Caldera volcanoes, snow-capped mountain peaks, epic surf, dramatic fjords, this is the Land of the Long White Cloud – Aoteora – this is New Zealand.
In 2009, I spent 5 months in New Zealand chasing every adventure the country had to offer. This is where it all changed for me and I really began to cultivate a confidence in the unknown. My time in New Zealand changed the trajectory of my life. It was then I knew adventure and travel had to be part of my life and career in some way.
What did I get up to while I was there?
Me and a couple university buddies bought an 87 Mitsubishi Mirage and named it Charlie. That’s how I learned to drive stick… while driving on the left with a right-side driver seat and left-handed clutch. I was all sorts of backwards!
I studied the biology and ecology of marine invertebrates under one of the world’s premier Antarctic sea ice divers, and also barely passed a geology class.
I partied way too much, or just the right amount.
My brother came to visit and we went sea kayaking in the Milford Sound, trekked the Fox Glacier (first time rocking crampons!), went canyoning in the Blue John canyon just outside of Auckland, wine tasting around Otago, and skydiving in Wanaka.
I decided to jump out of a helicopter on my snowboard in Methven’s Southern Alps, and also carved up the slopes of Cardrona, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and Treble Cone.
I’d go and pick fresh mussels from coastal cliffs after epic surf sessions, play guitar around beach campfires, and sleep in beach caves.
I screamed louder than I ever thought I could while leaping off of the Nevis Bungee 134 meter suspended platform.
When the semester ended I hiked the Kepler Track (one of NZ’s Great Walks) and then hitch-hiked across the South Island going wherever the rides took me, camping where the sun went down, and reading Kerouac over bottles of red until I made it back to my flat in Dunedin.
Really, this is the trip that turned me into me. And there were tons more adventures. But these were the highlights I can remember while scribbling this post over airplane WiFi!