New Zealand I: Before The Departure
New Zealand (hereafter NZ, Aotearoa in Maori) is an island state in the southwest Pacific Ocean and it consists of two large islands (North and South) and many other smaller islands (the largest of which is Stewart Island to the south of the South Island). NZ is a relatively young country, both in terms of geography and in terms of settlement. Mainland, as we see it today on a map, the old less than 10 000 years. Because NZ is located at the intersection of Pacific and Australian-Indian lithosphere, it is a very active area in terms of earthquake and volcanic activity. Therefore, the land shaping continues till today, and a very fast pace.
The first settlers on New Zealand were Maori Polynesian ancestors of today. A question without answer remains, where and when exactly were inhabited islands (usually, the year 1200 AD, but some sources also mention the earlier years). The first European, who in 1642 sailed to the region, was a Dutch navigator Abel Tasman, who was searching for the legendary “Great Southern Land”. The expedition ended in a fiasco, however, because the sailors were repulsed by local natives. A large survey of these lands was deserved by 1769 by James Cook, who did a total of 3 naval expeditions. Cook managed to communicate with Maori and NZ connection with the rest of the world has been discontinued. Beginning of permanent settlement dates back to 1840, when British settlers established in the North Island city of Wellington. Since 1907, New Zealand is an independent state, although at the time was still very strong economically and politically influenced by Great Britain. In 1931, the New Zealand became a member of the Commonwealth and is now one of the 20 most developed countries.
The journey towards border of paradise, we went two (my friend Dita and me). NZ is the crow flies from the Czech Republic far less than 18 000 km, and therefore ticket prices are correspondingly high (most are in the range 30 - 40 000 CZK). We were relatively lucky and managed to buy a ticket for Korean Air for 26 500 CZK departing from Vienna and Zurich and transfers in Seoul. With the purchase has helped us a very helpful guy who specializes in selling cheap air tickets only in NZ. Given that the Czech Republic with New Zealand three-month visa-free travel for recreation, it was not necessary to undergo the procedure of visa bureaucracy. The entire path comprising North and South Island, unfortunately, we had reserved only one month (we have more professional reasons could not afford).
Before departure we need to plan lot of things. Tickets are purchased well in advance (March 2011), and our departure was to 22 of November. To the most attractive NZ tourist spots is good to secure a reservation well in advance.
In particular, it is the most famous trek in South Milford Sound South Island. Luckily I found this information relatively soon (June) and the reservation and I hastened to purchase. At the end of July have been all terms that come to us into account full. With Dita we agreed on the rough plan of our journey, which should begin in Auckland in the north of North Island and continue towards the south, the ferry between the islands, and again by land, to Milford Sound trek itself, which we had at the end. We were going to stop travelling, but later it turned out that it's not the fastest option, so not long after we switched to a bus company InterCity. From the south of the South Island we had bought a ticket with Air New Zealand (one-way ticket cost around 5000 CZK) on Queenstown-Auckland route.
Because we flew there in late November, at a time when it is already in New Zealand Spring Blossom in full, it was necessary to carry along too many warm clothes. Even in the mountains we had last only a lighter rifle, cap and underwear. In addition to the tent for two people, the necessity of sleeping bag, inflatable mattress, and then other things as needed. Dita to my admiration was able to pack backpacks, which weighed 11 kg (without food). I barely got just under 20 kg (also without food). The NZ is a good don’t take any food, certain foods (eg fresh fruit) are even prohibited. Before departure is also recommended to clean hiking boots and a tent (unless, of course not new, as in our case). One thus avoids uncomfortable thorough inspection on arrival. After all the preparation, execution and read various reservations about NZ is finally on the 22nd November climb into the bus company Student Agency aiming at the Vienna airport.
Text/photo: Vojtěch Bližňák
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