My first trip Down Under was to study abroad in Melbourne, Australia, during which I took two trips over to New Zealand. Within hours of arriving, I was enamoured. The environmental diversity of the country impresses me to this day and my background in wildlife conservation allows me to appreciate it even more.
I recently got to live in New Zealand for five months as part of my graduate program, which allowed me to experience the country and culture much more intimately. I routinely tell people about the way that New Zealand identity is interwoven with its native Māori people, the warmth of the Kiwi culture, and the sounds of sheep.
Transitioning to the travel industry to focus on New Zealand is a best-case scenario. I'm privileged to share my love for this spectacular country with people who are just as excited about it as I am.
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Q&A with Julia
What’s your most vivid travel moment?
Earlier this year I spent some time in the Catlins Region of New Zealand, which includes the South Island’s southernmost point, Slope Point. A couple of friends and I drove to Slope Point with a charcuterie board at the ready. Sipping some cheap New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, we were giddy as we shivered and watched the sunset over the water and nearby layered cliff sides. With the sounds of the ocean and bleating sheep surrounding us, it was such a peaceful and calming experience to watch the transition from sunset to dark skies.
Which book, film or artwork captures New Zealand the most?
I loved the book 'The Whale Rider' by Witi Ihimaera. This book gave me my first glimpse into the Māori culture in New Zealand. Traditionally, the first born male of a tribe’s chief will become the next chief. In the book, when the first and only son of the current chief dies in childbirth, he searches for a boy to become the new chief. The young adult novel follows a female protagonist, Kahu, who does her best to prove to her traditional grandfather that she can rise to the occasion. I love the exploration of different themes including tradition, the relationship between humans and nature, and the strength of women. It also ignited an interest to learn more about the strength of the Māori people who were invaded but never successfully conquered by the British.
Your best piece of travel advice?
Don’t underestimate New Zealand because of its size. Travelling through New Zealand, although quite accessible, can be a bit deceiving. There’s a lot more to do beyond Queenstown and Milford Sound. For such a small country, it’s packed with heaps of different things to do including nature, adventure, and culture. The more time you can give yourself to explore, the better.