White clouds of all shapes perform an eternal dance through Aotearoa’s south island fiords, from the rain-soaked rainforest valleys of the west coast up to the mighty mountain ranges around Mount Cook in the interior. Snow-topped mountains, thousands of meters in height, mirror in extensive lakes both in their depth as on their spotless cobalt blue and turquoise surfaces. Glaciers rumble in distance and melt their remains into inland seas, more saturated in a marriage between white and blue then any bay in south-east Asia. New Zealand’s landscape was unlike anything I had ever seen, challenging my concepts of size, color and patterns, powerfully giving prominence to the basic elements: earth, water, air and fire.
After a few month in Australia I was on my way to my next trade on Waiheke Island near Auckland, but decided to visit an old friend in Queenstown first. I flew in straight from Sydney and spent a few days in the picturesque city. Massive thanks to Alissa and her great friends for hosting me and for such kind hospitality, New Zealand is famous for it for a reason and you all know who you are, good things are out there for you.
We went hiking in Paradise, climbed the Remarkables, rode a downhill bike down Rude Rock on Coronet Peak, slid on a wakeboard over Lake Wakatipu, walked through clouds in the Fiordland National Park, sailed out to Milford Sound and hiked up to the glaciers of Mount Cook. I also managed to just spend some quiet days away from the buzz, since Queenstown is very touristic and I was lucky enough to be based outside of its center.
After all those treats I had to get going to finally meet Dorte, from whom I got the invite to work for the Community Recycling Network Aotearoa. I decided to travel low-impact and to make my way to Auckland hitchhiking up the coast. I left Queenstown behind by walking out the main road and arrived at the ferry terminal to Waiheke in Auckland 7 days, 1600km and 17 lifts later.
The last time I hitchhiked over a longer distance was maybe a decade ago and this trip up to the north island went formidably well, although not without incidents. Leaking tents, swarms of blood-thirsty sandflies and broken down lifts couldn’t shatter my patience though and I met some great people on my voyage up. Focussing on the bright side, it was a steady flow of trust, friendships and great people I met during this week. I learned all about New Zealand’s geothermal energy with an engineer, went rock climbing on the west coast with Matthias and Andy, won the friendship of world travellers Wolfgang and Harriet and got a lift with a friendly courier, among many others. The courier even had a guestbook for hitchhikers to comment in, and took me from Lake Hawea to Fox Glacier while he delivered the mail.
On my way up I came through Wanaka, Fox Glacier and Greymouth. After a stop in Nelson I took the ferry to the north island and stayed in Wellington for 2 nights, next stops were Napier, Hamilton and finally Auckland.
A lot was left to discover and I had hardly visited the north Island, so I left a good chunk of my little traveller heart in the rugged country and shall come back one day. The last weeks in New Zealand would be focussed on my work for the CRN Aotearoa on Waiheke Island and I was looking forward to a very interesting project.
My photographic take on my first weeks in New Zealand below. I managed to create a few great panorama images stitched from several shots. A story about my time on Waiheke and the great work done by the Community Recycling Network is in the making.
See you soon!