I always said that I would not fly to New Zealand for a mere month of holiday. Well, now that I made it here I am very, very happy that I don’t have to go the same way back any time soon. That was one long trip to this far, far away country. And what has happened to Wednesday down the road?
It’s really absurd to realize that we are actually going to hike across this entire country. Yes of course, we’ve been planning it for ages, but in my head it always remained a plan for some vague and distant future. To quote a good friend of mine “It’s not happening until it really is”, and it took me until Sydney to realize that it is happening now. Before that, it felt like we were just casually flying around a bit.
After watching some ‘border patrol’ the both of us were pretty psyched about the Australian customs. But ladies and gentlemen, do not fear when entering the country of koalas and kangaroos. The rules are fairly simple and easy. Do not bring any fresh food, just overly declare everything you have with you and make sure everything is nice and clean when you get there. The customs officers will probably have a good laugh at your not so suspicious pack of cookies or your Swiss knife ‘weapon’.
Hanging around in Sydney for a couple of hours really left me and PJ impressed with how friendly the Ozzies are. Even when still in customs, one of the officers started joking around after PJ told him he had a knife “that was slightly bigger than a Swiss one”. The guy pulled out his knife, smilingly sneered “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” and laughed the declared ‘weapon’ away: “You call that a knife?!”. Haha, seriously? I wish customs all over the world would be Australia style.
It’s been the same arriving in New Zealand, everyone is so friendly everywhere. We Europeans really are bastards sometimes! Upon arrival I got confronted with my very first jetlag and now understand what people are complaining about. PJ got hit hard too. We were both so tired and battered down that we did not manage to do anything for a day or two. Even now we are still tired all of the time. However, ending up in a hostel full of British alchoholics probably did not contribute very well to the resting plan.
Right now we are making our way north with a minor detour to Rotorua to have a look at this famous geothermal ‘wonderland’. It is one of NZ’s highlights both on a cultural and a natural level so it would have been a shame to let this slip by. Having driven half of the north island by bus gave us a sneak peek of the west coast, the Tararuas range and the Tongariro NP, all included in the trail. It looks so beautiful out there. This country is amazing and I can’t wait to get started.
It is a bit colder than we anticipated so that extra gear we were planning on packing away until the south island will be accompanying us for the first part of the track. It looks like it will be a heavy start. There is mercyless wind and a lot of rain on the 90 mile beach and around Cape Reinga. Luckily that means that there will be plenty of streams, so water is of no concern. The follow up Herekino and Raetea tracks have been reportedly turned into a battlefield of fallen trees and ankel deep muddy trails by storms and wild pigs. Ah well, I guess it will immediately get us ready for what will come after!
And for now, we’ll go and have a look at those geysers tomorrow and try to figure out if there is a way around the battlefield at Herekino. Stay tuned!