Reflections on New Zealand

It’s been a while since I set foot in New Zealand, but I still have (joyous, amazing) flashbacks of the four months I spent there all the time.

It’s one of those countries that sticks with you, and the people that I met while there, the things that I did and the compositions that I saw (every horizon line in the whole country deserves to be called a composition, not just a geographic formation) left an indelible impression.

Knowing this, I’m sure you can imagine the panic and shock I felt when I woke up to find the news churning out stories about Christchurch being torn apart by a huge earthquake. When you live in a seismically-active region, you KNOW it’s a possibility, but you don’t want to think about it, and I certainly never did.

I spent most of the day writing messages to friends who lived in the area, checking to make sure everyone was okay, that their families were okay, that they were going to make it.

Fortunately, everyone I spoke to escaped with minor injuries if any, along with their families. Their homes, cars and businesses on the other hand…let’s just say it’s going to be a hard time in ChCh for a little while.

But now I’ve got this new fear, and it’s something I didn’t even think about until I got word of it from a small group of travel bloggers who are running a grassroots campaign called Blog4NZ (#blog4nz).

The idea is this: when a major natural disaster hits, tourism tends to die in the whole country (I’ve seen the same thing here in Iceland – where I’m currently residing – after the volcanic eruption not long ago), even though it’s just a small area that’s effected.

This has a hugely negative impact on the area because after a disaster is when they need those funds the most, and as the money dries up, the locals have a harder time putting the pieces back together. They’re then faced with difficult long-term ramifications (in the case of New Zealand, they’re able to avoid most drilling, mining and deforestation because of the tourism industry…if that goes away, so could their beautiful landscape).

And so I decided to take the day to put together a video and this blog post, to celebrate a country that treated me so well in hopes that you’ll think of them fondly the next time you’re looking to head overseas on vacation. I can’t recommend them more as a travel destination: I had such a good time.

To everyone in New Zealand: my best to you, my deepest condolences for what you have lost, and my hope is that I’ll see you again soon, even stronger and more wonderful than the last time I was there.

If you’re interested in participating in the Blog4NZ project, check out their website here. You can also see more photos from my time in New Zealand here.

14 comments

  1. Great insight there Colin. How often do you see a tourist/traveler think that much about the place they’re visiting? It’s easy to just see it as another place that exists to entertain you, but looking deeply into how things work is a sign of character.

  2. Hi Colin,

    thanks a lot for posting this – The Blog4NZ campaign is really fantastic and much appreciated by this kiwi.

    From Wellington,
    JF

  3. I think it is still possible to have a thriving economy without tourism.People can still be self sufficient and live in balance with nature without mining.It’s just a case of people being happier with a simpler life.Tourism is another aspect of consumerism.People become dependant on outsiders which weakens local economies.Tourism means more pollution and air traffic.Technology and tourism is destroying the planet.Enhanced communication begins by working to improve our local environments and creating deeper bonds with our home countriesSelf sufficiency and being tied to the local environment is the key to undertanding humankinds true path.The Garden of Eden is one’s home town and surrounding lands-its just a case of seeing its potential to be a beautiful garden.

  4. After skipping through your video without the sound (I’m at work) I understand why you have a blog post titled “New Zealand is So Beautiful it Makes Me Sick.”
    I will be sure to look at your link because I don’t want them to destroy any of it before I go. Because as soon as I have enough money saved up I’ll go visit.

  5. Thanks for actually explaining what Blog4NZ was about in your post too – I’ve seen a few people write on this topic without explaining WHY they were blogging about places/reasons to go to New Zealand, nor linking to that site. Before I read this I had the impression that it was just a fad, with no real meaning behind it!

  6. Hey Colin. Great post and video.

    As a Kiwi who hasn’t lived in my homeland for 5 years I can say it’s going to take a lot more than a disastrous earthquake to shake up our country. Our tourism industry is stronger than that and as a country that sits on a fault line and has a wealth of geothermal activity and inactive volcanoes it’s an adventure capital for a reason. People know it’s slightly dangerous!

    Peter Jackson has helped the tourism industry immensely too and will continue to do so.

    Also I read a report just yesterday that NZ along with India are the largest exporters of meat, and it’s one of our biggest industries – agriculture. Tourism is of course important but there’s much more to NZ than meets the eye.

    Still I wouldn’t wish what happened to the people of Christchurch and Japan for that matter on anyone, and unfortunately I only see more devastations happening given the massive shifting of the tectonic plates right now.

    Natalie

  7. Hey Colin

    Thank you so much for looking out for us down here in New Zealand as we grieve for what has been lost and desperately try to fix our broken city. It is hard times for everyone in New Zealand. We have lost people but we have also lost many beautiful buildings. The entire city is crumbling to the ground and all have is the memory of how it once stood. 

    Thanks for you efforts

    Kia kaha

    Elise

  8. Hey Colin

    Thank you so much for looking out for us down here in New Zealand as we grieve for what has been lost and desperately try to fix our broken city. It is hard times for everyone in New Zealand. We have lost people but we have also lost many beautiful buildings. The entire city is crumbling to the ground and all have is the memory of how it once stood. 

    Thanks for you efforts

    Kia kaha

    Elise

  9. Great video !

    I spent 3 weeks in NZ a couple of years ago and agree with everything you said. The thing about them being “away from all the world troubles” is especially true, and there really is a serene peace there.

    The landscape is indeed EPIC, one hour it looks like you’re walking on the pined cliffs of southern France and the next hour you’re walking in huge mountains that actually touch the sea. The transportation is cheap, and there’s even a company that lets you “rent” cars for free (you’re essentially moving the car for them for one point to another) : http://www.transfercar.co.nz/

    However, there was one thing that bothered me a little, it’s that in small towns, everything is closed after 6:00 pm (even restaurants) and there’s litterally no one in the streets. This is different for Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland, but holds true for the rest of the country.

    Anyway, I really wish to go back there.

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