Nothing heals a stressed mind and heart better than the promise of traveling and exploring new terrain. So I could not have been more excited for my 38 hour journey from Munich to New Zealand—especially because I would get to have layovers in Dubai, Bangkok and Sydney before arriving in my final destination of Christchurch.
The first part of the trip was fairly easy, especially since I was lucky enough to get to fly in Emirate’s new double decker A380 plane. Even though I was in economy I had a massive seat that nearly reclined the whole way and was treated to a four course meal before passing out the rest of the flight.
I awoke the next morning to a beautiful orange sunrise over the golden sand of Dubai and the skyline of all the massive and luxurious high-rise buildings. I had never flown further than Europe prior to this trip and my heart started racing with excitement from seeing the Middle East for the first time.
It was quite frustrating to only get to look at Dubai from the airport window, but the airport within itself was large enough to keep me occupied for my five hour layover. Dubai’s airport accounts for 19% of Dubai’s overall economy and it is one of the glitziest and high-end airports I have ever been to. Just to give an example of how large this airport is, it took me thirty minutes to get from my arrival terminal to my next departure terminal, and then once at the terminal it was another twenty minutes on a bus before actually arriving to the plane that would next stop in Thailand.
Thailand was short lived and made me so anxious to go back and actually explore it. The airport was insanely humid and the walk to go through customs and then back to re-board the plane was quite rough…especially since it was 3 A.M.
But the next and most exciting layover was Sydney, Australia. I had been dreaming of visiting this country since I was a little girl, and purposely chose a 14 hour layover so that I would have time to explore the city. However, I was a little bit delayed in my exploration due to an insanely long customs line (which took a little over an hour and a half). After nearly a full day of traveling I was craving some exercise and a really long shower. So I decided to make my way down to the Bondi Beach Iceburgs Club to go for a nice long swim. This pool is unique in the fact that it was built on the rocks of the ocean—so waves crash into this salt-water based swimming pool that had sand and seaweed at the bottom. At only $5.50 for an entrance fee it felt as if I was getting the deal of a lifetime to live out one of my long time dreams!
After spending a good two hours swimming through the waves of my dream pool I had a beachside brunch at the Bondi Beach Café—seeing as Germany isn’t so keen on brunch (one of the only downsides of living there) I was ecstatic to get to indulge in poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and goat cheese.
I spent a little too long enjoying myself at Bondi Beach and had to rush back to the airport to catch my final flight of the journey! But I couldn’t imagine going to Sydney without seeing the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Luckily my cab driver took a detour that allowed me to get a close up view of both these landmarks.
After a satisfying day exploring Sydney it was a short three hour flight before my 40 hour, 18,454 KM journey was up and I was on the ground in New Zealand!
Coming from winter in Munich, it felt great to walk outside with no jacket and feel the cool tropical breeze I had been longing for! It didn’t take a full day in Christchurch before I deemed New Zealand as the most beautiful country I have ever visited.
7 Reasons why I am already in love with New Zealand:
1. They have the Haka. This dance originated from the Maori people (native people of New Zealand) and was used as a traditional war cry. It is quite intimidating as participants bulge their eyes, stick their tongues out, and yell. The dance is also done as a welcoming to guests or to celebrate an achievement. Most New Zealand sports teams now perform their Haka before competitions. I was lucky enough to be in Christchurch during the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival. There were groups that came from all over the country to perform their Haka in this national competition. While the performers were quite intimidating on-stage, their performances were beautiful and the music they made was entrancing to listen to.
2. They know how to do good coffee and big brunches– Coming from Europe, I thought I was spoiled in terms of good coffee. But New Zealand takes it to a whole new level. Not only do you get more for your buck, but they seem to take great care in putting a thick level of foam and the perfect amount of cocoa on top. And to top it off, they know how to serve big breakfasts! While most meals out cost up to $20, you are not in short supply of delicious food on your plate.
3. Dairys and Fish&Chip shops are in abundance– On almost every corner in Christchurch there is almost always one of these shops. The Dairys are New Zealand’s versions of 7-11’s; the only difference being instead of slushies they sell milkshakes in their famous giraffe cups. The Fish&Chip shops are great because they not only have a wide selection of fish you can choose from, but they also sell some of the most amazing vegetarian burgers I have ever tasted (pineapple, mushroom, onion, lettuce, cheese, and tomato on a homemade bun)! They also have some pretty tasty kumra chips (sweet potato fries). But rather than give you ketchup in packets, they give you a whole slew of it in a can!
4. You are never that far from the beach– Christchurch has two great beaches: Brighton and Sumner. Even when taking public transportation it is never too complicated to get to either of these beaches. Sumner is the hotspot for surfing, while Brighton is better off for fishing from the pier. Both make for a great day of swimming in the (rather chilly) ocean and laying in the golden sand.
5. They have spectacular views– It is no more than a fifteen minute drive from Christchurch before reaching Lyttelton, Diamond Harbor, or Port Levy—and the views never fail to disappoint.
6. They have the nicest people and the chillest environment–People aren’t lying when they say New Zealanders are some of the most welcoming people out there. Even with the chaos of the rebuild after the massive 2010 earthquake that destroyed the city of Christchurch, the city still maintains a relaxed and non-stressful environment.
7. Their sunsets– The sunsets from Port Hill are perfect..
Christchurch has already won my heart and I can’t wait to explore more of the South Island in the following weeks!