Like nowhere else in the world
PHOTO: Tessa gets a bird’s eye view of Auckland from the top of the harbour bridge
by Erin Boyle
Tessa Henwood has travelled all over the world and from her experience, New Zealand is a place like no other for backpackers.
“Everybody feels the same way because you are all in the same situation. When you walk into a hostel, everyone will just say ‘hi, how are you doing?’ Even if you are shy, it is really easy to make friends here.
“From my experience, in America people weren’t as approachable and in Europe people tend to travel in groups, but I have always travelled on my own. So it was brilliant coming here as I could make great groups of friends. I could meet someone on the weekend and go ‘right, on Monday lets hire a car and go travelling for four days’ and be off. Then meet someone else and go someplace else.”
From sea to snow, what also attracted Tessa to New Zealand was the range of activities on offer, something that she made the most of knowing there probably wasn’t anywhere in the world like it.
“In one day I went black water rafting, kayaking and sky diving, then ended the day with an awesome party in Taupo. You can do so much in a short space of time because nothing is very far apart.”
While she loves New Zealand from top to bottom, there are two special places that captured Tessa’s heart. Nelson is the first one that comes to mind, with its beautiful beaches and amazing community feeling , and Tessa also found some pretty cool things to do there too.
“When the Rugby World Cup was on they were organising the worlds biggest Haka on the beach, so every weekend all of us from the hostel would go down for a Haka lesson.
“And I also kayaked with seals and penguins in nearby Able Tasman, so it was pretty magical.”
Tessa was also happy that work was so easy to come by in backpackers and hostels – again something she had never really come across in any other country. She cleaned her way through a lot of accommodation’s, which meant she could save her money for all the extra-curricular activities and it also ultimately led to Tessa making New Zealand her more permanent home.
“I worked for a hostel in Nelson, managing it while the owner had a break for a month. Then I came up to Auckland where I got another role in a hostel, moved into a management position, then came across to the YHA to my assistant manager role.”
As a well journeyed individual, Tessa is a pretty knowledgeable person when it comes to all things related to backpacking through New Zealand, and her biggest piece of advice is to let those in the know do what they do best.
“A lot of my friends had said that I shouldn’t do all the touristy things because you won’t see the real New Zealand but Kiwis know what they are doing.”
“The whole country is ‘off the beaten track’ if that is what you are looking for. And as long as you are sharing it with other people, I think that is the most important thing. Also, ALWAYS wear sunscreen. I see too many people get burnt on their first day here.”
Listen to her story on our latest podcast