Archive for April, 2010

The extension

When arriving in NZ, we got a 3 month visitor’s permit and wanted to have it extended as soon as possible. So, we decided to stay in Hamilton for a couple of days to apply for an extension rather than doing it in Auckland, where the immigration office is always very busy. To our surprise, we were told that it is no longer possible to get it done over the counter as previously and that the whole process would take up to 30 days.

Another reason why we were looking forward to being in Hamilton is the abundance of crystal clear spring creeks in the Waikato region. We spent magic days fishing different creeks and rivers and got our first trout of the trip. No trophies by any means, but we caught some beautifully marked rainbows. Hooking up wasn’t that difficult, to stay connected being another story though. On one occasion, we lost two really nice fish in the same pool within an hour after having changed the fly a dozen times, carefully observed by a herd of cows. With sunny weather and the temperature still around 22°C, we fished with dry flies most of the time. Because of the water clarit,y we started with long 16 feet leaders, but cut them back soon after because most of the waters we fished were heavily overgrown and our flies got stuck in the bank side vegetation all the time.

While in Hamilton, we also went to the Hamilton Gardens, an attractive botanic garden with many different sections and themes. Watching flocks of excited Asian visitors and their busy guides trying to keep them all together was heaps of fun. In the city center, a lot of work was going on during our stay because of the famous Hamilton 400 V8 race coming up. It’s a true street race on public roads in the middle of the city with up to 100’000 visitors. The Big Block Holden and Ford do not race to everyone’s pleasure as we realized when shopkeepers told us that they lose up to $30’000.– during the 4 days of racing because of the closed off streets and customers not coming trough.

Raglan, a weekender’s and surfer’s paradise on the west coast is situated a mere 40 minutes from Hamilton and we spent hours walking in the fine golden sand of its beaches, watching the seabirds and collecting shells.

The summer 2009/2010 has been a very dry one and the soil is deeply cracked; the hills are yellow and brown with little signs of growth. The drought is so severe that not only farming is affected but the native fauna as well. Even the Kiwi birds are in trouble. In Northland starving kiwis – usually a nocturnal feeder – can be seen searching for insects out in the open in bright sunlight. They are an easy target for dogs, foxes and birds of prey and the results of many years of conservation work are at risk. Let’s hope we will get a decent rain soon!

Right now it’s the time of the year with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Everywhere along the road one can buy locally grown delicacies such as juicy apples, buttery avocados and yummy feijoas from small stalls. We got to know feijoas years ago and did not like them at first because of their distinct and strong perfume like flavor. Very dominating if added to a fruit salad, but now we love ‘em and missed them back home.

Yesterday, we got an e-mail from our friends, telling us that our passports with the permit extension have already arrived, the process having taken just 5 working days rather than the predicted 2 to 4 weeks. We don’t know yet if we got the entire 12 months we wanted or just 9 months with another 3 months extension possible.

Oh, and by the way. We already had several scoops of our beloved TipTop ice cream. There is nothing better after a hard days fishing than two scoops of boysenberry and rum & raisin TipTop.

The start

After handing over our apartment, we had another four days before we left Switzerland. The last days were filled with visits and phone calls from friends and family and a lot of cheers and good bye.

When choosing our flight, we decided to fly via Los Angeles, which allowed us to have 2 pieces of luggage up to 32kg per person. We didn’t like the idea of having to go through the US customs on our stopover, because it was always quite a hassle on previous trips, but this time it was all easy going despite our four large bags. One thing we are always wondering about is the fact that they take even a small nail clipper of you at the control gates, but serve the meals in the plane with stainless steel forks and knives. Probably one of the mysteries of life?

After a 35 hours monster trip, we arrived save and sound in Auckland, greeted by a bright blue sky and warm summer weather with 22°C. Clearing customs was a matter of minutes after having cleaned our hiking and wading boots and the waders carefully back home. Even our fly tying gear and stock of flies got the approval of the officer in charge; the only things we had to hand out being two feet of a snowshoe rabbit. Stepping out of the airport building and taking the first deep breath of New Zealand air is always something very special and we had been looking forward to that very moment for a long time.

By internet we’d booked a rental car for the first few days and took off to find a motel close to the city center. On the next day we searched the net for a second hand car and found several cars we wanted to have a look at. Within an hour after starting our journey to different dealers we were the happy owners of a great looking (!?) 4×4 SUV. Because we are no experts when it comes to cars, we opted for an AA inspected vehicle which gave us peace of mind regarding its mechanical condition. In the last couple of days we tried to get organized, bought our fishing licenses and fitted the car with boxes for boots and gear.

Yesterday, after quite a bit of discussing the pros and cons of a Belly boat, we decided to buy an inflatable kayak. It allows us not only to fish from a craft but also to do some river kayaking and trips on lakes and in the sea. We were lucky and got a Gumotex Helios II for a great “end of summer special” price at Canoe & Kayak Auckland. The boat accommodates the two of us, folds down neatly and can be carried in its own sac like a backpack. Now it’s time to get serious and to head south. Let’s go fishing!