The Year Of My Life: Travelling Aotearoa New Zealand. Today: Roadtrip from Kaikoura to Christchurch & Arthur’s Pass

“Aren’t you hiding from reality?”, I have been asked repeatedly in the past concerning the sheer number of trips I take. Most of the time, this question has just annoyed me. Today however, dear readers, I would really rather hide from reality. Too much has happened in the past few days, the reality of a “journey” I had never wanted to undertake weighing me down. Well, this is exactly why I am now taking you on another trip, celebrating life and its wonderful diversity.


And which country is better suited to daydream away and “hide from reality”, than magic Aotearoa New Zealand?

You see. My collection of travel articles about the most beautiful side of down under has already served to inspire you a couple of times, from my initial work & travel experiences with the Kiwis to my very first creative travel opportunities. Today, I would like to tell you about swimming with dolphins in a place called Kaikoura, the beautiful city of Christchurch (ahead of its devastating earthquake) as well as a trip with my first hitchhikers (yes!). Let’s have a look here.

Beim Reisen auf der Südinsel Neuseelands sind Anblicke wie diese keine Seltenheit.

Travelling the South Island of New Zealand, views like these are common sight.


Unterwegs Richtung Neuseelands Ostküste lohnt es sich, dem Weinbaugebiet Marlborough im Nordosten von Neuseelands Südinsel einen Besuch abzustatten. Hier gibt es ausgezeichneten Chardonnay oder Sauvignon Blanc - ein guter Reiseproviant für Genussreisende wie mich.

On your way to the East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, be sure to stop in a place called Marlborough wine resort: Lots of great Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grown and cultivated here. A good travel tip for luxury gourmet travellers such as my self (even on a budget – a good bottle of wine is a must!).


Die Schafe werde ich dann aber nicht ganz los ...

The sheep certainly are a persistent sight in Aotearoa New Zealand …


... zu Besuch auf der Farm von lieben Bekannten begreife ich zum ersten Mal Dimension und Ausdehnung der hiesigen "Sheep Stations" ... Tausende Hektar groß, gewaltig für mitteleuropäische Vorstellungskraft und Verhältnisse.

…and visiting dear Billie (+) and Roy’s sheep station, I first start to realize the sheer size and dimension of Kiwi farms: Thousands of hectares and across many hill ranges, a far cry from my usual Central European terms. Pointing at Roy’s rifle, I will never forget him saying: “What, if we see a wild pig in the hills, we might as well shoot it.” ‘Course.


Kraftfutter gibt es mit dem saftigen Grün der Hügel hier übrigens nicht nur für Schafe!

Not only the sheep are well fed around here: Weetbix for breakfast it is!


Das brauche ich bei meiner Aufregung auch, denn schon wenig später heißt es ...

And Weetbix are what make me strong, too, serving to feed my excitement for what is coming up …


... Schwimmen mit diesen lebenslustigen Zeitgenossen, den majestätischen Hector Dolphins. "You do not come to check them out, they come to check you out", lautet die Devise während man mit den Tieren im Wasser treibt. Faszinierend!

… a unique dolphin swimming experience off the coast of Kaikoura with those cute Hector dolphins. In the water, it is certainly “them coming to check you out, not you coming to check them out”: Dolphins are the only noble swimmers here. Fascinating!


Man kann aber auch ganz einfach zum Sonnenbaden nach Kaikoura kommen ...

Kaikoura also just offers you the possibility to relax and chill under its blue sky …


... kann die magische Küstenlandschaft genießen ...

… enjoy the magic coastal landscape …


... kann Geist und Seele baumeln lassen. An den herrlichen Coastal Walk werde ich mich noch lange erinnern können.

… and let your mind and soul relax. I still treasure the memory of the fresh wind around here and the perfect views from along the coast.


The Maori, too, know about the riches of this place. “Kai” means food and “koura” crayfish. Our travellers’ table is set: A unique feast of both nature and culture!

Arriving at the small town of Kaikoura for the very first time, I combine my visit to this coastal landscape with a “Maori Tour Kaikoura“, managed and led by charming Maurice and Heather Manawatu. For more than ten years, they have been offering real, authentic cultural experiences of the Ngai Tahu tribe on New Zealand’s South Island. We learn how to do a Hongi, taste medicinal tea plants in the native New Zealand forest, learn to appreciate holy trees, respect and appreciate the “mana” (status, worth) of each living being and are even invited to our hosts’ house after the three-hour tour. A very special and intimate cultural encounter it is: Thank you, dear Maurice dear Heather, for this memorable visit and introduction to Maori culture with you!

Vor dem Haus des Gastgeber Maurice findet zur Begrüßung das traditionelle Hongi statt, der spirituelle Austausch des Atems zwischen zwei Menschen durch kurze Berührung beider Nasen.

In front of Maurice’ house, we learn how to do a traditional Hongi, the spiritual sharing of two persons’ breath by the brief touching of each others’ noses.


Zur Kultur der Maori gehören naturgemäß auch viele Lieder und mündlich überlieferte Traditionen: Heute spielt Maurice dazu auch gerne auf der Gitarre.

Songs and oral traditions play a big role in the Maori culture: Today, Maurice likes to support them by playing the more modern guitar.


Zu Besuch im Urwald rund um Kaikoura und diesem Baumriesen hier, dem wir einen kurzen Moment der Andacht und des Respektes zollen.

Visiting the native forest around Kaikoura, we pause to pay our respects to this mighty tree here.


Auf dem Coastal Walk findet sich symbolisch ebenso viele Hinweise auf die Kultur der Maori: Der Legende nach kam Kupe, einer der ersten Ureinwohner hier über den polynesischen Ozean an Land.

Along Kaikoura’s Coastal Walk, there are many a signs pointing to the cultural history of the Maori people here. Legend has it that Kupe, one of the great Polynesian explorers, first set foot here on Aotearoa New Zealand.


About two hours south of Kaikoura and after a rather magic road trip along the East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, you will reach the famous city of Christchurch. Famous in many ways, Christchurch offers a unique art scene with many artists living here and some of them offering creative workshops and travel experiences for visitors such as silver jewellery, bone or jade carving. The city is home to many sailing experts and championships and also has a lot to offer culturally and historically (even if this means just over one hundred years old). “My” dear Kiwi family Simon, Alison, Katie & Max Rutherford live there! Unfortunately, Christchurch has also risen to fame “thanks” to its devastating earthquake of 2011. My pictures still show you images from the city before it all happened.

Ankommen in Christchurch Zentrum: "The Chalice", Neuseelands botanische Vielfalt repräsentiert in einem kunstvollen und übergroßen "Pflanzenbecher".

Arriving in Christchurch, “The Chalice” represents the country’s unique flora and endemic variety of plants and wildlife.


Schon damals mochte ich die Street Art Graffiti-Szene der Stadt ...

Back then, I remember having an eye for the city’s vivid street art graffiti …


... übrigens gibt es hier auch "River Punting" wie in Cambridge, England: Kulturell und historisch ist die Stadt eng mit ihren ehemaligen englischen Auswanderern verbunden.

… other, more traditional activities such as punting on the river may also be seen around here. Culturally, this reminds me a lot of Cambridge in England, and it is true that many of the original settlers were from the British islands.


Die Kathedrale von Christchurch vor ihrer starken Beschädigung durch das Erdbeben von 2011.

Christchurch Cathedral well ahead of the 2011 earthquake, which damaged quite a big part of the original building structure.


Rund um die Stadt bieten die vulkanischen Hügel der Halbinsel Akaroa schöne Möglichkeiten für Spaziergänge ...

Around the city, the volcanic hills of the Akaroa peninsula offer many an excuse for a day trip out into the countryside …


... und Ausblicke aller Art: Blick auf die Stadt Christchurch und ihre Meeresbucht.

… as well as viewpoints such as these: The city of Christchurch and its bay to the Northeast.


“Travelling from East to West: Want to join me and share the ride?” My first road trip including hitchhikers: Exciting!

“Isn’t it dangerous just to pick up anyone in your car?!” This, too, a question asked a thousand times, but let’s face it: I NEVER EVER had any troubles on my trips and was always well rewarded for meeting amazing people on the way. “They can steal your handbag and break into your car in Vienna”, is what I come to reply. And: I take care to have at least some basic exchange with the people I offer to host or take with me, just as I do with Couchsurfing. At the youth hostel in Christchurch, I post my travel plans to the local noticeboard adding time and date – still completely offline, and yes it (also) works! Maddie, my first hitchhiker is still connected to me on Facebook today. And Hélène from France? I last visited her at Paris’ International Creative Tourism Network conference well over a year ago.

To be honest: The trip from Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass to New Zealand’s West Coast is really absolutely and astoundingly beautiful. Much too beautiful to be taken on your own. Sometimes, you see, it is true what they say: Happiness is only truly lived when shared.

Glück auf Reisen: Einzigartige Sonnenuntergänge beobachten und erleben zu dürfen, wie hier am Himmel von Christchurch.

Happiness while travelling: Watching amazing sunsets, such as this one on our way back in Christchurch.


Gemeinsam statt einsam: Mit "meinen Hitchhikerinnen" on the road kurz vor dem Bergübergang Arthurs Pass im Zentrum von Neuseelands Südinsel.

Short stop on the road across Arthur’s Pass, one of the mountain passes to lead from East to West Coast on New Zealand’s South Island. In the background: “Nifty Ellie”, my dear Honda Civic built in 1987. 😀


Wenig später begrüßt uns die Tasmanische See im Westen von Neuseelands Südinsel mit diesem atemberaubenden Panorama ...

Just a little later, we are met by the beautiful Tasman Sea coast on New Zealand’s famous West Coast …


Zum ersten Mal in meinem Leben sehe ich die berühmten "Pancake Rocks", also "Palatschinken-Steine" wie sie hier in Schichten nahe dem Ort Punakaiki vorkommen.

For the first time in New Zealand, I stand in front of the so-called “Pancake Rocks” near the town of Punakaiki.


Die gesamte Küste ist überhaupt ein Traum für jeden Roadtripper wie mich - mehr dazu in einem meiner nächsten Beiträge aus Aotearoa Neuseeland!

The entire coast is pure magic – more about it in another of my New Zealand posts!


Zu guter Letzt sei noch verraten: In der Kleinstadt Ross, einer ehemaligen Goldgräberstadt, könnt Ihr echtes Gold schürfen ...

Last but not least, I would like to share this creative travel tip here with you: Learn how to look for real gold in the small town of Ross, a traditional gold rush town from way back then …


... und in kleinen Flakons mit nach Hause nehmen: Ganz stolz blicke ich auf meinen Finderlohn!. ;)

… and you might get lucky shifting through the sands: There goes a happy, creative traveller (and her well-earned reward). 😉

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