A Travellerspoint blog

Work Work Work Work Work (and some play)

Waterfalls. Streams. Forest. Kiwi picking.


View Kristian Round the World on klorenzooo's travel map.

Wow, it's been a long time since I've updated this blog... Let me bring you all up to speed. Though, to be honest, not much has happened these past 4 months.

My previous post ended with me buying a car, road tripping through the Coromandel Peninsula, and coming back to Mount Maunganui to pick kiwis. When I arrived to the Mount the second time, the kiwis STILL weren't ready, so I worked some labor jobs during March. The first was a one day job carrying giant wooden planks around a yard. It was pretty awful, and not just because labor jobs suck. The guys were all rough and my boss was a douche. Not the kind of guys I would choose to spend time around. Lunch time conversation consisted of the various things each guy needed to show up in court for...

My other job was laboring for a scaffolding company. Basically the same job as the first, only this time instead of carrying wooden planks I carried big steel frames, planks, etc. Sure, it was hard in the beginning, but I actually didn't mind this one as much. And I spent a couple weeks there, so I got stronger and actually started to help put the scaffolding together. I even had my own toolbelt. A real manly job lol... I actually had the opportunity to stay at this job instead of working the kiwi season. In all honesty, it would have been better money than kiwi picking, but I couldn't stand the work environment anymore. People pretending to get along but talking shit behind each others' backs, the boss constantly trying to get me to rat out the other workers, things getting stolen from the yard, it was all too much, so I got out.

I'll talk about kiwi picking in a bit, but first some non work related stuff. I had a lot of free time between jobs, and the beginning of the kiwi season was quite slow, so I went on loads of hikes. The outdoors was and still is my main motivation for coming to New Zealand after all.

These two photos are of Kaiate Falls, 30 minutes outside of the Mount. The walk itself is only 30 minutes as well, but it's so secluded and peaceful.
I spent a great deal longer than that just enjoying the sounds of rustling leaves and flowing water.
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Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park is a huge forest park in the Kaimai Mountains directly west of the Mount. There's so much forest, so many nice streams you can have all to yourself, it's impossible not to find natural beauty here.

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The start of the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.

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The walkway is littered with remnants of the mining and railroad era.

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One of the many beautiful streams I came across.

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One of my roommies at the top of Te Aroha Mountain.

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Other shenanigans were had too. My friend's birthday party/bonfire.

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I spent hours watching the embers dance in the night.

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Midway through the season the hostel owner cooked everyone a big roast. I was starving and didn't get the memo that we were taking a photo.

Enough about fun and all that nonsense. On to the kiwi season. If I could sum up the entire season in one word, the word would be frustrating. Too many things can go wrong, too much time was wasted waiting. You can't pick when the fruit is wet (it rains all the time here), the truck with the bins got lost, the tractor broke down, the truck got stuck in the mud, your employers accidentally left all the bags at home, you're basically on call because you never know when you're working, etc. I just think things could have been organized so much better. But I guess that's the Kiwi (we're talking the people now not the fruit) way. Too laid back, why fix something if it isn't catastrophically broken, efficiency doesn't matter. In terms of the actual picking of kiwis, it's is probably the most mind numbing job I've ever done. It's so simple, you just pluck the kiwis off, put them in a bag you wear, and then dump the bag in a bin. Repeat.

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Like so.

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Apparently I love picking kiwis.

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The whole gangs into it.

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We pick so fast we're blurry.

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You gotta try to have a little fun, otherwise you go crazy.

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My tiny Asian friend, one of the only pickers shorter than me.

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Hacky sack world champions training during lunch break.

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Group photo on our last day.

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Another, right after picking our last kiwis EVER.

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Then we went out to celebrate.

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Twice.

I met a lot of awesome people during the season. Made lots of friends and had a lot of fun. Good luck everyone, I wish you all the best and safe travels. Until we meet again!

For now, I'm on the road again. So far I've spent a few days at a lovely little arboretum near Gisborne, walked a 2 day hike at Lake Waikaremoana, and spent a day in Napier (it's super boring and I actually have reliable wifi, hence I'm finally updating the blog). Tomorrow I'm heading to Wellington for 4ish nights and then to the South Island to find work. Probably vineyard pruning in Blenheim. More on my road trip and finding work next time.

Posted by klorenzooo 23:34 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

My First Car/First Time Couchsurfing! (Sorry Mom/Aunty...)

Mount Maunganui, Auckland, and my road trip through the Coromandel peninsula


View Kristian Round the World on klorenzooo's travel map.

Before I get started, a quick blog update. I added a map at the top of the page. This will be on every blog entry from now on. For those who enjoy looking at maps as much as I do, you can now physically look at where I've been. Enjoy.

On to business. Last time I told you guys I would be based in Mt. Maunganui for a few months working the kiwifruit season. Turns out the fruit wasn't cooperating, something about the sugar levels not being right. I had about a month of time to kill, so, here we go!

Mt. Maunganui is a holiday beach town located in the Bay of Plenty region of NZ. There isn't much except cafe's, restaurants, and obviously, a lot of nice beaches. There are a number of nice walks to do in the area. You can summit the Mount, walk around it, walk along the beach on either side of town, or even stroll onto an island or two while you're at it.

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One of a million beach access points. The beach stretches on for ages. It feels like there's an access point every 10 meters.

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My view sitting on a bench snacking while walking around the Mount.

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Took a couple shots enjoying the sunset behind the Mount on the boardwalk.

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Awesome view from the top of the Mount.

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You can see here how thin the town is, flanked by water on both sides.

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Went for a swim on the beach with two couchsurfers I met. Efrain, the Mexican who finally received his NZ citizenship a few days before I met him (he likes to call himself a Mexiwi, ie Mexican + Kiwi), and Stephanie, a Swiss who loves wine and chocolate (surprise...?).

Before I continue, let me introduce couchsurfing for those who are unfamiliar. Couchsurfing is a hospitality exchange and social networking site. Travelers can use it find people with similar plans and maybe get a group together to meet up. They can also find locals who host guests, or if not, are often available to meet up and show people around their hometown. When I tell people back home about it their reaction is always to fear for my safety. "How can you trust a stranger? They might stab you in your sleep!" etc etc. Well, couchsurfing has a function where you can leave references for people you've interacted with. Kind of like how you can leave reviews on yelp or tripadvisor to name a few examples. It's pretty easy to tell when a business sucks by reading online reviews. Same idea, just with people. And if someone has no references? You can read their profile to get an idea of what they're like. If that still makes you uncomfortable, don't stay with a host without references.

I met Stephanie through couchsurfing when she posted a discussion asking for a ride from Auckland to Tauranga. I didn't have a ride for her, but I said if she's available at all, we should meet up (Tauranga and Mount Maunganui are right next to each other). Efrain ended up being Stephanie's couchsurfing host, which is how I met him. And all of us are still alive. See guys? Couchsurfing is safe, I promise.

After a week in Mt. Maunganui I headed back north to Auckland for three days because I thought I would travel through the Northland region. I didn't, but more on that in a bit.

I met two more couchsurfers in Auckland, again by a discussion thread posted online. Travelers looking to share their travels with other travelers.

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Meet Eva, a German who hates beer (yeah you read that right) and Sebastian, a German who (somewhat less surprisingly) loves beer.

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Cool tree from Albert Park. Eva and I walked around the park and grabbed lunch while Sebastian was busy getting told by 10 different hostels that they were fully booked. What a day.

We spent our first day walking around the harbor and downtown, as well as getting told "sorry, we're fully booked," by every single car rental agency in the entire city. Jucy Rentals was the most entertaining. They told us they had one car remaining, and then after discussing among ourselves for a whopping 30 seconds, we told them we'd like to book the car, to which they said "sorry, we're fully booked." Um, go f*ck yourself Jucy. But anyway, despite the opinion of literally every single traveler I've met so far, Auckland isn't that bad.

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My favorite part of the city is actually this free book exchange in a shipping container by the harbor. I'm not trying to say that Auckland sucks, I just really love to read. The books in there were so so, but I love the idea of this place.

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After all that fully booked nonsense we sat by the harbor and just enjoyed the views.

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A giant rainbow appeared over the harbor.

The next day we went to Waiheke Island, about 35 minutes east of Auckland by ferry. The island has loads of nice beaches, some nice walking tracks, and a ton of wineries.

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Onetangi Bay.

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Someone's incredibly long driveway... that we walked up even though it was private property. Oops.

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Rocky Bay. Lovely right? We just sat there skipping rocks for an hour enjoying ourselves. Some old dude on the bus tried to convince us for a solid 15 minutes that Rocky Bay is the ugliest thing you've ever seen. I'm not entirely sure we even went to the same bay. He's either blind or a bitter old man.

Remember how I said that I thought I would travel to Northland but didn't? Well, the beauty of solo travel is that you get to do whatever you want. My plans have changed dozens of times in the span of an hour. It's quite thrilling. Instead of taking the bus to Northland, I took the ferry over to the Coromandel peninsula to meet Stephanie, the couchsurfer I met in Mount Maunganui. Turns out we got along so well we spontaneously decided to buy a car and road trip through the Coromandel together.

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Meet Millie, my 1991 Toyota Corsa.

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A quick swim in one of a thousand different bays. I can't even tell you which one this is because we went to so many.

After meeting in Coromandel town we drove north and stayed at the Papa Aroha campsite in Amodeo Bay.

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Amodeo Bay sunset.

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Stephanie, beer, and sunset.

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Opened the tent in the morning to be greeted by the ocean.

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Good morning, Coromandel.

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I know what you're thinking. That tent is way too small to fit two people. Well you're right, it was quite cramped. Thankfully when I'm tired, which I always seem to by while traveling, I sleep like a dead person laid to rest in their coffin, motionless with my arms crossed over my chest. Ask my siblings, they've taken tons of pictures of me doing that.

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What a way to wake up.

The next day we continued north, this time to Port Jackson. The farther north you travel in the Coromandel, the more deserted it gets. After a certain point, every beach you go on is a private beach. Go on any walking trail. All you'll hear is the sound of waves crashing ashore, leaves rustling in the wind, and depending on what trail, the overpowering sound of cicadas singing. It's pretty wild. If you don't want to see another soul for a week, you don't have to.

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Fantail Bay. A quick rest stop to admire the views.

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Hills around Port Jackson campsite.

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Private beach!

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Sunset at Port Jackson campsite.

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Sunrise at Pork Jackson campsite. I am never going to get tired of New Zealand sunrises and sunsets.

Third day of our road trip we were supposed to drive 5 minutes north to Fletcher bay to do the Coromandel Coastal Walkway. A stunning 10 km (one way) coastal hike across the wildest part of the Coromandel. Unfortunately, the road was flooded out, so we had to drive 2 hours all the way around to the other end of the track at Stony Bay. (It actually took us 3 hours because we got distracted by an awesome cafe in Colville, a hippie town of alternative lifestylers.)

Here are some pictures of the walkway. For my California readers, it kind of reminds me of California's rugged coast. Think Big Sur/Point Reyes, but throw in tropical trees.
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We didn't get back from the hike until near sunset, so we camped at Stony Bay.

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Another morning tent view.

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Our next door neighbors.

The last part of the road trip we went to Coromandel's east coast. Haihe beach and Cathedral cove. You're supposed to go in the morning or evening for nice photos without other tourists. We were supposed to go in the morning, but... sleep is nice too? And besides, it's too cold to swim in the morning. Maybe I didn't get any awesome photos, but I got an awesomely refreshing midday swim out of it.

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And now we're at the part of the trip where I actually couchsurfed. From the east coast we drove back across to Thames, on the west coast of Coromandel. Stephanie and I stayed with a lovely family of three. There was Carmel, a lady with MS, her elderly parents, Mary, who has cancer, and Bill, who has some sort of dietary issues going on. The joke was that they're a disabled household. Stephanie and I helped them out with their garden, and in exchange we got a place to sleep and awesome food. Every night we had wine, chocolate and had engaging discussions from topics ranging from climate change, politics (everybody loves to talk to the only American in a thousand mile radius about Donald Trump) and advances in science to Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. I really enjoyed my time with them, and might even have a green thumb now from helping out in the garden. Working outside is already extremely satisfying, and being able to help out their sweet family with things they weren't physically able to do on their own made it all the more rewarding. Sadly I don't have any pictures with them. Let's just say we were too busy enjoying their company to think about it.

Travel is beautiful. People are so open and trusting. I bought a car, went on a road trip and camped in a tiny tent with a Swiss lady I'd known for a whole five days. A family opened up their home to two strangers. And that whole camping thing wouldn't have even happened without a British girl I met named Stacy, who let me borrow her tent for two weeks without even knowing if I'd come back.

Posted by klorenzooo 19:52 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand Highlights So Far


View Kristian Round the World on klorenzooo's travel map.

Now it's time to actually tell you guys what I've been up to since I arrived in New Zealand. I won't go day by day, but I'll give highlights and some amusing tidbits.

After the first couple days in Auckland sorting paperwork and getting over jet lag I took off south towards Raglan, a small surf town on the west coast. There isn't much to it. Some dramatic coastline and nice beaches, it's really all about surfing. I didn't try here, but I will learn soon. More on that later.

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My first NZ friend =D. If you're reading this, I'll get you that steak we talked about next time lol.

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Sunset at inspiration point, a short walk from my Raglan hostel.

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Inspiration point, a little bit after sunset.

Next I headed to the Waitomo glowworm caves. The tour I went on wasn't all that. Just a short walk with some information about glowworms. I was amused to learn, however, that the glowworms don't have any physical holes to excrete. So the way they poop is by glowing, something like 97% light and 3% heat if I remember correctly. And the best part? If you make loud noises they glow brighter, essentially crapping themselves. I don't have any pictures since the iPhone camera doesn't work well in that sort of lighting, but it's quite mesmerizing being in a pitch black cave looking up at a ceiling of glowing dots. Even if it is all poop. Almost feels like looking up at the night sky without any light pollution.

HOBBITON. I wouldn't call it my favorite stop, but it was definitely my most anticipated stop. I've been wanting to go since it became a permanent attraction. I've seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy probably over 35 times, and can practically act out every scene as a one man show. Just don't ask me to. I freaking love LOTR. And for those of you who haven't seen it yet, let me know so that I can immediately cease to be your friend. Because you suck.

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Bilbo's party assembling by the party tree!

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Nerding out so hard I can't keep it together.

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Sitting by the fire in the Green Dragon. They have four drinks. A stout, an ale, a cider, and I don't remember the other. The stout is quite nice, and the cider is super refreshing, which was great since we went on such a hot day.

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View crossing the bridge to the Green Dragon.

My favorite part of my time here so far has got to be my trip around the North Island's East Cape. I was on a small tour bus, maybe 16ish people, so it was really nice to meet people and get to know everyone. All the other buses I've been on seat 40+ people, which makes it a lot harder.

First stop on the East Cape was the small town of Gisborne, the first place in the world to see the sunrise. We arrived in the evening and had $5 pizza on the beach while enjoying the sunset. We had a bonfire too, but I was super tired and tapped out before the fire even started.

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A short walk along the bay with some dramatic

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Felt very peaceful sitting and enjoying the water, watching people fish.

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The first sunrise in the world.

Next day we headed to Tokomaru Bay, but first we made a stop at Tolaga Bay Wharf, the longest in New Zealand at 660 meters.

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Super long.

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Very sweet couple I met earlier on the trip sitting at the edge of the pier.

Once we got to Tokomaru Bay, I went on a short (unmarked) hike up through the hills overlooking the bay.

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Epic views.

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Some of my East Bros who I ran into while hiking.

Last stop on the East Cape was Maraehako Bay. We walked to a macadamia nut farm to eat their specialty ice cream before going on a short waterfall hike. Some of the others went kayaking and cray fishing.

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Same pic as before. Impromptu swim in the waterfall.

Overall the East Cape was just a bunch of chill beach towns. It's supposedly rich in Maori culture as well, but for whatever reason I didn't get exposed to it much. The people I met, rather than the places I saw, are the reason the East Cape has been my favorite so far.

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Thanks guys!

Lake Aniwhenua. Here I had my first hangi, a traditional method of cooking used by the Maori. They would heat stones in a fire and then bury the food in a pit and cook it using the heated stones. The food was delicious, so delicious that I forgot to take any pictures of it. You'll just have to trust me. Otherwise the lake itself was very picturesque.

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Taupo is the first place I stayed in for more than a day. I actually stayed for 5 days. It was really nice to settle in for a while, do some laundry, not have to get up super early to pack up my bags, and just slow down and explore.

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Didn't do anything the first day except walk by the lakefront, dip my feet in, and skip some rocks.

The next couple of days I rented a car with a couple of friends to explore and do some hiking around Lake Taupo.

Pictures from the Kinloch to Kawakawa Bay trail. Around 19km/12miles, 4 hour 30 min return.
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Goofing around at the Tongariro River trail.

The next day we went to summit Mt. Urchin, on the south side of Lake Taupo. The views were spectacular.

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Almost to the top!

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What do you see first? Epic views or distractingly bright shirt?

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Tobi being swole. Pauline approves.

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Another group selfie.

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They've had enough of the view apparently.

The last day all my friends left ='( so I had a lazy day. All I did is walk by the lakefront and sit on a lot of benches. Here's two for your viewing pleasure.
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I stayed one night at Whakahoro, Blue Duck Station. It was nice, but not actually all that memorable. The reason I'm including it is because of the name. In Maori, 'wh' makes the 'f' sound. Maybe I'm not pronouncing it entirely right, but it really sounds like "fuck a whore oh." Too good. I had a great time sitting next to an older Chinese woman talking about the pronunciation. She loved it too. Most people stay for two nights. The first night ends up being a party, the second a free day to explore, ride horses, kayak, take a walk, or just relax. I only stayed for one night, so all I managed to accomplish is to eat some goat and get about 30 sandfly bites on my feet and legs. Just in time to do one of the greatest one day walks in the world, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

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The firepit where my goat was cooked.

Tongariro National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site with dual status, meaning it is recognized for both its natural as well as cultural significance. As such, I was looking forward to completing the crossing for a long time. So much so that I even did the crossing twice.

Pictures from my first crossing:
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View from the start of the track.

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The terrain changes before your eyes.

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View of Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom). So ominous. So doomy.

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And suddenly you're walking through volcanic terrain.

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People took the time to write messages in the dirt with rocks.

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Awesome views, this time without the distracting shirt.

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So many pictures of Mt. Doom.

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Waited so long for these two I almost ate everything in my bag. A nice place to slow down and enjoy the views, though.

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Beast mode.

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U mad bro? Sitting on the summit of Mt. Tongariro enjoying lunch, views, and some rbf haha.

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Descending to the Emerald Lakes. The colors in this place are incredible.

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On the last descent now. Almost done.

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The view looking back towards the crossing. The immense scale of what you walk through is difficult to fathom.

The first time through I summited Mt. Tongariro. I came back a second time to summit Mt. Doom. I didn't have enough time to do both in one go and still make my shuttle. So... why not? It's an awesome hike anyway. I could do it every day for the rest of my life and never get bored.

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The start of the turn off for Mt. Doom. How comforting.

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Definitely the safest part of the ascent.

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Pretty much the only place on the ascent where I felt safe enough to take my phone out and snap a pic. A lot of the ascent is so steep you need to use your hands to climb as well. I wouldn't call it full on rock climbing. But it's definitely not just hiking either. The proper term would be scrambling.

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My new hiking buddies from California coming over the final crest. The only two people in the entire world not from my hometown who have ever heard of it.

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Meandering along the ridge of Mt. DOOM.

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And of course the crater. Everybody toss your rings in now.

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Epic view from the summit looking out towards South Crater and Mt. Tongariro.

No pictures of the descent. That was even more dangerous. The path down involves running straight down scree for 30-45 minutes. The clouds rolled in and visibility was almost nothing, so the problem was that when people paused to take breaks in the middle of the path (why guys? c'mon move to the side) you couldn't see them until you were about to run them over. Also, when people above you call out to warn you about falling rocks, you couldn't see anything, so nobody knew where the rocks were coming from. You just had to pray that rocks didn't smash you in the face. I'm honestly not even sure why people are allowed to climb this mountain without hardhats. But that's another conversation. It would've been a little better without the clouds, but even then, I'm not sure anyone descending had the energy to dodge falling rocks.

That's the end of what I've done so far. Tomorrow I'm leaving National Park to head towards Tauranga and Mt. Maunganui to look for seasonal work. For my readers just joining us, I'm on a working holiday visa, so that prevents me from finding any long term work. I can only work for any one employer for 3 months maximum. And people don't really want to hire you long term anyway since they know you're basically a transient backpacker. So seasonal work in Tauranga and Mt. Mauganui will probably be related to picking/packing kiwifruit, since the kiwifruit season is about to start. I'll probably be based there for a couple of months. It will be nice to not be on the move for a bit.

One tidbit unrelated to any actual activities/sightseeing. Traveling like this, it's fun getting to meet tons of new people, all with their own stories. There's plenty of interesting, inspiring, sweet, genuine people everywhere you look. When you're traveling solo, nobody has any preconceived notions about who you are, because nobody has ever met you before. You're free to be whoever you want to be. Friends at home, I'm not saying I'm super fake around all of you lol. My point is that people are so open minded on the road. Nobody is judging anybody. You really get to know people and bond very quickly. It's awesome. But what's a little tiring is constantly saying bye to people you've really come to enjoy. I'm getting used to it now, but it isn't exactly fun. One of my friends put it nicely though, changed my perspective for the better. He said something along the lines of "for every person that exits, someone new enters." So deep bro. Good job haha. It's just part of the experience I suppose. I'll try to look at it as an opportunity to meet even more awesome people.

Posted by klorenzooo 21:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

I'm Alive!

My first few weeks on the road.


View Kristian Round the World on klorenzooo's travel map.

So… it’s been over a month since I left home already. Time has flown by, but at the same time I somehow feel like I’ve been traveling for ages. Living out of a 45L bag takes some getting used to, but even so, the road kind of feels like home now. It’s been an awesome whirlwind of emotions and experiences so far, constantly meeting new people and moving from place to place. But time to sit alone, reflect and write (and blog!) has been scarce, so it’s about time I share some of my thoughts with all of you.

In my first post I touched a bit on the topic of fear and how change can be jarring and uncomfortable. “I have to admit that I am a little scared” is what I said about my personal feelings leading up to this trip. Now, there’s an early candidate for understatement of the century if I ever saw one. After a fun few weeks in the Philippines with my family (which I’ll touch on in a bit), I found myself teary-eyed in the Manila airport saying goodbye to my parents and sister. Turns out throwing some crap in a bag and leaving the familiarity, comfort, stability, and safety of home to fly alone to the other side of the world for an indefinite period of time is more than ‘a little’ scary. The flight from Manila to Auckland was a strange mix of excitement and fear that made me sick to my stomach. And there were more tears to be had in my first couple of days in Auckland. Running around doing paperwork (tax, bank, mobile, etc) was not the most effective way to try to calm my nerves.

There’s no rationalizing your way out of fear. I thought about my reasons behind this trip so many times that I convinced myself there was nothing to be scared of. Nope. I could not have been more wrong. The fear was there. In the end I just had to jump in and go for it. I’m only a month in, but I can say with full confidence that this is the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I feel like a completely different person. Empowered is the best word I can think of to describe how I’ve changed. I came to New Zealand alone, scared, and shitting my pants. But I’ve already made awesome friends from all over the world, seen so many beautiful places, gone on awesome hikes, thrown myself out of a plane (again, and not for the last time), and most importantly, my underwear is poop free. I feel like I can do anything.

A quick shout out to all the friends that I’ve made so far. We’ve had some great conversations about our cultural differences. Trading English, German, Dutch, etc words/slang has been a lot of fun. We’ve shared some great meals, a couple beers, some wine, enjoyed stunning views, jumped out of a plane, and a lot more. You’re all awesome, genuine, lovely people. Thank you for everything. These crazy experiences wouldn't have been possible without you guys. I wish you all the best and hope to cross paths with you again. If you’re ever in my corner of the world (wherever that may be) let me know and we can share more of the same.

Some of the highlights:

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15,000 ft jump over Lake Taupo.

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Short hike ending with a spontaneous swim in a super refreshing waterfall.

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FOOD.

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Being goofy.

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Mt. Urchin summit group selfie!

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Road trip!

Now on to some lighter material. Though this is mostly going to be a New Zealand blog, my trip actually started in the Philippines. The Philippines is and will always be my favorite place to travel to. It’s only right that I give it the attention it deserves. There’s so much beauty to see. On this trip to the Philippines we visited Batanes and Palawan.

Batanes is a group of islands in the northern Philippines. They're actually closer to Taiwan than they are to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. Batanes is super picturesque, but it's not really about the pristine beaches people imagine when they think of the Philippines. Its rugged coastline makes for some dramatic scenery.

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Tayid Lighthouse, Mahatao, Batan Island.

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Sunset at Chawa view deck, Mahatao, Batan Island.

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Rolling hills with Mt. Iraya shrounded in clouds behind.

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On January 9th I summited Mt. Iraya. A bit over 3000 feet of climbing. Not the highest I've ever climbed. But definitely one of the harder hikes I've done. The trail is super overgrown (jungle basically), and with the constant rain there's no sure footing. Much of the time you're on all fours literally crawling and climbing by grabbing rock, vine, tree branch, whatever you can find.

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Selfie at Mt. Carmel Chapel.

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Sister at Fundacion Pacita.

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Mom enjoying some traditional Ivataan rain gear (sorry mom I had to).

On the other hand, Palawan, located southwest of Luzon, is exactly what people imagine when they think of the Philippines. Think island hopping to remote, white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, great scuba and snorkeling, wreck diving, and all the seafood you can imagine. Island life at its finest. For this trip we went to Busuanga and Coron Islands, slightly northeast of the main Palawan Island.

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But more importantly, the real reason why the Philippines is my favorite place to travel is because it’s where my family is from. It’s so cool to see my roots and be exposed to Filipino culture, especially since I feel so out of touch with it at home. My biggest regret in life is not speaking/understanding Tagalog. So much of a culture is held in the language, so there’s a huge gap there for me. I will learn in time, but it’s not in the cards at the moment. For now it’s enough to visit every few years with my parents. I still have tons of family in the Philippines too. Hopefully I'll surprise them all by showing up and speaking Tagalog.

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BABIES ARE CUTE

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Grandma with new addition to the family. So adorable!

That's it for now. Next post, I’ll actually talk about some of the things I’ve done in New Zealand.

Posted by klorenzooo 14:59 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

And so it Begins

Long term travel beginning January 2016 with the Philippines and New Zealand

Hi everyone,

I have some exciting news to share with all of you that I’ve been holding in for a long time. For those who don’t already know, I’m going abroad long term at the end of this year! On December 31st I’m flying with my parents and sister to the Philippines. Then on January 18th I’m flying alone from the Philippines to New Zealand for a 12 month working holiday visa. This visa lets me travel around New Zealand for 12 months and work at whatever jobs I can find to supplement my funds. From there I’m not sure where I’m going. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of places I want to go. I don’t have a clear idea of how long I’ll be gone, and it’s impossible to predict how everything will go. I could be gone for only several months. I could be gone for several years. Needless to say, it’s all very up in the air and that might be what excites me the most. The possibilities are endless.

The most common reaction I get when I tell people about my plans relates to fear. Everyone asks me if I’m scared to go somewhere I’ve never been before, scared of going alone, or scared that something bad will happen to me without any family or friends to bail me out. This all boils down to fear of the unknown. Society teaches us to value security. We’re locked in routine, waking up at the same time each morning, going to the same job, eating the same things, sleeping in the same bed. Then we wake up and do the same things again. There is no room for adventure, spontaneity and that child-like sense of wonder. When I graduated college a lot of people I knew went straight to grad school, med school, or a career job. Some of them told me that’s what they did because they didn’t know what else to do, because that’s what they’re supposed to do, because we are taught that the safe choice is the right choice. A while ago I read an article featuring a palliative nurse who comforts the dying. Two of the most common regrets her patients expressed were wishing they hadn’t worked as hard and wishing they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves rather than a life others expected of them. I’m not saying that having a stable job, a big house, a nice car, or any of those things are wrong. But I am saying that you need to be able to differentiate between what you actually want and what you’re told to want. For me right now that means throwing on a backpack and seeing where the wind takes me. It doesn’t have to be that extreme. It could be something as simple as taking a class on the weekends to learn something new, like cooking or playing the guitar, or maybe devoting time to a sport or other activity you’re passionate about.

If you asked me even a week ago I would’ve told you that I’m not scared. But now that I have less than a week left in the states it feels very real. Change, especially big change like this, can be jarring and uncomfortable. I have to admit that I am a little scared, but fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I read a quote once that said “fear is a compass pointing you in the direction you need to grow.” In order to grow we need to seek out new challenges and face our fears. And if we aren’t growing, we’re regressing.

Solo travel is one of the most valuable life experiences in this regard. You will have to get out of your comfort zone and take risks. You will have face challenges alone with nobody there to hold your hand. And through this you will discover just how independent and powerful you really are. Travel is also one of the most important forms of education. Experiencing different cultures and connecting with people you would otherwise never have had the chance to meet opens your eyes and allows you to see the world with a different perspective. It changes the way you relate to others and teaches you that there is no one right way to live. Lastly, though no less valid, travel is adventure. The world is huge and there is so much to see in our limited time here. Why not see all that you can? Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Again, this is not to say that travel is the one and only right way to live, to grow, and to gain new perspective. It’s simply the method that I choose at this moment.

Those are just some of my thoughts about travel, why it’s important, and why I’m doing what I’m doing. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions. I’m not completely sure what this blog will turn into. In the summer I made a blog about my train trip across Canada with my younger sister detailing each city we visited, but that quickly turned into a chore rather than something I found fun. What was fun was writing about some of the interesting and inspiring people that I met along the way. I have a feeling this blog will turn into a mix of the two, interspersed with my own thoughts and feelings about my personal journey. Feel free to follow along if you’re interested, leave comments, suggest places for me to go, etc. You can also follow along on my instagram (KristianRTW) for some of my more interesting photography if pictures speak to you more than words.

Posted by klorenzooo 20:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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