Posted on March 20, 2011 by Colin

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.