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A New Home

By: Camey VanSant

By Charlie J

Life in New Zealand

For the past two months I have been living and traveling through the North Island of New Zealand, and so far it has been an incredible adventure.

The first two weeks of December I spent setting up my life: buying a car and insurance, setting up a bank accounts and phone plan, and settling into living in a new country. It was exciting and nerve-wracking to be somewhere so foreign with no real plan, with no idea where or how to start making the most of my time.

These first few weeks were full of job applications, rejection, and confusion. I spent every evening scouring the internet for possible job openings. I joined dozens of Facebook groups and cold-called cafes. But to no avail, and as Christmas approached I was still without a job.

Luckily, though, my family was visiting for Christmas and while it had not been my original plan, I decided to go with them to the South Island for several days following.

The South Island

While the North Island’s landscape is more gentle, full of green rolling hills, beautiful beaches, and large orchards, the South Island is much more dramatic, with rocky mountains, huge lakes, and fjordlands. I spent less than two weeks in the south and during that time I found incredible beauty.

I explored by foot doing day hikes through the mountains that led me through some truly beautiful landscapes. I walked through ancient forests to pristine rocky beaches, and went to large lakes surrounded by dramatic mountains.

I left the South Island knowing that I would be back for a longer trip in the future to explore more of the spectacular geography.


I said goodbye to my family and went back to the North where I found my home in Tauranga, a coastal city with a great vibe. I met up with my friend who I had planned to live with, and we started looking for jobs once again. It did not take long for us to accidentally land full time employment. One grocery store notice-board later, and we had our first job opportunity. The next day as we arrived at the worksite, we realized we had gotten very lucky. Settled atop a tall hill, overlooking the city and ocean, was our employer’s studio. It was beautiful. For the next week we worked, building retaining walls, weeding, mulching, laying weed mats, and taking care of the many acres of property.

Not long after, our one employer turned into many, and we quickly booked up our schedule.

Now we are employed full time by the owner of a large avocado and kiwi orchard (a gorgeous property), where we work as gardeners, doing odd jobs, and longer term projects.

The Future

Next we will meet up with another friend and have a short trip planned before we return to work. After that is still unknown, I’m more than excited to keep exploring.

North Island: Sunrise surf with friends in Tauranga
North Island: Sunset over the ocean in Tauranga
North Island: Large swell in Raglan
North Island: Broken boards and broken dreams in Raglan’s swell
South Island: Mountains and valleys from Arthur’s Pass
South Island: Lakes and mountains looking over Queenstown
Categories: Charlie J