Dear New Zealand

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Dear New Zealand,

I had such a hard time writing this letter, because I did not want it to come across the wrong way.

Please do not misunderstand me – you were the most beautiful of beautiful places I have ever been to.

Six countries smashed into one. That is the best way to describe the diversity, the purity, the bliss that you are.

The golden beaches and the granite cliffs. The cloud-piercing peaks and the sparkling snow. The mirror lakes and glacial waters that looked like they were charged with some kind of energy that Superman gets his energy from. The red volcanic land that sits quietly in the distance but rumbles with desire the closer you get to it. So much adrenaline packed into one country I was certain it would eventually cause an eruption.


There was a lot I loved about you, New Zealand, and Mount Cook stands out as one my strongest and most vivid memories. It is funny, really, because it is a simple walk through this stunning valley that I felt like I would find in Switzerland. Tall greenish-yellow grasses, snow-capped mountains colliding with strong green hills, a baby blue sky with clouds streaked through it like someone was fingerpainting. Mount Cook took me by surprise. I had never heard of it before getting there, but its name is forever hanging on my lips, the first words out of my mouth when someone mentions New Zealand.


Then there was a night spent in Rangitata, a different kind of beauty. Not as graceful, not as pristine. It did not look as elegant, but it was overwhelmingly rugged in the most gentle of ways.

The spectacular scenery rolled on through to Kaikoura, where I found myself wondering whether I would ever arrive in a destination and be unimpressed by you. Think, Eh, This place is okay.

But that never happened (except for maybe the Lady Knox Geyser I guess).

Through the North Island, from the postcard-perfect Coromandel Peninsula on through to smelly Rotorua. The vibrant lakes along the Tongariro Crossing, the serene charm of Lake Taupo and then back on down along through the South Island to lovely Nelson and the magnificent Abel Tasman. The wonder that is Franz Josef.

You never failed to amaze me, New Zealand.


And though I hate to say it, I will admit there were some lows and some times where I felt incomplete. I tried my hardest to take advantage of every nook and cranny you have to discover, to challenge myself to climb to new heights and explore the darkness deep down inside your caves. But at the end of the day, something was missing. Something felt off.

There were a mix of reasons that I found myself feeling down from time to time. There was bad news from home that that hit me in sporadic waves, and my family was going through a difficult and trying time that has rendered so many of us feeling helpless. I knew nothing could be done, no matter whether I was in Brooklyn or off in New Zealand. All we can do is keep going about our lives while playing this waiting game, I would tell myself, but I wanted to be at home playing that waiting with my family by my side.

On top of that I missed my niece Evangeline desperately. My brother and sister-in-law would send me photos and videos, and it was like a Catch-22. I loved getting them but they broke my heart a little at the same time. I found myself wanting to get on a plane just to give her a hug. I felt like I was missing so much of her life, and though I sent her home postcards letting her know I was always thinking of her, the arrival of my niece has changed traveling for me. Even now as I write this my eyes I can feel the tears pooling up in my eyes. It is much harder this time around traveling than it ever was before.


It was challenging to stay in shape, and I watched my fitness slowly decline. Daily runs turned into twice a week leisurely runs, and despite the goals I had set out for staying fit and staying in shape, as every traveler soon comes to admit: Staying healthy and active on the road is hard, hard work. I will just have to pick it back up again when I am home.

I also found myself falling back into what I guess could you could call old habits. I became so focused on work, with freelancing opportunities suddenly popping up left and right. Often I found I felt quite lonely, cooped up trying to get articles written, pitches sent out, photos semi-edited. I did not like it, and so I filled that void with a superficial relationship that I thought I had long put behind me.

I knew it would not bring me happiness, but I ignored my gut; I acted like it was speaking in a foreign language I did not understand.

When I left Australia, I felt like I had left it on the best foot possible. I was in a good place, I felt stronger – perhaps a mix of utter delusion of not going back and having no choice of going back. But I found that I unraveled a bit as I traveled through your islands.

It was not you, New Zealand, that brought on that feeling of being incomplete. It was me. Please know that. I loved you tremendously, and for so much of the time I was with you, I could not believe it was all really happening. I am actually here, I would repeat to myself over and over again.

I just do not know if you came at the right time. I do not know if you were the right country for solo travel in a place that at times felt overbearingly ridden with couples and friends traveling together.

When the time came to leave you, in a way I felt ready. For starters, you were getting so cold I could not handle it, and I hate the cold. (Just because I am from New York does not mean I do not hate the cold!) Secondly, you were making my wallet cry on a regular basis, and the stress of money was one I did not want to deal with.

But still, it was strange. In my head, it was like, Well, I have done New Zealand. Now what? For so long you felt so close and yet so far. Unattainable in the most enticing of ways. And then our five weeks together came and went, and I was left feeling a bit lost, left wondering which country was next to conquer. Bolivia? Croatia? 

Regardless of everything, New Zealand, of the highs and the lows that came about while we got to know each other, I want you to know that you are the most incredible of little countries on earth, and you pack a punch like no other. Not many travelers universally agree on many countries, but you are one that every traveler will describe as breathtaking, magnificent, surreal, heavenly.

You have added a new layer, a new dimension of the world to me. You have made it so that the rest of the world might be beautiful, but you fall into your own category. You fall into something that has yet to be classified, a country that surpasses stunning by millions of lightyears.

I trust that I will make it back one day, sometime far off in the future, and I can not wait for that day to come again. I can not wait to share you with someone. I can not wait to show someone else how magnificent of a gem you are, how there is no where else in the world as rich as you are.

I will be back for you one day, and I know you will only get more beautiful with age.

Love Always,

Alex ( or Allie. Still trying to figure that part out.)

This is officially my last post from New Zealand.
Now it is on to some Indonesian adventures!

2 comments on “Dear New Zealand

  1. You are a very talented writer…I have enjoyed your travels and accounts.. We all wonder what it would have been like if we did the same thing when we were younger…… You are visiting places that I know I will never get to see. Enjoy the remainder of the trip…..Be very careful

    • Hi Dennis! Thank you so much. I really truly appreciate your kind words, and thank you for your support and for following my travels! :)

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