New Zealand 2011

Our three month sabbatical started with bad weather in Europe. Total closure of Heathrow airport due to snow for more than a week, forced us to change plans. Instead of starting the three months with a five week trip through Laos and Cambodia, we directly flew to New Zealand. Auckland therefore was quite disappointing, especially given that the original plan promised a much more exotic start of our holidays. We decided to move on as quickly as possible and do something spectacular to distract our minds from the missed opportunity to visit Laos/Cambodia.

First of many swingbridges

We booked huts on the Tongariro northern circuit (which is a so-called great walk making it mandatory to book huts or camp sites in advance). We wanted to combine this circuit with a trip around mount Ruapehu. The unstaffed huts in that second part of the trek do not have to be pre-booked (you just pay with hut tickets putting them in a ticket box), but after obtaining information from the park information center we decided to also bring our tent (“it may be crowded”). It turned out that the park information centre was totally uninformed, since there were almost no other hikers in that part of the park. Although carrying the full camping equipment made the going tougher, this first trek turned out to be very spectacular. The New Zealand hut system was a real surprise, especially the huts that are not part of the great walks. The cleanliness and the availability of water (mostly by collection of rainwater coming from the hut roofs in watertanks) makes that for most hikes there is no need to carry a tent. On the last part of the trek we only encountered small trekking groups, mostly from New Zealand, which gave us the opportunity to experience the friendliness of the country in which we will travel the next view months. Luckily we got a lift from a young couple from the trail-end to the nearest town Okahune after seven really wonderful trekking days. Continue Reading…