The stinging smell of sulphur in the air means that we reached Rotorua, the volcanic and thermal heart of New Zealand (often called Rotten-rua by some disrespectful Aucklanders) and that again means that our tour is almost over, only one riding day left. We covered more than 3000 km so far, so New Zealand seems to be not such a small country after all. Have a look at what we've seen during the last few days:
One of the many highlights along the west coast of the South Island are the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. They look especially amazing under a clear blue sky...
One of the main highlights here is the "Gentleman's Chair". It features enough space for a glass and for a wive. Perfect!
The Marlborough Sounds are among the most scenic regions in New Zealand. We took the ultra-twisty Queen Charlotte Drive to Picton, where we cought the ferry to the North Island.
Papucho from Mexico loves wine. We found it very difficult to get him out of this vineyard in Hawke's Bay, near Napier.
Tony prepared his very first Edelweiss picnic right next to beautiful Lake Taupo. Good job, Tony!
Lady and Gentlemen, the group of 7: Roman, Dilvanio, Papucho, Uwe, Tony, Thomas and - last but certainly not least! - Erika.
New Zealand, the world's most beautiful end, is full of wonders. Milford Sound, Queenstown, and the wild West Coast were the highlights that we visited during the last couple of days.
Blue sky is rarely seen over Milford Sound, but we were lucky and could enjoy this spectacular place to the fullest.
Do you know the difference between a fjord and a sound? Come on a cruise at Milford and find out!
Son and father: Roman and Uwe are clearly enjoying themselves.
Milford is famous for its wildlife. Seals are numerous...
...but you have to be lucky to see a Kea, an alpine parrot that is highly endangered.
This is Queenstown, funsport capital of the world. You can, for example, race down a steep concrete track, which is heaps of fun.
Roman, getting ready for take-off.
Erika, bumping into husband Jose, aka Papucho, to make him speed up
Another popular pastime is going on helicopter trips. Dilvanio gives two "likes" to the Lord of the Rings Heli Adventure.
Uwe and Roman with the heli
Roman never wastes an opportunity to do some push-ups. Not even on a glacier.
Papucho, telling stories about his fishing trips again
Gantley's is the best restaurant on New Zealand's South Island. In the Wine Room a spotless outfit and distinguished behaviour are required at any time...
One of the things you just HAVE to do here in New Zealand is a ride in a jet boat. We did it upon leaving Queenstown, in the spectacular Shotover Canyon.
One last picture of beautiful Lake Wanaka and then we were off to the West Coast.
On the wild beach at Bruce Bay travellers write messages on pebbles and leave them there for others to find. Pretty much like Twitter...
... but far more romantic!
By far the best way to see and appreciate the beauty of Fox Glacier is to take a helicopter and fly to the top.
Dilvanio planted the Brazilian flag on the ice.
The upper reaches of Fox Glacier receive more than 100 ft of snow each year, pushing the glacier's tongue towards the sea at a rate of 4 meters per day!!! But since it is warm down in the valley most of this advance melts off.
Uwe found these beautifully carved Maori heads in a gallery in Franz Josef (www.tekohagallery.co.nz) and immediately decided to buy them.
A narrow gap between the clouds and the horizon was enough to provide us with a beautiful sunset. This picture was taken from the restaurant of our hotel in Punakaiki.
For some reasen people think that November is not a good time to come to New Zealand. Not true. Only three days into the tour the five members of this tiny group - two from Mexico, two from Germany and one from Brazil - are having the time of their lives. Look at these pics:
Tour guide Thomas (left), facing the challenge of keeping this huge group together...
During the first half day it was cold and cloudy. Here you can see how, behind Jose, the clouds are trying to get across the mountains.
Dilvanio from Brazil celebrates the sun, the blue sky and the spectacular scenery.
Snow-clad Aoraki, New Zealand's tallest mountain, wedged between the turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki and the endless blue sky. Truly a sight to behold!
Aoraki is the Maori word for Mount Cook. It means "Cloud Piercer". A very fitting name, don't you think?
A spectacular highlight of this tour. And remember, it is only the first day!!!
On the second day we rode past the famous Kawarau Bridge, site of the world's first commercial bungee jump. Latest attraction: a zip line. Of course everybody had to give it a go!
If you always wanted to feel like Tarzan, this is for you!
After the adrenalin rush the group went to Lake Wakatipu for a rush of calories: picnic time in down under!
Believe it or not: these remarkable mountains are called "The Remarkables".
Spectacular scenery, amazing road, no traffic. This is New Zealand.