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The trip in New Zealand.
1Wanderlust in New Zealand.
2Keep Moving at Any Cost!
3Buying a Van: The Mistakes to Avoid.
4At the Heart of Kiwi Culture.
5Working to Protect Mother Nature.
6Feedback About the Working Holiday Visa.
1Wanderlust in New Zealand.
Every traveler has his own motivation that pushes him to travel to the other end of the world. Taking holidays is rarely the only reason, and this is usually more related to a desire to break the routine and also to test the limits of what can be done.
Guillaume : Why New Zealand ... didn't you feel at ease in France?
Aude : Like many young people in France, my situation was not easy and I needed to do something very stimulating. I wanted to leave for a long time to confront another language, another culture and test my personal limits. I spoke with my entourage and I was unanimously advised to go for a ride in New Zealand, a country whose natural heritage made me dream. I left with a Working Holiday Visa, because it was not only a tourism trip, as well as a one-way ticket, without knowing how long I was going to stay there. Six months, one year ... maybe more if I find a skilled job and if I get a work visa.
Guillaume : You have to be very motivated from the start to get there. Is there a real difference between a good and a bad backpacker?
Aude : You know, I do not think there are good or bad backpackers, as there are no good or bad situations. If I have to summarize my journey today with you, I would say that it was first about encounters. People who helped me, maybe ... If not, more seriously, among the “backpacker” advice that I could share, the top of the list is occupied by the advice to have post~26~a bag as light as possible.] This is undoubtedly one of the things that can make the trip more enjoyable, especially if you plan to alternate between different types of transport such as hitchhiking, bus or car.
Living at 18,000 kilometers from home is not always easy. You have to be seriously motivated and able to manage your budget on a daily basis. Even so, no one is immune to a bad experience. Aude had some difficulty at the beginning of her stay, but she managed to fix the situation.
Guillaume : Had you considered the possibility of a total failure with a return to your own country after a few weeks?
Aude : I do not see what a complete failure could have been. For me from the very moment I crossed the door of my house, leaving my French daily life and set sail for the antipodes, I had already won a part of the challenge I had embarked upon. It is true that the beginnings were not of any rest ... In the first month I was the victim of a scam in a car market for tourists in Auckland, with a vehicle sold supposedly in good state. There have been some brief moment of blues, but nothing that makes you want to quit.
Guillaume : Beginning a stay by being a victim of a scam is a disaster scenario. How did you manage to get your money back?
Aude : Finally after three months of fight, my trouble with the Car Market ended well for me ... and I defeated the crook! I remember telling a friend who was helping me during this ordeal that I did not regret this story any more than that. There are so many people I would not have met without that ... and I never thought I could stand up and fight a crook! If I had to rewrite my trip, I do not know if I would change anything. And so I also discovered the hitchhiking on a large scale: a treat in a country like New Zealand.
Aude was the victim of a scam when buying her vehicle, but she ended up winning. You can imagine that she knows the subject by heart. This makes her, of course, the most interesting person to interview on the issue.
Guillaume : What advice would you give a newcomer to buy a minivan that does not fall to pieces at the first roundabout?
Aude : Always ask the previous owner to have his vehicle submitted to a “mechanical inspection pre-purchase” before buying it. This will cost you between $NZ 60 and $NZ 120, but that is nothing compared to the cost of repairing a vehicle in poor condition. And above all, have it done by a totally independent service! For example, I recommend the VTNZ chain, which is rather expensive but reliable. And if the salesperson grumbles and he does not want the vehicle to be taken to the other end of town for this check, then flee. One day someone told me “it's always better being rude than being sorry” and I could not say better.
Guillaume : Do not forget that driving on the left is often a challenge for the French. Especially since it is necessary to keep an eye on the numerous animal species that cross the way in full nature. Are you trying to avoid them, or do you crush the possums?
Aude : I did not see any one of them alive on the road, so I did not have to face this situation. The possums have been introduced in New Zealand for their fur, but represent a real danger to local species. It is almost a moral duty to kill one as soon as the opportunity arises. But even if you know that, it is hard to dare to press the accelerator to crush one of these poor creatures.
For the majority of people who do not yet know the country, New Zealand is above all the land of the Allblacks and Hobbits. I asked Aude whether it was clichés or a reality.
Guillaume : How was your first Kiwi barbecue (Barbies as they say in New Zealand) when someone does not appreciate rugby?
Aude : Personally during my first barbecue in Auckland, I was mostly invited to play on the lawn with bouncing balls! All Kiwis are not fans of the oval balloon. They love cricket too! Finally, I mostly met mountain enthusiasts or extreme sports such as climbing, mountaineering, bungee jumping or canyoning ...
Guillaume : That contrasts with the image of a country where people are supposed to play rugby from dusk till dawn. But is this sport still so popular?
Aude : It is as important in New Zealand as football in Europe. When the AllBlacks are in trouble, the price of the stock market is affected. And it seems that the final of the World Cup in 2011 was a tough psychological test for most New Zealanders until the last second. The French have the reputation of having a team who play seriously only when the match is important. The Kiwis deplore that French does not feel more concerned during the test-matches, for example. They find this attitude to be quite rude! Overall, it is a sporting nation that has a real culture of physical effort.
Guillaume : And if we talk about the films that have contributed revealing the grandiose landscapes of the country to the world, do the Kiwis begin to grow weary to see their country always associated with the Lord of the Rings?
Aude : In any case, tourism professionals seems happy. Peter Jackson has made the best commercials that the country has ever known. Outside the tourist sectors, the common mortal seems surprised when they learn that tourists came to visit their country because of the films. I have the impression that New Zealand feels isolated at the other end of the world, and not always well considered next to its imposing neighbor Australia. Any success that is valued internationally is welcome.
5Working to Protect Mother Nature.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is the official agency that manages the environment in New Zealand. Working for the DOC is a bit like the Holy Grail of the every traveler with a Working Holiday Visa, with jobs at the heart of national parks helping to protect nature and endangered species.
Aude : I like discovering a country in depth, investing in projects and learning more about the place where I am. Without being a scientist, I have always been passionate about the biology, geology and evolution of animal and plant species. From this point of view, New Zealand is a real paradise, although extremely vulnerable.
Guillaume : Working for the DOC is far from easy, as volunteerism is the rule and demand is strong. How were you enrolled in their conservation program?
Aude : I sent a request on the DOC site to volunteer in my geographical area and in particular on the island of Matiu / Somes, in the middle of Wellington Bay. I was contacted at the beginning of June to participate in a program of planting of various plants, including the famous New Zealand flax but also other less known species such as totara, rata or kahikatea. It was physical, very convivial and this will undoubtedly remain one of the most striking experiences of my journey to the other side of the world.
Guillaume : Working outdoors can sometimes bring small inconveniences ... I read on your blog that you hate the sandflies ... why so much hate?
Aude : Let's say that sandflies (tiny gnats) love my blood too much! I believe there is a Maori legend which says that the gods realized that they had created the landscapes of the South too perfect, and to prevent the Men from falling into idleness, they finally added the sandflies to the Milford Sound to put them back to work. Personally, I will always remember that after three days of a festival near the water, I ended up covered with stings, and burst into tears in a pharmacy in Blenheim. Never travel without your repellent and do not hesitate to buy an anti-itch solution! Learn more about Aude's work for the DOC.
By the time we finish this interview, Aude still has three months before the expiration of his Working Holiday Visa. This leaves her plenty of time to enjoy the adventure, but already imposes some thoughts of what to do after.
Guillaume : A few months from the end of the stay, are you eager to find your life back in France?
Aude : I realize that values such as entrepreneurship and confidence in the potential of people are lacking in France. On the opposite, they are very present in an Anglo-Saxon and recent country like New Zealand. I have the feeling that there is a state of mind at once pioneering, and at the same time quite relaxed, confident in the future.
Guillaume : Do you consider that this is a country where it is very easy to adapt?
Aude : Everything is not easy, especially for a French spirit. In New Zealand people are very polite, positive, and give little negative feedback when they have some. As a Frenchwoman who also appreciates frankness and sincerity, one must learn to see the glass half-full rather than half-empty. The structure of the language also affectsway of thinking. English is a concise language that uses fewer negations than French.
Guillaume : After such an immersion in an English-speaking country, where the novelty is waiting for you at every turn, do you apprehend the return to a form of daily routine in France?
Aude : To give you a very complete answer, I would also say that with the sedentarisation in Wellington, I realized that the disagreeable parts of a routine life are not only related to France. When I was on the road, almost everything was positive. By becoming sedentary anywhere, one can very well fall back into a pattern work-dodo that reduce the motivation.
Guillaume : Is there not, however, a kind of satisfaction in the idea to retrieve a known universe with well-established landmarks?
Aude : There are also difficulties related to immigration: a job not exciting and poorly paid, unsuccessful attempts to get a better one with only a Working Holiday Visa, frustrations related to the language barrier ... One must learn to deal with it. For me, this is where the work of opening to the other really begins, and where deep changes can happen. And such great stimulation will probably miss me.
Guillaume : I propose to conclude on this note. It was an exciting interview and I am sure it will please Kiwipal's visitors. We barely touched on the topics, but those who want to learn more (especially about your worries with the Car Market) will refer to your blog “Wasabi in the Kiwi”. I wish you an excellent end of stay, and I will follow the end of your journey with great interest, even if something tells me that you have the profile of the candidate for expatriation. In the meantime, I thank you sincerely for the time you gave me for this testimony.
Follow Aude on Her Blog.
Aude (wasabi in the kiwi).
A French woman explores the NZ with a Working Holiday Visa.