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A Tramping Vacation in New Zealand
On 5th Jan 2006, I set sail from the Port of Los Angeles on the MV "CP Tui", a 42,000 ton DWT container ship bound non-stop for Auckland. My plan is to spend two months tramping in the North and South Islands, and I will try and record my impressions as I go along on this website.
A life-long wish fulfilled
I first decided I had to go to Australia back in 1964. I was skiing on Mount Hollyburn in Vancouver at the time and I watched the SS "Canberra" steaming under the Lion's Gate Bridge, outward bound for Sydney. I made a vow there and then that one day I would board her in Vancouver and make the trip myself. The Canberra has been melted down for scrap now, and about the only ships plying this route nowadays are big bulk carriers and container ships; and fortunately some of them carry passengers So why New Zealand and not Australia? I decided I couldn't do justice to both in the time available, and although Australia probably has more to offer most people, to a keen walker such as myself, New Zealand is the mecca. But my plans are very flexible at the moment, so I might still have time to pay a visit to Oz.
I've made very few plans for when I arrive; preferring to take things as they come. I will probably spend two weeks or so in the North Island to start with before heading off to the South Island and seeing if I can get on some of the famous Great Walks there. Many of them are booked up months in advance but, as a single hiker I'm hoping I can take advantage of cancellations. In any case I've heard that some of lesser known hikes are just as pleasant and much easier to get reservations. We shall see. I'm a little on the early side I think - January in New Zealand being equivalent to our July. I will probably have better luck in February or March. One tramp I'm very much looking forward to is the Tongariro Northern Circuit in the Central North Island. This is a four day tramp past volcanoes and a spectacular thermal area. From the photos this area looks like nothing I've ever seen before - I know this because it was used in the filming of "Lord of the Rings" as the setting for the Plains of Gorgoroth and Mount Doom!