Tuesday, 15 January 2013

New Zealand - A long dream came true! part 2

From the Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown

We got up this morning and it rained again. We decided to still stop at the Franz-Josef glacier and do a short walk. It only drizzled so it wasn’t too bad at all.

Franz-Josef Glacier

On our way back we stopped at the Fox Glacier shop again, bought some souvenirs and then made our way towards Queenstown. We arrived at 4pm and checked into our hostel. Then we explored the town a little bit and enjoyed the sunshine. We heard, that the Milford Sound Road was closed due to bad weather condition and the danger of falling rocks. So we decided to stay another night in Queenstown to explore the city and we will do the Milford Sound cruise on Monday or Tuesday. Let’s see what the weather forecast says and if the road reopens. Glad we are flexible enough to swap things around ;)


Lake Wakatipu

First of all we changed hostel this morning – now in the Deco Backpacker!
So nice with a lovely garden and everything is clean ;)

We drove 10km outside of Queenstown to sit by the lake and to write postcards and X-mas cards. Then we came back to our hostel and had lunch in the garden with a view onto the lake.

We had heard that morning that the road up to Milford Sound was still closed and it was unsure if it would open the next days. After thinking about how we could swap things around we decided to go on an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound instead.

Kiwi in Queenstown

Queenstown Wharf

After that some souvenir shopping and in the evening and on the way back we met the girl from Switzerland again and had a lovely pint in an Irish pub! Yes, I had Guinness after more than 18 months.

My first Guinness after 1.5 years!!!

Queenstown - Manapouri

It was still lovely sunshine this morning, so we took our time to leave Queenstown as the weather forecast for Manapouri was pouring rain.
It was only a 2.5-hour drive and we stopped in Te Anau, to check the status of the Milford Sound Road and Astrid booked her trek. The road was still closed, but it was expected to re-open at 7.30am the next morning. Our Doubtful Sound cruise was leaving at 12.30, so we decided if we get up early we could drive up to Milford Sound, take pictures on the way and we would make it for our cruise.
Well, that’s what we did!
We stayed in a holiday park in Manapouri, not cosy at all and very basic. Wouldn’t recommend it at all when it is raining, but well, one night we did survive ;)

Milford Sound

We left the holiday park at 6am and started driving towards Milford Sound. The weather was still wet and foggy, but fingers crossed the fog will lift soon. At around 7am we came to a blocked off road, this time a tree actually fell down and blocked the entire road. We were maybe 7 cars in total so far waiting to see when the road might be cleared.

Still a beautiful scenery

Huge tree blocking the road to Milford Sound
 It took a bit more than an hour until we were able to continue driving again. However, the NZ handyman who cut the tree with the chainsaw was really skilled I have to say and watching him cutting the tree was actually interesting. He had known what he was doing indeed.

So now we had already lost one hour, not much time really to spend at Milford Sound then, but well let’s see. 20min further down the road there was another roadblock. 

Well yes, the road that was supposed to open at 7.30am was still closed but this time we were at least 30-40 cars waiting at the barrier. Apparently somebody was about to check the road condition and would decide in the next 20min if we would be allowed to go or not.

What an excitement at Milford Sound!!!
Thank god they decided to reopen the road again and we were allowed to pass. We drove through a tunnel and even all the way up to Milford Sound was completely foggy. Oh well, I just tried to imagine how beautiful this road would be in sunny conditions ;)

There was not much to see at Milford Sound to be honest. We saw the boats waiting for the tourists and a huge car parking spot. As it was still foggy, we couldn’t really enjoy any stunning scenery. Oh well, it was worth a try.

On our way back the weather improved slightly and we saw some small blue spots in the sky :) 

The fog lifted a little bit and we were able to take some lovely pictures towards the end.

One highlight was to see the Kea bird in the wild - it is beautiful :)

These falling rocks were the reason why the road was closed for several days. It was just too dangerous.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

We reached Manapouri 45 min before we had to board our cruise and even had time to have some lunch at the pier. It turned out that there were 70 spaces on the cruise, but we were only around 40 tourists. That’s nice, so we have lots of space and it won’t be too crowded.

Everything started with a 45 min boat ride to the power station. After a 10min stop we hopped onto a bus for 40min to reach our cruise ship.

The power station

What a wonderful vessel, a lovely crew, stunning weather and amazing scenery!!!!

We got a very warm welcome on the boat with fresh baked muffins :) Wow, what a start! They showed us our cabin and it turned out we were together with 2 other girls, one French and another German girl. It was a very nice wooden cabin with a round window facing out onto the sea :)

It turned out that we had free coffee & tea on the cruise! Wow, lovely!

Then we all went Kayaking for an hour. What a “strange” water, I have never seen something like that. There was a 1.5 meter fresh water layer on top of it and that’s why it looked so stunning black! Yes, black water!!! Some of us decided to have a quick dip into the sea and went swimming in 16 degrees in our swimsuit! OMG was that cold ;) But I loved it!!!

The vessel continued driving on the Doubtful Sound where we saw fur seals, penguins and even dolphins later on! We were allowed to visit the captain anytime as there was an open door policy at the captains cabin and we were able to chat to the captain quite a bit. Lovely people I have to say and so knowledgeable. 

Fin of a dolphin

In the evening it turned out that we got a 5*Dinner! After backpacking for so long that was just amazing!!!!

There was soup, a buffet dinner with beef and lamb, lots of veggies, gravy & salads! Yummy! 

They showed us a quick slide show in the eve about Doubtful Sound and it’s history. Captain Cook drew the first map of the area, but he named it Doubtful Sound as he wasn’t sure if it is advisable to sail into these fjords!
Magnificent wildlife area’s featuring rugged peaks, dense forest waterfalls.

Interesting rock formation

I got up at 7am and we were all so lucky to see more dolphins. It was misty and a bit of rain was falling, but it cleared later on and we had a stunning morning.

Rainbow in the morning

We got some English/Irish breakfast! OMG, how long time it was that I ate hash browns, beans, bacon, tomatoes and toast!!! Felt so good!

We drove to a specific place and we all had 5 min of silence, which could have been an hour for me! 

It was so peaceful out there – I loved it. You could hear so many interesting sounds – just loved it!

Then we had to make our way back to Manapouri. Wow, what an amazing 24 hours we just had spend - An impressive experience never to be missed.

I can only recommend anybody who is in New Zealand, to join this cruise! I would do it again without thinking about it twice.

Back in Queenstown

Sunset in Queenstown

In the afternoon we drove back to Queenstown with Kate, which we had met on the ferry. She decided to stay with us in our hostel and we walked up to the gondola in Queenstown and had an amazing view onto the lake!!! 

Our hostel to the right and your small red rental car

There was a huge Kart Track there called luge and Kate and myself took 2 rides! It was brilliant!

Kate & myself on the track

In the evening Kate and myself decided to walk down into town for a drink and we were rewarded with a stunning sunset!

Queenstown by night!

On my way to Auckland

I had a relaxed brekkie and lovely weather on my last morning in Queenstown. I took out 30min just looking from our amazing garden onto Queenstown Lake! 
So beautiful and I’m so blessed to be able to see it! And I promised to come back :) Sooner or later!

Then I drove to the airport, dropped the car off and checked-in. All went very well and soon I was on an amazing flight! The view from the airplane was stunning :)

 I saw the Mt. Tongariro volcano from above! How cool is that :)
Mount Tongariro volcano
Amazing view


I had just 1.5 days in Auckland, but I think that was enough to get a good impression of the size of the city. My hostel was in a suburb called Mt. Eden, which was nice and only a 10min bus ride from the CBD. 
I decided to walk up to the Mt. Eden viewpoint to get a view over the city the next morning. 

Afterwards I visited Mt. Eden village. They have some small little shops and lots of coffee places there.

Then I did a walking tour by myself through the city centre and visited the University Tower, St. Albert Park, Victoria Park and bought some souvenirs.

Christmas decoration

What a cool black board in the middle of Auckland, where people wrote there wishes with chalk on it:

Before I die I want to ...

I loved to read it!

I took a stroll through the harbour quarter in the lovely sunshine :)

Irish Pub

In the afternoon I took a ferry to Devonport, visited Victoria Hill and Chetenham Beach. On my way back I stopped in the city centre again to get some last souvenirs before my flight tomorrow.

Auckland – Singapore

Flight was on time, tasty food and ice-cream and I saw a rainbow from the plane and the sunset before we landed in Singapore!

Nicole picked me up from the airport and we went out for a drink together with Dennis. The next day we went shopping and chatted about all the adventures we had. 


Reunion with Nicole in Singapore

In the evening it was time to say good-bye as I had to catch my flight back to Europe as

I'm coming home for X-mas :)

Back home in Germany

All went well with my flight to Munich, except we had too much headwinds, so my flight was 1.5 hours late. I ran to the S-Bahn, but unfortunately it was too late to catch the already booked train from Munich's main train station. Oh well, I had a quick look onto the departure schedule and there was another ICE leaving in 4min! I sprinted with my backpack to the platform and hopped onto the train. The conductor wanted to charge me more because of the different train, but after a longer chat I persuaded her it was X-mas and I need to be home on time to see my family after 1.5 years :)

Finally around 10am I arrived at my parents house! My mum was speechless and first didn't even recognise me with my Santa Claus hat ;) She expected me any minute on Skype, as I had arranged to talk to her from New Zealand. It was a lovely surprise :)

We had a great day and visited Grandma, my brother and his kids and had a nice chilled out Christmas Eve in my parents house.

On Boxing Day we all went over to my brothers house for a lovely & tasty Christmas lunch.

Lunch on Boxing Day

The afternoon was filled with unwrapping presents, playing board games like "I want to be a Millionaire" and "Angry Birds". We had lots of fun as you can see :)

Skier from Santa Claus
Max & Maja
My Dad & Maja
My Mum
Who wants to be a millionaire...
Angry Birds
My grandma
my niece Maja



My brother singing on Boxing Day

After Christmas I met some old friends and started to uncluttered some boxes of mine. I looked through my clothes which I still had left and could use during wintertime. Remember,  I lived for almost 3 years in a warm climate. I don’t have to mention that I was freezing all the time, nevertheless that all the people I met said it was really mild!!! Brrhh, for me it was f.... cold ;)

High-school Reunion with Duese & Petra

Another thing I enjoyed a lot was grocery shopping. I could get some favourite food I hadn’t eaten since over 1.5 years! Yummy :)

Then the next highlight came up. I had arranged to meet up in Hamburg for New Year’s Eve in Nina's & Fabian's place. 

Some friends of mine where joining as well: John from the US, Jan from Denmark and Annette from London! 

John, Annette, Jan & myself

Annette & myself

Nina & her son Anton

John & myself
What a lovely reunion we had in Nina & Fabian's house :) Thanks for making that possible!!!

The New Year began with a visit to Denmark with Jan & John. We were invited for a New Years brunch in Jan's parents place. There was so much tasty food that I didn't know what to try first. It was all so delicious :) We had a lovely time in Bronderslev at Jan's house with trips to the beach and walks through the nearby park and some billard in the evening. What a lovely reunion we had once again ;) So glad we all met through the IBM CSC program in 2009 in Vietnam.

Jan & myself in Denmark on the beach 
beautiful beach 
Jan & John
John & myself
Stunning house on the beach

A few days later I returned to Hamburg and stayed a few days in Nina's & Fabian's house. I met some old friends of mine again, Anne & Andrea. It was so nice to catch up and talk about millions of things. It felt good to be home for a while and being able to meet friends in person instead of skype or emails. I really appreciated spending time together.
Then I took the train to Detmold to meet Tanja & Patrick. I worked with Tanja in IBM Ireland in 2003/04 and we last saw each other 4 years ago. It was so nice to be with them in their lovely timber house and their 2 kids. We had a lot of fun, went into a Spa Paradise one evening, went out for walks and some shopping. The last evening we had a lovely dinner, a nice drink in a local bar and a great drive back home with our favourite music!!! What a fun evening :)

Patrick, Tanja & myself

The plan for the next few weeks is to go back to Plum Village for a 2 week Meditation retreat in France, a visit to Dublin mid of February and hopefully by then I know more when I can get ready to go back to Sydney ;) 

Fingers crossed, if it is meant to be it will all work out - I'm positive!


  1. Rekha Kulshreshtha15 January 2013 at 19:31

    Fantastic collection of photos, Kerstin. You've had a very broad set of experiences all packed into a short time-frame - adventure, sightseeing and reunions with friends and family. Incredible inspiration...

  2. Thanks a million Rekha :) I'm enjoying every minute of it!!!

  3. Wow! Great journey Kerstin! Hope to catch you somewhere again...

  4. Hallo Kerstin!

    Toller Bericht und tolle Bilder, wie immer :-). ABER das schönste Bild ist das mit Düse, wow, den hätte ich nicht wieder erkannt. Habe ihn ja auch schon ca. 20 Jahre nicht gesehen... Wahnsinn, wie die Zeit vergeht.

    Liebe Grüße Gaby

    1. Dank Dir Gaby! Das war mir gar nicht bewusst, dass Du den Duese schon sooo lange nicht gesehen hast, ihr wohnt doch gar nicht so weit auseinander. Schoen, dass Dir die Berichte gefallen. Ganz liebe Grüße Kerstin

  5. Hallo Kerstin, wo bist du? Vermisse neue Einträge von dir. Hab deinen Blogg immer verfolgt. Die Bilder und berichte sind so toll das ich das Gefühl habe auch in der großen weinen Welt zu sein während Ich lese. Also bitte bitte weiter machen!! Grüße Sylvi

  6. Hi Sylvi, Mensch schoen von Dir zu hoeren :) Ich bin zurueck in Dublin! Schickst Du mir mal Deine aktuelle email, dann koennen wir mal mailen. Liebe Gruesse Kerstin