New Zealand: Road Trip with Strangers

Submitted by ReidMR on Fri, 04/26/2013 - 22:15

Personal Experience in New Zealand

The mythical New Zealand promised incomparable natural beauty. It delivered. A sight here is amongst my all time favorite.

If you want the abridged version, here are some highlights from this trip. Walking near Christchurch and viewing the ruins. Watching glacial melt near Mt Cook. Going on an exhausting hike in the Tongariro National Park.

Friday 11 January 2013 - Christchurch

Many people seem to be needed at a certain time or location. It is like I subconsciously attract people who fulfill my temporary needs. Few friends transcend time.

Saturday 12 January 2013 - Christchurch

I have shut myself from outside stimuli. I stopped feeling long ago and experience things as okay or fine. Things simply happen. Opening up and increasing transparency encourages feelings to return. Music is beginning to make sense. It elicits a connection to the emotions and messages contained. Am I broken but don't know it? Am I actually searching for something? Maybe and probably not.

Highlight: Walking near Christchurch and viewing the ruins.

Cordoned Christchurch feels like a ghost town. It is eerily silent and nearly empty. Where did the people go? Christchurch shrunk, are people arguing over property lines? What do parishioners think about their churches being destroyed or damaged? Some religions preach that natural events are acts of mythical gods. Do impacted congregants think they are being punished? Do they pass the blame, perhaps to an individual in the congregation? Are they changing their ways?

Re:Start shipping container businesses.
Re:START is a post-earthquake business development using artistically placed shipping containers. I presume they were built because they are stable, will not collapse, and facilitated quick resumption of partial business operations.

Damaged buildings in Christchurch.
One building looked like it held a UFO. Maybe a secret program was exposed!

If you are reading the abridged version, you may skip to the next highlight.

Tuesday 15 January 2013 - Tautuku

I paid for a rental car before Laura, Kate, and Alberto picked me up. Often a richer life requires risk.

Laura, Alberto, Kate, and I at the Moeraki Boulders. Image copyright 2013 Alberto Rada, used with permission.
The Moeraki Boulders rose out of an otherwise empty beach. It was painful doing an elbow lever on that rough surface.

That night we camped. I slept in the car. I dug my first hole to poo in. After digging it with a stick, I blew a lot of hot air with a small turd followed by a second. Digging a big hole was disappointing for that. I wished it were a monster dump to make the hole worthwhile. I used subway napkins to wipe. It sure came in fresher than it left. It was strange using it to wipe shit off my ass rather than food from my mouth.

Wednesday 16 January 2013 - Invercargill

I have been traveling too much and need a break. After three and a half years budget travel is starting to wear me down. What, if anything, is next?

Laura smiling at the edge of a waterfall.
Laura almost fell off a cliff. My heart raced. She slid to the edge on her belly in a starfish position. Her feet started going over the edge. Halfway over she stopped sliding. I would not help, it was too dangerous. She rested and then s.l.o.w.l.y. crawled to safety. I was shaking too much to take a decent picture. She appeared unfazed.

Alberto and I sound asleep in the back of the car. Image copyright 2013 by Laura or Kate and used with permission.
I am a terrible passenger and prefer driving. Eventually I relaxed and this was my normal position. When I started traveling I always looked at the scenery. Alberto sped on a gravel road causing my back to tense. We slid on the road while he was oblivious even after passing a car in the ditch.

Flowers, mountains, and mist combining for a beautiful image.
For the second night in a row I slept in the car. We enjoyed perfect locations both times. This photo shows what we were surrounded by near Milford Sound.

Someone reminded me why I try change myself. The person is confrontational, hostile, and makes an issue out of many things. I react negatively. We disagree on what really matters. It reminds me to focus on issues rather than attack people. Essentially nothing matters, maybe this also. I try reduce hostility and let go of things that are ultimately none of my business, especially if the impact is only practically limited to one person. Often I have no reason or right to change others.

Thursday 17 January 2013 - On the way to Queenstown

Much of my music is depressing. Is it reflective of who I am? Is noticing it indicative of changes in myself? Trying to recall positive songs is difficult.

The water and mountains at Milford Sound (Fjord).
We visited Milford Sound (fjord). The boat took us for a scenic ride.

I never dreamt of the day a hostel would be an improvement! After sleeping in the car an actual bed was very welcome.

Saturday 19 January 2013 - Ocean near Weheka

The Fox Glacier cutting a path through the mountains.
We saw glaciers. It rained. Viewing mountains carved by glaciers was fascinating. In middle school I refused to accept that glaciers flattened swaths of North America. On a test I answered, "I do not believe this, but," and answered for full points. I am proud of how I have grown and started to accept ideas based upon the strongest evidence. I have tried to let go of dogma and emotions when logic and reason are superior.

Sunday 21 January 2013 - Wanaka

My friend called for advice about a cutting friend. This was the closest suicide impacted me. A fellow traveler shared that a good friend died jumping off a bridge. The traveler takes warnings seriously and recommended calling the police. My friend did. A life and death crisis was contrasted by us playing a nonsensical, light, absurd, and ultimately trivial game of cards. The disconnect was palpable and preposterous.

First aid responders took the person to the hospital. The suicidal person felt their rabbit hole is too damaged to repair thus attempts at recovery were useless. I feel an urge to help those who have given up after years, decades, of abuse. Most times I do not because I feel I don't have the resources and necessary knowledge, and I don’t want to sacrifice my life for theirs. It may be a copout.

Highlight: Watching glacial melt near Mt Cook.

Tuesday 22 January 2013 - Near Mt Cook

Mountains with a rest area and outdoor restroom in the middle.
These facilities are near Mount Cook. Perfect to download with the door open. Sand flies agreed; I sped up because of them. Sand flies are difficult to feel or hear but leave itchy welts that last for days. They are worse than mosquitos.

Me doing an elbow lever with Mount Cook and glaciers in the background.
Alberto and I hiked for a fantastic view of Mt Cook — my favorite place on the trip. Mountain snow allowed us to refill our water bottles and extend our hike. Chunks of breaking glaciers caused avalanches and sounded like crashing waves. Glacial melt drained as waterfalls. We were alone. Perfect clear skies and a refreshing breeze accompanied us. We could have sat up there for hours if our travel mates were not waiting. On the way down we slid on a snowy area. I felt child-like and full of energy. It is great fun to let go of inhibitions. I will do it more often.

Later Alberto and I swam in Lake Tekapo. The fresh glacial melt was very refreshing. The day was perfect.

If you are reading the abridged version, you may skip to the next highlight.

Thursday 24 January 2013 - Kaikoura

Yesterday the girls and boys split. The girls hitched and Alberto and I rented an SUV. I was jittery from nervousness signing as I never hired a car. I initially drove aggressively. Alberto frequently reminded me to slow down. When excited I drive dangerously; when feeling down I drive safer. It should be the opposite if anything, good moods being conducive to life and bad moods to death. Which I guess is true in extreme examples.

My most memorable sunrise over the ocean with stormy clouds.
Penguin with a great sunrise in the background.
I watched a gorgeous sunrise. When I was quietly walking around a seal sleeping on its back, it glanced at me, flipped around, and bellowed loudly while flopping into the water. I felt bad. Further on a penguin did not mind me and continued its morning routine.

On the drive to the Abel Tasman National Park I figuratively crashed. It reminded me why I cherish proper sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to headaches pain reliever does not relieve and feeling grumpy, physically sick, and depleted of energy. Only a good sleep helps.
A wonderful ocean bay surrounded by green plants.
This is Anchorage bay at Abel Tasman National Park.

Two bees doing 'it' on the path.
Bees mated on the path. Instead of stopping, one pair clumsily flied off together. Years ago I worked on a farm and for the first time saw two flies mating. I easily squished them. That would have been the best time and way of any to die — quickly at the height of pleasure.

I would like to experiment being completely honest, open, transparent, and forward with people. I understand it is difficult, but refreshing openness and conversational freedom follows. It seems worth it if done constructively. I begin to censor myself to avoid offense after starting to like others.

Highlight: Going on an exhausting hike in the Tongariro National Park.

Monday 28 January 2013 - Tongariro National Park

Nico and Sophie joined us in Wellington. We hiked where Lord of the Rings was filmed, Tongariro National Park. I hiked at least 34 kilometers (21 miles) in one day. I do not want to repeat that for a long time. A bush scratched my wrist and my shoes left two small blisters. One blister is still there two months later.

A rock cliff in Tongariro National Park
This is a rock formation in the park.

Volcanic mountain with a red rock crater.
This is Red Crater and Mt Ngauruhoe — Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings movie. I didn't notice at the time what that red rock abscess looks like.

My foot. The top is dark gray from dirt, the bottom where my sock was is white.
Dirt from the day.

The hike was exhausting. Loose gravel and sand covered steep, smooth, and compacted areas. We to slowly walked in areas to prevent falling down the mountain.

Me jumping from the cliff by a waterfall. Image copyright 2013 Alberto Rada, used with permission.
Sophie, Nico, Alberto, and I posed for a silly photo with a waterfall in the background. Image copyright 2013 Alberto Rada, used with permission.
After hiking we jumped into a waterfall's plunge pool. I jumped after Nico to ensure it was safe! The first photo is me jumping and the second is of Sophie, Nico, Alberto, and I.

If you are reading the abridged version, you may skip to the end.

Tuesday 29 January 2013 - Rotorua

A boiling sulphur puddle.
Rotorua is famous for geysers, sulphur pools, and hot mud baths. Sometimes the rotten egg smell caused me to involuntarily gag. I put my finger in the puddle to test the heat.

Boardwalk that looks like it had been scorched by fire.
Hot spring gases blacken wood similarly to fire. Soot rubs off it like touching charcoal.

Wednesday 30 January 2013 - Matamata

Sign for Matamata AKA Hobbiton with the themed town info center in the background.
When traveling I try reminding myself I paid a lot to get there, I may never return, and should do any activities that interest me regardless of cost. Matamata (Hobbiton) did not interest me until after my travel mates returned. They loved the tour! Now I regret missing that movie set.

Saturday 2 February 2013 - Auckland

While I mostly enjoyed the trip, I am glad it is over. It feels nice to have my space even with seven other strangers sharing the room.

I am confused watching a free outdoor opera. Why do people listen to this? How is it relevant? Why use a foreign language for an English speaking audience? Why not a modern opera? Maybe people would care if it were modern and using a relevant language. It is a dead tradition people drag on. Does it evolve and adapt? Or is it something people hold on to for sentimental reasons to resist modernizing, changing, and remaining relevant. It feels like a stagnant art in desperate need of a refresh. People become too attached to the past and need to embrace change. It is almost dogmatic like. If it is the same at the Sydney Opera House I do not want to go.

One song was by Mozart. I am sure people today make music as good as his was. In his day people likely hated and loved his work, as can be said of any artist today. Time has deified him making him better than he was. Maybe Mozart simply has a unique and memorable personal story.

Tonight I gave a sleeping bag and blanket to two homeless guys. I talked to them for a bit. It seemed like they were cool normal guys having a hard time. They reminded me of my brother and triggered a few tears, I think he is okay but I miss him.

Over the years I have based decisions on avoiding things I do not want to do. I haven't determined my fate as much as avoided displeasure. I have eliminated options, not pursued something I love. By default my path has settled where it has. Travel is easy. This website may be one very conscious affirmative decision.

I usually do things because of what I feel, think, and desire while frequently disregarding outside input. Especially when no one else should be concerned. I seldom adjust my path based upon what others deem appropriate. People with conviction and determination make a difference. Unless I want to blow with the breezes, I have to stay my course.

Goals change. It is better to focus on one thing than many. Right now that focus is contentment. I achieved it to my liking. Travel arose from a need for a relaxing break from school and book learning. Soon I feel I will be ready to start on something else and return to learning.

Happy Travels

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