Next Steps: August 2017

I’m making these next steps count.

It’s the middle of August 2017 and I’ve got several things I’ve got to accomplish in the near future. In July, I decided to travel and work abroad for (up to) a year in New Zealand. The ticket is bought and paid for. I leave on the 13th of September (which is a Wednesday, btw….and superstitions aren’t real!). These are my next steps.

I’ve also purchased accommodation for my first weekend in NZ, since I’ll be arriving at 10:30 pm on Friday night, and I’ve learned my lesson from Iceland…

My plan for New Zealand is this: to travel both islands. Last time I was here, I never got off the North Island. Eventually I hope to find a place that is absolutely incredible (should be easy in NZ). Once there, I’ll seek temporary/seasonal employment – one of the few restrictions of my working holiday visa. If it seems to you that this particular itinerary is lacking in concrete details and dates, well, that’s the point. I want to be as surprised by my own next steps as you are.

This particular visa is available in the US to citizens aged 18-30, so if you’re interested in checking it out, go here. Maybe a gap year, or just plain going off and exploring for a while holds some interest for you. If so, pay attention to the end of this post. I’ll do a short write-up about it. We’ll see about including a bit specifically about New Zealand as well…

Next steps
Beautiful waves rolling in on Ngarunui Beach just outside of Raglan, NZ. I took this on Easter in 2016.

Some other things coming up:

I want to finish writing up every possible story from my travels that has a lesson to teach. The entertaining ones too (probably at my own expense). That way, I’ll be able to move forward and write each new story shortly after it happens. That way is much easier for me to capture the magic of what made these share-worthy moments special.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve been posting these stories so slowly. They’ve happened a good while ago, so it’s difficult to remember some of the finer details. Also, the excitement from experiencing them has somewhat ebbed.

But I definitely want to get them done, not only to share with you but also to preserve them somewhere they won’t be affected by memory’s steady, though thankfully glacial, pace of decay.

Just as I’ve got a plan for my travels, these are my next steps in regards to writing.

The four upcoming throwback stories I’ll be posting are:

✯ Iceland Part 1: How I felt absolute freedom after finally getting my Icelandic car rental. My days chasing waterfalls and rainbows, and sleeping in a haunted hotel (and perhaps a few other things too).

Edit February 12, 2018 – As it turns out, I had to split the adventure into more than two parts. Here’s Part 1: Keflavík

✯ Iceland Part 2: I turned 23 on a Reykjavik Rúntur, and the next night slept in cozy Stykkishólmur. I explored the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and enjoyed the Blue Lagoon.

✯ Sailing the Whitsundays: I took a 2-day sailing cruise to and around the Whitsundays. We stayed on a private island, and experienced camaraderie blossom after a day’s sail. The best part? Finishing the last night with karaoke, song, and dance (felt like I was living out a movie scene).

✯ The Last Hurrah – Cairns: I snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef (while grievously hungover), and swam in the Esplanade (because CROCS, man!). An absolutely fantastic 3 consecutive nights of drinking and revelry at Gilligan’s with friends both old and new! Also including: a (*tearful sniff*) second place finish in a beer pong tournament (with some weeeiiiirrrrd rules). We missed out on the $50 of bar credit. But I regret nothing. Our gambit was a beer-fueled run for the ages filled with many perplexing yet enjoyable moments.

All of the titles are subject to change, of course.

next steps
I spotted two kayakers on what I believe is the Waitetuna River near Raglan, though I am unsure if that is the correct river. It was a very long walk from Raglan to Karioi Lodge, where I was staying.

On gap years, exploring, and New Zealand:

I wish I had known about gap years while I was in high school. I would have thought strongly about taking one before attending college.

On the one hand, I was a lot less mature (though I think it would’ve fixed THAT up right quick – though that’s only a hope), I didn’t have very much money, (but maybe if I’d planned in advance...), and I know that sometimes with financial aid you don’t really have a choice – you may need to take the offer while it’s still available.

On the other hand, it would’ve been an unforgettable, worldview-shattering experience, and it might have led me to pursue a degree following one of my passions (science, photography, using technology to advance society) instead of going for a degree that I thought was going to be profitable (marketing).

I would have had the luxury of making numerous contacts from across the world before even setting foot in a college classroom. And from those contacts I would have had a diverse array of experiencesopinions, and worldviews to draw from when deciding what is best for me, and what would work for me.

I guess my opinion here is actually pretty clear.

If one has the ability (to handle oneself in such a manner as to not die, or otherwise ruin their potential life – aka are you responsible enough to handle this trip or no?), and the means (money/wealth) to take a gap year, then one absolutely should.

My next steps could be your next steps too!

Now for New Zealand – I truly have a wonderfully positive experience from my 8 day trip when I was there in March 2016, which was not nearly long enough for such a place. New Zealand is a beautiful country – you may have seen its brilliant, stunning landscapes in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit trilogy, King Kongthe majority of the Chronicles of Narnia movies, the Piano, and the Last Samurai – to name some of the better known movies filmed there.

In addition to beautiful scenery, New Zealand is a country populated with beautiful people.

Some of the kindest and most open and caring strangers you’ll ever turn into friends. The Maori – the natives of the island – also have a fantastic and intriguing culture. Just check out this video of a wedding haka being performed by what I believe are the groomsmen and family. My favorite comment: “I was watching this when, suddenly my chest is hairy and I grew a beard.” The haka was primarily used by warriors before battle to intimidate their enemies. I find it to be absolutely primal and invigorating – an amazing display of ferocity and a reverence for their culture. Modern New Zealanders might just be the friendliest people in the world. It is common for travelers to hitchhike their way around the islands without incident.

Though you should definitely always keep your wits about you.

I hope that now perhaps you’ll be filled with the same passion that fills me – to explore somewhere like New Zealand. And to fall back in love with the beauty of our natural world. To seek out and learn from other cultures and other peoples across the globe. One thing that you can do everyday, from now until the end of your life, is continue to learn. There is no peak on the mountain of knowledge.

Originally Posted August 17, 2017

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