deck. We used the marina's shower facilities and even decided to give some crew members a new haircut, making both Carola and everyone aboard sparkling clean from keel to mast. Yesterday we vacated our berth bed on Carola for new crew, Maude and Silvain from Switzerland. We are now staying with Micha on Pantagruel, enjoying two extra days on sea, and more wildlife encounters: This morning, on our way to Kawau Island, we came across a large school of dolphins! It was simply breathtaking to see these beautiful animals jump around and swim with our boat for at least an hour. And during a walk on Kawau we spotted wallabies, hopping through the bush as if to foreshadow our next adventure: a short side trip to Australia! #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #sailing #yacht #pantagruel #carola #dolphins #kawau #crew #dpsg

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19.01.2020 Nature by boat. Travelling on sailing yacht Carola gives us the chance to enjoy a bit of New Zealand's coast and its unique wildlife from the sea. As we sail, we encounter plenty of seabirds, fish and jellyfish, and we are constantly looking out for penguins, dolphins and whales. On a day of little wind and high waves, Pantagruel's captain Micha invited all of us to join him and his crew on a day trip to Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve. These rocky islands are covered in thick green woods and have been declared a bird sanctuary, so people are not allowed to set foot there. It was a lot of fun to dive and snorkel there and explore the islands' rugged shores and water-filled caves with our dinghies. On our way back to the mainland, we finally spotted something bigger than a kingfish or a seagull: a shark, right next to our boat! A few days later we anchored in a bay outside Marsden Cove marina and went for a hike around the cape. The footpath we followed is part of the Te Araroa trail spanning the entire country from north to south. Our walk took us through the bush, along a rocky hillcrest, up to giddy heights offering stunning views across the peninsula and the ocean, and then down to a picture-perfect beach. We went for a very refreshing swim in the waves and relaxed in a warm, salty puddle the retreating tide must have created there. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #sailing #yacht #pantagruel #carola #dinghy #teararoa #oceanbeach #snorkeling #hiking #cave #crew #beach #jellyfish #poorknights #dpsg

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13.01.2020 Sailing in the Bay of Islands. Only five days ago we did not know more than a couple of words of sailing vocabulary in German, and none in English, but yesterday we were already part of the crew of Sailing Yacht Pantagruel in the Russell Tall Ship Regatta. Pantagruel is a 100-year-old boat, built in Hamburg, and owned by Micha. It was confiscated during WW2 to serve as a training boat for the Hitler Youth, after the war it went to Poland as a training boat and 23 years ago it came back to Germany. Last year Micha and Joanna crossed the Atlantic and Pacific to take Pantagruel to New Zealand. Thanks to Micha for the invitation to come aboard for the Regatta. Our temporary home is Carola, Jo's own boat, a little 12.6-meter one-mast yacht that sleeps up to six people. The day we joined her, right after the Jamboree, Captain Jo picked up an entirely new crew. So now there are Maike from Germany, Marc from Spain, Andrea from Italy, the two of us and of course Jo from Great Britain. Some of us already have sailing experience, and through Jo's brilliant teaching we quickly learn about hoisting and trimming the sails, manoeuvring the boat and navigation. In the first few days we already got to know our co-sailors pretty well and had a lot of fun, for example at the yacht club party after the regatta, which included a hangi, where food is cooked in the ground in traditional Maori manner, and live music. We are going to enjoy ten more days of life on sea with our crew, cruising around the Bay of Islands and then heading south along the east coast near Whangarei. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #sailing #bayofislands #russell #yacht #tallship #hangi #pantagruel #dpsg

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07.01.2019 Impressions from Jamboree. Yesterday evening we represented Germany at the closing ceremony, and today we are leaving the big scout camp with lots of new ideas and great memories. Our job with the food distribution team was good fun, and when we were not at the warehouse, we walked around the site and tried to take in as many impressions as possible. We had a look at activity bases, the welfare tent and creation stations. We attended the international evening stage show and were amazed by dances from Pacific Island Nations. In big marquees we learned about camp cuisine, the pedagogical programme of Scouts New Zealand, the national scouting museum and the badge trade business, which Kiwi scouts are totally crazy about. For this Jamboree, there were about 250 different troop badges, day badges, activity badges and more to collect and swap, and so the streets between subcamps could get very busy with kids looking at what others had to offer and negotiating good deals. Walking around the individual camps was probably the most interesting thing to us, as we could spot many clever things like bike-powered washing machines, camp kitchens in trailers, or really creative (and often illuminated) camp gates, and of course have nice chats. Among the lovely people we met were Shannon, a Wellington leader who went to the post office there and collected a parcel for us, Duncan, who agreed to take most of our camping gear to Christchurch and store it for a while, and Bruce, who taught us how to handle a digger and is now giving us a ride to Auckland. Shouts to all (tired but happy) Jamboree attendees out there, and especially to the scouts helping us and our gear go places! #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #jamboree #dpsg #mystery2020 #scouts #nz22 #scoutsnz #mystery #camp #washingmachine #zipline

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02.01.2020 4500 scouts.  We are starting off the new decade at the National Scout Jamboree, a big 10-day camp for 10- to 14-year-olds. Counting all Scouts, their troop leaders, older scouts helping out, international guests and staff, we are about 4500 people here at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton airport. We learned about the event right after arriving in New Zealand, thought this could be an awesome experience, and decided to get a job and participate as staff rather than mere visitors from overseas. So now we are part of the catering team and spend much of our time at the food hub. This is where food is distributed to all kids and leaders, following a clear-cut plan. They camp in about 80 groups of up to 40 people, and twice a day each group sends a few kids and adults to our warehouse, where they fill their trolleys with everything they need to feed their troops. We are really intrigued to learn about the logistics behind the scenes of such a big camp, and apart from doing warehouse duty, we are busy getting to know new people from New Zealand, Australia, Oceania and other places, learning about how scouting is done at the other end of the world, and testing the fun activities the kids are offered here. On New Years Eve, we had a bit of team shenanigans with hockey in our food warehouse, and then went to the central Jamboree party for music, dancing and the countdown. Now we can say that we were among the very first people to welcome 2020, here in the first time zone, 12 hours ahead of Germany. Happy New Year! #scoutbound #newzealand #nz #neuseeland #jamboree #mystery #mystery2020 #mystery2019 #scoutsnz #nz22 #warmshowers #dpsg #scouts

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25.12.2019 Christmas with friends. Our plans for Christmas developed quite spontaneously, and were mostly influenced by the bigger master plan we are following right now: Travelling up north to attend a scout camp near Hamilton.  In our transfer car, we left Christchurch and first drove to Kaikoura, a peninsula on the east coast that is well worth visiting for its landscape, wildlife and vegetation. We went for a very windy walk around the tip and were impressed by the austere but beautiful rocky beach, parts of which only surfaced in a 2016 earthquake, and seal colonies in very close proximity to the footpath. The next day was mostly filled by the ferry journey back to the North Island, and after a night on its west coast we drove further north, as we had arranged a Christmas reunion: On a remote campsite just outside Tongariro National Park we met up with Nicole, a friend and fellow scout leader from our hometown, and her travel companion Nadja. Together they are touring around the country in their green campervan. They brought two more German girls, Jule and Katharina, so we were six people to do the spectacular Tongariro Crossing hike together on 23rd December. What a breathtaking and fun experience! On Christmas Eve, it was just Nici, Nadja and the two of us, and we went on a nice short walk along Lake Taupo before having a cosy and yummy evening meal with German Christmas cake and mulled wine. We loved it, although this was not exactly in line with the Kiwi way of celebrating Christmas, which is more about barbecues, trips to the beach and other kinds of summer fun on 25th. In the end, however, it all comes down to having a good time with family and friends, no matter which end of the world. #scoutbound #neuseeland #nz #newzealand #tongariro #tongarirocrossing #kaikoura #christmas #friends #wine #departmentofconservation #seals #camping #laketaupo #warmshowers #scouts #dpsg

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20.12.2019 Bye-bye bicycles. Cycling through the residential red zone of Christchurch to access the city centre felt eerie and unreal, because hedgerows and defunct power lines reminded us that ten years ago this huge green area was a living neighbourhood. After the 2011 earthquake this zone is not habitable anymore because living there became too dangerous when the ground sunk, and so all homes were removed. This must have been an extremely difficult time for the former residents, and even today Christchurch's city centre is still very different from any other place we have seen before, with big empty spaces, ancient buildings still in danger of collapsing, and temporary solutions mixed with very modern architecture. We are staying with Angela and Derek, two cyclists from the UK living in Christchurch since four years ago. They are preparing for the Christmas holidays and a kayak trip in the south of the South Island. Luckily there has been some time for chats and shared dinners anyway, and they have told us more about their new home city. They will leave the city this afternoon, and we are going to do so this morning – however, not on our bikes as usual, but in a car. A car? Yes! We got the chance to take part in New Zealand's 22nd Scout Jamboree, a big camp which is taking place in Hamilton, on the North Island, at the turn of the year. Therefore we booked a transfer car to head north again. A transfer or return car is a rental car which has to be taken from one place to another, and now that we have signed up for the job, we can basically use the car for free for a couple of days. Yesterday we stored the bikes at Lyn's place in Christchurch. We got to know her on the North Island, when we spent the night in the same place as a bigger group of local cyclists. We told them about our plans and Lyn kindly offered us to take care of our bikes for a few weeks. We have to take the car to Auckland by 26th December, so we will spend Christmas somewhere 'on the road'. We are looking forward to this new adventure, but we will for sure also miss our bikes, and cycling. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #neuseeland #christchurch #warmshowers #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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17.12.2019 Live and let live. On our way to Christchurch we have come through some truly remarkable places. In Springs Junction we stayed with Robyn and Peter, who live in an off-grid house with a rain water tank, a compost toilet and solar panels on the roof, and who manage to convey the impression that adopting an environmentally conscious and sustainable lifestyle is not a huge challenge, but simply the most natural thing to do.  Our two hosts suggested staying a second night and joining them on a bushwalk to help with a job they do on a voluntary basis for the Department of Conservation: They regularly check over 400 traps and empty, repair and bait them. This means walking many kilometers in the bush – all year round, and in all weathers – and it evidently also means killing animals. However, minimizing the numbers of harmful predators such as rats and possums is a necessary measure to protect native birds and help them survive. So of course we agreed to become trappers for one day and carried new traps up towards Lake Daniells, where we were rewarded with a nice view, sandwiches and a swim. Two days later we reached Hanmer Springs, a small town that attracts both locals and tourists with its hot springs and open-air thermal pools. And after all the hiking and trapping, the conquest of Lewis Pass and a night at a simple DoC campsite, we decided we deserved another rest day and a bit of dolce vita in the hot pools. Yesterday evening we arrived in Waipara, for a final stop before Christchurch, and here we are staying at a place with several vintage railway wagons withdrawn from service a long time ago. However, they now live a second life as hotel rooms, and we totally enjoyed the experience of sleeping in such an exceptional location, plus waking up to freshly baked bread this morning. Oh, what a life! #scoutbound #neuseeland #newzealand #nz #springsjunction #lakedaniells #lewispass #departmentofconservationnz #doc #hanmersprings #trains #waipara #warmshowers #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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11.12.2019 The power of nature. On our trip we are repeatedly reminded that as an island nation on the edges of two tectonic plates, New Zealand is prone to freaky weather and natural hazards. Luckily, we were about 700 km south of Whakaari/White Island when the volcano erupted on Monday, and are not affected by the disaster in any other way than emotionally, feeling sympathy for the people and families concerned. Nature has been showing its whims to us too, and has made us change plans quite a bit in the past few days. Spending the weekend in Nelson to wait for an unpleasant mix of rains, hail and thunderstorms to pass, we heard that much of the west coast might not be accessible for weeks on end because of flooding and landslides. Our intention had always been to cycle south and towards the other coast, in the east. When we learned that the Rainbow Trail is closed for the time being because of a large land slip, we decided to take the Great Taste and the Golden Downs trails to St. Arnaud anyway and then continue to Murchison, accepting that we would have to follow highways instead of taking a quiet and more scenic trail. In the end we left the busy road on a detour to Lake Rotoroa, which had evidently burst its banks and flooded the shore. In Murchison we had to come up with a new plan again, as we wanted to leave via the Maruia Saddle Road but this trail is closed, too. So here we go again, cycling along hardly stunning, but at least sunny and unexpectedly quiet highways, towards Christchurch. On a positive note, experiences like camping next to beautiful Lake Rotoiti remind us that nature, this sublime and awe-inspiring thing, also has it in its power to take our breath away with stunning views. #scoutbound #neuseeland #nz #newzealand #nelson #murchison #nelsonlakes #christmas #christmastree #landslide #saintarnaud #flooding #warmshowers #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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06.12.2019 Challenging crossings.  Maybe it was in reaction to our quick departure from the capital that on our way to the ferry terminal the winds and rains blew us through Wellington's streets with full force and put our waterproof gear to the test. We could definitely have spent more time in this city, but there will probably be more occasions in the future and we were simply eager to move on to the South Island. Taking the ferry on a stormy day is perhaps a bit risky, and the waves were quite impressive indeed on the high seas of Cook Strait, which did not agree with all passengers' stomachs. Luckily we were fine and could fully enjoy the 3.5-hours crossing to Picton, which offered stunning views once our ship reached the much calmer sounds and bays in the northeast of the South Island. We spent the night in Picton, treating ourselves to an evening bath in our hostel's open air jacuzzi, and then cycled on to a charming DoC campsite in the green forests of Marlborough, a region known for its wines. Unfortunately, we had to take a longer detour, as the scenic route we had wanted to take was closed due to a landslide. At the campsite, we got to know David from Switzerland, who cycles the world on a hybrid trike powered by solar panels mounted on an aluminum trailer. Meeting him in person was a bit like coming across a mythical creature out in the wild, as some of our Warmshowers hosts had accommodated him before and already told us about him and his unique way of travelling. The next day a real challenge was waiting for us, when we set out on the conquest of Mangatapu Saddle via a steep and difficult gravel track of the same name. With rough trails, demanding climbs, steep downhill sections and streams to wade through, this crossing was quite an adventure, and getting both of us and our heavily loaded bikes to Nelson on this route required a real team effort. #scoutbound #neuseeland #nz #newzealand #nelson #bluebridge #ferry #picton #jacuzzi #mangatapu #solarbikes #vineyard #trees #landslide #sunbeam #warmshowers #couchsurfing #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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