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Travelogue 1, arrival in Auckland, on to Christchurch, bus to Queensland and straight off on our first trek, the Greenstone/Caples!
hi beloved friends,
so the first week has passed and here is the first report from our adventures down-under. we thought we'd share some of our travel experiences with you before we return - it makes it easier when we show you the thousand of pictures :-)
after a lovely stay in frankfurt with samada and loki we set off on our 30 hours journey. actually it was quite an easy trip (apart from me getting airsick from fiji to auckland:( -- we flew most of the time in the dark which made it feel like a very very long night. stop overs in LA and fiji went smoothly. so on sunday 4th of febr. we landed in auckland and flew on to christchurch / a pleasant town (bit like freiburg) on the southisland. we checked in a nice hostel and started walking around town with the intention to stay awake until the evening. it worked so next morning we were up at seven and felt pretty awake.
we bought lots of more gadgets for our treks / so you can call me gadget woman from now on.:)
next day we took a bus to Queenstown further south. it was feb 6th a national holiday in nz called waitangi day - historical date when the maoris settled an agreement with the pakehas (white settlers) and to this day a very controversial day for the politicans. the bus ride took about seven hours and was very interesting as the busdriver explained all kinds of interesting things - and also it was extremly funny as nz-landers have a hilarious sense of humour and are very warm and friendly. so the bus took us through canterbury plains, wide farming land lots of sheep and then up on a pass where we got an eyeful of mt cook(the highest peak in nz) and we had stopovers a amazing mountain lakes (lake takepo biggest in nz - main producer of electricity).
these lake have an amazing turquoise color originated by the glacier dust which is so fine that it doesn't sink to the bottom but remains in suspension giving the lake its surreal color.
queenstown is the adventure capital of the world.you want to get your adrenalin levels up that is the place to go. just outside the town is the legendary bungee jumping bridge - we could see it from the bus - where a guy invented the bungee jump 6 years ago. nowadays it feels nearly old fashioned to do it as there are much more outrageous things to do ( like jumping out of a helicopter on a snow board and a bungee robe ahhh! or hanging on a wire in a cabin over a gorge swinging from on side to the other uuhhhh). by accident we run into some original maori waitangi celebration and when they started to sing and dance i was very deeply touched - it was so magical and i could hardly get the camera out to take a picture because it felt so sacred.
we put up our base camp for a day to do some warm up hiking on the sacred moutain of queenstown. lots of big info boards on the path told about the history and the development of the place. and on top it had a huge steel basket where you could lay in. it is called the basket of dreams and you can m0ve inward into the source or outward to grace the world. pretty farout stuff yeahh!
Queenstown is on lake wakatipu, the third largest lake in nz (290 sqkm) and the longest with 75km. at the head of the lake there is glenorchy a tiny village with a campside, a cafe shop (where i am sitting right now ) and two restaurants. it is very quiet and the start off point of most of the great treks in the mt. aspiring nationalpark - our first trekking destination. so stocked up with enough food for the next 5 days we heading up there and pitch our tent on the campside - we are the only tent there! around us all the snowy mountain peaks, at our feet the lake - delightful spot on our planet. we have the glenorchy walk around the lagoon and deep into the plains as a day walk and plan next morning to set off to our first real tramp (as is hiking called in nz).
the caples/greenstone is a four day tramp of around 60km. some guys running a backpackers express run us up in a jetboat to the starting point and promise to pick us up 4 days later. the tramp crosses an alpine saddle (900 m high). we are doing between 5-7 hours walking a day and will be sleeping in the huts run by the DOC (Department of Conservation). we bought a hut pass for allover nz. the huts have from 8-20 bunkbeds, a woodfire in the middle, a sink and a table in the middle. most of the trampers on the route use them as night shelter and you can meet all kind of interesting people there. everybody is cooking on their little stoves, share stories, read and when it gets dark everybody slides into the sleeping bags. with the first light of the new day everybody gets ready to get out on the trek again.
the first day is a moderate walk through a long valley along the banks of the river, passing through lush forest. the body needs to adjust to the walking with the pack (mine is probably about 11 kg) and it seems to grow heavier by the minute. the routes are pretty wild (nothing like a good old schwarzwald path which seems like an autobahn in comparison). when we inquired with the doc about the track condition they said it was good -- i wonder what bad condition are??? :)
on the second day we climb onto the mckellar saddle - going steep uphill with the pack is a new experience. on the top the weather is rough, clouds and windy so we move on to the other side and an even steeper descend to the next hut. so i thought uphill is hard - nothing compared to downhill through thick rainforest with roots, wet and slippery...3 hours of high concentration - every step needs to be aware of. i am physically and mentally absolut exhausted, standing in the middle of the bush at the end of the world and ask myself why am i doing this? a little primal crisis and two muesli bars later and i move on as there is only one way to go and that one lays ahead of you (excerpt from ajara: "the hiking philosopher"). after seven hours we arrive in the hut and i have the cup of tea of my life.
the rest of the tramp through changing sceneries, little briddle paths, passing huge water falls and open plains.
so we arrived back in the base camp and have a wonderful hot shower and go out for a big meal. today is resting day (drinking cold coke, eating saltvinegar crisp, creaming the feet, and other nice things...)
and tomorrow we start the rees dart tramp (70km) a five days affair, including a trip up to the dart glacier. i have my gloves and thermal underwear ready. weather changes so quickly here - i am constantly peeling off layers of clothes just to put them on again five minutes later. the last two days we had glorious weather with sunshine (sunblocker 18) and blue sky.
my body feels good (bit achy those old bones of mine), my backmuscles and my calves are growing strong. all blisters are under control.
i hope you enjoyed reading the little travel log. no worry there won't be one every day:)
beloved friends wherever you are this is just to let you know we are doing great and we know already two month are too short for this paradise.
lots of love to all of you
from ajara and jalal
ps. wow - sorry for the length but you know me keeping myself short is not one of my strongest developed skills:)