Category Archives: New Zealand

Last March I went on a trip around the top of the South island in New Zealand. I visited the mighty Franz Joseph glacier on a day trip. Geared with crampons we climbed into the helicopter to be flown to the ice mass. Franz Joseph is ever changing. Our guide told us that within about a month the whole route they walk changes. Every day they see the differences. Every day the glacier changes a tiny bit, until a few weeks pass and no inch of it is the same as before. It is ever moving along, changing, melting. As a tiny human, it is hard to comprehend the size and power of it.

Land meets water in Te Anau, a small town in New Zealand and gateway to Milford Sound. Although Milford Sound is magical, this lake should not be forgotten. It’s a good place to go for a stroll along the water’s edge, through the bush.

My initial meeting with Franz was as a little human looking up at the awesomeness of the glacier from a viewpoint in the glacier valley. That same day I had a booked a glacier explorer, so in the afternoon I hauled my ass into a suit and then a helicopter. The ride, although only four minutes, was truly amazing. The anticipation in the small group could be felt as we were waiting to go into the air. Then we took off and flew close to the valley walls. Our pilot was even doing some neat tricks, tricking us into thinking we were in a roller coaster. And then we landed… Loaded with crampons we hit the ice. The weather was stunning so the minute we started walking, it was like a little sauna in the thick clothes we were wearing. No need for those gloves and hats. It was amazing how…

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I’d read about it. I’d heard about it. I didn’t know much about it, other than that I wanted to do it. The Queen Charlotte track is a multiple day walk through the beautiful Marlborough sounds in the top of the South Island. I had the ambitious plan of walking it in three days, which is the minimum amount of time it takes. My housemates had warned me that there are some steep parts and the visitor center wasn’t quite sure and advised me to do part of the track by boat on the first day. Afraid of not making it at all, I took there advise and booked my boats and accommodation. I had an early boat out the first day and was so excited I got up at six in the morning. The boat left at 7.30 and had only seven other passengers on board. The forecast for…

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Ever since I saw the glacier at the end of the Hooker Valley track in Mt Cook, I’ve been meaning to go to Franz Joseph. I wanted to walk on a glacier and see the thing up close. It took me a while, but in my last trip through New Zealand, I finally managed to come over. I had all morning to explore the glacier by myself and was lucky since the weather was great and you could walk all the way to the viewpoint. Even there you are quite far from the glacier, but getting any closer requires coming out with a guide, which was the plan for the afternoon anyway. This was a little teaser. The walk to the viewpoint was the walk through the valley where years ago the glacier lay. Later there was a glacial lake and now all that’s left is a small river. The…

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This photo is mostly out of focus. Still, I love it. It looks like a patchwork quilt or something. It’s a dreamy image. Because of the blur I keep wondering what is out there.

I felt a bit uneasy walking into Steven and Robyn’s backyard. I arrived on a long driveway surrounded by meadows. I hesitated briefly before I continued. Was this the right place? Robyn hurried to introduce herself. She found an old shirt for me and gave me gloves and safety glasses. Before I knew it I also met Steven, who made a quick chat to everybody and then put us all to work. I was one of the last to put a cold piece of steel into the fire. When it was glowing orange I put it on the anvil and started banging. Why exactly we did this, I didn’t hear until afterwards. Steel itself it not necessarily strong. We had to strengthen it with carbon, hence the fire, the hammering, and dipping it into a bucket of cold water afterwards with a loud hiss. When the steel had cooled down we…

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I spent quite a bit of time outdoors in the last two weeks. There have only been a couple of days that I haven’t been out and about, exploring forests, mountains or coastal areas. There is something calming about being out there. It’s just you and your thoughts, or perhaps some music. Everything is simple. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Every now and then you stand still to admire a view and tell yourself how lucky your are. This moment is from Nelson Lakes national park, looking out over lake Rotoiti after a pretty challenging climb.

I’ve been away for a while. On a two week holiday really. It was great not to have to do anything. It was great not to have much internet or even Phone reception. Just enough to keep up to speed on what’s happening. But now I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve seen so many amazing things, I don’t even know where to start. And, why do people keep asking me what my favorite part was? It was all my favorite part! From walking on Franz Joseph glacier, to making my own knife, to watching the rain from the veranda of the hut and finding solitude on the Queen Charlotte track. Let’s just start with one adventure. The one that took me through the Fox river. The walks in New Zealand all have their own warning signs. This one was very unsafe in rainy conditions, but since it was…

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I could hear the sea as I came out of my campervan. It was early. I had booked a whalewatch for 7.15. Unfortunately I found out they let people check in until 7.45AM, so I could have slept in a bit. At least I got a good glimpse of the sunrise above the sea. When I heard the waves crashing I thought about the previous day. Would the waves be crazy big again? When I checked in they said indeed there could be some seasickness. First we watched a little safety video and then got on the bus towards the docks. We had to go quite far to find the sperm whale, since they like to live in deep waters. Luckily Kaikoura is a special place, where the sea gets really deep, really close to the shore. Sperm whales dive over 1000 meters to get their food, mostly squid. There…

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