And we’re off.
I finished up my time in Baja with an exciting night outside the Loreto airport and a quick flight back up to LA. There, I walked from LAX back towards Santa Monica, feeling fed up with the cost of transportation and wanting to stretch my legs. A couple of hours later, I met up with some friends, before spending the weekend reorganizing, cleaning, and preparing my gear. New Zealand seems to be pretty strict about how clean your stuff is when it enters the country… I guess I will have to be more thorough than I usually am. After I hung my gear out to dry, I had to clean up my life. Reports on New Zealand’s WiFi accessibility range from “non-existent” to “superb.” Clearly, I needed to have all my electronic ducks in order before my flight took off. Slowly, I checked off items off of my to-do list: health care applications, tax documents, and backing up all of my writing, photos, etc. Ah, the spice of life.
With my clothes dry and bills paid, I started organizing my gear once more. Packing for a five month trip is a bit of a process, especially when you are traveling to a place as diverse as New Zealand. Over the past month or so, I tried to devise a system that would keep me warm, dry, and comfortable in environments ranging from ice fields to tropical beaches, from rain forests to rocky summits. On top of that, I worked out the most efficient set of electronics for the photography and writing that I am hoping to do. Then, I stuffed it all into a backpack. When all your gear is on your back, you start to realize how quickly ounces become pounds and begin to understand the true meaning of “efficiency.”
Of course, there was an entirely weightless side to my packing as well. My internet access will be limited while I am in New Zealand. I will not be able to rely on fluid access to Google, Wikipedia, or a host of other useful web-based utilities. That means that I need to have detailed maps at my fingertips. Moreover, I wanted to compile a focused and detailed library of audiobooks, podcasts, and e-books that would help me understand the country I will be traveling through. I am sure that I will have *plenty* of time for reading (and listening) while I am traveling. Hopefully, the materials that I have chosen will deepen my experience. Ultralight backpacking enthusiasts often say that knowledge and experience are featherlight. In this case, they weigh as much as my iPhone.
Part of the difficulty that I had in finalizing my packing was that I really do not have a ton of clarity about what I will be doing while I am in New Zealand. For the first month, my mom and I will be traveling the North and South Island in a campervan. After that, I am on my own. I’m planning on spending a significant amount of time backpacking and hitchhiking my way around the country. That said, I may WWOOF for awhile, pick up temporary work, or maybe even pick up a contract with NOLS. I’m hoping to write as often as possible. I sincerely hope that my preparations will allow me to be successful, whatever New Zealand sends my way.
I’ve been dreaming about visiting New Zealand for more than a decade. Getting to share that dream with my mom is incredibly special and I cannot wait to see what adventures lie ahead of us! I’ll be documenting our travels on Instagram (@chasingcairns), Twitter (@chasingcairns), and here. Join us 🙂
Next stop, Auckland.