Abel Tasman Coast Track: Goldene Strände, grüner Regenwald… und Sandfliegen

Dies ist die kurze Zusammenfassung von unserem dreitägigen sogenannten „Great Walk“ an der Küste des Abel Tasman Nationalparks (Abel Tasman Coast Track). Bevor ich abreiste, schrieb mir ein ehemaliger Arbeitskollege ein 60 Liter Rucksack sei für mich doch etwas gross und schwer und ja, er hatte Recht. Wir haben zwar einige Sachen im Auto zurückgelassen, mussten jedoch Zelt, Schlafsack und Essen für drei Tage mittragen. Ich hatte zwar keine Waage dabei, kann aber doch sagen, dass ich noch nie längere Zeit mit solchem Gewicht am Rücken wandern war. Der Rucksack wurde dann zum Glück während den drei Tage immer leichter (wir lebten nach dem Motto, dass je mehr wir essen, desto leichter dann der Rucksack wurde) und ich habe auch meinem Armee-Märsche-erprobten Freund einiges an Gewicht abgegeben (und dafür 2 Schlafsäcke, 2 Mätteli etc getragen). Abgesehen davon und den oben erwähnten Sandfliegen, die wir mittlerweile mit Deet bekämpfen, war die Wanderung wunderschön. Wir übernachteten auf einfachen, kleinen Campsites, die ausser schöner Landschaft und einem einfachen WC und einem Wasserhahn nichts boten. Wir mussten die Planung der einzelnen Tagesabschnitte den Gezeiten anpassen, da der Weg an einigen Stellen nur bei Ebbe begehbar ist oder aber teilweise ein grosser Umweg in Kauf genommen werden muss. Wir haben dies auch ganz gut hingekriegt und mussten den Rucksack nie über dem Kopf tragen.

Doch genug der Worte, die Bilder interessieren die meisten sicher sowieso mehr…:

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The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the (S)watch

Once upon a time, a professor for philology called John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote a couple of great books. As most of you know, I am a huge of fan of him and read almost everything he wrote, even the little known and sometimes less thrilling stories. When rumor spread that Peter Jackson was making the long expected movies on Tolkien’s core story – The Lord of the Rings – you could imagine that exciting times were to come for me. After having seen the movies many times (which means pre-premiere for the first one, all the extended versions, the making-ofs and bonus material), I finally had to see the production places in real. Luckily, I have a nice companion (who is not that much of a fan herself but knows the books and movies at least by now) with whom I built the fellowship of… hm, no ring, but we bought the same watch for our journey, so let us call it the fellowship of the watch (before people think it is an expensive Swiss watch, we just went for a Swatch Touch).

Our long journey started at the beginning of the year 2013. After crossing great mountains, wide lands and deep oceans, we finally arrived in the land of middle earth – also known under the common name New Zealand. Soon after our arrival in this land we found Hobbiton (yes, it is actually a real place). Since the set is built on private land of the Alexander farm our fellowship had to book a tour which was actually quite expensive (as many things in New Zealand!). Nevertheless, this place was really great to see with all its lovely details. And I was even lucky to find a leaf of the original oak tree growing on Bagsend, the hobbit hole of Frodo/Bilbo (yes, this leaf is actually in the movie!). At this stage, I have to commit that the whole set including the tree was actually destroyed after The Lord of the Rings was shot but rebuilt for the making of The Hobbit. The tree which was originally a real one (but cut off and transported here), is now made of polystyrene and also the leafs are plastic made in Taiwan. Still, honestly I am very proud to have an original oak tree leaf which really is in The Hobbit 🙂

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After this encouraging experience, our fellowship was keen to climb Mount Doom (“Schicksalsberg”), aka Mount Ngauruhoe in the middle of North Island. In the movie Mount Doom is digitally assembled of one part of this mountain and another one. However, Mount Ngauruhoe is generally recognized as the “real” Mount Doom. Since Frodo and Sam made their way up barefoot, we dared to try this hike without real hiking boots (but ,we put on shoes, don’t worry) as our luggage did not have enough space to bring our real hiking boots unfortunately. However, now we know why Frodo was wheeping and crying all the time in the movies: The way up the mountain really is strenuous. It mostly consists of loose gravel and it is very steep without any given trail. Having arrived at the summit (of course, we had to be the first ones), we were stunned by the exceptional view from the top: vulcanic landscapes, blue lakes and spectacular view of distant mountains. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring the ring and I could not convince my buddy to throw our precious (S)watches in the crater.

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Surviving this 8.5 hours walk with only minor injuries (broken pants of Annemarie for instance, sorry guys no photo) we drove to Wellington to see some more production places of the Lord of the Rings. Just to assure you that we are not geeks only thinking about this movie we mainly did other things in Wellington – which we really liked after we managed to park our car for three days (this story would fill a separate post). We went shopping to buy some new pants for Annemarie which took quite some time. And when that was completed we enjoyed the interesting national museum (Te Papa), visited the parliament building and attended a parliament session which was somewhat different to what we know from Switzerland. Maybe some of you have seen the Wednesday Prime Minister’s question time in Westminster which is basically the same. Apart from that we found some nice local breweries and the best Malaysian meal we ever had – and we have been to Malaysia.

“Heated tent site” in Rotorua

Nach einer kalten Nacht brachen wir Richtung Rotorua auf, dem Zentrum für geothermische und vulkanische Aktivitäten und Maori-Kultur. Nach der ersten Nacht hier stellten wir fest, dass unser Campsite direkt am Lake Rotorua über eine natürliche Bodenheizung verfügt… Tönt das nicht gut? Das dachten wir auch, nachdem wir über Matamata (oder auch Hobbiton –> Spezialbericht über Lord of the Rings Drehorte folgt) hierher gekommen und daher grad drei Nächte geblieben sind. Auf dem Camping befindet sind neben natürlichen Hot Pools, Blubbererde und Strand ein geothermischer Dampfaustritt, der als Ofen genutzt die hervorragende Zubereitung von Maiskolben, Kartoffeln und Süsskartoffeln (Kumara) erlaubt. Heute hat sich Theo an Lammkeulen versucht, die so zart herausgekommen ist, dass sie buchstäblich vom Knochen fiel und im Mund dahinschmolz*.

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Neben etwas Sightseeing (Geysir, Mudpools) und Jogging im berühmten Redwoods Wald geniessen wir auch den Privatstrand am See (und mit etwas Schaufeln wird das Wasser warm, da es ca 1 Meter tiefer eine heisse Quelle hat). Neben dem Nachtmarkt, der aus etwa 50 m gesperrter Strasse, 20 Ständen und 100 Leuten bestand, obwohl es sich um eine touristisch äussert beliebte und 70’000 Einwohner zählende Stadt handelt (!), haben wir hier in einer Local Brewery eines der besten Biere seit langem genossen (je nach Meinung das Croucher Pale Ale oder Pilsner, es ist dem Leser überlassen herauszufinden, wer welches Bier wohl lieber gemocht hat…).

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* Okay, zugegeben, das hat Theo selbst geschrieben. Dies tut jedoch dem Wahrheitsgehalt der Aussage keinen Abbruch (das hat Theo auch selbst geschrieben). Und im Ernst, die zwei Lammkeulen für NZ$7 waren wirklich sehr gut (das hat nun Annemarie geschrieben).

We have arrived

Yes, we made it to New Zealand after jogging in London airport (thanks to our training throughout the year and our light weight hand baggage (a big change to business travels) we were not exhausted when we just made it to our next flight). After arrival in Auckland we made our first experience with driving on the left hand side and I am happy that we do not need to change gear manually… We explored some nice beaches, native bush and visited mining sites on Coromandel during our first week here in New Zealand.

We went to the famous hot water beach (there is a hot spring just under the beach and you can dig a hole in the beach and you have your own hot pool) – the only thing is that it only works at low tide and you have to choose your spot carefully – we ended up fighting for our pool against the waves and felt like Sysiphos starting over and over again.

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We did some hiking to visit some beaches such as the famous Cathedral Cove or New Chums Beach (apparently rated as one of the top 10 beaches worldwide).

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Our tent also had to prove itself already – we survived heavy winds and rain (the first real rain in 2 months apparently). Today we are stranded at Waihi – a small town that has a huge hole just next to the town center – a still active gold and silver mine. We decided to stay here to wait for better weather which should come soon. Then we are going to head down south.

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