I have a confession to make and this may shock some people and even cause some of you to de-friend me on Facebook, but I didn't love New Zealand when I first arrived. Sure, I thought it was pretty. But South America is pretty. The people are nice. But no more or less than anywhere else really. I've met some absolutely lovely people, like the lady who gave me a free night in her hostel because I couldn't stand the one I was staying in; but I've also met some really grumpy people - particularly it seems bus drivers and tourist information centre workers. Bus drivers you can kind of understand, it's annoying when people arrive late or bring hot food onto your bus, but tourist information - isn't it your job to deal with annoying questions? Anyway, you get what I mean. It just wasn't quite what I expected. I've spent years and years listening to people tell me how great New Zealand is and I was kind of expecting more.
Everything here is very quiet and calm and ordered. In short, everything I'm not, and I missed the crazy hustle and bustle of South America. When you get on a bus there you really feel like you've earned your seat as you've usually had to fight your way to the ticket office through the non-existent queueing system; made sure they're selling you what they say they are selling you and had some kind of disagreement - all in a language you can only just about grasp. In New Zealand everything is nice and easy and I missed the challenges - and even the frustrations - of South America.
But as time went on I started to see some interesting stuff. I loved experiencing the Mauri culture at Waitangi weekend, I started to appreciate the beautiful scenery which surrounds even the biggest cities and I started to do some seriously cool stuff. Every few days I found I was having amazing experiences: sky diving in Taupo, swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura and walking on the Franz Josef glacier, to name but a few. I also started 'tramping' (trekking) by myself and really enjoyed the challenges of carrying all my own equipment; coming up with new meals to cook and meeting people from all over the world in the huts.
And slowly but surely - like one of those people you meet who is so different to you that you swear you'll never be friends but then over time you start to see all the good things in them; or the boy you think you'll never like and then one day you look at them and realise you've fallen for them - I fell in love with New Zealand.