New Zealand – The South Island

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New Zealand’s South Island has a stunning natural scenery. The feast begins right in the ferry journey between Wellington and Picton. The views from the ferry are awesome on a sunny day.

Despite not being far, the weather improves a lot when crossing from the North Island to the South Island. A few more degrees, sunny and not as windy as Wellington! 🙂

Ferry journey

Ferry journey

Arriving at the South Island

Arriving at the South Island

The South Island is sparsely populated. It is the biggest of the two islands but only hosts 23% of the population. Of course, there are no big cities. In this semi-rural environment, people are super nice.

The largest city on the island is Christchurch. In 2010 and 2011 it suffered major earthquakes that left the city devastated. Some parts of the centre were still being reconstructed and closed to pedestrians.

Christchurch

Christchurch

Other city I visited was Queenstown. This resort town is really popular with adventure tourism, and almost all outdoors activities are offered. Sky diving is especially popular, but also skiing, snowboarding, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking, skateboarding, tramping, etc.

Queenstown

Queenstown

But what was really striking to me in the South Island were not the cities but the amazing landscapes I could see in between. I will finish the post with a few more photos of the scenery:

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New Zealand – The North Island

From Auckland I started a quick tour around New Zealand’s North Island and South Island, in the few days I had left for the trip.

New Zealand is a country with an amazing scenery, so just the journeys between cities makes up a lot of the fun.

One of the most popular stops in the North Island is Rotorua. As in other parts of the country, it is very quiet and laid-back. The British influence is felt everywhere, from the architecture to some of the habits of New Zealanders. Here, some old kiwis were enjoying a long croquet match opposite the main museum:

Croquet opposite the museum

Croquet opposite the museum

The city of Rotorua is (in)famous for its bad smell – a persistent “rotten eggs” smell. However, this is caused by the sulphide emissions of its lively geothermal activity, which is in turn at the heart of much of Rotorua’s tourist appeal.

Mudpot

Mudpot

Near the city, you find a good number of mudpots, hot springs and geysers.

Whakarewarewa is an old Maori site where many of the geysers and pools are located. Traditionally, Maoris use the heat for cooking and heating. The vegetation around is also lush. The most famous geyser, Pohotu, erupts usually around every hour.

Whakarewarewa

Whakarewarewa

Geyser

Geyser

On the southern tip of the North Island lies Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.

Wellington cable car

Wellington cable car

A good view of the city can be seen taking the old cable car up to the Botanic Gardens. Other than enjoying the view, you can wander around the paths of the Botanic Gardens and appreciate the vegetation. Nevertheless, Wellington is famous for being very windy, and I have to say that on top of the hill it really was!

Wellington

Wellington

Wellington

Wellington

From Wellington, I took the ferry down to the South Island. The ferry trip is incredibly scenic. I will tell you more about that in the next post.

New Zealand – Multicultural Auckland

As the last stage of my round-the-world trip I visited New Zealand. That’s possibly the farthest I could travel in this planet, since the exact antipodes (point on the Earth’s surface which is diametrically opposite) of Madrid are in New Zealand’s North Island.

I arrived in Auckland early December and was lucky enough to strike great weather, which makes this a very nice city. While hosting 1/3 of the country’s population, it has more of the feel of a lovely smallish city but with endless, sprawling suburbs. Sailing is a big thing in Auckland and the views from the harbour are just fantastic.

Auckland

Auckland

Auckland is known for having a very interesting ethnic mix. Indeed, foreign visitors walking in the street or clubbing often exclaimed: “how weird!“, just because we’re not used to seeing such different people mingling together anywhere else. White kiwis and aboriginal Māoris couldn’t be more different. They’re joined in huge numbers by Pacific Islanders coming from a variety of islands in the Polynesia and elsewhere, which makes Auckland the city with more Pacific Islander inhabitants in the world. In recent years, European immigration has diminished in favour of Asian countries like China, Korea and India. So you can probably imagine the mix; multiculturalism is as real as it gets in Auckland.

There is also some room for Spanish culture, or so it felt on my first day. My friends Pablo and Lili, expats in Auckland, picked me up from the airport and invited me to a very Spanish home-cooked meal in their house, to the delight of their Asian friends.

Later that evening, I went to much-awaited outdoors music festival called ‘Christmas in the Park’, sponsored by Coca Cola. The whole city seemed to be there for the occasion.

Christmas in the park!!

Christmas in the park!!

Another great view of the city can be struck from the crater of the volcano at Mount Eden, if you go on a clear day.

Mount Eden

Mount Eden

View from Mount Eden

View from Mount Eden

From Auckland I kicked off my quick trip around New Zealand. Some more tips and facts in my next posts.