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The Grand Tour

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20.11.1995 train to Frankfurt, flight to Bangkok

The story begins on 20. November 1995 just a few days after our last exams. We (Axel & Mike) meet at Munich Central Station at 6:20 a.m. The train takes us to Frankfurt airport for take off.

21.11.1995 Bangkok, Thailand

A sunny humid morning and we are driving to our hotel "Sol Twin Tower Hotel" by taxi. The taxi driver asks several times for the hotel name. It is brand new and  he has to ask a couple of colleagues for the way -- we are prepared for an adventure. After finding our way through the Bangkok traffic jam we arrived at the hotel and got an airconditioned room. Right after that we started for our first Bangkok city experience - with the bus to the Grand Palace. Enough for the first day.
We take the express boat over the "Khlongs" (water channels) to the Wat Pho where you can see the big lying (declining) Buddah - 36 meter high. 
Wat Saket and Golden Mount - where you get a good overview of the city - are two more attractions.
To get an impression from the water side we decide to undertake a 1,5 hour Khlong-Tour over the Phraya River in a Long-Tail-Boat.
The water is very dirty and it seems not very healthy to swallow some drops of it. A short stop at the Royal Barges - the museum of the royal Long-Tail-Boats before we go on to the Wat Arun on the other side of the river. A very steep stairway leeds us up to the top of the wat - again a great view from there.
Serveral markets sell all kind of colorful clothes - not a very good quality but nice to walk through.
The next day we go to the Jim Thompson House - an original teak house with many valuable thai gadgets. A guided tour tells you about its history and shows all the beautiful rooms and the great garden - it is really worth it.
If you want to learn more about Thai culture you should visit the National Museum.

25/26/27.11.1995 flight to Auckland, New Zealand

Arriving at the airport we see that one Aeroflot flight is delayed thirteen hours :-). We can easily beat that. After staying one more night in Bangkok and with fourteen hours delay our plane leaves Bangkok, headed for New Zealand. Due to the late departure we cannot go direclty to Auckland but have to stay another night in Sydney with only a couple of hours worth of sleep. In the end we landed at Auckland Airport but we lost a whole day for the trip from Bangkok to Auckland (27 hours late).


7:20 a.m. wake up call
breakfast at Queen Street (main street)
go shopping (maps, insect repellent, etc.)
city tour on the hop-on, hop-off bus through Auckland (Kelly Tarlton's Under Water World, Auckland Museum with Maori Show, Mount Eden) & a walk to Victoria market. In the evening shopping in Parnell and good korean dinner.


Buy a cooling box & catch rental car. Over the harbour bridge with a great view over Auckland we are headed for the North of the Northern Island (western coast on highway no.12). Stop at Matakohe Pioneer Museum where you can have a look at the Kauri mammoth trees & trunks and how they were processed at the end of last, beginning of this century. Get a first glimpse of the wonderful NZ forests in the Waipoua Kauri Forest. Spend the night in Kaitaia.


9:00 leave with Sand Safari for 90 miles beach & Cape Reinga. We crossed the (not) 90 miles beach in a small bus -- don't take a rental car as you're not insured on the 90 miles beach. Apart from that there are a couple of car wrecks buried in the sand...
Sledging down a sand dune.
Cape Reinga is the most northern point of New Zealand, equipped with a lighthouse. A part of Cape Reinga is a sacerd area for Maori people. They believe that from here after death the soul begins its journey back to Hawaiki, what they consider

01.12.1995 - Friday

Sailing the Bay of Islands

02.12.1995 - Saturday

trip (heading south) to Tauranga via Auckland

03.12.1995 - Sunday

trip to Rotorua visited the geysirs in Whakarewarewa

04.12.1995 - Monday

day trip with Crazy Kiwi Tours to Thermal Wonderland and its Mudpools,  Lady Knox Geysir, Echo-Lake

you ain't seen no fire yet, man! :-)
sorry, this is an inside joke due to the then-current plebiscite if the number of firemen should be reduced


Turangi - Lake Taupo

06.12.1995 - Tongariro Crossing

This is a one-day track; with "side tour" to vulcano Mt. Ngauruhoe. Emerald Lakes, Blue Lake - all in 8 hours - good time - great tour

07.12.1995 - Palmerston North

08.12.1995 ferry to South Island, New Zealand

Ferry from Wellington to Picton (South Island) and with a new car to Havelock (if you're looking for a very good youth hostel!!!)

09.12.1995 - Motueka

Preparation for Abel Tasman National Park (an extremely scenic three day track!)


First day of Abel Tasman Track -- 6,5 hours till we reach the Bark Bay; sandflies are killing us on one of the most scenic beaches; spend the night in the tent we brought with us from good ol' Germany exactly for this tour...


It's raining cats and dogs, no fun any more. Mike's not feeling well. So we close our tent, get a water taxi and return to starting point in Marahau.

12.12.1995 - Westport & Cape Foulewind

You don't believe there's a reason for this name? :-)


1 hour of Heaphy Track starting from Karamea - on our way back to Westport it's raining once more. Due to the heavy rains the single existing connecting road on the west side of the south island has been (partly) swept away. Currently we don't know if we can continue our trip down on the west side.


Charming Creek Walk Way near Hector - a small tour along an old rail track coming from the cole mines in the hills down to the coast. Nothing new with regards to the situation of the road...


We can't stay forever in Westport - therefore we cross over to Christchurch. Before that have a quick look at the pan cake rocks. But getting there exactly with low tide is somehow not the experience you would expect :-)

16.12.1995 - Christchurch

sightseeing in Christchurch - continue our trip to Timaru; shopping in Pack'n'Safe


Sightseeing in Oamaru, visiting the Moreaki boulders; Dunedin - booking a 6 hours tour through the Otago museum, then visiting an albatross colony and then visiting the yellow-eye penguins in a their camp.


City tour through Dunedin, then a scenic tour with the Taieri George Railway


Before leaving Dunedin we had to have a look at the steepest street of the world called Baldwin street. Via the Southern Scenic Route to Invercargill. Of course visiting Bluff, the most southern point of our trip.


via Te Anau and the mirror lakes (not so mirroring after all) to the Milford sound; booking a 1,5 hour boat tour out to the beginning of the Tasmanian Sea; staying the night in a youth hostel directly at the Milford Sound.


It's pouring - back to Te Anau through the rain, and again the Mirror Lakes are not mirroring (big surprise with the rain fall).


Surprise - there is a sun after all. But the mirror lakes still are not mirroring due to the wind. Continue to Queenstown and immediately book bungy jumping and white water rafting on the Shotover river.


We did it -- we jumped from the shotover bridge seventy-two meters down "into" the shotover river. It's " 5-4-3-2-1-Go! " - the simple reply was: "No" :-)


After Fox Glacier via Haas to Franz Josef Glacier (village)

25.12.1995 - Christmas

Visiting the Franz Josef Glacier and Lake Matheson (another mirroring lake)


Starting to Greymouth, visiting Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes once more, this time at high tide.


From Greymouth via Lewis Pass to Kaikoura


continue to Havelock


Mountain bike tour (near Linkwater)

30.12.1995 ferry to North Island, New Zealand

After 4134 km on the south island we head north to Wellington

31.12.1995 - New Years Eve

Visiting a Robert Maplethorpe exhibition, taking the cable car to a nearby hill, walking though the botanic garden. In the evening we attended several public parties and enjoyed tour bottle of red wine in the streets of Wellington.

09/08.01.1996 flight to Rarotonga, Cook Island


15.01.1996 flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, USA


24.01.1996 flight to Los Angeles, USA


02/03.02.1996 flight to Frankfurt, Germany


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Last modified 2005-10-31 12:19 PM