It has been a very long time since the last update. We left Abisko in October, after the first snow had come and temperatures had dropped below zero. We had very nice hikes even then, the munchkin and I. In the end of October we left and went on a long road trip all the way south through all of Sweden, catching up with the autumn in Falun.
After some late-autumn, dark and foggy hikes and a lot of hey-and-ho with friends in Lund and Malmö we left the planet towards New Zealand. What a different world. And climate. Not just the climate-climate but also the one among people. Rarely have I met so genuinely friendly people! It all started right after landing with the first security officer on the airport. Imagine to land after two very long flights, tired, exhausted, the child with the full diaper on your arm … not the best mood you are in. But the staff was very nice and helpful, just down-to-earth and understanding besides still following their rules. We spend a whole month on the southern Island, hanging out in sunny Nelson, exploring the west- and the eastcoast, beautiful and exotic places like Punakaiki and Kaikoura as well as the Nelson lakes, the Abel Tasman Nationalpark, little picturesque Picton and part of the Queen Charlotte Trail. All in all a very interesting experience. But New Zealand is not just exotic, heaven and beautiful. It also has its less beautiful sides, very clearly to see on any roadtrip through the countryside where hills covered with farmed forests, extreme clear-cuts, natural forests or fed down open grasslands were present.
Punakaiki was the place with the magical green and lush forests, covering the hills inland. We explored the coast and marveled at the oceans power playing with the pancake rocks and blowholes along the craggy coast. Alongside the ever changing beautiful countryside we made discoveries just in everyday life. Instead of renting a cabin (the northern European way of vacation) we rented a bach. Just as a cabin but more the private summerhouse-type. Instead of sleeping on standardized-EU-normed IKEA-madrasses we got to climb up on some kind of Sleeping-Beauty mountain of madrasses always half awake to make sure not to roll down the mountain midnight. I thought it was Australia where one has to be afraid to be joined at night by some poisonuos, thorny creature…
Foodwise we discovered new tastes on familiar food, fresh fruits and british specialties. We joined for traditional friday dinner with fish`n chips at places like the Black Shark Takeaways and ate our way through the rich café scene in Nelson. Harsh east coast winds denied us a whale-watching trip but seals were a common spot along the coast. The scenery of trees and plants was as a wild mix as was the background concert of bird songs. Instead of covering your face with vaseline against the cold, we immerged all open skin into suncream. Otherwise life was simple. Getting up, getting in food, getting out to explore. The hills around Nelson are a playground for any biker or off-the-asphalt runner. We’ve seen part of the inland on long and lonely roads, walked through the tourist-awaiting sleepy Hanmer Springs, diving into the hot springs there and exploring off the track forests. We made it to Abel Tasman Nationalpark just two days before leaving home again. What an exceptionally beautiful place on Earth. Just a day was long enough to hike to a little beach, lay back and enjoy the postcard scenery.
It was a great trip and a grim counterpart of early winter Europe. But back home the family was waiting and after two-and-a-half months it was a relief to be home in one owns house again. Here it was winter for real with greeting temperatures in the -30ies. But that is the next story.