Why And How I Got To New Zealand

I spent half a year in New Zealand and photographed its natural attractions. If you’re interested in how I fell in love with this amazing country, please read on.

The short story of my New Zealand travel

I visited New Zealand in 2002, at the age of 28, with a simple goal: to find inspiration and passion. To enjoy the pleasure of discovering this wonderful, far-away country and to see and photograph its beautiful scenery.
It was a trip of a lifetime and today I still feel very grateful to New Zealand for all the gifts it has given to me―beauty, kindness, passion, skills, new experiences, friends, and fantastic stories.

New Zealand travel
On the edge of the world: Paris is just some 18,000 km (11,000 mi) away…

The long story of my New Zealand travel

I think every travel begins with an inspiration, when a kind of attraction towards a certain place arises within you.
You may hear or read a story or book about it, you may see a movie, a photo, or a painting of it. If this attraction proves to be a deep one, and will not let you sleep, you should definitely listen to your heart and make the necessary plans.
My first inspiration for travelling to New Zealand was a single image.
It was a beautiful photo by Andris Apse, the fantastic Kiwi landscape photographer, showing a lake among rolling hills surrounded by yellow-leaved trees.
I encountered this image on a poster of a New Zealand dairy company for which I worked for during an agricultural fair in Budapest, Hungary (my home country) at the age of 18.
I took this poster home and put it on the wall in front of my desk. Whenever I sat down to study for my exams, it gave me motivation:

If I pass my exams right and then get a good job, one day I will manage to get there!

It was a little bit later when I took photographing seriously. In my post-graduate college year in the Netherlands, I bought my first SLR camera, a used Pentax with two lenses.
I started shooting eagerly. I experimented with film types, composition, depth of field, zoom, wide angle, and so on, and enjoyed every bit of it.
Back in Hungary I continued pursuing my passion, but it remained a hobby since I started my career in advertising as a copywriter to earn money and see the business side of the world.
Making some travels during my holidays to Spain, Greece, Croatia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and the UK, and gaining more and more experience in photography, after three years of developing creative ideas for big brands, I quit my job, grabbed my fiancée’s hand, and got on a plane heading for New Zealand.
So it had taken 10 years to make my teenage dream real.
On arrival it was love at first sight. We landed on a lovely spring day. Gazing out the airplane window, rolling green hills and stunning shores came to view.
Auckland wasn’t at all like a big city. It was a charming suburban land with gardens, parks, smiling faces, pleasant sunshine, and huge trees full of life I had never seen.
And the night sky was magic. A totally new sight with stars and constellations unfamiliar to our European eyes. The fabulous feeling of discovery started kicking in.

New Zealand travel, night sky
The New Zealand night sky with the Southern Cross (on the left).
A whole new land on the edge of the world was waiting for us to explore. I must say after all these years the thrill still lingers…
We spent six months in this land of beauty travelling all across from north to south, from volcanoes to fiords, from rainforests to dry, grassy hills, from waterfalls to rumbling ocean waves.
I often got up before sunrise or stayed out during the late afternoon hours until darkness fell, just to capture the fantastic colours, lights, contrasts, and shadows of the “magic hours”.
I did not have a digital camera back then. I shot professional slide film with my Nikon F3 and tripod. It was well worth it, not only because in many cases I managed to take away some nice shots, but because I would have never experienced those astonishing moments without assigning myself the task of photographing.
My love for New Zealand has not passed. You can see it now. Please enjoy my articles and start to seriously think about making your lifetime travel as well : )
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Text and photographs © Daniel Kerek
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