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Old 08-06-2018, 02:00 AM   #181
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

By Jen.

Since we had last left Tauranga, we had been watching the Tongariro National Park weather so in preparation for the Alpine Crossing.  Clear and safe weather is essential for this crossing, especially in the winter. That day finally arrived on Saturday, June 19. So, sped from the north, with a stop in Auckland to visit friends of a friends, down south to the center of the island to Tongariro NP.


The friends we met with gave us a tour of Bucklands Beach, which was quite enjoyable.

We arrived after dark on Friday, but were heralded with beautiful views of Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom from LOTR) during twilight.





We had to arrive early the next morning at the headquarters, to get outfitted with crampons. We piled in a bus with 50 other people and they took us to the start. They gave us ice axes and broke us up into 5 groups. Then we were off. I was both nervous and excited. The weather looked good, so that was promising. Hopefully I wouldn’t be cursing myself for choosing this trip. Both the cold and the distance scared me a bit. The summit promised to be at freezing or below, around -6°C, without windchill. The distance was a significant 19.4 kilometers, and that was without the elevation gain, which could often be the bane of my existence during a hike.








Plenty of frost whiskers about.


We could see the elusive Mt. Taranaki rising above the clouds to the east.


Mt. Ruapehu to the south.

It was definitely a gorgeous walk. Even from the beginning.




The rocky, volcanic ground definitely gives the feel of a hellish, desolate place. I can see why the picked the area to film to many locations of Mordor (LOTR) here.






Time to put on crampons and learn how to use the ice axes.












I can see why they call it red crater.




Blue Lake.




Steam provided proof that it is a volcano that we are walking on…


Lake Rotorua (and Taupo) can be seen from here.


Lake Taupo.


Some more vents.

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Old 08-06-2018, 02:01 AM   #182
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left




Mountains upon mountains into the distance.



We finally reached the destination on the other side. It was already sunset and the drive back seemed to take forever, but we really did enjoy ourselves, despite the cold and the distance. We were definitely ready to rest that night. It was tremendously beautiful walk, and very pretty covered in snow and ice. I can highly recommend.
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Old 08-14-2018, 11:07 PM   #183
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Taranaki

With a little time, and a few breaks in the weather, we did a loop of the region around Taranaki.

Mt Taranaki, a dormant volcano.  You may recognize it in the far distance on the Tongariro Crossing post.




Sheep blocking the road.  Typical rural NZ.


Single lane tunnels?  Also typical rural NZ.


The remainder of our time was spent out of the rain, usually in a garden or art museum.




This art museum has an awesome building (art itself).  Check out the wavy walls. 


On the outside they were covered with polished stainless steel mirrors.




Some of the kinetic displays would make any engineer proud.


Finally, here is a very unique bridge,






and a beach.

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Old 08-14-2018, 11:09 PM   #184
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Last Bit of New Zealand

By Jen.

By this time, we had chosen a shipper and found out that we could drop off our vehicle for shipping the next week. So, we just had a few days to spend until we had to prepare the van for shipping. First stop for spending some time was Hamilton, the lovely city in the center of the North Island. We stopped at the Soldiers Memorial Park.









The paddle steamer, Rangiriri.

The main reason that I wanted to stop at this park was to see the paddle steamer, Rangiriri. This ship was ordered by the government to be used during the Waikato wars, but arrived too late to see any action. Instead, it spent its days transporting goods and people up and down the Waikato River. It was left abandoned after running aground over 100 years ago, and thus is in a pitiful state. But, it had some interesting features during its day, including a secret weapon. This secret weapon consisted of a series of pipes with holes that when a lever was pulled could pour out scalding clouds of steam along the sides of the boat!

Walking along the river provided views of interesting artwork.






We also made a visit to the Waikato Museum, another wonderful free museum in NZ. 











From Hamilton, we thought we should make a visit to the infamous Rotorua again. Upon arriving, we found too much of it to be expensive tourist traps, so we ended up just heading to Rainbow Mountain. This is a colorful volcanic mountain with a walk to the summit. It has cooled in recent years, allowing vegetation to recover, but it still has hot spots. In fact, as you walked, you could feel the temperature differences.






It still has steam vents.



Fun colors.



From the summit, you could see a typical NZ highway and why you have to go so slowly on them.

Because I missed my own cat, I decided to go to a cat cafe there in Rotorua. It wasn’t quite as fun as I had imagined (the cats are more interested in each other than you), but it was still pretty fun.










Then, to do something different, we went to a really nice restaurant for lunch that specialized in using native ingredients. It was very tasty.




To finish off our travels in NZ, I really wanted to observe the night sky and have some southern constellations pointed out to me. So, we made our way to Whakatane, where they have a small observatory that was going to be open Friday night. This meant we had 2 days to spend here.



We went to the museum, where they had some interesting local artifacts.






We visited a cave that was once big enough to accommodate 60 people, but has since filled in.



We made a visit to the top of the hill in Whakatane where you can see out to the surrounding islands.



Whakaari/White Island, chain-smoking volcanic island with a nefarious past.




Finally, that night at 730pm, we visited the observatory. It was a bit slow to start, but it only cost $15 per person, and we got nearly a private examination of the stars through a stellar telescope. I learned how to identify Scorpios, Centaurs, the Southern Cross, and the celestial south, which is not conveniently marked by a star (unlike in the north).



The night sky.

Then we made our way to Tauranga to get the van prepared for shipping, a multi-day process.
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Old 08-15-2018, 01:18 AM   #185
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

For the folks who haven't been there (yet)....

Note the sign on the left side of the road...



That means you're approaching a narrow bridge and *you* (larger white arrow) theoretically have the right-of-way.
Cars coming in the other direction see their own red arrow (on the left) shown rather small, compared to a large arrow on the right (oncoming) side. They're supposed to wait.
Sometimes the arrows are surrounded by a red circle.

It works most of the time...

--dick
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Old 08-15-2018, 09:13 AM   #186
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Quote:
Originally Posted by autostaretx View Post
For the folks who haven't been there (yet)....

Note the sign on the left side of the road...



That means you're approaching a narrow bridge and *you* (larger white arrow) theoretically have the right-of-way.
Cars coming in the other direction see their own red arrow (on the left) shown rather small, compared to a large arrow on the right (oncoming) side. They're supposed to wait.
Sometimes the arrows are surrounded by a red circle.

It works most of the time...

--dick
Yeah its a good system. Obviously you are supposed to give way to anyone already on the bridge, but the arrows sort out who goes first when there are 2 cars at the same time.

The idea is that the people with the red arrow usually have the best visibility (relatively) of the bridge on the approach. So they are best placed to make the judgement call of if they can proceed. People are given the white arrow if their approach is such that they arrive at the bridge without much warning (relative to the red arrow approach). This right of way means the people with the red arrow will tend to slow down a bit on approach, which is good. But it probably relies too much on common sense these days, kindof like roundabouts.
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Old 08-25-2018, 01:40 AM   #187
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Leaving NZ

"What?!?! You are leaving already? Why are you leaving in June? Weren't you planning on sticking around until August? What is with the change in plan?" Well, the weather was getting to us. My mother has a saying about winter, "If it's not snowing, blowing, or negative [temperatures], it's good!" And, while I agree with that statement, we (especially Jen) were really just not enjoying ourselves much with the constant rain, especially since our daily routine often takes us to the outdoors. Apparently we weren't just being wimps, the weather was actually much more rainy and cloudy than normal.

The final, but definitely not the simplest task, was shipping the van.  This time around, we would be loading the van ourselves.  Previously, our service has done the loading, as we were sharing a container.  First up was installing the shipping wheels.  Our factory jack finally died during this process.  It could have been worse, being NZ, it could have been pouring rain!


Loading with the steel shipping wheels is tough.  They have very little traction.  Of course, our service had gotten a single door container, so we couldn’t just pull it through. 


We eventually got it loaded though.  It is a tight fit! 


Our part done, we changed clothes, caught an Uber to the airport, and started the long trip home flying out on the 19th of June. 

Our first layover was half a day in Honolulu. A bit warm, but otherwise a nice stop (minus the jet lag).  After weeks languishing in our wardrobe, we got to wear some shorts again!  With a few hours to burn, we visited the Pearl Harbor Museum, got some lunch, and generally tried to avoid falling asleep. 
















From here it was another full day flying, and two flights. No delays and catching the first flight out every time, and we arrived in Missouri in the late morning.  Only 36 hours after we left Auckland. 

Our plans were to pick up the van in LA in 5 weeks, and spend some time on the west of North America.
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Old 08-25-2018, 01:43 AM   #188
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

North Island by the Numbers

We found the winter weather (cold, cloudy, and rainy) to be a bit annoying, so kinda hustled through the North Island. Here are some interesting statistics about travels through NZ's more populous northern half.



For an interactive map, visit this link: https://goo.gl/maps/JxEQ4WvPAhr

  • Time
    • Time zone:
      • UTC+12:00
      • DOES participates in DST.
    • Day entered: 4-Dec-2017
    • Day left: 26-Dec-2017
    • Day entered: 21-Apr-2018
    • Day left: 19-Jun-2018
    • Total # of days: 82
      • Nights slept in van: 72
      • Nights slept in tent: 0
      • Nights slept in hotel/etc.: 9
      • Nights paying for lodging: 18 (does not include places where purchased passes were used)
  • Distance
    • Driven: ~11,234.5 km (~7,021.6 miles)
    • Hiked: 154.3 km (96.5 miles)
    Date Location Description Distance (km) Distance (mi)
    12/7/2017 Maungauika/North Head Historic Reserve Tunnels Loop 1.00 0.63
    12/9/2017 RangitotoIsland Scenic Reserve Summit Track 3.00 1.88
    12/9/2017 RangitotoIsland Scenic Reserve Crater Circuit 1.00 0.63
    12/9/2017 RangitotoIsland Scenic Reserve Kidney Fern Glen 0.40 0.25
    12/9/2017 RangitotoIsland Scenic Reserve LavaCaves 0.80 0.50
    12/9/2017 RangitotoIsland Scenic Reserve Wilson'sPark 1.50 0.94
    12/10/2017 Cornwall Park One Tree Hill 3.50 2.19
    12/17/2017 Rotorua Kuiriau Park 2.50 1.56
    12/17/2017 Okere FallsScenic Reserve Okere Falls Track 3.00 1.88
    12/20/2017 WairakeiTourist Park Craters of the Moon 3.00 1.88
    12/20/2017 Tauhara Forest Mt Tauhara Summit 5.00 3.13
    12/23/2017 CoromandelForest Park The Pinnacles 10.40 6.50
    12/25/2017 Tongariro NP Taranaki Falls 6.20 3.88
    4/23/2018 Otari-Wilton's Bush RimuWalk 2.00 1.25
    4/23/2018 PutangiruaPinnacles Scenic Reserve Stream bed track 3.00 1.88
    4/24/2018 KaitokeRegional Park Rivendell 0.45 0.28
    4/26/2018 ManawatuGorge Scenic Reserve Tawa Loop Walk 4.20 2.63
    4/28/2018 Castlepoint Lighthouse Walk 1.30 0.81
    4/28/2018 Castlepoint DeliveranceCove Walkway 3.96 2.48
    5/9/2018 EastCoast East Cape Lighthouse 1.24 0.78
    5/11/2018 MahiaPeninsula Scenic Reserve Peninsula Walkway 4.00 2.50
    5/12/2018 Te Urewera NP Lou'sLookout 1.00 0.63
    5/13/2018 Te Urewera NP AniwaniwaFalls Track 1.00 0.63
    5/13/2018 Te Urewera NP Hinerau Walk 1.10 0.69
    5/13/2018 Te Urewera NP TawaWalk 1.70 1.06
    5/13/2018 Te Urewera NP RataWalk 0.48 0.30
    5/13/2018 Te Urewera NP Lake Waikareiti 7.00 4.38
    5/17/2018 KaimanawaForest Park Tree Trunk Gorge 2.00 1.25
    5/21/2018 Waitomo Raukuri Bushwalk 1.25 0.78
    5/21/2018 Waitomo Mangapohue Arch 2.25 1.41
    5/21/2018 Waitomo Marokopa Falls 0.46 0.29
    5/24/2018 CoromandelForest Park Coromandel Walkway 4.20 2.63
    5/24/2018 CoromandelForest Park Waiu Kauri Grove 1.00 0.63
    5/24/2018 CoromandelForest Park Cathedral Cove 4.00 2.50
    5/26/2018 CoromandelForest Park Collins Drive 4.00 2.50
    5/27/2018 Kaimai MamakuForest Park KarangahakeGorge Historic Walkway 2.50 1.56
    5/28/2018 CoromandelForest Park KauerangaKauri Trail 11.40 7.13
    5/30/2018 TiritiriMatangi Island Wanderings 3.00 1.88
    5/31/2018 TiritiriMatangi Island Wanderings 7.00 4.38
    6/1/2018 Waipu Mangawhai Cliffs 3.00 1.88
    6/2/2018 Whangarei Quarry Gardens 0.80 0.50
    6/3/2018 Ruapekapeka Pa Track 1.40 0.88
    6/4/2018 Gumdiggers Park Walks 2.00 1.25
    6/6/2018 Omahuta Forest Park Kauri Sanctuary 1.00 0.63
    6/7/2018 Waipoua Kauri Forest Tane Mahuta 0.33 0.21
    6/7/2018 Waipoua Kauri Forest Kauri Walks 4.14 2.59
    6/9/2018 Tongariro NP TongariroAlpine Crossing 17.90 11.19
    6/11/2018 New Plymouth Pukeiti Gardens 0.76 0.48
    6/13/2018 RainbowMountain Scenic Reserve Summit Walk 6.20 3.88
    • Fuel fill-ups: 19
  • Money
    • Total spent: $4,377.98 USD ($5,997.23 NZD)
      • Consists of the costs of traveling full time in the North Island
      • Does not include gear or van conversion costs
      • Does include 1 ferry crossing
      • Does not include shipping costs
    • Average cost per day: $53.39 USD ($73.14 NZD)
    • Average cost of diesel: $1.259 NZD per liter ($3.478 USD per gallon)
  • National Parks visited: 5
    • Ben Boyd
    • Te Urewera
    • Tongariro
    • Whanganui
    • Egmont
Interesting observations about the North Island:
  • It has over 3/4s of the population, about 3.677 million residents.
  • It only has 12 main urban areas, only 6 of them are officially considered cities.
  • The population density is about 32.3/km2 (83.7/sq mi).
  • It is the 14 largest island in the world.
  • It houses 5 of NZ’s 14 national parks.
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Old 08-26-2018, 02:54 AM   #189
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

NZ Summary

We did it! We meandered across five major islands of New Zealand. Here are some statistics and answers to common questions about our trip.


  • Time
    • Day entered: 4-Dec-2017
    • Day left: 19-Jun-2018
    • Total # of days: 198
      • Nights slept in van: 176
      • Nights slept in tent: 3
      • Nights slept in hotel/etc.: 18
      • Nights paying for lodging: 39
    • Islands:
      • Most time spent: South Island
      • Least time spent: Ulva Island
      • Most paid camping (ignoring hotels): South Island(ignoring Stewart, Ulva, and Tiritiri Matangi)
      • Least paid camping (ignoring hotels): North Island (ignoring Stewart, Ulva, and Tiritiri Matangi)
  • Distance
    • Driven: ~26,690 km (~16,681 miles)
      • Island with most distance driven: South Island
      • Island with least distance driven: Stewart, Ulva, and Tiritiri Matangi Islands
    • Hiked: 578.42 km (386.45 miles)
      • Island most hiked: South Island (by a long shot, nearly 2.5 times as much as 2nd place)
      • Island least hiked: Ulva Island
    • Fuel fill-ups: 50
  • Money
    • Total spent: $9,933.78 USD ($13,607.92 NZD) 
      • Consists of the costs of traveling full time in New Zealand, including insurance, etc. 
      • Does not include gear or van conversion costs
      • Does not include shipping costs or flights
      • Islands:
        • Most total cost: South Island
        • Least total cost: Ulva Island
    • Average cost per day: $50.17 USD ($68.73 NZD)
      • Island with most average cost per day: Stewart Island (includes ferry costs)
      • Island with least average cost per day: South Island
    • Average cost of diesel: $1.246 NZD per liter ($3.442 USD per gallon)
      • Island with most average diesel cost: NorthIsland
      • Island with least average diesel cost: South Island
  • Favorite Experiences (roughly in order of appearance per island)
    • North Island:
      • Craters of the Moon by Taupō
      • The Pinnacles in Coromandel Peninsula
      • Hobbiton Movie Set
      • Putangirua Pinnacles
      • Viewing the eels at Pukaha-Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre
      • Lou’s Lookout at Te Urewera National Park
      • Mangatutu Hot Springs/Pools
      • Orakei Korako Geothermal Park
      • Waitomo Caves and surroundings
      • Hot Springs Beach in Coromandel Peninsula
      • Kauri Coast
      • Kauri Museum
      • Tongariro Alpine Crossing (in fall)
    • South Island:
      • Kayaking to and walking through Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary
      • Kayaking Otago Harbor at Harrington Point
      • Avalanche Peak in Arthur’s Pass
      • Slope Point
      • Invercargill’s Southland Museum & Art Gallery
      • Borland Saddle
      • Greenstone and Caples Tracks
      • Croesus Track
      • Eating at Jackson Bay’s The Cray Pot
      • Viewing Fox Glacier
      • Oparara Basin
      • Driving Highway 6 from Westport to Greymouth
      • Driving to Milford Sound
      • Key Summit
      • Gertrude Saddle
      • Driving through Skippers Canyon
      • Spotting a Hector’s Dolphin in Akaroa Harbour
      • Dusky Dolphins and Sperm Whales at Kaikoura (last try and afternoon sailing)
    • Stewart Island
      • Sunrise
    • Ulva Island & Tiritiri Matangi Island
      • Walking through a predator-free island filled with birdsong
    • All the different birds and ferns. Varieties you wouldn’t expect!
    • Playing ultimate frisbee throughout the islands
    • And of course, meeting great people along the way! Thanks for those who opened their doors to us and helped us along!
  • Why New Zealand?
    • Step into an isolated pocket of the world to see the land of great films like Lord of the Rings (LOTR).
    • It is a birder’s paradise. See how birds behave in an environment originally free of mammalian predators.
    • There are very little poisonous or dangerous items here. Probably the most dangerous thing is the weather if you are hiking, or traffic if you are driving.
    • You can readily see how humans impact the environment.And the effort that another country is going through to restore some of its native landscape.
    • It is a English-speaking that has its very own and entertaining twist.
    • Lots of hiking of all difficulty levels available, often with huts for sleeping.
    • Beautiful places and scenery in a fairly compact area.
    • Friendly people.
  • Food
    • Nothing too interesting here. Immigration here from SE Asia was greatly curbed earlier, so it is only now starting to get interesting food.
    • There isn’t anything in particular that I would classify as Modern New Zealand.
    • I didn’t really get to try indigenous food, but the staple meal of European settlers there has traditionally been meat and three vegetables (potato, sweet potato, and carrot).
    • Uniquely Kiwi:
      • Hokey Pokey flavor (ice cream, etc).
      • Homemade salad dressing of sweetened condensed milk mixed with vinegar.
      • Original marketers of the kiwi fruit (came from China).
      • Feijoas (also not native, but they really like them here).
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Old 11-24-2018, 06:34 AM   #190
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Just discovered this thread. Did you forget Green Lipped Mussels Midwestdrifter?
Been there, done that and wrote a guide book for van travellers in the process. Is there a patting oneself to the back smilie?
My 2002 T1N Sprinter was featured in the media as I did my epic cross country cycle journey in 2011. http://www.stuff.co.nz/marlborough-e...g-on-a-mission
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