finally I arrived in my dream country New Zealand. Everything is even more beautiful than I imagined it to be. The landscape is insanely impressive, the people are very nice and helpful, the food and wine are very good and you experience something new every day and get to know many interesting people from all over the world.
But now I start from the beginning. On 17. January I arrived in the land of kiwis and sheep after a 28-hour flight to do a work and travel program. The entry turned out to be very complicated. I was held up by customs for two hours because I had an apple in my bag. Fresh fruit has to be either thrown away or declared before arrival. Because I had forgotten my apple due to the excitement and anticipation of finally arriving, I had to discuss with the customs officers and had to pay a $400 fine. When I asked if I could eat the apple now after having to pay so much for it, I was only told if I was joking. Well, that was probably not the best start in New Zealand, but now it could only get better ;).
Finally arrived at the hostel in Auckland, it was time to overcome the jetlag. I spent the next five days there doing some organizational things, like opening a New Zealand bank account and applying for a tax number. Sightseeing was not neglected, of course, in five days you can do so much. From the Skytower, Queensstreet, the harbor, several city parks and museums up to Mount Eden, the highest volcano cone of the city (and at the same time viewpoint over Auckland), I saw everything. I can only rave about Waiheke Island. This small island is 35 minutes by ferry from Auckland and promises beautiful sandy beaches, rocky coves and stylish wineries. Here you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city of Auckland.
After this 5-day acclimatization phase, I went on to the Caretaker farm in Wangateau. I found the farm through the website www.wwoof.co.nz found. "Wwoofen" (World Wide Oppurtunity on Organic Farms) or working as a "Wwoofer" is very common in New Zealand. This is a program where you work on a farm for about four to six hours a day, get free food and accommodation and learn about organic farming. When I arrived at the farm, I was very shocked. The life on such a New Zealand farm is completely different than in Germany. When I saw the many spiders and learned that we had to put away everything edible at night because otherwise the mice would eat it, I wanted to leave again. What kept me there were the farm owners, who were very open-minded, helpful and nice.
I shared my new home with eleven other wwoofers from all over the world (Canada, France, USA, Sweden, Austria, Holland, New Caledonia). Our tasks were among others: Feeding chickens, weeding, watering the garden, cleaning and painting shelves, walking the dogs, and planting a vegetable patch. What I will certainly never forget is when we slaughtered the 19 chickens we had been feeding every day and ate them for dinner in the days that followed. Another big project on the farm was the construction of a clay oven, which is not finished yet and will surely take some time to finish. The farm owner also had a small store where each of us worked one day a week. After two weeks I wanted to leave the farm and look for a job to earn some money. When I told this to the farm owner, she hired me. So in the following days I worked half a day each as a "wwoofer" and the rest of the day as an employee.
I helped around the house, took care of their 90 year old mother, did various office work, you could say I was "the girl for everything". In total I stayed there for four and a half weeks. After the initial shock, I can say in retrospect that it was a super good and educational time and one of the best experiences I've had here so far. I learned a lot about the country, the people and their habits, improved my English and found really good friends.
Start of my road trip
After this time we went back to Auckland, back to civilization (the farm was in the middle of nowhere), where I expected a friend from Germany, who visited me here and traveled with me for 4 weeks. Shortly before her arrival I quickly bought a car – and with quickly I mean within an hour. I saw the car in Auckland on the street with the inscription "for sale", immediately met with the owner, took a test drive and decided to buy the car. Then we only had to go to the post office and re-register the vehicle in my name, which cost 9$ and was done within 10 minutes – unimaginable from a German point of view ;).
Now our road trip could start. We started from Auckland in the direction of Coromandel and had a look at Hot Water Beach, which is crowded with tourists and where you can dig for thermal springs at low tide, and Cathedral Cove with its gigantic stone arch. Then I went on to Rotorua, the "sulfur city" of the country. In the thermal area, where it smells like rotten eggs all the time, we could see spraying geysers, steaming thermal springs and bubbling mud pools. We visited Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, a lively Maori village surrounded by bubbling pools, quartz terraces and geysers. Here the villagers still live the same way as their ancestors did centuries ago.
Our next stop was at a very nice hostel in Taupo, on Lake Taupo, the biggest lake in New Zealand, where we did a sailing trip to see the 10 m high Maori relief at Mine Bay and just relaxed. The next day we started early for the Tongariro National Park, from where the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the most beautiful day hikes in New Zealand, starts. Unfortunately we had bad luck with the weather this day, it was raining, foggy and very cold. Not good conditions for such a hike. That's why we couldn't do the tour that day and went directly to Napier at the east coast. Here we had only a short stopover to look at the coast and the art deco architecture before we went on to Wellington. In the capital of the country we had bright sunshine and blue skies again and could enjoy our three day stay. I took the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens, from where I had a great view over the city, and I walked back across the government district. In the evening we explored Cuba Street, Wellington's cult street and the harbor. The next day we visited another viewpoint, Mount Victoria, before we took the ferry to Picton at 2am.
Our days on the South Island consisted mainly of driving, because there are very long and time-consuming routes to get to the destination on the South Island. Nevertheless we had very nice days there and experienced a lot. Highlights were: Dolphin Watching Tour in Kaikoura, wine cycling tour through the Marlborough Sounds, walk at the Pancake Rocks and at the end of our trip together a kayak tour through the Abel Tasmann National Park.
For my girlfriend it went back to Germany and for me back to the North Island. My next destination was a brewery near New Plymouth, so I drove north along the west coast and stopped in Whanganui. Here I was lucky enough to stay in a hostel for free, or what does free mean, in return I had to clean the rooms ;). Then we went via Dawson Falls (waterfall) and Hollard Gardens (comparable to botanical gardens) to the brewery. My new home was an old caravan, which I shared with 2 Frenchmen, who also worked there. My next days consisted mainly of labeling bottles. The reward was a lot of free beer. On the weekend I helped out in the restaurant of the brewery and was responsible for making pizzas. It was quite stressful, when suddenly a group of hungry bikers arrived.
On my day off I did the Summit Track at Mount Taranaki, a 2518 m high volcanic cone that dominates the landscape here. The last outbreak was 350 years ago, so the locals think that a new outbreak is overdue. Anyway, during my hike there was no lava coming towards me. The day was a highlight, even though everything hurts now and I can hardly move because of my sore muscles. So far I have experienced many great things and enjoyed my time here very much.
My conclusion after 3 months: It was the best decision to go to New Zealand and work& Travel to do. The experiences I had here were all very positive. Except for the apple story ;). My plan for the next weeks is to earn some more money and then travel again. It is very easy to spend money here, there are 1000 different outdoor activities and you are spoiled for choice. It is easy to earn money, but you will not become a millionaire, because you mostly work for the minimum wage. But a beginning has already been made, I am currently working in a small cafe and thus improve my travel fund.
Back in Germany
So, now I am back home again and it is quite unfamiliar. Exactly three weeks ago I arrived at the airport in Munich and was warmly welcomed by my parents and friends with balloons and "welcome back" signs. The joy to see everybody again was huge and we had a lot to tell each other, because a lot has changed in seven months. What else I have experienced, I do not want to withhold you of course.
During my work in a small cafe in Waitomo I met many interesting people and had good experiences. At first I was the dishwasher, but then I was allowed to serve guests and cashier quite quickly and that was a lot of fun. I also had to help out in the kitchen from time to time. Here it was my job to make sandwiches, bake cakes and prepare dinner.
The cafe is located in the Waitomo district. This region is known for its caves (Waitomo Caves) and therefore a popular destination for tourists. The caves can be explored quite comfortably on a tour by foot or by boat. The millions of glow worms on the cave walls are very impressive to me. If you are adventurous, you can also do a blackwater rafting tour through the caves. So I did it too and can only recommend it. After rappelling down 100 meters to get into the cave, we spent about four hours crawling and swimming through the cave, jumping into water holes and climbing up waterfalls. This was pure adrenaline and certainly one of my highlights in New Zealand.
After my four-week stay in the region and working in the restaurant, I went on to Hamilton. Here I made only a short stop and looked at the city including Hamilton Gardens and Hamilton Lake. Then I went to my next destination: a dairy farm near Matamata. Actually, I only wanted to stay here for two weeks, but in the end I stayed for four weeks. Also here I have only good experiences.
The farmers were very, very nice and helpful and I learned a lot, for example how to drive a scooter. When I told them that I was going to Thailand for one month after New Zealand before going back to Germany, they insisted to teach me that. Because in Thailand it is cheapest to rent a scooter and explore the country with it. My first driving lesson looked like this: the farmer put me on his old moped, explained to me how everything works and then disappeared for lunch. After I drove an hour with the moped on his field in the circle, until I could shift gears, brake and accelerate, I was allowed to come also finally to the meal. But riding the scooter was only the beginning. On the following days I was shown how to drive a tractor and how to operate an 8t excavator.
Otherwise the life on the farm looked like that, that we got up every day at 5 o'clock to milk the 180 cows half an hour later. After that we had a big breakfast before we went back to work again. In the afternoon at four o'clock the cows were milked again. Besides the farm work we also made some excursions.
One day we went to Hobbition – the filming location of the "Lord of the Rings" movies and "The Hobbit. The "film village" was built on a sheep farm and is maintained by about 100 employees. Tours leave every 30 minutes, and since the world premiere of the first Hobbit movie, a new record of more than 2 visitors per day is emerging.000 tourists from.
Once we made a trip to the sea. This does not sound so extraordinary now, but it was. We drove with the truck to the beach and parked so close to the sea that we were already standing with our feet in the water when we got out of the car. The truck was well equipped. There was everything you need for a successful beach day: picnic table and chairs, barbecue, food and drinks, deck chairs, two boats, a scooter, a sofa and a bunk bed,… so the day could only be good. Since one had probably looked at me, how surprised I was by all this – who arranges his truck already as a driving living room – the farmer has only said to me "One must think also times beyond the borders and do something crazy".
During my time on this farm I sold my car again, even more expensive than I paid for it at that time, which made me very happy. With this money I booked a flight to the South Island and flew to Queenstown – into the cold – in the middle of May. Here it was winter and there was already snow on the mountains.
The last four weeks of my time in New Zealand I traveled together with a Frenchman. We rented a campervan and drove from one attraction to the next one. Started at Milford Sound with the many waterfalls, continued to Invercargill and a really nice viewpoint in Bluff.
Then we went on to the Catlins, an area in the southeast of the South Island of New Zealand. The Catlins are a very sparsely populated area with a picturesque coastal landscape. First we drove to Waipapa Point, where we had a look at the lighthouse. Not 20 meters further we almost stumble over sea seals, which were lying quite comfortably in the grass. From here we drove over gravel roads to Slope Point, the southernmost point of the South Island. The next days we visited some waterfalls – there are quite a few in the Catlins, did some short hikes and finally went to Nugget Point. Here again beautiful beaches awaited us and we could even observe penguins in the wild.
Next destination was Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula. The mussels that we found on the beach and prepared fresh in the evening I will certainly not forget. That was delicious. On the way to Lake Tekapo we visited the Moeraki Boulders and saw some seals on the beach. From Lake Tekapo, where it was just raining, we went to Mt. Cook. Arrived there it was really cold, but also really beautiful. A 1.5 hour hike took us to Hooker Valley, where we could admire a glacial lake. In the rain we went back to the car and continued towards Glacier Country – Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. This was our last big stop before we drove over Arthur's Pass to Christchurch.
In February 2011 an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 hit Christchurch and destroyed parts of the city. Today, in June 2014, we still have a very uneasy feeling as we walk through the streets of the city center. A lot is closed off, where there used to be houses are now huge parking lots. Some ruins are still standing, but will probably soon be demolished. At the moment hundreds of people are working to rebuild the city, except for construction noise hardly anything to hear.
Christchurch was not only the end of our round trip with the campervan, but also the end of my stay in New Zealand. From here I am on the 25.06.2014 we flew to Bangkok.
Bangkok stands with me first of all for culture shock. From the beautiful, natural, quiet New Zealand I came to a city of millions with way too much traffic, dirt, noise and exhaust fumes. The first days I had to get used to this new life situation, but I could not really make friends with the city until the end. Nevertheless I experienced and saw a lot here again: from Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple, the Grand Palace, the Floating Market, the Chatchuak Weekend Market and of course the notorious Khao San Road everything was there.
After eight days in this metropolis I urgently needed to go somewhere else and so I decided to fly to Bali and meet a friend from Germany there.
Bali – here the world looks already again completely different. I felt very comfortable from the beginning, Bangkok was probably just too big and too crowded for me. The people here on the island are again very friendly and helpful, the weather was the three weeks I spent here, just gorgeous. Here was a real vacation feeling.
On the first day we borrowed scooters and now I was also really grateful to the farmer. It is no comparison whether one drives with the scooter by Bali or races with a moped over a field, nevertheless I felt now relatively safe on the vehicle. The traffic rules in Bali are also very simple, you have to honk every time you drive around a curve and if you take someone's right of way, you just honk twice briefly. Otherwise, you can get everywhere with the scooter – one-way streets you can also drive in the opposite direction😉
With the scooter we did some tours: to the Monkey Forest, to the temple in Uluwatu, to the Gitgit waterfalls and to the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the rice terraces.
One day we walked up the volcano Bartu at half past four in the morning armed with flashlights to see the sunrise from there. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy that day and the sun was hardly to see. Nevertheless it was a really great experience.
After a few days we went by speedboat from Bali to Gili Trawagan. This is an island off the coast of Lombok. The island has about 700 inhabitants and there are no motorized vehicles. The island environment is rich in corals, in which countless different fish species are at home. During our snorkeling trip around the island we swam with turtles and could observe the beautiful underwater world. Here we had a good time. Since everything is relatively inexpensive, we let ourselves be pampered with a traditional Indonesian massage and "spruced up" again with a mani-pedi. Then it went also here slowly again to the end. After a few nice and relaxing days at the beach it was time to pack our suitcases, or better pack our backpacks and try to bring in everything we had accumulated during the last 7 months. Souvenirs for the loved ones at home were of course also not missing. Gradually the excitement and anticipation for home increased and then I was already sitting in the plane and it went back again.
Yes, and now I am back here and slowly settling in again. The trip was probably the best thing I could have done, but coming home was also a nice feeling again. To the questions of my friends and acquaintances if I have any regrets or if I would have done something differently, I can only say "NO, absolutely not! It was just perfect!" I am very grateful for all that I have been able to experience, for the nice people I have met and for the beautiful moments I have spent with you.
Thanks again to Zalando and the World Citizen Scholarship Team for the great support!