Kia Ora from New Zealand! iGNANT Travel visited ,Aotearoa‘ - the Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand‘s rugged mountains, dramatic coastlines and lush forests inspired adventurers ever since the first Polynesian canoes arrived at the far away Island. Maori tradition says that the great explorer, Kupe and his wife first saw New Zealand from afar, all cloaked in clouds, and that‘s how it got its name. On my long, long, not ending flight around the world I felt the same, watching the ever moving surreal forms and recreations of my white surrounding, loosing time and space while heading towards Aotearoa.
Finally there, I was welcomed with blue and greenish color all over the country, peppered with white little dods (sheepy sheep - fourteen times more than people). Aotearoas' legendary beauty, with its sweeping sandy beaches, rolling green pastures, majestic mountains and the unique wildlife with the little Kiwi all just waiting to be explored. By the way, the Kiwi is not only a cute but flightless 'bird' and the national symbol, but the nickname used internationally and as a common self-reference by the people of New Zealand. As the bird, it is treated with pride and endearment as a uniquely recognisable term for the people of New Zealand.
As New Zealand is with its 4.2 million people and 13.7 people per sq km a sparsely populated country and on the South Island, where I spent most of my time, there are even less people and more sheep. Nevertheless New Zealand is a melting pot for various cultures; you have the British settlers, Maori culture, Polynesians, Scotts, Croatians, Indians and Chinese and for sure Australians. All together, being a Kiwi means living on an island far far away from the rest of the world and everything they do is just a bit different and slightly crazy (well, beforehand celebrating christmas in summer). For me as I'm used to be surrounded by people, other countries next door and a long ancient history all the time, it feels so different and free having just nature and water around me. Not being afraid of doing things differently and in combination with their can-do philosophy is what makes the Kiwi so special and this you can feel in everything they do. It‘s their progressive and unconventional way of thinking, always with a pinch of humor in it. Kiwis are a tolerant bunch and all of them share the so called 'New Zealandness', where they welcome you as a friend, openminded, relaxed and always with a smile on their face. The sentence, ,it‘s not possible‘ just doesn‘t exist.
You can find it all there, the tiniest capital of the world, vibrant arty atmosphere in places where you wouldn‘t expect it, a naked rugby team , the best coffee on earth, going to your hotel by watertaxi, finding the ring to rule them all, being a pirate on your own conquered boot and so much delicious regional food and wine everywhere, that I was afraid I would be rolling home after this journey. Just lay back, breath the fresh air and wait for more upcoming stories.
Text & pictures by Anke Nunheim