After my amazing year in Australia, I wasn’t ready to stop traveling just yet. So I decided to visit the neighboring country of New Zealand for a month. The experience was rapid, mainly filled with long bus rides and take-your-breath-away views. I had met the occasional New Zealander here and there during my travels in Australia and the nickname everyone seemed to have for them was “Kiwis”. It wasn’t until I visited New Zealand that I realized this nickname came from the kiwi bird that is native to the country and regarded as an unofficial national emblem.
When in a new place I always try to scout the best breakfast spot because the one thing you need to have to be an energetic adventurer is the proper fuel. As I walked around the quiet city streets, I noticed a line out the door from a little coffee shop known as Midnight Espresso. I could see why it was so popular! Along with the unique artwork that scatters the walls, they had the best coffee I tasted in New Zealand.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongawera was an exquisite museum with a nice balance of historical displays and unique artistic expressions from the locals. The display that struck me the most was about the Anzacs in World War I. It honors the New Zealanders that gave their lives in battle, the conditions in which they had to live in, and incredible life-like displays of nurses and soldiers.
The indigenous people of New Zealand are known as the Māori people. Their story begins with an epic journey crossing the ocean in canoes from their legendary homeland of Hawaiki, using the stars as their guide to eventually lead them to New Zealand. Learning about the indigenous culture was a big part of what I set out to accomplish. In many ways, like Australia, that is how I honor the land that I visit in my own way. After seeing statues honoring them along the streets, the All Blacks rugby team performing the haka, and the museums displaying the Māori language next to English descriptions I was so excited to see a country that shows respect to the indigenous people of the land.
While wandering the docks next to the Lambton Harbour, I understood why Wellington is known as the windiest city in the world. The wind was so strong, I could lean a good amount of my weight against it and be supported. It is so unbelievably windy the only practical advice I can give is to make sure to bring extra hair ties, otherwise your hair will constantly slap you in the face. (I had to learn this lesson the hard way!)