A Travellerspoint blog

New Zeeland: the north

22 °C

After a month on the south island, Katja's parents joined us for a two week north island race. Highlights are less there than in the south, but distances still the same. I am sorry to be short now, but I am dying to write about Tonga. Completely different exotic cultures still captivate me more. Anyway, most striking was the thermal activity, resulting in geysers, hot mud pools and even a hot water beach (too hot to stick your feet in the sand). I also did some more river boarding (this is really way cooler than rafting, flying through the water and over and sometimes into rocks). Also worth mentioning were our dives: one in Wellington in 15 degree water (without shoes and hood) and one in 21 degree water on the Poor Knights. We saw huge sting rays there, which I would love to show the pictures off; however: I was so smart to stick my cord in the underwaterhousing. Advice from the camera repair shop: use your camera as a paper weight. So no pictures and on to Tongo then with a new camera...

Posted by Sander938 15:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand: the south

After a few months in Fiji and Cook Islands it is back into civilization again; New Zealand, the land of Lord of the Rings, that means incredible scenery; And of the relaxed kiwis, not the fruits and birds (see picture of weka attacking kiwi),

but the people that say "mate", "cheers", "darling" and "sweet" and "awesome" in every sentence. but also the country of too many tourists and dito booked out accommodation and tours. And too complain even more, the kiwis are also keen on procedures, rules and regulations, which you know, I do not really like.The funniest rule was wearing a helmet on a bike (NZD 70 fine), the funniest procedure was how to get out of a kayak to get lunch. This included a sequence of which kayak to go first (oh I hate guided tours) and we had to wear a annoying hot red jacket too; And the funniest regulation was not to stop walking on a path because of falling rock danger.

But, on a more positive site (and the positives dominate definitively), we travelled around in Katja's Eddy (Subaru Legacy) and enjoyed the scenery in the most positive way. For me the highlight were (of course) the pinguins, seals and dolphins; and yes, I snorkelled with the seals and dolphins (pinguins are too shy), making my "snorkelling with any kind of animal" list becoming very complete.
Here you will see my top favourite snorkelling companions (after manatees):IMG_3361.jpgIMG_4365_1_.pjpegIMG_4383_1_.pjpegIMG_3351.jpg

I jumped into some seal colonies and was able to play around with them, or better they with me, swimming around me and looking into my mask. The dolphins were also cool, but a little bit moer shy. The most incredible moment was when seals swam around me and at the same moment two dusky dolphins jumped by!! Here is one: IMG_3919_1_.pjpeg

We also saw Hector dolphins, the smallest dolphin in the world and too small and fast to make pictures off.

And in the pictures below you will see all the three pinguin brands NZ offers (I think): the blue, yellow and crested pinguin (with the yellow eyebrows)

And then the incredible colours; Mountains are very green, waters are very blue and sheep very white. Espec. The Catlins and Abel Tasman have top landscapes.

Favourite activities were a day of kayaking in Doubtful sound, the fjordlands of NZ, white water rafting in a grade 5 and sledging (body boarding) in a grade 4.

And not so fitting in this story, but part of reality: A girl was sexually assaulted and attacked just 10 meter from us in a toliet on a camp site. CSI NZ spent two days gathering evidendence, before a local guy was caught. Even in a very safe country these things happen.

So now it is off to the North Island. I will keep you posted.

Posted by Sander938 21:29 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Fiji on the rebound: bull sharks everywhere!!!

A few days of shark diving and island partying

Because the shark dive I did a month ago in Fiji was so incredible, I saw a bull shark, went again. And holy s...this was even much better: 20+ bull sharks. I let the pictures and video speak for themselves

But Fiji also had some nice small fishies

Posted by Sander938 20:20 Archived in Fiji Comments (1)

Happy New Year from Cook Islands!!!

sunny 31 °C

First of all, My new pet friends and I wish you a great new year!!! I ended 2006 and started 2007 on Rarotonga (Cook Islands) with very little snow. I am here for a month with Katja and a friend of her. We spend our days diving (primarily teaching Katja and here friend), playing golf (no rules, balls fly everywhere), playing tennis, snorkeling (crystal clear water, but only possible in the lagoon or the harbour where I played with eagle rays),
lying on the beach (and being harrased by ice, our neighbor dog
watching dvd's (I rented a house on the beach), going to the 3 screen cinema (two are mostly used for Christian performances) and and low key clubbing in the beach bars (Heineken is the most sold bar here) and playing a weekly darts tournament in the bar with our local expat friends. It is here not so nice as in Fiji (nicer people, better snorkeling/diving, less roads and civilization, nicer nature, much more variation and more to see), but compared to any other place...I can not complain...
And then finally two days before departure: a turtle and a black tip while diving and the last day before departure: a white tip shark with snorkeling
My friends never let me down

Posted by Sander938 20:10 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (0)

Fiji time

Bula Vinaka!

Bula!!! That is Hello in Fiji. Fiji time got to me. 1.5 month after my last blog entry and at the end of my Fiji experience, finally I found myself and a computer working at European time.

After a delay of a night (well spend for free in the Sheraton, I arrived in Fiji. Because of the dateline I Left on November 2 and arrived November 4. My birthday actually lasted only 12 hours!

OK then, here are some impressions of Fiji:

The Islands: Four big islands (like 100x100 km) and a zillion of small extremely tropical bounty FA white sandy beach cocktails, cliche, etc.etc.. The Blue Lagoon movies (see picture) and Castaway were made here. Picture 042.jpgAlso a number of Temptation island shows (with Rebecca Loos) were shot here. Electricity and water is scarce and internet/telephone unknown most of the time. Communication is by drums and shouting very loud.

diving and snorkeling: Among the best I did. Fiji is the soft coral capital of the world, but I came for the big stuff. And I got it: cruising for an hour with two manta rays, playing with sea snakes, an eagle ray and blacktip/white tip and grey reef sharks and as a highlight a bull shark approaching me at a few meters. Even small reef sharks a meter from shore in the shallow water. The last days we are trying to get to a place were hammerheads and manta's are almost guaranteed (without tying the poor animals up), but big waves prevent us from going there. It is actually of an $1000 per night island were Bill Gates spend his honeymoon and Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe had a secret get-together..

People: Incredibly nice. Goal in life is to be happy, make other people happy, cherish family relationships and have respect for each other. Money, status and achieving anything is irrelevant. Money means beer and kava (local drug, later more). Achieving something is disrespectful to others. So, Fiji time (i.e. European time +/- a random number of hours) is big here. People do not have watches and asking how long something will take is useless. Picture 114.jpgI got invited many times to visit villages and peoples houses. The people life simple (but often with TV and DVD that work for a few hours per day on a generator) and with the whole family together. 50% of the people are local Fiji (typical south pacific island people with wide nodes and small curly hair, not so pretty girls!, not so active) and 50% Indians (prettier girls, more active). Tradition plays a big role. Villages have chiefs (like CEO's). When visiting a village you have to ask permission from the chief and sometimes you are welcomed with a kava ceremony. Also you bring unprocessed kava as a gift. Kava is a kind of leaf thing crushed and mized with water. It tasts like muddy water, but that is not important, village people sepnd the whole night sitting on the ground drinking kava and talking.Picture 064.jpg Is is actually a medicine and makes your tong num,b and actually your whole body if you drink enough. Also as a former English colony, tea is big here, as well as rugby!
Picture 178.jpg

The coup: very peaceful nice little coup, but to most people unwanted. Tourism dropped 80% because visitors are pretty uninformed, but especcialy the embassies giving negative travel advices are pretty stupid. Walking in Rio or downtown Mexico City is much more dangerous. The capital is even saver than ever because robbers and pickpocket people are scared of the military.

Visitors: In the touristy places very young Australian and English school girls and in the not so touristy places no people! Picture 005.jpg(especially after the coup, more about that later). Unfortunately also a lot of US citizens, but hey, they were able to found Fiji, so they can not be that bad. Then of course a lot of celebrities that stay on nice private islands for a few thousand per night.

Nature: beaches, beaches and more beaches, Picture 150.jpgbut also rainforest, great for hiking, which of course I did a lot and waterfalls. Some animals, not so many on land. Resorts: Great, 35 euro a night with all meals included, huts on the beach and sometimes even a swimming pool. Free crabs, touts (like frogs) and nice big spiders on your mosquito net and in bags included. Picture 162.jpgOh, I almost forgot that I also saw the endemic Kadavu Parrot (blue-red-green)!

A little bit funny: I lost a fin under a layer of a meter of pummus, Picture 109.jpgvulcanic "stones", coming from an eruption in Tonga. A little bit less funny: We lost a guy on a hike (you see, I did do hiking). He was found 1.5 days later (still alive).

So, I have to say, Fiji ia great. Super relaxed, super nice people, great snorkeling and diving, a lot of different islands to visit and not so expensive. May be I will come back to play instructor next year...

Vinaka wakelewu and mothey (Thanx and see you)
Picture 080.jpg

Posted by Sander938 20:37 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

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