After more than 7 years living and working on all part of the globe I returned one more time to Ireland. As I remembered I left Ireland in November 2007 just before the crises hit the whole economy. On my return I had some old memory’s in mind and was exited what I have to see and how much Ireland has been changed over the years.
For first few month I found a place to work in Waterford the oldest medivel city on south east. To my surprise many historic pubs didn’t exist any more, it was very sad to see there appearance broken windows, overgrown pergolas, no one rely bothered bout this part any more. On other hand Ireland had a big improvement on the road upgrade highways and Airports are stunning on their modernest structure. After my shift I strolled through Waterford and to my surprise it appeared much quieter than many years before, many pubs are open only at weekends, and the pedestrian steed is less crowded than before. Than I got a great opportunity to work in one of the best Castels in Ireland Kilronan Castel, it is hard to believe that that Hotel used to be on the world abandoned list, it is not long time ago it was totally ruined. But in early 2000 Hanly Group took the brave step forward to put an dream into reality. It took many years and many hard working hours to rebuild this Castle to todays prestine glory. The inventory has been carefully selected to decorate very single room from entrance, to lobby even dining room has it own charm. As I walked in on my first time I have been totally stunned what can be done, to rescue such a great building and show the public the beauty of history. Just a short stroll from the Hotel is Lake Mallegh, very easy walk through forest with very old trees to look at. There is a little loop walk in the forest with few stunning look outs and benches to chill out. After such an experience it would be good to have a light snack in the bar, the Afternoon tea is one of the best I have had on all my traveling around the world. I dried bar food and dinner menu too I couldn’t find any fault. In general I could feel the impact of the recession locals are more considered than before what they are doing. In the same way the are still as lively and social then before.
To make a plan is always a good preparation, to get organized for a new adventure. Before I depart New Zealand I planed to ship my BMW back to Europe to get it registered and insured. For the last timer I put bike back in storage at Auckland and moved back to Ireland, where I used to work for 7 years already. To find a job was not that difficult, best of all I could work as a pastry chef in one of Irelands best Castle, what a privilege for me. But it took me some time, even month to settle back in in European work habits they are not as casual than in New Zealand, I struggled a lot over first few month. Every thing was organized to ship bike back to Ireland, I had all papers organized what I need for custom clearance, all I have to do fly back to New Zealand get bike crated up and ship it back to Ireland, shipping quote worked out reasonable too. I scheduled 3 weeks in total what is more than enough time to get bike crated and deregistered. After I booked my flights and hotels I could sit back and relax, I thought so……
All of us didn’t thought about one situation what affected whole global business BREXIT!!!!! I fond out after I arrived at Auckland. We couldn’t make a final quote, or even estimate how long bike is on the way and if there more delays in Europe or not.
At the end I decided leave bike in NZ for an other few month until whole situation is more settled. Than I traveled independently visited Macau, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Germany it is some time that I have been back home for many years, it was good to see parents after many years too.I start planning for my next adventure already, to get bike back to Europe
This is my 2ndparty of my Chatham Island experience, I spend at eh end 8 month on this remote and very isolated Island. I still remember the time I arrived and had no mobile reception, any where on the island still on my last day I really enjoyed that, no ringing phones; anywhere. The only internet what was a available was in the Hotel and in our accomodation, I felt set back to the time I grow up, had to play in the garden with my friends without any mobile phone. Over that 8 month I saw a lot from spring, to summer and to fast arriving autumn. Spring and summer was very warm and we have had nearly no rain but every day sunshine and a good breeze from the sea. Autumn arrived very quickly, over night temperature dropped to a chilly 9C in the morning, and the sun rise and sunset where absolute ameizing, not to forget the night sky, after I took many photos already I got up one night at 3.00 am to take some photos of the stars again, on that night I took some rare pictures of an Aurora Australis. The prices in the hotel are not much more expensive than on the mainland, despite all goods have to get to the island, transport of the goods is not cheap, despite price is adequate. And the quality of the food get served is up the standard to mainland, in the presentation and taste is the pride of the chef anchored and presented. As it is in remote places sometimes your first juice of food is not available, for days or sometimes for weeks, because storage is limited and ship with all goods is no the way but due to weather condition delayed. No local is very upset about that, everyone know that situation even each household.Every one on the Island received on the same day all goods delivered by ship or plain. On my days off I did a lot of hiking along the beach, or went to Henna Park, saw many more hidden treasures beside the road many of them needed special permission by the landowner to see, usually there is no problem to get land access.
Wildlife is very active everywhere. Wekas, Chatham Island pigeon fantail, and hedge hook are only a few to name. Surprisingly there are no rabbits on the whole island.
After a big storm we experienced a very sad occurrence 27 whales had been washed up at the beach not very far from my accomodation, all of them died a short time after they had been washed on shore. The best time to visit Chathams is from December to late March, days are long and warm with less rain fall during this period. My personal joyce is Hotel Chathams situated in the most iconic location beside beach. Mountains around the hotel protect the Hotel from sometimes gale force winds which arriving from the sea. In the morning all customer can see the stunning sunrise by breakfast. Well worth it is to join daily organised tours by the hotel, the tour guides has special permission by land owner to visit, what individuals usually don’t have or get. Even to listen to the talkative tour guide about history and glorious ancient times is a good benefit on top of the experience.
Finally I did travel whole New Zealand, covered more than 75000 kms most of them I traveled on South Island. There is still one area which I didn’t explore and that is northland, upper part of New Zealand. For last 8 month I had my bike in storage as long I have been on Chatham Island for my summer job. Bike soon for the whole time, had no wolf and insurance, first thing to do get the bike legal back on the road, I was not sure if my bike fire up right away, after 8 month standing in storage expected to charge battery first, but any way I give try before taking battery out to recharge, what a surprise bike fired up without trouble. Wof (warrant of fitness) took 5 minutes and I got my sticker that bike is save to ride.
On my first day t traveled to sheep island a nature reserve which is controlled by Auckland council. Don’t get surprised by the first impression it look more than high security track than a reserve. It is worth to stay there for a few days, because one of the endangered birds living there the Takahe they are a bit bigger than Pukeko. Later that day the ranger showed up and informed all camper that whole northland expect a severe weather warning with more than 200mml rain over night, some camper moved on other stayed, I stayed. Rain was hammering over night on my tent, with ear plugs I couldn’t hear much and have had a good sleep. Next morning the whole camp looked like a paddle of water barley any “try” pitch, except where I put up my tent. I stayed for two nights until weather cleared up. My next stop is Otamure bay a DOC camp ground by my check in the lady want sell me a bin bag for $5 which is apparently compulsory the bag was that big that could store my whole belongings on the bike, however I asked her if she is serious about the dice of the rubbishy bag, and for 1 apple would be the rubbishy bag a bit to big, if she could provide a bag which is more suitable for an apple, I was not sure if she felt offended or not but she took the rubbishy bag back and didn’t charge me $5 for it.
On the way up north is an historic Kauri Gum field, Gumdiggers Park on Heath Rd. The park is well presented with many old relic displayed how kauri gum has been digged out.
My next stop was Rarawa Beach, it has easy access to the beach good sand to ride on. Just beside the beach is one DOC camp which is nice to spend the night. Following day I rode to Spirits Bay, this was the most beautiful camp spot so far on the north island, surrounded by native bush land and the roaring Pacific Ocean, I stayed for 2 night. This was the first time that it got close to 0C in the morning, and mist covered the whole valley which looked mysterious by the rising sun. As soon sun came through temperature climbed very quickly, by 10 the tent was dried up and ready to pack away. From this camp it was just a short drive to Cape Reinga, usually there are millions of tourists around, that day the northest point was very quiet, what is unusual. I study the tide for 90 mile beach and I was unlucky low tide was by 3.00 pm it was 10.30 am as so many times I hade to adjust my plan not taking the first road to 90 mile beach due the high tide, but visited the biggest sand dunes in New Zealand, from there I took an other back road to Utea Park, even a good place to spend the night just beside 90 mile beach. From there is one more access road to the beach. Now the time was right, the tide was low and I had the chance to ride down the well known 90 mile beach. To be absolute frank the beach is better to ride the some roads in Nz not a single pothole. I felt a bit bored at the end.
The Chatham Island is in the Pacific Ocean located, 800 km east of South Island New Zealand. It counts in total 10 Islands in a 40km radius, the main Island is Chatham Island it is the biggest island with around 600 citizens, Pitt Island is the 2nd largest island with around 30 inhabitants’. There is one company which operate between New Zealand and Chatham Island, Air Chathams. On the island is one Hotel which has the roots back to 1860 and operates still today on the same location in front of the beautiful protected harbour in Waitangi.
My first impression of the island was that it is much bigger than I imagined, from all the roads are only 10km sealed all other roads are gravel and dust roads. All bulky goods such as cars, oven, big alcohol order, petrol and any kind of building material get delivered for private or commercial use on a cargo vessel to Chatham Island, smaller goods and mail arriving via air plain. It is al ways an exiting day when a cargo ship arrive to the island. It is even so possible that for month no ship arrives during winter month due weather condition.
Chatham Island has a history which is for many outsiders unknown it changed many times nationality first European arrived in 1791 on the ship HMS Chatham whose captain was William R. Broughton and claimed possession for Great Briton, Pitt Island was discovered after Chatham Island.
Movarian Missionary’s arrived in the year1843, those German missionaries made no converts but had a significant input into the lifestyle. They introduced potato which have been exported to New Zealand, Boysenberry and all kind of farming, sheep and cattle have been introduced too. Some how no rabbits, the island is rabbit free still today. the Original Stone Cottage from missionary was build in 1860 and is still open for public towaday, and Helen the owner live in that house with no electricity like the decades ago. I met Helen on my visit she is a lovely lady and like to talk about the past as she grow up, there is a lot to listen too.
Lifestyle is more described as chilled and relaxing, few times of the year locals have their social events as Horse racing, Chatham Island Jockey Club is one of the oldest clubs in whole New Zealand, fishing competition, rugby matches for local teams only, and food festivals are held during the year.
Even so hunting for pig, boar swan is a very popular time. WEKA is not protected on the island it can get eaten, but if a weka want get taken to mainland a permit is needed.
Chatham Blue Cod is world famous and gray fish too both are for export, Kina, Pipi, Mutton Bird, Hakupa is widely eaten as well, and not to forget Paua, it is cooked in all kind of variation, as paua burger, curried, minced, as salad or even Paua Polognese or Lasagne is available.
Macquarie Island is one of the Subarctic Island, which is located in the Southern Ocean, just half way between New Zealand and Antarctica. Macca is the nickname of Macquarie Island and is a nature Reserve managed by the Tasman Parks and Wildlife Service. The Island and surrounding waters are protected in a radius of 12 nautical miles. The geoconversation is significant. The land under water, and all fauna and flora including fish and marine plants are fully protected.
Frederick Hasselbough discovered the island accidently on 11 July 1810. As he was looking for new sealing grounds, the island was uninhabited, and claimed the Island for Briton. Hasselborough reported a wreck of ancient design, which has given the speculation that Polynesian or others have visited the island before.
The Island is about 34 km long and 5km wide, with an area of 128 km sq. Near Macquarie Island are two smaller islands. The islands highest point is MT Elder on the northeast ridge 385 m, and Mt Hamilton and Fletcher in the South at 410m.
Macquarie Island is rich on wildlife include subarctic fur seals, Antarctic fur seals, New Zealand fur seals, and southern elephant seals, more than 60 000 individuals are known. Royal penguins, Macquarie Shags, king penguins, southern rock hopper penguins and gentaoo penguins breed in large numbers on the island. Since 1948 the Australian Antarctic Division has maintained a permanent base, the Macquarie Island Station, on the northern end of the island at the foot at Wireless Hill. The population of the base varies from 20 to 40 people over the year.
Tourism has a very small impact on the Island, not more than 250 to 400 visitors are visiting the Island over the year. The only access is via cruise ships which usually traveling during the summer month into the subarctic to visit Subarctic Islands.
Macquarie island is the last Island before Antarctica, it could get very rough at sea from time to time, and a landing is sometimes not possible due the high swell at the beach side.
Champbell Island is an other Subarctic Island that belong to New Zealand. It covers 112.68 square kilometer and is uninhabited. The Island is mountainous and raising up over 500m to the South. Champbell Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Island was discovered by Captain Frederick Hasselborough. The Island became a seal hunting place, and the seal population was nearly completely eradicated, the first sealing boom was over in mid 1815s, and the second was a short hunt in the 1820s. After the sealing boom, started the whaling boom in 1830s and 40s. Much of the topography is named after people which have been connected in any aspect in the late 1800s
Sheep farming was undertaking in 1896, and a small heard of cattle was abandoned in 1931 of the great depression.
During WW2 a constant watching station was build at Trucker Cove at the north shore. After the war the station was used as a meteorological station until 1958. When New Zealand build a new one at Beeman Cove.
The climate at Champbell Island is maritime. The Island receives only 647 h of sun shine annually, and has a annual rainfall of 1.329 mm.
Marine mammals have shown good recovery after all pests have been eradicated. Sea lions and southern elephant seals have begun to re-colonize the island.in the winter month some southern right wales visiting North west Bay and Presverance Harbour. Yellow Eyed Penguins living in the island as well.
Snares Island also known as the Snares, is a small island 200km south of Invercargill, the snares have a land area of 3.5km Square. The island has been first sighted by European on 23 November 1791 by the Captain George Vancouver and LieutenantWilliam R. Broughton, both of the Vancouver Expedition, and called the island as the Snares they believed that the island is a shipping hazard. Unless other sub arctic islands that where affected by whaling and sealing in the late 19th the Snares remain one of the pristine islands of New Zealand.
The Island is uninhibited. The Island has the privilege that is highly protected, and get monitored by DOC. Visitors are not allowed to visit, from time to time research monitor the impact of the wild life, special permit must be asked for.
The Snares are home to the Snares Penguin, Seal Lion and Buller Albatross.
All the Snares Islands are bordered by high cliffs expect to few eastern parts. Climate is mostly influenced by weather constellation, which moving in from Australia or Arctic, weather can change rapidity.
The Snares are part of the New Zealand sub arctic Islands and are protected by UNESCO and have a world heritage status.
For the last 1.5 years I was planning a motorbike tour to Asia. I looked into a transport option from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur for my BMW Sertao bike. My flight was booked from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur. Early March. If I would be able to do my original plan I would ride my bike after I finished my summer season with Real Journeys to Auckland. At the end I had to change my plan due problems which could not be solved by BMW in New Zealand. Since I have bought the bike I experience problems with stalling. After many service arrangements in Christchurch, Dunedin, and Queenstown I decided not going on the bike on holiday.
I started make last minute changes and booked a flight from Queenstown to Auckland, and continued with my first booked flight to Kuala Lumpur. As soon I passed the customs I looked for a transport option to Kl, there are 2 Taxi operators one of them is a metered Taxi and charge peer Taxi meter; the other one is a fixed price, I juice fixed price option and paid 71 Ringgit to my accommodation. Be aware if your flight leave early in the morning the Taxi charge a surcharge of 50% of regular price between midnight and 6.00 am, the ride from my Hotel to airport cost me 150 Ringgit at the end.
Check in by Air Asia was easy, my flight to Guilin was on time. Guillin experienced a very heavy rainfall over last 2 days, and the humidity was very high. The immigration officer didn’t ask any question about my visit, checked my visas and return ticket that was everything, entering China was very easy. English is not widely spoken in public places. Before I left Malaysia I took a screen shoot of the Hotel name and saved it on my I-phone. It took some negotiation about the fee from Guilin Airport to Rosewood Hotel in Yangshou, Taxi driver want RMB 500 for the transport, what was to much, at the end I paid RMB 400, which seems still very expensive. We used the highway passed many small villages to the right and to the left, all of them where imbedded in between beautiful mountainous landscapes with rice fields and farmland around. Due the heavy rain the highway was covered in water sometimes it seemed like a river, the car was sometimes unstable on the road. After we used the highway the Taxi driver took a side road, which was not sealed, had many potholes and more water on the surface. At this time I have had no idea what direction the taxi was taking, houses got less and less. After 40 more minutes we reached Yangzhou. The rain was still pouring down and I showed the Taxi driver the Hotels address once more, he stopped beside a Hotel which didn’t look like Rosewood Hotel at all, my driver took a second look and rove down the road to an other Hotel which didn’t look Rosewood again, he “called” the Hotel and reversed the Taxi, than stopped in the same road, hotel here, took my bag out of the boot of the taxi and the taxi dissapierd. I was happy that I reached the hotel. As I checked in, no one spoke English oops I thought something is wrong. However we called the Hotel I have booked, the direction I had to take was very easy go to the petrol station opposite the hotel and turn right go to the next round about and turn left, by the bridge turn right again. I started walking in the warm summer rain up the road, kept walking and walking, endless long roads, in the pouring rain. Last time I have been soaked that much it was in Milford Sound the only difference this time was that I have been asked every few meter if I need an umbrella, if I would have one it wouldn’t make a difference, by now, because I have been drenched already. But I couldn’t find the 2nd bridge, where I have turn right, as wet I was I went into a Hotel I passed and asked the receptionist, usually in every Hotel, Bank or Post office is one person who is speaking English, not to worry if you get lost, we called my Hotel once more, one of the office staff had to walk from Rosewood Hotel to the Hotel I was stranded, to pick me up. I couldn’t believe I have been so close to Rosewood Hotel already; it took us only 3 minutes walking.
I received a very warm welcome in the Hotel, with one glass of warm water and a towel. The Hotel is on the main street, at night time all social live is around, bars restaurant KTV are just beside, West Street is absolute boozing full of party hungry people, party time is until early morning. In many bars is live music, and karaoke. In the early morning hours is not much happen, break fast is taken in one of the restaurants, it doesn’t take long until first Tour Guides get in contact and dry to sell tours on a Tuk Tuk, motorbike, or bicycle. Few of guides where approaching me, at the end I booked a motorbike tour with Peter a local from Yangshuo. Following morning he picked me up in the Hotel, after a short walk we picked up our motorbikes. And left City and went into the country side, we passed many rice fields and went further down to the Li River, stopped by one of the old villages, after a short break we took off, the further we went the better it got, one other highlight was to stop at a melon plantation, one of the farmer came along with fresh harvested melons, without pealing skin off I took a big bite into the melon, the sweetness was awesome, even today I can remember the taste of it. Thanks my guide we took many beaten tracks through the farmland, many rice fields, and more plantations. Out of nowhere came a big black snake moving over the path. Now we where in snake territory!!! We continued out tour and had one more stop by moon rock. The whole tour took us at the end 6h. But 6 hours is not enough time to see all the fascinating country, I found out that would be a nice place to stay for a while, my time was limited this time. After I went back to my accommodation I got changed and get ready for nightlife, nightlife does not disappoint at all in Yangshuo. In general it is not easy to find a chines cooking class Omeida Academy offers different classes in cooking, I booked a 3 day intense cooking class. Classroom where located in an old farm house in the country side around 15 mins drive out of Yangshuo.
This time I took the public bus from Yangshuo to Guilin International Airport, to get my flight to Kunming in Yunnan Province. My taxi was waiting already in Kunming it took me 1.5h to get to my accommodation. I found a very cozy Hostel with very good references on Trip Advisor. It is called Lost Garden Guesthouse all staff is fluent in English and dressed in traditional costumes. The check in, was very relaxed and took its time. The rooms are very comfortable, and very quiet at nighttime. To my surprise the menu is very European, fancy salads, different kind of Pizzas, and pasta was on offer, at first I was suspicious about the food option, but I Joyce to eat in today and ordered a vegetarian pizza, pizza dough was home made a perfect cooked tomato sauce and a topping which best ingredients. There was no difference to an Italian Restaurant in Italy from taste flavor and presentation; the only difference to Europe was that no European chef was in the kitchen. I rate the food the most authentic Italian food outside Italy. Yuantong Temple is a 10 mins walk away from the Guesthouse and dated back more than 1200 years grandest and most important Buddhist Temple in Yunnan province, the temple closes at 5.00 pm. Next street down to the Temple is Kunming Zoo located. Dynamic Yunnan is an international awarded winning musical. Bird and flower market is on old street and is open until late, very good for souvenirs to buy.
Kunming is nearly 2000m above sea level, in summer month temperatures are moderate, not to hot.
After I visited Kunming for a week, there was still a week left before my departure back to Kuala Lumpur. For the whole holiday I have had a gut feeling that I need go back to Haikou for a visit, and to catch up with my friends. Usually air tickets are very expensive from any airport in China to Haikou. The only day I was able to fly to Haikou and back to Kunming was on sale, 70% off the regular price. I finalized my booking. One day before departure I received a message from my friend that Hainan got hit by a typhoon and the airport was closed for the whole day. My thought, went crazy, not again a cancelation of my flight, because I canceled my visit already for 2 times. The day my flight was booked I took a taxi to the Airport, at first there was a delay on the departure board. After some time passed by the delay changed to go to boarding gate.
I booked the same Hotel where I did stay 2 years ago. Nothing has changed, at Sheraton Haikou Resort Check in was fast, my room had sea view this time. A very welcoming place is always the sea breeze bar.
Haikou is one of the most beautiful city’s of china, with a no air pollution; its living cost is even very affordable.
Auckland Island is the biggest subarctic island, which belong to New Zealand, and is 465 km southeast from Bluff peninsula. With a combined area of 625sq km, the Island is uninhabited by humans, there is a wide variation of wild life all over the island, yellow eyed penguins, albatross, elephant seals and the nearly extinguished snipe enjoy the idyllic isolation on the island.
On the Island are 2 hikes, both of them start close to the landing site by research station, from there on; for the first few meter you need to pass sea lion colony, usually the seal are very relaxed and sleep. One of the walk is a 3 hour return broad-walk very easy to do, which winds up to a higher altitude, you pass wetlands, small forest and rata trees. Yellow eyed penguin’s nest very close to the broad-walk, and are not shy by passing tourists as long they keep a safety distance of a few meter. All the way long the scenery change, to take a look back to the harbour is magnificent. At the far end is a small rest area, which invite you for a while to stay and have a snack. From that point the second longer walk turn off, and it takes around 5 to 6 hours back to the starting point.
The walk follow the cliff line, and pass many different fauna and landscapes. Albatross nests in December and early January, Elephant Seals are playing on higher altitude in the fields. As we took our lunch break one of the seals came very close to check out what is happening in his isolated area, it was a great experience to see the seal that close, not more than a back pack in between us, the seal was nearly the same high than me as he stood up on his flippers. But soon he lost his interest and he turned around and disappeared in the high grass. We continued our walk close to the cliff the view from there is overwhelming, the look down to the roaring sea open a variety of rugged rocks and dancing sea weed in the water, the swell was very thundering as soon it hit the cliff and the waves look like he explode in all directions with thundering noise. We took a rest in the sun in an open area it must be the location where the Derry Castel sunk in 1887, a monument remind to that tragedy that time. Soon we continued our walk through high flex and toi toi, on that part was no marker just we knew that we need to keep left and leave the forest on the right; it took some time to walk through that area. But we needed to turn back few times and look for a new track, all the tracks are made by seals and penguins, and going in all directions.
Penguin and seals are nesting in the overgrown area, if you get to close both animals make some noise, as a warning before you get to close.
After we walked through the flex we passed an open area from there we could see already where we need to go, we passed a beach, walked through an forest I never seen before.
Our last few meter back to the starting point where the most exiting for me, we need to pass an elephant seal colony.