Many people are currently considering their options in face of the coming winter: should I stay or should I go? After my third winter in Berlin, I was so traumatized that I left for 8 whole month, always traveling with the sun. Those lucky ones who can just return to their warm countries because they were only here for the summer anyway… you’re partypoopers. The real fun comes when you’ve endured the whole year!
But I can’t blame anyone for at least trying to escape every once in a while. That’s why our “Escapism” category has been taking off lately. I only returned from my ten day trip to New Zealand. It took me a while to recover from all the impressions, but at some point, I realized that Berliners are going to love this country for what it is and that I’d be stupid not to mention it again. It’s a perfect escape, especially right now, as the southern hemisphere is celebrating the beginning of summer while we’re preparing for frozen toes. New Zealand, here we come? Check out why Berliners will love this country.
1. The Kiwi Eco Aware Attitude Is Totally In Check With The Berlin Bio Craze
Wherever I went in New Zealand, everything — and I absolutely, positively mean everything — food was either organic, local, gluten free or all three of them. Whatever your diet may be, you’ll definitely not have a problem getting along on this island– and you’ll totally stay healthy. And not in that pretentious Prenzlauer Berg sort of way, it’s just normal to Kiwis to live and eat on fresh produce, amazing fish and organic meat. Living on an island is probably a reason for that, it wouldn’t be economically feasible to import every little thing. After a while I came to realize that it’s not just the food: pretty much everyone has an intrinsic ecologically aware attitude that seems to be missing in Germany (or maybe it’s Europe in general). I guess being raised on a skate– or surfboard, among amazing nature, makes you find interest in your surroundings, especially marine life. I met plenty of young people who were so into in their country and landscape, and it wasn’t nerdy at all. In fact, it was damn cool. I tried to think of one person back in Berlin who’d know anything about the environment they live in — no dice. Judging by the count of Bio Companys here, this is exactly what people should be looking for more. And to know that you’ve visited a country and almost exclusively supported a good movement — that should count for something, right? (Nevermind the flight, though).
2. Wellington — Like A Tropical Berlin
I’ve posted about Wellington before. It’s anything you’d want in a city as a tourist. It unfolds right before your eyes, with plenty of affordable restaurants, bars and cafés flanking the cute streets. There’s nothing wrong about Wellington, which reminds me of everything that’s good about Lisboa, Cape Town, London and Berlin without being a pompous metropole or too expensive to live in. Whether your’re into high culture or into street graffiti, you’ll be a happy cat here. Foodies are going to explode with euphoria. If you’re into sports, you can downhill bike, and if you’re into partying, don’t worry — you’ll not be disappointed.
3. Totally Awesome Coffee Everywhere
I’ve not had one bad coffee in New Zealand. Although Wellington seems to be the capitol of coffee (so many coffeeshops, so many experts on coffee, so many roasting houses, so many local blends), the whole country has a thing for our favorite hot beverage. Even on a Kayak tour to a remote beach without any electricity available, your tour guide will be happy to serve you a coffee fresh from the stove. None of that instant BS that you’ll get served elsewhere! Since Berliners have a thing for coffee, I’d say this is a unique selling point. “WE HAVE ALL BEEN BARISTAS AT SOME POINT IN OUR LIVES” should be the new marketing motto of New Zealand. Why, yes, I’d love to have the best coffee I’ve ever had on the prettiest beach I’ve ever been to. Beats going to Katies for the 3rd time this week while it’s rainy and cold and with a waiting time of approximately six hours (BUT KATIES I LOVE YOU AND I WOULD WAIT FOREVER FOR YOUR COFFEE). I even had an amazing cup of cappucino at a rest stop on the highway. Can you imagine that in Germany? ON THE HIGHWAY? If you’ve never had some of that: don’t. It’s lethal and it should count as human rights abuse.
4. The Coromandel: As Authentic As It Gets
The Coromandel isn’t “off the beaten track” per se, but the Peninsula on the Northern Island seems calmer and basic compared to the rest of the country. It has everything a Berlin heart can wish for. I know you guys. You all want authenticity and untouched nature, so here you go, the Coromandel is perfect. Whether it’s a typical beach vacation that you’re looking for or a hike through lush forests, endless possibilities await. Two things especially sold me: the Purangi Winery and the Waihi Beach Lodge. I almost passed the Purangi Winery, but I saw the “pizza” sign and since I was starved I stopped the car and looked into it. It was almost empty, but the owner of the place took great care of me, having me check out pretty much every beverage available in his shop and introducing me to Feijoa, a fruit I instantly fell in love with. The pizza — there are only two kinds of pizza, either a Magerita or one with too many toppings to recount here — was as delicious as it gets. The Purangi Winery is a sure shot highlight of any New Zealand trip. You’d be lucky to end up here in such an amazing atmosphere, and if you’re a freedom camper you can stay a night for free on the parking space (not an offer you’ll find often!).
Following my stop at Purangi was my sleepover at Greg & Alis Waihi Beach Lodge. This couple is practically made of sugar, that’s how sweet they are. Sure, Waihi Beach is super nice. But that’s not what would make me want to go back. Staying with Greg & Ali was like staying with family you didn’t know you have — and that’s a golden feeling when you’re exhausted from traveling.
5. Nature & Wildlife
Nature is kind of a given when discussing the perks of holidays in New Zealand, but it’s worth mentioning again and again. There’s no way to sufficiently describe the richness of the environment on this wonderful island, and it’s incredible how much effort people are putting into keeping it that way. Every other hour passing through on the highway (which is more like a Landstraße in Germany unless you’re in urban areas) the scenery will completely flip and change. From being in Switzerland to the Caribbean, New Zealand’s got it all. Additionally, tourism is not something that just makes money. Most of the tour operators are thoughtful about what they do and where they take their guests, about explaining with pride and care all the details of the country and the Maori background. Even if you’re not interested in hiking the Kiwi Alps or diving into the ocean, you’ll most likely learn something about nature and the history of the wildlife in New Zealand anyway– about the pests, about how those stupid Europeans pretty much killed everything native and how the environmental threats are being fought off today. And this is not textbook-studying in theory. You’ll learn all this while watching dolphins playing and seals tanning. I wish we had dolphins in Landwehrkanal. Dolphins make everything better.