Lucie (mondalu) at the top of Mount Ngauruhoe.

Lucie to the Discovery of New Zealand.

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The trip in New Zealand.

  • 1Travel With Open Mind.
  • 2First Steps in New Zealand.
  • 3How to Explore New Zealand.
  • 4A Hike to the Tongariro Summit.
  • 5A Successful HelpX Experience.
  • 6Practical Advice for Harvesting and Fruit Picking.
  • 7Traveling Without Planning Every Detail..

1Travel With Open Mind.

When it comes to evoking the qualities of this country from the end of the world, we naturally think of landscapes. But everyone who had the chance to meet New Zealanders knows just how much their legendary sense of hospitality is not usurped.

Lucie has visited New Zealand.

Lucie is a reporter for the webzine Mondalu, and I had the idea of this interview after reading one of her papers about Napier City in New Zealand. Lucie had visited the city with a fresh look, off the track, without being influenced and this is precisely what made me want to know more about her trip.

Guillaume : This is not the easiest part, but how do you present yourself as a traveler?
Lucie : I would define myself as a chameleon. I like to melt into my new environment to alter it as little as possible and draw all its singularity. I appreciate the meeting with the locals and the alternation between culture and nature while remaining open-minded to all that a country can offer me.
Guillaume : What's your idea of a perfect journey?
Lucie : I assume that traveling is an exchange and that it is good to know how to share your own culture with people you meet. It is not easy to define a style of travel. I try to remain myself above all, while remaining open and accepting to grow with the place that I meet.
Guillaume : I imagine that such commitment implies a minimum of courage. Is traveling in New Zealand a problem for a young woman alone?
Lucie : Well, not at all. It is a reassuring country where you feel good. This is my first time hitchhiking, and I really had no problems. This does not mean that you have to go there with your eyes closed ... You have to stay a minimum on your guard, follow your intuitions and appreciate all that this country can offer.
Find Lucie's presentation on mondalu.com

2First Steps in New Zealand.

If you've been dreaming of visiting New Zealand for years, it may be time to take the plunge. Do not forget that the Working Holiday Visa is reserved for young people aged 18 to 30 and is valid only once in a lifetime.

Explore a country with extraordinary culture and landscapes.

The arrival in New Zealand is always followed by several intense weeks when one must not hesitate to move forward. Fortunately, the scenery is a positive factor that motivates and makes you want to go ahead.

Guillaume : How long have you been dreaming of visiting New Zealand?
Lucie : I had been dreaming of living here for more than six years. After my year in Canada, I had only one desire: to go as far as possible to tame a new culture, to learn more about myself and others and to take advantage of it to explore the nature side of this beautiful country. If you are reading these lines, do not wait as long as I did!
Guillaume : How was the beginning of the stay when it is necessary to stack the formalities of all kinds?
Lucie : My first week went well. I had not planned anything, I just knew I was landing in Auckland and Luke (my host couchsurfer) would pick me up at the airport. I was lucky to have found a nice guy who made me discover his city, opened the doors of his holiday home in the heart of Coromandel, while being patient and understanding with my level of English.
Guillaume : The couchsurfing to begin the trip is a great idea, it is an excellent solution that I intend to recommend in the future ...
Lucie : Yes, but every day was different and I almost forgot to ask for my IRD number and to open a bank account, which is the classic procedure for most travelers with a Working Holiday Visa ... that's why I spent a few days in Auckland.

3How to Explore New Zealand.

A specialty in New Zealand (which is also available in Australia) is to paint vehicles. In other words, your souvenir pictures will make your relatives happy, as your van will be part of the family for a while.

The minivan is a true tribute to freedom.

It goes without saying that a trip of a whole year does not allow to stay in luxury hotels. In any case, it is not the spirit that animates Lucie who wishes to meet the world, but also to preserve a form of independence.

Guillaume : Why did you choose couchsurfing?
Lucie : I chose the couchsurfing to meet locals. I had not often practiced this solution in Europe, and New Zealand was the opportunity to try it again. Each host is different and living with someone you've just met is a crazy thing that helps to stay humble. It is a great experience that brings you out of your daily life to meet people who are usually cool and open-minded.
Guillaume : In my experience, meeting people also implies a great deal of energy, and one sometimes feels a need for solitude, to be able to plan the next part of the journey ...
Lucie : When I want to be a little more alone and quiet, I stay in youth hostels. There is no account to be rendered and one is not obliged to approach the people around oneself. Even if this is also the right place to meet other travelers, often European, who have shared the same experiences. It's pretty confusing but if you're looking for fellow travelers, then this is a good option.
Guillaume : What means of transport did you choose to explore the country without spending too much money?
Lucie : For a financial reason and because I wanted to meet new people, I did not choose to buy a van or a car. Hitchhiking was the initial plan. I started visiting the North Island with motorized traveling companions, then I made my bus journeys before opting for a stop in the South Island. This is the best way to meet locals and flee the comfort zone!

4A Hike to the Tongariro Summit.

If the weather does not play tricks and you are in good physical condition, you would be wrong not to follow the Tongariro Crossing. You may be exhausted, but the reputation of the landscapes is not usurped.

The Tongariro Crossing is an incredible trek.

Traveling during a full year ahead is a unique experience that few people have the chance to experience. It is the opportunity to follow long hikes such as the Tongariro Crossing.

Guillaume : I sometimes wonder if the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is not too difficult? The hike is spectacular, but quite physical. How was it for you?
Lucie : The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the hike that everyone is talking about. It was one of the first images that came to mind when we talked about New Zealand. Its emerald lakes, its red crater, the reference to the Mordor of the Lord of the Rings ... It is indeed the most famous one-day hike of the country. Something not to miss!
Guillaume : How did you organize yourselves for the trek?
Lucie : With a friend, we booked a bus that would take us from Taupo to the hike starting point. After a short night, we used the shuttle time to take a nap. At the beginning of the course, we were numerous in the haze that obscured the course. I opted for the ascent of the summit Ngauruhoe, whose descent deprived me of all energy.
Guillaume : It is a formidable part! Not to mention the fact that it is necessary to finish in time not to miss the shuttle of the return! Is it indiscreet to ask in what state you have completed the trek?
Lucie : I remember racing to catch the bus, I remember this unidentified hornet sting that left me a huge painful button for over a week. I took a few days to recover, but it was worth the detour!
Read Lucie's article about the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

5A Successful HelpX Experience.

All jobs in HelpX are not equal. If you can, avoid accepting work in the factory and prefer outdoor activities in beautiful settings. Repairing a boat in the Bay of Islands in Northland is a physical activity, but it gives time to explore the region.

First HelpX mission with an old yacht to repair.

The majority of people had never heard of the HelpX system before traveling with a Working Holiday Visa. It is nevertheless a great source of small jobs that help to discover the local culture.

Guillaume : The HelpX proposes to exchange accommodation against few hours of daily work. Can you tell us about your first HelpX experience in New Zealand?
Lucie : My first experience with HelpX was quite unusual. I spent a week on the boat from David, my host in the heart of Bay of Islands. My mornings consisted of helping him to clean the old boat and restore it.
Guillaume : And the rest of the time, did you have the opportunity to explore the region or to have a rest?
Lucie : My afternoons were composed of walks on the different islands and bathing when the weather permitted. Each night, the ocean served as a refuge and the starry nights of canvases. I learned to live with an old mariner who has traveled the world, built his own boat and could challenge the greatest cooks.

6Practical Advice for Harvesting and Fruit Picking.

Like all outdoor work, fruit picking in New Zealand depends largely on the weather. But rain is not the only obstacle of this rather physical job, one must also beware sunburns.

In reality, fruit-picking is a very physical activity!

Between two jobs in HelpX or Wwoofing (the same principle but in organic farms) it is necessary to think about earning some real money to finance nice holidays. Many travelers with a Working Holiday Visa try try to be hired in farms during the harvest season.

Guillaume : Had you planned to participate to a harvest or work in fruit picking during your stay?
Lucie : Failing grape harvesting in New Zealand, I am currently picking apples and kiwis. I live on a property with other New Zealand and foreign workers and my daily program depends whether it rains or not.
Guillaume : Indeed, and it is a confusing aspect for all those who do not have your experience, and who believe that working outdoors is easy.
Lucie : I never know exactly when I work or when I have my rest day, but the atmosphere is friendly and it's nice to stay at the same place for a while.
Guillaume : What advice would you give to someone who has never neither work in grape harvesting nor fruit picking before coming to New Zealand?
Lucie : To make the grape harvest or pick fruits, do not be afraid to work outside. These are physical jobs and newbies often give up after a few days. With this kind of job, you learn to live with the sun. I think that one must go to one's pace from the beginning, eat well, hydrate and do not hesitate to go to bed when our body requires it (and often very early around 9 pm).
Guillaume : Especially since fruit picking movements uses muscles rarely solicited, which implies some pain during the first week of work.
Lucie : One last tip: do not wear clothes that are valuable to you. You will surely find a recycling center in the corner to invest a few dollars in second-hand business. Do not hesitate to buy boots and gloves, and you'll also need sunscreen and a cap for sunny days.

7Traveling Without Planning Every Detail..

New Zealand is truly on the other side of the world. Signs of this type are not rare in the country. Even if we are still more than 18,000 kilometers from London!

At the end of the world, you have to follow your instinct.

It is not to make you jealous, but it remains almost nine months in Lucia to explore New Zealand. Such duration leaves room for improvisation... When you think about it, the sum of possibilities is just crazy!

Guillaume : What will be the next steps of your trip for the coming weeks?
Lucie : I have nothing programmed. I follow my desires of the moment, according to the encounters and possibilities. But at the end of the kiwi fruit's season, I will surely opt for a few days in the heart of the Abel Tasman National Park. Then I will go down to Greymouth to take the TranzAlpine, a train that crosses the New Zealand Alps and whose landscapes are exceptional.
Guillaume : And about work, do you plan to go HelpX again or will you search for a paid job instead?
Lucie : I'm thinking of a wwoofing break for a week or two, in the heart of Arthurs Pass. Then it will be time again to find work for the winter and a place to stay a few months.
Guillaume : You'll need energy, do you think you can survive in the land of the fish and chips, where some people also eat lamb for breakfast?
Lucie : I have been there for 3 months, I think one year more would not kill me. When traveling, everything is a matter of adaptation. And in the end in New Zealand, the food is fairly European. It's not so, difficult, even if the food is expensive and I regret my good French bread. Since few weeks, leek tarts, pumpkins and bacon, banana cakes and chocolate chips or apple muffins have been added to my menus.
Guillaume : So I'm reassured! I thank you for this interview and wish you an excellent journey. Hoping to have the pleasure of meeting you in a few months, maybe for another interview, because you will have thousands more memories to tell. I would like to inform our readers that Lucie's website is a collection of blog posts with dozens of photos and practical tips that would fill a good travel guide. Treat yourself and enjoy the experiences of Mondalu to prepare your next trip to New Zealand. Because the best way to improvise on location is often to arrive well prepared, even if you may change your plans at the last minute.

© Photos copyright Lucie Raynal (@mondalu).


Lucie Raynal at the top of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Interview of Lucie

Working Holiday Visa Traveler.

Being French, I lived a year in Montreal and I used to work for a sustainable tourism. Currently in New Zealand thanks to the Work Holiday Visa, I invite you to follow my adventures on my website named Mondalu.

  • One year with a WHV
  • By bus
  • By mini-van
  • On foot and hitchhiking
Visit the blog

Places visited during the travel in NZ

This map gives you an idea of the itinerary.

Guillaume picture in the mountains

Interview by William.

New Zealand Expert

Holidaymaker, backpacker or expatriate, you have lived great moments.

So, like Lucie, tell us your adventure in Aotearoa!

Pleasant anecdotes or true galleys, your experience can help many travelers with a Working Holiday Visa.

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Useful Links

The recommendations from Lucie in New Zealand.

Guillaume picture in the mountains

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