Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Road-trip break: stuck in Napier (art-deco & apple town)

After leaving beautiful west coast, we took straight road to the opposite coast of the North Island. Unfortunately, we lost one of the road-trip members in Taranaki - Zeh - who found a job in New Plymouth and stayed there. So we now continue in 4. Well, not really continue, but let's take it step-by-step:

When leaving west coast, the look on our account balances suggested that it might be a good idea to make some more money even before boarding the ferry to South Island. After quick research we found two options on our planned route: sheep and dairy farms in the inland and apple orchards on the east coast.

Fielding - small town in the middle of nowhere with huge sheep and cow market-place in its centre. We were "lucky" that we got here on Friday, when all the farmers gather here for the auctions. Seeing the whole mess and handling with the animals (not that they tortured them or something, but just the way the people were grabbing and moving the animals) was enough for me to realize that this will not be my cup of tea... Anyway, it was really nice and funny experience to see the farmers to "fight" for the desired sheep or cow.

Next stop - Napier. We had some info from our friend who was staying here that it should be quite easy to find a job in apple orchards at this time... And so it was. Right after arrival to the backpackers where we were told to go, we figured out a good deal for staying (sleeping in the car/tent and using the facilities of the hostel) and the owner (nice guy Tony) promised us to find some job for us. Later the same day, Tony came with a job offer we couldn't refuse and so it was decided - we will stay couple of weeks in Napier.  

We even have a pool in the backpackers :) And our crazy twin friends stopped here for visit :)

Napier is very nice town, all built in art-deco style due to a very sad reason: the whole town was totally demolished by the strongest earthquake in NZ history in 1931 and so it needed to be completely rebuilt. And as art-deco was probably pretty big in the 30's, Napier got its specific look. 

Welcome to Miami... I mean Napier.. Palm trees are everywhere in Napier.

 Free-to-play piano in the town centre.

One of Napier town centre's street.

During the past weekend, there was an art-deco festival taking place in Napier, so there were a lot of old cars and people styled in 30's outfits cruising through the town.

There is a lot of parks and places to hang out during the free time in Napier

I saw crickett game for the first time in my life in Napier - we went to see the match of our kiwi colleague. By far the most boring game I've ever seen (and I've been to baseball match once as well).

During the weekend I finally got to surf after two weeks... Even though Napier is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, usually the surf conditions are not really good here due to the location in the Bay and the stupid small stone beaches. So we (me and a visiting friend Sammi) drove a bit to the south to catch few waves on the beautiful Ocean beach.

And the work - the work we got is really OK. We have a great supervisor, easy work (as we are using the tractor to drag the sheets out) and a lot of fun.

And this is how it looks after we are done: we are putting the sheets that reflect the sun under the trees in order to make the apples beautifully red from every side :)   

Currently we have done one week, we are thinking about staying 2 more and then get back on the roads to the south...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Beautiful West coast: Taranaki and Wanganui

After unsuccessful attempt to do the Tongariro crossing, we didn't want to waste time, so we immediately had to decide where to go. The choice fell on the west coast and I think we couldn't do much better. So we started the engines and went for a long ride west. (Well, it was only 250 kms, but in NZ you have to count at least with 4-5 hour drive for this distance - there are no highways here so most of the time you drive through the hills behind the big trucks with no chance to overtake :))

On the way we quite accidentally ran into this place. They say it is a place where the movie Hobbit was shot (I can't tell as I didn't see the movie - still pissed that the greedy bastards divided it in three parts). Anyway, to get closer to these rocks than the distance on the picture, you have to pay $50 for a "tour"! Honestly, fuck off!  If no stupid hollywood crew was once in this spot, nobody would ever give a shit about it (except few sheep maybe).

Luckily, right next to the hollywood studio were quite nice waterfalls, so we cooled our heads down and enjoyed some nature for free ;)

After getting to New Plymouth (the biggest town in Taranaki), we found out what is to see there and decided that if the weather will be good the next day, we will climb the Mt Taranaki - 2nd highest mountain (volcano) in the North island (2518m).

Next day we woke up to a beautiful morning, so we packed our stuff and prepared for an all day hike. From the distance Mt Taranaki looks pretty majestic, as there are absolutely no other mountains next to it.

The whole hike, except the one last hour before the summit maybe, was really annoying. First a wide concrete/gravel trail which then changed to a "stairway to heaven" (see picture) and finally endless gravel fields - this was unbelievably exhausting and frustrating as you needed triple energy for half a normal step.

Despite the fact that it was not the nicest hike ever, the views were beautiful - I have never climbed a volcanic terrain before, so it was really nice experience for me. With the clouds covering the summit it sometimes looked like a way to Mordor :)

Exhausted after passing the gravel part. As we hiked, the whole country below us got covered with clouds, so we had this kind of cloud views for some time. On the way back everything was clear again so we could enjoy the views on whole Taranaki coast as well. - little demonstration how quickly the weather changes in NZ. So going for a whole day hike, you really have to be prepared for anything..

The summit - the crater of the volcano - welcomed us with the first snow in NZ :) 

The summit crew - Liso (ARG), Chris (GER), Alan (ARG) and me. During the hike we somehow separated and got to the summit in 2 groups and when me and Chris were already leaving the summit after lunch and some rest thinking that the argentinos gave up, from behind the corner we spotted totally exhausted Frodo and Sam carrying the ring :))) so we were happy to be able to make this picture all together and climb down.

Apart from Mt Taranaki, Taranaki is well known for its surf (probably the best surf in NZ). The coast is shaped into a form of letter C, so any wind from the range N, NW, SW, S makes a off-shore wind somewhere around the coast. Along the coast there is a road - Surf highway 45, from where there are plenty of either well-known or hidden roads to the sea.

Hawera - one of the surf spots in south Taranaki. 

Unfortunately, I didn't get to surf in Taranaki :((while in New Plymouth there were almost no waves, in south Taranaki the swell was already coming, but the strong onshore wind was devastating the waves). 

We ended the west coast trip in a nice town - Wanganui. Notice the little red building at the bottom of the picture - it is the only elevator operating inside the hill in southern hemisphere. Such an honor to have a ride. Hahaha :)))

The river location of the town and also few buildings and squares gave me a little nostalgic feel of european towns :)

Victoria street - in brochure from the local isite described as most beautiful main street in NZ. Well, haven't been in all NZ towns (yet), but definitely the nicest from what I've seen until now.

Next plans - hmm, God knows.. :) right now we will be passing the region of sheep farms, so maybe I will finally get to the sheep cutting ;)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The inland: Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo and around

After leaving Raglan, we were supposed to meet 3 more members (Chris, Alan and Liso) of 'golf rd on tour' in Hamilton. Unbelievably everything went as planned and agreed and we really did meet them:)

Hamilton is totally uninteresting city - not even worth to take out the camera, so no pictures.

After one night in Hamilton we decided to drive a bit south to see one of the main attraction of the north island: Waitomo glowworm caves

This picture is downloaded as it is forbidden to take pictures in the caves. Anyway, I heard a lot about the caves before and have seen many of these kind of pictures, but still were kind of resistant to the fact that it could be that amazing. But it was! The boat ride through the cave under thousands of glowworms was totally magical and breath-taking. Hard to describe...

Next on itinerary was Rotorua - the smelly town.

Smelly because of this - hot mineral springs all over the town with rotten-egg smell. Yummy.

Apart from the smell I really liked the look of Rotorua (although I've heard many times before how it sucks). On the picture - the complete road-trip crew (from left Zeh (Brasil), Chris (Germany), Liso, Alan (both Argentina) and me) in front of the Rotorua museum.

Leaving Rotorua we stopped to see one of many traditional Maori villages that are here. However we didn't get any further than the entrance bridge as the Maori businessmen wanted $35 for the entry, which we considered too much. So we hanged out for a while with few local kids that were having fun at the entrance bridge and then moved on.

Next stop - Taupo - the biggest NZ lake...

...and the north island capital of extreme sports. I did not do bungy here - saving it for the highest one in the mecca of bungy - Queenstown.

Huka falls - waterfalls on Waikato river right behind Taupo. The height of the falls was not that interesting, but the power of the stream was unbelievable. 200,000 m3/s - would fill one olympic swimming pool in 12s.

For the night we moved to a peaceful wharf close to the Tongariro National park (as our intention was to do the Tongariro alpine crossing the following day). As we found out from a camping german fisherman, this was one of the best fishing spots in NZ (and assuming from the deliciousness of the trout and salmon he gave us for dinner I would say it's true). On picture Alan - the rainbow kid :)

Next day: early wake up, drive to the start of Tongariro crossing aaaand change of plans... The weather was really horrible that day - whole mountains covered in heavy clouds, strong wind, rain... So we decided to leave it for the future and head to the west coast instead. More on that in the next post ;)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Back on roads. 1st stop: Raglan

After 4 wonderful months spent in Mt Maunganui, the time has come to move on and see and experience some more of this country...

Stuff packed, last picture with the golf rd hooligans and vamos. Direction Raglan - the most famous surf spot in NZ - with Zeh (green shirt).

After arriving to Raglan, the first steps went directly to the famous Manu bay (famous for one of the longest left-handed breaks in the world - bit shame that I'm regular). There was some surf going on so we immediately hopped in for the warm-up before the next days (at least we thought it will be a warm-up. At the end it turned out to be the only surf in Manu bay)

After first Manu bay experience :)

Last man standing out of the water. Good night.

Good morning, let's go surfing!

Well, maybe not... This was what I saw when I looked out of the car. I know, beautiful view, but the sea was totally flat.

Whale bay - another surf spot - same story as Manu bay - flat flat flat...

After this unpleasant surprise we went to the town (btw Raglan town is really very small yet beautiful town with great vibe) to find out what the fuck is happening (and get some breakfast) and we got a tip from a local guy to drive to Ruapuke beach, where we could possibly find some waves...

The way to Ruapuke meant 20km on gravel road through the hills. This kind of views as a reward.

At Ruapuke beach we finally got some decent surf...

After surf session with Zeh

In the evening we went for a chilled sunset session at Ngarunui beach (biggest and most popular and crowded Raglan surfspot).

The next day a council representative woke us up with a threat of a fine for sleeping on a place where it is not allowed (what a surprise - whole raglan area is flooded with 'no camping or overnight stay' signs). Luckily he was in good mood as it was the public holiday (Waitangi day - day when original NZ inhabitants signed the treaty with the UK colonists and in reality got fucked in the ass and lost their country) so we didnt get any fine... We spent the whole day in totally packed (public holiday) Ngarunui beach as Manu bay was not working again, but it was quite a nice surf anyway :) in the evening we left to Hamilton to meet 3 other guys who went to see Coromandel instead of Raglan and now we will continue on the roads together...