Travel.P #3 – My first Solo Roadtrip

Trip From Auckland to Wellington

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

Vincent Van Gogh

Driving in “Emma”, after wishing farewell to my friends of backpackers in Auckland, I felt excited. Excited about the unknown, about my job, the country, the crossing to the South Island and how my van will work on this trip. I checked on a map, before I started the trip, where I would have to go and planned to take about five days from Auckland to Christchurch. It is fairly quick and involves a lot of driving, but on the other hand I really wanted to start working. In total it was about a distance of 1000 km.

New Zealand in Europe

It is weird, because back at home a distance like this sounded incredibly long to me, but here in NZ it is quite normal to go on long car rides, since the distance between towns is quite big. With nearly 5 million people living there on an area of it’s size, you will experience there is not a lot going on, especially on the South Island. But when you drive through New Zealand, it is never a pain in the ass, since the landscape is astonishing and breathtaking, even while you are driving in a car. I probably spent the same amount of looking at scenery, hanging with my upper body over the steering wheel as if I could jump out of the front window, as looking at the road I was driving on.

A playlist with good tunes, hugs and food, an I was ready to leave Auckland and went straight for Taupo. I drove through small green hobbit hills, a bit later I passed a bit of jungle territory. That’s where I would order the botanic into. I was so happy and exited, that I really had to stop sometimes to appreciate everything more and release my excitement through shouting out of my window at the landscape. I drove through the sunset and into a beautiful clear cold night.

When I passed the the hot pools of Lake Taupo, I felt my eyes were getting slower and my eyelids became heavy. I had to park the Van next to the Highway on a car park, with the river to my left. Next to the Highway sounds probably loud, but there were per hour probably 10-20 cars, and the car park was a bit of the road.

Brushing my teeth, I looked up and was completely stunned. I saw so many stars. It was wonderful. The first time in my life that I saw that many stars. It is hard to describe, it’s so many that you can get lost, watching stars. After that experience and a couple stretches, I left the view, lay down on the mattress that kept me comfortable during my nights, and fell into a deep sleep. I was happy that everything went well, that I was by myself, independent, free.

Huka Falls

The next morning I drove through Taupo, the supervulcano. On my way through I had a look at the massive Huka Falls, where around 220.000 Liter water are passing each second through a gap, that shrinks from 100m to 15m.

Just a short break was spend at lake Taupo, where I enjoyed the view from the shore. All round me were mountains, probably old parts of the supervulcano, covered in green trees, as far as I could see. I left Taupo behind me and approached the Tongario National Park, where I saw the first snow in my New Zealand travels, after passing through palm bushes just 10 minutes before. It was also the first time that I saw Mount Doom, Mount Ngauruhoe, the active volcano (where Frodo destroyed the One Ring to rule them all) that I climbed on my second approach later in my travels. Passing it on the left and far away it didn’t seem that hard to climb, which was wrong as you might find out in another episode of my blog. My surroundings were empty, the landscape was naked, brown, black and grey, but still beautiful on it’s own way. Waiouru, the part that I drove through, is the base for the Wairouru Military Camp, where New Zealand Army soldiers complete their initial basic training. When I saw the signs, I didn’t understand what a country like this should have to do with War.

View of the road-site somewhere on HW1
View from HW1

Driving past the National Park, I drove straight into Wellington, together with the permanent engine sound of 80 km/h. Emma was doing really well. Petrol is cheaper in the North Island than in the South Island, and far the cheapest at McKeown as I found out on the last quarter of my NZ journey. It is useful to get a “Onecard” (discount card in cooperation with the supermarket Countdown) and use BP and stuff, because the cheap petrol stations are hard to find. Arriving in Wellington by car, late at night was nice and easy, (not like on Odin, my sailing boat and home later on). I stopped at the ferry and asked if there is still a ferry crossing to the South Island, but I had to wait till the morning. Looking for a sleeping place in the roads, I saw a ferry leaving the port. I asked at the Interislander and not at the Bluebridge. The guys from Interislander didn’t tell me that there is another business owning ferries, that still had one run. Well, it was good in the end. Sleeping in Emma at Oriental Bay and taking the ferry early in the morning was a good choice in the end, the views were better at daylight and the crossing exciting.

Bye bye North Island

The next morning, it was crazy windy in Wellington, but that seems to be an usual situation, because no one really cared. Getting my ticket, and some food from a supermarket, since the ferry food is expensive, I found shelter in Emma. Apparently it is possible to hide a person in the back of your car, to safe a bit of money. Just make sure this person leaves the car on the boat not at land, since there a cameras everywhere. Starting the crossing the sky cleared up and the rainy windy morning turned into a sunny windy day. Talking to a farmer and his wife on the ferry, that told me to call them if I am in need some help at some point, I found out that there were a couple ferries that sank in the past, but the one I boarded is the best ship in the harbor. Supported by their safety talk and a bit sea nauseousness I left them and went up to the top deck, where I stayed or laid down for the rest of the crossing. It was an amazing experience, with big waves that we broke and splashed up to until the top deck.

The only thing I missed on my crossing were dolphins and whales, but that was compensated by the breathtaking landscapes of the Marlborough Sounds. The Marlborough Sounds are an extensive network of dark blue sea-drowned valleys at the northern end of the South Island covered in dark green trees. It was peaceful and calming, after the rough Cook Straight (sea part between Islands). In my opinion it is a beautiful approach of the South and shows you straight that there is a difference between the two islands, where the South is chilled, peaceful and relaxing.

Arriving at the small town Picton, I was allowed to join Emma and after that, leaving the ferry and the beautiful Sounds behind me. Since there was a destructive earthquake in 2017, I had to take an alternative route to the beautiful Highway 1 (which is now open again, and later in my journey driven by me.) The rest of the day is summarized by driving and short breaks, letting trucks pass and heavy eye lids at night, until I went to bed and straight into a deep sleep, parked somewhere in a random Town. As a tip for you always let those beautiful, especially at night, Truck beasts pass you, since the guys riding these steel horses are not on holidays.
I advice everyone to book the crossing at day time and maybe catch the sunset/sunrise from the ferry.

Done, Travel.P #3. I just spend my first homeless day in Melbourne on the streets and so far think it’s not too bad. It is another beautiful sunny day over here and perfect to go for a cycle along the beach. The only annoying thing while living on the street so far, is that there is still too much stuff, that I will get rid of. Also tomorrow, I will have my first volunteer day in the kitchen of “Lentils as Anything”. I’m pumped for that and hope I can find another peaceful night.

My mission for you today is to spend as much time outside as possible, if it is a sunny day, and do some cool stuff that you will enjoy.

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