New Caledonia – Kagu’s threatened Home

February 26th, 2014

New Caledonia – Kagu’s threatened HomeWhen something is really expensive then it costs “an arm and a leg”. Against that proverbial background the French overseas department New Caledonia is so expensive, that it costs even the double. The island can be a grave for your hard-earned money, in particular the south, where the capital Noumea slaps your face financially and with the typical arrogant French attitude you can meet in St. Tropez, Nice or Paris. Having after all a pretty much un-Pacific vibe, the island itself is a scenic gem though and worth to be explored as the coast meets high mountains, palms meet pine trees, dead forests meet dammed lakes but also the Kagu, a bird, unfortunately met the European dog, which cut down the bird population to ~700 animals. New Caledonia is a prime examples what maximally invasive western-arrogant course of actions means for fragile eco systems like the South Pacific and its people »»

Coconuts and Corals – The Pacific Islands

February 14th, 2014

Coconuts and Corals – The Pacific IslandsTo many people the Pacific paradise of the South Seas islands was and still is one of the most exciting dream destinations. There is no question that experiencing typical advertisement-like stereotypes such as snow-white beaches, coconut palm trees and crystal clear blue-turquoise water in person is a lifetime experience par excellence. Though the South Seas true gem is a varicoloured dialogue taking place between the locals, their fascinating tribal culture and a diverse unique nature that is captivating above as well as below the sealine. That beautiful togetherness gets only disturbed when the Earth’s most powerful forces get unleashed, when at the Pacific side of our planet all things called tectonics and volcanism are literally setting the place on fire as Oceania is part of the highly active circum-pacific Ring of Fire »»

Living at the Landing Strip – The Tuvalu Atoll

February 13th, 2014

Living at the Landing Strip – The Tuvalu AtollHaving a look at its actual landmass, Tuvalu is the second smallest nation in the world. Some of its islands are so tiny and narrow that you can literally spit from one side to another. The heart of Tuvalu is the Funafuti atoll being embraced in the east by the main island Fongafale. Airplanes can land there, on the highest spot of the nation, which is 5 metres above sea level. Along that airstrip the life of Funafuti atoll takes place and even if islands are generally pretty limited, Tuvalu gave me the most important moment of authentic Polynesian culture along with a dinner with the Prime Minister »»

Tonga – Where Time begins

February 7th, 2014

Tonga – Where Time beginsWhat does the Island Kingdom of Tonga have in common with a high voltage cable? Correct, both things are pretty much isolated. The 136 islands of Tonga are the only Polynesian nation that never got colonialized by the west. The archipelago being called “The Friendly Islands” lies at the 10.8km deep Tonga trench, a fault where the Pacific plates submerges the Australian, which is at the same time also the International Date Line; a place where you can meet the new year as being one of the very few first people on the planet. Since the white man hadn’t his finger in the Tongan pie many unique Polynesian cultural assets like f.e. the Ha’amonga Trilithon could survive. With pleasure locals take the “palangi” by the hand and show him the island’s highlights, such as the Blow Holes, Flying Foxes or the magic Anahulu Cave, a limestone cave having a pristine fresh water pool inviting to have a swim »»

Oberbaum – Where all Cardinal Directions meet

October 24th, 2013

Oberbaum – Where all Cardinal Directions meetBerlin-based bridge Oberbaumbrücke is a symbol for many things: Where nowadays cars, metros and tourists cross Spree River from north to south, was once the border between the East and the West. The former border strip was guided by the course of the river; a route, that today is famous for pleasure boat trips. The towers of Oberbaumbrücke are not only identity-establishing for the directly neighbouring club Watergate, but stand first and foremost for the vicinity of Berlin and Brandenburg. Also in my life Oberbaumbrücke played an important role, as it was my first contact with the West after the Berlin Wall fell down »»

Avacha, Kamchatka’s Red Riding Hood

September 3rd, 2013

Avacha, Kamchatka’s Red Riding HoodAvachinskaya Sopka – colloquially also known as Avachinsky or Avacha – is the backyard volcano of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the regional capital of Far East Russia’s volcano peninsula. It is a ~4000 years old Somma-type volcano, meaning it is growing and prospering inside the caldera of a historic fire mountain. The magma rising up inside the Avacha contains more iron ore than usual. That again reacts with the omnipresent magmatic gas carried along and iron oxides, in particular iron(III) oxide, emerge. Latter one dresses the volcano with a literally fiery red coat »»

Rock Giants and Caribbean Blue – The Mountains and Lakes of the Southern Alps

August 30th, 2013

Rock Giants and Caribbean Blue – The Mountains and Lakes of the Southern AlpsOne of New Zealand’s most impressive and stunning landscapes are the Southern Alps, a range of giant mountains and large lakes. Coming from Christchurch in the east, Lake Tekapo and its backyard mountain Mount John plus its astronomical observatory already give a first impression how wonderfully scenic the southern Kiwi land can look like. Further in the west Lake Pūkaki follows, having the mighty Mount Cook, NZ’s highest elevation, sitting enthroned on its northern lakeside. Literally around the corner is Lake Ohau with its picturesque sunsets. On its southern end you can indulge yourself meandering through the crags of the Clay Cliffs, a Bryce Canyon en miniature. The final stop is Lake Wakatipu and the worldwide known Queenstown, the southern hemisphere’s fun sport capital as well as the gate to the Routeburn track »»

Ice in the Rain Forest – Exploring the Fox Glacier

August 6th, 2013

Ice in the Rain Forest – Exploring the Fox GlacierNew Zealand’s West Coast region is unique. It is leader of the list of the rainiest regions on our planet and offers the possibility of getting in very close touch with the remarkable combination of a glacier gliding down amidst an environment of alpine mountains having rain forests on its slopes. To boot New Zealand has even two of those places, the Franz Josef Glacier as well as the Fox Glacier. Latter one originates from the western snow field surrounding Mount Tasman and I had an excursion leading from the glacier’s terminus up to the area where dramatic crevices and sharp edged ice shapes take over control; a place that already demanded the one or another human life »»

Mount Ruapehu – Above the Clouds of North New Zealand

July 11th, 2013

Mount Ruapehu – Above the Clouds of North New ZealandMount Ruapehu marks the southern end of the Taupo volcanic zone. Together with stunning Tongariro national park it stands for a region that shapes and defines the character of New Zealand’s north island. With an elevation of impressive 2797 metres it is also North New Zealand’s lighthouse, its highest spot; a place easily seen from the far away. Its crater is jagged, dramatic but also accommodates a wonderful crater lake. Volcanically seen Ruapehu is everything but dormant and its eruptions mostly occur without an advance warning. To boot it’s known for ist hot volcanic avalanches, so called lahars »»

Abel Tasman National Park – Seal Puppy Playground with Dutch Roots

July 1st, 2013

Abel Tasman National Park – Seal Puppy Playground with Dutch RootsWhen it comes to discovering New Zealand there is no question that James Cook played the most important role, but it was the sailor Abel Tasman from Dutch East India Company who spotted the archipelago being located in South Pacific Ocean as first European ever and even some 100 years earlier than the Brit did. For eternity Tasman’s surname now captions an island, a sea but also New Zealand’s smallest national park. The latter is located on the north coast of the South Island and is a Garden of Eden for all things called flora and fauna. This pearl among Kiwi Land’s refugiums gets completed by its immediate vicinity, the Cape Farewell and the beaches of the Golden Bay. Each of those places belong to the sites a New Zealand visitor should have seen with one’s own eyes »»