Back after 5 weeks

You think a 5-week-vacation is a long vacation ? Yes, it is, for most of us. No, it isn’t if you become aware how many beautiful places there are in this world to discover and how many exciting things to do. Nevertheless, no matter how long a vacation can be, at some point of time it reaches its end.

Auckland
"Auckland"

So did mine, thus back to work. My first Monday started with 400 e-mails and a surprising calendar entry: a class starting on that day at 09:00am for the entire week, every day from 09:00am to 01:00pm, a class about Cognos 8 Framework Manager my boss has sent me to, not because I need it right now, but simply because it is available. The class is interesting but challenging and slows me down a bit to catch up with things like e-mails, blogging, capturing the status of my current project. 

So, what did I do during the last 5 weeks ? My wife and I traveled to New Zealand and explored both the North and South Island for 3.5 weeks, then flew over to Fiji and spent another 5 days there to relax at a beautiful beach of a little island and do some scuba diving. Roughly 4 days were needed to fly around the world, that’s why we ended up with a 5-week-vacation.

Urupukapuka
"Urupukapuka"

In New Zealand we started our trip in Auckland, visited the War Memorial Museum especially to learn a bit about Maori culture, and explored this largest city of New Zealand where roughly 1 of the 4 million kiwis live. in Auckland we also picked up our rental car, a Ford Territory, and drove to Pahia, from where we did a boat cruise through the Bay Of Islands. Two days later we drove over to the West Coast of the North Island to do a hike through the Kauri forests. Then we headed south and to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula with wonderful bays and beaches, and the famous Hot Water Beach where you can dig for boiling water directly at the beach. Also we hiked to the Cathedral Cove and then continued our journey to Rotorua, to visit the two thermal areas there: Whakarewarewa and Wai-O-Tapu, to see geysers, mud pots,  steaming and colorful lakes and boiling springs. Next stop was Lake Taupo. We then headed to the Tongario National Park, but again, like 9 years ago when I was there the first time, the volcanos were hidden behind clouds and thus we continued our trip right away to Waitomo to visit another natural feature: the glowworm caves. After that we travelled further south to New Plymouth, where we stayed for two nights and some mountain hike at Mount Taranaiki. The weather was nice now and we even could see the Tongario mountains far away.

Picton and Queen Charlotte Sound
"Picton and Queen Charlotte Sound"

Now it was time to get to Wellington and take a ferry to the South Island. When we got there it took us 4 hours to find a room and finally we ended up in a village called Lower Hut Valley I never had heard about before, simply because New Zealand tried to qualify for the soccer world championship and played against Bahrain and thus all rooms were booked in the Wellington area.

After a nice ferry trip over the Cook Strait and through the Queen Charlotte Sound we ended up in this little village Picton, where we spent our first night on the South Island. From there we traveled to the Abel Tasman Nationalpark for a beautiful day hike along the Coast Track, from Bark Bay to Marahau, where we had booked a chalet for two nights and a water taxi to get us to Bark Bay in the morning. Another spectacular hike we did in Nelson Lakes Nationalpark afterwards: around the Lake Rotoiti in 8 hours. After that we got to the West Coast of the South Island and visited the Pancake Rocks, another awesome geological feature of New Zealand. So far the weather had been just great, not really warm, lots of winds most of the time, but lots of sun as well. This changed when we got to the Franz Josef Glacier, nevertheless this area is well known for its many rain days.

Mitre Peak in Milford Sound
"Mitre Peak in Milford Sound"

So we stayed there just for a short hike and continued our trip southwards. We reached Wanaka, a nice and peaceful alternative to busy Queenstown, and decided to stay there for two days to do another great hike: the Rob Roy Glacier hike in Mount Aspiring National Park. After a quick stop in Queenstown we drove to Te Anau, the gate to Milford Sound, the only of the 14 sounds in Fjordland Nationalpark you can reach by car. A trip to and through Milford Sound is always a highlight, especially if you have as nice weather as we had. A ship cruise took us through the sound, which actually is a fjord, out to the Tasman Sea, and back to the head of the fjord. On the next day we drove to Dunedin and visited an Albatross colony there. North of Dunedin is Moeraki with the famous Moeraki Boulders, another must-see in New Zealand.  And then we reached Christchurch, our final destination in New Zealand.

Matamanoa Island
"Matamanoa Island"

From there two flights took us back to Auckland first and then to Nadi on Fiji. From the main island it was a 1.5 hour boat cruise out to this little beautiful island Matamanoa, where we spend the next 5 days with relaxing, snorkeling and some scuba diving. The journey back home afterwards was a 38-hour-trip: boat tour back to the main island, transfer to the airport, flight to Los Angeles, wait on airport, flight to London Heathrow, wait on airport, flight to Frankfurt, Taxi ride home.  It took us almost 1 week afterwards to overcome jet lag.

It has been a fantastic trip with so many awesome impressions and more than 2.300 photos I took. Some of them can be seen on my flickr account: here is my set of New Zealand photos and here is the one with photos from Fiji. Or simply watch a few photos in my slideshow attached below. Our more detailed travel diary will be published in my German blog, so if you can read German you might want to check this out; I plan to publish this day by day in the next weeks.

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