a semester abroad in New Zealand

Archive for November, 2011

South Island Trip (Part One)

Okay, all my exams are done and so are the excuses for procrastinating telling you about the South Island trip.

At the end of August we had a two week mid-term break, a perfect opportunity to explore the South Island. So Alison, Elysia, Susi and me booked a flight to Christchurch to start an almost two week road trip around the South Island.

Christchurch

During the flight we had an awesome view on the cloud-covered New Zealand, which I tried and failed to photograph (I had an aisle seat).

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Luckily Elysia had a window seat and managed to take better pictures:

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After arriving in Christchurch we picked up our rental car, it was a Nissan Sunny like we had for the Coromandel trip, but this time a better version with more power :)

Lake Tekapo

After grocery shopping we left Christchurch for our first hostel, the YHA at Lake Tekapo. Unfortunately it was already dark when we arrived there, but after dinner we decided to to check out the lake nevertheless. It was a clear night and we were far away from bigger cities and their light pollution, so heaps of stars were visible. I tried to capture that with my camera, but it didn’t work :/

Before we went to bed we decided to get up early and watch the sunrise at the lake. However I changed my mind about that in the middle of the night, because I couldn’t sleep and wanted to get at least some sleep. I didn’t realize how big a mistake that was until the girls showed me this pictures (by Alison) when I finally got up:

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The next picture (also by Alison) shows the awesome location of the hostel right at the lake

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“Roadside assistance”

After breakfast we made our way to the Mount Cook National Park. Here are a few impressions from the drive:

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On our way we encountered some unlucky guys who broke down with their car who signalled us to stop. I’m no car mechanic, but I got a rough idea how the stuff under the hood works, so I figured it can’t hurt to take a look. We quickly realized that the aged Toyota (aren’t they supposed to be among the most reliable cars in the world?) most likely needs to be towed away. The car was not only leaking quite a lot oil, but also loosing cooling water at an alarming rate, coming somewhere from the radiator. So the only thing we could do is provide those guys with the number of AA (the local automobile club) and continue driving. Funny enough we met the same guys again later at the Franz Joseph glacier and they told us the AA discovered the radiator exploded and the car can’t be fixed at a reasonable price. They were on a rental now :P

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This experience made me rethink the plan of buying a car for my travel time here, which still was somewhere in the back of my head. Although you can’t expect much from a 800 $NZ car (that’s about 500 EUR), the seller had presented them a certificate that the car has been checked and found okay.

Mount Cook National Park

We eventually arrived at a car park in the national park and went on a trail into the park.

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Of course we didn’t get to the top (or even close to the mountain itself) of Mount Cook, since it is 3,754 metres high (according to Wikipedia :P) and New Zealand’s highest mountain. If I’m not mistaken the last picture shows the peak of Mt Cook.

Spotting a seal

After the walk we headed south to Dunedin. On the way we stopped at a lookout spot at the coast (thanks to Alison’s awesome atlas, where stuff like that is marked in). Besides the pretty coast line we also saw a seal! :) Just hanging out there, mostly ignoring us… and later I discovered that the seal was visible in plenty of landscape photos I took before we even noticed it :P We were pretty happy about our sighting… how often do you encounter a wild seal!? Well, as it turned out later, more often than you think… at least in New Zealand. We literally saw hundreds of seals later on our trip :P

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So much for the first two days of the trip. Before I end I want to mention those things:

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We saw them on farmland all over the South Island, as I understand they are for watering purposes… that really surprised me. New Zealand is a widely green country with a lot of rain… why do they need watering? As far as I know farmland watering is not widespread in Germany, which is kind of similar climate-wise.

Cheers

PS: I finally found a good picture for the header… but it didn’t quite work out as I thought –.- Will fix it later…

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