Since a long time ago…. I promised to all my friends I’ve met in NZ, to you, that I would share my story. All my blog is written in French, a language you don’t speak, and it is about a story I shared with you guys. So here I am now, writing in English, for the great people I’ve met. This is ly story and I will remember you, I will try to not to bored you but to show how YOU participated in making my made my travel that great !
So… once upon a time, a journey in New-Zealand. Everything was about adventure, an unexpected journey so far away from home, a long way from home, to the other side of the world. It all started from Lyon, France, last summer, when I decided to quit on everything : job, apartment, habits, family and friends. I had no obvious reason to leave the great lifestyle I had, but trust me, sometimes, you need a big change to get over someone.
So, late January 2013 was the beginning of my trip to NZ. A new country, nobody waiting for me, just me and my bags landing in Auckland, with a three-nights booking in an hostel. And that was the beginning of the heck of an adventure !
My road trip in NZ, eight months !
Discovering and visiting New-Zealand
First of all, if I chose NZ as my destination, that was mainly because of its reputation of beautiful outdoors and wilderness. As an active outdoors person, I’ve seen such beautiful places in France, either from the French & Suiss Alps, to some gorgeous surf beaches on the west coast, and up to dramatic coasts of Brittany. I must say I had then very high expectations about NZ.
What a blast ! After a couple of weeks already I knew I would see much more than I would ever expect! And now, YES, I can tell, I have seen the most various and beautiful landscapes I have seen in my entire life !
I have been from a gorgeous sunset over the ocean, seeing dolphins and killer-whales with behind me a stunning view on glaciers, only 20kms away from there ! The Bushes are so wonderful that you feel like being in the jungle ; in some places the forest literally spills into the deep blue sea. From the sunshine on the mountains, clear sky views with dozen of shooting stars, the view on some massive glaciers to the very dramatic fjords ; the purely clear mirror lakes reflecting the glaciers, skiing with the stunning view over lake Wanaka, every single place in NZ deserve to be visited. Some places are just so unreal that I wandered if this could be real. The most stunning landscapes were truly breath-taking, that I could just say “wahooooo !!”.
I can give as examples the beauty of nature in Karamea, the wilderness of Milford Sounds, the tranquility of the Marlborough Sounds, the relaxing sunset over the deep blue lake Tekapo, with snowed mountains in the background, the magnificent glaciers of Mount Aspiring National park, the gray and windy desert in Farewell Spit. There was a lot of actions when shredding the ski fields in Wanaka with great view over the lake, Mountain biking in the bushes, having some fun in Pelorus River or trying the surfing in Cape Reinga ! Getting lost on the coast, of the track in Abel Tasman or swimming to a desert island a kilometer away from the coast was also among the greatest experience, getting into the wild and discovering places that are not visited by most. The impressive view of hundreds of seals in Kaikoura, playing with the most clever animal and unique mountain parrot, the Kea, having cutlery stolen by a Weka or being disturbed by night by possums reminded me how important it is to preserve animals. Unfortunately I did not have the chance to see a Kiwi, the endangered native bird of New-Zealand.
All these amazing experiences were unique in their kind. Going tramping for days in the bush or the mountains reminded me how beautiful life is. I witnessed some gorgeous sunsets, couples of days away form the first road, truly living the moment, the instant magic and quietness that only nature can offer. Such variety of landscapes, I can take as per example the north of South island: less than 100km around : desert, paradise sandy beach, mountains (ski fields!), sounds, beautiful caves, rain forest, kite-surfing spots, vineyards… I really wander where else in the world such diversity exists.
So, I want to share this with you. Here is the collection of the best pictures I’ve taken, I tried my best, I’m not a professional (I wish I were!) :
And of course pictures will never be as beautiful as it was in real.
I had the chance to be fit enough, to have the gear and the experience for multi-days hike, either staying in huts or camping in my tent, with only a friend, a compass, a map and some advice from the rangers. This is the way to get into the wild !
Next big chapter of my adventure in NZ was discovering another lifestyle. I had the chance to stay long enough in NZ to get to know the locals, also known as “kiwis”.
Meeting the locals is, as a general manner, always a great experience. But living with locals was even a better experience. This is about learning the way they live, something that can be different of what I used. So I had the opportunity to stay for 7 weeks in Wanaka, at Jane’s place, with Tao, her 8 years old son. As a helper, I worked for her, doing some gardening and various DIY, in exchange of free accommodation and food. We eventually rapidly became friends.
Staying at Jane’s was discovering a new way of living: such a beautiful place, with great overlooking on the Clutha river, a much relaxed and peaceful living, far away from all non-sense of big cities. This is where I totally fell in love : Wanaka is a little town in the middle of some beautiful mountains, by a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Inhabitants are extremely nice, this is probably the safest place I have visited in NZ. There are as well heaps of activities to do : this looked like to me the greatest life style ever.
So I decided to live it, I bought a mountain bike and went for rides in the sticky forest after work, went kayaking in the lake, went for a little jump in the beautiful Clutah, river and went hiking the Roy’s peak to enjoy the gorgeous view over the lake. And when winter came, just another 40min drive away, there is Treble Cone, the best ski field in NZ, for advanced skiers, also overlooking the beautiful lake. I had the chance to get there for a powder day, with fresh powder snow and absolutely wonderful weather. I went with Jane an Tao, skiing of piste and with Tao looking after him on the beginners slope.
Wanaka is also well-known for one of the best spot for rock-climbing, para-gliding, hiking and albinism (Mount Aspiring National park is 30 min drive).
So what kind of life is that ? This really sounds like paradise to me, relaxed people, beautiful nature, sports and outdoors activities…Trust me if there was some IT jobs over there I would have stay forever.
I made a little video to show you how beautiful and fun my stay in wanaka was :
Unfortunately this video does not cover the skiing part.
Here are some pictures :
Another of the greatest experience during my travel happened in Blenheim. This small town, top north of South island produces 80% of wines in NZ. And as I was running out of money, I headed there, to be a seasonal worker. At this time of year (winter), camping was not the most convenient option. So I went to live in a backpacker.
I had the chance to crash in this great Backpacker, where only long-term travelers stay. 38 guests when fully booked, all living in the same huge house, this could sound like a pretty hard lifestyle. But no. We may live in dorms, share facilities and have the same sh*ty jobs, we had all good and fun times.
Because this is our responsibility, to make this place this place nice and comfortable, and a good place to live, we did it. Although we were all different people, from different countries and cultures, all tired from labor works in vineyards, we all made it right. Everyone have something to bring, from a smile to some delicious dishes, organizing a party, trip to the swimming pool, cinema time or a job, we all contributed to build what we finally called Home.
So the backpacker’s became Home, the guests became Friends and eventually they turned into a Family. This experience was a new to me, as I used to keep traveling around or stay at friends or locals. Staying in a place for a while with others travelers, from different nationalities and ages was great. I got to know everybody’s story, passions and interests. I made so many friends I would probably never met if I did not stop there, and this was the best human experience I ever had !
We had a lot of parties, so here are couple of pictures :
Then leaving Home was hard times. I had to move on after 7 weeks. Such hard times, to leave a place where I made friends, had a job and found someone very special. Feeling like abandoning everything I’ve built, leaving the people I loved, people I shared moments with, tears and good laughs is also part of traveling. I don’t think I will ever get used to that.
So I went back on the roads, again…
Travel mates : let’s hit the road !
When arriving in NZ, I was on my own. I bought this van on my own and decided to make my own travel. But I never said I wanted to BE on my own. How boring this would have been ? It was, for the only few days I ended up alone.
As traveling is about meeting people, my plan was to find a travel mate to get around, share the stories and the experience. Thing done, I had the privilege to travel with Kat (USA) and Joana (GER) for a months and half, and with Julie (FR) for couple of weeks. And trust me, this my sound awkward to share everything 24/7 with a unknown person, but trust me that was great ! As long as we had same interests, same philosophy, speak same language, doesn’t matter if you are from Germany, France or USA, this was a lot of fun !
The world is ours
These 7 months and half spent traveling in NZ was the experience of my life. And the most important thing I’ve learned, is that we are responsible from our own happiness. We take decisions, and there will always be good decision. Always something good to take. Sometimes I felt like I should not have gone or done something, but finally always made it right.
No money ? Get a job, don’t be picky. Bored or Unhappy ? This is time to move on, and keep going until you feel good. Choose where you want to be and who you want to be with. The world belongs to us and possibilities are endless. Money is not a problem, I’ve made some travelers with NO money at all and they were much happier than the richest persons I have met.
That the main thing I’ve learned. Making your way, your own. Life is too short and the world is too big to dream somebody else’s dream, it’s time to make your own, your way, time to make it happen. Dream it, do it. Now !
All my special thanks go to Jane, Sabrina and Julie. You definitely inspired me the most. I miss you a lot !
Thanks for reading !
PS : more videos on my youtube channel !