Posted on Leave a comment

Hunting at the Blue Duck Station

image

An hour driving on narrow gravel roads from National Park Village we got to the Blue Duck Lodge in Whakahoro where we would be staying the next couple of nights.
Upon arrival we where told a little about the endangered Blue Duck and why the lodge was named after it. The people in the lodge were all in some way working on protecting it from extinction. One way this was done was to hunt goats and boars, which are not native to New Zealand and are today considered a pest here, and then use parts of the meat to set up traps for the predators that otherwise could have killed the Blue Duck. The best meat was of course eaten, bones and the rest was fed to the pigs.
Me and a British guy called Frankie were so lucky to go hunting with a guy called Flake. He drove us up to the hills and taught us how to track, aim and shoot goats. When we walked uphill and already after an hour found a pack of goats with two huge Billie goats he got super excited. In his whispery voice he said that he had not seen as big goats for about seven months and that we should take our time sneaking up on them to make sure they did not get away. We approached them from above and Frankie would took the first shot on the alpha male that fell straight to the ground. Me and Flake grabbed the rifle to chase the rest of the goats running away and then laid down when they started slowing down. I shot my bullet shortly after that landing at the other billy boats chest and we were then shown how to gut the goats before carrying them an hour down to the car.
At the bottom we were shown how to skin the goats and cut meat from them that we got to keep and cook. It all gave me quite a taste for the wilderness and the lessons learned were priceless.

image
image

Posted on Leave a comment

Trekking the Tongoriro Crossing

image

New Zealand is known for its nature and good hiking possibilities. The most famous of the day hikes being the Tongoriro Crossing that starts and ends outside a small town simply called National Park in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand.
At first I thought I would be okay with my simple traveling clothes, but when I got there I was told that they would not let me go without proper clothes so I ended up renting all clothes possible from top to toe for fourty dollars and then paid another 35 dollars for the shuttle to and from the mountain.
The trek was 20kilometers and was supposed to take anything from five to eight hours, climbing up and down in varied terrain. When we did the crossing it was cloudy, windy and a couple of minusdegrees on the top so we wanted to finish the trek as early as possible without taking much stops on the way. We finished in less than five hours and rewarded ourselves with a a cold beer in the jacuzzi afterwards.
Had it been a clear day we would have been able to see colorful lakes, Mordor and Mount Doom from the Lord of The Rings movies but we did not see any of that. It was still good as an exercise and to get to know the other travelers from my Stray bus that I would talk to throughout the hike.
image
image
image
image

Posted on Leave a comment

The Thermal City of Rotorua

image

Before getting to Rotorua I spoke to some people who had been there and advised me not to go. My guess is that they must have just judged the place from the smell of the sulfuric geothermal pools and not really looked around as there is heaps of stuff to do here!
The main attraction of the town is the thermal park Wai-O-Tapo where you can walk among geysers, mudpools, and thermal lakes in all colors. Watching the main geyser, “Lady Knox”, get off was more interesting than I had expected. Instead of waiting for it to shoot naturally they triggered it by throwing bars of soap into it, making it shoot out boiling water just like a bottle of coke would do when throwing mentos in it.
Rotorua is also a hub for some quite good hiking trips. One of the days I went with a couple of new gotten friends from France and Austria to Rainbow Mountain situated less than an hour drive from Rotorua City. The hike up to the top was quite easy and quick taking just one and a half hour but the scenery was quite beautiful. The mountains had been colored by iron oxide, sulfur and other chemicals found naturally here which then had given the mountain its name. From the base of the mountain we walked another few kilometers Kerosene Creek, which were natural hot springs where we were swimming for a few hours. The hike and swimming was quite an easy excursion to do from Rotorua and except for a few dollars for the bus the trip was a hundred percent free, just like the best parts of traveling sometimes is!

image

image

image

image
Top pics from Wai-O-Tapo. The last one from one of the lakes seen from Rainbow Mountain.

Posted on Leave a comment

Taupo and Lake Aniwhenua

P1170062

What I love about traveling with Stray is that they take you to places off the beaten track. The buses don’t just go from city to city like the local buses, but they make sure to stop for nice small walks and places of interest along the way to break up journeys.
Our next stop on the North Island journey was Lake Aniawhenua where we had another Maori cultural stay. Just like at most other stops travelers can sign up for the things they are most interested in doing like cooking courses, weaving course or the option I went with which was drinking a couple of beer by the lake while fishing for freshwater eels which was nice. Especially when I managed to catch one that would be smoked and served the next day. The main meal for the evening though was a huge Hangi which is a traditional Maori way of cooking where chicken, ham, beef and vegetables where all dug down under a lot of coal and left there for cooking for three hours. Delicious food!

P1170071

Posted on Leave a comment

Biking the Redwood Forest

image

Just a twenty minute bike ride from Rotorua you find some fantastic bike tracks in what is known as the Worlds biggest man made forest. The bike park is free to enter, so all it costs to go would be the rental of bikes. Half a day set me back thirty dollars including a helmet which was absolutely needed there.
The tracks were varied grading from one to five in difficulty, but when setting off in an easy route without being cautious you could easily end off in a harder one with unexpected jumps and drops. I liked riding the grade three and four tracks which where challenging enough considering I was riding a hard tail bike with minimum protection. Renting a full suspension with complete gear for downhill would have cost a hundred and sixty dollars a day, and I figured riding just a few of the hardest tracks would not have been worth the difference in costs. Just a few kilometers onwards there was also a gondola lift with downhill cycling trails that also had some quite extreme jumps so Rotorua is definitely a place to go if you are a pro rider looking for World class rides!

image