Are achievements something worth striving for? Is travelling something like an achievement, something like a consumer good or why do we travel?

Can travelling be just another form of pointless consumption?

To start with, New Zealand is great, beautiful, amazing, gorgeous. It’s not going to be the country of my dreams, but it’s simply a beautiful country. We can communicate, even if it sometimes takes a second attempt with the special slang of the New Zealanders. There is an abundance of food. At least when there are shops. Some stretches are very lonely and we plan 3-4 days without any further opportunities for travelling.

The roads wind through and over the mountains. The glacial lakes are ice-blue in colour and immediately cast a spell over everyone.

The vegetation changes over short distances and there are always these free camping spots with toilets.

These exceptionally clear, dark skies. You can find all this wonderful views of the night sky with millions of stars. Unfortunately, we mostly have only a short glance because it is too cold for our clothing already.

We had hoped for more respect on the roads and unfortunately this ruins a lot of our positive feelings for this country.

We are not the kind of people who drive our bicycles around, we use them as a means of transport, not as a piece of sports equipment and not as a means of achieving success. New Zealanders drive their bicycles around a lot. In no other country have I seen so many bicycles attached to cars as here.

We want to feel the wind (well, sometimes from behind would be nice :-)), smell the landscapes, wake up to birdsong and stop when a boring bird sits on the side of the road and bring it back to the safety of the undergrowth.

We want to stop at a boring stream to watch the water as it meanders through the landscape. And we want to take breaks whenever we feel like it.

That’s why we’re travelling by bicycle. Slower and freer. We don’t need a lookout parking spot where cars, camper vans and people crowd around for a quick selfie with a view and panorama. Yes, we have been there. The kind of achievement you reach at Insta Spots.

Yes, there will be plenty more to report, about canals that dry up rivers, the massive use of glyphosate, deforestation, lakes that issue warnings when too much agricultural fertiliser contaminates them and more. But that will be in another article.

KIA ORA – May you be well

With the New Zealanders, you have to be quick to answer a question. Otherwise a new topic and a new question may quickly arise. At the supermarkets, people always ask how you are feeling or how your day was. An answer is not really expected.

We are always asked where we are coming from that day (often we don’t have an answer because the free camping spot doesn’t necessarily have a name that I have to remember), so we are asked where we are coming from, where we are going (also no idea what the next camping spot is called) and then the kilometres = k’s. Each time we are asked how many k’s we are doing. Something between 8 and 90 k’s is our answer. Then everyone can choose where they would feel comfortable, what would be their achievement.

Heavy load you have here!

And the statement: heavy load you have here, pointing on my bicycle. Oh no. I hadn’t noticed that yet. And then the question whether we take this or that trail? Of course not one of them. We have this heavy load. Gravel paths with potholes are more for the carbon mountain bikes with suspension. Consumption is not pointless for sports-mad New Zealanders. But it is an extreme kind of consumption. The equipment is 90% perfect and the latest craze from the last season.

YES, there is a bit of envy involved

We often look more like rag pickers when we crawl out of the tent in the morning. It’s cold at night. The other day we even had ice on the saddles. Onion Look helps a bit against the shivering at night. But, it’s just wonderful for cycling. The fresh air is a dream. And if we’re lucky and the sun comes out, we heat up again during the day.
(About how it feels to be one day on a bicycle I wrote in a previous post)

Yes, we like travelling New Zealand. But maybe New Zealand just has too many tourists who clog up the hiking trails, disturb the peace and quiet and make the roads dangerous (unfamiliar with the left-hand traffic). And they don’t really want us with our packet soups and small budgets anyway, as New Zealand’s Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said. Of course, this attitude also spills over to the New Zealanders themselves. In a newspaper for farmers we read “You can’t eat tourists”. It was about the effort that is made for tourists, but not for farmers.

We continue travelling through the country

Not with packet soups, of course, but not with three-course meals and expensive accommodation either.

And maybe we should start to learn a little changing our attitude. There’s no arguing that Kiwis are some of the most down-to-earth, funny, welcoming people. Maybe we should adopt the relaxed lifestyle that Kiwis embrace. Maybe to live in New Zealand means you don’t take life too seriously. Another achievement in life? Well they are somehow isolated from the rest of the world. That might make the difference.

We enjoy the landscapes, will try to find roads off the main routes and are happy that we can enjoy this country in this sometimes boring way and we will remember.

And yes, we are proud about our achievements. We made it to New Zealand and of course we have the goal, the desire to cross this country by bicycle. Against all difficulties. Also a form of achievement.

I’m writing this from Christchurch and enjoy the city life before heading back to the sheep and cow pastures. By the way, a great city, not only for street art also for cyclists.

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