New Zealand

Land of the long white cloud
"Aotearoa" means the land of the long white cloud in the Maori language, the original inhabitants of New Zealand. More than 350 years after the Dutchman Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand, it is now our turn. The first thing we find out that there are three kinds of kiwi's. The green hairy fruit, a bird, with the size of a big chicken, and the New Zealanders themselves. They are proud they have the nickname Kiwi (named after the bird).
Months we lived in Asia at temperatures above 30 degrees centigrade and now it is only 16 degrees, dark grey clouds (instead of long white clouds),  rainy and a cold wind is torturing us. We are not used to this kind of weather anymore and it is not pleasant to ride the bike. And when after a while my rain pants start to leak i get chilled to the bone. We keep riding, knowing that sometime the sun will be back. And when the sun comes from behind the clouds we can feel the warmth and everything looks better. The smell of the pine trees and the freshly cut grass tickles our noses. Travelling on motorbikes you feel everything more intense, you feel that you are alive. When it gets dry we spot a nice place to camp. Our first night in new Zealand.

 

 

 

 

Discovering New Zealand

 

The Southern Island is a paradise for the outdoor freak. There are so many activities to do like mountain biking, bungee jumping, sky diving, scuba diving, river jet boating, rafting, ballooning, zorbing, tramping and much more. And maybe the best outdoor activity is travelling on your own bike. We pick two activities to do which are special for New Zealand. At Kaikoura we do a whale watching. With a speed of 50 km/h a big catamaran flies over the ocean. With a hydrophone the shipper tracks down the sounds of the whales and when he picks up a sound they go in pursue. The theme from "Bonanza" blasts out the speakers and we go "whale hunting". When we arrive in the area we stare over the ocean. Then we see a mist from the whales blowhole and the catamaran gets closer. We see a 18 meter long sperm whale. Wow this is great. After some minutes the sperm whale dives and flip up his big tail. Slowly we see the "peace shaped" tail sliding under water. Awesome.

At the west coast there are two beautiful glaciers and at the Franz Josef Glacier we make a glacier walk. The guides supply us with some old glacier boots, probably from Franz himself and some woolen socks from his grandmother. After a 10 minutes bus ride to the glacier my feet are killing me already....We walk up the glacier and when we reach the ice the guide shows how to put on the ice talons. These "metal teeth" will give us grip on the slippery ice. These glaciers are called "warm" glaciers because they reach the rainforests at sea level. They most glaciers melt at altitudes at 2000-3000 m. Carefully we walk along deep cracks and than we have to go through a 30 cm wide split. We squeeze ourselves through the narrow slit. This is cool. Later we have to go through an ice cave. On hands and knees we crawl over deep blue colored ice, pushing ourselves forward with the ice talons. This is exciting and it is a great experience.

Franz Josef Glazier

Touring around over the perfect and empty roads we reach the Bluff. The Kiwi's call this "lands end". It is the end of New Zealand and geographically it is the most far away point of our trip (18.824 km to our hometown Delft). From here we start our long way back...
In Asia we had to take hotels for the night because it was too crowded to camp but in New Zealand we find the most beautiful spots to camp. Along a river, in deserted forests or at empty lakes with views of snow capped mountains. The only thing that bugs us are the sand flies. When these big mouthed flies bite you have terrible itches for a week. They drive you crazy. Would this be the reason why Abel Tasman left New Zealand for the English...?

 

Long way fom home...

 

 

 

 

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