There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Today was our last full day in New Zealand. We woke up at 6, slightly earlier than our normal 6:30, just so we could get on the road to Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula that much earlier. We didn’t stick around for anything in Te Aroha but getting gas.
Continue reading Coromandel
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Monday, September 14, 2015
It was only an hour’s drive from Taupō to Rotorua, the next morning. We spent most of the morning walking around Rotorua, mainly on the grounds of the Rotorua Museum, which features typical Maori architecture and design, and the surrounding Government Gardens.
Continue reading Rotorua and Hobbiton
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
William Wordsworth, “The Tables Turned”
Saturday, September 12, 2015
We bid adieu to Wellington around our usual time of 8 AM. The driving on this day was—at least for the first part—unlike most of our driving experience so far in all of New Zealand. You can tell immediately that the North Island is definitely the more populated and urbanized of the two islands. The roads were definitely easier to drive, but that meant going through a lot of towns, meaning going 100 kilometers per hour all the time was not possible; although 4 hours’ worth of driving time on the North Island got us further than 4 hours’ worth on the South Island, and before we knew it, we got close to Tongariro National Park. Continue reading Tongariro
Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.
Sunday, September 13, 2015 (continued)
We left Tongariro National Park around 12:30 PM, first stopping one last time in Turangi to fuel up on gas, and headed up to Taupō. State Highway 1 continues along the eastern edge of Lake Taupō. The great lake, which is situated close to smack-dab in the center of the North Island, lies in the ancient volcanic caldera of the Taupō Volcano. This volcano is responsible for some of the most violent eruptions in earth’s history (and may just be overdue for a big one). When turned off at a scenic lookout in the city once we arrived, and discovered that we could see all three peaks of Tongariro National Park in one panoramic view from the north side of the lake—a nice surprise! We had no idea that they would be visible from that far away, much less all three visible at the same time.
Continue reading Taupō
It’s true you can’t live here by chance,
you have to do and be, not simply watch
or even describe. This is the city of action,
the world headquarters of the verb—
Friday, September 11, 2015 (continued)
Crazy capital city streets
It was not long from the time they made the announcement that passengers could go back to their vehicles, to when the ship was docked, and we were turning out of the ship and into busy Wellington traffic. We had decided to try to head immediately toward the Wellington funicular, even though it was much later in the day than we had originally planned on. We had many tense and frustrating moments trying the follow the GPS’s instructions through the winding and climbing roads of Wellington. In other words, we had many “Rusty!” moments. But we needed to find decent parking. After being in mostly country and smaller cities, Wellington seemed absolutely huge and crazy busy in comparison, even if in reality it was a medium-sized city. Really, the landscape was no different than everywhere else, which of course is challenging, but just add lots of people, buildings, streets, traffic lights, and a multi-lane highway.
Continue reading Wellington
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Our last morning on the South Island started with pleasant weather, there was nothing that lead us to believe that our ferry to the North Island would be any trouble. We had one of our most leisurely mornings getting ready, since the Interislander ferry terminal was literally less than a mile down the road from us in Picton.
Continue reading Picton
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Jacksons to Greymouth to Westport
It was raining in true West Coast fashion when we left Jacksons in the morning. Knowing today would be the longest day of the trip, we buckled down for the long haul—but it was not without a much-needed planned stop at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.
Continue reading West Coast
There is no present like the time.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Inland Scenic Route: Canterbury and Rakaia Gorge
We woke up in Lake Tekapo around 6:30 AM and were on the road after filling up with gas again by 8:00 AM. The plan today was to drive the Inland Scenic Route (State Highway 72) through Arthur’s Pass. We had thought that today’s driving would be easier, at least the first part through the Canterbury plain, but it still had its surprises. In true New Zealand style, even Canterbury had its curvy, climbing and descending roads, more so than expected. By driving the Inland Scenic Route, we would bypass the Christchurch metro area. This part of New Zealand countryside is most like England with lots of pastures, farms, and lots of sheep, all backdropped by icy, snow-capped mountains—classic postcard views.
Continue reading Canterbury and Arthur’s Pass
The mountains are calling and I must go.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
We enjoyed our last Wanaka sunrise of the trip. We called our parents on Viber again, while we ate our breakfast in the campervan. We were all pretty sore from our hike the day before. The parents had done their own hike for Labor Day at Rosy Mound in Grand Haven. They even wore their Zeeland shirts, too! We have such cute parents. It was nice to hear their voice, and we had to take advantage of the free reliable Wi-Fi before continuing on our trip, since we didn’t know what the next place would be that we would get it.
Continue reading Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Sunday, September 6, 2015
We left Te Anau in the morning, but not before Jessica and William said goodbye to two cute baby sheep that were being kept at the Te Anau Lakeview Holiday Park, Sooty and Pinky. We were headed toward Wanaka via Queenstown. Wanaka had gotten on our radar via Instagrammer lebackpacker (real name: Johan Lolos), a Belgian photographer who had lived in Wanaka for some time. His photographs more than anyone else’s made us say we had go there.
Continue reading Wanaka
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
Saturday, September 5, 2015
Milford tour canceled
What a day. We woke up at 6 o’clock in the morning, a bit earlier than what was becoming our usual time, because we were nervous about our Milford Sound plans. The weather was quite unsettled all night. We heard the wind and debris from nearby trees pelting our campervan throughout the night. Down at our elevation it was raining a lot, so we thought maybe the snow forecast wouldn’t be as much as was predicted. However, we know that the weather at higher elevations and along the Milford Road was likely very different.
Continue reading Doubtful Sound
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.
Friday, SEPTEMBER 4, 2015
We left early Friday morning for Te Anau. The plans for this day were very loose, with the main goal of getting used to the campervan again and making it to Te Anau.
Continue reading Te Anau
Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Far over the Misty Mountains cold . . .
Even though Thursday was technically our first full day in New Zealand, it felt like our second. We had packed more into the previous day than we had planned, partly because we had no idea how much jet lag and our 36-hour travel day would affect us. Adrenaline had a major role we think, for none of us felt too tired—though we did sleep very well. I think it helped that we arrived in Auckland before sunrise, and the day was naturally progressing. For instance, we thought we would have done the Skyline Gondola Thursday morning, but since we already did it the day before, we were free to head to Glenorchy first thing in the morning.
Continue reading Glenorchy and Paradise
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
There . . .
After approximately 36 hours of non-stop travel, we finally landed in Queenstown, the starting point of our New Zealand journey. Queenstown is a old-mining-turned-resort town nestled in the mountains of the South Island region of Otago. The Remarkables are the adjacent mountain range to Queenstown, and boy do they live up to their name—they truly are remarkable!
Continue reading Queenstown
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Monday, August 31, 2015
After many months of planning, all condensed into one red binder stuffed full of confirmation sheets, emails, brochures, maps—which we fondly called the Red Book of Westmarch—the day to go to New Zealand finally arrived.
Continue reading Journey to the Real Middle-earth
Thirty-one days from now, we’ll be heading off the the real Middle-earth: New Zealand!
We’ve been planning this trip for a long time. As siblings, we always wanted to do at least one grand trip together after college graduation. Now that we are all settled with steady jobs and blessed with the time to do it, we finally booked our flights this past February.
Continue reading One month till the Real Middle-earth