Before I even landed in New Zealand, I knew that the people I would meet over the next six months would be some of the most important people in my life. And I was right. The people I have met have influenced me and inspired me. They have made me into the person I am today, and have helped me grow. I remember each person I sat next to on the four planes I took to get here. I remember the first few people I met in New Zealand. I remember the people from my solo journey on the South Island. And so many more. There are people that I spoke to for no more than five minutes that I will always remember. These people have shaped me and made an impact on me. I am so grateful for the people I have met and the friendships I have made.
You can travel to a new country and eat as much new food as you want, wear as many new clothes as you want, take as many pictures as you want, but until you have talked to and met the people around you, you have not experienced the country. Meet new people. Learn from them. Grow from your new experiences and new conversations. The people around us can inspire us in ways we cannot even imagine. This may require you to go outside your comfort zone, but that is where we grow the most. Start a conversation with a stranger, they may end up changing your life.
Talk to people in hostels, get to know them, and invite them to hangout or go on an adventure. Talk to people on the bus; you may be going to the same place. Talk to people on hikes; they have lots of stories to tell. Talk to people in cafes and coffee shops. A friendly “hello,” “g’day,” or “bonjour” can make your day one hundred times better. Open yourself up to new opportunities because you never know what someone has to say. You may have a mutual friend halfway across the world! And you may make a friend that you can visit in another country one day.
This is Darrell and Chico. They welcomed me into their home on my first day in New Zealand. Darrell’s kindness and hospitality was the first Kiwi experience of many.
This is the person it all started with. I met Ducker and Theresa when I was almost five years old, and they were the first ones to tell me about New Zealand. It’s been a dream ever since. Without their support, friendship, generosity, and love I would not be here.
I met Angii and Hanna on a bus going to Franz Josef. We became friends and hiked together the next day!
As mentioned above, this is Angii. She is from Switzerland and she was my first friend that I made in New Zealand. She is sweet, kind, and funny, and we met again later on our way to Milford Sound, and we still keep in touch from time to time. I will never forget her.
Sparrow was my kayak guide in Milford Sound. We struck up a friendship quickly and kept in touch afterwards.
The Alpine Club at my school introduced me to people and places, and I am forever grateful.
We are studying abroad through the same program, and we bonded in Rotorua as we hiked through redwoods and viewed geothermal activity.
Nynke is from the Netherlands and she has a kind and adventurous soul. She has inspired me in many ways, and I hope our friendship continues.
This is a man I passed on the sidewalk. I took a photograph of him and he smiled and said he was going to be famous.
Sunrises on top of a mountain will always make us smile.
A bus driver stands to enjoy the view of a beautiful river.
This woman offered to move because “I wouldn’t want an old lady like her in my photo.” But I responded with “you are the photo.”
A friend just sits to take in the view of a rising sun over an incredible view.
I would not have wanted to travel the South Island with anyone else. These are my best friends that I have had the privilege of getting to know in New Zealand. I love these people. They have influenced me and encouraged me to grow in the best ways possible. (Not pictured: Dallas and Mary)
It’s the people you meet that you will remember forever.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.