Doing the tourist-ie thing


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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Hamilton
March 19th 2013
Published: March 19th 2013
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Hi everybody
Thanks for being such loyal followers even if it has been 1,5 months since I blogged.
I've taken some time to create another one just before leaving this beautiful country. What a journey it has been, and it is not over yet. I'm totally squating this computer at the backpackers i'm in. They gave me free internet, which I don't mind using. :D
I will try to give a small summary of my activities...

-Luminate-
A festival I was looking forward to for a very long time and made me stick around the Golden Bay for months. I was reunited with my french friends I travelled with in the North; Francois and Stephane and their fellow nerdfriend (& vegan) Kevin. Another frenchie called Marine (jep) was going too. The guys met her on a festival before. But I was mostely happy to see my sweet van again. I hugged her/it. Luminate was pretty intense. We smoked, we drank, we partied, we played games, we slept and we went to very interesting workshops and concerts. I was completely in my element as a true hippie and an assigned rainbow. Music, love, community, rhythms, dancing, brain stimulation, friends, hugging and a feeling of intense happiness during 8 days. The workshops were very interesting! I've done African drumming, African dancing, Yoga sleep, Harmony of sound, Herbal first aid, Bokken, Aikido, Mono cycling, Juggling, Foot reflexology and many more I've already forgot. I've danced with naked people around a huge fire (fiya!), got into a trance (without drugs) while playing djembe and dancing till morning light, made interesting friends, hung out with my buddies from the Bay (Takaka) and we played a lot of Uno (card game). I hate games, expecially when I loose (right sis?). But I managed to beat the crap out of those frenchies and slept in the van the whole festival (cause that was the price). It was really fun times...

After the festival, I decided to hang around a bit. The guys were looking for a job and I wouldn't mind working for a couple of weeks before going South. We tried Motueka, but we were too early for the fruitpicking. So the next stop was Blenheim, a wine region. The guys were more lucky here and found a backpacker that was giving out contracts. unfortunatly they only took people for minimal of 3 weeks, I didn't had that kind of time. So we spent the rest of the week walking, getting drunk, watching movies, conquering a mountain and feeding eels. I love speaking French. Although I really needing my human dictionary called Kevin to translate me. We really became good friends. The harder it was to leave them behind... again.

-Kaikoura-
I hitchhiked my way to Kaikoura, which was really easy! Within 5 minutes I had a ride.
In Kaikoura there's not much to do except for the dolphins and the whales. So I booked a tour, $145 (ehhh €100 maybe?)
and the next morning I went. We cruised the ocean, saw huge albatrosses floating around a fishing boat and about half an hour later the radar went off. Apparantly a whale makes clicking sound like snapping your fingers. When the frequency rises, the whale is about to go to surface to breathe. With one breath, he can hold on for an hour. We had a cute long-haired guy on the boat that mastered the art of whalespotting so it wasn't long until we saw it. A sperm whale, 20 meters long (like our boat) and that weighs 60.000kg. You only see a triangle and the nose sticking out, a third of the whale. The tail is below water and sometimes it blows out a breeze of water. Stunning I can tell you. Everybody went quiet. 15 minutes after you see the whale diving and his tail flapping. Awesome. They took a detour home and we ended up seeing the Hector dolphin (smallest in the world) and Dusky dolphins that jumped around and in front of the boat. I heard many people cheering and giggling, what a joy! With beautiful mountains on the background this tour was a great succes!

-Christchurch & Akaroa-
2 years after the earthquake and the city has slowly started to rebuild and demolish city parts. The centre is still forbidden to access. They made a temporary shopping area called Re:start where some magasins built their store in containers. It looks kinda cozy. Once a blooming town, this has now faded. People speak quite negative about it, as if it has lost it's glory. But my sweet couchsurfer friend Amber (that I met through Beth, Rainbow Valley) is still very cheerful. She took me and 2 other couchsurfers on a Chrch cycling tour through centretown. She introduced her to her friends, we went to concerts and played kickass ukulele!
I also met Marine there and we decided to travel a bit together. We went to Akaroa, an old french colonized city on a penisula, seated on a bay and about an hour from Christchurch. We went hitchhiking and ending up in a rentalcar with a German that stopped along the way to make beautiful pictures. The hostel was called Onuke Farmhouse hostel and was pretty hard to reach, cause it was on a hill. We stayed in little huts on sticks with a view of the bay (ocean) and mountains behind. It was the best view ever! The huts were called stargazer and it had a glass ceiling to see the stars at night. Very romantic. We met very nice people there, had a lot of fun (guitar&uke incl). I went on another tou; kayaking with dolphins. The guides where an enthusiastic Swiss woman called Mafi and her dog Scruffy. With a lifejacked and skirt to keep you dry(er) we went kayaking. It was fantastic! My first time on the ocean (ok, in a bay) but I did so well! The water was really clear, blue and warm! After an hour of hard peddling, making pics of mountains, all of the sudden a dolphin swam under our kayaks. The Hector dolphin that I've also seen at Kaikoura! I was thrilled! They are so small and cute, about a meter long! The guide lead us to a birdcave, a mountainwall that turned white cause of all the birdshit. We went back and all of the sudden we were surrounded by dolphins! We could almost touch them and it was amazing to see how agile they are. They don't jump out of the water or make funny sounds though. They swim normally in groups of 2-3 and we've spotted about 15 different onces! Freakin' cool!

-Mount Cook-
Lack of time as our enemy we went hitchhiking to Lake Pukaki. We were 9 hours on the road and had 7 hitches (rides). My god we were exhausted! We arrived at this backpacker on the lake surrounded by magical mountains, including Mount Cook, where we wake up with. At the beach I found AJ, my friend from Canada that I met in Auckland and Wellington. It was nice to see her again, her hair grew back also. 😊 We wanted to go skinny dipping but this family wasn't far from us. Mom, dad and 2 kids were having a blast and imagining sand snakes. Lol. The sand in the lake was amazing, there was gasforming (dutchism?) under a plateau of sand which created bubbles. (*happy as a girl)
The next day we went to Mount Cook town, an hour drive from there. Marine and I went together and AJ alone, because you will never get a ride if you're with 3 people! We arrived first (yes!) and had a ride with our dearest family from the lake. The kids were very cool, extremely at ease, creative (writing and drawing) and telling stories. It was amazing to see this perfect family, almost inspiring. 😉 We did a walk up a mountain with a view on Mt Cook. Wow!!!! It's the highest point of New Zealand with its 3755 meters. It was pretty hard in the warm sun and we drank ALL our water. But the view is always worth it! (see pics on FB: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151092287132610.436895.682722609&type=1&l=49b493717c

On the way back we were stunnend when a caravan stopped and it was the SAME family in it! They were going back, but wanted to stop by the Abel Tasman glaciers. We took a wrong road and ended up climbing a steep and dangerous (loose rocks) hill. With a lot of wind we reached the top and had an amazing view of a blue lake with white formations of ice on it. Beautiful. It's just too bad the icebergs had grey dust from the rocks on it, which made it look dirty.
They took us back to our backpacker and the girl asked us if she could have our addresses to write to. Awwwww!!!!
*Perfect family

-Queenstown-
Marine and I were done with the tourist thing and wanted to party and where else to go than Queenstown, the central hub!
A bit far to reach but we arrived there just in time in the weekend. We had a shitload of alcohol before we went to town. All I remembered is that we went to a great bar called the World bar and I went to a rockcafé called Zephyr. The rest of the details are for you to fill in.
Queenstown is an amazing place, located on a lake with again the amazing mountains and THE place to go skydiving and budgyjumping. The first bungyjump was also taken there, of a bridge. For only $180 you can do the same. Yeah fuck it.
Too expensive for me, eventhough I would have loved to go skydiving. The fact that it was raining and I had a hangover made the choice even easier.

-Dunedin & Otago penisula-
I left Marine in hands of Q'town and went on my own to Dunedin. The town is very boring, not much to do. I did came across with some people I've met before (everybody does the same trip here).
The reason I was there was clear.... penguins.I asked at the i-site (tourist office) for info on how to see them and she wanted to sell me a really expensive ticket with the transportation included. Lonely planet was my friend by explaining me how to get it the cheapest. There was one bus, leaving at 9am. In the bus there were 2 other guys going the same way. I asked if I could join them and we ended up spending the whole day together. Being spontanious kicks ass! The reason was also because I lost my charger of my photocamera, so I was limited in making pictures. We went to a centre of Albatrosses but got very dissappointed to see that a tour would cost a fortune. Besides I've already seen them in Kaikoura. I convinced the guys (an American and a German living in Oz) to join me on a tour to see the penguins. They were keen!
We arrived at the reserve for penguins and they explained to us that this was one of the only ways for the penguins to reach the shore to breed and such. They are quite sensitive animals and don't like humans. It wasn't just a reserve, they had a hospital attached. Some weeks before they found 40 dead penguins on the beach, probably died of biotoxins
(arggh!!!). Really tragic because they left a lot of chicks behind. They took the chicks in, fed and nourrised them. Beautiful.
The guide was a really nice and funny guy that told interesting facts and stories about these birds. One story goes that there was a gay penguin couple that wanted to become parents. So the caretakers gave them 2 eggs and they hatched and cared for them. So sweet! We took a walk throug cavelike paths to an observatory where we could see 3 penguins that were moulting (loosing their feathers). They just stood there, waiting for it to happen. They cannot swim at this time because their pelch/feathers aren't waterproof yet. So for 3 weeks, they are waiting and being all fluffy. Ceeoouuutttee! We took another path that lead by artificial nests. Triangle wooden boxes, hideouts for them. We passed one really close and they are pretty big and impressive. We saw 2 different kinds, the 60cm tall yellow eyed penguin and a smallest blue penguin. Both very rare! Also passed very close by some seals. The ambiance in the group was really good and we saw a lot of penguins. Got my wish 😊

After Dunedin I went straight up north to see the Wellington international ukulele orchestra playing at Christchurch with fellow ukeplayer Amber. We booked the ticket at the last moment and had the most crappy seats but we were having such fun. Singing, dancing, playing and afterwords as groupies we talked and got all the autographs! They were amazing! As support they had the amazing James Hill and Anne (playing cello), creating ukemusic with chopsticks. FUN!

I went to Blenheim to see my french friends one last time. After this I won't see them until they return to France in November. I will definitely visit them in France, and who knows, maybe I'll end up staying there again.

-NORTH: Wakanae Bay, New Plymouth (WOMAD)-
Took the ferry to Wellington and then to Wakanae bay to meet my friend and couchsurfer and Simon. An inspiring environmentalist and ukeplayer that I met through Beth (another one!!!). He has this beautiful little shag near the ocean. The first evening he suggested we'd go to a pubquiz with his sister and some friends. It was really cool! Didn't know too much, but then there was a round called "the French connection" and bam we went straight up with our points. The ambiance was thrilling and we did so well on all the rounds that we won! $100 voucher of drinks (that I wouldn't even use). The fun wasn't over yet. Simon+ friend decided to go dumpsterdiving. We passed by garbage containers of big supermarkets, to find big amounts of food that was trown away. Good and clean food! Jeezzz! I didn't know!

Simon also asked me if the WOMAD festival wasn't maybe something for me. He made some calls and I ended up as a fellow volunteer for the Zero waste team, sorting recycling. An honourable job. Womad stands for WOrld Music and Art festival and is the biggest festival in New Zealand. WOMAD is all over the world and once created by Phil Collins.
Wow what a festival!!! I was "responsible" for the backstage area of the Gables stage (3rd biggest stage of 6) and around. In the beginning I was with a partner, but he wanted to move around more. The job was not hard. Putting stuff in the right bag and changing the bag if necessary. I ended up staying most of my time at the backstage of my stage. I met the crew and artist liasion. This magical world called "backstage" is not that impressive. But having a backstage pass did guided me into the world of impressive artists and nice people. I didn't know many artists, so there was no urge to see certain artists. But I still acted like a groupie, taking pictures as a lunatic! I discovered some seriously good music!!!
I had the best supervisor, a Bolivian woman called Mayra, that wasn't very strict on rules. We went several times backstage at other stages during our shifts! She is extremely social and introduced me to many people. Really fantastic! I also had a lot of fun with the backstage bitches (as they are called, artist liasion) of the Gables stage. Sarah, the cutest mostely-vegan, Julie, a sweet french girl, Ebony & Debra, the backstage coordinators who were really relaxed! We had so much interesting conversations together!In the end we all went to the elite afterparty only for people backstage passes and danced the night away with famous artists. I felt really lucky to be there all the time! What a sick experience!

After the festival Ebony gave me a bed and a place to relax at her house at New Plymouth. I had some one on one Maori exchange with their 3 year old son. Fantastic! The next day my sweet new friend Sarah gave me a ride to Hamilton, where I am now.

Almost to the end of my trip and it's secretely stressing me out. I don't feel like my time here has been enough. And even though this should've been a one way trip, the thing, that everybody said that would say, happened (no I'm not pregnant with some Maori dude!). I fell in love with the country.

I love all the friends I made, and feel sad everytime I had to leave them. I hope they read with me! You are very loved!
Please stay in touch and visit me in the Netherlands (or France). You are more than welcome!
Still got a couple of gems to go. My future plans consists in visiting Hobbinton (movieset from Lord of the Rings), volunteering at Sounds on, a one day festival in Auckland and staying 1,5 day at Seoul, South Korea.
Hope to see you all soon after all this!

Hugs and love,
Simone

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19th March 2013

Hugs and love to you too!
We all do what we have to do, and sadly for you my beloved daughter it also includes you leaving 'Paradise Country'! As for goodbye's you'll never know how soon you go back there and I hope you do so! After reading this last blog of yours, my reaction was like Wow! How time flies! Hope to see you soon dear Simone!
22nd March 2013

Nice story. In your case I also would less care for a blog. Live the life live, don\'t live it through your camera or keyboard, in that case you would miss out. Enjoy the last part of your unexpected journey!
22nd March 2013

Geweldig verhaal!
Erg leuk om al je verhalen te lezen :-) Geniet er nog ff van en tot snel! (straks is het stiekem ook wel weer fijn om in NL te zijn, wacht maar tot je ons weer ziet! ) Xx

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