I’ve been home from New Zealand for 4 months already. In complete transparency, I found this post, finished and unpublished, and felt that it deserved to conclude my story in New Zealand.
When I got back to Minnesota that first week, I slept a lot. I reflected a lot. I talked about our travels with John: our challenges, our strengths, what we want to improve on in the future. I actively thought about my time in New Zealand every day, but I put off writing about it in favor of taking my dog Bozeman for walks, going to the gym, or movie nights with my parents.
Then the Christchurch shooting happened. And I wanted to write about my personal experiences in New Zealand even more. To show that I experienced a country that had NO hate, no tolerance for exclusion. But I didn’t know what to say. I was at a loss for words because I was shocked to my core that something so horrifying had come to pass in a city I’d lived in and left just four weeks prior.
I’ve been home from New Zealand for months. I still hit the windshield wiper lever when I want to make a turn (it’s all backwards in New Zealand), and I’m still converting grocery store prices into a lower-US dollar price in my head.
I am a slightly different version of the Lindsey that left Minnesota in November, if only because of the things I’ve learned, seen, experienced, and struggled through.
Here are just a few of the things that I learned while traveling:
- In order to stay (at least moderately) healthy on the road, I found creative ways of eating foods that weren’t granola bars and pasta everyday. Learning how to sustain a healthy and nutritious diet on the move (with a van cooler that blows 50 degree air instead of actually refrigerating or insulating) was frustrating to say the least. But finding nuts, veggies, fruits, cheeses, and meats was a good way to eat both on the road and on the trail.
- Hokey pokey is a New Zealand flavor of ice cream, similar to toffee, and it is something I will miss dearly.
- While I have always been a strong advocate for open communication, this trip has proved even more so that being honest about feelings, stressors, and anxieties is absolutely imperative to a healthy relationship. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t stumble along the way.
- I value having time to write and reflect about the events and feelings that transpired throughout the day. It became habit in Christchurch for me to rise with the sun and write whatever came to mind while I sipped on tea or coffee (it’s also the most peaceful time of day at a hostel).
- Spending money on transport, lodging, and food completely out of pocket can be incredibly stressful.
- It’s okay to plan some parts of the trip on the go, as long as I’m willing to be flexible with what the outcome is.
- Researching pays off! There are a number of trails, unique sights, and tucked away spots that John and I wouldn’t have found had we not read ahead.
- Checking city event pages is a great way to find things the locals are doing, like when we attended a beeswax making workshop in Christchurch (I think in a group of 30 we were the only travelers there).
- Sustainability is clearly embedded in this country’s culture. I noticed more environmentally-friendly products in grocery stores (like soaps, toothbrushes, reusable produce bags, NZ-grown produce) and sustainable campaigns (like one that encouraged New Zealanders to give native trees to plant for Christmas instead of presents no one will use) than I have seen in everyday American life.
So what was I up to all spring after returning from New Zealand? Visiting people was my number one priority. I spent time at my grandma’s house, had dinner and movie nights at home with my parents, went skiing with friends, was incredibly active through gym classes and walking my dog, wrote a couple of freelance articles for money, went snowmobiling, and visited my brother in Madison.
In March and April, I traveled to Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Colorado. It was thrilling both to be spending so much time seeing new places, but also to enjoy company with friends and family along the way.
More stories to come.