After a 24 hour flight we finally set ground to the land Down Under. A good night sleep later we started to explore.
That is how we discovered the big diversity in fauna and flora in Australia and New Zealand. Before we made this trip, thinking about Australia we automatically thought about the red sand and a hopping kangaroo. Once there, we got to know the different facets of this wonderful country. There was the hot and humid North around Darwin, the beautiful beaches in the Southwest, the tropical forests in the Northeast and in the Southeast we stumbled across a rather Belgian type of climate. Then you had Tasmania, which was a discovery on its own and a nice introduction to New Zealand, with its lakes and forests. We were amazed by the new range of animals we encountered on our path: kangaroos, wombats, emus, echidnas, ... In New Zealand we were surprised by the beautiful, unknown birds, the penguins, dolphins, ... In summary, both countries have an abundance of fine nature which can easily be accessed by the numerous walking trails.
With our little camper-van, it was easy to make nature home for a couple of days: Home was where we parked it ;-). This way of travelling means ultimate freedom.
Freedom and planning doesn't mix too well, so we didn't plan. Okay, we did plan one thing: steering our van clockwise around the country. The more you plan, the more things can go wrong.
41 000 kilometres later we were at the same spot where we started nine months earlier. This time with a bunch of nice experiences, memories and encounters. The "no worries" mentality of the people, always willing to have a chat and to reach out a helping hand, made us fond of the Australians.
So it was time to sell our van and go explore the land of the long white cloud. Looking back nine months, we were the rookies trying to find the perfect van for our trip, but this time we saw a new load of "rookies" trying to do the same thing. That's how fast a perception can change.
Our first days in New Zealand we kind of missed Aussie more than we missed home. After cruising around the country for a little while, we did get enchanted as well by this beautiful country.
Aotearoa, as the Maori call this country, which is translated as "The land of the long white cloud".
As in Australia, the people here were also hospitable and friendly, but again it was nature that put a spell on us: rolling hills, magnificent mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, icy glaciers and breathtaking fjords, ... Our walking boots got put to the test several times and never failed us. Not only our boots got tested but also our own endurance, especially on the long hikes. After three months we also left with a bunch of nice experiences, memories and warm encounters.
Warmth ... A thing we felt while visiting these two wonderful countries, both literally and figuratively speaking. With the warmth of a cup of coffee in the in numerous espresso bars, we often mused about the good times we had and still had to come. During the cold and rainy days, a fresh brew could cheer us up. When it was time to write another blog post or a post card, we always found a nice spot where we could enjoy a long black and a flat white. Our interest for cozy espresso bars and the perfect cup of coffee was ignited.
However, all good things come to an end, as they say. Although we looked forward to seeing family and friends again, it surely was difficult to leave all this behind. Besides that, we could never have imagined how strongly this trip would change our view on our life. Oh yes, we wondered if we would find some answers to what we wanted to do in life, when coming back home. Never did we think that we would be further away from those answers then before.
Coming home to our routine day-to-day life after that experience, with only the weekends and some summer holidays to do what we really loved, started to make it clear that this kind of life was not meant for us. After working for two years, the urge to leave again started to grow. A trip of 4,5 months to South East Asia would certainly feed our travel bug for a while, at least we thought...