Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

We want to say THANK YOU to all of you for a wonderful year 2012! We hope that 2013 will be a same exciting year like the last!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

We visit Aotearo's Henge

 We traveled with our family for Christmas, and stopped along the way for a visit at Stonehenge Aotearoa.  
This is a henge, constructed from concrete and stone, to measure the movements of the sun and stars and is calibrated for the exact longitude and latitude of its location in New Zealand.
We couldn't have been luckier, we visited the henge on Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, which is the longest day of the year. It is a very significant day at Stonehenge Aotearoa, not only for astronomers, but for people who celebrate Solstice as part of their belief systems. There was going to be a big event at the Henge at sunset, but we had to keep traveling.

The seven standing stones measure the movements of the constellation known as the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades, Subaru and Matariki.

Can you see us at he bottom of these stones?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

We are in the middle of Middle Earth

Wellington is such an exciting place to be right now. A few weeks ago we saw the red carpet roll out for the world premiere of The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey, and our family took us to see the movie! The Hobbit film was made in a studio in Wellington, and much of the footage was shot in New Zealand.
This is the Embassy, the cinema where the wold premiere was held. There is an enormous Gandalf and hobbit hole on the front of the building. Can you see Gandalf putting the magic mark on Bilbo's door?
We had our tickets ready. We couldn't wait to see the movie!
Look who we met at the cinema - Bilbo Baggins! 
Of course, all good movies need popcorn.

We loved the movie, some parts of it were very scary, and it was all exciting. We won't spoil the ending for you, but we think you should go and see it, it was fantastic.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

We have visited the Wellington Christmas Tree

In a park by the water in Wellington there is a large display of lights in the shape of a Christmas tree. Our family took us to see it.
The lights change colours and make different patterns all the time. 

The city council provides bean bags and blankets so that people can lie warmly underneath the lights tree and watch the colours change. We were there quite late at night and the bean bags were full of people enjoying the view and the atmosphere.
In the same park were some special telephone boxes. We saw that they were specially set up so that we could talk to Santa! We told him that we have been very good backpackers this year, and he said that we were already on his "nice" list. 
It is strange to us to be getting ready for Christmas in the middle of summer instead of the middle of winter. It's just as much fun, but with much less snow than we are used to.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

We go to Scouts

The children in our host family all go to scouts, Keas (named for an alpine parrot native to New Zealand) is for children 6 to 8 years old, Cubs is for children 8 to 11 years old, and Scouts for children 11 to 14. Scouting is very popular in New Zealand.

The Scout Den that we visited is located at the top of the Wellington Botanical Gardens. It is a small hut built about a hundred years ago. 

From the Scout Den the view over the city and harbour is breathtaking.  On a windy day we would really have to hang on, but today it was gorgeous and clear and still.  Perfect!

Friday, December 21, 2012

We go to school with one of our hostkids

The children at the local school have been following our adventures on this blog, and when we came to visit the classroom, the children wanted to play with us and show us around. 

We didn't do any lessons, just played around.  In New Zealand, December is the end of the school year and the children are just about to start their 6 week long summer holiday, so there are lots of activities and parties at school.  The weather is getting nice and warm, and everyone is looking forward to Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We were on air on german radio station

Here is our storry told from Johannes.
It was on air on german radiostation "mdr Sachsen-Anhalt" on Sunday the 16th of December 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We are going to the cafe

We went shopping with our family in the centre of the city in Wellington.  One of the best shopping streets is Cuba Street (named for one of the early settler ships).  It is a pedestrian mall, and in good weather there are lots of people shopping and sitting at cafes enjoying good coffee and nice cake.

There is a really fun fountain in the Cuba Street mall called the Bucket Fountain.  Water runs into the buckets, and as they fill, they tip into the buckets below, until they tip into the buckets below that.  When the bottom buckets are full they tip and spill water everywhere, if shoppers aren't careful they get wet!  Can you see the water spilling right behind us?

Shopping makes everyone hungry, so we stopped at one of Wellington's many great cafes for a drink and a nibble. 

Yum!  We love cookies.  It is as well that small backpackers can eat a lot and not put on any weight at all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We have been in local newspaper in Stendal with tanslation in english!

 Here now the translation...

By Registered Mail Starts The Trip Around The World
From Finland to Iran: Johannes Kloss sends his Playmobil figures "Hans" and "Paul" across the continents
Stendal, Germany, Nov. 20, 2012

first photo
Like the statue in Stendal's city, Johannes Kloss as well looks through a window into the world by sending his two Playmobil figures Paul (left) and Hans to different countries. When they return they bring with them interesting stories. Photo: Susanne Moritz

Despite his 28 years, Johannes Kloss remained a child. Departing from Stendal, Germany, he sends two Playmobil figures across the world so that foreign people may take photos of the two.
Hans and Paul have already seen and experienced a lot. For more than three years now, the two best friends travel around the world and stick together through thick and thin. Their friendship is something special because Hans and Paul are no human beings of flesh and blood but only Playmobil figures. Johannes Kloss sends them across the globe regularly so that foreign people may take photos of his plastic friends.
Numerous postcards and vacation snapshots of Hans and Paul decorate the walls of Johannes Kloss' apartment. The 28 year old, born in Kassel, Germany, is the travel agency of these two permanent tourists, so to speak. He coordinates and plans which country comes next on Hans and Paul’s route. The next destination is already fixed: Soon, the two will fly to New Zealand for some weeks, heading to Australia afterwards, because they have not yet been to the fifth continent.

Globetrotters Hans and Paul already visited a lot of countries which is proven by the large number of souvenir photos.

But how and why do Playmobil figures travel in the first place? One day, when rummaging around the attic of his parents, Johannes Kloss found Hans – a blond fellow with a green slouch hat and a camera. And then, the remedial-teacher-to-be got an exceptional idea: As he could not travel by himself at that time, he decided to send Hans into the wide world instead. But how? Via the internet, Johannes Kloss contacted people in the whole world.
Straightaway, all were enthusiastic to receive Playmobil figures from Germany and to take photos of them on special places in the world. And you can really rely on people: After a few weeks, they send back Hans and Paul by mail. "People thought this was a funny idea, totally cool, and they played along immediately. Nobody opposed to it", says Johannes Kloss.
2009 he sent Hans on his first big trip to a lady in Houston, USA. After a few weeks he travelled directly from there to Philadelphia. But Hans did not return home at first. Only after his best friend Paul searched for him for weeks and almost gave up hope, the two run across each other in Stendal. Since then, Johannes Kloss only sends the duo on their way together by registered mail. "This is much safer for them", he says and smiles impishly.
Girl’s school in Iran, Finnish sauna, offshore platform
The most exciting trip of the two friends was to Iran. As it was too insecure to send Hans and Paul by mail, they were smuggled into the Muslim country in a purse. Almost four months they stayed there. The highlight was their visit to an Iran girl’s school which of cause was documented by a photo.
But also in Sweden, Taiwan, Austria, Estonia, Finland and in the USA there was much to see. So, for example, photos were taken in a Finnish sauna, in barracks in Austria or on an offshore platform in the North Sea where the two signed up for four weeks. The adventurers also spend a night in an igloo, relaxed at Lake Wolfgang in Austria as well as in the vastness of the American prairie. Meanwhile, in Finland, the two Playmobil tourists are little stars. At least they made it into a Finnish women’s magazine. "In Finland, people are quite creative in taking nice photos", says Johannes Kloss, who regularly publishes travel reports of his plastic friends in the internet.
However, he does not want to make money from his extraordinary idea and therefore, he does not insert advertisements in his web page. For him, it rather is about international understanding: "It is important that people have fun. Besides, they thus can give an insight into everyday routines in their home country."
Presently, Hans and Paul are in the middle of preparing their trip to New Zealand. Soon it’s time to pack the bags, put on the rucksacks and jump into the Tupperware box in which Johannes Kloss sends them out into the world.
If you want to read more about the trips of Hans and Paul, go to

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Xmas baking

Our host family has a tradition of baking shortbread stars as Xmas gifts and to share at Xmas celebrations.  The baking looked like fun, so we offered to help.

First, we decided to help to roll the dough. It wasn't working very well.

Once we started working together in the same direction, things went much smoother.

Hans!  What are you doing in the sugar? 

It was time to start cutting out the stars. 

Paul used a fork to prick the top of each star, to help the sugar to stick better.  Yum!

Another batch is ready to go into the oven.  It's as well that we know how to bake these now, there will be lots more to make between now and Xmas!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Summer in Wellington

It's December, and that is the start of summer in New Zealand.  The weather has been really strange, though, with lots of storms and wind, but some very sunny days as well. 

We were hoping to share the view of the harbour with you, but looking out the window all we could see was cloud and rain.  Wellington is like this sometimes, the weather changes quickly, some days seem like all four seasons at once.  On days like this, it is probably best to stay inside and read.

On Saturdays, one of the children in our host family plays cricket.  Cricket is a really popular summer sport in New Zealand, and when we went to watch it was sunny and clear.  We don't really understand the rules of cricket, but we loved sitting and soaking up the atmosphere, and enjoying the views of the mountains and city. 

We are staying in a house where there is lots of crafting and making.  We decided to help with some spinning.  The green fluff is wool, alpaca and silk, and the yarn will likely be knitted into a scarf or a shawl.  Lots of people in New Zealand know how to spin, and there are millions of sheep for the fibre, and some of the best spinning wheels in the world are made in New Zealand.  I wonder if someone will knit us new hats?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

We went out for dinner

We went out for dinner last night, to a local pub.  There was a menu for adults and a menu for children, but no menu for small backpackers, but everyone was happy to share with us.

There are a lot of sheep in New Zealand, which means that there is a lot of lamb available to eat, and it is delicious.  With some ratatouille and mashed potatoes on the side? Don't mind if we do, thanks!
Lots of people in New Zealand seem to like to have tomato sauce on their food.  Sometimes the sauce comes in these fun bottles, shaped like a tomato.

Some people were looking through the window and wondering why our family was taking photos of their dinner and of us.  We went over to the window and explained that we are world famous world travellers, and asked them to follow us on our blog adventures.  They were excited to take one of our cards, and promised to look us up. So, Hi new friends!

What is dinner without dessert?  Not worth having!

On our way past the bar, we saw a strange creature sitting on one of the taps.  We went for a closer look, and saw it was a knitted tuatara, sitting on top of the Tuatara beer tap.  Tuatara are lizards native to New Zealand, they are very ancient and endangered.  We felt very lucky to have met one at the pub, maybe one day we will see a real live tuatara.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Our day at Kindergarten

On fine days, our family walks up to the local kindergarten, which is about a kilometre away.  Wellington is built over some major fault lines, and is very earthquake prone, so most of the houses are wooden to be able to bend in a quake.  Most of the houses in Wellington are built on hillsides, and some of them, like this one, even have private cable cars so that people and pets can easily get from the street to the front door.  You can see the rail running up the hill to the front of this house.  It isn't uncommon for houses to be more than one storey above or below the level of the road.

From our walk we could see out over Wellington Harbour.  We have had some very windy days, but today was clear and sunny.  If you look closely you might be able to see trains, cars and trucks, a cruise ship, a small ferry, and an aeroplane.  Wellington is a small city, but very busy.

The children at kindergarten were very friendly and excited to share their toys and games with us.  We built vehicles, swung in a barrel, drove the dump truck in the sand pit, slid down the slide, climbed the rope, swung on the monkey bars, and hammered nails.  So much fun!
Then the children looked up our blog, and they and the teachers talked about our latest adventures in Estonia.  We are so lucky to be able to meet so many friends and share our adventures.