51 weeks later, I’ve packed my things and should now be at Auckland Airport, awaiting my departure from New Zealand. Australia is next on the docket. I’ll be landing in Melbourne and finding my way from there. I don’t have a specific plan or itinerary for when I get there. I’ll just figure it out as I go.
New Zealand has been a great home for the past year. There are quite a few things I’ll miss about it. But, my desire to keep travelling is still strong, so I’ll keep on going.
Here are some of the things I’ll miss when I leave New Zealand:
Amazing scenery – New Zealand really is a beautiful place. So much fantastic variety of scenery is packed into a small, easy to travel package. It really is something that people can see a good majority of the scenery NZ has to offer in a busy 3 week vacation – doing so in most countries just isn’t possible unless you sit in a car/train/plane the entire time. Through the pictures I’ve taken I’ve hopefully given a glimpse of what it is like being here, but from personal experience, pictures really can’t capture the vast scenery here properly. Standing atop a mountain peak is something that really has to be experienced first hand, and New Zealand’s scenery is so accessible that you really can have those picture perfect moments all on your own.
Friendly People – The Kiwi people are unfailingly warm and friendly folk. Pretty much every backpacker here has a story or two of Kiwis helping them in a situation (often without prompting for help), inviting back to their home for a warm meal and good company, offering of boat rides, car rides or other transport options…everything. New Zealanders take great pride in the fact that NZ is a tourist destination for many, and strive to make sure we enjoy the wonderful country they call home.
Caramel Slices – I hope Australia has these. I might go through withdrawls otherwise.
The Department of Conservation – They get lambasted a bit by the local populace, but from an outsider’s perspective, the DOC does such a fantastic job of keeping NZ’s nature…natural. The DOC looks after almost everything to do with the outdoors, from possum and stoat eradication to trail maintenance and hut wardens. While NZ isn’t a big country, the accessible nature of the outdoors here means the DOC has a daunting task. And they pull it off. The trails were almost universally in good to great shape, the huts well looked after and well situated, hut warders extremely friendly and knowledgeable, signs on trails ensuring hikers find their way to their desired destination…everything.
New Zealand isn’t perfect, there are a few things that they really could improve on quite easily (House insulation, Internet access, the bland cheese…grammar…), but overall it’s a country that simply feels warm, inviting and livable. Thanks for the year New Zealand.