20 Jun 2016

WANDERLUST // Part 3 New Zealand // The South Island

I have finally had the time to sit down and write about the last part of my trip, the beautiful South Island. If the North Island was more about doing our own thing we realized that we had to stay on the same Kiwi bus and travel a bit more quickly to be able to make it in time to Christchurch. (If you have not read the first part of my New Zealand trip you find that blogpost here: http://isabellnwedin.blogspot.se/2016/05/wanderlust-part-3-new-zealand-north.html)

But let's take it all from the beginning. Earlier me and Madde had not interacted that much with other passengers since every bus we got on was filled with new people. That changed when we arrived in KAITERITERI and had the luck of sharing a dorm with Hannah, Krissie and Siobhan. The next day we realized we had also booked the same kayaking trip and that's when we started getting to know each other. Kayaking in Kaiteriteri is beautiful and we saw many seals sunbathing along the way. Our instructors were very funny and we had a blast. I only brought my small camera so there are sadly not that many pictures and they don't do the experience justice. During these first days on the South Island I also got to know Natalie, Jack and Mathilde. It would turn out to be these six people that I would connect the most with.

After two nights we hit the road, heading south and made a quick stop at the beautiful NELSON LAKE NATIONAL PARK. There I made some artsy photos of Janina, a cute Finish girl I met on the bus. I was traveling with two vintage dresses from Odd Lovin' and she wore one of them. I was impressed by how she could just block out the fact that around 90 people was able to see her, wondering what the hell she was doing in the water. It took me a few years not to care about other people’s opinions, especially those who come from people I don't respect. I have grown up in a country that teaches you to apologies for believing in yourself and for dreaming big. I don't do photography to be special, I do it because it's my voice when it's the most beautiful. That's how I feel comfortable in being creative whenever I feel the need or in whatever form it takes.

Next stop was WESTPORT where we only spend one night and I must say that this place didn't leave any impression on me besides from the fact that I, as a 31 year old, wasn't allowed to buy alcohol in the local store without my passport. When they told me I had to be able to prove I was over 18 years old I had to restrain myself from not laughing out loud. After that I started bringing my passport because me and Madde share the same passion for red wine and during the one month we travelled we did some serious wine tasting. It was also in Westport that we befriended a cool American named Dave that we would meet further along on our trip.

I love fancy dress theme parties and I had completely missed that one stop one the road involved just that. Our bus driver Ben told us that the theme was Good and bad and that we would be dropped off in a small town on the way to LAKE MAHINAPUA to buy supplies. Me and Madde came up with the great idea that she would be a sheriff and I would be a bandit (I was dying for the opportunity to have my hair as a beard, it's an old party trick). We had so many great ideas, like us being handcuffed together the hole evening but we hardly even found a cowboy hat in that town. Very disappointed we tried to make the best out of it and in the end we could not compete with Chris as a slutty nun, he won the big price well deserved. The party was just as crazy as you can see in the pictures. Another party trick is when I lend my hair to other people, it's crazy how strange and hilarious it can look on other people...

The next morning we were basically all hungover but the bus waits for no one and we continued our trip south to FRANZ JOSEF. This is when we heard a lot of people talking about the sky dive they were about to do. Suddenly Madde turns to me and tells me that she is gonna do it. I could hear my own voice saying that I would do it too but I don't think I realized what I was saying. Sky diving is very popularly in the area but we got lucky to get two spots and within two hours I was being dressed in an overall and a hat that made me look like a penis. I tried not to think about the fact that soon I would throw myself out of an airplane at the height of 4000 meter and fall for 8 seconds in the speed of 200 km/h. Strangely I didn’t feel scared, it was all too surreal. I remember the draft up in the air when they opened the side of the plane, seeing that first person disappear in front of me, my body tide tense together with the instructors, him pushing us out of the plane, the coldness of the air and how hard it was to breathe falling, I remember screaming as the parachute unfurled and then thinking OMG this is beautiful and that is not happening for real. It was all over so quickly and standing on the ground again it felt a little bit like it did happened. I'm happy to be able to remover sky diving from my bucket list. 

I had gotten a fast view of the area and the day after I hiked to one of the glacier. I was hoping to find a good spot for some self portraits but the sun was shining and I was feeling uninspired. On one of the last trails I come across a lake with glacier reflecting in the water. With the help from Siobhan I was able to make one photo when my hands are touching the water but it looks like I am reaching into the sky. (This images was later selected for the Stockholm gallery Piqmo) Later that evening I took portraits of Cecily, a young british girl I got to know on the bus. I dressed her in the Byron bay dress and while battling of sand-flies we created some beautiful images. I believe I am at my best when I just get to roll with it and improvise. 

The next morning, after just a few hours of sleep it was time to get going again. In Ubud I cut myself on the inner thigh during a photoshoot and got a long scar, now it was time to get the New Zealand one. I traveled with a giant backpack to be able to fit not only necessary backpacking things but also my photography work. From the place where me and Madde were staying to the place the bus was leaving from there was long hill down. I was in a bit of a hurry and for some reason (lack of sleep, too much wine the day before or simply just my huge feet) I tripped and with 17 kg on my back it was impossible to regain balance again and I feel forward, almost hitting a car parked on the side of the road. I landed on one of my hands and got two deep cuts on my fingers but mostly I bruised my ego. I don't mind getting scars at all, I think I have one from every pony and horse I ever had and I like how the scars reminds me of what have passed. But I could definitely do without the porcelain front tooth I had to get after being kicked in the face by my last horse Con Air. That was a near death experience I could have been without...

After Franz Josep we went to WANAKA, I wished we could have had more time there but the next day we continued after a morning hike. It was starting to get to me, the fact that this trip was coming to an end. The morning anxiety I had not had for years made a comeback and I tried to calm my mind so that I would be able to enjoy the last days. I have always been an emotional person, it's a side of me that I both hate and love.

We arrived in QUEENSTOWN and quickly decided to stay three days there and just one in Christchurch. The location of this city with the blue lake and mountains is beyond beautiful. We met up with Dave again and went on a small road trip in his cute van. Three years ago he decided to travel the world and live on a day to day basic. There is a freedom in that, that is very appealing to someone as restless as I am. On one of the days me and Madde went with the a Kiwi buss to the Milford sounds, who is described as the eighth wonder of the world. The nature was simply breath taking and I wished I could have spent a few days in the area, just exploring.

The nightlife in Queenstown was pretty intense and it was also the last chance to say goodbye to new friends. Some people stay for a few days and some end up staying for months. During our two weeks on the South Island we had two great drivers, Ben and Digga. We were lucky to have Digga as our guide for the Milford Sound and when we continued our trip to LAKE TAKAPO it was on Ben's bus. Digga has such a great vibe about him, I never once saw him stressed or irritated and Ben was simply hilarious.

After three night in the city we left everyone behind and once more it was just me and Madde. We were both pretty tired and it was good that there wasn't much too do in LAKE TEKAPO where we arrived next. I was feeling a bit stressed, I had hoped to be able to create more self-portraits than I had. We had been blessed with beautiful weather during most of our trip but I don't feel inspired with that kind of weather. I like to create gloomy and dark images. So imagine how exited I became when grey clouds rolled in on our hike on Mount John the same evening. I stayed up there for a long time, running around barefooted, taking pictures and I felt this wilderness inside of me like I do when inspiration sweeps over me. I think I created some of my most beautiful self-portrait on top of Mount John. Then I had to make a run for it downhill because I realized that those black clouds probably would be filled with rain. We only spent one night here and it felt surreal that we would soon be at our last stop, Christchurch.

CHRISTCHURCH is one of be the strangest city I have visited. Five years ago it suffered a big earthquake that did not only kill 185 people but also destroyed big parts of the city. While walking around in the centre you could see these sealed off buildings and I could not help thinking it was a bit of a ghost town. We spend the day walking around and enjoying the last days of summer. As the sun went down we did one of my favorite things, we sat in a park and drank wine and talked, once again with Dave. Since it was Saturday we decided to go out and I was a bit unsure how that 
evening would turn out, I had a lot of mixed feeling about leaving, it was only a tiny part of me that wanted to go back home. I don't think I have ever been this bitten by the travel bug before. But it turned into such a great evening in a nice bar and the next day I remember thinking that I could not have ended it in a better way. When we left for the airport I felt both exited and sad at the same time. How two months could pass so quickly is a mystery to me. I feel like some things happened yesterday and while writing this blogpost I was reminded of some events I had forgotten. I feel good about the fact that I have hundreds and hundreds of images to help me remember and relive those moments.

The first week I got home I dreamt of New Zealand five nights in a row, it was the same dream and I can tell that there is something special about this country. I never thought it would be possible to see so much beauty that you would go numb. I am lucky to have a person close to me who has shared the experience with me. In the end of one of my absolute favorite movies Into to wild (based on a true story) the main character Christopher McCandless says that happiness is only real when shared and I, who loves to connect with other people get it. I believe that most experiences are deeper when they are shared.

Traveling through Bali, Australia and New Zealand was an adventure and I am planning my next one as I write this. I'm cursed and blessed with this thing they call WANDERLUST.





















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