Lonely bays with endless white beaches, surrounded by untouched rainforests, where the echo of freedom resounds. Cliff landscapes that glow pastel in the glow of the rising sun are home to breathtaking rock formations, staged by Mother Nature. Endless evergreen fjords rising majestically from the Pacific Ocean, next to stunning glaciers whose sparkle makes the world shine in a new light… – that's exactly the New Zealand I wanted to discover.
My trip through New Zealand
I have been traveling through the country for almost three months now and have not regretted my decision to take a break on the other side of the world for a single day. No guidebook in the world can do justice to the beauty of nature when you discover it for yourself, and nothing and no one can quite prepare you for being on your own in a foreign country. Leaving your comfort zone and going above and beyond is worth every moment.
I got the opportunity to write a guest post for this blog, which I gratefully accept (thanks to Johanna again, at this point!) – not because I have the hottest Work & Travel tips, but because I want to share a concern with you this way.
Like probably many of you in the past and hopefully many more of you in the future, I'm traveling New Zealand on the working holiday visa. I stay mostly at campgrounds and hostels, occasionally at Holiday Parks (i.e. campgrounds with the amenities of a hostel, such as kitchen, shower, etc.).
New Zealand is the perfect travel destination
New Zealand is my personal number one in terms of infrastructure for travelers. Although the areas are sometimes sparsely populated, there is never a shortage of public restrooms, places to stay, information centers, and everything you need for a stress-free trip if you prepare a bit (food, gas, etc.).
The Department of Conservation (DOC), New Zealand's public service responsible for preserving nature and cultural heritage, as well as the individual districts on both islands, do a great job of providing information and public facilities for us "low budget tourists". So all in all: the perfect place to make your dream of a year abroad/time off, on perhaps the most beautiful spot on earth, come true.
As I said before, I am not writing this post to tell you about the beauty of the island and all its advantages, others have already done that before me and there is nothing to add to that. 🙂 Here comes my BUT and big request, to all travelers and those who will be:
I have hardly ever been to a campsite or hostel where I have not witnessed disrespect or. I have become ignorant of other travelers. It is embarrassing to see how many tourists ride the "after me, the flood" wave. Even though the country still offers a lot of freedoms, unlike many other places in this world – there are rules here too. And there are for good reason, because New Zealand's fame as a backpacker's paradise, takes its toll. While tourism significantly boosts the country, we also contribute in a big way to not using limited resources responsibly and not leaving nature as we found it.
Forget the manners at home
No wonder we don't go unnoticed, with more people visiting each year than New Zealand has locals. Unfortunately, tourists seem to tend to leave their manners at home. What you would never do "at home" seems for some reason when traveling o.k. to be. Although not every rule seems logical and some may even seem unnecessary: Please respect them as you would at home (for some specific and very illustrative examples, please scroll to the very end).
Because the ignorance of many has consequences that spiral downward: Instead of self-responsibility, there will be more rules and stricter controls, more cuts in the freedom to travel and fewer opportunities to discover the country on your own. Even the famous friendliness of the Kiwi Guy has (understandably) its limits, after one or two negative experiences with travelers who behave as if they were alone in the world.
In the most popular travel/camping apps for New Zealand, there are unfortunately already many negative entries and comments, which undoubtedly and by name refer to European tourists, mainly backpackers..
My request to you
Please, dear fellow travelers and future explorers, set a good example: be respectful and responsible towards nature, your fellow travelers and the people who live here, so that many generations after us will have the opportunity to discover this great country. If we behave as if we were guests of friends, we will be welcomed accordingly. So basically: very simple! 🙂
I'd like to close this post with a quote whose origin I couldn't clearly pinpoint, but which you might encounter from time to time on your travels:
"Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time."
Thank you for taking the time to read the post – I wish us all continued and future great adventures, unique experiences and safe travels!
Many campgrounds (especially very inexpensive or even free) do not have trash cans on site. They are often remote and removal would be disproportionately expensive. Please take your trash back with you and dispose of it at the nearest public trash can or one of the many "garbage stations". This is not only good for the environment, but also for the campers who are on this site after you.
With a little luck and patience you can still observe a variety of wild animals in their natural environment in New Zealand. This is great and very special, especially because there are no cages and fences blocking the view. But please: respect the animals and keep enough distance to not disturb them. They do not need any petting and also no food from us. These animals are in their natural habitat and are not there for us to take an extravagant selfie… For example, some beaches can only be visited at certain times of the day or year to avoid disturbing the breeding and a minimum distance is always requested to protect the animals.
For travelers on the trail, free public restrooms aren't hard to find, and every public campground has at least one. However, if you do find yourself in an area without access to a restroom, here is a hygiene guide to protect people and the environment: www.doc.govt.nz
Many overnight accommodations operate on a trust basis with self-registration, remote campgrounds, sometimes Holiday Parks and hostels out of "opening hours", resp. when no one is at the reception. You pay for example at campgrounds to an "Honesty"-Box, or in Holiday Parks also the next morning, when the reception is manned again. Some places are inspected daily, or randomly, others are not. But whether controlled or not, please pay your dues. Out of fairness and respect for others (who have paid) and to maintain the system, which actually works wonderfully and gives you the freedom not to be bound to certain check-in times.
Open fires are not allowed in many places (beach/camping) because of the fire hazard. It is often very windy and the risk of a spread should not be underestimated. If you don't want to miss out on the "romantic campfire" experience in New Zealand: There are specially designated places/campgrounds where campfires are allowed!
No matter where you stay or use public facilities, no one is happy to have to clean up after someone else or find common areas "messy". No issue if we leave everything as we found it (or better :)) and show a little consideration for our fellow humans.