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Kia ora!!!

Welcome to Aotearoa - the long white cloud

Hi everyone, I finally managed to get back working on my blog again!!! Don't ask what took me so long; to make it short: university and work.^^

After some incredible and unforgettable months in Australia, I made my way to New Zealand. Looking back, I don't regret my choice to see so many countries at once, but for any future travelers out there, here is one piece of advice: stick to one country and make the most out of it!
In my upcoming blog entries you'll see that I also fell in love with the land of the long white cloud - Aotearoa, as the native Maoris call it. Yet, leaving behind many friends in Australia wasn't easy. But time was short so I wanted to see as much and as many countries as possible.

New Zealand was first discovered by the legendary Polynesian explorer Kupe in 950 AD. But according to the history, it wasn't until 1350 AD that seven waka (canoes) from the mythical land, Hawaiki, migrated to this land. The name "Long white cloud" came from Kupe who mistakenly thought the snow-covered Southern Alps looked like a long white cloud - snow was apparently not that common on Hawaiki.

The first European arrived in 1642 when Dutch explorer Abel Tasman charted the coastline but not actually set foot on New Zealand. Some of his crew who did so, were killed by local Maori. Today, New Zealand has a population of about 4.5 Million people and approx. 31 Million sheep. Ethnic diversity is strong within the entire country and Kiwis are crazy about their land, especially their coastline and their sports.

Enough with the history though, I want to show you my adventure in a country which didn't need much time to fascinate me.

Nau mai ki Aotearoa!!
(Welcome to New Zealand)


I arrived in Christchurch late. The first surprise I had to get used to were the high prices compared to what I was used to in Australia. So I had to think for quite a while before I decide against walking from the airport to town and took the 30NZD shuttle instead. For me as a traveler that was half a fortune for transportation! Luckily, I had the chance to stay with a local - Japp. He did not have his own house, but was kind enough to share his room with me.

On my first full day, Japp took the time to show me around and we walked from the suburbs to central Christchurch. On our walk, we walked through the beautiful Hagley Park. It's the world's third largest city park behind Central Park, NYC and Stanley Park, Vancouver. The change of sight amazed me - a few days before I was sitting between palm trees and tropical rain forest and all of the sudden I found myself in between shady alleys of oak and maple trees.


For reasons I couldn't explain I felt really drawn to this place and kind of got a feeling of home. Yes, Hagley park reminded me a bit of Europe. There was even a gondolier transporting tourist on the Avon river. We checked out the Botanic Garden and headed toward the Canterbury museum which showed an exhibition of New Zealand's history. In front of it is the Peacock Fountain which made many tourist stop to take pictures, including me. I liked the building's Neo-gothic style of architecture a lot.

Fountain in front of Canterbury Museum

Fountain in front of Canterbury Museum

In 2011, the city suffered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake which it still has to recover from. The closer we got to downtown, the more the damage was visible... So is e.g. the iconic Christchurch Cathedral completely destroyed on one side.


But the people of Christchurch started to rebuild quickly and soon after the quake many pop-up shops, bars and restaurants sprung up around the city. Like the funky Re:Start mall, made entirely out of shipping containers.


I was told beforehand that there wasn't much to do and see in Christchurch and that New Zealand's treasures are in its landscape and outdoors, not in the cities. Therefore, I did not plan to stay for long, even though I loved walking through Hagley Park and seeing how devastating an earthquake can be and on the other hand how people managed to live with it.

Next stop: Kaikoura

Posted by jan.wegener 03:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged christchurch nz southisland firstdays

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