A Travellerspoint blog

USA - the land of our holiday

Travelling through the west of the USA for the next 5 weeks

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Yes, Yes, Yes! We will be leaving for our holiday in a few days! The long planned and dreamed about holiday is finally here! On the 20th of August 2014 we will go on a plane in Austria and step out in L.A.

We - that is my boyfriend Gabriel and I - and we can't wait to take you on our journey with us! Every few days or so, we will write a post (with pictures of course) to tell you what we are up to.

If you'd stick around for the trip and read whats going on in the country of "the free and brave" - we'd be delighted!

Yours, Stefanie & Gabriel

Posted by tastingtheworld 07:54 Archived in USA Tagged usa new_trip Comments (0)


Dolphin watching in Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

sunny 18 °C
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One of the things for what New Zealand is famous for is dolphin and whale watching - especially in Kaikoura. Here the land drops deep into the ocean is deep and a cold stream from the antarctica brings krill to the area - a perfect place to spot whales and dolphines!

Steffi and I booked a dolphin watching tour - got up at 6:00 o'clock and were on the boat at 8:00. We drove out into the bay, when after about half an hour a huge dolphin school was among us. There were at least 200- 300 dolphins swimming around the boat jumping out of the water and even doing some fancy jumping tricks. These dolphins were wild. They were not fed or trained or captured. They just live in the Kaikoura bay and like doing tricks... AMAZING.


On our way home, we came across another sea mammel:


This Orca hunts sometimes in the Kaikoura Bay. He was no stranger to the staff of the boat, who had named him Koro:
So please enjoy 2 more pictures of this beautiful animal named Koro, that chose to show itsself to us as the ultimate bonus point and as the best picture to end this tale of our wonderful journey through the Land of the long white Cloud - my second home.


Posted by tastingtheworld 11:29 Archived in New Zealand Tagged dolphin kaikoura whale orca wild_dolphin dolphin_watching Comments (0)

Milford Sound and... Penguins!!

It wouldn't be New Zealand if there wasn't another breathtaking landscape to visit everywhere and of course if there weren't any penguins - South Island, New Zealand

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Visiting the Milford Sound feels like travelling to Norway - provided one survives the journey. Our host in Manapouri already warned us, that we should not attempt to drive to the Milford Sound by ourselves and Oh my God was he right! I was so glad that we had booked a bus tour there, as the journey - mostly a one way road with serpentines, rain, steep cliffs and a tunnel that looked like it would collapse any minute, was anything but relaxing!

Once we got to the Milford Sound however another mystic landscape unfolded before our eyes. The waterfalls, the mist, the clouds, the sea - this was worth the way!


We were stunned and sure there was nothing to come that could top this.
Wen went to Dunedin and had a lovely time there, but still the images of the MIlford Sound were uncomparable.
Our next stop was Oamaru, where we stayed at the Olive Grove. This hostel was really cool, especially because they provided us with a hand drawn map of a place where we could see pengiuns coming from the see to their nest in the evening.
There was a little hideout built and from where we could watch...
There were some penguins and also a seal, but they were quite tiny and far away, so the camera couldn't capture them.
So because the sun was setting and there was a really nice hill we went for a walk nearby.
We were just sitting in the gras and talking about the fact that we just saw wild penguins and this is really cool, when we spotted them!

Can you see it?

These are called yellow eyed penguins and aren't they beautiful?

They were really calm and didn't seem to notice us, so we could even snatch a pick with them!

Posted by tastingtheworld 10:57 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfall mist sound penguins milfor_sound Comments (0)

Ice and Adrenalin

Franz Josef Glacier and Queenstown in the South Island, New Zealand

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On our way to Queenstown we stopped at the Franz Josef Glacier - a glacier that is called that way, because an Austrian first climbed the Franz Josef Mountain and named it (being a good Austrian) after the then rulling Austrian Emporer FRanz Josef. This glacier comes from that mountain.

I had never seen a glacier before and was really fascinated by the blue ice and the constanct cracking you hear (hence the glacier is moving) but also by the glacier water that was still light blue in the river due to sediments it carried. However it was also distressing how dirty the glacier looked - from all the pollution, vulcano ash and rocks that lay on top.

After this cool stop we needed some craziness and therefore Queenstown was just perfect!
Queenstown is the Mekka for any extreme sports freak! Anything that might kill you but looks good - you can it find here!
I did my first bungee jump there in 2005 and now it should be Steffi's turn.


The jump at Queenstown is only about 23m high, but since it is on a hill, you think that you fall right down the valley - something so terrifying that I wasn't too keen on repeating it - but Steffi loved it!


Posted by tastingtheworld 10:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown franz_josef_glacier bungee Comments (0)

A trip to the oldest pancakes of the world

Punakaiki on the Westcoast of New Zealand

rain 20 °C
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The Westcoast of the south island in New Zealand is famous for its ciffs, rough climate and beautiful rainforest.
We stayed one night in Punakaiki in a hostel, that was built in the rainforest. Hearing the rain drizzle on the huge fern leaves outside ourwindow made us miss home a bit, but it also smelled so lovely after the rain and the view out of the window directly onto the trees was spectacular. The homesickness left as quickly as it came.

The next morning the sun came out again and we visited the pancake rocks. These rocks were folded onto each other in a way that they look like pancakes - but here see for your self:


They are really famous, as - if the tide is a certain way in - the waves crash onto the rocks and up through some holes (aka blowholes) and come out as a fountain. You have to imagine the sound of the waves crashing against the rock, while seeing the water coming out of the holes.


Posted by tastingtheworld 10:16 Archived in New Zealand Tagged punakaiki blowholes pancake_rocks Comments (0)

Sea Kajaking

Going Sea Kajaking in the Abel Tasman National Park (New Zealand South Island)

sunny 28 °C
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Once we had crossed the cook straight between the North and South Island and arrived in Picton, we went straight to Motueka, which is a tiny town right next to the Abel Tasman National Park. This region is - although a lot further south - nearly as warm and sunny as the bay of plenty - at least in the summer. It has beautiful sandy beaches and is a perfect destination to do any outdoor sport. There are seals and sometimes dolphins in the water and a fern forest on land to explore.

As it consists of lots of little bays, the water is a lot calmer than at the rest of the coastline and therefore perfect for any sea-kayaking newbies like us!
However it is still the open sea, so we booked a half day trip kayaking to the split apple (bear with me and you will see why it is called like that) and hiking back on land in the afternoon.

We went in the 2-seater-kayak and soon we paddled along the bays over cristall clear water and near golden sandy beaches. This part of New Zealand has the most sun hours in the year, so the weather was of course gorgeous!


And of course you guessed it! This is the split apple!


Hiking back through the forest, rewarded us wth images like this:


It was quite a day, so a nice cool shanty in the end was really nice

Posted by tastingtheworld 09:31 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hiking kayaking abel_tasman_national_park split_apple sea_kayak Comments (0)

Farting in Rotarua

or how to have the best time in a smelly city (Rotorua) (New Zealand North Island in the middle)

sunny 25 °C
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After our adventure up north, we drove straight passed Auckland to our next destination - Waitomo Caves.
Why we passed Auckland without stopping - only taking this one picture right from the highway?

Because of many reasons: I've been there before, there are only skyscrapers to see, but mostly because we had to make cuts somewhere and this just wasn't our priority. I am sure that one can have a grand time there seeing beautiful things, but we had something much more exciting planned...

We went blackwater rafting in the Waitomo Caves!

Blackwater rafting is a sport, where you sit on a rubber tube (and sometimes jump and crawl) through a cave that has a river running through. This sounds spookey and exciting as it is, the reason so many do it in Waitomo, is due to the poo of some very interesting animals...
...New Zealand Glowworms.

These worms live in these caves and produce a slimy string in which they try to catch insects which are drawn towards the strings because the end of their bottom is glowing in beautiful colors.


Gliding through the water looking up and watching these lights is calming and beautiful.
Jumping over small waterfalls within the cave and quickly getting on the rubber tube again in order to not miss any of the beauty is something I recommend to everyone who visits New Zealand.

After this amazing experience we continued our journey towards Rotarua. Anyone who hadn't been to an active vulcano area where sulfur evaporates and deodorises the air, cannot imagine the smell that hits you when entering Rotarua.
Usually everyone thinks that someone farted in the car and opens the window, just to realize with terror that it smells way worse outside!

However Rotarua and its sourrounding area has so much cool stuff to offer, that I love to be there. Aand you don't smell it anymore after one or two days...

Naturally there is a lot of cool vulcanic activity to see all around. I once biked around the lake Rotorua, when I suddenly realized that the mud right next to the biking trail was bubbeling! The lake is so hot, that water evaporarises towards the sky any day or night and new geysirs can erupt anywhere in the city at any time - although this is very rare...


We went and visited one of the geothermal sites where the little lakes had so many different colors and water evaporised everywhere...


Posted by tastingtheworld 08:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rotorua waitomo geysir blackwater_rafting devils_home Comments (0)

Highlights from up North in New Zealand

Snorceling on Poor Knights Island, Visiting Reinga, Hugging huge Kauri Trees

sunny 30 °C
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This is the story of cool things we did while being up north on the North Island in New Zealand. To be excact this is what we did after arriving in Auckland and travelling north.

Whangarei is a beautiful place on its own especially the "Little Earth Lodge" where we stayed is really great, but breathtakingly beautiful is the Poor Knights Island, which are some small islands near the coast of Tutukaka.
It is famous for its amazing diving territory.


Unfortunatelly we are both afraid of the open sea and are kind of terrified of diving, so we booked a snorkeling tour instead.
We were quite nervous beforehand - I mean it would still be the open ocean - but our courage was rewarded big time. There were so many colourfull fish everywhere and the island looked like a nature resort of past times. We had a great time snorceling and being in the water all day!


Leaving Whangarei behind us, we went further up north and stayed some days in Kaitaia right at the Ninty Mile Beach. As I'm sure you all already know, that the 90 Mile Beach is not really 90 Miles long, but a bit shorter, but I mean who cares? It is still an unbelievably long, sandy, beautiful beach where Steffi could show off her surfing skills and one could run along for miles.

Following up the ninty mile beach you get to Cape Reinga - the most northernest part of New Zealand. Here two Oceans - the Abel Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide - a point where it is always windy and the weather has to be misty. A magical place that is holy to the Maoris (the native people of New Zealand).

The last stop on our tour in the north was a forest with the biggest Kauri trees of New Zealand. The oldest living kauri tree is over 2000 years old and has a scope of nearly 14 meters. We didn't get to see that tree, but some very old and big ones where among them. It is really a lesson in humbleness to stand in front of such an old and big tree, that has been around the time when the christian religion wasn't even born yet.

Its hard to capture such hugeness, but we tried:

Being in the forest in New Zealand is always something magical. Be it the great silver fern trees, the huge kauri trees, the images of the lord of the rings or the fact, that there are no poisonous animals around, I could spend hours in the New Zealand (rain) forest.


Posted by tastingtheworld 07:06 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand cape_reinga kauri fern kauri_tree poor_knights_island snorceling tutukaka silver_fern Comments (0)

New Zealand Part One

Fitting 4 Suitcases in a KIA

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Most of the preperation time before our trip to NZ took up the search for a cheap rental car in New Zealand. Steffi and I were both under 25 and therefore most companies charge a surplus to the rate pf the rental cars. Since Steffi and I didn't want to pay that much money we booked a rental car at a tiny NZ company where we didn't have to pay anything extra and we could give back our car in Wellinton, go on the ferry without a car and get a new car in Picton for the South Island (therefore saving the ferry transport costs).

As we flew with EMIRATES to NZ, we were allowed to have two suitcases each - which we took. I really don't like backpacks - mostly because I hate to carry them everywhere and also because everything gets so messy inside. By going around with a car, we figured we 'd be alright with suitcases...
What we didn't consider is that we chose the smallest car available (again to save costs) and that we might have problems fitting our things in.

Upon arriving at the Auckland Airport - tired after a 30hours journey, the two guys from the rental company started laughing when they saw our luggage...

We understood when we saw our car...

However after 30min trying various ways to pack our car, we finally succeeded in fitting 4 suitcases, two small backpacks, two hand bags and two Steffi's into the car!
Here's a picture to prove it ;-)

Our trip in NZ started in Auckland, went then all the way to Cape Reinga, down past Auckland to Rotarua, passing Taupo we stopped in Wanganui and Palmerston North to visit old friends of mine, crossing the sea to the south island we spent some days in the Abel Tasman National Park before enjoying the raw cliffs and the rain forest of the west coast. We then stopped at the Franz Josef Glacies (I mean it is named after an Austrian Emporer we HAD to stop) and had pumped up our Adrenalin at Christchurch before being stunned at the beauty of the Milford Sound and seeing penguins north of Dunedin. We went dolphin watching in Kaikoura and met with old friends in Wellington before heading back home.
You need to know where those magical sounding places are?

Check out this map of our trip:

So this is the story of our trip through New Zealand with maybe a bit too much luggage for that tiny car and how we still managed to fit everything in every day of our 5-week journey.

Posted by tastingtheworld 06:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rental_car too_much_luggage suitcase_or_backpack Comments (0)

A guide to flying long distance

5 Tipps on how to survive the longest flight

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Flying to New Zealand from Europe is basically trying to get as far away from your home country as possible. When you ask people in Austria what they think of when hearing New Zealand the first thing they say is not "sheep" or "the lord of the rings" - although that ranks high among these answers, but most often they will say something along "Oh that's the place where you'd be if you went straight through the earth with a needle". And that's precicly it. It is on the exact opposite of the world. Maybe that's why we are all so crazy about coming here.

Steffi, my longest friend, and I went to visit New Zealand in February 2011 for 5 weeks. I lived in New Zealand for a year when I was 15, when I did my high school exchange year in Wanganui, New Zealand and I talked about it ever since, so Steffi decided to come with me to see what all the fuss was about.

We flew from Vienna, Austria with an over night stop in Dubai via Brisbane to Auckland, a journey that took us more than 30 hours in total. Since I've done that trip 4 times by now, I do have some tipps on how to survive this painfully long journey:

1) Bring an empty water bottle: Yes that's correct, it needs to be empty, as otherwise (at least in Europe) you will have to throw it away at the airport security checks (liquids...). You can however bring an empty one and fill it up in the restrooms after the security check - trust me there are always restrooms. No matter how disgusting this water tastes, as long as it is drinking water, fill it up - after 20hours in a plane you don't care how it tastes anymore but you will get thirsty during your flight and you will not want to wake up the person next to you everytime you ask the stewardess for another tiny weeny cup of water . DO NOT attempt to drink the water in the restrooms at the plane! It is not safe and it is really disgusting. (if you want to know why I know this - just keep reading...)

2) Bring your own toothbrush and toothpaste: On my first flight to NZ, quantas was so lovely and provided every passenger with a mini toothbrush and toothpaste. Shortly before we arrived in Sydney, I decided to try these out at the restroom on the plane . I put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, put a little water from the wahsbasin on the toothbrush and brushed away - boy oh boy that was a mistake! I nearly emptied my stomached when I tasted the water that came out of the wahbasin and the toothpaste was just -uh no- ALWAYS use your own toothpaste and NEVER let the water in the airplane restrooms touch your mouth... Just don't try it...

3)Bring you own headphones and a good book: Usually you get free headphones on such a long journey, but you never know and the flight is too long to watch a silent movie for the whole time. Bring a book! Travelling means waiting and waiting is done best when reading a good book! When the movies don't work, at least you have a book on the plane and at the airport you will have something to do other than hoping you might be the luckiest person on the plane -namely to have a free seat next to you...

4)Bring warm socks and a jacket: No matter where you go, in the airplane it is going to get cold and when your body is tired it will require additional warmth.

5) Be nice to the staff: I have a friend who is a (new) stewardess and from what she tells me - believe me, being a flight attendant is hard work, so be nice to the staff on the plane, it is there workplace and - of course - your flight attendants can make your journey a whole lot nicer if they like you!

So that was it, my guide on how to make long distance flying a little bit more comfortable.
If you have any must-knows/must-have-with-yous, let me know in the comments!

Posted by tastingtheworld 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged planes flying airplane surviving long_distance_flight travel_tipps Comments (0)