By the time we reached Christchurch, we were traveling for 4 months already and we felt very happy about staying longer in this country than we normally do. Our mission was big: buy a car to travel flexibly, find a job and still visit as many places as possible. What I could not foresee at that time was the danger of feeling too comfortable with all the conveniences that come along with this kind of travel. That´s why in this entry I will put more focus on the personal experiences of my travel rather than the sights and recommendations I normally concentrate on (btw: it is so easy to travel NZ: Just download Campermate and go with the flow- you´ll have an excellent time!)
Buying a camper van determined also the atmosphere of our trip. Having everything close and in one single place is a fantastic feeling! We dind´t touch our backpacks for 6 weeks what made me feel „at home“ and also the posession of cutlery, gas cooker and chairs made me feel prepaired for pretty much EVERYTHING, haha! Additionally, this beautiful country literally awaits to be discovered, every 20 km you find a new mountain, beach, view point, tramping opportunity, cave or animal spotting point, that´s why in the first weeks we felt like Robinson Crusoe himself- besides the fact that we had to share most of our discoveries with many other tourists. Well, December and January are not the best months to look for remoteness- but still I found way more than expected.
From Christchurch we started our trip to the Banks peninsula where we had the best view on the southpacific ocean. Here, we also spent christmas in front of a fire place with a bottle of wine and 2 german friends we got to know in a hostel- Bernhard and Christian. We met them spontaneously in a couple of places and always enjoyed an easygoing mood- especially the tramping to Mt. Cook was a very deep common experience as Christian and I pretty much had the same (slow) trecking velocity and so did Bernard and Adelia. At Mt Cook, we started at a temperature of 20 degrees in the valley and ended up walking in the snow at 1800 m altitude. What a walk for me as an unexperienced grumpy tracker! Here I learnt about the rush it can bring to fight your steap way up to the summit to enjoy the astonishing view- what a nice metaphor for so many situations in life!
Spending some days at lake Tekapo and lake Pukaki, we enjoyed some clear nights to watch the stars.
Heading towards the Catlins, I can say that there is barely a comparable feeling of freedom to me than passing beautiful landscapes with a well-choosen playlist and the best friend beside me talking about everything that comes to my mind and never knowing what can be discovered behind the next slope. We passed by a gemstone beach, „the end of the world“ , many camping grounds where we spent the nights in front of a bonfire and beautiful forests that where mystical and surreal because of the outrageous diversity of flora and fauna.
This was also the part of our journey where I started to appreciate the simple act of sharing because in this abandoned area, you feel the inner necessity to get in contact with the few people you meet-not only for sharing good stories but also for salt, cooking equipment or a helping hand to collect firewood. As trivial as it sounds, the satisfaction of dissociation from personal possess was one of my key experiences I had in New Zealand. The further we reached the remote south, the more I focused on the pleasure of the nature rather than thinking about things. Living with the nature, the world I know from back home seamed so far away and gave me lots of reason to think. There is so much pleasure for me just by waking up with the sound of the birds singing, then quickly jump into the next river and discover the surrounding by taking pictures or walking around. This part of our journey was characterized by a calm and close relationship to Adelia also because we evolved the same rhythm what made it very intensive for us to travel together.
In the Fjordland, I had my next magical moment: seeing a yellow eyed penguin just because waking up with sunset and going to the beach enphasized the necessity to enjoy every single moment rather then spend too much time planning the next trip, goal or what ever. Especially while travelling when you know you will probably never return to the place you´re at right now makes it so clear that the moment is now and shouldn´t be wasted by worring about tomorrow. From my background I feel that especially my people tend to always plan, organize and worry a lot about the future and, while doing so, miss the chance to feel the uniqueness of that ONE moment. I hope I will learn to appreciate the moment on our world trip and not always keep busy thinking about tomorrow!
An unforgettable moment, in a very bad context though, was the start of our year 2017: disapointed from the slightly boring atmosphere of Invercargill we spent the night in a hostel (pure luxury!) with a kiwi and a malaysian girl until 1:00 am, deciding to go to bed early, we suddenly heard the kiwi peeing right next to Adelias bed in our dorm. He didn´t even wake up after Adelia made clear that he is triyng to enter HER bed instead of his a couple of meters away- he only put off his pants and layed down naked in his bed. OMG, what a disgusting moment, probably the worst hostel experience ever and we qickly continued our trip via Te Anau to the westcoast and appreciated our togetherness in our beloved van.
At Milford Sound, we met Bernhard and Christian again and decided to do a kayaking and boot trip through the beautiful 15 km long fjord. It is amazing how small I felt compared to the huge dimension of the glacier-formed landscape. A very nice experience!
Passing by Queenstown and Wanaka, we enjoyed being back to civilisation and directly bought some warmer clothes because the weather was worse than expected in this season. Like jerks we stormed the Kathmandu-store and bought jackets, socks and warm leggins. Obviously prepared now, we did our first glacier track in Wanaka before the phone call of Gourmet Summerfruit reached us: „Girls, meet you at 4:00 pm in our office, your first working day starts tomorrow at 8:00 am :o) Sometimes everything goes exactly as it should- we were very lucky to find the job in the cherry packhouse and so we continued our trip to little Roxburgh, surrounded by yellow and ochre-coloured montains and a nice river.
Without knowing anything about cherry grading we found ourselves in front of a convert belt with approx. 50 other people- let the show begin! Most of the days we started at 7:00 am and finished at 5:00 pm. The work routine followed a fixed schedule of 3 breaks between 10 & 30 minutes. The rest of the day we sorted out bad cherries from a convert belt that ran THE.WHOLE. TIME. The biggest motivation for me was the music we listened to while grading the cherries. Sometimes everybody was dancing to keep warm (in the packhouse we had approx. 10 degrees to keep the fruit cold), it was very funny to watch this spectacle and also our supervisors joined us from time to time- the atmosphere was very peaceful. But still, after nearly 4 weeks of standing the whole day in one place watching the millions of cherries passing by, we were happy to leave Roxburgh! We finished with my birthday party, after which several people had to leave the camp ground- it was a really wild party and will always stay in my mind! By the end of our job, we became good friends with some french, kiwi, mexican, taiwanease, argentinian and thai working mates what also resulted in a spontaneous adaption of our travel route. To better stay in contact and enjoy our last 2 weeks we decided to skip the north island and travel up the west cost until Montueka, do the multi-day-hike at Abel Tasman and return to Christchurch.
For me,the best came last: the whole west cost was insanely beautiful: rain forest right next to mountains, glaciers and awesome beaches- the widest range of the best landscapes here in (south) New Zealand! We traveled with a friend from Roxburgh and his chilean friend from Wanaka to the Franz Josef Glacier, to Okarito, to Hokitika, to Punakaki and to Takaka. Again I felt vast freedom and excitement on our way along beautiful beaches; had another struggling track at the glacier and enjoyed the leaned-back atmosphere in Takaka- right after the luminate-festival, many visitors came here to „chillout“ so we met very interesting people and had good conversations while smoking an apple. I was so ready to „live the moment“ and I really enjoyed every minute of our journey. I shared everything I have with the people around me and became one with my environment. Especially at the Abel Tasman track I inhaled all the nature around me and captured the beautiful sunlight in combination with the palm trees, the marine blue or turquise water , the green forests or the moonlight at night- we even had full moon! After that track I had the feeling that the colour of my eyes got a little more blue somehow- I don´t know what this is about but my time in New Zealand literally opened my eyes for a lot of things and I am very thankful for all the awesome moments I spend in the nature, in my thoughts and in the embrace of the great people we met here! It was nice to see you again, David and my lovely Zora and also meeting Flo again felt like meeting longknown friends! Thanks for our common adventure, as always the people met determined the success of our travel!
We are lucky now to continue our trip to Nepal. So far I didn´t regret one single day of our trip, not even now that we struggle to sell our van so hopefully you feel inspired by our journey!