How awesome was New Zealand?
Lulu: It's absolutely incredible! I cannot wait to go back! Believe me, I'll be going back.
You see all the photos and you think, "NZ has everything. There's no way a country could be that beautiful." But it is. Being there in person is more than an experience, it's like living in an alternate universe. It's isolated and rugged in all the right ways, while incorporating elements of first world living. Every kind of scenery and landscape exists there, all in two small islands. It's just unreal!
Can you describe what is Working Holiday Starter?
Lulu: Basically, a friendly and professional support system. It's hard to put into words, but I always felt like WHS had my back if I needed assistance. I did a lot of research on my own, but having clarification and genuine advice beats planning a trip solo. They don't exactly plan your trip out for you like a travel agent or tour guide would, but they offer ideas and security in knowing what all your options are. If something goes wrong - give a call, send a text or an email, and they'll help you. You choose what your experience will be, and WHS simply helps you take the right action.
Why did you choose to get the help of Working Holiday Starter?
Lulu: To put it simply, for ease. I had a lot of peace of mind knowing I had someone to help me with logistics, but also knowing the WHS staff has firsthand traveling experience, too. They never tried to scam me or pressure me to do anything, and they understand what it really is to be a traveler on a budget or with time limitations.
What was the best thing that we did for you?
Lulu: Not only be there 24/7, but be super supportive and friendly along the way! I can't stress this enough. I never felt like I was being a burden or a nuisance. My questions were ALWAYS welcome. I never felt like a customer, but more like a friend.
And I also never felt pressured to do what other members were doing. My main goal was wwoofing and road tripping, while trying to spend as little as possible. I had help with my resume, interview questions for jobs, and my wwoofing profile. Help setting up a NZ bank account was also really useful for me. Getting settled in the first few days in Auckland was very grounding.
What is the most memorable activity that you did in New Zealand?
Lulu: Maybe this is going to sound cheesy or uneventful, but honestly, it was living a more simple life. Having a relaxed lifestyle, taking it easy, going with the flow and being in nature was such a gift.
But if I had to choose ONE activity, it would be wwoofing on a Vineyard in North Island. I met so many wonderful people from all around the world. And of course, I learned a lot about wine (and drank lots of it!), and a lot about myself. My favorite task, even though I got stung by a wasp, was harvesting grapes (and eating them).
Oh, and I saw a Yellow-Eyed Penguin from very far away. Heheheh.
How was it being on the road for such a long time?
Lulu: I spent a total of 5 months in NZ. For the first two months, I didn't have a car. I relied on public transportation, hitchhiking, and my own two feet. While I didn't have my own transportation, it was kind of freeing in a way. I wwoofed in three different places during the first two months, and while travelling to the next wwoofing destination was awkward at times (ex: carrying everything you own while running to the train station in the rain), the effort I made made me appreciate my life back home. After two months, I met up with my boyfriend and we bought a car. We road tripped through North and South Island without any real planning. If one day we decided we wanted to go off track through the rain forest, we did just that. It was easy.
Of course, there were moments when I felt homesick, but I knew I would miss NZ just as much when I went back home.
Was it easy to manage your budget during your trip in New Zealand?
Lulu: 10,000 times, yes! I only spent 50% of my intended budget in 5 months, I think I did pretty well.
What was the best dollar you spent in New Zealand?
Lulu: No lie, this is an answer a five year old would give, but seriously, ALL OF THE ICE CREAM! NZ ICE CREAM IS SOOOO GOOOOOOD! Feijoa ice cream was my life.
But then again, I did a lot of free things...like, wandering around on tracks, bird watching, and going to parks.
What has been your favourite spot in New Zealand?
Lulu: Hahei in the Coromandel region. It's not the most majestic place in NZ, but it is incredibly magical. I was there two different times, at the beginning and the end of autumn. Both times, I knew it was some place I had to return to in the future. In the autumn, most of the tourist are gone. The place is barren except for locals and a few stragglers. It's so quiet and beautiful and peaceful. It's like being in a dream.
What did this trip teach you?
Lulu: The people who your time spend it with really, REALLY matter. Even though I promote wwoofing, choose your wwoofing host wisely, and don't be afraid to say no to things you don't really want to do. I wwoofed somewhere for a week and it was just awful, but I felt obligated to stay. I had spent lots of time and money travelling to that wwoofing host only to feel REALLY uncomfortable. Eventually I convinced myself it wasn't worth my happiness, and I left. I learned to trust my instincts better.
Also, living a more simple life, a less stressful life, and a more slow paced life, taught me to observe my environment better. I notice the little things more often and I know what is important to me now. I don't need to be connected to the technological world 24/7. Real life interaction with people and nature is so important, and vital - to me, anyway.
What advice would you give to someone that is about to go in New Zealand on a working holiday visa?
Lulu: Absolutely do some wwoofing! At least once. You'll save money, you'll do something you never thought you would, you'll have fun and meet people on the most beautiful place on earth!
Also, walk. Walk A LOT. Walk EVERYWHERE. You see and notice so many things you wouldn't notice in a car or on a bus. Beauty is everywhere, don't take New Zealand for granted.
Also, be prepared to be sad when you leave NZ; it REALLY is an incredible place. I miss it so much!
Last question, would you recommend us to your friends and for what reason?
Lulu: Yes, definitely! I'm actually trying to convince my friend to go to NZ and meet up with WHS. WHS is just so awesome and helpful. Planning any trip is stressful, why not let WHS help out?
Going somewhere new is terrifying, especially when you don't know a single person. From the first few hours upon my arrival, I was greeted with a support system and a friend, It's such a relief to not feel so alone in a foreign place.