A quick post to mark one month in New Zealand. I’ve met great people, sat and done nothing, climbed mountains and gotten scared in the bush and today I go into the new and exciting South Island
It’s been one month and today I head to the South island. I was hoping to stay longer in the North but snow and hail kicked me off the mountains and a rugby tournament has kicked me out of Wellington but I guess I’ll let myself enjoy the unplanned synchronicity of leaving the north island after one month of tramping through it’s jungles and snowy peaks. Since it’s been a month I did sort of a self check in and realized it’s about time I invest in deodorant, a hairbrush and a razor. Three things I have now gone a month without and the lack of me using these human cleaning devices hasn’t gotten me kicked out of any public places yet, but it’s about time to be clean. My short hair has managed fine without a being brushed, my hairy legs and underarms are hidden, my smell is often not hidden but my current rough exterior would seem incomplete without a smell. After a month I have decided to actually count the number of clothes I have, thirteen pieces of clothing. Some of these clothes haven’t seen a washing yet, only three have seen any sort of proper washing, thanks to Lesley in Taupo, and the rest help keep the seat next to me on the bus empty. I have gained a pair of chacos and ditched my insole-less, blister-inducing sneakers at my last hostel. I have gotten my first cold but no stomach bugs have slowed me down yet just a miserable but manageable runny nose. One month and I’m still in one piece.
A month ago I got onto a plane convinced I had a plan. One month ago I landed in Auckland and realized I had absolutely no plan. I got to my friend Elena’s house and as she and her family asked me about where I was going it hit me that I wasn’t really sure, South? I spent an afternoon looking at maps, websites, backpacker forums, all in search for a plan to hold my hand during my travel. Places to check off my itinerary. I never got that, in fact trying to make a plan made it all worse; I felt more unstable then I did before. So I stopped and instead I talked climbing and boys with Elena as she showed me her rainy city. When I left my comfortable bubble of Auckland I found myself deep in the bush. I tried to convince myself that no plan meant endless open doors that all lead to an adventure. When I was hiking I could see that, I felt the freedom, but when I got to a town after hiking for days I began put out my hands in search for a plan again. This routine of being blissfully lost and happy in the backcountry then chaotically reminded that I don’t have a plan on the front country didn’t go away for awhile, it still hasn’t completely. I still enjoy every steep step of the backcountry and bask in the freedom the mountains give me and I still come back to the frontcountry reluctantly but now not because I’m scared of my lack of an itinerary but simply because I just like the mountains more. I don’t scrabble when I get to cities and towns anymore and begin to plan too far ahead I finally just keep moving. Keep letting myself get taken by the current.
One month in and I’ve been exhausted and not really from hiking but from traveling. From packing up my tent everyday and packing my bag just the right way so everything can fit. I’ve also discovered it can be thoroughly refreshing to stay in a hostel for a night and it feels even better if it’s planned a day in advance. That those thin mattresses and pillows feel like a memory foam mattress in comparison to the ground under my tent. I’ve found out Cadbury chocolate is also a way to cure all problems but that is more of a luxury then hostels. Also that these two luxuries feel like necessities after days of unexpected rain since the weather forecasts in New Zealand seem to always be wrong. I’ve learned to always expect rain. I’ve been reminded that setting up a wet tent and slipping into a damp sleeping bag isn’t fun and that after days of doing it you are bound to get a cold. Which reminded me, more potently this far away from home, that moms and dads make the best cures to sickness and that packets of powered soup don’t do a lot and don’t taste very good, but a flat white coffee can cure close to any ailments; at least until the cup is empty. I’ve learned that when your traveling by yourself you have no one to judge you for wearing the same clothes for many days. I’ve learned that you meet more people when you travel alone, maybe it’s pity that inspires people to approach a lonely traveler maybe it’s curiosity, whatever it is people are always open to talk, but traveling alone can also be the most beautifully isolating experience.
After one little month I see how world travelers get stuck in New Zealand and end up settling down here rather then continuing to see the rest of the world. I see how this island can capture you. Now when I hike I no longer think about the foods I’ll eat when I get home instead I imagine what Kiwi things I’ll get, I think about the next hikes, the people I’ve met and the next towns to explore. I am more here then I have been.