For many years New Zealand had been my dream destination. But at the beginning of our stay there I was, to be quite honest, a bit disappointed. I cannot exactly say why. One reason could be that after Australia every country or place would have a hard time competing. I do love Australia! But after a while I warmed up to New Zealand and I fell in love with it!
The land of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”. I have read all the books, even though I am not really a fan of this kind of fantasy novel. Ironically I read the books on sunny beaches in Australia a long time ago and I had an endless struggle going through that dark world. I only saw one of the “Lord of the Rings” movies in the cinema. That was it! I was convinced that I had now paid my dues and would be relieved from all further encounters with that world. But no! Of course Anders is a fan! After our visit to “Hobbiton” in Matamata and the wonderful nature around Lake Taupo I actually started to appreciate what I saw. We started to watch all the “Lord of the Rings” movies during the evenings in the campervan. And it took us quite a while to get through them all. On average, I could watch about 20 minutes before I fell asleep. And as soon as the dragons appear, I simply lose concentration!
New Zealand is a paradise for hikers. There are hiking routes for any taste, health condition and age. I got my hikes! And Anton has developed into a small “wanderer” himself. He can easily walk up to 5 kilometers without little or no complains. It really depends on his mood! I have often thought about my mother. She would love New Zealand. Next time she will have to join us!
My favourite places are Queenstown, Oamaru and Wellington. Queenstown, and its “little sister” Wanaka both remind me of small Austrian alpine villages. Ski sport places with cafés, restaurants and small shops. A cozy township that invites to stay, relax, look around and go for long walks. Surrounded by the mountains and a beautiful lake it is the perfect scenery for a painting. We were there twice! Another place that we went to more than once was Oamaru. Why? The city of Oamaru is a special one. Mostly built in sandstone, and it still has a historic city center. We found our favourite campground here. Waitiki Waters (http://www.campingoamaru.co.nz). A cozy and nice spot with a friendly and service minded host. Close by there is a small paradise for gourmets and a big play land for children. The Riverstone Kitchen (http://www.riverstonekitchen.co.nz) is an award winning restaurant with a huge outdoor playground. On site they also have a large shop with interior decor. The whole complex is surrounded by a garden with plants and herbs that are used in the kitchen. We spent quite a few hours here, by the playground and in the restaurant. We felt like a couple again. Just for a short while, while Anton was playing.
We also fell in love with Wellington. More than Auckland. Having lived in Copenhagen we should be used to windy conditions. Theoretically! But Wellington can top it all! It is a nice city, partly located in the mountains, and partly by the sea. It has plenty of cafés, restaurants, a harbour promenade (with free WiFi), a farmers market and the magnificent Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/pages/default.aspx). We spent many hours here shopping at the farmers market, listening to the musicians playing on the harbour promenade, and taking a closer look at the giant squid in the museum.
The final question: Could I live here? I certainly could, but we would have to have a steady income. A job! Although we have seen almost all of New Zealand, it really would be fun to live here and get familiar with the everyday life with all of its ups and downs.