Dear diary last week…

Picton

26-04-2017 

It has been a wish of Mirte’s since the beginning to see dolphins, so when we arrived in Picton she decided to sign up for dolphin swimming! Although she wasn’t able to swim with them (all the big ones were out in the ocean), she was very lucky to sea several pods of Hector Dolphins! The rare, small and protected species of the dolphins. They are supposed to be very shy, however they were tumbling in and above the water, came really close to the boat and curiously tried to make eye contact with the passengers. A truly amazing experience. We enjoyed the amazing weather in Picton by reading alongside the Marlborough Sounds and friends.

     

Nelson

27-04-2017 

When we visited Hunter’s, we missed our colleague Helen. And of course we couldn’t leave New Zealand without seeing her, so she invited us to her home. Seeing her and her husband Clarry (worked at Hunter’s as an artist) was even nicer than we expected it to be and it was great catching up and hearing her enthusiastic exclamations while scrolling through the pictures. Afterwards we went back to Nelson, our final destination. The weather was still beautiful and we played some volleyball with Julian and Max from hostel Paradiso. For dinner we went to Masa’s. An Asian restaurant, where we could eat our long awaited sushi! It was super delicious and a lot of fun struggling with those stupid sticks (well… Mirte was struggling, Miriam had skills). We ended our last evening together with friends, chatting in the hostel.

    

28-04-2017

Yesterday we met the Dutch Lisa and of course we had to get a coffee together. While eating our cheesecake and chocolate quinoa cake, we completely lost track of time. All of a sudden it was 3 o’clock already. After quickly going to the city centre, we said goodbye and went to Aad and Hilde.

29-04-2017

Our last day… We had been working towards this moment for a while now and although it felt super weird, we were a little bit prepared. Firstly we visited our last Kiwi farmer’s market (ever?), then we put a banana cake in the oven and sorted out our stuff. We cleaned the car for 1.5h, because after 6 months and one quick wash she was quite disgusting. Of course we did a photoshoot with Koni (short for Konichiwa; the greeting we get every time we start the car). We packed our bags and after dinner and our Dutch-Kiwi desert (apple pie and hokey pokey ice-cream), we were completely ready for our last evening. As a surprise we took Aad and Hilde to the movies. They chose the feel-good movie ‘A street cat named Bob’, based on a true story. It was a great last night.

Auckland

30-04-2017 
A delay of 1 hour made sure we could stroll on the beach with the dogs one more time. Then it was time for our goodbye. Waving at Aad and Hilde, we stepped in the small aircraft of Air New Zealand which would bring us to Auckland. After a short flight of 1.5h, we arrived, stored our bags, got some information about the flight details and took the bus and train to the city centre. Over there we wandered through Queen Street and watched some free runners, while sitting in the sun. The moment we were heading back to the airport, it started raining. We joked about New Zealand weeping because we were leaving. The rain and the early dusk caused a gloomy atmosphere. Back everything went quite smoothly and soon we were folded up in our seats. Ready to go!

 

  

Shanghai

01-05-2017 *1.0* 

The flight was bearable due to the wide range of movies and our exhaustion making it able for us to sleep in the plane. At 5:30 AM, we set foot on Pudong Airport. This time we were determined to not get trapped in the gate again. After being sent to numerous desks, we got our temporary visa and we were able to stay out of the gate. We spent our time here having fun watching the weird Chinese products in shops and writing this. The flight with KLM was long but comfortable.

    

Amsterdam

01-05-2017 *2.0* 

When the pilot announced we were almost in Amsterdam, we felt a bit odd and peculiar. The thought of almost being home after 6 months was hard to grasp. We used our time at the baggage claim area to prepare ourself for the big reunion with our family and friends. We rushed through the gates after the alarm went off and at the sight of us, our sisters sprinted towards us. Then we got the chance to see the beautiful self made banners and of course hug our family and friends tight! We grabbed a drink together and had a really quick catch up before we separated and had dinner with both of our families later that evening. Then our ways separated after 6 months of amazingness! KA PAI GURL ❤

    

Love Miriam & Mirte

Dear diary week 24…

Takaka

19-04-2017

Since we’re almost going home, we had to start acting Dutch again. So we took our hostels crappy bikes and headed to Pohara Beach. The sun was burning and the bikes hurt, but we made it. We even crossed a Dutch scenery (read cows in meadows) and it almost started to feel like we were in Friesland already. Once we arrived at the beach we threw down our bikes and ran to the sea. A quick dive made sure we cooled down and we spend the rest of the afternoon warming up again in the sun. The contrast of yesterday, waking up while it’s freezing, and today, lying in our swimsuits on our private beach in the Golden Bay, made us appreciate the warm north even more! For dinner we treated ourselves with Miriam’s favourite dish: chicken out of the oven with special sauce and veggies.

  
  

20-04-2017

We woke up, only to find out that some people stole our food. Despite the negative surprise this morning, we had a really fun day with beautiful weather once again. On recommendation of Allen, the hyper active hostel owner, we visited the Wanui Falls. After a brief refreshing look (it was a powerful waterfall, which caused everybody who stood too close to get wet) we went on to the end/start of the Abel Tasman Track. A quick lunch in the car made sure we were fueled up for another part of this Great Walk. The walk was beautiful, big green palm trees on the one side and golden beaches with azure blue water on the other. However, the moment we reached the hut it looked like it would start to rain so we picked up the pace and were back in no time. Back at the hostel we met Silvana and while eating our amazing self-made wraps dish, we had a fun evening talking with her.

  

  

21-04-2017

A beautiful and warm day made us chill out in the amazing backyard with hammocks most of the day. However, we did explore the hippie town by visiting every cute, weird shop and multiple interesting art galleries. While eating our self-made pizza for dinner, we watched some episodes from our new guilty pleasure: The Tomorrow People (since there are no more episodes of ‘The 100’ yet).

Canaan Downs

22-04-2017

Before our journey continued to Motueka, we revisited the Hippie Market with Silvana. It was even smaller than last time, but still a really great atmosphere. Once arrived at the airport in Motueka for Miriam’s skydive, the excitement rose. Miriam suited up, stepped in the airplane and went up up up, till 13,000 ft (4km)! Then the doors opened and it was time to back flip out of the plane. It was a surreal experience and Mirte got it on camera. Next stop was back to Canaan Downs, where we wanted to gaze at the most amazing starry night we have ever seen (see week 11&12). But before we could admire this, we went to Harwood Hole, a place where Mirte had an obsession with for 2,5 months now. Since you have to abseil for 30 meters first, the place is just meant for cavers and we couldn’t look directly into the hole without risking our lives. Mirte did however risk her life to get Miriam’s bottle, she’s been carrying it around from day one, from in between the rocks. It took some acrobatic maneuvers but victory was ours! We also took a spontaneous side road, which took us to a wonderful and dangerous view over the valley. Back at the campsite we already saw a beautiful night sky at dusk. Maybe you can imagine how it would have been for us when it was pitch black. We could see the most intimidating starry night with the enormous milky way. Stars were falling and we got dizzy looking up to this miracle of nature.

     

Blenheim

23-04-2017

Great things come at a cost. To be able to see this wonder, we knew we had to endure a freezing night on our front seats in the car. Clearly this wasn’t our best sleep. The moment we woke up, we fled the freezing temperature to a lower altitude to have breakfast. To completely warm up, we went to the 21 °C Pelorus Bridge. We could bear the sandflies a couple of hours, but at a certain moment we decided to drive on to Blenheim. Over there we wrote this blogpost in a big hamster wheel and we could finally tick off our Mc Drive experience. It is sort of a tradition for Mirte’s family to go through the Mc Drive on the way back from holidays, indicating the end of the vacation. We have been planning to do this from the beginning!

24-04-2017

The main reason we went to Blenheim, was to visit Hunter’s and be at the place we called our home for 2 months. Being in Blenheim and seeing all the places where we had our adventures was already weird. However, the moment we were driving our old route to work, we got butterflies and not just because of the rollercoaster bumps in the road. When we walked in, we saw the happy and surprised faces of Julie and Amber. Also Peter MacDonald, Nicky and Wayne came by. After we caught up, we said goodbye forever. This felt really weird. However, we had planned another fun thing for today: winery tour on a tandem! We got our recommendations from Amber and took off at 1 o’clock. We tasted some familiar wines, but also some new wines and we had a lot of fun doing so. However, there was an extra thrill to the tour. Because New Zealand barely has bike lanes, you are forced to cycle on the side of a 100 km/h road. But of course we nailed it.

      

25-04-2017

Anzac Day is a very important day in New Zealand. It’s the day of remembrance, commemorating all the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who served and died in all wars. Originated from the ANZAC fighting in Gallipoli. We heard there was a commemoration at 11 o’clock in Blenheim. Because we already knew quite a lot about Gallipoli, thanks to our visit to the Te Papa museum, we wanted to be there. It was way bigger than we expected it to be. It was very impressive to see all the parades and soldiers, hear the speeches and the three salvo’s. All of this had a big impact on us and we were really happy to be a part of this.

  

Love Miriam & Mirte

Dear diary week 23…

Kaikoura

12-04-2017

Before we left Christchurch we visited the Canterbury museum with Damon. It was the most random museum we have ever seen with cool stuff like a VR Air New Zealand experience, a 60’s shopping street and a Paua house. We dropped Damon off at the airport and went to Kaikoura. The road to the place, hit by an earthquake on the 14th of November, was shocking to see. Mud and stone slips on the side and broken/bent guardrails marking the edge of the road. Also the train track was destroyed by mud, stones and wood covering the track and parts moved half a meter to the side. The rain pouring that moment participated to a depressing image of the aftermath.

  

13-04-2017

Time to explore Kaikoura. The small village had many souvenir shops and we had a lot of fun walking in in every shop till lunchtime. This was the moment where Miriam noticed a flat tire!! Luckily we had Matthew, a man we met yesterday, who walked into us and offered a hand. He changed our tire and we went to the garage, which was luckily on the opposite side of the street. The moment we paid, the salesman warned us about the weather forecast. Cyclone Cook from Australia, already causing floods on the Northern Island, was heading our way. This meant it would be a rough night in a tent and a high possibility of being stuck in Kaikoura for an unknown time. We threw everything in the car and got out of there as soon as we could, back to safe Vagabond. When we arrived there again, we caused a lot of surprised but happy faces. After dinner we were talking about our Easter brunch with Mario and suddenly realised that the shops would be closed for the next day. So we rushed to the supermarket at 21.30. With all our Easter preparations done, we were looking forward to our weekend in Akaroa with Mario.

Akaroa

14-04-2017

We have already had some trouble with Maps.Me but where he send us now was truly an interesting choice. On a foggy, narrow, winding road where rivers were crossing, we worked our way up to Akaroa. The road however, was nothing compared to the campsite we ended up. Onuku was one big adventure. We had to climb hills with sheep, cross rivers and fight a goose to get to our beds. On a small hike to the Lookout Rock, we could look over Akaroa Harbour at sunset. However, this meant we had to do a slippery and soppy hike back in the dark. Adventurous. Back on our campsite we created some atmosphere by lighting the fire and playing Donkey and Werewolves with a group of 9. The evening was completed by everyone singing along with Louis’ guitar songs.

      

15-04-2017

It was the perfect day for an Easter brunch, although it wasn’t Easter yet. Mirte was making pancakes in the crappiest pan ever and Miriam was heating up hot cross buns au bain-marie since the oven wasn’t working either (got to get creative as a backpacker). Furthermore we had boiled eggs and crackers with brie! It was super delicious! After we were satisfied, we went to the farmers market in Akaroa with Lilli and Louis. It was small and cute with a French touch. The way back was quite adventurous, since the car was tiny. We crammed 5 people and a surfboard in there which made it unsure if we would actually reach the top of the hill. The car did it (go Echo!) and then we did a bay view walk where we were able to see the Lookout Rock from yesterday above us. Once again we had to keep up the pace so we would return before dark. We made an extra tasty dinner. Our homemade hamburgers with a classy glass of wine were amazing! We also got to taste some real German liquor ‘Berliner Luft’ which reminded us of ‘Wilhelmina Pepermunt’. An extra guest joined us: the Pacific Gecko from New Zealand.

  
      

Christchurch

16-04-2017

Because we had some leftovers, we could have a real Easter breakfast this morning. This time it consisted of ‘egg-in-a-hole’ by Mirte, apple cinnamon muffins, hot cross buns and ‘egg-fried-bread’ by Mario. We said goodbye to Lilli and Louis who recommended an interesting walk in Little River. So we did and we walked through an abandoned China Town, which was build for a scene from the movie ‘The Stolen’. Afterwards we went to the ‘Giant Swing’ nearby, which was made up off some ropes and an old tire. We all had a go and it gave us a beautiful view over the valley! Then we went back to Christchurch, as a matter of fact: Vagabond. For the second time we got to see their surprised faces. For our last evening with Mario (and maybe because the supermarkets were closed ;)), we went for a fancy dinner to the bad neighbourhood fish & chips shop. Some guys wanted to watch the movie ‘Split’ after dinner. We thought it would be fun to watch, little did we know…

      

Arthur’s Pass

17-04-2017

Time to say goodbye to Mario, but we didn’t leave before we made some amazingly artistic sale signs for his car. Then we left to Arthur’s Pass. To be able to go here, we waited for good weather for so long and it finally was! Our first stop was in Castle Hill, where we climbed and scrambled up the rock formations. The drive on to Arthur’s Pass was beautiful! The nature was indescribable, but let’s try. We saw enormous mountains with snow on top, contrasting against the bright blue sky, a big clear lake, surrounded by large, yellow trees and huge orange, yellow and green surfaces. At the DOC we asked for some information about the campsites and found out that there were mice plagues at the free campsites. So instead we chose for the risk of sandflies (you can see Miriam’s sandfly warriorwear) and Kea’s (which could terrorise our tent) at the DOC campsite.

      

Takaka

18-04-2017

It was a cold night and even in the morning we were shivering in the car. Once we drove away from the clouds the temperature rose and we saw a bright blue sky. Our journey to Takaka was 6,5 hours, so it was around afternoon when we finally arrived at Annie’s Nirvana Lodge, where we put up our tent.

Love Miriam & Mirte

Dear diary week 22…

Twizel

05-04-2017

It was cold and cloudy the whole day and it wouldn’t be worth it to go to Mount Cook. So we drank some hot chocolate at the local cafe where we stayed for the rest of the day.

Tekapo

06-04-2017

Another bad weather day, however we saw a good deal on book.me and treated ourself by going to the Tekapo Springs – Hot Pools! There were 4 pools with different temperatures. Going up the hill meant going up in temperature. We floated around the whole day till we were old and wrinkly.

Mount Cook (Aoraki)

07-04-2017

The sunny and clear weather we had been waiting for during our stay in Twizel was finally there! We took our stuff and left to the beautiful Aoraki National Park. The moment we drove away from the campsite, we couldn’t believe our eyes. We had been surrounded by enormous, snowy mountains the whole time! We did multiple hikes: to the Blue Pools (which were green confusingly enough), the view over the Tasman Glacier and the Hooker Valley Track. All mindblowing, breathtaking, beautiful walks. However, it was a bit sad to see how fast de glacier had shrunk over a small amount of time. We stayed in Tekapo for the night where we saw a beautiful sunset and stars.

      

Christchurch

08-04-2017

During the last few nights it got colder and colder. Because we woke up with frozen toes and frost on our tent, we decided to take precautions and used everything warm we had to make one big cosy bed for the two of us. It really was cosy but it worked and now we were going to treat ourselves with a warm hostel bed. We went to Vagabond in Christchurch (after a stop at a cute farmers market in Geraldine) and loved it right away. It made us think of Villa Villekulla of Pippi Longstockings. The inside as well, messy and cosy with amazing people. It came as a big surprise, while we were cooking Mirte’s favourite dish (broccoli pie), when we saw Jonas from Whanganui walking into the kitchen! We had an amazing evening with him and the other backpackers, a delicious dinner and an old friend (Paul, our colleague from Hunter’s) also popped by. In the night we were dancing queens at Engineers underneath the stars.

09-04-2017

We wanted to check out the city centre this Sunday. It didn’t look like much, mainly because of all the road- and construction work due to the earthquake damage. When we walked back through the park, it was surreal to see Autumn elements everywhere while it’s almost Easter. Vagabond has the most insane video collection ever (you can find the best classics here!), so when we got back we chose Chicken Run! Although people were claiming they wouldn’t like the movie, eventually it had a big audience and received a lot of laughter.

      

10-04-2017

One more cool thing about this hostel is the fact that they provide freshly baked bread in the morning! The weather has been very good lately, so we wanted to enjoy it to the fullest by going to Sumner beach together with Damon from the hostel. Since the hostel has a really small kitchen, we started preparing the lasagne for tonight the moment we got back. With some helpful tips from Jonas, we made a lit lasagne dish (our first ever). Everything was done and all set when Mario came home from work (we heard he was in Christchurch and arranged to meet up again!).

11-04-2017

Last time we were in the Botanic Gardens the greenhouse was closed, so we tried once more. The plants and flowers were truly beautiful and fascinating. A watery sun peeked through the autumn leaves and we laid down on a big branch while the drizzle fell down. Something we also really wanted to do was to visit the Cookie Time Cookie Factory Shop. Less exciting than expected, buuuuuut we bought a kilogram of broken triple chocolate chunk cookies! Before we went back to the hostel we browsed through the Art Gallery, which had a lot of fun and interesting subjects. Late in the evening Mario cooked us dinner and we had fun with him, Lukas (our roommate) and Damon.

    

Love Miriam & Mirte

Dear diary week 21…

Te Anau

29-03-2017 

After yesterday we felt confident to go on a small hike. We still wanted to do the Key Summit track, which we skipped earlier on. On the way there we picked up a hitchhiker from Switzerland with whom we had amusing conversations. We talked about the small vocabulary range of the kiwis, who tend to use the words ‘historic’ and ‘scenic’ everywhere. Once we dropped him of, we started on the track. It was absolutely worth the sniffling, the huge amount of stops and the dizziness once we reached the top. With amazing views of the valley, glaciers and lake Marian we ate our lunch. Even though we don’t do overnighters, we do like walking parts of the Great Walks such as the two parts of the Routeburn we now did.

  
  

Slope Point

30-03-2017

After a week of being grounded in Te Anau, we were finally on the move again! Our first stop was in Bluff, after Mirte proposed to go there excitedly. However, when we were almost there and Miriam asked why, she didn’t really know. It was fun though! 🎉the next stop was a special stop to finish our quest: going to the most northern and southern points of both the islands. Slope Point was not that impressive on its own BUT WE DID IT!

  

Dunedin

31-03-2017

On the way to Dunedin we had a lot of sightseeing stops. First of which was at the Petrified Forest where we could walk on the petrified remains of trees and tree trunks. Next to it was Porpoise Bay known for its Hector dolphins. With a lot of patience we saw some fins popping out of the water, swimming and playing around. We were just in time before the high tide set in at the Cathedral Caves. Unsuspecting, we went inside the caves to take some pictures. Before we knew it, the waves were already inside the cave and we had to pull up our trousers to waddle out. For lunch we stopped at the Florence Hill lookout. We didn’t pay a lot of attention to the cloudy view, but mostly to the cows in the meadow. This wasn’t the only cattle we had an encounter with. On our way to The Lost Gypsy caravan we were in a weird traffic situation. A shepherd was shifting his sheep to another paddock using a car and two dogs. It was hilarious being surrounded by this enormous amount of sheep. We wriggled us out of the herd to see the caravan. It’s impossible to describe what we saw inside. Countless amounts of quirky, genius crafts. We felt like children pushing every button, pulling every string and turning levers. It really was a magical place! The mesmerising Purakaunui Falls were next on the list and after that we went to Nugget Point passing Roaring Bay where we hoped to see some penguins. Apart from some seals we had no luck.

  

  
    
  
  

01-04-2017

We initially planned to go to the Otago Peninsula. As soon as we drove to our first spot, the Larnach Castle, we directly drove into clouds, which made it impossible to look any further than two metres. We couldn’t escape the thick white blanket so we decided to go back to the campsite. There is a reason New Zealand is called Aotearoa (Māori for “land of the long white cloud”).

02-04-2017

Anniversary day! Our very last one in New Zealand. We spent the day in the centre of Dunedin being all cultural visiting the Public Art Gallery and the Otago Museum. Our favourite one was The Bloggs by Nicola Jackson. She presented the human anatomy in a colourful, funny and original way. In the Otago Museum we had a lot of fun with the stuffed albatross, the Moa skeletons and the ‘very realistic’ alligator. On the way walking home we saw some more (street)art. We celebrated our anniversary by going to ‘Beauty and the Beast’. We liked it a lot! Great songs, funny implications and pretty scenery.

  

  

Oamaru

03-04-2017

It was really necessary to tidy up our car, so that’s what we did. We felt the urge to bake something delicious and nutritious. Banana oatmeal cookies it was! Now that we had our road trip snack, we had another go at the Otago Peninsula. This time we were blessed with a clear sky, so we were able to see albatrosses in real life at the Taiaroa head, along with some fur seals. Afterwards we went to Tunnel Beach where we watched the force of the waves against the rocks and we dangled our feet above it, sitting on the edge. We drove to Baldwin Street, which is the steepest residential street in the world, for a quick picture. We went to the penguin spot Kaitiki Point. Although we were sceptic, we were proven wrong when Miriam saw the first penguin. We were rewarded with six rare yellow-eyed penguins!!! We were immensely happy seeing wildlife other than (fur)seals. Even though there were heaps of them here as well. Close to Kaitiki Point were super famous stones (yay). The Moeraki Boulders, very photogenic indeed.

    


  
  

Twizel

04-04-2017
Oamaru is known for its yellow-eyed and blue penguins. We went on the hunt for Pāua shells however. Pāua shells are often incorporated by the Māori in holy statues and buildings and have a beautiful, pearl-like inside. We read something about the Elephant Rocks, so we took a look in the drizzle. Close by were some Māori rock drawings which were intriguing as well. Our next adventure was in Omarama at the Clay Cliffs. While we were walking between the pillars, we got a bit overconfident and climbed higher than we should have, which made it thrilling to come down again. This was intense enough for today, so we went to a campsite in Twizel where we had a fun evening with Marjolein from Belgium.

    
  
  

Love Miriam & Mirte 

Dear diary week 20…

Queenstown

22-02-2017

After a couple of exciting and tiring days, we had a recovery day today. Which meant mainly sitting in the tent having fun and chatting (we’re surprised we still have so much to talk about after 4,5 months!). We had an early night to be fresh for the next day. 

Te Anau

23-03-2017

Maps.me told us it would be a 4,5 hour drive to Te Anau. We soon found out that it would be a lot less, so we still had the whole afternoon which we used for writing the blogpost. It took a long time because we kept talking to people and most importantly getting a lot of free food. Furthermore we used our cooking skills once again for an amazing dinner and dessert. ‘Flapjes’ with a lot of vegetables, chicken and cheese and a cheesecake!

    
24-03-2017

The DOC provided us with a lot of information and inspiration about what to do for the coming few days. After taking notes of all of it, we drove to Cascade Creek in order to be closer to Milford Sound for our early cruise tomorrow. After a short hike to the Gull lake, we played some card games, ate our cold ‘flapjes’ and cheesecake (not to be forgotten). While getting ready for bed, we saw the most amazing, intimidating starry night! We’re certainly going to miss having this view while brushing our teeth.

  
Milford Sound/Te Anau

25-03-2017

We wanted to sleep as long as possible, so we had to be quick this morning. Not even dressed yet, we jumped in the car to Milford. We had a beautiful drive ahead of us, which would take a while. The highway from Te Anau to Milford Sound is supposed to be one of the prettiest highways in New Zealand so the slow tourists almost made sure we were too late. Once we were on the cruise boat we could pick the best spot, sit back and relax. …. we thought, the wind was extreme in the Sound and after a while we decided to sit inside. It wasn’t long before the skipper invited us to his wheel-house. Miriam got to steer and communicate with the harbour control and Mirte helped with anchoring. Meanwhile we could pick the victims the skipper could make fun of to make the trip a bit more interesting. It was a lot of fun and to make sure we really saw everything of this beautiful fiord, we did two additional walks. Afterwards we went home because Mirte didn’t feel so well.

          
Te Anau

26-03-2017

Sick day! Miriam was personal caretaker, while Mirte was mostly just lying on the couch today. It was raining the whole day so everyone was cooking (it’s the only thing you can do as backpacker in this weather). So did we, we ate some delicious Pita bread with a Greek filling. We played Jenga with some friends and went to bed early (on nurse Miriam her advice).


27-03-2017

Another sick day, however this time Mirte felt better but because Miriam slept in a wet sleeping bag (stupid not waterproof tent) she started to feel ill as well! Luckily Mirte had booked a dorm room bed as a thank you for her (that’s real couple goals right there). Actually the whole day can be summarised with: binge watching ‘The 100’ (our guilty pleasure series), eating, doing groceries, more ‘The 100’, more eating, small lake side walk (some fresh air is always healthy) aaandd more ‘The 100’!


28-03-2017

Our first day we actually undertook something again. After a slow morning start we finally jumped in the car again and drove to Lake Manapouri. Over there we did a small forest/lakeside walk. This one hour walk was more than enough for our sick bodies. Nevertheless we did something again and that felt great. While eating dinner, we noticed everyone running outside to see the sunset at Lake Te Anau. We ran after them and saw a beautiful sky above the mountains. It was quite funny to see all the people at the lakefront with their cameras, since during the day it’s mostly quiet. The rest of our evening we spent talking with Justin from The Netherlands. When we looked at the time, it had passed quicker then expected. At 3 o’clock we were finally ending the day.

  
Love Miriam & Mirte

Dear diary week 19…

Wanaka

15-03-2017

“Wake up! You need to pay!” Those were the words that woke Mirte up at 6 o’clock in the morning. We were staying at a campsite which was literally just a grass field and we had to pay $10 each. We took the risk of not paying which resulted in this harsh wake up. Didn’t really matter, since we continued sleeping and eventually brunched at 12 in the afternoon. We said our goodbyes to Jakob and went to Queenstown “City of adrenaline!”. Because we were quite late, our afternoon consisted of checking out some popular shops like ‘The Remarkable Sweetshop’ and ‘T2’. In the hostel we were staying we spend our evening with some Italian friends and went to bed quite early to be fit and prepared for tomorrow.

Queenstown

16-03-2017

Because it’s Canyon Swing day!! At the beginning Mirte was the one enthusiastic and boldly saying she wanted to do the scariest one. Miriam, at first hesitant, eventually was up for everything and was quite relaxed when the employees said the scariest one was jumping yourself. Mirte on the other hand, was constantly yapping trying to control her nervosity. When we were all set up and ready to jump off a cliff, Miriam was calmness itself while Mirte was nope’ing away. THEN WE JUMPED! This really was a bizarre experience. Firstly screaming because… well… you’re jumping off a cliff and then feeling how long and fast you’re falling. For Mirte this was a once and never again experience, Miriam however is even more excited for her skydiving. Afterwards we went back into Queenstown going for a taste at the Cookie Time Cookie Factory Shop. Of course it was heavenly, so we couldn’t contain ourselves at the Pak ’n Save when there was a $1,00 deal on the cookies. Being the tourist we are, of course we had to stop at Ferg Burger. Yesterday we already saw an enormous line blocking every pedestrian, so we took our chance when we saw a short queue. It really was amazing. Also we went to Otautahi Tattoos to make an appointment for Mirte.

Glenorchy

17-03-2017

We wanted to do the Ben Lomond track this morning, but we couldn’t find a parking spot anywhere. Instead we drove to Glenorchy to the lovely Mrs. Woolly’s campground. After settling down we drove to Paradise, a place known to accommodate a lot of Hollywood stars and where a lot of famous movie scenes have been shot (of course LOTR but also a Milka commercial for instance). The drive there was already stunning (and adventurous with all the fords again) and when we did a small hike we saw even more of the diverse landscape. There were mountains surrounding us, a forest and golden grasslands that we had to cross to get there. We went to do another small hike around lagoon Glenorchy which was also really breathtaking. Back in the enormous kitchen we made our chilli con carne with our self-made wraps, which always get a lot of appreciating hmm’s, and talked with two Israeli people till 1.30 in the night.

      

18-03-2017

In hindsight, it was wasn’t that smart really to go to bed that late, since we had to get up early for the famous (for NZ travellers) Routeburn Track. The track itself was challenging and the views were amazing. The weather was a bit drowsy this day which gave the mountains this gloomy vibe with their dark low hanging clouds. On our way we made some friends giving us Fixomull (for Mirte’s everlasting blisters), gingernuts, recommendations and great company climbing our way to the second hut (more like villa…). Exhausted we ate our leftover wraps and amazingly baked pancakes by Mirte. Meanwhile Miriam got a very useful tip for parking our car to be able to do the Ben Lomond Track after all.

      

Queenstown

19-03-2017

We got a recommendation to go to ‘The Argonath on the Anduin River’ (LOTR scene of course), so that’s what we did. After viewing this beautiful location we went and have lunch while watching people jumping off a bridge (AJ Hackett bungy jumping). We already got an adrenaline rush by watching them and were really happy we weren’t them… However, then it was time for our own adventure. At the tattoo shop Mirte told her ideas and soon the design was ready to be immortalised in ink. Cursing and getting paler and paler Mirte sat on the table but fortunately she was still able to laugh. Miriam had her fun watching (read laughing) and being paparazzi. As a treat we went to Mrs. Fergs Gelato.

      

20-03-2017

Yuck, it was dark when our alarm went off. It almost felt like winter. However, we did have our breakfast at sunrise, surrounded by pink glowing mountains. Why were we so early? We had to fight for a parking spot (Queenstown is ridiculously busy) so we could do the Ben Lomond Track. The track was only ascending and was physically challenging as well as mentally. We cheered ourselves to the top where we had an amazing view. Totally worth it, but we won’t hike for a while now. When we almost got back to our car we ran into Tobi (we met him in Franz Josef) and hung out with him and his friends playing soccer in the park (yes, we are crazy doing this after a 6h hike…). Afterwards we made dinner with Marina from Canada and met Zach from Australia, with whom we decided to meet up the next day for some disc golf.

        

21-03-2017

Since nobody had played disc golf before, it was a hilarious experience trying to get our discs in the chain baskets. Afterwards we went for a comparison burger at Devil Burger and ate it whole at the lake front. We made a plan with everyone to meet up at 8 and have a festive night together. While we were already having a lot of fun, we joined the Pub Crawl people and had an amazing night getting free stuff and playing games.

  

Love Miriam & Mirte

Dear diary week 18…

Punakaiki/Ross

08-03-2017

Our travels continue towards the Pancake Rocks, but not before we went on a small recommended hike alongside a river in a canyon. The cool thing about this hike was the everchanging environment. At first it felt like we were walking in a tropical rainforest, palmtrees everywhere, then it seemed more like a fairytale forest and lastly it resembled the forest of Beetsterzwaag. Next thing on the list were the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. There are several theories about the origin of this natural wonder, however for us it was just wonderful to behold! Our overnight stay was at the campground of Empire Hotel in Ross where we had an reencounter with Josh and Matt from Gentle Annie’s (the campsite we stayed before). We had a fun night, drinking some beers with them in our pyjamas at the local pub, while listening to 80’s music from the Jukebox.

    

Franz Josef

09-03-2017

While driving to one of the places we were really looking forward to (Franz Josef Glacier!), we stopped at a beautiful spot for lunch. Just as we were getting back to the car, a guy from the helicopter flights approached us with some interesting offers. It was a rare beautiful day with a complete blue sky and we managed to get something more off the price. A spontaneous decision was made; WE WERE GOING ON A HELICOPTER FLIGHT! Just the decision already thrilled us, 1 minute later we sat in the helicopter with our headsets on, grinning from ear to ear. The flight was stunning. We had breathtaking views over the Southern Alps, Mt Ellie, Tasman Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, Mt Tasman and Mt Cook. Meanwhile the pilot informed us about the surroundings, but flabbergasted as we were, we didn’t hear a thing. We only realised how immense it was when we saw a trampers hut on the glacier, putting the size in a whole different perspective. Full of adrenaline we took a rest at a lake near Franz Josef (the village). However it wasn’t peaceful for a long time. Soon a van full of Chinese people arrived ‘secretly’ taking pictures of us from behind a sign. Then they got bolder, trying to have a conversation with us while others were making pictures. Eventually, it turned into a proper photoshoot which was a bizarre but hilarious experience. All of this gave us some great stories to tell Jakob, with whom we met again. Together, we went on an adventure, looking for glowworms in the forest at night.

      

10-03-2017

While making some toast, Mirte got the recommendation to do a quite unknown hike of five hours which got you really close to the Franz Josef Glacier! Jakob was too tired to join us, so at 11 o’clock the two of us took off, fully prepared. We loved the diversity of the hike, challenging us with steep, rocky walls, slippery river stones, stairs alongside a cliff and multiple of our beloved swing bridges. The view at the top was even more amazing. We were rewarded with a bright blue sky and an even brighter glacier. This must be one of the best lunches we will ever have. Our next spot for the night was well known Gillespies Beach. After dinner we looked at the sky, glowing pink over the wild sea. Perfect sunset for a perfect day.


    

Fox Glacier

11-03-2017

“Avondrood water in de sloot”. A Dutch expression which came true. As beautiful as the sky was yesterday, it was nothing alike anymore. Rain was pouring all night and it stayed the same during the day. The grey sky didn’t stop us from going to the Fox Glacier though. Actually the moment we were there, the rain had stopped and the clouds caused a mysterious image. We made some amazing selfies, turning some heads, and afterwards we went for fries and pie at the cafe. Lake Matheson was also recommended, however it just looked depressing due to the depressing weather. We hope it will get better soon, but it’s West Coast weather so we are not surprised.

      

Hawea

12-03-2017

Because we had a long journey ahead, we took a couple of breaks. First of which was at the Fantail Falls. It turned out to be a beautiful spot where people erected a lot of cairns. Of course we also participated and climbed the waterfall before we headed on to Haast’s blue pools. After 7 hours of roadtripping we finally arrived in Hawea where we stayed for two nights. After the free campsite, we were really happy to see a kitchen again. We made full use of it by making a magnificent curry according to Jakob’s recipe.

    

13-03-2017

The weather still wasn’t great, nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves by watching a movie and go on a small walk alongside lake Hawea. Because we made curry for ten yesterday, we could eat it again today. However, this time we had homemade tortillas to go with it. They were the best we made so far.

14-03-2017

In contrast to yesterday, today was super active. We started with a 3-4 hour hike to Rob Roy’s glacier. The way there was already a whole experience on its own. We’re referring to the amazing environment and scenic views, but also to the horrific road leading there. Not only was it bumpy for 24 km, but also we had to cross rivers (fords). It was totally worth it when we started hiking though. We could see the glacier every now and then, but were still totally surprised when we reached the lower lookout and realised how close we’d actually gotten. It was even more impressive when we reached the upper lookout. Breathless we tried to take the multiple roaring waterfalls, the immense glacier, the beautiful valley and the bright colours in. While eating our lunch in the sun, we suddenly heard a rumbling noise. It turned out to be an avalanche! It was amazing to experience this with the three of us. After this we decided to be real tourists and took a picture of New Zealand’s most photographed tree in lake Wanaka. It really was a picture perfect tree :). Then we went on a restaurant hunt to find the perfect one for the goodbye dinner in the evening. We made a reservation for 8 o’clock, quickly set up our tents in Albert Town and did a quick freshing up before we went to Francesca’s Italian Kitchen. The food was amazing! Too bad the waiter thought we were frauds and fiddled with our passports because of the Dutch design (the design of the year is different from the month and day). So no housewine 😦 Nevertheless, the evening (and the day) was a huge succes.

  
Love Miriam & Mirte

Dear diary week 17…

Nelson

01-03-2017

Time for travelling again! We said our goodbyes to Anton, Erik and Jakob and hit the road. After a few seconds we saw two girls at the side of the road and they joined us for the trip to Nelson. Once we arrived in Nelson we met up with Mario after 4 months. We hiked to ‘the centre’ of New Zealand and the Japanese gardens, talking like we’d known each other for years. All this walking worked up an appetite, so we went to the Noodle Canteen for our beloved nr. 32. At the free campsite we enjoyed our evening with Mario and Jannick while enjoying Mirte’s birthday present.


02-03-2017

After sleeping in till 10.00 we went on a shopping trip to Richmond Mall. Mirte found a fitting pair of jeans after ripping out of the last two. Then we went to Tahunanui Beach for lunch and continued our trip in Nelson. We wrote our blogpost in the library and saw Pluk van de Petteflat. No time for reading though, since we had a dinner date at Aad and Hilde. We caught up with them and watched the beautiful sunset while eating a delicious dinner. Afterwards we went back to the free campsite for one last evening with Mario and Jannick. 



Farewell Spit

03-03-2017

Finally we went to undiscovered ground; Farewell Spit. We had lunch looking at the beak of the kiwi and went to Whararaki beach in the afternoon. Although it was stunning, it was immensely windy as well. With tulbands made of hammamtowels we defied the sand and wind of the desertlike beach. At the campsite we met Raoul with whom we ate and then Steffen joined us for a game of ‘Fuck the Queen’. 


Takaka

04-03-2017

The challenge we gave ourselves was visiting the most northern/southern part of both islands. So naturally we had to go to Cape Farewell. We did a 1,5 hour hike over hobbit like hills and had to go over some scary rims with windghusts pushing us back. It was only at the top that we could feel the actual force of the wind and we were both amazed by the power of nature. At 11 the four of us were ready to have a look at the hippie market in Takaka (hippie paradise). It was not as big as we expected it to be, but nevertheless it was interesting to experience a bit of their lifestyle. Then we went on a hunt for the location of the mere hearsay swingropes. We eventually found them by the tips of some locals and spent the afternoon sunbathing, swimming and swinging. We wanted some action afterwards, so after dropping Raoul and Steffen off we took a look at Pupu springs, said to be one of the clearest springs in New Zealand. We dove into the hippie lifestyle even further by spending the evening around the bonfire. 


Mokihinui

05-03-2017

Because Miriam observently noticed something hanging loose at the bottom of the car we DIY for the first time on our car with some cable ties. With some help of Raoul and Miriam’s uncle we fixed it within seconds. Before saying goodbye to Steffen we first did a freaking hot hike all together to the Rawhiti Caves. We saw some deadly stakes hanging from the roof and it was bizarre to see some of those growing horizontally (due to the plants in the stones, growing towards light). We carried on with our journey including Raoul for the first kilometres. Together we tried to eat our lunch, the sandflies causing us to run half a marathon, at the place we dropped him off. When we finally arrived at Gentle Annie and got our Campermate cookie, we were ended our afternoon with a card game with some guys.

06-03-2017

Although we had planned something else, our morning consisted of sleeping in and slowly getting ready for the day. However, we weren’t going to let a good day like this go to waste. So we packed up our stuff and drove (very stressfully because of a lack of fuel…) to the Oparara Arches. We saw some beautiful limestone caves and did a nice short hike to lake Hanlo with a Czech girl we picked up on the way back.

07-03-2017

Nothing! Spending our day reading, watching Sherlock and writing was exactly what we needed today. However we did have a pathetic attempt to go to the glowworms. We drove all the way to the spot where the hike to the caves started in the dark, already having the worst horror thoughts. Boldly we started our hike, mobiles functioning as torch, turning around the moment we saw a sign saying “due to safety regulations closed”. Ooh too bad….We were really bummed out ;).

Love Miriam & Mirte

Dear diary week 15 & 16

14-02-2017 
Today was Valentines Day, however we still had to work. Mirte wasn’t feeling well, so when we got back she watched a Disney movie while Miriam went for a run. However Miriam didn’t just return with a red head (she ran in 28 degrees!) but also with a gift <3. Mirte immediately felt better after reading the sweet card and seeing the honey she got!

15-02-2017 

Our ways separated today. While Miriam was a die hard and just went working, Mirte decided to take a day off and go to the Pelorus Bridge (one of the many LOTR scenes) with Jakob. The bridge itself isn’t that beautiful but the canyon-like river had a mysterious vibe because of the rough, narrow rocks and the window clear, turquoise water. The day was a big adventure, also due to the fact that Jakob forgot to tank and we weren’t sure whether we would make it… Eventually we did and Mirte brought some long awaited Fish & Chips home for dinner.

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16-02-2017

It was Erik’s birthday! Unfortunately Erik and Anton work from 14.00 till 22.00 and we work from 8.30 till 17.00 so we don’t see each other during the day. So when they finally got home we surprised him with his favourite cake (carrot) and an amazing card Miriam bought. All the flatmates wrote a funny message on it and after he blew out his candle we played Durak till the early hours.

17-02-2017

We have been cooking some masterpieces lately and we also wanted to test our baking skills. So we decided to make some brownies. The only thing we had was a cupcake baking tray so it became muffin-brownies, all the same ;). We enjoyed them after our leek, bacon and cheese quiche.

20-02-2017

Although Blenheim is not necessarily the hottest place to be, it is the best summer spot. It’s almost always good weather and that’s why we were able to go to the river after work many times. This particular day we decided to quickly make some food and drive to the river. There we ate our dinner in the sun on our private beach. Afterwards we decided to take a dive in the cool water (read: stand in the water till our bellybutton, chitchatting away) while the sun was slowly setting. Later that evening we chased the sunset feeling utterly happy.

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21-02-2017

This time we took a dive immediately after work to have the best dinner at home (home made pizza as recommended by Paul and Jonas). Later that evening we picked up Jakob to go to the river for some stargazing. While counting the falling stars we drank some wine, ate some brownies and talked and laughed a lot. It was a perfect evening.

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22-02-2017

The last couple of days had been hard on us, working almost everyday. Our bodies didn’t want to cooperate anymore and we started feeling weak and tired. We slept in and talked to our friends back home that morning. Later that afternoon we went on a sunny walk at Wither Hills Farm. A bit too sunny maybe… We met a really nice German girl (Leonie) on the top of the mountain and quickly went back to the apartment to go to White’s Bay and cool down a little. It was even more fun than usual because the waves were enormous and Erik, Anton, Lennart, Maria and us made a competition out of swimming on the wave as far as possible.

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23-02-2017

Yesterday night was Lennart’s last evening so we partied with all the friends from the whole house (3 flats = kiwi word for apartment). This morning we helped him deciding what to bring to Thailand (“Miriam what do you think, do I need jeans? Mirte what time should I leave, how long does it take to get a ride?”) and said our goodbyes.

24-02-2017

Ed organised a staff bqq today for lunch. Everyone was there to enjoy Ed’s sausages with caramelised onion (we weren’t the biggest fans of the onion to their surprise) on toast with sauce. After we were stuffed, we went back to work. In the evening some people of Swampy’s came over and we decided to go back with them to the hostel to party there. We slept on the sofa afterwards and after a short night’s sleep we had to wake up ‘early’ to go to work.

25-02-2017

We had to start at 10.30 and luckily could catch a ride back home with our ‘old’ hostel friends (our former driver wasn’t able to find his car keys). After watching some Sesame Street as breakfast entertainment, we left for one of our last days of work. We managed to stay awake the whole day and of course went partying in the evening (for the very last time in Blenheim).

27-02-2017 

The last couple of days Mirte found a sweater she’s been wearing 24/7, however it wasn’t hers. Miriam thought it was a funny idea to secretly buy a grey sweater and let Jakob draw the same logo on it (a beautiful seagul). Tootering and shouting with party hats on and everything, they came down the stairs, present in their hands. At that moment our new flatmate came down and saw hot cocoa, brownies, party stuff and Mirte opening her gift so he ran to the New World to buy a bottle of wine assuming it was her birthday! Together we enjoyed some wine and had a lot of fun explaining everything to our flatmates.

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28-02-2017

Last day of work!!! In the ‘smoko’ (smoker=break) we participated in the Kiwi tradition and brought some savoury pies. Of course all our colleagues where obliged to write on our flag as well. We’d already said goodbye to some of our colleagues and at 17.00 Jane (our boss) came in with Jeremy, Helen, Amber and Nicky to give us a super sweet goodbye gift. They’d secretly let a card go around and everybody wrote a personal message on it. We had such a lovely time with them and we still can’t believe we were so lucky to find this place!

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In the evening Mirte went back to Wither Hills Farm to watch Blenheim at night and the stars to say goodbye to this chapter of life.

Love Miriam & Mirte