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Travel Journal

Volume I, Entry 6
Jessica Long, age 22
Auckland, New Zealand

After Mike and I left our WWOOFing family in Bulls, we set out to find out why “the South Island and the North Island look like two different countries;” a common quip that we have heard from both Kiwis and tourists since our arrival in NZ. What’s intriguing, even more than the reasoning behind the saying, is the overwhelming observation that few N. Island Kiwis venture South, and similarly, few S. Island kiwis travel north. We’ve headed South to decide for ourselves if the landscapes differ greatly between longitudes, or if it’s just the misconceptions of un-traveled Kiwis and the varying personifications of the two islands that strike the outsiders.

Just two weeks prior to Christmas, Mike and I took the ferry across the Cooks Strait. Our tour began in the Northern Region: Abel Tasman National Park, Marlborough Wine Country, and Nelson. We spent a few days hiking and swimming in the Abel Tasman, rented bikes in Blenheim and succeeded in an all day wine tasting tour. We also perhaps imposed ourselves for a few nights stay in Nelson, with the granny of the boy I “nanny’d” for in Auckland. By this point, the biggest difference we noticed from one island to the next was the appearance of the sunshine. Unfortunately, this didn’t stay true for our whole excursion of the South; the rain and dampness, once again, found our tent.

After the Northern Region, we headed to the West coast to see an unexplainable geological rock formation known as the Pancake Rocks. Along with massive seal colonies and stunning views, we also visited spectacular glaciers. We spent almost 8 hours on Fox Glacier, one of the few glaciers in the world that continues to advance despite this time of global warming. Almost inconceivably, this pushy ice form is carving its way directly through a rainforest. Therefore, bush and trees uniquely line both sides of the ice.

We spent the holidays in Wanaka, a small town just outside Queenstown, the original “historic” site, which by kiwi standards means older than fifty years, or internationally known birthplace of the Bungee jump. What better way to spend Christmas Eve continents away from our families, than to partake in the heart-pounding thrill of Bungee jumping? Indeed, it was an unforgettable Christmas Eve, and Christmas was just as memorable.

We celebrated Christmas at a lively, welcoming backpacker’s hostel filled with heaps of travelers all searching for comfort and company during their independent holiday. An international pot luck dinner was organized for our Christmas feast. Dishes from Japan, Sweden, Greece, Tasmania, Germany and the UK were all representing the cross cultural holiday we were celebrating. Although tame compared to the adrenaline-rushing day that proceeded it, Christmas was packaged with great food, great company and grand celebration! After almost a week in Wanaka, five days longer than we expected to stay, Mike and I continued our travels around the South Island.

We’ve recently started another WWOOFing job, working on an organic farm that cultivates a plethora of almost every fruit and vegetable imaginable. Mike and I have been busy weeding gardens, digging up vegetables, plucking fruit from the orchard, and other general farm maintenance. Although we probably won’t leave this WWOOFing job with a “Kiwi mom” to check up on us or an ability to handle livestock, as we did with our other, we will leave with an understanding of the satisfaction and frustration involved in harvesting and maintaining spray free organics. We will also leave with 101 more praises about WWOOF.

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