First up is one of our most memorable trips we enjoyed quite early in our relationship. We travelled via Hong Kong to end up in New Zealand.
November 2005 - Hong Kong, stop-over:
We had a couple of hours before our connecting flight and decided to check out Hong Kong by day. HK was the first Asian city that I visited that inhabits millions of people. It felt as if HK dwarves cities like London and Paris.
We decided to take a tour into the city and split off once we got fed up. We got fed up pretty quickly. Demands of the tour-guide to "take picture" and "take picture now!" repeated mulitple times when we passed anything that she deemed picture worthy. It got tiring fast.
Once broken free of the herd we decided to go to higher grounds. One of the more impressive sights was the spectacular views. The by walk bridge connected towers lead to parks all spread over the inner city, something I had not seen before. In the business area a most peculier sight were the hundreds of women sitting on the floor, playing games, giving and receiving pedi/manicures, chatting or just eating . I later found out that Sunday is the day off for the mostly Philippino nannies working in HK.
December 2005 - New Zealand, being amazed:
We started off on the north Island. I had prepared a tight schedule (in Excel ;p) that would bring us in three weeks from the Auckland on the Norht Island to Christchurch on the South Island and back to Auckland for the return trip. The weather was quite good, so we visited many places. We were not afraid for even the most touristic location (Hot Water Beach anyone?!) Brave souls we were. From there we moved to Taupo. Here we would meet with friends who migrated to NZ. They had some crazy stuff planned for us. Skydiving, Tangairo Crossing with views of Mount Ngauruhoe (aka as Orodruin or Mount Doom) and Kajacking was on the program.
Helicopter drop off
The Kajacking was a great experience. Our friends had arranged to fly us to the Mohaka river in a mountanous area by helicopter. We were dropped on a stony riverbed. It would be a two day easy trip with a minimal amount of rapids. We would spend one night on the riverbank, so we had packed tents, sleaping bags and food in dry bags, which were rigged on the boats. It should have been an easy trip for all of us. It just didn't turn out like that. It was cold, rainy and the water was wild. We could somehow not find out where we were on the map. All orientation points we were expecting were not there. Approaching the end of the afternoon some of us were in danger of hypothermia. We had to stop and find a shelter warm up and stay the night. Luckily we found a fishermans house on a riverbed. There we were welcomed by a local fisherman, a hunter (aka John Darlington "the great white hunter", who gave his insulated socks to my girlfriend) and the wife of another fisherman who could return at any moment. They helped us with our gear, drying of cloth and given warm drinks and fresh fish (with kiwi!). Thanks again all, and a special thanks to John.
That evening we found out that the helicopter pilot had dropped us too high up in the mountains, at that moment we were not even close to the intended starting piont of our trip. We decided to end the trip and go for another pickup point he next day. However, our adventure didn't end there. Maybe a story for a next time if you'd like it.
Fresh fish with Kiwi
After saying goodbye to our friends in Taupo (who now live in Wellington with a baby on the way! - congrats). We moved south towards Wellington to take a boat from there to Picton. In Picton we met with a friend from Europe, lets call him Mao, who was traveling in Australia and NZ. The three of us travelled further in a relaxed pace to enjoy a roadtrip from Picton to Nelson to visit the Abel Tasman National Park. From there we followed the west coast and moved south towards the glaciers.
Old MacDonald's farm
View on Fox
The glaciers were an awe inspiring sight. We shot many beautifull pictures there. Above you see our view on the glaciers. After the glaciers we moved further south to Milford Sound. Here we had our second dolphin sight (our first was at Mount Maunganui) on a 1 day cruise. My girlfriend was in the water when they were sighted. I saw the fins coming out of the water in a distance.. the sight remembered me of other fish. I checked my Lonely to see whether those swam in these waters. Nope.. phew. With camera ready I tried to take some nice shots from the boat. However, just seconds after the sighting the entire boat jumped in the water to "swim" with them. Ofcourse this scared the dolphins off... The evening the three of us spent playing a good game of Cluedo with another cruising couple.
At Christchurch we had our last dinner together. We would fly back to Europe via Auckland, Mao would stay a bit longer. Our last money was spent on a fancy Hotel in the center of Auckland, where we recounted our adventures in Middle Earth.. eurhm New Zealand.