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New Zealand in Brief

Scenes from a sabbatical

Over my post graduation summer, before most young men my age would (or are supposed to) settle down into a life-long career and a solid ten-year financial plan, I decided to pack up my bags and spend three months working and backpacking through New Zealand. One of the months 1 spent woof-ing for a nice elderly couple who own a little farm growing hazelnuts, just an hour’s drive from Christchurch. I spent most of my days working and travelling around the country with them, experiencing what it truly feels like to lie treated like family in a total stranger’s home.

They taught me a very important life lesson: that we are all born equal, and that it is every person’s equal right to be loved. To love a stranger unconditionally, not knowing or holding against them who they are or what they did, that is something that I will never forget. Ever.

Unfortunately, what I only realised on hindsight was that summer in the Northern Hemisphere meant winter in the South. But beyond the constantly chilly hands, a close encounter with frostbite, and the tragic loss of a camera lens over a cliff, winter meant great opportunities for glacier hiking, comfortably uncrowded tourist spots, and spectacular sunrises. If I had to do it all over again, I would – but perhaps in the summer this time round.

Sunrise shots are relatively easier to capture during winter, when days are short and “the crack of dawn” doesn’t happen till around 7:30 am. Trekking to the top of Mount Eden, Auckland’s highest natural point and one of the region’s 48 volcanic zones, is made less painful by the crisp, clean air and lower humidity

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