Page 5 of LivingTheDream Travel Blog Posts

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Christchurch March 25th 2010

(Day 720 on the road) When the New Zealand Immigration sends you a sms to remind me you that your visa is about to run out, you know it's time to leave the country soon. With my van sold and only one week left in New Zealand, I had wanted to do one final hike. However, it went somewhat different from how I had planned it. I went back to Arthur's Pass, a National Park close to Christchurch that offers unlimited hiking but very few established or maintained treks, and consequently more adventure coupled with much less trekkers than many other hiking areas in the country. Hitch-hiking to Arthur's Pass Village, normally a two-hour drive, was much harder than expected and turned into a five-hour ordeal. At one point I was standing over an hour by ... read more
Foyer of Christchurch's splendid Arts Gallery
Fountain in the twilight  at the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch
Summer is over here in New Zealand

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Canterbury March 17th 2010

(Day 712 on the road) After the excellent Kepler trek, Suzanne and I headed slowly towards Christchurch, mainly cruising in the van and enjoying the great New Zealand nature. Our first major stop was at Mt. Cook, at 3754 metres the highest mountain in the country. After a night spent wild camping at the base of the mountain, witnessing a spectacular, blood-orange sunset and enjoying very our version of Mt. Cook couscous for dinner, it was time to get closer on the next day. We climbed up one of the mountains just opposite Mt. Cook, which gave grand views of Mt. Cook itself. The weather was as good as it could be, with sunshine and warm temperatures all the way. The views didn't disappoint either, and we whiled the afternoon away at the outside veranda of ... read more
Mt. Cook seen through the windows of the visitor centre in the village
I can't this of a better place to camp (Mt. Cook in the background)
Akaroa from above

(Day 701 on the road) After resting my tired bones from the nine-day hike I had just completed, it was finally time to pick up Suzanne from the airport in Queenstown. Suzanne and I have been very good friends ever since we met at university in Hong Kong many years ago, and it was great to see her again (we had last met up in Singapore some 12 months ago). She will be travelling with me here in New Zealand for the next two weeks, and we both have been looking forward to this for a while now. Suzanne's idea of fighting her jet lag (she flew in from San Francisco where she lives and works) was to haul herself off a bridge on a rope. Her choice fell on the Kawarau bridge bungee jump; while ... read more
Ducks at sunset at Lake Manapouri on the Kepler Trek
Suzanne and I above Iris Burn Valley on the Kepler Trek
Inquisitive South Island Robin watches me pitch my tent

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island February 25th 2010

(Day 692 on the road) My recent trek (nine fabulous days in total), took me across the unbelievable Cascade Saddle, probably the most visually stunning scenery I have layed my spoiled eyes on here in New Zealand to date. After hiking up the Rees Valley, spending two nights at Shutter Rock Hut (including a rest day due to terrible weather on day two), and a great third day from there onwards to Dart Hut, I hadn't actually planned on going over the Cascade Saddle, but I am very glad I did. At Dart Hut on day three I had talked to a number of people who strongly recommend going there. "It is so totally like worth it, I was like this is one of the best panoramas I have ever seen" to quote this friendly American ... read more
View from Rees Saddle into Rees Valley
Massive Dart Glacier
Walking across the grassy plains of the Cascade Saddle

(Day 682 on the road) Before I tell you about the cheapest way to go heli-hiking in New Zealand, let me share two thoughts about the (mostly) wonderful comments I receive on my blog. One, I would like to thank every single person who takes the time to leave a comment: Thank you! Comments are really what make the blog special and unique to me. So please keep them coming - praise, criticism, or just to say hello - anything is welcome. I try to respond to all comments I get, so make sure you leave your email address (it will not be shown to anyone but me)! Second, I have been somewhat surprised by the number of negative or even offensive comments I am getting from some New Zealanders about my New Zealand blog entries. ... read more
Fox Glacier close-up
It was impossible to cross the river without the help of the friendly kayakers
Trekking across the Young Valley

(Day 676 on the road) Hiking in wild Arthur's Pass National Park is a trekker's delight. I spent four days there (way too short, I wish I could go back); first I did a day trip up and around Avalanche Peak, and then a wild and very tough, mainly unmarked three-day trek up Goat Pass Valley, over a saddle, and back out via Edwards Valley. The coastal drive from Westport via Greymouth was stunning to say the least, first cruising along the coast, stopping to view a large seal colony and at the famous Pancake Rocks (and numerous other times to take in the great views of the rough sea, the steep cliffs and the wild beaches). After that, the drive to atmospheric Arthur's Pass Village (with a mighty population of 50) from Greymouth was no ... read more
Keas are also enjoying the great view from Avalanche Peak
Me enjoying the splendid views from the top of Mt. Bailey
Our camp next to Lake Mavis

(Day 669 on the road) "Go big or go home". That was Lilia's motto when we sat down and studied the map of Nelson Lakes National Park. I had initially planned to do a four-day loop (up the Travers valley, over the saddle, and back via the Sabine valley). In the end, we opted for an additional two-day side trip and to take it a bit easier on the last two days, which pushed the total number of days to seven. So a week it was. And off we went. After the rather unspectacular Abel Tasman walk, we were in for a real treat: Wide valleys with mountains on both sides, grand vistas, empty huts in beautiful spots, crystal-clear rivers, blue lakes, easy to follow tracks, and, best of all, sunshine for the entire week. How ... read more
Gorgeous Blue Lake from above
Climbing Travers Saddle
Me relaxing at Sabine Hut on day five

(Day 662 on the road) Tastes are different, for sure. Or maybe I have already seen to so many stunning coastlines and beautiful beaches on my trip that they just don't do it for me anymore. Whatever it may be, the Abel Tasman Great Walk didn't feel that great somehow. Taking the spectacular ferry ride through the Queen Charlotte Sound over from Wellington on the North Island to tiny Picton on the tip of the South Island, I had been pondering what to do next. Walk the Queen Charlotte Trek, the Abel Tasman Great Walk, or skip both of them and focus on the alpine hikes further south (as the guy in the DOC office in Wellington had recommended)? In the end, the "Great Walk" label of the Abel Tasman influenced my decision; on the previous ... read more
Eerie Torrent Bay
Hundreds of mosquitoes near my tent, making it impossible to spend time outside

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Wellington January 22nd 2010

(Day 658 on the road) Wellington, capital of New Zealand. 350.000 people (4,5% of New Zealand's total), a relaxed inner city and an atmospheric setting right by the ocean. After my wet hike around Mt. Taranaki I was looking forward to some creature comforts and to meet up with an old travel friend of mine, Harriet, who now lives and works in Wellington. Harriet and I had first met in China climbing Mt. Hua Shan in June 2008. We had met again in November 2008 riding motor-bikes across Laos for an awesome month. So it has been over a year since we last saw each other, and it was great to catch up again and meet some of her Kiwi friends. I spent five days in Wellington, and on my second day I stumbled across a ... read more
Wellington waterfront near Civic Square
Enjoying "fush & chups" with my friend Harriet
Healthy patriotism or foreigner-phobia?

(Day 652 on the road) I guess I can't be lucky with the weather all the times on my hikes here in New Zealand. During the last one, a four-day circuit around the cone-shaped volcano of Mt. Taranaki near New Plymouth, it was pretty much raining and storming non-stop. New Plymouth by the way is the self-proclaimed "most livable city in New Zealand", whatever that means. The town didn't seem all that appealing to me, and a quick check on the world's most livable cities somehow doesn't quite include New Plymouth (but places like Vienna, Vancouver or Zurich. Funny that. I set off in a drizzle, and when during the late afternoon the clouds cleared I was somewhat hopeful that the dire weather report I had seen earlier was wrong as usual. But despite a few ... read more
The clouds are lifting a bit
Cozy Waiauia Hut
Mt. Taranaki at sunset as seen from Waiauia Hut

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