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Their trip in New Zealand.
1Meet Julie and Quentin.
2HelpX and WWoofing Experiences.
3How to Buy a Minivan to Visit New Zealand?
4Living With the Sun.
5Bungee Jumping, the Ultimate Challenge.
6The Kiwi Spirit.
7A Thousand Different Lives in a Few Months.
1Meet Julie and Quentin.
The advantage when you work for a New Zealand guide company like Kiwipal, is that you often have the opportunity to make beautiful discoveries. The “Very NZ Trip” Blog by Julie and Quentin is one of the most interesting one I have read, with a substantial number of photos and practical tips.
Guillaume : Here is finally the opportunity to carry out this interview as agreed for several months. For a classical entry but effective, can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Quentin : We are Julie and Quentin, both 25 years old and of Lyons origin. Julie works in event planning and I am a physiotherapist.
Julie : We are both travel enthusiasts, but this trip to New Zealand is our first Working Holiday Visa (WHV) and our first minivan trip. Apart from that we love music, movies and good food!
Guillaume : Even if New Zealand is more and more popular, Canada and especially Australia attract more French travelers. Why did you choose New Zealand for your Working Holiday Visa stay?
Julie : It was by browsing the blogs of other young travelers in New Zealand that we decided to go there. The beauty and diversity of the landscapes, the fact that it is a human-sized country that can be visited entirely without too much difficulty (and kilometers) are the two criteria that we have immediately enjoyed! However, it is not a country we were considering, for it seemed to us unattainable and too far to visit as a tourist. We also wanted an English-speaking country, because it's a language we both practice and try to improve.
Guillaume : And for you Quentin, what was your motivation before the departure?
Guillaume : What image did you have of the country at the time?
Quentin : I imagined, from what people said, that New Zealand was like Iceland, a country, magnificent, but not necessarily adapted for the backpackers. New Zealand was the perfect compromise and the choice was not difficult.
2HelpX and WWoofing Experiences.
Except if one has a well-stocked bank account (which is rarely the case), it is difficult to plan a long stay in New Zealand without working in one way or another. Whether in a traditional small job, or with some HelpX or WWoofing, Julie and Quentin have managed the feat of multiplying experiences and I do not think I have ever interviewed French people who had experienced so many different adventures!
Guillaume : It is often the angst of the Working Holiday Visa travelers (and their family) ... I wondered if you were worried by the perspective to have to find a job in New Zealand?
Julie : Not especially, we were far more interested by the organization of the trip, trying not to forget anything! We had made lists of equipment, clothing to take away, because the luggage is limited and we were supposed to live with the bare minimum. We had planned a Helpx in Auckland before we left, to be sure to have a place to sleep at the arrival, and being able to get help and advice from a local. We had subscribed to a health insurance, and opened a bank account from France to be able to transfer our money before leaving.
Guillaume : You guys leave nothing to chance!
Julie : We had read all the guide books about how to find a job, buying and living in a mini van... we were very well organized! The job search was not stressful, as we had not planned to work at the beginning of our trip, as we wanted to study of the sectors that recruit young peoples with a Working Holiday Visa. Finally, we only made HelpX and WWOOFing ! experiences!
Guillaume : And on the family side without indiscretion? The decision to go to the other side of the world was perceived positively?
Quentin : I remember that the recurring question was: “But you're going to do what? Are you going to work?”. We explained that we were going to discover New Zealand and not to work there, but that perhaps we would give a try to fruit picking (for my part I did not really want to work, I preferred the idea to accumulate the experiences in HelpX. I did not particularly apprehend a job search, because basically I thought that it would not happen. And indeed, this experience did not happen and I do not regret it. We did not make money, but I'm happy with the way we spent our savings.
Guillaume : Besides, since this is the main center of interest of future candidates to the Working Holiday Visa, can you tell us the experiences that you had in HelpX?
Julie : So many different experiences! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. To summarize, we were in HelpX for two months and a half on the seven months of the trip, which is not so bad! Each time, we worked for an average of four hours in exchange of accommodation.
Guillaume : Can you give us some examples of HelpX to enlighten the readers of Kiwipal?
Julie : Our first HelpX was in Auckland, and we were gardening most of the time. The next one was in Arrowtown (a city between Queenstown and Wanaka) where we helped a lady to prepare her chutney and the jams she was selling to the market and local restaurants. We felt like we were constantly pampered and we ate like royalty! For the third, we worked in an orchard of apples towards Nelson with two other people of our age, but despite the redundant task we had a lot of fun! The following Helpx alternated between gardening and cooking at Havelock North.
Guillaume : Very different experiences!
Julie : Yes, and for the fifth we chose to work in a farm, precisely because it was a new experience to us. New Zealand is a very agricultural country and there was no question of leaving without trying! So we chose a chicken farm near Hamilton. We were harvesting and sorting eggs, running the store and feeding the chickens. This experience taught us a lot of things even if it took time and personal investments! The Sixth Helpx was located in a motel of Whangamata in the Coromandel Peninsula and we were in charge of cleaning the rooms every day. We opted for two hours of work a day against the lodging only and the food was at our expense. We chose this system which allowed us to visit the Coromandel Peninsula the rest of the time.
Guillaume : Besides, Kiwipal readers can find the story of your visit of the peninsula on your site Very NZ Trip. Was this your last HelpX?
Quentin : No, during our Seventh HelpX we were cooking all day long in Auckland, and to finish the adventure, we returned to our first HelpX, the loop was complete! We will remember the art of capturing live chickens, the recipe of the good chutney, how to cook well the kumara or pumpkin, living on the farm, holiday ... and, of course, the kindness of each of our hosts.
Julie : This proves that HelpX experiences can be diverse and varied! In the end, we will always remember the meeting with the locals and what they taught us.
Guillaume : Well ... I imagine the resume on return to France, some future employers will almost have difficulty believing that one can exercise eight different trades in seven months ... It's very impressive!
The mini van looks like a good idea at first glance. When one digs up the question a little, one realizes that this mode of transport does not go without some compromises. Compromises that some people find it hard to bear. Quentin and Julie did very well (fortunately because they spent seven months on the road) so I wanted to learn from them.
Guillaume : How did you find and then sold your mini van?
Julie : We bought our van from a couple of Frenchmen who had traveled for seven months on the roads of New Zealand. We bought it quite expensive, as we arrived in January in the middle of the high season, but it was fully equipped and ready to take the road! Obviously, we sold it cheaper during the low season, but that's the rule of the game and we knew we would lose!
Guillaume : It's a little annoying, especially because people fall in love with this motor on wheels!
Quentin : As Julie says, it's the game! No matter how much we were warned, we had not imagined that vans would be so sold out in winter! We were very lucky with our purchase and that's the only thing I remember: we had no mechanical problems during our 17,000 kilometers. This helps to relativize the loss of money during the resale of the van. Despite a new WOF and a mechanical check, you cannot know what to expect!
Guillaume : For our readers, the WOF (Warant of fitness) is a mandatory technical inspection to resell a vehicle. This is a crucial step, because without the WOF one can end up selling the vehicle for a ridiculous price, or even dropping it for lack of buyers!
Julie : The main thing is that we enjoyed our trip in the mini van and that we will keep many good memories! It was our house and our means of transport for seven months after all!
Guillaume : Besides, when I think about it, I no longer count the blog articles about how to equip a van, but can we really sleep well in such a small space? The question is far from trivial, for no one can hope to travel several months without having good night’s sleep ...
Quentin : The first night I remember telling Julie that I was not very comfortable, I hada little paranoia about a possible lack of oxygen ... Then, I always slept well.
Guillaume : What kind of van did you have?
Quentin : It was a Toyota Hiace, the bigger and more comfortable model. The bed was big, the ceiling high, it was great! We adapted very quickly to this way of life. I'm not sure that our families were aware the size of the van and its amenities... they often asked where the toilets, bedroom or living room were supposed to be. My grandmother still does not understand that we can sleep in a car, because for her it is a kind of punishment that we inflicted ourselves by renouncing our French comfort.
Guillaume : Do you share this point of view Julie?
Julie : I would even say that we slept very well! This does not change anything, except that one sleeps in eight square meters and that the back of the van serves as a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom at the same time. I always felt safe in the van, except one night in the vicinity of Invercargill where some people were putting their music loud to annoy the travelers. This was the only night when we had forgotten to lock the doors (laughs).
With backpackers, there are sometimes some taboo subjects. It's a bit like holidays: nobody will ever tell you they had a bad time. For once, I dared to ask if it was not boring in the long run to never sleep two days in a row at the same place and I got frank answers!
Guillaume : It is sometimes said that one can get tired of everything with time, but is it the case with the nomadic way of life and the freedom that comes with it usually?
Julie : I think it depends on people, their personalities and their own values. I think I could get tired of it after a long time, because the comfort is restricted. And if one aspires to found a family, nomadic life requires a lot of organization and investments finally. In the long term, I think I would prefer a certain stability (and comfort) while continuing to travel from time to time! But I think I will never be tired of traveling from day to day and discover different landscapes every time. When we go back to France, we will regret it for sure.
Quentin : In New Zealand? No! Waking up at the foot of Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo, Cap Reinga,Tongariro National Park... it's just great. To live as a nomad means to live with the sun. As Julie say, we did not know if it would suit us and I was finally surprised how easily we adapted ourselves to this way of life and enjoyed it.
Guillaume : So there's nothing wrong with it, you could hit the road to reach the sunset until the end of the world?
Quentin : It is no less true that comfort is important after months spent on the roads. So a nomadic life (but with more comfort) I would not get tired of it, I guess! The daily discovery that rhythms this way of life is exhilarating; it makes you want to travel all over the world! And one no longer counts travelers who dare to embark on such adventures. The nomadic life allows to follow a different path than the common pattern of professional success ... and it is very good.
5Bungee Jumping, the Ultimate Challenge.
While rereading the articles on the blog of Julie and Quentin to prepare the interview, I came across an article that I had completely put aside. To my delight, I discovered that Julie tried the bungee-jumping (believe me, when it comes to interviewing someone, bungee jumping is far more interesting than mini-golf!)
Guillaume : We have a lot of backpackers interviews on Kiwipal, but not many people dared to try bungee jumping. I finally met someone who jumped into the void! So, how was it?
Julie : Nothing very complicated, the hard part is to take the decision and to book the jump. I did my bungee jumping in Rotorua because it is the cheapest in New Zealand and because the height is similar to those of Taupo or Queenstown. I remember arriving in the morning for a reservation at 10 am. The reception staff gave me a questionnaire and gave me the safety instructions to follow. A staff member fastens the elastic to my feet... I climb onto the nacelle with a third person who checks again that everything is in order and tell me the way to go: put my feet on the edge of the platform, reach out and look away and jump to the count of three ...
Guillaume : Yes, afterwards it seems pretty easy, but before jumping ...
Julie : I must admit that when you're 43 meters above the ground, your heart beats at top speed and you start wondering what you're doing there! So I preferred to go ahead without hesitation so as not to have too much to think about. And what a sensation! See the ground approaching so fast ... and so close! This gives the impression of dying until the last second! This is really insane! It even recalls the dreams where one feels to fall, but it's far more impressive! When I went down, I was really happy and euphoric, and I wanted Quentin to try too, so that we could talk about it together, because it is difficult to transcribe the sensations of the fall!
Guillaume : So if it was to redo ...
Julie : I intend to jump next time in France, even higher, because the sensation is fantastic! At the origin, I was thinking of a parachute jump, but it was by seeing other people in Queenstown that I finally let myself be tempted. I also heard that the sensations were more intense than during a parachute jump, which was the aim, so I did not hesitate!
Quentin : Seen from below and considering the reaction of Julie, it makes you want to try. This is also on my personal check-list, and I intend to try in France!
6The Kiwi Spirit.
As we have just seen, bungee jumping is a specialty of New Zealand (they invented the concept) and it is only one of the peculiarities of the inhabitants of the country. After seven months on the spot, one begins to get a good idea of the local culture, and a small comparison with France is necessary.
Guillaume : What are the main differences between the Kiwis and the French?
Quentin : The kiwis do not use cork stoppers for their bottles of wine, but screw caps!
Guillaume : (laughing). Let us say that the French generally consider that it is a heresy, but I have always found this solution more practical, especially when one is traveling.
Quentin : More seriously, the kiwis are ready to welcome strangers at home, without asking themselves too many questions. They are very respectful of their environment: we have never seen waste in their magnificent landscapes. The planet has offered them an extraordinary country where one is never at more than 128 kilometers from the sea or the ocean, they have the marine foot, adore fishing and spend their free time outdoors. They are very sporty!
Julie : I will always remember the Kiwis as very optimistic people, open to others, while the French are very pessimistic in general and rather negative in relation to the crisis and everything that happens in the world. Here, one has the impression that nothing truly reaches them, probably because it is a land far from everything. They are quite proud of their country and their culture and we have often felt a bit of jealousy towards the Australian neighbor. They do not hesitate to help their neighbors and are very proud that thousands of travelers come to discover their country each year. When they can, they also travel a lot abroad, and living on an island away from everything drives them to discover the world! As Quentin said, they are very sporty and passionate about passionnés de rugby and cricket! They live in the open air and fishing is a banal activity here, practiced by all.
Guillaume : Apparently the Kiwis are unanimous in terms of hospitality, a recent survey of travelers has ranked them second in the world just behind the Icelanders. You have multiplied experiences in HelpX and you must have appreciated their hospitality!
Quentin : Hospitality is a natural thing for them, which makes a huge difference. Providing shelter or cover is an almost trivial gesture. What is not really the case in France, it seems to me. They also live at a different pace, much more Zen.
7A Thousand Different Lives in a Few Months.
One must understand that the end of a Working Holiday Visa at the end of the world is far different from the end of a three-week holidays at the beach. It is sometimes a difficult moment.
Guillaume : While doing this interview, you are still in New Zealand but only for few weeks now. Can you already take stock of this long adventure?
Quentin : Time flies! During these months we have discovered and experienced many new things, it is a mega condensed compared to our usual lives. But the common thing is that time goes by, it is strange to realize that this adventure is almost behind us while I can still see us dreaming about it a year ago. When you work or travel, the time passes so fast! The result is very positive, because we didn't have bad experiences and our couple is even stronger!
Guillaume : This is the first time I meet travelers who have escaped the slightest trouble during such a long journey! It remains to ask Julie his feeling, and I think that will be the final word of this interview.
Julie : I would say that ultimately traveling is not a chance, but a choice. And one must dare to leave everything to start! For my part, I left without really knowing if life in a mini van would go well and would suit me, but eventually everything went well! We have met people who never really succeed to enjoy it, but we really loved it! We did it and we managed our budget, the unexpected and the obstacles! In the end, this experience exceeded our expectations! It is as if we had lived a thousand lives in a few months! This country is so varied and rich that every day was different! Mountains, beaches, caves, plains, lakes ... with a unique fauna and flora! It’s a country for everyone!
Guillaume : What more can I say? One last thing! I invite the readers of Kiwipal to visit your Very NZ Trip website to admire your pictures and prepare their stay in New Zealand. Something tells me that the adventure is not finished and that other articles will come out, because the journey of Julie and Quentin continues for some time before returning to France. Thank you both for agreeing to share your experience on Kiwipal and good luck!
Julie & Quentin - Very NZ Trip
Our itinerary and our experiences are to be found on our blog.
Very NZ Trip has 17 000 kilometers on the counter, with 148 nights in a van, experiences in HelpX and especially unforgettable encounters. You are all invited to discover the stages of our stay and the photos on our blog.