The final video

by David on July 4, 2014

I ended this blog abruptly when I got sick of writing it in Australia, but later on I did make a video about the places I saw and the people I met. I posted it on Raptitude but I think it belongs here. So, four years after the trip ended, here’s the video.

The production values aren’t great. I wish I could take all these photos again knowing what I know now about photography, and maybe may a few different stylistic choices. But I think it still gives a pretty good idea of how unbelievably beautiful these places are, and how wonderful it is to meet people from all over the world.

The Trip from David Cain on Vimeo.

I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it gives you the travel bug.

-David Cain, July 2014

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Going Back in Time

by David on April 19, 2010

"The pot" at pancake rocks.

"The pot" at pancake rocks.

My instructor in Hollyhock told me to make sure I hit the West Coast while I’m in New Zealand. “It’s like going back in time,” he said. I misunderstood. I thought he meant it’s like going back to the turn of the century, with old-style farmhouses and dirt roads.

Once I arrived, it became clear what he meant. It’s like going back a hundred million years. The coasts are rugged and dramatic, like you’ve reached the edge of the world. Everywhere are towering, misty cliffs, bulging with ferns. The whole place looks like Jurassic Park.

In the hostel in Punakaiki, I met an American girl. Upon exchanging the typical backpacker questions — Where have you been so far? Where are you going next? — we discovered that we had booked the exact same buses and accommodations for the next four or five days. So we traveled together from Punakaiki to Franz Josef to Queenstown, before parting ways.

Punakaiki’s only attraction is the bizarre and unique “Pancake rocks.” A little-understood sedimentary process left its coastal rocks looking like towering stacks of pancakes (or cheese slices, or cold cuts.) The surrounding area is beautiful though, with plenty of “end of the world” beaches and rainforest trails. After three days there, my companion and I motored south to Franz Josef and checked in to the YHA.

Franz Josef glacier is one of the West Coast’s biggest tourist draws, because it is one of the few locations where a glacier travels through a rainforest. The coast gets pounded with rain year-round, giving it a lush, ferny, prehistoric look. Both of us were too cheap to take an organized tour — which would allow us to hike on the glacier — so we opted instead to climb a neighboring mountain, from which we would have grand views of the ice field. “Alex Knob” is 1100 vertical meters of rainforest, root steps, and cliff-edge trails. It was the longest of the day hikes in the area (8 hours return) so we packed some food and set out early in the morning, a bit smug about the money we’d saved.

Hiking through a rainforest was another item on my life list, and it didn’t disappoint.

Pictures of Punakaiki and our Franz Josef hike are below, in that order.

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The Grand Adventures of Isabel and David

March 29, 2010

In February, my mom came out to visit me for three weeks. After I finished the Milford Track, we met in Queenstown. From there we traveled up through New Zealand, stopping in Hokitika, Christchurch, Kaikoura, Wellington, Wanganui, New Plymouth, Hamilton, Cambridge and finally Auckland. I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures, but here are […]

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Orchard Life

March 25, 2010

Well I’ve been in Te Puke picking kiwis for almost two weeks now. The work is difficult and the hours are terrible, but I have income. It feels good not to be in “slow bleed” mode — I can actually plan further travels now. At work I go across the vines down the endless aisles […]

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Where I’m At

March 13, 2010

Just a quick note to keep you posted on where I’m at. My last update, the Milford Track, took place at the end of January. Brimming with gratitude and love for life, I met my mother in Queenstown February 1. She was due to fly out of Auckland February 21st, so we spend the next […]

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Floral All-Stars — My Best Photos of Plant Life

February 27, 2010

Both New Zealand and Thailand are rich with flowers, and I’ve been snapping photos of them all along the way. I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of flowers and small plants on my trip. Here are some of the best ones. I left out trees because the gallery would have been too big. I’ll do those later. […]

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The Milford Track

February 13, 2010

The crown jewel in my New Zealand plans was to knock off one of my Life List items, a famous 53km hike called the Milford Track. The three-day hike is exalted with superlatives by almost everyone. Rudyard Kipling most famously called it, “The finest walk in the world.” I’m not sure how he could be […]

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Wellington: The Nation’s Capital

January 24, 2010

Ok. When I last left off, I had just left Napier. To give you some perspective on the dates, that was December 14th. After a lovely five-hour busride (with one stop for a delicious kebab) we swung into the nation’s capital, Wellington. I had a four-night booking at the Wellington YHA, a six-floor monster of […]

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Rethinking DGK

January 12, 2010

I’ve gotten quite behind. I will attempt to bring you up to date over the coming week or two, but I’ve come to a few resolutions. As I explained on Raptitude, the logistics of running a blog from the road make it much more difficult than at home, even though I don’t have a full-time […]

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Napier – Wine and Art Deco

December 29, 2009

I had time for one destination between Taupo and Wellington. During the planning stages of my trip, I’d heard little about Napier except for its reputation for wine, so I wasn’t particularly drawn to it. When I found out my chosen bus line (the cheap and efficient Naked Bus) didn’t go from Taupo to the […]

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