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Let me tell you my story…

Have you ever wondered why I decided to name my blog “Can-Will-Did”? Have you ever wondered what the story behind all this is? Whether your answer is “yes” or “no”, I reckon everyone should get to know my life-changing story. Well, let me start from the beginning…

When I arrived in Australia, I was the most insecure person you could imagine, trying to pretend to be brave and independent while I still decided to keep my travels as safe as possible, only sticking to organized group tours and busses. While it was the most comfortable option, I always had some sort of gut feeling telling me that this is not what I want to be. I wanted to be self-confident, I wanted to be flexible and most importantly, I wanted to be different from the rest! Easier said than done. There was something holding me back. Something, that is not easy to get rid of: it’s the bubble, called “comfort zone”, that way too many people are stuck in. So, what was I supposed to do? I knew I wouldn’t just be able to get out of my comfort zone that easily. I had been stuck in it for way too long.

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Thanks to me being an ambitious person, wanting to achieve whatever got in my mind, I decided to buy my first ever own car. Back in Germany, I was a terribly insecure driver and barely got any practice. Thus, buying a manual, having to drive on the “wrong side” of the road, didn’t seem to be the cleverest idea, but there was a drive in me that turned me into a confident driver, driving all sorts of vehicles on the “wrong side” of the road.

Yet, there was still something inside of me that told me, that I wanted more. I wanted to tackle challenging roads, in order to get to the most remote places, I wanted to learn how to four-wheel-drive, I wanted to experience the Australia that no one else gets to experience. Unfortunately, something held me back. It was society telling me that my car wasn’t good enough for what I had put in my mind. Society told me that I wouldn’t make it across the “Gibb River Road” in a little Subaru. People told me I wouldn’t be able to get to all four of Australia’s extremities in my little Suby. “What if you break down in the middle of nowhere?”, was one of the most-raised questions I always got to hear. And I believed them. I believed what they told me must be right as it was society telling me and society is always right.

That was, at least, what I had always believed; until one special person changed my whole attitude on life. I met Anthony about a year ago in a small place called “Hamelin Pool” in Shark Bay, Western Australia. He offered me work in a caravan park, where I got to know him and his story. Anthony is an Aussie, travelling around Australia himself. But unlike other people, he doesn’t follow the crowds. In his 4wd, he goes wherever he wants, following the most remote and challenging tracks. But it was his attitude on life that made me think and lit a fire in my soul that has never died ever since. “Can, Will, Did, Kunt” is his motto. People tell you you can’t – you go and prove them wrong! You wanna go somewhere – you go there! There is no “what if” – there is only “ah well”.

During a trip to “Steep Point” Australia’s westernmost point, he did not only teach me everything I needed to know about four-wheel-driving, he also taught me confidence. He taught me how to break free and only listen to myself, instead of what society wants you to do. He taught me that I can do anything, even if I don’t have the fanciest equipment. During the trip, we got banned from the National Park as Anthony’s ute didn’t have working brakes, but instead of turning around and giving up, he kept going. He didn’t care what society told him to do. He had one aim in mind and that was to reach “Steep Point”. And we did! Despite, all the trouble! Thanks to Anthony’s advises and encouragement, I did not only tackle the iconic “Gibb River Road”, but also travelled up 800ks of highly corrugated dirt road, all the way to the tip of Australia and back, I attempted several “four-wheel-drive-only” tracks. Sometimes, things didn’t go as planned, but I always gave it a go. There is no “I can’t”, there is only “I can”!

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The best reward I could get is the facial expressions and reactions of people seeing what I’ve achieved. It doesn’t only make me feel extremely proud, it also gives me a satisfying feeling of confidence. I have never been at this stage I am at now. And if I hadn’t met Anthony, I’d probably still be stuck in my bubble, with an utterly feeling of regret.

Now, about a year later, both, Anthony and me, are still continuing doing whatever we want, proving as many people wrong as possible. While Anthony is crossing rivers, instead of taking vehicle-ferries in Australia, I’m finding my way around New Zealand, just having finished my first ever novel, bringing my own little motto and lifestyle (Dare Yourself – Prove them wrong!) to life. The road has never been easy, for neither of us. We both had to go through hell and back. But giving up has never been an option and never will be! Whatever will happen in the future, I’m sure Anthony will inspire many more people and we will meet again in the future to take on the world.

I hope the story inspires you to get up and live life! I won’t say it’s easy, cause it’s not. But if you never do what YOU want, you’ll never be able to say that you’re truly content!

GET UP! CAN-WILL-DID!!

Dani

 

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The edge of the world!

Hey guys, what’s up?

You know how I was writing about my tsunami – anxiety in my last blog post?? Well, it’s kinda justified over here! It’s even so much of a real thing, that the government even considers using marine life, like dolphins, stingrays and sharks as an extra security system. Doesn’t make much sense to you? Well, here is the explanation: All these animals have the ability to sense vibration a lot better than we can and react to it by swimming offshore, further into the ocean. So, as soon as they sense an earthquake, a bunch of animals would suddenly be swimming further into the sea. By tagging and monitoring them, this could actually be another early tsunami – warning system for the people living close to the sea! Would be a blessing for us humans, but probably more of a torture for the animals having to get tagged, I assume.

However, I actually got up with this, because I got the once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to feed and pet wild stingrays in the Gisborne area! They were a lot smaller than expected, but suuuuper friendly! They actually like to sit on your feet, while they get a little pet! A bit like a real pet! 😀 I was actually the only one on the tour, thus, I had plenty of opportunities to feed them. Unlike dolphins, they have a slime – layer covering their skin, making it possible for us to approach them, without them catching any bacteria from us, making them sick!

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You’ve probably all heard of the Steve Irwin accident, making them seem like aggressive creatures, while it was actually just a defence mechanism, which they can only use once in their life! I’m definitely seeing them as less dangerous and actually super friendly creatures now 🙂

By the way: It’s happening again… Again, I broke a camera…  Luckily, it was only my cheap waterproof camera, but I still don’t get it! I did not even touch it this time! What do I do wrong?!

Later that day, I checked out the “Rere Falls” before I ended up meeting a bunch of crazy locals at my campground, who invited me over for dinner and drinks! Super friendly people, trying to help, where they can! One of them is a 22 –  year – old girl, who even invited me to her aunt’s house in Routoria!

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But first, I was on a mission to chase the sunrise. It was not like any other sunrise, it was THE FIRST glimpse of a sunrise, you ever get to see in the world! I’ve been to the easternmost lighthouse of the world – the EDGE OF THE WORLD! I can proudly say, I was the first person in the world to see the sunrise since the earth is tilted!! It was just magical! Not like any other sunrise! It seemed to be a lot clearer! Or maybe that’s just me, I don’t know 😀 However, I genuinely loved it!

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Gisborne itself is also the place that Captain James Cook landed on when he discovered New Zealand in 1769!

Getting to the easternmost point itself though was hard work. Many, many ks of windy road, a quick stop at a 600m long wharf, unbelievable amounts of gravel on a 20k gravel road and 800 steps later I was at the top of the “East Cape”, where you find the famous lighthouse! I’ve expected nicer views, to be honest, but ..  I mean… what do you expect to see at the easternmost point, except for water! 😛 I doubt you can spot America! 😀 What I spotted instead was massive moths!! You think those big as moths only exist in movies?? Hahahah! Hell no…

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Finding a camp spot later on was literally the hardest part of the day! This might be a bit subjective, but I don’t think, that caravan park owners elsewhere would suggest to head to another caravan park because the sides are too muddy! Am I wrong?? Normally, it’s all about the money isn’t it?? And by that I mean: all over the world! They usually always try o make it possible for you to stay somehow! But over here people are genuinely honest, making your wellbeing priority! I’ve never experienced that before, hence, I’m sorry, if my above statement is offensive in any way. But come one: It’s true, isn’t it?!?!

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So, I  picked up the girl that I met in the caravan park and together we went out to her aunt’s house. It’s quite remote. A small farm on the east coast! This half of her family is Maori. Super friendly people that just randomly invited me into their house. It’s massive and full of Maori carvings, having belonged to a prominent Maori descendant! I really don’t know, how I so often end up getting the opportunity to get to know locals, unlike many other travellers. I’m super grateful for these opportunities! They are definitely life-forming moments! 🙂

Anyway, during our little road trip, I actually got to know the girl a little bit! Believe it or not, but she got into a horrible car accident… innocent..  I’ve seen pictures.. 2 out of 5 dead! Guys, always be wary! Don’t take anything for granted! No one expects it to happen to them, but not expecting it doesn’t mean, it won’t happen! Seeing the picture of the crashed car wreck thoroughly shocked me! I can’t show it to you guys, I just hope that things like that might actually make people aware of the dangers!!

So after we had arrived, we went out to the beach in a 4wd. It was a tough track though, I tell ya! We had to go through a creek and multiple deepish crossings to actually get to that beach! That is exactly what I love! Back in my element!

It was lowtide, so Toni’s cousin decided to actually dive into the water looking for shellfish. Yes, her cousin actually jumped into the water collecting the seafood by hand and no, I didn’t do it. I was just spectator 😀

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The tide came in quite soon, which is why we had to get back to the vehicle before we got washed away 😛 We then made our way back via a different track, almost getting bogged on the beach 😀

I’m sorry for making this blog post a massive preach, but I’d like to point out how welcoming indigenous people are! I’ve experienced the same in Australia! These people live together in close communities, knowing, helping and respecting each other and foreigners. You basically get treated as a part of their family, no matter, whether you actually know these people or not. I legit just got introduced to a young family, no one actually knew who I was, but regardless, the kids came and hugged me and I got kisses on the cheek! I reckon the way they live is, what is lacking in many other societies! These days many other people are just focused on themselves, trying to avoid getting out of their little bubble! I’m tired of people judging the indigenous! Guys, if you have no idea about the truth, if you haven’t experienced it, don’t go out and spread the word of others. If you don’t manage to make your own picture of a situation, don’t go and believe other people’s rumours! Of course, there are always exceptions, but please don’t put everyone in the same pot!

Consider the world as a rainbow: multiple colours living next to each other happily! That was cheesy, I know!  I was just looking for a good transition, to tell you about my adventures at Rainbow Mountain between Rotorua and Taupo!

Because I have the job lined up in Taranaki, I’m slowly making my way back. Rainbow Mountain is a stop along the way, that I still wanted to see anyway! It has an elevation of about 750m and is called “Rainbow Mountain”, due to the coloured silica you’re walking on!

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I was super lucky with the weather! It was pouring like crazy the day before!! You know it’s storming when the ducks vacate the lake and move into the puddle next door since there are crazy waves in the lake! Yes, waves! Kinda scary, knowing it’s a lake and not the sea…

Anyway, I climbed up Rainbow Mountain. It was definitely a challenge! The rain made it all muddy and uneven! It’s actually a mountain bike trail as well, but I wouldn’t attempt it… hell, no! There are partly massive holes! You can’t even ride your bike around them! Don’t know, how people do it, but they’ve got my respect!

I got really close to the summit when I suddenly started feeling really uneasy… But giving up was not an option for me! This doesn’t mean, I’m encouraging people to do the same! If you’re hiking on your own somewhere and you feel unwell, you should return. I’ve recently heard a story of a girl dying on a hike because she suddenly got sick and didn’t get help soon enough… So, take care, guys!

I made it, though! The views were nice, but a bit clouded! Once again, I could see how green New Zealand actually is, it’s unbelievable! A special country, for sure!

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You should go and explore it yourself!

Dare Yourself!

Dani

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Leap of pride!

Hey Guys, what’s up?!

Well, I don’t know .. I really don’t know what to think about the Kiwis… on the one hand, they are super caring, lovely people. I got offered a lift, for instance, when I was standing on the side of the road with all my luggage, waiting for the girls I bought the car from or I just got an upgrade for a large instead of a small hot chocolate, just by telling them about my day… Just little things like that 💕 But then on the other hand… I got pulled over by a police officer for going to slow!!! Yes, you have read correctly. I was going like 10ks too slow, causing the van behind me to get a ticket for crawling up my a**!! What the hell?! And you know why?? Cause the roads here are super narrow and windy, going along cliffs and over mountains… and they make you go 100!! Plus, it says every 5ks “Slow down, high crash zone!!” Sorry, police officer, I’m gonna make sure I go 100 next time while falling off the cliff.. super ridiculous!! I didn’t get a ticket or anything when I explained that I’m not that confident driving on roads like that yet. In Australia, you have people going slow all the time and they don’t even have an excuse!! Anyway, the officer liked to make me feel a little more uncomfortable by constantly pointing out that the van behind me got a ticket just because of me… Thanks, officer! You’ve encouraged me to speed, sir!!

It was not my day anyway. I got everything in my car set up. Not the prettiest or best car, but it does the job. Here a few pics:

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I did what I had to do and started my travels up to “Northland”. First stop: “Black sand beach” in Muriwai. Yeah, I’m not a massive fan of beaches, hence, I didn’t stay long, but it was still cool to see a “black beach” and the black sand was beautifully sparkly ***

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But the Kiwi’s are weird man, I tell ya…  I was just on my way to the ” Waipu Caves”, when I saw a guy cleaning someone’s windscreen. Not such a weird scenario, you might think, but what if I told you that all this happened at a red traffic light and the guy cleaning the windscreen was a stranger to the guy driving the car!! Sort of like a pitstop!! This made my day!! Absolutely hilarious! I was next in line, but unfortunately, it had turned green already 😀

So I continued to the caves. The road got crazy again.  The last 5ks were offroad, along a narrow edge. Oh, and basically it was a one-way road… at least at some parts. It was a bit like Russian Roulette..you’ve got a 50/50 chance of dying by a car hitting you while driving around that corner! BUT I gotta make sure I’m going full 100 guys!! Better sorry than safe, hey?! 😛

Anyway, the caves were really wet. Everything was muddy and my torch wasn’t really bright enough for an excursion deeper into the cave. I didn’t see any glowworms either. What I did see, was a big spider right above my head. They follow you everywhere!! The caves were still really great to see though! And you can access them without a guide at your own risk, which is kinda a really rare thing over here. So, I played around with my camera a little bit and look at the picture I took! Now I finally know how that works. Next time, I’ll take a picture like that on purpose! 😀

Next stop was the “Hundertwasser public toilets” in Kawakawa. No joke, they are a tourist attraction!! An Austrian guy named Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who immigrated to New Zealand, made this his final project using his special and unique style of architecture. They were definitely special and I really enjoyed going into these public toilets, which I usually don’t!  This guy definitely knows about standing out of the crowd. My respect! A beautiful piece of architecture!!

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Do you know what it feels like to get circled by chooks?? I do! I just wanted to get out of my van to go and explore the “Haruru Falls”, but unfortunately I couldn’t get out cause I was surrounded by a dozen roosters and chickens!! Was not as hilarious as it sounds, but I just jumped out at some point and managed to get down to the falls! Due to the fact that it constantly rains over here, the falls were 10x stronger than usual! Definitely worth a visit!

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Anyway, I drove on! Up to the northernmost point New Zealand’s. It took me ages to get there and the road was super windy!! Perfect for people with motion sickness!! You know, it was only like 200ks. It would have taken me an hour and a half maybe to drive that distance on Australian roads, but here it took me like 3 hours because roads are just super dangerous!! I eventually made it to the top and still missed that little adventure… no water crossings, no corrugations, no dirt, no mud… but you can’t have everything 😛 Instead I passed massive sheep stations, which was also worth it! Anyone wanna offer me a job?! I’m almost out of money 😀

Whatever Cape Reinga was beautiful though!! I don’t like beaches and coasts, but this one was impressive. This is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet! It was also suuuuper windy though! Taking pictures of yourself when you’re by yourself is already hard… but the wind brought the thing to a whole new level!! 😀

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If you ever wondered about the weather at night, I can tell you it’s freezing! -3 degrees and I’m sleeping in my car!! And we all should know that frost is even colder than snow! Yeah, I’ve got a pretty awesome sleep! 😛 Oh, and guess what: my heating is not working … you can start shaming me now! I take it… 😛

It was finally sunny during the day though! So we decided to go to Raglan, a surfer hotspot. Well, we don’t surf and it was freezing anyway, but the beach was still nice! It was another “Black sand beach”, but I noticed something… The sea is a bit too calm for surfing! There were no waves at all 😛

So we walked along the beach for a while and then 265 steps up and down to get to the “Bridal Veil Falls”. Yep, we ’re pretty active that day in contrast to the day before 😀 It was a pretty waterfall! About 50 metres high and quite strong due to heaps of rain! Unfortunately, we passed another horrible accident on the way out. This is the second I’ve seen since I’ve been living on the road… It definitely stresses you out mentally…

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Because where else would I be able to get back into my 4 wheel driving, if not in the extreme sports capital?!

I’m back in my element!  So, we joined this Bush safari – 4×4 track in Rotorua that definitely gives you an adrenaline rush! It takes about an hour taking you to multiple obstacles like deeper water crossings, the “bridge under construction”, which was basically a log on one side only, an obstacle that brings your 4wd into a 45-degree angle without rolling over or “the luge”, which is the craziest one! You drive downhill at an 80-degree angle in “neutral”!! This was soo much fun!! Can highly recommend! Proves once more that 4 wheel driving is definitely my thing!!
But it also proves that it’s justified to have trust issues! The guide that helped us throughout the track, made it really hard for me to trust him after giving us a leave of the so-called “bubblegum tree”. It’s edible and supposed to taste like bubblegum… in the beginning… then the taste turns into pepper. Of course, he didn’t tell us until we were all chewing on the leave already…  ewwh 😛

The trust issues continued when he started shaking the car while we were hanging in a 45-degree angle, telling us that you shouldn’t put your car in a bigger angle than 40 degrees if you don’t want to roll over 😀 Well and then it still didn’t stop. On the so-called “Luge” the obstacle that forces you to drive straight down a hill in an 80 degree angle, he made us drive right to the edge, put the car in neutral and then asked us to do multiple “brake tests”, bringing us closer and closer to the point, where brakes don’t work anymore! He kept going, though, because he didn’t want to give us a chance to decide ourselves when we want to start rolling down that hill, so during the last “brake test” he gave us a little push! That was a pure adrenaline rush!! Throughout the track the kept putting signs up like “parachutes for hire” or ” underwear for sale” just to make it a little more fun! 4 wheel driving is definitely my thing! Makes me happy! One day I’m gonna own my own high clearance 4wd.

But, Rotorua’s geothermal activity, on the other hand, is an awesome way to warm up in one of their 40-degree hot pools!! Definitely what I needed after a freezing night! I couldn’t handle it too well though since I almost fainted when I got out of the hot into the cold 😀 Don’t worry, I’m fine now!

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I’m fine now, but I wasn’t for long since it was the day of our bungy jump!! Ahhh!!! I had to go into sort of a “birdcage” hanging from a crane, 43 m in height! It was just me and the instructor up there. While standing on the edge, I was 150% convinced, I wouldn’t do it! I was scared to death and I’ve got no idea what sort of higher powers made me actually jump when he counted “3..2..1..BUNGY!”!! Felt like a leap into death because you can’t feel that you’re attached to anything! Well actually you can, because the velcro around my calves was so tight, I could not even feel my legs anymore 😛 The first leap was not even the worst! As soon as you start bouncing back up and down, even faster… that’s when you should start screaming!! On the way back down, they just let you hang on that rope and let the cage down slowly. They grab your hands and pull you on your back and at that exact moment..  you know you survived!!

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Watch my “leap of pride” here:

Always remember: If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space! 😉

Just do it!

Cheers,
Dani

http://www.bookme.co.nz/bookings/rotorua-taupo/home#bb2b2

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