Maketu, Waitomo,Blue Duck Lodge and the Tongariro crossing – New Zealand

I arrived in Raglan and its the surf city of New Zealand! Too bad its winter….

I still tried it but it was just swells and no real waves. I know a real surfer can surf anything but I guess I’m not a real surfer, hehe.. Seeing the weather not changing the next days we hopped on the bus to Maketu . Here Stray (the hop on/off bus company) has an cultural night.

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We were welcomed by an old Māori man. We had an great night here. There was some dancing and performances and after the show we (the men) had to perform the Haka for all the girls. After that the girls had to perform a native dance for us. We all had a great laugh (which is not done during the Haka, so really hard) and slept on the floor in the native house.

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Our next stop is Waitomo, a village famous for its caves and glow worms. It is some time ago that I visited my last caves (that was in Brazil) and with 500 caves around here I decided to stay here for a couple of days. I just love crawling (or diving) underground I guess 😉 . I booked a 8 hour cave hike for the next day and it was really intense! (see http://www.waitomo.co.nz/).

It really too bad I couldn’t take my camera along but it was way too wet. It was hailing when we started and there was a huge amount of water in the last couple of days so this was going to be exciting. We started by doing an abseil down a 20 meter cave with a small waterfall and from there it was an insane repetition of abseils, rock climbs and crawling through waterfalls and rapid streams. Because of the rain it caused some extreme adventures down below 😎 .  It was like a little trip in the washing machine.

After that I did a 100 meter abseil down into the “Lost Worlds”. A cave which looks like it was straight out of the stone age and we had to walk through the darkness all the way back up. Glow worms and huge rock formations are everywhere so there is more than enough to look at with and without the flashlight. That was so great that the next day I decided to do another cave walk. This was a calmer one do so I could take some pictures. If you want to see what it was like download the “Planet Earth” series from the DVD. On the “caves” episode they show the caves here in New Zealand.

We drove to Taupo where during the way we saw nice mud baths and waterfalls. The night there was a bit of a downer do because they had bar games which absolutely sucked (the guy presenting thought he was really funny. Nobody agreed..) but that was completely made up in Blue Duck Lodge. A remote lodge and reservation where we stayed the next day. It was really, really remote and one of the best places of New Zealand to me.

Before anybody starts judging about the next part please beware of the following:

New Zealand has many introduced pests. Pretty much anything with 4 legs isn’t support to be there and many animals defecate the environment for the many endangered native animals (like the blue duck, kiwi and other birds). These pest must be controlled because of the environment. The humans introduced these pest and it is their responsibility to keep them under control. See a list of pest here:

http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/threats-and-impacts/animal-pests/animal-pests-a-z/

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So I decided to take do a day of hunting at the Blue Duck. The target was feral goats.

New Zealand’s native plants are particularly vulnerable to damage from browsing. Herding browsers such as goats cause two-fold damage by eating native plants and by trampling large areas of vegetation and compactable soils. Goats will eat the foliage of most trees and plants and quickly destroy all vegetation within their reach, eating seedlings, saplings and litter-fall off the forest floor. They do however have strong preferences and will eat out favoured species first such as broadleaf/pāpāuma (Griselinia littoralis) and māhoe (Melicytus ramiflorus) before moving on to less desirable plants. Goats will also strip bark off trees and by eating young seedlings they effectively put a stop to forest regeneration

We headed out on a 4×4 golf cart like vehicle and that was absolutely necessary because it was really rainy and muddy. With 4 people we looked for goats and within an hour we found a group. I haven’t shot anything (living) in my live so it was an weird experience. I got a goat in sight and shot it. It tumbled down and got back up. Goats are hard to kill do so I had to shoot it again. His friend (goat number 2) walked right in front of the bullet at that time so now there where 2 goats tumbling down the mountain. It totally took be by surprise and I still don’t know what to think of it. It certainly was a weird feeling….. Anyway, we got some great goat curry that night. And I now know how to gut a goat.. Handy when I’m lost in the woods I guess… and an experience richer.

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Blue Duck was truly an amazing place with great scenery. If the weather wasn’t so bad I would have stayed there but my next destination was the tongariro crossing. One of the most amazing day walks in the world.

The walk takes you across an amazing landscape and even Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings movies (with snow):

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I got to the national park where the hotel I was staying was the best I had in NZ but the weather was still bad. I decided to wait for better weather and that was in 3 days. After a fresh pack of snow fell we set out to do the walk but because of the size of the group (30+) we only got to 1/3 of the way. The scenery was amazing in the snow but the trekking was slow and frustrating (from all the waiting). After we complained we got into an argument and we even asked our money back. Not that we got anything off course because the owner said it was due to “bad weather” that we had to turn around..

Here is the bad weather:

I filled an complaint against the guy (Steward and his company Adrift) because the company promised me the crossing. They didn’t make their promise…. I still saw some amazing surroudings and it is an absolute must  see in NZ.

Up next is Australia..

Or is it…… 😉

I checked up on the weather there and it was just as New Zealand allot of rain. NZ at least has snow at the moment… My sister was asking me when I was coming to Bali (she lives there) so I decided that I needed more sun! And here I am in Bali! 😮

So up next is Indonesia…