New Zealand. Let me paint a picture of New Zealand to you. The highways are only two lanes. It is mostly agricultural scenery from town to town: vineyards, sheep, goat, cattle pastures, vineyards, and fruit farms. You always need layers. The sun gets hot during the day but sometimes there’s a chill in the air and you need a scarf, sweater, leggings, and beanie. There are about five main different groups of people here: 1. the Maori natives who’s land has been gradually taken away by the Europeans and most of whom live in the north island. 2. The European kiwis wearing rugby shorts, operating farms, or going out for a proper Sarurday brunch. 3. The outdoor activists, here to hike, hike, maybe kayak, and then hike again 4. The travelers on here on working holiday or on a tourist visa. 5. Asian tour buses, usually from China. Since I would be in the fourth category I know the most about this culture and how it works, in this connected web sort of way. New Zealand has been the coolest place to let go and just go with the flow. I can’t even tell you how this works out, it just does. It’s the reason I don’t have to pay for a hostel every night, why I’ve gained new friendships, and what’s given this trip such a personal feel, even if it’s only temporary, the memories are what matter.
Last week I was beat tired after an intense five days on a hiking track. I forced myself to leave the hut and walk the few hours to the car park. Once there it’s another 25km to the restaurant where you can camp or eat or grab a ride into town. So I hoped that some hikers would come down from the mountain and have a car to drive us (a couple from the UK needing a ride too) closer to town. But no one came. So we decided to motivate each other and start the walk. Good thing my bag was lighter then. Everyday it got lighter because I’d get rid of food. I had with me a small tent, sleeping bag, one outfit with layers, a cooking pot I got from Salvation Army before leaving, and gas cooking supplies. Also, wool yarn that’s been serving as my pillow, so soft and still smells like the sheepy mmm mmm. On the road walking there are berry bushes. We eat them for some energy (I’m out of food at this point). And a truck passes. I saw out loud, that truck is going to make a way back to us! The other two totally didn’t believe it, especially after an hour passes and all we see is the long track ahead, more sheep, and the lake. But then the truck came back! And we hopped in the bed for the next hour of a beautiful scenic ride back to civilization. I was so happy. There was a guy in the truck with us who just got done running one of the peaks with a man hiking 50 peaks in 50 days to raise money and support for mental awareness. I had just read an article about this guy the night before.
New Zealand is a little bit behind other countries but it doesn’t seem like anyone really cares. The South Island feels like an amusement park for nature enthusiasts and people who just want to do what they please. The government here is more relaxed than in the States. Because the culture is so varied, it’s hard to define a community core in most places. I’ve made it to all the major cities. Wellington is my favorite due to its harbor location, themed restaurants, and size. It’s probably comparable to Providence Rhode Island. I didn’t stay in Christchurch for long but it’s amazing how the city is still undergoing tons of reconstruction from the earthquake four years ago. Queenstown had an awesome location: right on a beautiful lake, wedged between mountains and rivers, but there were too many tourists there for my liking. I also kept running into familiar faces here, including an old mate from Endicott. It’s a city built on the tourism industry with loads of activities for every person to do, especially adrenaline related ones. I didn’t do anything like this though because why should I spend $200 to be scared half to death in order to bungy jump. Nah. And there is a gondola you can take up for a good view, but I can do this sort of thing at home for free. Skydiving was $400, also too expensive for my budget and I want to do this with certain people. However, I did go to a free yoga event one day which included a weed-foraging workshop, dream catcher making, and yoga classes. (Since then I’ve been snatching up edible dandelions and clover on my hikes for extra energy) : ) Which reminds me of something else, I’ve attempted to eat something grown in the soil of every place/town I go to. It’s a fun little challenge. The latest time was the other day in Wanaka: pears, peaches, and grapes from the public gardens.
I just got of an interesting bus ride. The driver started off by telling us how yesterday there were almost three head on collisions on the road. Then he decided to make it a tour bus, even though it wasn’t, and proceeded to play a decade old history video on the South Island starting at 7 am super loudly. When it was over, he talked the rest of the four hours about the areas we were passing, stories, history, yada yada all while driving on extremely windy roads with the ocean or a cliff edge on either direction. Alls well. I usually feel safer hitch hiking. Did I ever mention the time my friend and I got picked up from a woman who invited us to sleep at her home and then the three of us watched movies? So friendly.
New Zealand coffee: they don’t sell drip brew. What they do sell are long blacks, short blacks, flat whites, and then your usual latte or mochachino. It’s grape harvesting season on the vineyards. They especially make nice Sauvignon blanc and Pinot Noir. I visited a salmon farm the other day in a town called Twizel. We got to feed them and they would all jump up to get the nibbles. I visited Twizel only because the name intrigued me. However, there is nothing in twizel, besides a creek and a rope swing. ‘Wild’ deer farms are quite common here. It’s funny to see a bunch of deer in one pasture, just eating and looking around, instead of running away from cars or people into the woods, although some still do this.
All for now!
May you be whole. May you be a presence. May you live simply and healthfully. May you be filled with love.