„Cherry picking“ of the best spots on the northern island, meeting of old friends, a lot of fundraising and the end of our New Zealand stay!
The Te Araroa was certainly the most demanding in terms of physical stress, what we have done so far. But it was easy in terms of planning. Sleep, eat, hike. And that every day. With the end of the trail, of course, the question arises, what now?
First of all, we use the conveniences of a city like Wellington and of course visit one of the many Rotary clubs there, the RC of Port Nicholson. Here, too, we have the opportunity to introduce Hiking4Haiti, are received very friendly and have wonderful discussions.
Our first destination is: Martinborough, a small town known for winegrowing. Unfortunately there is no bus going there, so, change of plan, we go to Hastings. In addition to Napier one of the most famous wine-growing areas on the North Island, summarized under the name “Hawkes Bay”. In search for accommodation, we come across “glamping”. This word is composed of the term “camping” and “glamor”. It may seem weird that after 75 days on the trail and many nights in the tent, we choose this option, but it feels right to slowly approach civilization again. So: glamping it is!
It is also really nice with a “Tree-shower” (also here is the name program), great garden, campfire and a cozy tent with real bed. We borrow bicycles and drive to nearby wineries. Each wine tasting includes 6 wines, always mixed red and white. Mmh, there are really delicious wines here! After 3 wineries we give up, satisfied (and slightly drunk).
After we have recovered enough, the next destination is Turangi and thus the starting point of one of the most beautiful parts of Te Araroa, the “Tongariro Crossing”. Since the weather should be nice but only in a few days, we decide to have two fishing days first. We find everything: fishing, motel, good starting point for the hike, but … the bus connections are so bad that for a distance of 250km, 7 hours are needed. Slowly we doubt whether the bus is really suitable as a means of transport here. We decide to try to hitchhike. It feels very strange to stand on the roadside with a self-made sign. A little penniless and reliant on the friendliness of strangers. But again, it’s almost the first car to stop. We get to know great kiwis who tell us about their lives, and we get a lot of positive feedback when we talk about Rotary and our project. What’s more, we experience that it is as much fun for the riders as it is for us to get to know each other in the car’s intimacy before the roads separate again.
So far, most of our “Tramp” acquaintances have reported vial email again (our Hiking4Haiti business cards are a real hit) and some even donated. So we reach with 3 cars, 2.45 minutes after start our destination: Turangi
Turangi is a small town known for its reputation as a fishing paradise. Trouts greet us on posters, signs and as part of cafe names. Of course, we check into the “Anglers Paradise” in the hope that the name is program!
Heiko swings the fishing rod for two days (one of them in pouring rain – I do not understand the fascination), but all he brings home is wet feet and a certain amount of frustration. Meanwhile, I visit the resident Rotary club, spend a fantastic evening and get a direct donation. Thank you dear friends!
Turangi is also the starting point of the “Tongariro Crossings”, a day hike that is on all top lists. Brendan from “Backyard Tours” drives us early to the starting point. We start walking and enjoy hiking with light luggage. What a luxury! Just under 20 kilometers and about 600 vertical meters are ahead of us. Before leaving, Brendan speaks a Maori blessing. The very seriously spoken words in the foreign language coupled with the darkness and the surrounding area trigger pleasant goose bumps.
The Hike is gorgeous, actually one of the highlights so far. The volcanic landscape, the rising steam, the vast lunar landscape and the green Emerald Lakes are like something from another world. We enjoy the hike immensely, we had missed the hiking already very much. Despite extensive breaks the way is over too fast. More than 130,000 people travel this route every year, 30% of all helicopter rescue operations in New Zealand are flown here. The path is wonderfully developed, but alpine and many overestimate their own fitness. We are also overtaking a few hikers, who we are not sure if they can make the way. But you can understand that everyone wants to enjoy these incredible views.
At midday we are already down and Brendan picks us up. We chat and tell him about Heiko’s frustrating fishing attempts. Spontaneously, he asks us what we plan to do today and then offers to take us on a small fishing trip. He is a passionate angler, has a small boat and as Maori the permission to fish in a reserve lake. My enthusiasm is limited (even before I see the boat), but a look in Heiko’s shining eyes is enough to say yes. We drive to Lake Rotoaira (somehow everything here begins with “Roto”). There lies the boat that I eye skeptically. Before I can express my doubts about the seaworthiness, the two fish-excited “guys” have reversed the boat, fishing rods thrown into it and before I know it, we are already sitting in the boat in the middle of the lake. My soft protesting that I really do not need a fishing rod is ignored and I submit to my fate. How hard can it be to throw the hinges, to stare at the water and catch up with it again. I still ask how I will notice, if something bites and with the words: “You will know that” considered. OK. Just when I wanted to ask the boys what should be so great now, my fishing rod twitches. Uaaaaah, there’s a fish on it !! And now? Help!! While I shout and call for help – what the two find quite funny – I reel in the fishing rod and with the help of Brendan the fish on board. Hooray! I caught a fish! That’s a mad feeling! I can already see the fried fish in my mind, but according to New Zealand regulations, it is still too small and so it is allowed to swim again. Nevertheless, I am still in my success, sweetened with the very little bit of envy of the two anglers. Fishing is fun! Shortly thereafter, Heiko also has a trout on the hook, which he brings – without cheering, very cool – on board! So grilled trout tonight! Heiko shines! Great!! Thank you Brendan for this afternoon, what an experience!
New city, new luck! On our arrival day, the Rotary Meeting is hosted by one of the three resident clubs. Perfect! Heiko and I are warmly welcomed as guests. The club is celebrating 30 years of women in Rotary – that fits quite well – and donates spontaneously to support our work!
The next day we are drawn to a nearby trail. 15 km to get to a Hot Water Beach where you can camp. Perfect for loosening up our rusty hiking links! The path goes along a beautiful forest overlooking Lake Tarawera. As usual from the Te Araroa it is necessary to overcome a constant ups and downs. We enjoy the path very much, but more due to the movement than the spectacular view. Meanwhile, we are very spoiled … Arrived at the Hot water beach, we enjoy the naturalness of the hot water that flows into the lake. You can not really bathe or relax, because the water is either too fresh or scalding hot. You could cook a fish in the sand, that’s how hot it is. Mmm, good idea! Heiko throws the fishing rod, but unfortunately without our Brendan the trouts do not bite. So macaroni and cheese for dinner. We leave the beach the next day via a water taxi. So nice that we want to walk the same way again it was not …
Before we can walk to the street to attempt to hitchhike, a man comes up to us and offers us a ride into the city. Just like that, out of sheer friendliness. Again and again we are surprised by these selfless gestures that we are allowed to experience during our journey. It is also called “trail magic”. Often it is people who have little, who always surprise us with friendliness. Our experiences often make me pause and ask myself critically when the last time was I spontaneously gave pleasure to a stranger. Just because. These are also the moments when I am 100% sure that it was the right decision to link our year with the project “Hiking4Haiti” so at least we can give something back.
Our benefactor, a Maori, not only drives us to Rotorua, but also insists on driving us all over the town to show us all the important points. We say goodbye to him with the traditional Maori greeting. This is a juxtaposition of the forehead until the bridge of the nose touches.
We book our first real tour program, an evening in Maori village to get to know the culture better. Of course, it is designed for tourists, but you notice the Maoris pride and sincerity as they explain and demonstrate their traditions. An all-round great evening in which of course the “Haka” should not be missed.
Next stop: the promised visit of John, our trail friend. In honor of our visit, John has boiled and conjured up a wonderful dinner. Together with Clive (whom we already knew from the trail) and his wife Alessandra we enjoy the great food. The many trail stories that we exchange lead to much laughter and joy.
As befits a visit to New Zealand, we visit the next day a nearby Kiwi Farm. The harvest is in full swing and we enjoy the fully draped kiwi plants. Not cheesy at all we drive in a train of oversized kiwis through the slopes and learn everything worth knowing about the fruit. By the way, the kiwis are only ripe in July, but are already harvested in April. I would have liked to try a kiwi that had ripened on the bush, too bad. Unfortunately, the avocados cultivated here are not ripe as well, it will take until October. A shame! We still try the “red” kiwi, a new fruit that is currently in the testing phase. In 2-3 years You will find these on the market to buy, think of us when you see them for the first time!
After a tedious hitchhike (the bus only goes back once a day and in the evening) we arrive at Mount Maunganui. To hitchhike is to say that the first time a Mercedes stopps. Okay, it was about 25 years old and had already seen its best days. The driver was a French backpacker. But at least! We are happy to sit in a domestic car.
The „mount“ (more a small hill) we climb in 20 minutes and are rewarded with a beautiful view.
Finally, we thank John and his Raffa for their hospitality with a restaurant visit. Another great evening in excellent company. Thank you two for this Trail Magic in Tauranga !!
After the “long idleness” we choose a small hike again. A total of 50 kilometers in the Coromandel Forest. The most famous way there leads to the “Pinnacles”. There is the largest hut in New Zealand with 80 beds. 80! Rather hotel instead of hut … madness! You have to book a place, which I considered exaggerated. I mean: 80 beds …. The online system tells us that everything is fully booked.?!? That must be a mistake! We call there to point out the error. With a laugh, we are advised that this night has been fully booked for months. Whaaat? Ok, we change the day, we are flexible. That must be extremely great, we do not want to miss this!
It is a beautiful way, steadily up, until we reach the gem of a Hut. It is not only big but also has a gas stove in the kitchen. Wonderful. Without luggage we climb the summit. It is truly a beautiful view, but it is not so great that there must be such a big hut here.
The next day we pick a trail to a camp site nobody seems to know. Funny. As we get in, we also recognize why. It’s a way which could be on the TA, more like a dirt track than a landscaped path, steep, slippery slopes up and down. Climbing over obstacles, mud and enchanted forest. We do not meet anyone the whole day, a blessing after the many hikers the day before. Somehow it’s a nice farewell to hiking in New Zealand, it reminds us of what we’ve achieved ! The last night in the tent passes quietly and we walk leisurely 12 kilometers back into the city.
Also in Auckland we visit one of the local clubs, Auckland East. Again, we can introduce the project and have a nice evening.
The first part of our year comes to an end. With many great experiences in the luggage, we leave the island to venture into the “Trump Land”.
We hiked 1300 kilometers, which is equivalent to 800 miles, half the distance announced in the project title. We have more than half of the desired donations (target: US $ 45,000) taken. Thanks to all supporters! The people of Haiti really need our help. With access to clean water, people not only struggle less with disease, but also provide girls with access to education. Without the well, the girls do not have time to attend school, but education is the foundation for sustainable change. Every donation counts! The actual internal goal of mine was to be able to commission the second well with the end of our New Zealand trip. We did not manage that, about 3000 € are still missing. No matter, we will keep on going to work on our goal! And everyone who wants to help us to help is very welcome!
Furthermore, we look forward to any email, comment, like etc that reach us!