New Zealand, Nepal, Netherlands… New Zealand, Nepal, Netherlands… Steve and I were sitting in the car and Steve was softly uttering these words. The only common thing about them at first sight are the first two letters. The common thing for us at that moment was that all 3 were a potential country where we could go to. ‘Shall we take a daisy and play the yes-no game?’ I asked ‘Perhaps it makes the decision a bit easier…’. It was not even 3 complete days later before we had sold our car (yup, small miracle, to sell your car in 2 days for more than you ever expected :)), bought 2 tickets to Kathmandu and arrived at the airport of Christchurch.
Back home New Zealand was on our dreamlist. It was described to us as the most beautiful country of the world so we were certain that we wanted to visit this place. We even decided that it must be worth working there for a while to refill our travelfunds. And so we did. In the morning of the 1st of January we arrived at Auckland airport… Almost 5 months later, on the 17th of May we left again. In the meanwhile we spent 3 weeks on the North-Island, 3,5 months in Franz Josef Glacier, and 3,5 weeks living in our car traveling around the South-Island.
And New Zealand is beautiful! It really is. The nature is stunning, rugged, perfect. They have everything a tourist wants to see. If you’re not convinced after this blog please have a go at ‘A photographers blog (2)’. If you come to New-Zealand as a tourist and travel around in your rental car or campervan you can see the most beautiful things you have ever seen. You will see friendly helpful people waiting at campgrounds and you will drive around, enjoy your time and leave again. Maybe you did notice it is a bit expensive, but oh well, it is your holiday… If you come to New Zealand as a migrant and you find a good job in a major company or start a good company, you will enjoy the freedom and the beauty of nature and you will be happy. Both tourist and immigrants who reached their goals will happily tell you that NZ is a paradise. And in some ways we certainly agree 🙂
But if you come to New Zealand and you find a low income job or if you come on a working holiday visa a new side of this country opens its doors. The part of bad management, of poverty, of struggle (mainly for those living in NZ with low income jobs). What if you get payed 550 dollars a week (fultime work, minimum wage, 1 person) and you pay a rent of 300 for an appartment with 2 rooms (and easily more in big cities), shopping will be at least 130 per week, that doesn’t leave a lot of space… You can beter go and live in your car for it will only cost you 150 dollar each week to park your car somewhere.
We have had two different jobs in NZ and both times the management was worth to cry about. And so we did 🙂 And we know we were not the only ones. Yelling bosses, unfair treatment, mismanagement, in the low income jobs you find everything. It made us feel bad and it made us feel Dutch. We did not experience NZ as the paradise we expected to see. The amount of times we heard a manager say ‘They are just backpackers, they are reckless, they don’t care’ cannot easliy be counted on two hands. And it made us exasperated. Because even though we are backpackers and the job is temporary, we are not reckless, we do care. Or at least we really want to, if you let us.
This morning I received a message from our Polish friends from Franz Josef Glacier saying: ‘To be honest I am sick of this country’. They have had several jobs around the country in different sectors and at the moment they are working for a Dutch flower factory. And there are many more backpackers of all ages who spent a couple of months in New Zealand who could have written us the same message. Their simple message expressed our feelings perfectly when, three weeks ago, we decided that we had spent enough time in this country and that it would make us far happier to leave. And it did.
It feels weird and difficult to explain to people why we left and completely changed our original plan (which was going to Australia, and traveling around in different countries of South East Asia). It is difficult because there are maybe almost 200 reasons (yup, that is possible). Nevertheless the main reason why we so abruptly changed our plan was that we still needed one month of work after we got fired for working too hard. And that was the problem. We couldn’t find and actually even didn’t want to find another job. We didn’t want to cope yet again with a difficult boss yelling at us to work faster and not taking you for a normal thinking person. Or to feel awkward when we have loads of suggestions to make things more efficient. We didn’t want to sleep in our car anymore and remove frost from the inside windows each morning. We also didn’t want to pay 280 dollars per week for a 12 bed dormitory and we didn’t want to hear anymore that we were just backpackers and that we didn’t care. Just as our friends, we were honestly sick of this country… 🙂
The coming five months we will spend in Nepal. We will be traveling around and we will be doing volunteering work. To give back what we got from others while traveling and through what we received from our blessed childhood. We are happy again (Yeah, we really are :)), but it also started a new challenge; ‘How to be a ‘good’ volunteer’. Our next blog will describe how we try to find our way in this.
Warm and happy greetings from Bhaktapur, where a boy with muscular dystrophy celebrates his 29th birthday today, a remarkable age for this disease. Happy Nepali Birthday Party!!
Note: This blog contains our own personal experiences in New-Zealand. We know and are sure that there are people with complete different experiences. The story we tell is from 2 backpackers that were struggling to cope with New Zealand bosses, extreme high prices, difficulty in finding jobs and with their Dutch cultural heritage…