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Travel Journal

Volume I, Entry 4
Jessica Long, age 22
Auckland, New Zealand

In the past month, my life living in New Zealand has been drastically altered. After five months living and working in NZ ’s biggest city, today I found myself driving winding unsealed roads with no destination in mind and all my belongings crushed into one pack. My home is a tent, my kitchen an over-stuffed plastic box and a portable one burner stove, and my daily agenda is left to impulses.

Last month I was struggling to quit my job, buy a car and plan a 12 day dream vacation for my parents during their visit. Yet today, life is much simpler. My parents have come and gone; our time together was precious and almost indescribable. It was so comforting and refreshing having them here with me- reminding me of the pleasures back home while introducing them to my newly found joys. We traveled throughout Auckland and ventured to the Coromandel peninsula in our recently purchased Nissan Station Wagon, which, knock on wood, was the reliable trustworthy friend we hoped it would be.

Since my parent ’s departure, our station wagon has showed Mike and me an introductory glimpse into the beauty this country has nestled away. In just under a week, we have found ourselves surrounded by vast lands of jungle and farm lining the road. We ’ve camped meters away from a waterfall, falling asleep to the sound of the rushing water. The seemingly untouched beaches, the bush-covered mountains, the unpredictable weather, and the amazingly tame wild life have already proven that New Zealand is a unique land, unlike any where else in the world.

Today we drove 20km on a dirt road in search of the most Northern tip of NZ. The difficult roads carved their way through tomato red clay and volcanic rock on one side and huge sand dunes on the other. When we reached the tip we found a sole lighthouse standing proud at the edge of the cliff navigating boaters through the registered waters where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea collide. We spent several hours hiking the beach, passing only one couple in 2 hours, watching each step to avoid the bright blue jellyfish that had washed up on shore. To the north of us was the open water, to the east stood tall mountains covered with fog, and to the west stood massive sand dunes that could challenge any desert.

Yesterday on a bush walk to a waterfall (we ’ve seen 3 in 3 days), we walked 1/2km on a boardwalk snaking its way through mangrove trees. We passed a tree dotted with more than a dozen unique NZ island birds all paired together nest sitting. Tomorrow we plan to go to the biggest Kauri tree in NZ; its trunk girth measures just under 20 meters in diameter.

When I take a step back and look at my life right now- where I am, what I ’ m doing, and who I ’ m with- I feel like I ’ m walking through a movie set while skimming through the script. Things right now seem so dreamlike it ’ s hard to trust the reality. What ’ s even more surreal is to think that this is just the beginning. I still have 7 months left in this country before my visa expires, not to mention that I am only 23 years old and there are hundreds of countries all over the world still waiting to be explored.

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