New Zealand is one of my favorite countries in the world! The splendor of the country’s national parks is astonishing, and the New Zealand wildlife is absolutely amazing! In this blog, I’ll tell you about some of the “bite-sized” adventures I’ve had on both North Island and South Island.
From the cold of the Netherlands into breezy New Zealand! Snow-capped mountains, autumn leaves… Queenstown is a sight to behold! It’s also a great location for winter sports!
From Queenstown onwards, I hitchhiked both South Island and North Island until I reached Auckland! Today I hitched a ride with Brit Paul and his local steel engineering colleague, Dan, to the stunning region of Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park.
In Te Anau, I fell in love with a native Kiwi bird! Unfortunately, kiwi birds are vulnerable to non-native predators like weasels, ferrets, rats, cats and dogs; animals that came ashore in New Zealand with human immigrants. New Zealand used to be a safe haven for flightless birds, but this is no longer true. Still, the government aims to capture all predators, sending out “trappers” to catch them all! In the mountains of Te Anau, I hitched a ride with two rugged gentlemen who had just spent six months camping in the wilderness to catch non-native predators! I hope their work will continue to be successful, otherwise, my new friend might end up as a weasel’s dinner…
At the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary I met another native New Zealand flightless bird: the takah? bird! Much like the kiwi, the takah? often becomes the victim of non-native predators. Only 300 are left, most of them living on offshore islands and in Takah? Valley. The Takah? Recovery Programme tries to maintain the species… and this cute plushie will make sure the world knows!
From Queenstown, I hitchhiked along the South Island West Coast’s Haast Highway with wine farmer Lukas from Germany. On the way to the Franz Josef glacier, we pulled over to take in the views at Knight’s Point.
At the gorgeous Franz Josef Glacier , there’s always the chance of an avalanche! Can you believe that while I was being crushed by icy rocks at the glacier, my humans were taking pictures?!
In Christchurch I caught up with avid traveler Jochem, one of my human’s high school mates, who’s been living and working in New Zealand for quite some time after his travels through Southeast Asia.
Reading Tame Smilere’s The Whale Rider (1987) with my new best friend in the quiet and peaceful city of Christchurch.
Kaikōura is by far one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand! In Kaikōura, I spent the day babysitting the Ohau Stream seal pups. At the Ohau Stream, seal parents leave their children in a safe environment while they go out to catch fish. The kids stay behind and play tirelessly in Ohau’s natural nursery! It was easy to fall in love with these pups… but I can’t recommend visiting them. The Ohau Stream has become too popular with backpackers for the seals to feel comfortable, so it is now recommended to just enjoy the thousands of other seals living along Kaikōura’s shoreline.
Yay! I managed to hitchhike all the way up to Picton to catch the Bluebridge ferry to Wellington on North Island!
Welcome to the North Island! Though there are fewer animals and national parks than on South Island, the north has a big plus in regards to cultural travel: meet Pouwhenua, the Māori land post situated on top of Mount Victoria, overlooking the city!
In Wellington, I visited Weta Digital, the creators of “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Hobbit”, “Tin Tin”, “District 9”, “Ghost in the Shell” and more! Doesn’t this guy look like fun? Mr. Bilbo Baggins told me Stone Trolls are not very playful, but I don’t mind a bit of chasing around!
Here in Taupo, with Lake Taupo and Mount Ngauruhoe on the horizon, I played a game of high stakes golf with my human at Taupo’s “Hole in One challenge”. The goal: hit the ball into the hole on the floating platform!
Hopping the geothermal mud pools of the Rotorua (a.k.a. the “Sulphur City”) at the boiling Sulphur Flats. The Sulphur Flats is a zone of thermal activity where you can see the ground boil underneath your feet, as steam rises from the ground!
The green grass, the blue sky, the red roof, the palm trees… The Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa – excuse my Māori – looks absolutely gorgeous! I could spend as much time looking at this museum as I could walking around in it!
Visiting the neighbors of Bag End, the former home of Bilbo Baggins and now the residence of Frodo Baggins. This little smial (also known as a “Hobbit-hole”) is situated at the end of Bagshot Row in Hobbiton. It’s so cool to be able to visit this little village!
“In a hole in the ground there lived a plushie. Frodo frowned upon the arrival of his new neighbor.” It was awesome to visit the Hobbiton Movieset. Peter Jackson and his crew did a fantastic job recreating the small village from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastic books on the Alexander farm in Matamata.
Inspecting Samwise Gamgee’s plum trees! Do you like plums as much as Hobbits do, or do you prefer a different type of fruit?
Meet Tiki, the first man who created in Māori mythology. His totem protects the geothermal M?ori village Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao – ‘Wakarewarewa’ for short. Translated to English, the village is named “The gathering place for the war parties of Wahiao”. That’s an impressively long name for a village!
This was so nice! In the geothermal Māori village Whakarewarewa, I was greeted in traditional Māori-style! The “hongi”-greeting is performed by two people pressing their noses together.
In Auckland, I was reunited with Thai student Mai and his new colleague Fay. I met Mai in Thailand, when my humans were teaching him English during our stay in the Land of Smiles. Mai is such a funny guy! Like many other international students, he’ll be studying in New Zealand for the next few months. We explored Auckland together, including its beautiful harbor. I hope we get to meet again soon!
During my stay in Auckland, I was CouchSurfing with Jon, a Kiwi CouchSurfer whose life was about to change: Jon decided to quit his job, cancel his apartment, and hit the open road! I know exactly how that feels… Would you dare to leave everything behind?
More articles on New Zealand
- Cinema of Oceania and the Pacific
- Fluffy in New Zealand: Highlights
- Wildlife of New Zealand
- The Best Places to Visit in New Zealand
- Backpacking in New Zealand: a Travel Guide
Fluffy first strapped on his bite-sized backpack in 2010, and the tiny traveler has been exploring the remote corners of the world ever since. Fluffy is the author of the story book “Fluffy’s Adventures: Southeast Asia & the Pacific” and frequently writes about his life on the open road.