Before New Zealand

Originally from South Africa, and having grown up with mountains and the ocean on our doorstep, a love of the outdoors and adventure has always been in our blood. But as much as we loved SA, in 2003 we decided it was time to broaden our horizons, so we packed up our lives into two suitcases and moved to the United Kingdom to work and travel. Somewhat naively, we had a five-year plan, always intending to return to family and friends in South Africa and ‘settle down’.

Five years became seven years which became ten years and somewhere along the way we got lost in the daily grind. We have no regrets of our time in the UK, having experienced so much there and in Europe, but living in London, getting ‘outdoors’ on weekends meant braving the M25 motorway for two hours followed by driving for another two hours to reach anywhere that felt even vaguely remote.

During this time, Debs worked for a great company that hired a real mix of nationalities including a strange breed of people called ‘Kiwis’ who spoke a weird tongue (“sweet as bro, yeah…nah, she’ll be right, now pass the pavlova”) and told stories of volcanoes, lakes, glaciers, white sand beaches, black sand beaches and little people with big feet (ok, that last bit might have been Lord of The Rings). We knew instantly that we just had to see this place for ourselves and with our adventurous spirits rekindled, dreams of our next exciting chapter were born.

Arriving in New Zealand

To cut a long, and somewhat arduous story short, we made our move to New Zealand in late 2013 and on arriving here, we immediately felt at home. After the hustle and bustle and oftentimes ‘coldness’ of London we found Auckland almost quaint by comparison if you can believe that. The pace of life was less frantic, the people warm, friendly and welcoming and despite living in a sprawling city, in less than an hour we could be somewhere that felt remote and almost untouched by civilisation. And so, we settled into our new lives, using every spare moment to immerse ourselves in the spirit and beauty of the land.

Over the next two and a half years, we saw a fair amount of New Zealand, from Cape Reinga in the north, to Hicks Bay in the east, New Plymouth and Mount Taranaki in the west and down to windy Wellington. We also took a small ‘taster’ road trip through the top half of the South Island. While we certainly experienced a great deal in our travels across New Zealand, it was clear that this was only a fraction of what this amazing country had to offer.

So, we’ve set ourselves a challenge – to be lifelong ‘tourists’ in the country we now call home and continue to experience everything we do with that same sense of awe and wonder that you do as a visitor from a foreign land. To help us, we’ve created a to-do list (a rather long one!) with a particular focus on the outdoors, and over the coming months or however long it takes, we aim to complete it – we do still have regular 9 to 5 jobs after all. This blog is our way of sharing our travels with family and friends we’ve left behind (in the hope they’ll come visit) and with anybody else who might take inspiration from the words and photos we share on our journey through Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. We invite you to follow us as we explore New Zealand, one outdoor adventure at a time.

Martin & Debs – August 2016

Martin & Debs