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Nieuw-Zeeland 2019

Chris’ Voyage of Discovery to New Zealand:

In short my 2019 New Zealand trip was loads of road tripping, gazing (at both nature and stars), hiking, swimming, acts of kindness, drill sessions, waka, haka, korero’s and kai (food).  It also involved me jumping off loads of different things; Fishing vessels, big rocks, waterfalls, bridges and wakas. If you want to read my full travel journal, it is written below,  every piece starting with a summary and the expanded log.

waka, fishing, jumping, swimming stargazing and learning and loads of adventure.


First Days: JET-LAG!

What is worse than a jet-lag? Well definitely a hungover jet-lag… straight after I arrived in Rotorua I met up with a friend who I had not seen in years, we decided to go for a beer but that escalated more quickly than we planned… obviously the day after was not the best. The best way to get over a hangover however; just completely fill up your day with activities. Pro-tip; do not go drinking after having traveled for 32 hours!

In those days I checked out Rotorua lake, and experienced some of the adventurous tourist activities from the North Island. On the first day I did white water rafting on the kaituna river, which is named after the food it used to suspend to the Maori, because it was plennished with eels (kai = food, tuna = eel). Therefor the river is treated with gratitude. We also went to the hot water lakes, back in Rotorua. The day after I went to Waikoto to see the Waitomo glowworm caves; whilst black water rafting. which means you have an old tire of a car and you stick your bum through the hole to stay afloat after jumping off waterfalls on the river inside the caves, and to drift around on your back gazing at the glowworms. The next morning we left for the South Island but not before we went to Carrisson creek, a steam with warm water, heated by the volcanic activity. The creek had all kinds of minerals in it which coloured the water an orangy-red. Not only the water for that matter, my trunks and hair still had an orange glow to them weeks later, and my bracelet never returned to its original white…


South Island: fishing tours, wineries, stunning nature and loads of swimming

Because of the summer holidays I could travel down with some of my new friends to the South Island, We took the night boat, which was plain stupid because the ferry from North to South is basically a “free” tour of  the wellington harbour, cook strait, Marlborough sounds, Queen Charlotte sound and Picton. But because it was night it was to dark to see any of the beauty that we were passing by. Also because it was the latest ferry, when we got to the South Island, everything was closed, which meant that the three of us had to cuddle up in a little car for the night. We all have had better nights, I can tell you that. In broad daylight we continued our journey to Kaikoura (koura = crayfish) on the first day, where we went on a fishing tour, we helped catching crayfish, houled in 2 conger eels and loads of orange sea perch. When we arrived in the harbour we were allowed to use the ship as a big playground and diving board. Quitte a few backflips and bellyflops later the ship was cleaned and on land, the right hand of the captain invited us diving, but because of the bad weather and because of our inexperience we went snorkelling instead. 

Because of the snorkelling I unfortunately missed my bus, and later that day I was supposed to meet with some people in Amberley. Grateful for Simon, the guide of the fishing tour, who took me down south and was a good conversation partner. He taught me loads about Kaikoura Kaupapa. Arrived in Amberley I met with a lovely family who hosted me for a couple of days.They both were working in Christchurch. So they could take me down everyday where I learned more about the earthquake in quake city museum and a lot about pounamu stones, New Zealand and Maori history in the Canterbury museum. I think it is amazing to see how they’ve rebuild so much of the city since 2011, and integrated art as a part of the rebuilding. There was also the Christchurch bread and circus – world Buskers festival going on, which I absolutely recommend. Loads of artists performed different arts though out the city, mainly street perfomances, but also in theaters and tents. The botanical gardens are stunning en next to the canterbury museum. Another amazing activity is the International Antarctic Center, where you can experience a polar storm, cuddle with huskies and check out penguins. If you are more into art, the art gallery te puna o waiwhetu is lovely and diverse. My host family showed me some of the amazing wineries of Waipara area, to let me try some of the amazing NZ wines. My travelmates picked me up and we drove through the stunning arthurs pass, were we walked a couple of hours and checked out the waterfalls. We stayed over in arthurs pass for one night, where we took a nighthike, some good nights rest before driving to Hokitika.


West coast: glowworm forrests, penguins, kiwi’s, mountains, lakes, waterfalls and quadbikes 

On our way to Hokitika we stopped in a penguin breeding reserve, checked out the beach and went for a swim. Some signs to be careful not to disturb the penguins and an carcass where unfortunately the only indication of an actual penguin habitat. In Hokitika we went for a stroll, and after having passed the war museum we went into the national kiwi center. In the Kiwicenter they showed loads of different animals, both water and land. they even had a crayfish pool where you could catch some, and and conger eel feeding and petting aquarium. the nocturnal residence of the two kiwi’s gave a good insight in how they hide and live. The caretaker explained loads about kiwi’s but what surprised me most is that they are actually really sensitive on smell, if the caretaker would come back from holidays the kiwi’s would run up towards her and stick their peckers in her shoes to greet her. Best thing was actually that I got to pet one of them!

After the national kiwi center we went to the i-sight where they where able to explain more about finding rough pounamu, and they had all kinds of examples. Hokitika is a great place to take a stroll when the tide is going out, because greenstone washes up on the hokitika shores. After finding one there is a possibility to carve it in one of the many studios in Hokitika.

We made camp next to a massive fireplace, close to the river, a bit outside the town, so that we would have the best galaxy views and the opportunity to make a bonfire without endangering any of the surroundings. The next day we started off early to drive down to fox glacier where we could stay with some friends. On the way there we made a stop at hokitika gorge; which was absolutely smashing. The water looks like someone dropped a bucket of aqua blue paint. One of my friends took a jump off a massive boulder in the freezing cold water. He warned me that I should start swimming straight after I hit the water because of the strong current, but of course I waited a bit to long, so he had to drag me out, otherwise I would’ve washed up way to far down the road… It was really good to see my old friends in Fox Glacier, but unfortunately the weather did not allow us to actually go near the glacier. However there was a lovely glowworm forest walk that we decided to do later that night. The next day we to Franz Jozef were we did a Quadbike tour in the Waiho riverbed. We were the last tour of the day because all the other tours got cancelled because of bad weather, but the pouring rain actually made the tour more interesting. Some people did quite got the grasp of their bikes or accidently took wrong turns because of the grinded in tracks of previous tours. Anyway, we had a good laugh and that is all that matters!

After having gourmet burgers we drove of further down south, past Haast to Wanaka. The rain showers made the road quite interesting with actual waterfalls coming out of the mountains, but with some good driving skills of my traveling buddies we made it to Lake Hawea in one piece. We decided to sleep there and move to Wanaka in the morning. An absolute wonderful idea because the different colours of darkness in the full moon made a wonderful composition. the purple-ish darkness of the sky, filled with stars, the blackness of the mountains, and the moving darkness  of the water, which shimmered in the moonlight. In wanaka we rented mountain bikes and cycled on the side of the lake for a bit. we cycled up to albert town and decided to go for a swim and jump of the bridge. on our way back we swam some more before turning in our bikes, grabbing some food and driving back to lake Hawea to camp for another night.

After the most beautiful night of looking at the stars and listening to the rolling waves of the lake, we hit the road, but not after taking a nice hike to have a good look back on Lake Wanaka  next stop: Queenstown.


Queenstown: adventure capital

On the way we stopped in a small gold miners village called Arrowtown. We checked out the old miners houses. after the stroll we moved on to Queenstown. Our hostel was on the hillside of one of the many hills enclosing Queenstown. arrived at the hostel I booked a Millford sounds tour, which is absolutely amazing; the ride there takes 5 hours, but it has magnificent views on it’s own. The ride there was partially sunny and  a bit cloudy but wow! the mirror lakes were lovely, even though it was not a perfect mirror due to a bit of wind, the water was incredibly clear. later we stopped at pop’s viewing point, where the clouds made the mountains look very mysterious. and the  then we stopped at mount Talbot, where the drunken pirate parrots (Kea bird) were behaving like complete rascals. chewing and pulling the rubber lining of cars and attacking busses. After going through a tunnel it started getting rainy. Which made the waterfalls on the sides of the roads even more beautiful than they already were. we stopped at the Chasm to look at the beautifully carved out rocks, because water made perfectly round shaped holes. I did not expect the views to become more stunning than they already were, but man they did… When we got on the ferry the waterfalls where massive and the rain made the waterfalls grow even bigger during our ferry ride. The misty, cloudy, rainy weather gave the Milford sounds a really mysterious, mystical vibe. The captain skillfully parked the boat underneath waterfalls so we could get water to drink; which might sound like a fairytale but resided in me completely soaked on an already cold day, fortunately they had unlimited coffee and tea on the boat. I pointed out a dolphin to the captain, who told me to move to the rear of the boat because he would announce everyone to go to the back as well, so I would be guaranteed of a good spot, and he thanked me for pointing it out. a lovely maori guide of the bus was able to explain me loads about the sounds and other parts. 

During the busride a made new friends, and back in Queenstown we went for a drink. the next day we walked up the Hill instead of taking the skyline up to the Ben Lomond scenic reserve. the view of lake Wanaka from uphill was absolutely fantastic. Going down hill was obviously way easier and took us about 1/5th of the time it took us to hike up. It started raining and my new friend and I decided to go for a burger at fergburgers. they are amazing, but the queue however is way to long! That night, we spend barhopping, they have a bar for everyone; some with live popmusic, others with live metal and the best thing? They have themed bars! there is an Icebar, in which you will freeze your toes of if you keep your jandels on, but fortunately they have nice boots and thick coats that you can borrow. They also have an cowboy bar with an actual Rodeo Bull (machine) and karaoke. you can sign up for riding the bull, and they keep a chart to see who ever sits on longest. bonus: everyone gets to wear a cowboy hat and if one of your drunk friends gets to annoying; you can put him in the build in jail! 

Pro-tip: Queenstown has loads of adventures activities to offer, such as bungee jumping, skydiving, flying to the glaciers, downhill mountain biking and much more, so it is definitely worth looking at all it has to offer when visiting! 


Last week on the south Island; way up north!

After Queenstown, someone I met in the hostel wanted to drive up north, and I was supposed to meet with some friends in Nelson, so I joined him. About 8 hours driving later we found out we misbooked our Kaikoura hostel; fortunately we were able to stay over in the wonderful Donegal hotel. The next day I took the bus to Nelson, the sunshine city, after a few days of exploring the city I went on to Dough and Margareth in Blenheim. Unfortunately there was not enough time to visit them for long, before I had to catch my Ferry to Wellington, where I would only be staying for one night.

First things first; the drive up north was amazing, was good that we were with the two of us, so we could switch if one of us got tired. after passing some of the bluest lakes Í’ve ever seen, we drove past lake Pukaki. It is cooled down by the melting water from the gletsjer, so when we decided to take a good dive to cool down after driving, we nearly froze our fingers off… okay that might be a bit over exaggerated, but man, the water was cold! Driving on a bit further we bought some really good fresh raspberries on a nice little farmhouse. Another few hours later we arrived in Kaikoura. Having arrived at the hostel we found out that we booked the hostel for the day before, because the laptop was still set on West- European time and date… After anxiously googling we found a really nice hotel with an Irish touch. a few hundred years ago a Irish family decided to move their complete home to Kaikoura, which is later turned into an hotel. The garden is lovely, and it has a nice pond. They also have keep horses on which you can probably ride. We didn’t have much time however, because after breakfast I planned on continueing my journey to Nelson.

 In Nelson it was about a 15 minute walk to my friends house, which took me a bit longer because of my 30 kg luggage I was hauling along. after seeing the same man for the 4th time I we figured we had to be heading the same way. At the bottom of the hill where my friends lived the lovely Maori guy offered to help me carry my bags all the way uphill, where my friends live. He pointed out where he lived, about halfway, but insisted on helping me carry my bag all the way to the top. It was really good meeting up with my friends, and being able to stay at their place for a few days. They showed me around in Nelson, to the golden beach, the nice markets and the harbour.

When I arrived in Nelson, I was picked up nu Dough and Margaret, who hosted me for lunch where Dough told me loads about both the area and his family history,  and the waka they are building. As spokesman of the Abel Tasman area he came to the netherlands last year, were we had met them in Groningen, when they handed a Pounamu stone to the Abel Tasman museum. It was really lovely to see them again and to learn from them! They brought me to the ferry which took me from Picton to Wellington, this time by day, so I could actually see all the rough landscapes of the Sounds.


Wellington, Taupo and Rotorua; Magical trees, Mount Doom, and the overnight bus.

A quick stopover in Wellington before heading towards Taupo for the Tongariro crossing (and throwing a ring mount doom). having a nice evening of chill in Rotorua before heading up north to the bay of Islands. 

I only stayed in wellington overnight, but luckily that night they had a music and light show going on in the botanical gardens. I was wonderful just to sit and enjoy the lovely band playing and looking at all the artfully planted lights in the gardens and on the trees.. It really was magical. Sadly enough I did not have the time to explore much of the city, which I probably would have loved by the looks of the bits I have seen. 

After having arrived in Taupo, obviously the first thing to do is take a dive in the gigantic lake Taupo, refreshed and well I headed to the hostel. With some friends we decided to discover the nightlife of  Taupo later that night. which resulted in just 4 hours of sleep before being picked up to go to the tongariro crossing…

The Tongariro crossing is an amazing hike, of 20Km, it takes one right past mount doom, past the emerald lakes and through the forrest, past waterfalls. Going up we spend 2 hours walking the devils staircase. Which is, as the name tells you, A really long, staircase, you can probably imagine how much fun it is to walk up stairs for 2 hours, with only 4 hours of sleep? well I can tell you it actually was good fun, the amazing few with the just rised sun, it gave a wonderfull view, both over mount doom and the vulcanic landscape and the lakes. after a good 4,5 hours of hiking (the driver said it might take 8 but that was definitely exaggerated) we arrived at the parking spot where the drivers were supposed to pick us up, after a two hour wait. 

Back in Taupo I made myself some dinner before booking the bus from Taupo – Rotorua – Auckland – Paihia. I went to Rotorua early so I could meet up with a couple of friends before heading off to Paihia. The bus LEft around 3 AM from Rotorua, and there was a transfer around 7 AM in Auckland. Around 10 AM I arrived in Pahia. 

After walking over the artists marked I strolled over the beach before meeting up with Emilio and Ella. We strolled over the beach and through the town before taking the ferry to Russel. Which I would recommend to everyone, because Russel is stunning. We visited Ella at work on the Waitangi treaty grounds where we met Ngatokimatawhaorua, Whakaangi (te Hono’s twin brother) and Mataatua Puhi for the first time. After which we took the trail to tent city to meet with uncle Joe, aunty Debby, Miri, Tapa, Reiha, Reuben and loads of others from tent city. We went to the beach in Russel, did some snorkelling and made some apple pie. We stayed over at Ella’s place for a couple of days before heading to tent city. 


Tent city: Maori, Kai, Waka, Knighting Ta Hekenukumai Busby and Waitangi day 

After arriving in Tent city we went to put up our tents. The first night was rather relaxed and we got to know each other a bit better. The next few days summed up is wake up – help prepare kai – have breakfast – training session – lunch – training – dinner – small training session –  tea and biscuits and good conversations – sleep – repeat. We tried jumping in wherever we could, with both drill sessions, preparing kai, or the waka.

At first we helped painting Te Whanau Moana, and after lunch we we launched te Whanau Moana and Mataatua Puhi. In between these activities we trained for the knighting of Hector Hekenukumai Busby Who is the builder of both our waka, Te hono ki Aotearoa and Tahimana.. We also went for a good peddling session that day, after which we spend some time relaxing by making earpieces. Later that night we were officially welcomed by a small powhiri ceremony, after which we melted in with everyone from tent city. 

The next day Tent city was officially opened, we launched Whakaangi we had the general repetition for the knighting of sir Busby. Even in the practise round I could feel all the mana coming from all of us and just being able to do a haka with so many people is incredible. After having rehearsed the whole day, we went to tent city to prepare kai. We had an incredible amount of kina (sea urchin) that had to be scooped out. I had never had them before but they taste good!

the 4th of february was a really big day, because the investiture ceremony of sir Busby finally took place. I think we were with about 400 peddlers, to guide him up to the treaty grounds and honour him. It was raining which made it even more special, as if we were blessed. At some point, I think our muscles where getting a bit sore, but that did not really matter because we were doing it for uncle Hector and we were doing it together. It is absolutely incredible that we were able to be a part of this, especially because without uncle Hector, we would not have been in Waitangi at all, we would never even have gotten so familiar with waka kaupapa as we are now. Because without Uncle Hector, we would not have Tahimana and Te hono ki Aotearoa. Ngati Awa arrived that day to join us in tent city for Waitangi, Accompanied by a squadron of Harleys. We got to meet with aunty Hine, her husband named Te Hono and wrote the spinning haka, we have been learning in the Netherlands as well. Later that evening, sir Hector came to tent city, where he held a speech and we were able to show him gratitude for all that he has brought us. 

The 5th of july was all-in for the preparation of waitangi. Drill-sessions, mainly of the spinning haka, but others as well. After which we did a we paddled to Paihia beach where we landed our waka and had an amazing lunch. Just to get everything on point, so we would not run into any surprises or sandbanks on Waitangi day itself. Some of the kids swam on the side of the waka for a bit to cool down.

6th of January, this is what this whole journey has been about; participating in Waitangi day and finally putting all the practise to use. It was astonishing to be on the water with so many Waka and kahoe and Peddle to Waitangi. It is amazing to see how much mahi is put into both Waitangi and tent city every year to make it such a success. On the treaty grounds all kinds of things were going on. they had an official navy ceremony, markets were craftsmen sold goods and also loads of Kapa Haka performances during the day. Different people wanted to interview for blogs, newspapers and documentaries. It was lovely  to see how there was interest in how those dutchies got involved in Waka. Being back at the tent city, we officially concluded this years Waitangi and everyone got to say their special thanks and show their gratitude. The native americans did wonderful performances of their traditional songs, we did tangaroa and the Njord song and some of the maori showed us how haka’s and waiata’s are done…

The day after Waitangi we spend by tidying up tent city, cleaning the building of the football/rugby club and tying up Whanau Moana for the way home and saying goodbye to Ngatokimatawhaorua Whakaangi and Mataatua Puhi. 


Up north: pukenui, cape Reinga and loads of swimming

Joe and Debby took us in for the next week. We did some nice relaxing after all the hustle and bustle of Waitangi and they thought us loads about Waka, fishing, preparing fish in loads of different ways and Maori culture, because now there was time to talk instead of organizing everything. We went to the 90 mile beach and the Bluff, for a good day of fishing, where Nick taught me how to spot where the fish are and how to catch them with a net. Emilio and I also learned how to cut up huge chunks of beef. We did loads of swimming as well, went looking for cockles and mussels and ate loads of pie. One of the days we went further up north to visit Cape Reinga, the place where the spirits leave the island and the tasman sea and the pacific join together. 

After about a week, we took Bennie to the airport in auckland and I could stay over with Tapa and Miri. I met up with Emilio who was also staying at theirs. Emilio and I got to discover Auckland and Waiheke Island. We had a really nice hangi and visited the lantern festival. Miri and I took a hike up to one hill tree (which is now no hill tree because someone cut it down), which gave a nice view of Auckland. The last weeks flew by and before I knew it I had to get back on a plane to the Netherlands. I was good going home and seeing friends and family again, but also sad for leaving my new whanau behind, who had taken care of me so well in the past few weeks.


New Zealand, untill we meet again, love always!