January 24, 2015 I (Rolf Dahlberg) was happy to join a group of 13 members from People to People International (PTPI) in Denmark, and travel with them to New Zealand on a twenty-four day trip!
The first stop en route to Christchurch was in Bangkok, Thailand. This provided a welcome break, before completing the final stretch of our journey to New Zealand. In Bangkok we enjoyed the magical aromas, colours and sounds that bring Bangkok’s streets to life.
Once in New Zealand, we met the host families that we would stay with during the first part of our visit. Given this is a long trip we also stayed at a number of hotels. New Zealand is made up of 2 islands North and South. We travelled across the South Island by mini-bus for five days, and stayed a few days in hotels on the North Island. In Whangarei another wonderful host family welcomed us. From here we were able to explore further.
The views through the Southern Alps took my breath away. We visited the famous Fox Glacier and experienced how the weather can change from rain to sun to snow and then back to sun – all in one day – typical of New Zealand! It was incredible to enjoy the New Zealand summer considering they had just finished celebrating Christmas!
We started as 14 globally minded travellers ready to share an adventure together. As the days rolled by we were no longer a group, but a circle of friends. We were truly amazed by the beauty of the country that inspired our kindred spirits.
Gibb Lee of PTPI Christchurch and his amazing wife Val were our wonderful guides and leaders throughout our stay in New Zealand. They took care of all of our transportation, accommodation and supplied us with amazing food and drink. Other local friends included Jim Palmer and Raewyn Jecentho, who helped with driving and sharing stories along the way.
Both of my host families were proud to share the cultural traditions and splendour of their native country. By the final day I was watching the Cricket World Cup, eager to try and learn the rules!
The whole trip was well organized and a great deal of fun. We saw waterfalls – a member of the group even bungee jumped off the Kawarau Bridge! We spotted Kiwis and Kia’s (local birds), saw how sheep are sheared, visited an old mining town, observed a fish farm and climbed up to the observatory on Mount John where it was only 3°C (37°F)! We learned about local trees and plants and some of us even took a dip in the Pacific Ocean. We learned about the history of the native Māori, viewed the pancake-rocks at Punakaiki, and rode in a steam engine built in 1912 in Queenstown.
It was an amazing trip that blew me away on so many levels. The nature, people and sights touched my life and will always remain with me. It will take days to go through the 1400+ pictures I took. One thing is certain – I will be back again soon! New Zealand now has a piece of my heart.
I would like to express my thanks to our tour guide: Anna-Marie Bohsen for an incredible job. The chapter organises a lot of trips around the world, to places like Mongolia, Japan, New Zealand, Albania and Bulgaria. See what they are planning next on their website http://www.peopletopeople.dk
Some facts about New Zealand: Capital: Wellington with 325.000 inhabitants; the largest city is Auckland with 1,200,000 inhabitants; highest mountain is Mount Cook at 3724 meters; total population: 4,400,000. New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy. 1 New Zealand dollar = 0,66 EUR