Saying Goodbye To New Zealand

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

Saying goodbye to an unexpected new home is very strange.

As you read this, I may already be at the airport getting ready to leave New Zealand. A trip that should have lasted a few weeks became almost two years. Getting ready to leave this beautiful country, that became a second home, I’m thinking about the things I’m grateful for. Strange to have weathered a presidential election, and four time changes in one country that is not my own.

Chair with a view. Auckland, New Zealand

Copyright, 2020. Heather Markel.

1. I Had The Best Refuge From Covid

I had more than a year to live a normal life while the rest of the world went through the travesties of Covid. I’m so grateful for having this time to adapt, slowly, to the new world, and to be in a place where, up to now, people treated one another with respect and compassion through lockdowns and government policies. 

2. I Was Surrounded By People Who Always Wanted To Lend A Helping Hand

New Zealand is full of really helpful people. No matter what hardship you’re facing, there will always be someone who wants to help you reach your destination, pay the bus fare when you don’t have a fare card, talk about something getting you down, and just be there. I’ve made some beautiful friends and they will be missed. And, I have a lot of them to thank for putting up with me as a flatmate for way too long – thank you! Thank you for your friendship, thank you for your kindness, thank you for teaching me so much about your culture, about being less wasteful, and living happy.

3. The Chance To Learn About The Maori

Another unexpected joy has been learning about the Maori. Traveling through the Southern hemisphere in 2019, I began my lessons about inidigenous peoples. There is so much I didn’t learn in history classes and I’ve been grateful for the real world education. The Maori are one of few indigenous people that have been treated better by their government. This is a country trying to make reparations, which includes ensuring that everyone makes an effort to learn to speak Maori. 

4. Two years To See Spectacular Scenery Over And Over

Most tourists zip in and out of New Zealand, choosing the better-known locations, and then return home. I’ve now been able to travel all over the south and north islands 2 – 3 times. I’ve seen the view from the top of Queenstown, I’ve traveled around the Bay Of Islands, I’ve visited vineyards in Marlborough Sounds and visited the prison and Gannet colony in Napier. I’ve taken the tram in Wellington and visited the Weta workshop, and I’ve gone home to the Shire with hardly any other tourists in sight.

Marsden Cross New Zealand

The sea view track at Marsden Cross. Copyright 2021, Heather Markel.

5. An Intimate Relationship With Local Birds And Nature

Learning to recognize the call of the Tui, the chattering of the fantail and the heavy flight of the kereru (wood pigeon) has been magical. Going deeper into the woods and learning about local plant medicine, and living with friends who grow their own food has been a wonderful education.

6. Latin Fit, Pilates And Steep Hills

I haven’t avoided the dreaded “pandemic belly”, but I did get to keep it in check thanks to Latin Fit dance and pilates classes in Kerikeri, and though I complain when I’m on them, the steep uphills that are part of most of the country have definitely been helpful managing my weight!

pink manuka tree in new zealand

7. Delicious Kai Moana

Kai moana is Maori for seafood, and New Zealand has some of the best. Fresh salmon that hasn’t been farmed has become one of my favorite foods here, along with green lipped mussels, some of the best and meatiest I’ve ever tasted. There’s a long list of other fish I’ve never heard of that I’ll miss seeing in the supermarket.

8. Wonderful pets to keep me company

I did a lot of housesitting during my time in New Zealand. I loved the many companions I had. Recently, I had what felt like my own cat. I named him Max. I’ll miss his daily visits, nap-time cuddles, and his ever-growing intelligence figuring out which door to meow from to get my attention, and even climbing on the roof to make sure I saw him!

I knew this day would come, and feel an odd mix of sadness and excitement about beginning my long journey back to friends and family I haven’t seen for 2 years. Thank you Aotearoa, and New Zealanders, for a lifetime of great memories. You have become my whanau, and I won’t soon forget.

Staring out my window, my last evening in Auckland, I caught a glimpse of Sky Tower. I guess I’m not the only one feeling a bit blue about my departure.

Check out my New Zealand playlist on YouTube – a walkthrough of many of the places I got during my time here.

Learn about Heather and what set her on her world journey. She also explains why this life is not just for Millenials, it's for anyone that wants to create a life around what they love most in life. 

Listen to an episode of the video interview series that will inspire you to follow your heart. Whether you want to travel full time or have another calling, this series is for you.

See the amazing people I've been meeting on my travels and the fun stories that go along with the meetings.

Check out my travel photos from around the world to see the world from wherever you are.

If you've been thinking that there's got to be  more to life than work, or, you've lost your job, and wonder whether now is the time to do something you're more excited about, this quiz will help you. Answer a few questions and get a free guide to help you know the areas you need to work on, followed up with inspirational and helpful tips to put your dreams into action.

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This one is pure fun - test your transcontinental travel trivia knowledge. Hit the button below if you dare take the quiz and see your score! 

If you enjoyed the first quiz, see how you do on the second one! More fun, more tricks, Click the button below to test your knowledge!

If you want to see every post I've written, starting with the most recent, this is the place to start!

In 2020, I was traveling in New Zealand as the coronavirus pandemic brewed, and, got stuck there. If you want to read about what this time was like and traveling during this time, check out this page.

Many of my blog posts are about things I've discovered about myself or about being, while I've traveled. If you'd like to focus on posts that only have self-discovery themes, click the button below.

I've been traveling the globe solo, and many of my posts share thoughts and resources specifically for other solo travelers. If you're a fellow solo traveler, or you're thinking about solo travel, this is a collection you will find of interest.

Sometimes I write posts where I give insider information on certain cities I've visited, which may be more along the lines of places to go, how to save money, etc. If that's your main interest, check out this compilation of posts.

At the heart of international travel is learning about the many different cultures and ways of being around the world. The posts compiled on this page speak, specifically, about the cultural observations I've had.

If you're looking to read blog posts about specific destinations, click the country of your interest below to go to it's blog page and get country-specific reviews and thoughts.

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