A trip to Middle Earth

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The last few articles have focused on my love for Tableau and Triathlons but I have yet to address the other T in ‘Tri my Data’ – Travel. What better opportunity to do so than a trip to my beloved second home, Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, good old New Zealand…

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‘Second home?’ you say…? Well, my first one was Germany, where I spent the first 19 years of my life, before setting out to explore what else the world has to offer.

New Zealand, the home of my husband, was my destination when I grabbed my backpack and boarded a plane on 1 November 2004. And after falling in love with a Kiwi during my trip, I also fell in love with this wonderful little country at the end of the world.

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The Marlborough Sounds

So yes, I’m sorry to say, but Australia is number 3 on the list even if it is my current home. Still, after 3 years in Oz, I catch myself accidentally saying ‘Wellington’ instead on Sydney at times.

Last year in September we made a short trip to visit our whanau (family) in Wellington and it is time to say hi again to them.

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Wellington’s Oriental Bay

Ahead of us are 5 days in the coolest little capital in the world. And on a good day you really can’t beat Wellington…

 

I am lucky to have travelled to every place in New Zealand that I really wanted to see. I went on road trips around both islands. Twice. And I made a number of visits to the Coromandel, as well as 4 trips to the Bay of Islands, two of the most picturesque parts of the country. I also experienced the wilderness of Fjordland in the south of the South Island, the remoteness of the East Coast, the plains of Canterbury and swam in hot springs, saw huge sperm wales, went mountain biking, hiking, sky diving, horse riding on various mountains, picked fruit, helped with sheep shearing, road maintenance, minded children, waited tables, cleaned hotel rooms, explored islands and volcanoes, wrote endless post cards and university essays and spent my summers on beaches framed by pohutukawa trees.

New Zealand is a country of contrasts and extremes. In my opinion, and having travelled around Europe as well as to some Southeast Asian countries and areas of Australia, New Zealand is by far the most beautiful country in the world.

Yes, Australia has the best beaches on the planet, but go away from the coast and you’re met with gazillions of square kilometres of desert and rather barren bush land. And it’s huge, so exploring takes either days of driving or lots of plane trips.

In New Zealand you will find more variety in a single and relatively small country than I can imagine anywhere else.
In a single day you can go skiing and surfing, or climb a volcano followed by a sailing trip and a fancy dinner enjoying the views over the city. You could kayak in a river, hike up a mountain and watch the sunset over the ocean.

There are mountains. Proper mountains. With snow on top. And glaciers! And there are endless rivers, lakes and waterfalls. There are volcanos, hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools. White beaches, golden beaches and black beaches.

There are vast plains and lush green rainforests, glowworm caves and canyons.

And the animals… None of them could really kill you, well at least not like those vicious things that seem to populate Australia (after 3 years I have yet to find one of those creatures here…). There are mountain parrots, flightless birds, giant insects, various penguins and other critters and beautiful wild horses, not even to mention the wonderful sea life.

And everything is so accessible, especially because New Zealand knows how to treat tourists and is well prepared to take you on the trip of a lifetime.
The people in this great little country are extremely friendly, very humble, generous and all have a story to tell. And everyone knows someone who can help you out. Or who played for the All Blacks
The mistake most visitors make, when they travel all the way to New Zealand is to only allow a couple of weeks for the trip.

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The West Coast from above

Should you ever have the pleasure of making the journey to Middle Earth, please give yourself at least 4 weeks per island, unless you just want to tick boxes and rush from one sight to the next.

New Zealand needs to be experienced. The people, the food, the atmosphere, nature, the colours, the sky… You need to have time to absorb it all, soak it in, walk through the sand, stay an extra night, drive down the obscure little road, wander through that quirky suburb and visit the art gallery that only opens two afternoons a week.

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Balaena Bay, Wellington

You will not regret it, believe me.

After 8 years of living at the most beautiful end of the world, every trip there brings out the traveller in me who wants to just keep exploring more and more. I don’t think I could ever get sick of it.

(on a side note, you may be wondering why we ever left. Well, it was for career reasons and Australia definitely delivered on our expectations: more opportunities, moving up and getting paid a good income, which enables us to embark on new adventures in the near future.
But New Zealand will always have a special place in my heart!)

Writing this post makes me wonder whether I should do a series on NZ and introduce different parts over time, just to do it justice. I probably should.
It is with great anticipation that I look forward to five days in Wellington with our family and friends. This trip will quite likely warrant another travel post, so stay tuned for a little report.
Until then I hope you enjoy these photos from my time in NZ. There will be plenty more to come…

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Sunset at Oriental Beach, Wellington
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Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, Wellington
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Houghton Bay on Wellington’s South Coast

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