Tag: Hiking

On an adventure between green hills

It’s funny to wake up near a farm. I never knew cows can make such loud noises. Besides the cows, there are sounds of many birds and the rain on the roof of the car. I don’t mind that it’s raining, I am thankful for the great night I had in Hobbiton. It was a grand final of this trip and I’m ready to go home. Since I still have a couple of days left here, I plan to drive to another nature area today. I drive to Port Waikato, also one of the movie location of the Lord of the Rings. It’s raining the whole morning and it shows me again how special it is that we had perfect weather last night.

The cows that woke me up
Drive via beautiful green hills
The rocks I want to visit
The beach at Port Waikato
Some rocks that look like pancake rocks
Private property
Coffeeplace in Port Waikato
Getting closer to the rocks
Permission to walk further

It’s still raining when I arrive in Port Waikoto and I go a local coffee store to upload the pictures and update my blog. I also order the books of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings online, I think it’ll be nice to read them this winter. I’m not so sure what to do the coming days. It’s a strange thing to be ready to go home and still have some days left. It looks like it’ll keep on raining today, but I decide to drive to the nature area anyway. The road turns into a gravel road without notice and the scenery gets more and more beautiful. Wide spread out green hills with rock formations everywhere. It finally stops raining, which makes it even better. When I arrive at the movie location there is a sign that it’s private property and that unauthorized access is not allowed. For a moment I decide what to do and then I drive back to a farm I just passed by. A friendly man is sitting in front of the farm and I ask him if it’s his property and if I can get permission to walk there. He turns out to be the owner of the land and gives me permission to walk on it. I’m happy and drive back to where I just was and climb over the fence. First I walk through a field with cows, then a field with turkeys and finally when I get closer to the hill with rocks where I want to go, I walk by hundreds of sheep. The sheep keep running away as I walk further. The rocks are very big from nearby and except from some fences for the sheep, this area looks completely untouched. It’s so beautiful to see all these rock formations and little crooks hidden between the green hills. I think that not many tourists have walked here. I keep walking and almost get lost between the green hills that look very similar, but I find the car back after about an hour. It was a beautiful hike. It’s nice that every time when I think that the journey is almost over, I find myself on another adventure.

Some cows on the road
Beautiful nature hidden between green hills
I hiked quite far through the green hills
Iconic landscape
Beautiful nature hidden between green hills 2
Driving through the green hills of New Zealand
Big rocks in the middle of green fields
The sheep are running away
Driving on backroads of New Zealand

I decide to keep following the gravel road which goes further through the green hills. I can’t drive too fast, because the road is in quite bad condition. There are random holes in the road and sometimes there is water flowing over the road. It isn’t too bad, because it gives me the opportunity to look around and enjoy the scenery. There is no one here, only lots of sheep and some goats and cows. It’s a real backroad, mainly for the few farms that are here, I think. After about an hour I arrive in a small town. There is not much in the town, but they have a free campsite next to a football field, so I decide to stay here for the night. There are a few other cars parked, but since it’s a bit raining again everyone stays inside. I do the same and watch a movie in my car. It’s nice that even a quite ordinary day can become a bit of an adventure if you search for it. It was a beautiful hike through the green hills and steep rocks.

Climbing Mount Doom

I wake up when it gets light and go outside. It’s still misty, but it looks to be a bright day. I get dressed and start driving, because everything here is still wet and I’ll have my breakfast somewhere else. Also I hope to take some nice pictures of the beautiful road to this campsite in the first light of the day.

I take some nice pictures of the green hills and when I have phone connection again I map out a route to Tongariro National Park where the high mountains are. I’m really blessed with the weather today. Exactly at the day that I want to go hiking it’s a sunny day, not a single cloud near the mountains. I decide to go for the last major thing on my New Zealand list: climbing Mount Doom. Before I start the hike I make myself an big breakfast and a lunch package. I also pack a lot of water and my first aid kid, because I have heard that this is a really tuff hike.

Misty morning
Misty morning 2
Road through green hills
Misty morning at an off the grid campsite
Small road back to civilization
New Zealand Sheep
Closing the gate of the campsite behind me
Road surrounded by green trees
New Zealand Sheep 2

The hiking path starts nice and easy, but gets steeper the closer I get to the mountain. As usual I hike fast and am not wearing a shirt, but as I get higher it actually gets quite cold. After a little more than an hour walking I’m at the foot of the mountain. Here the path stops and some warning signs say that it’s dangerous to go further. Of course I do not let that stop me and I start the climb of Mount Doom. It is indeed the most difficult and most dangerous hike I’ve ever done. There is not really a path, I just have to find a way over sliding rocks, snow and ice and it also involves some rock climbing. What makes it the most difficult though is that the wind starts blowing very hard. It is a great adventure. A little help comes from two guys climbing in the distance in front of me, giving me some idea of where to go. It doesn’t take long before I catch up with them. One of the guys is thinking about giving up, but I encourage him to keep going, because you don’t want to stop half way. Later he thanks me that I helped him getting further. After about one and half hours climbing I reach one of the two tops. It’s really cold here and I’m glad I brought my had and gloves with me. I climb over the top and a bit down on the other side where there is no wind. Here it’s actually quite comfortable and the view is amazing. Because it’s such a clear day you can see the landscape really far. The rocks of the mountain are actually a bit warm, because Mount Doom is a volcano and I can also see some smoke coming from in between some rocks.

Road to the mountains
Mount Doom
Warning sign by the trek
Ready for a serious hike
Hiking to Mount Doom
Warning sign at Mount Doom
The path to Mount Doom
Another hiker following me

After having rested for a while and taking pictures at the top of the mountain, I slowly begin my way down. The way back is as I expected even harder, because I have to watch out more for not sliding down. I fall a couple of times, but fortunately don’t hurt myself too bad. When I’m almost back at the foot of the mountain I wonder if I should also have climbed the snowy top, but I quickly realize that it’s good that I haven’t done that. After a couple of hours climbing I got a bit tired and I still need to hike back to the starting point. I feel accomplished that I’ve managed to climb Mount Doom, something I will probably never do again. It was challenging and dangerous, but also totally awesome.

Enjoying the hike 2
Enjoying a free ice lolly provided by nature
The view at Mount Doom
Enjoying the hike
Some hikers with professional equipment
Steam coming from the mountains
Walking on snow and ice
Enjoying the view at Mount Doom

On my way back I eat my lunch package and think about what to do next. After several days of camping I feel like getting a bit more comfortable again and I’ll probably look for a hostel or hotel when I’m back at the car. Five and half hours and 17 kilometer further I arrive back at the car. Feeling tired and accomplished after this great hike.

Reached the top of Mount Doom
The mountain now surrounded by clouds again
View from hostel in Taupo
Thats where I just was
Lakte Taupo

I drive to a town called Taupo, it’s a nice drive next to a lake that I had already seen from the mountain top. When I arrive in the town I feel tired and don’t want to drive much further, so I go online and find a hostel. When I check in there, the guy at the reception turns out to be from the Netherlands as well, so we continue our conversation in Dutch. After check in I do some groceries and make myself dinner. In the kitchen is a girl also from the Netherlands. It’s interesting to suddenly see so many Dutch people. We have dinner at the balcony and after that I’m getting my laptop to update the blog. I talk for a while with the girlfriend of the guy at the reception, also Dutch, and share travel stories. They’ve been in New Zealand for about four months and work now at the hostel. She gives me some tips for places to visit before I leave. I’ve met so many people who stay in New Zealand for months or years. Although it’s a beautiful country, I wouldn’t want to live here. It is a great journey, but I’m also fine with going home again in two weeks. I’m not quite sure yet what I’ll do in the coming days, but I like to see it per day what’ll come my way. For tonight I got myself a shower and a bed, so it’s all okay and then tomorrow the adventure continues.

The adventure goes on

How I love to wake up in a nice hotel. A good nights rest and a fresh shower can make so much difference. I feel more energized to continue traveling again, this was just what I needed. I also realize now that most of the worries were not so much about money, but more about work. Most clients are very understanding that I’m on vacation and I’m really thankful for that. There was just one client putting pressure on me to get things done. It made me feel stressed, because it’s challenging to get work done here. I’ve now decided to just accept the fact that the internet here is not as it is back home and that I simply cannot work so much here as expected and that some things might have to wait until I’m back. Having chosen to accept the current situation feels as a relief and I think it’ll enable me to also enjoy the last days of the vacation.

Putangirua Pinnacles
Vie from Putangirua Pinnacles lookout point
Enjoying hiking at the Pinnacles rocks
Road to Putangirua Pinnacles
Me in front of the Pinnacles rocks
Putangirua Pinnacles rocks 2
View from hike at the Putangirua Pinnacles
Putangirua Pinnacles rocks
Hiking with an English family

I drive to the Pinnacle rocks, a long drive through wide fields with nothing around. When I arrive it’s storming outside, but inside I’m calm and peaceful. I start hiking and already at the start I meet a nice family from England. A mom and dad, two boys of about ten years old and a young girl of I guess seven years old. She’s really funny and talks a lot. I hike along with them and enjoy their company. It starts to rain, but I don’t mind because it’s a beautiful hike. It’s funny how all moms seem the same, because this one is just like my mother when we were young, continuously worried that the children are alright and safe on the path. I understand it a bit though, because the path uphill is very muddy and slippery. I wonder why I put on my clean jeans this morning, because they’re already muddy. After about 45 minutes we arrive at the top and have a beautiful view of the pinnacle rocks. I say goodbye for a while, because I want to see the rocks from nearby. I do some climbing in between the rocks. I stuck in the mud almost to my knees deep, cut one of my fingers on the sharp rocks and get wet and cold from the rain, but I’m feeling better than I have felt in days. I feel alive and enjoy every moment of this hike. My sense of adventure is back and I’m enjoying this journey again.
After climbing the rocks I run back for a while to catch up with the family. I don’t have to run for too long, because they’re lost by the riverside. The path back along the river is hard to find, but together we manage to hike back to the parking place. I think that the hike was at least two hours in total and we all get cold, but it was great. We say goodbye and get in our cars.

I guess you're not supposed to hike here
Almost knee deep in the mud
Me climbing between the Pinnacles rocks
Pinnacles rocks 2
The walk back from Putangirua Pinnacles
Campsite at Kaitoke Regional Park 2

I get out my wet clothes, put on a warm sweater and turn the car heater on. I drive north for a while and then see that I’m not so far from one of my favorite campsites, so I go there. It’s nice to be at this place again, it’s a wide field surrounded by forest and there is a cooking area. Just like the last time I was here it’s almost no one here. There is only one other camper. I bake some pancakes for dinner and then another car arrives, a German couple. We talk for a while and exchange food and travel stories. They have made some nice pasta, so I’m thankful to also get healthy food. I in my turn make them happy with some apple ciders and pancakes, a good deal I think. We have a nice time together, but then have to go inside our cars, because it gets quite cold outside.

Campsite at Kaitoke Regional Park
Pancakes for dinner
Meeting a German couple
Another camper at Campsite at Kaitoke Regional Park
And pasta for dinner
Taking a picture of the camper at night

Before I go inside I look up and see the stars appearing. That’s one of the things I like so much about this place, you can see so many stars. The whole sky is covered with them. With my camera I manage to take some pictures of them and I enjoy the view until I get too cold. One of my friends had told me the other day that I might need to slow down my adventure a bit in order to enjoy it more. Until now I found that hard, but since I made the decision this morning to let go of work for a while and fully enjoy this vacation, I feel more relaxed and I think I can slow down now. I plan to stay at least one more day at this campsite, since I have food enough with me and don’t need to go anywhere. Time to slow down and enjoy the adventure at a different pace.

Saturday morning run

The sky is clear of clouds when it’s starting to get light this morning. The view of the sun slowly coming up behind the mountains is so beautiful. Already yesterday I had the idea to go for a run this morning, so that’s what I’m doing when I wake up. I first run to the park where we were playing frisbee golf yesterday and follow the water side to the harbor. Then I go uphill in a forest on the foot of Mount Ben Lemond. It soon get’s steep and the run changes into a hike and later into rock climbing. It’s pretty intense, but really beautiful as the scenery gets better the higher I climb. From the hill I run back to the city and back to the hostel. When I arrive, I’ve been on the way for over an hour and I feel great. I love it so much to run.

Sunrise at Queenstown
Running in the park
Rock climbing
Running next to the lake

The rest of the morning and afternoon are quite relaxed. I do the laundry, clean up my car and make up the bed in the car so that I’m ready to travel further again next week. Then I sit down at the balcony with a good book and enjoy the sunshine while I read. I update my blog and do some groceries.

Around five in the afternoon a couple of people go to to the lake because they want to dive from a cliff. I drive with them to the lake, but don’t feel like diving in the cold water today. It’s fun to see the others jump in the water and I’m tempted for a moment, but I know already from a few days ago how cold it will be. Especially now that it’s much colder outside the last two days. I have a better idea, I collect dry wood to make a small campfire tonight. When the others are too cold to stay outside we drive back to the hostel with the trunk full of wood. We make a quick stop at the supermarket for some marshmallows and other food to put on the fire and then go home.

Roadtrip to the lake
Guy from Finland doing backflip from the cliff
Guy from Finland doing backflip from the cliff 2
Collecting wood for campfire
Marshmellow on the campfire

When it’s getting dark we start the fire and put some music on. With some cold drinks and hamburgers and sausages we have a nice dinner with a few guys and then more people join us. Sitting around the fire is always nice and we have a good time together. It’s probably one of my last nights here, since I have decided to hit the road again on Monday. I’ll miss this place, but I’m also looking forward to new adventures.

Hiking in paradise

One of the nice things of sleeping in a bunk bed is that you can jump out of it when the alarm goes. That’s what I do again this morning and when I look outside I see that it’s a bright day. I decide that I won’t work today, but enjoy the nice weather and will go for a hike. After I’ve taken a shower, had breakfast and updated the blog, I go to the grocery store to get food to make a lunch package for during the hike.

Road to Glanorchy
Old road sign
Kiwi lunch
Road in Glenorchy
Road to Routeburn track
Welcome to Glenorchy
Me at Glanorchy

A bit fed up I drive back to the hostel. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but New Zealand is really expensive, especially on the South Island. Gas and groceries cost a lot more than back home. I don’t like to think too much about money, but here you have no choice. Back at the hostel I meet with the friend I had planned to hike with, but he injured himself last night with going out, so I go alone.

Routeburn track
Swing bridge at Roadburn Track
Routeburn track 5
Nice van
Routeburn track 1
Routeburn track 4
Routeburn track 6
Routeburn track 7
Meeting Aussies while Hiking

I want to go to Glenorchy, to a place they call Paradise. It’s a beautiful drive next to the lake and mountains to get there. After about an hour I arrive. The weather is perfect, blue sky with a few clouds. I make myself a lunch as my Kiwi friend Chelsea taught me: buns with cheese, salad and fresh chicken and an apple cider. Especially outdoors, surrounded with mountains, it tastes very good. Then I drive a bit further to Routeburn Track. A multi-day hiking route of which I plan to do the first part. It starts with a path going uphill, more challenging than the hike of a couple of days ago. Already close to the start I meet a friendly couple from Australia. It’s nice to hear their accent, reminds me of some Australian friends back home. We talk while we hike and spend the rest of the day together. We take many pictures and hiking together is actually a lot easier. I think that’s my favorite part of traveling alone, you’ll meet so many nice people along your way. The hike is beautiful, following a river and passing many swing bridges and waterfalls. We also meet a really friendly couple from America and hang out with them for a while at the first hut at the half of our hike where we rest.

Meeting an American with a cool shirt
Routeburn track 9
Routeburn track 2
Routeburn track 8
Routeburn track 10
Routeburn track 11

After a couple of hours hiking, at the end of the afternoon we’re back at the cars and say goodbye. I drive back to Queenstown, but suddenly start feeling sick. A headache and feeling queasy. I drive quickly back to the hostel and go straight to bed. It was a great day, but all I want to do now is sleep and rest for a while.

Mt. Cook

This morning I wake up happy, realising that I don’t hear any rain on the roof. I open the curtains and see that the sky is brighter than yesterday. It is still a bit cloudy, but already much better than the days before. I can actually see the mountains around the lake now and I’m very happy. I get the dressed quickly and go outside to take some pictures. Every minute the sky gets brighter and the view prettier. After a couple of grey and rainy days I’m so thankful that it’s finally beautiful better today. You just appreciate it much more after having missed it for a while.

Blue skies
Sitting by the lake
Swing Bridge in Hooker Valley
Lake with mountains
Road to Mt. Cook
Me at Swing bridge 2
Reading by the water side
Hiking Hooker Valley
Hiking path in the mounains

I have breakfast at the lake side and then decide to stay there for a while and read a book next to the water. It’s very peaceful and the view is amazing. Then I drive to Mt. Cook which is only about an hour from where I am staying. Although the sky is still cloudy, around Mount Cook there’s only blue sky. I arrive around midday at Hooker Valley and set out to take a hike of three hours. I hike often faster than most people do, so I’m aiming for two hours. The hike is beautiful and I take a lot of pictures. In a little over an hour I arrive at a large mountain lake which is the destination of the hike. I take a break and sit on a rock next to the water and enjoy the amazing view. The lake is surrounded by mountain peaks and it’s very quiet up there.

Hiking path to Mt. Cook 2
Hiking path to Mt. Cook
Finished a hike
Me in the alps
Mountain lake with ice
Rohan - Twizel
Me at Swing bridge
Me at Mountain lake
Sunset at camping place

Then I start the way back. Instead of following the path I take a more adventurous route over the rocks next to the river. It’s a bit scary, but also exciting. After about half an hour of jumping and climbing from rock to rock, I’m back at the hiking path. I still have a lot of energy so I decide to run back. Some people are laughing and putting their thumbs up, I feel amazing by running through the mountains. In just a little over two hours I arrive back at the parking place where I need to rest for a moment. I plan on not driving too much today, but can’t find an affordable and nice camping place nearby, so I drive for another hour or two. Just before sunset I park at a camping in a nature area. It’s beautiful, but after running today I could actually use a shower, I think I’ll go a to a bit more luxurious camping place with hot showers tomorrow, but this is also part of the adventure of course. I’m thankful that today at one of the the highlights of the trip, Mt. Cook, the weather was perfect and that it was such a good day.

Hiking with friends

One of the nice things of traveling is that you can wake up and for a moment don’t know where you are. That’s what I have again this morning when I wake up in a really nice bed in my friends house. They’re still asleep when I get out of bed, so I get to the living room, make myself a cup of coffee and sit down on the couch with a good book. After a while they also get up and we have breakfast together.

After sleeping in a camper for a couple of days, it’s so nice to be in a real house again. I enjoy the things I often take for granted like a large bed and a hot shower. It’s also very nice to be with friends again. I’m quite good in being alone and I also meet a lot of people everywhere I go, but to be with a friend is something different and also nice. We plan to go on a hike in the afternoon and get some food for lunch on our way to the mountain where we’re gonna walk.

Hiking with Chelsea and Jill
Hiking in Napier
Hiking with Chelsea and Jill in red woods
Hiking Peak Trail Napier
Hiking in Napier 2
Kiwi lunch at top of the mountain

It’s a beautiful summer-like day again and it’s really warm outside. It’s the first day I can use my shorts. We walk through a pretty redwoods forest and then hike up a small mountain. At the top it’s pretty windy and a lot colder, so I’m glad that I brought my hoodie. We have sandwiches with salad and chicken for lunch, really delicious. Then we meet another friend who went mountain biking in the same area and together we go down again by car.

Even though I would have liked to stay longer with my friends, I feel that I should continue my journey south and say goodbye. I drive another three hours to just after sunset. I arrive at Kaitoke Regional park which must be beautiful, but I can’t see to much of it yet, because it’s already dark. I park my car at the camping place and enjoy again a sky full of stars, that’s one of the nice things of staying for the night in nature.

After having traveled around almost every day since I’ve been here, I plan on maybe staying in this area for a day or two and relax in the middle of nature before I continue to the city Wellington.

Hiking at Waiheke island

I had set my alarm on six o’clock this morning to have a long day for a day trip, but that wasn’t necessary. I already wake up around 4am. I try to sleep again but can’t, so I get up to write and post on my blog. I send a few texts to friends and family back home where it is 8pm at the moment. It’s a bit weird how it’s already Sunday morning here and still Saturday night back home.

Breakfast 2

I’ve nice plans for today, I’m going to take the ferry to Waiheke island. Last night one of my new friends texted me that she wanted to join, so at 7am we have breakfast together in the kitchen. I put some nice jukebox music on and start baking some eggs. Some more people join in the kitchen and like me are a bit swinging on the music. Happy music in the morning, I love it. The breakfast is very good and about an hour later we’ve packed our bags for today and walk towards the harbor. Of course we make a quick stop at a coffee place to get a cappuccino and then we get on the ferry. The boat is smaller than expected and moves a lot on the waves, but it’s a nice ride. It’s also pretty to see the skyline of Auckland from the water. We pass a couple of islands and after about forty minutes arrive at Waiheke.

Auckland skyline
Hiking route Waiheke
Islands near Auckland
Matiatia bay

Hiking at the island is nice, there are pretty small paths through forest and fields which lead to beautiful bays. The weather here in New Zealand is pretty unpredictable though. It’s even worse than Dutch weather. It can literally change in five minutes. So we walk sometimes in sunshine and sometimes in rain. After a couple of hours we are both tired of hiking and decide to take the ferry back to Auckland.

Oneroa Bay
Hiking at Waiheke
Me at Waiheke
Waiheke Island 2

Back in Auckland I go to Starbucks to work a bit, but the jet lag is too heavy and I can’t focus enough for programming. I almost fall asleep behind my laptop, so I decide to go back to the hostel.

Even though traveling is a great adventure, it can also be uncomfortable. This afternoon I feel a bit homesick. Not so much that I want to go home, but more that I miss the comfort of things you normally take for granted: fast and reliable internet to do some work, affordable good food, the gym and my bike to get everywhere quickly instead of having to walk half an hour. That’s also a nice side effect of traveling: you’ll appreciate the normal things more.

Dutch dinner in New Zealand
Me and Bas - Dutch guys

When I come back at the hostel I meet the other Dutch guy, Bas, and we decide to create a typical healthy Dutch dinner together: potatoes, vegetables and meat. I make it a little less healthy with ice cream for dessert. It’s really nice to eat some good food again after a in-flight meals and pizza last night. Tomorrow my road trip starts and I think it can be more challenging then to eat healthy, so I’m glad we have a good dinner this evening. We play some more chess as we did yesterday, but are both very tired so just before nine we call it a day. I hope I’ll sleep longer tonight so that I will be well rested tomorrow for the road trip.

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