Alle Beiträge von Addy

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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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03.12.2019 Trains and rains. We left Eketahuna, the town with the giant kiwi, and cycled south, via pleasant flat roads, first gravelly and later sealed. We stopped in Masterton to spend the night and were quite amused when we saw that a Lonely Planet travel guidebook described it as 'a town without any sights, where people simply go to work every day'. So there was no need for an extended stay, and the next day we carried on towards Featherston. When we arrived, there was just enough time to visit the local Fell Locomotive Museum. In the 19th century Mr Fell invented special steam locomotives that could climb up and travel down steep and formerly insurmountable hills by holding on to a raised middle rail. Six Fell engines were once deployed to safely pull heavy passenger and freight trains up and down the Rimutaka Incline just outside Featherston. In 1955, a new railway tunnel put an end to the locos' services, the tracks were removed, and about 30 years later the former track bed was given a new purpose: It is now an attractive cycle and hiking trail. And of course the following day saw us pedal up the historic route. Having passed the summit, we went downhill and right into Greater Wellington, approaching the capital via densely wooded hills, a flat path along a river and then the seaside. This could have been very scenic and enjoyable, if it had not been for heavy and persistent afternoon rain. Luckily, our hosts Fiona and Barry, their snug home, hot showers and five baby kittens were waiting for us in Wellington.  New Zealand's capital is a coastal city surrounded by residential areas on green hills, and Barry often bikes down into the city centre for work and then takes the train on his way back home. We did so too on today's rest day and enjoyed the short train ride and of course our first visit to the capital in general. This morning we are having a look at the national museum Te Papa, while outside the rain is coming down in buckets again. And this afternoon we are going to leave the city and the North Island – not by train, but on a ferry! #scoutbound #neuseeland #nz #wellington #featherston #kitten #rimutaka #warmshowers #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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28.11.2019 Birds galore. It seems to be all about birds in New Zealand. They are on the money, people call themselves Kiwis, beer brands bear their names, and in the great outdoors we hear them sing all day long. In the past few days, the Three Rivers ride and the Manawatu Cycleway took us from Whanganui to Palmerston North via two simple DoC campsites in the middle of nowhere, and there we got complimentary birdsong concerts every morning and evening. Some songs, such as that of the tui, sound very exotic to our ears. In Palmerston North, or Palmy, we stayed with Josh and Meriam, who are very much into cycling, running and all kinds of outdoor activities. Together we went to the cinema to see this year's Reel Rock compilation of climbing films, and we had a great time talking to them and their housemates about cycling and travelling. It is always amazing to reach a new place and find like-minded people, or 'birds of the same feather'. Upon Meriam's recommendation, we visited the bird recovery centre of Palmy's Massey university, where wild birds that have undergone surgery or some other kind of treatment stay for a while before they can be returned into the wild. We saw a little penguin, a kea parrot, and more. They also have a kiwi there at the moment, but at the time of our visit the patient was probably asleep.  So unfortunately we have not seen a live kiwi bird so far, and the chances that we ever will are rather low. They are nocturnal birds, quite shy, and unfortunately not very numerous anymore, as predators – intentionally brought to New Zealand to combat a rabbit infestation – have diminished the population numbers of these flightless birds. However, New Zealand's most iconic animal has kept popping up in the form of stuffed birds, preserved skeletons and original eggs as well as drawings and larger-than-life representations all along our route – for example in Eketahuna, where we will camp tonight. #scoutbound #neuseeland #newzealand #palmerstonnorth #eketahuna #palmy #kiwi #tui #birds #money #departmentofconservation #warmshowers #couchsurfing #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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24.11.2019 Another day in paradise. We cannot buy and carry along many souvenirs on this journey, but luckily we can take home an unlimited number of good memories. Two days ago, the wind and State Highway 3 took us to Whanganui, where we were accommodated by Ann and John. They are in their late seventies and live on the local Quaker Settlement – a spacious property with a community centre, private housing for about 25 people, gardens and orchards as well as sheep pastures. The first night we accompanied John to a community meal and met some of the residents, who are not all Quakers but share certain values and look after the property together. Both mornings, when we were having breakfast in the sunny garden, John merrily announced 'another day in paradise', and we really enjoyed every minute with him and Ann. They are incredibly joyful, warm-hearted and humorous people and full of life experience and stories. In the past they somehow managed to run several farms, raise three daughters and run marathons while travelling quite a bit and making friends all over the world. Curiously enough, Ann has had a pen pal in our neighbouring town, Niederstetten, for almost all of her life, and showed us photos of a trip to our home region. Ann also showed us the town centre, the market and a historic riverboat that once went up and down the region's aorta, Whanganui River. She had us try Hokey Pokey ice cream and took us to the Regional Museum, which offers a good glimpse at Maori culture. To her mild disappointment, we did not buy much at the market, but the time spent with her and get husband has filled our imaginary backpack with unforgettable impressions, many happy memories and valuable bits of life advice. #scoutbound #neuseeland #newzealand #whanganui #wanganui #whanganuiriver #quaker #paradise #icecream #streetart #maori #waimarie #warmshowers #couchsurfing #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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21.11.2019 Kia Ora Taranaki. Pronouncing and remembering placenames of Maori origin correctly is quite a challenge to us, but what helps us is learning about the meaning of syllables like 'wai' (water) or 'whanga' (bay), in addition to expressions like 'kia ora' (hello). Interestingly, Aotearoa (the island of the long white cloud) once got its other name, New Zealand, from a Dutch explorer, who named it after the province Zeeland back in the Netherlands. Other placenames came with British settlers, like that of New Plymouth, where we arrived a few days ago, just in time to hide from heavy rain and strong winds. After a long period of good weather it was getting cooler and wetter, and it was amazing to stay a couple of days at Anne's place during the worst bit. Anne is a very well-travelled and knowledgeable lady who passionately defies the stereotype of a typical grandma. She is a backpacker, camper, hiker and cyclist, and it was fascinating and enriching to talk to her over the meals we shared. Coming into New Plymouth felt like finally reaching the seaside, although we had technically been to the NZ coast before. And the special thing about this town is that its black beach is at a stone's throw from the mountains. One afternoon we climbed Paritutu Rock, and with the weather getting better, we caught a glimpse of beautiful Mount Taranaki. It presides over the region with the same name and seemed to look down on us when we cycled on along the coastline. In Opunake, the neat vintage cinema caught our attention, and we got to know Andrew, one of the volunteers running it. He gave us the chance to have a look behind the scenes of this intriguing old but newly refurbished place. Today we ended our day with a beach stroll in Patea, and tomorrow we will leave Taranaki and cycle on to Whanganui. #scoutbound #neuseeland #newzealand #newplymouth #opunake #patea #taranaki #whanganui #helmet #coast #cinema #driftwood #warmshowers #couchsurfing #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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15.11.2019 Tiny places, huge stories. Yesterday we left Taumarunui and carried on via State Highway 43. The speed limit on NZ highways is 100 km/h, and not all of them are as busy as the name suggests. SH 43 is a special case: It is so extremely quiet and runs through such a rural piece of land that it has been given the byname 'Forgotten World Highway'. Cycling through hilly farmland and forests, past remote farms and along abandoned railway tracks, we really felt that this road lives up to its name. In the evening, we reached Ohura, and at first glance it seemed like a ghost town with its abandoned houses, empty shops and deserted places up and down the main street. Closing mines and mills as well as a flood once caused a huge drop in the town's population numbers, but when we met John, Ohura resident and our host for the night, we learned that there is still life in this place. John is a 79-year-old retired oil rig worker, adventurer and bicycle lover who lives on a property full of small huts and sheds, and just like his home, he is full of stories. He owns an entire fleet of vehicles, with ten bikes, a DIY house truck, and our place for the night: a purple bus fully equipped with a kitchen, sofa, heating stove, shower, double bed and sun deck – a 'tiny living' dream come true! Today, John accompanied us on one of his triple hybrid bikes (equipped with a battery and a German Sachs motor) to our next destination, a town called Whangamomona. Faced with similar problems as Ohura, and a highly unpopular reorganisation of administrative zones, one day the inhabitants of this town met in the only pub to declare themselves an independent republic. Although it is politically irrelevant, 30 years later this republic still exists and we can now proudly show the official entry stamps in our passports. Its citizens celebrate Republic Day and elect a new president every other year – with the list of past and present presidents comprising several men, a goat, a poodle and a woman. Crazy Kiwis! #scoutbound #newzealand #neuseeland #whangamomona #ohura #forgottenworldhighway #vanlife #tinyliving #camping #warmshowers #couchsurfing #scouts #dpsg #cyclinglife #biketouring

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13.11.2019 Out of reach. On the day of our arrival, we bought a New Zealand SIM card for one of our phones, so we can go online, text and call people whenever it is necessary. In the past three days, however, we have been quite disconnected from the world out there. From Waitomo, we cycled to Te Kuiti, where we refuelled our stove, filled our bags with food and supplies for several days, and then went on to a campsite at the beginning of the Timber Trail. This trail is one of the country's Great Rides cycle paths and it leads cyclists and walkers through an area so remote that there are actual signs indicating in which spot phones will capture a signal. The following two days, we would see about two of these signs a day, and virtually no cars. The Timber Trail is mostly a narrow gravel or dirt road leading through hilly forests. It dates back to the time when New Zealand's woodlands were cleared on a massive scale to gain timber. One half of the trail mostly follows an ancient railway line that was once built to transport the logs down to the flatlands. It was extremely interesting to read the information boards and learn about the woodcutting process, to see some remains of these old times, and to pedal through endless, lush green forests for days – which have luckily grown back, although they now consist of different, faster-growing types of trees. This afternoon we finished the trail and reached Taumarunui, where we can now refresh our low stocks and check our inboxes. #scoutbound #newzealand #neuseeland #timbertrail #piropiro #departmentofconservation #caterpillar #benneydale #suspensionbridge #bridge #camping #warmshowers #couchsurfing #scouts #dpsg #cycling #biketouring #cyclinglife #adventure #lessborderslessvisa

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