vista of mountains, a lake, and dirt road

Next stop: New Zealand

Sometimes when I close my eyes—in between looking at flights, sorting through my things, and the endless bouts of packing and repacking—I see myself as a bright red balloon, floating through the sky. I can see the places that have shaped me into who I am today: Duluth, MN; Gustavus; the Great Smoky Mountains; Denali, and on. But I’m not tethered. I’m unbound
—free-wheeling through the atmosphere, letting air currents take me to new sights and possibilities, familiar faces and places.

Sometimes, it’s a wonderful thing. Sometimes it leaves me feeling lost, wondering if I’m charting the correct course for whatever I want in my future. There are those who praise the way I’m living life post-graduation, and those who criticize it. But if I have learned one thing since last June, it’s that I need pursue what makes me happy and chase my dreams while I can. Every day is precious.

With my next move in this enormously complex game of chess, I’m not putting anything off. I’m pursuing something that I’ve dreamed of for a long time: traveling to New Zealand.

On Saturday, December 1st, John and I will be boarding a plane that will take us from California to Auckland, New Zealand.

Where is New Zealand? What is different about the Southern Hemisphere?

New Zealand can be seen off of the coast of Australia, in the Oceania region of the world.

New Zealand is an island country that can be found southeast of Australia in the Oceania region of the world. This means that New Zealand also lies south of the equator, putting it into the Southern Hemisphere.

There are some major differences between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. 68% of the world’s landmass and 90% of the world’s population resides north of the equator. In the US, we imagine our summers lasting from June until August (or even less, if you’re in Alaska), and winters from November/December to March. South of the equator, those regions of the world are experiencing an opposite tilt to or from the sun than we are in the north, which means their seasons are opposite. In New Zealand, summers last roughly from December to February, and winters from June to September. High temperatures while we’re there should range from the low 60s to low 70s depending on what region we’re in.

What will we be doing?

Our answer to this question surprises most people: we don’t know yet. We have working holiday visas, which means that we are able to accept work in exchange for money. There is a huge backpacker-friendly culture that kicks into gear during the touristy summer season. Terms of work can last anywhere from one week to six months at vineyards, orchards, hostels, hotels, restaurants, etc. As a job-driven individual, I have to remind myself that I am trying to earn money to pay for my travels in New Zealand, not forward my career. Because John and I have a lot of future options up in the air in the US, we aren’t even sure how long we’ll be in New Zealand yet, but at least 5 weeks.

What am I bringing?

Packing is not something I take lightly (unless we’re talking about how light my pack is… Ba dum tss). Because we will be moving around frequently, less is more. Fewer items on my back or in my hands means more time and energy spent learning and exploring instead of hauling and unpacking.

The goal is to pack everything I need inside of a 60L backpack (and possibly a small daypack). It might take a Christmas miracle, but I can make it happen. My list (that I’ve shamelessly been working on in Google Sheets for over 2 months) includes everything from clothes, shoes, and outerwear to a tent, sleeping bag, my camera, and Kindle.

I don’t have an Instagram-worthy photo of my belongings laid out nicely on the floor. It just never happened that way.

Here’s what my real packing looks like—clothes and jackets strewn across couches, chairs, and the floor. Ziploc bags and packing cubes packed and unpacked 30 times or more. Seven rounds of choosing and cutting back. Fewer clothes than I imagined I could have decided to bring.

The finale: I did it! After hours of reorganization, debate, and even tears, we finished. When we land in Auckland, it will be 1am PST/3 am CT on Sunday early morning, but it will already be 10pm that night in New Zealand. Let’s get used to crazy time changes!

Bozeman wanted to join me on my adventure—next time, buddy!

From the Arctic Ocean to the Southern Hemisphere, I can’t wait to see where our adventures take us next. I am always interested in hearing from anyone who would like to each out, otherwise be on the lookout for more frequent posts and updates in the coming weeks.

Happy trails!


Differences between Northern and Southern Hemisphere.

Distribution of Landmasses of the Paleo-Earth.

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