Currently driving down memory lane in New Zealand.
Arriving in New Zealand
This is the very first time for me to visit a country twice for a longer period. Therefore, I was not as stoked at the beginning, as I usually am when visiting a new place. The airport and many sights along the way down South were familiar to me. Yet, the longer I drove, the more excited I became. Although I have seen many things before, everything appeared in a new light and not only due to the season.
Before heading South, I had to visit someone who was considerably involved in making my stay in 2015 memorable. Indeed, there are a couple of people: my host family in Auckland. Somehow, I always missed the chance to contact them. You know, the chances slipping from your hand like a wet soap. Hence, I headed through Auckland to surprise them. Unfortunately, they were away, but I left them a short notice and a small present. We caught up shortly after by phone and arranged a meeting at a later stage of this trip. Meanwhile, I started my trip down South.
Driving Down Memory Lane
My way led me through Hamilton down South to Putaruru, a place I had passed many times in 2015 when going on fishing trips. Going South, I literally “drove” down memory lane. Many sights along the way appeared familiar: Putaruru, Lemon&Paroa, ginger slices, their accent and many more.
An Old Companion
The journey to Taupo took time. Increasing jetlag fatigue caused me to stop several times for breaks inbetween. Suddenly, the weather changed from sunny to low hanging fog rendering visibility to less than 50 meters. Eventually, I arrived Taupo at a house of an old friend: Claudio.
In 2015, spending time in the South Island fly fishing, I met Claudio in Gore on the camping. We instantly connected and a strong friendship established. We spent the evening sharing beers and stories. The following morning, he left me a note with his intention to have a coffee down the road. I caught up with him and we spent a wonderful day fishing on the Mataura river. To this day I have kept his message in my journal and eventough we live only 30 minutes drive many apart in Switzerland, it took a trip to NZ to get to know each other.
It was wonderful to catch up with Claudio again. I was his first visitor from Switzerland, and he clearly was happy to talk to a Swiss chap in person. We shared some wine, had good laughs, and eventually decided to visit a working mate’s birthday party. Buying some beer, we arrived at the friend’s house shortly after. I save you from details, but we had a pretty entertaining evening where I met a lot of cool locals. That is how you fight jetlag.
The following morning, I learnt to know Theresa, Claudio’s fiancé. She succinctly put it that it did we did not appear to be strangers to one another. We had caught up with happenings on the other side of the world through social media. We had a late breakfast and afterwards I left them to go to Wellington. However, I plan to spend some more time fishing at their place at a later stage. Looking forward to that!
The road took me down through Turangi with an inevitable stop at the famous bridge pool. The water of the mighty Tongariro river was gin-clear, but anglers caught trout even during my brief visit. A truly magnificent place. I drove down the stunningly beautiful Desert Road along the Tongaririo National Park with its majestic peaks soaring into the sky. In a similar wake the bushy scrub pierced my skin through the pants. All seemed familiar, though everything appeared in a different light. It was winter.
Down in Wellington, I met Jack at his apartment. I have never met him in person but learnt to know him through fly fishing movies and our common subject of study at university: history. He kindly invited me to stay at his place while sorting out the requirements for my volunteering for Fish&Game. Jack and I had great talks during my stay ranging from fishing, environmental issues as well as history. In Wellington, I spent the last couple of days organising my volunteering for Fish&Game.
Stay tuned for part 2 when things do not go as planned.