A Travellerspoint blog

Waitomo

THE GLOWWORMS !!!!!

semi-overcast 25 °C
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On Saturday we awoke at our lakeside campsite to trout jumping out of the lake! We did a short hike of more boiling hot springs and bubbling mud pools, before driving to the village of Waitomo. We opted for the longer cave tour that began with a 35 meter abseil through a hole into the cave, followed by the flying fox, which is like a short zipline through the darkness. Then we loaded onto inner tubes and jumped into the freezing cave river, and floated down to enjoy the glow worms, which in reality, are glowing poop of fly larvae. But, no one would pay money to see glowing maggot poop, so they continue to call them glow worms. Still pretty cool, whatever it is. We then had to meander through some narrow passages, passing a 30 year old eel who lives in the water, and then climbed up three waterfalls, before exiting the cave. They treated us to snacks along the way, and bagels and soup at the end. We also, luckily, made use of the hot tub at our holiday park that night, to thaw out from the icy river. Overall, a wonderful gift. Thanks Phyllis & Rick!
Samedi 4 Mars, nous nous reveillons au bord du lac au bruit des truites sautant hors de l'eau. Nous visitons un parc local autour de sources d'eau chaude, et de bain de boue bouillant avant de rejoindre Waitomo, connue pour ses caves et ses vers luisants. Nous optons pour le tour de 5 heures, qui inclut une descente en rappel, un renard volant/zipline, un tour sur boue dans les eaux souterraines, et tout ca sous les yeux des vers luisants ! L'eau est rafraichissante :) Les vers luisants sont en fait des larves de mouches qui emettent de la bioluminescence. Mais bon, "Visite des mouche a merdes lumineuses", c'est moins vendeur que vers luisants, donc le nom est reste :). Le moment speleo est plutot intense, et l'eau souterraine vraiment _tres_ rafraichissante. Bref nous finissons la journee, heureux, dans le bain chaud du camping du coin :) L'activite nous fut recomendee et offerte par nos amis Phyllis & Rick. Merci !!!!!

Quite possibly the ugliest limosine

Quite possibly the ugliest limosine


Thermal hot spring near Taupo

Thermal hot spring near Taupo

Abseiling into the cave

Abseiling into the cave


Abseiling into the cave (2)

Abseiling into the cave (2)

Jill jumping into the river

Jill jumping into the river


Loic jumping into the river

Loic jumping into the river


Loic going down a slide in the cave

Loic going down a slide in the cave


Jill crawling through a hole in the cave

Jill crawling through a hole in the cave

Us with glow worms

Us with glow worms

\

Reaching the end!

Reaching the end!

The string used to trap prey

The string used to trap prey

\Lyssa, the fly whose larvae are what glows in the cave

Lyssa, the fly whose larvae are what glows in the cave

Posted by jillandloic 21:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Tapau and Rotorua

In which we go and Zorb our way down the hills

sunny 24 °C
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Zorb closer up

Zorb closer up

After such a hard hike, we decided to find some hot springs to sooth our muscles, so we visited the Thermal Pools Spa Park in Taupo, a park with a natural hot spring flowing into the river. From there, we hiked to Huka Falls, along the emerald colored river. Gorgeous! After lunch, we hurried to catch the 2pm release of the hydroelectric dam on the Waikato River, creating the Aratiatia falls. Loic watched from the mid-view point, and I from the upper view point, but the gush of water was not as dramatic as expected. Still, a beautiful river with lovely falls. In the afternoon we drove to a holiday park in Rotarua, a town surrounded by geothermal activity and geysers. In the morning, we tried our long-anticipated Zorb, rolling down hills in a rubber ball ! Check out the videos below. After, we visited the mud pools, which were new for us, but since we both had already been to Yellowstone, we decided to skip the overpriced touristy geothermal lakes tours. Instead, we backtracked to tackle the Tongoriro River Trail, back near Taupo. The trail was beautiful and passed along the river, fields of cows and sheep, and different types of forest. That evening, we freedom camped in a secluded site on Lake Taupo. We much prefer the free campsites we find for their scenary and solitude, but need to recharge the battery, dump the grey water, access internet and refill our water tank every other day, so we've learned.
Apres cette journee de trek intense, nous decidons de faire une journee bain chaud a Taupo, au milieu de l'ile du nord. Nous ons un petit chemin (1h) pour voir les cascades locales, puis le barrage de la plus longue riviere de nouvelle zelande. Nous arrions pile a l'heure pour le lacher d'eau du barrage de la riviere Waikato, qui cree les cascades de Aratiatia. Nous nous repartissons les deux points de vue afin de couvrir les points de vues. Super impressionant, mais bon, pas tant que ca :) Au final, le lac de Taupo et la riviere Waikato sont simplement magnifique sous le soleil. Nous dormons le soir dans un camping pres d'es sources thermales (ca se sent :)). Le lendemain, nous allons finalement faire l'activite tant attendu, le ZORB !, une descente d'enfer de colinne a l'interieur d'une bulle de plastique ! Petite video ci-dessous. Apers ce gros moment de fun, nous allons voir d'autres bain de boues boullant (ville thermale oblige), mais bon, vu que nous avons tout les deux deja vu Yellowstone (USA), nous avons couper court a la visite du parc geothermique local. A la nous redescendons pres du lac Taupo pour faire une petite balade pres de la riviere, au sud du lac. Le soir, nous restons a un camping sauvage au sud-est du lac. Absolument magnifique. On me dit (Merci les amis..) que ca ressemble a Palavas, la aussi. tss-tsss.... Au final on adore le campervan en autonomie, mais on a besoin d'electricite de de vider les tank d'eau tout les deux jours... donc on fait avec. :)

Zorb on the sidewinder

Zorb on the sidewinder

Zorb closer up

Zorb closer up


We used a hot tub with a view of Lake Rotorua in between rides

We used a hot tub with a view of Lake Rotorua in between rides

Tongariro River Walk

Tongariro River Walk


Us with boiling mud pools

Us with boiling mud pools


Thermal pool spa park

Thermal pool spa park


The hike to Huka Falls

The hike to Huka Falls

Sheep on the Tongariro River Walk

Sheep on the Tongariro River Walk

River after the dam opened

River after the dam opened

Huke Falls

Huke Falls


Boiling mud pools in Rotorua

Boiling mud pools in Rotorua


Aratiatia rapids release

Aratiatia rapids release

Sunset over Lake Taupo at 5 Mile Bay, a freedom campground

Sunset over Lake Taupo at 5 Mile Bay, a freedom campground

Posted by jillandloic 21:08 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

... or the long march around Mount Doom ! (Hobbits not included)


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Us at the top with the Emerald Pools

Us at the top with the Emerald Pools

On the 28th we drove to Tongariro National Park, whose alpine crossing is the best daywalk in New Zealand. On the way we made a quick stop in Okahune to take pictures of the giant carrot, which was first made as a prop in an ad for a bank, but is now a commemoration of the importance in agriculture this area. We arrived to the national park and did a few short hikes, but mostly rested up for the long hike ahead of us the next day. We woke early on March 1st with many other hikers to take the shuttle to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. The hike takes 6-8 hours, but after hearing about imminent rain predicted to hit about 1pm, we completed the hike in only five hours, and hitch hiked back to our campervan, rather than wait two more hours for the first shuttle to take us back. The hike is famous because it passes through so many landscapes in a short distance, and it absolutely was stunning. Our favorite part was the Emerald Lakes, overshadowed by the smoking volcano we had just hiked up. We were exhausted when we finished, but drove that last hour to Taupo, stopping at a lookout for view of the city behind the lake, and spent the evening at a freedom camping site on the lake. The clouds were breathtaking that evening!
Mardi 28 Fevrier, nous commencons la semaine et finissons le mois avec une petite marche des familles, un petit chemin de grande randonnee bucolique, non-obstant les 6-9h de marche et les quelques centaines dres de deniveles brutaux. Bref, Mardi, c'est permis, c'est journee randonnee. Nous jettons donc nos jambes sur le chemin du parc national de Tongariro, et son trek fameux, cote comme etant le top du top de la creme des parcours pour un seul jour. Mais bon avant d'arriver, nous faisons un arret obligatoire a la carotte geante, qui signale et celebre la region, agricole, qui fournit la majorite des legumes de l'ile. Parenthese refermee (Ohhhh une voiture carrotte !!!). Nous arrivons au parc, et passons la nuit au camping locale, afin de profiter de la navette le lendemain matin. Depart a 7h le Mercredi 1er Mars, (le mercredi, c'est permis aussi) avec une navette ed 20 minutes jusqu'au depart du trek. Le chauffeur nous briefe (nous et les 20 autres passagers), la pluie est prevue pour 1h pm. On se met en route illico presto, mode turbo, pour arriver en haut du col tant que le ciel est bleu. Nous prenons quelques photos en haut, verifions que le Mordor ne cache pas un Hobbit ou deux, et disons rapidement au revoir au Mount Doom avant d'arriver en bas du trek un petit peu en avance (5h au lieu de 6 a 8.. on aurait du s'arreter aux bains chauds sulfuriques, si on avait su... :)) Bref, on a a-d-o-r-e. Le temps etait de la partie. Nous finirons la soiree dans un camping sauvage, en bord de lac. (Il parait que ca ressemble a Palavas... :) )

World's largest carrot in Okhune

World's largest carrot in Okhune


Carrot car in Okhune

Carrot car in Okhune

Mt Ngauruhoe at the start of the crossing

Mt Ngauruhoe at the start of the crossing

Strolling along

Strolling along


For the first half of the crossing, up the mountain, we were with hundreds of other hikers

For the first half of the crossing, up the mountain, we were with hundreds of other hikers

A steep ascent

A steep ascent

We were lucky to have blue skies all morning

We were lucky to have blue skies all morning


Mt Ngauruhoe, an active and still smoking volcano

Mt Ngauruhoe, an active and still smoking volcano

NOFILTER

NOFILTER


Us at the top with the Emerald Pools

Us at the top with the Emerald Pools


The most beautiful wife of the world is in that picture

The most beautiful wife of the world is in that picture


A steep sandy descent

A steep sandy descent

Looking a bit like Mars

Looking a bit like Mars


Blue Lake

Blue Lake

We made use of the wine bottle holder on my pack on the way down, since we didn't stop at the top to enjoy it

We made use of the wine bottle holder on my pack on the way down, since we didn't stop at the top to enjoy it


The clouds rolled in for a dramatic descent

The clouds rolled in for a dramatic descent

The crossing ended with an hour through the jungle

The crossing ended with an hour through the jungle

Posted by jillandloic 22:03 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Farewell Spit, Picton et Wellington

... the end of the South, Friends and a ferry (and a tchou-tchou train)

semi-overcast 24 °C
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Loic jumping on the pillow, a common feature of holiday parks

Loic jumping on the pillow, a common feature of holiday parks

On the 24th we drove the rest of the way to Farewell Spit, the northernmost end of the south island. It was very remote with completely isolated beaches to explore. We spent the morning walking the dunes and through the shallow waters. On the way back through the mountains, we stopped at the Pupu springs, the cleanest water in Australasia. The walk was beautiful, along a river, and the springs themselves were stunningly pure looking! Too bad you can't swim in them. That night we spent the night freedom camping near the town of Nelson.
Le vendredi 24 fevrier nous montons tout au Nord de l'ile du Sud, a Farewell spit. C'est un coin completement isole, avec une (deux) grande plage a explorer. Le morceau de terre enferme la baie dans un long arc de cercle de 6 km. C'est l'endroit ou les baleines pilotes s'echoue chaque annee. Nous passons la matinee (4h) a decouvrir les plages et les dunes et a marcher dans les vagues. Pas une ame. Eau claire. Sable chaud. Paradisiaque. Au retour, nous passons a travers les montagnes et nous arretons aux sources chaudes de Pupu Springs, elue les eaux les plus pures d'Oceanie. La courte marche est magnifique, et les sources (sous-marines) sont juste magnifiques. Interdiction de s'y baigner. Nous passerons la nuit dans un parc-camping-gratuit pres de Nelson.

Farewell Spit, the northernmost point of the south island

Farewell Spit, the northernmost point of the south island


Desserted beach on Farewell Spit

Desserted beach on Farewell Spit

Loic walking on the beach in Farewell Spit

Loic walking on the beach in Farewell Spit


A common sight in New Zealand, sheep on Farewell Spit

A common sight in New Zealand, sheep on Farewell Spit

Pupu springs, the purest water in Australasia

Pupu springs, the purest water in Australasia

On the 25th we met with Loic's friend from France and her Scottish partner, who had been living on the South Island for the past two years. We spent the day at Rabbit Island, having a BBQ, catching up, and enjoying the beach. Sadly, we didn't think to take a picture of all of us! too much fun :) We enjoyed the luxury of a holiday park in Nelson that evening.
Le samedi, nous avons rendez vous avec Cecile et John, des amis de Loic qui ont emigre dans le coin depuis deux ans. Nous passons la journee au parc de Rabbit Island/Beach, au coin du barbecue, puis de la plage, a raconter nos histoires :) Pas de peau, on a pas pris de photo !!! Nous passons la nuit au luxe (douches), dans un holiday park a Nelson.

The 26th we woke to cold, cloudy weather, and drove the remaining few hours to Picton, the town where we would take the ferry to the north island. On the way, we stopped at the Cloudy Bay winery, which sells several wines in the U.S., and enjoyed a tasting and oysters, for Loic. After reaching Picton, we visited the local I-site to get a map of nearby walks, but the weather was too bad to enjoy it, so we caught up on reading and planning, and freedom camped at a reserve a short drive from town. That night I introduced Loic to one of my and my dad's favorite meals growing up, bacon and beans with saltine crackers! Perfect campervan food :)
Le Dimanche, nous remontons au Nord-Est vers Picton, le point de passage en ferry vers l'ile du Nord. Sur notre chemin, nous passons a travers la region vinicole. Nous nous arretons au domaine de Cloudy Bay, pour y deguster leur vins. Vendus dans le monde, vous pouvez surement les trouver en rayons. Ils vendent meme au nouveau mexique ! Degustation, et huitres en accompagnement pour Loic ! (he-ho, c'est les vacances! ) Arrives a Picton, nous prenons nos reperes, et le temps maussade nous incite a reposer nos foies endoloris au camping sauvage le plus proche. Le diner sera une specialite Neckvatal: Bacon, haricots cuits et biscuits apero! Parfaite combinaison pour un repas de camping :)

Loic in heaven, at Cloudy Bay winery with great wine, oysters, and soy sauce

Loic in heaven, at Cloudy Bay winery with great wine, oysters, and soy sauce

A 20 cent train ride in Picton

A 20 cent train ride in Picton


Loic's first bacon and beans with saltine crackers, a Neckvatal staple dinner

Loic's first bacon and beans with saltine crackers, a Neckvatal staple dinner

On the 27th we spent a wonderful morning hiking the Tirohanga track to see views of the harbor in Picton, and Bob's Bay track, to get a view along the water. We rode the interislander ferry across to Wellington in the afternoon, and stayed at a holiday park in the evening. The highlight of the holiday park was the pillow (see photo below).
Le lundi 27, nous revenons a Picton et allons decouvrir les chemins sur les collines surplombant la baie. Bob's Bay Track nous donne une vue plutot sympa du port. Nous prenons notre ferry en debut d'apres midi, direction l'ile du Nord !. Nous arrivons a Wellington, et restons dans un camping local (merci le GPS pour les mauvaises directions). Merci le camping pour le trampoline geant ! (apres l'occasion manquee dans le sud, suite a l'attentat a la voiture verte contre le poteau electrique...)

The beautiful port town of Picton

The beautiful port town of Picton


At the top of the Tirohanga Track, overlooking Picton

At the top of the Tirohanga Track, overlooking Picton

The interislander ferry we took to cross to the north island

The interislander ferry we took to cross to the north island

Loic jumping on the pillow, a common feature of holiday parks

Loic jumping on the pillow, a common feature of holiday parks

Posted by jillandloic 23:42 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Abel Tasman Coastal National Parc

sunny 26 °C
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Sandy starfish

Sandy starfish

We woke early on the 23rd to walk the first section of the Abel Tasman Coastal walk, one of the nine great walks of New Zealand. After 3 1/2 hours along a beautiful coastline surrounded by forest, we landed in Anchorage Bay beach and caught an aquataxi back to town. Besides the gorgeous views of the blue Tasman Sea and coastline we just hiked, the best part of the taxi was getting picked up by a tractor pulling a boat trailer, and carrying us back to the car park! They have the world's only (so they say) sea tractors. We then decided we needed a swim in the sea to cool off, but had to walk quite a ways to reach the water due to low tide. It was worth the walk, though, to get to spot so many tiny, sand colored starfish, some as small as my pinkie toe! They looked just like sugar cookie cut outs, piled on top of one another in the water, and we even watched the tiny one slide along the bottom. I still don't know how they move! In the afternoon we drove further north, over mountains and through farms again, towards the northernmost tip of the island, stopping at a holiday park on the beach for the night.
Nous nous reveillons tot le 23 pour faire un trek de 4h, la premiere section de la marche cotiere de trois jours dans le Abel Tasman. Apres 3h30, nous arrivons a l'etape d'Anchorage Bay ou nous prenons un taxi bateau pour revenir sur nos pas. Le trek est magnifique et me fait penser a un GR dans le sud de la France/Corse. Meme climat, meme vegetation, meme vue cotiere. L'eau est transparente (un micro organisme local nettoit tout cela), et les plages magnifiques. Un vrai petit coin de paradis, qui se merite, car il n'y a pas d'acces routier au milieu du parc. Sur le retour, nous prenons un bateau taxi. Et finissons... sur un tracteur :). Apres notre marche, nous decidons d'aller nous baigner. La mer est basse, et il nous faut marcher 500 m pour aller chercher l'ocean :) On apercoit sur le sable une sorte de tout petite etoile de mer. Super mignon. Nous quittons la region pour retourner plus au Sud et dormir pres de Nelson, au Nord de l'Ile du Sud.

View going over the mountains

View going over the mountains


The start of the track

The start of the track

Beautiful Tasman Sea

Beautiful Tasman Sea


Beaches along the track

Beaches along the track

Anchorage Bay

Anchorage Bay


Anchorage Bay beach

Anchorage Bay beach


Abel Tasman track

Abel Tasman track

Getting picked up by a tractor due to low tide

Getting picked up by a tractor due to low tide


Riding in a boat on a tractor trailer

Riding in a boat on a tractor trailer

Toe-size starfish

Toe-size starfish


Sandy starfish

Sandy starfish


Sand colored starfish

Sand colored starfish

Kneeling sheep making it easier to eat

Kneeling sheep making it easier to eat

Posted by jillandloic 22:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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