Why I Have to Visit New Zealand Again
After ten weeks in New Zealand, I have now packed up my mountain bike, left my car with friends, dodged several hundred dollars of oversize baggage fees, and flown halfway around the world to Chile, where, incidentally, I got to feel my first earthquake. (Hurray?)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Chile. I love the mountains. I love speaking Spanish. I love the street food and the empanadas (now that I haven’t eaten them for two years and have forgotten how sick of them I used to be). There is just one problem:
It’s not New Zealand.
And I just wasn’t done with New Zealand yet.
For example, even though I got pretty good at driving on the left, I never did manage to successfully parallel park a left-hand drive manual. (Mind you, I have yet to parallel park a manual of any kind, but still. It was a goal and it didn’t happen, so it looks like I’ll have to go back.)
On a more serious note, I have a list of other iconic New Zealand experiences that I missed out on, either due to money (or, ahem, lack of it), weather or time. We tried to go swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura but were foiled by rotten weather. I wanted to hike the Tongariro crossing, but unfortunately my knee started acting up at just the wrong time. I never got together the courage (or the money) to go paragliding in Queenstown. Oh, and I never saw glowworms. Of course, for every one of these things I did do, I had three equally cool experiences. I don’t regret anything; I just know I have to go back.
New Zealand is a small country, so you’d think 10 weeks would be enough to do everything that I wanted to do. At least that’s what I thought. I’m now realizing how incredibly naive that was.
Sure, I could have packed a lot more into my trip. I met people who spent only a few weeks in the country and managed to hit up approximately a million tourist destinations. (How you do this without your brain exploding is completely beyond me.) I think what I realized in New Zealand is that I like traveling slowly and that traveling slowly is really the only way to see this country. Sure, you can try to go fast, but New Zealand will do everything possible to slow you back down again.
We planned to go from Auckland to Queenstown in a week, so as to have more time to explore the south. It took us three. After this trip, I am even more convinced that while schedules are sometimes necessary for “real life,” travel should be allowed to unfold unhindered. And if you don’t get to everything, well, maybe it’s just a sign you have to go back.
As for the parallel parking, well, okay, maybe I should have practiced more…