New Zealand Travel Adventure: It’s a Wrap

Today closes somewhat of an era as my son, Chris, catches a flight out of Auckland, New Zealand. When he left for New Zealand 9 months ago with only one suitcase, a backpack, and a one-year holiday work visa, he didn’t know what city he’d first settle in or what he’d be doing.

Although he wanted to explore other cultures for years, those first few weeks in New Zealand were filled with lots of emotions as he wondered if he had just made a huge mistake. He got rid of most of his belongings and  flew across the globe by himself with his most specific plan to live and work in a new culture.

Beautiful New Zealand mountains

To say it was a New Zealand travel adventure is probably an understatement.

He made lots of friends – mostly others who were also  young expatriates looking to experience life. Along with that came good-byes to those good friends – something that is never easy.

By the photos he shared, I can say he saw sights that are like no other. His trip throughout New Zealand’s entire North Island was filled with incredible views and was a hiker’s heaven.

He had to figure things out… such as buying a backpacker vehicle, totaling it and buying a new one, and having that one eventually die with mechanical problems. And then there was finding work, which seemed easy but I’m sure it took time and effort. Thanks to his jobs he now knows how to care for grapes,  pick kiwi (really fast), and can now do a 360 jump on a snowboard.

As I’ve shared his adventures in this “As Told by Mom” travel series, I can say it’s been a vicarious adventure for me! Writing has helped me feel just a little more connected with my son who I miss lots. I enjoyed researching the places he went, and also enjoyed sharing the stories with you.

Moving On

In the previous post, Chris was working at the Mt. Ruapehu ski mountain. The employees were able to pick the date on which they wanted to be done, and he and many of his friends all chose October 7.

New Zealand ski mountain workers and friends
Co-workers who became friends at the ski mountain pose for a final year-end photo.

After finishing up at the ski mountain, he and 19 friends then went on a canoe trip for a long weekend.

Friends on a canoe trip in New Zealand

After that he went back to the lodge and packed up his belongings in preparation for his next trick.

Where Now?

Today Chris is flying to Thailand. He’s traveling with a friend who he  worked with at the ski mountain. For the most part, they’re traveling “Chris-style,” which means they have no idea how long they’ll be there or what they’ll do.

After an 8-hour layover in Maylasia, they’re flying into Bangkok and have a hostel reserved for three nights. He hopes to find a beach to relax in the sun after a winter in the mountains. (Remember, New Zealand’s seasons are opposite of ours here in the U.S.)

They might travel to a few other countries while they’re in the general area. It’s looking like there’s a good chance he will be home for Christmas, which of course makes this momma happy!

Questions & Answers About the New Zealand Experience

To sum up his experience, Chris answered some of my questions to end this travel series. (Thanks Chris!)

Q: What was your favorite sight that you saw and why?

A: Cape Reinga. The two oceans colliding was super cool. We were 50 km from any civilization so the stars were amazing.

Amazing star-lit view in Cape Reinga, New Zealand. #NewZealand
Starry, starry night at Cape Reinga, New Zealand.

Q:  You went with a work visa. Were jobs difficult for you and other young expatriates to find?

A: Good jobs were hard to find. Laboring jobs were easy.

Q:  What is your biggest take-away from the entire trip.

A: People are people no matter where they’re from.

Q:  If someone is going to NZ for one year with a work visa, what’s your best piece of advice to maximize their experience?

A: Mange your money wisely. NZ is not a cheap place.

Q:  What was the most fun part of your experience?

A: Traveling the north island. It’s tough to describe but living out of a van roaming the best sites in the nation with a crew is an interesting way of life.

Q:  What was the biggest challenge during your time in NZ?

A: Getting a bank account, tax ID, and car sorted while jet lagged.

Backpacker van camping in New Zealand

Q:  If you knew then what you now know about going to NZ, would you still go?

A: In a heartbeat.

Q:  What items do you highly recommend someone (similar to your situation) going to NZ for nearly a year should pack and not pack.

A: Bring a positive mental attitude. Don’t bring Netflix.

Q:  You met friends from many different countries. How did you all get around language differences?

A: Pretty much everyone speaks some amount of English. A quick Google or describing something usually cleared it up.

Q:  What 3 words best sum up your NZ experience?

A: Vagabond. Mountain. Chur. (Note from mom: I had to lookup the definition of chur. Here’s what I found: (New Zealand) A strong voicing of thanks, approval or agreement. Also used as a parting salutation.” The UrbanDictionary defined it as “Kiwi for thanks, cool, sweet, etc.”)

Thank you for following along with my “As Told by Mom” New Zealand travel series. Check out the links below if you’d like to visit any of the previous posts in the series.

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Recommended items to pack for your New Zealand Backpacker Trip
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All Posts in the New Zealand Adventure Travel Series:

    1. New Zealand Travel Adventures as Told by Mom
    2. New Zealand Work Visa: First Few Weeks
    3. New Zealand Adventure: Working at a Vineyard
    4. New Zealand Adventure: Exploring the North Island
    5.  New Zealand’s Northland: Hiking & Picking Kiwi
    6. Omanawa Falls: New Zealand Adventure
    7.  Mt. Ruapehu: New Zealand’s Epic Winter Playground
    8. This post ! New Zealand Travel Adventure: It’s a Wrap!

New Zealand Travel Series: takeaways of a 9-month adventure.

16 Replies to “New Zealand Travel Adventure: It’s a Wrap”

  1. Thanks for sharing your son’s adventures with us,it was a fun trip, looking forward to the next one.

    1. I know! I was just browsing through some pictures when he had short hair. Will be interesting to see what he does with it when he gets home.

  2. Thanks for sharing Ellen. I can’t wait to see a photo or better yet a photo of your reunion hug with your amazing son! Thank you to Christopher for allowing you to share with us other moms who then appreciate our baby boys being in Milwaukee!

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