New Zealand
6th January 2020

The South Island. It's kind of difficult to not instantly love the south island of New Zealand, since every point of entry is stunning. If you fly in, I'm told that the view of the mountain range from the air is incredible. I took the ferry, which crosses the Cook Strait and then zig-zags through the maze that is Queen Charlotte Sound. Even though it is tricky to get good photos from the ferry (there's a lot of boat and people in most of mine) it's still a very enjoyable crossing. Well, I suppose only if the sea is calm. The Cook Strait is renowned for being some of the roughest and quickest changing waters in the world. Fortunately, I happened to take the ferry while the water was about as angry as a butterfly gently fluttering past a gaggle of buttercups in a quaint English garden. My stomach was delighted!

30 minutes on the bus, riding with some friends from Christmas in Raetihi, and I was in my new home, Blenheim. It's a big town, bigger than I'd like. I was very fond of Whitianga where traffic was out of hand if there were three cars in a row. But with size comes a bigger pool of potential friends, jobs and shops. Speaking of jobs, I have one. I'm glad I wasn't mistaken when I thought that Blenheim was an easy place to find a job. I arrived Friday and today, Monday, was my first day at work. I'm not exactly sure what my job title is, but basically I work on a vineyard. It's nice to work outdoors, the work isn't bad and I work decent hours with opportunity to work extra. What more could I ask for?

It hasn't been particularly easy getting to know people at my campsite and it's not from a lack of trying. Now alone in New Zealand it is more important than ever to talk to people and make friends. But there is a tendency for people of a nationality to stick together. It's human nature, I think. We are all guilty of it. The German people are more comfortable with other German people and therefore they tend to stick together. The campsite is almost entirely German or French, I have not met another Brit yet. Everyone is friendly but it is just an extra obstacle to making real friends, instead of making ghastly small talk... Work is helping with this though, because I am working almost exclusively with people from my campsite. We have been working in trios and I got to know two lovely people today, a guy from Belgium and a lady from Sweden. So much for everyone being French or German!

I grabbed myself a lovely camp pitch, under a tree for shade and by the river. However I have had to move since seriously strong winds have swept in and I returned from work to find my tent battered by sticks and oak galls, those brown spherical growths on an oak tree. No damage done but best not tempt fate by staying there.

Okukari Bay on Arapaoa Island
Also Okukari Bay on Arapaoa Island
looking back on the triggeringly named Tory Channel
Entering Picton harbour
New Zealand is called Aotearoa in Maori