Hi everyone! I've only joined the forum just now but it already looks surprisingly great!
If you're not interested in reading about me (I certainly don't blame you) you can also just scroll to the bottom and see my question :-)
I'm a 22-year-old guy from Denmark, I have a brother at 24. I'm not much of an independent traveler yet. My first "great trip" was to Brazil, I went there for two months to visit a guy I had known some weeks while he was in Denmark. I could speak english with him and some of his friends, but I also found great interest in learning some portuguese. After that, I really got a taste for traveling.
But instead of going head-on with backpacking, I got a job as a tour guide. With this job I've been 5 months in North Africa (Tunisia), 6 months on Tenerife (Canarian island), and 7 months in Sicily, southern Italy. This job has had it's upsides and downsides. Basically what I do is I greet tourists in the airport, go with them to their hotel, give them service/information, and do some excursions with them, showing historical sites and so on.
Which has these pros:
a) I never have to take decision about my life, the company chooses where I have to be stationed (though I can make requests), they get my apartment, give me a low salary and an acceptable insurance
b) Through work I have learned a lot about what can happen while traveling, about airports, insurances, and so on
But I've never really cut the chords or really felt I was experiencing either of those places like a local would, because:
a) I speak with scandinavian clients almost every day, and the scandinavian mentality is always "fresh" in my mind.
b) I live alone or with scandinavian colleagues. There is VERY little time for mingling with the locals, nor is there really time to look closer at the local language or the culture.
So now I've quit my job, and I want to do something else. I'm not sure what, but I want to go soon (like in less than two months).
I've though much about beginning mu journey in New Zealand, staying there for a couple of months, possibly with some work on the side, and then going to some of the indonesian islands, the philippines, China, or whatever I feel like at the time.
But I would be lying if I said I was going just for sight seeing and adventures. To be honest, I hope for some soul-searching (and I've gotten the impression many on this forum began independent travels for the same reason). Perhaps it isn't realistic having any work with only two months in NZ, while also having a look around.
What (I think) I'm looking for is a place where I can truly let go of the mentality I'm raised with. Go somewhere I don't have to be anybody special, a place where the mentality is more open-minded. And I suppose this is why I'm so intrigued by NZ, I hear the people there are so humble and modest!
So if you've read all of this, thank you very much for your time, and if you have any comments or suggestions for me, also thanks in advance
One thing I would love to hear opinions on, although I'm sure they are going to vary:
I would definitely try some extreme sports/activities while in NZ, but they are really not the main reason I'm going traveling (see reasons mentioned above). Are the people friendly, is it really easy to meet backpackers during the summer months, is it easy to find jobs? Is the city life in Queenstown or Auckland nice enough to stick around for? All in all, how would you rate New Zealand as a destination if you took away all sorts of bungee jumping and glacial hikes?
I like your 'thinking aloud' - yes NZ is a great place to get to know local people - don't have to be in the cities - how about getting yourself on to farms - after all Denmark and NZ have that in common.. food production -- we'd be pleased to host you and pass you around our friends - especially if you are game to try your hand at fencing or a bit of gardening in return for hospitality..I am Scottish and lived in Brazil for a while - did a year round S America and four years round Africa.. and had lots of Danish visitors in NZ, also took the family to Denmark in 1992 -- son now grown up and running the farm.. you can message Facebook Christine J McKenzie with a red sunrise sky.
your direct questions - yes Q'town and Auckland good fun, so is Wellie and Dunedin - yes people are very friendly especially south, and we are as far south as you can go.. and easy to meet other backpackers-- NZ has plenty of cheap accommodation called backpackers' hostels and the bus companies such as Bottom Bus, Kiwi Experience and Stray take you to the good spots and to the good backpackers too.. they make travelling life very easy!
If you wanted a job in tourism you might write to Real Journeys who own Fiordland Travel and Stewart Island Experience - they look for bright friendly people who can treat each new guest as the first one.
Or you could work for Niagara Falls cafe which takes on ten different nationalities each summer.
Happy travel planning!
I'll try and help with some the the questions
Are the people friendly?
Yes, if you have been brought up in Europe like I was then the people you meet in shops, banks while going about your days will seem very friendly. They are quite private as well though and it takes a while to be completely accepted ( same as anywhere I suppose). If you do get invited to a 'bring a plate' party ( which is very common) don't just turn up, like I did, with an empty plate to eat off, make sure you bring some food!
is it really easy to meet backpackers during the summer months?
Yes, backpacking is very common in NZ and you will meet loads of people.
is it easy to find jobs?
Fruit picking is a common job for visitors, NZ has a big fruit industry, many vineyards.
Is the city life in Queenstown or Auckland nice enough to stick around for?
Don't bother with Queenstown unless you are into extreme sports.
As far as cities go I'd vote for Wellington ( which won 4th spot in the recent Lonely Planet 'Best Cities to visit' list) and Dunedin is a nice place to stay for a while.
All in all, how would you rate New Zealand as a destination if you took away all sorts of bungee jumping and glacial hikes?
NZ is an outdoors kind of place but I'd suggest the best activities are not the extreme ones: try hiking in one of the national parks or sea kayaking, or cycling on one of the trails. Or hire a car and set out on a kiwi road trip.
Hope you find what you are looking for.
I completely agree with before messages.
NZ is the most easy country I know to travel around and spend some time. It is beautiful, easy to be & travel, people very friendly and very easy to meet people and spend some time or work. You will have a blast.
Just travel around and stay where you want to stay. Especially the Southern Island is great for travelling & nature so queenstown is a better place for staying than Auckland (although both are nice but auckland is really the city where people work hard & have regular lives whereas queenstown is more a tourist city.
good luck and nice how you wrote your story down. I am sure you will find what you search for since you give it first some thought before you go!