top of page

essays | places

New Zealand

nature's high


Franz Josef Glacier / New Zealand

Franz Josef Glacier / New Zealand · 2009   turquoise mirror



   New Zealand was nature getting high on its own supply. Every landscape you could imagine the twin-island could materialize for you behind the next bend in the road. Rain forest – Abracadabra – there! Glacier – Tada! Open sesame – a waterfall! It was absurdly beautiful. Throw a stone and you'll likely hit a seal, a penguin, or a sheep. So don't throw a stone. And the people: sweets.


a glimpse

Moeraki Boulders Beach / New Zealand

Moeraki Boulders Beach / New Zealand · 2009   titan bowling


Sandfly Bay / New Zealand

Sandfly Bay / New Zealand · 2009   sand ramp



Christchurch / New Zealand · 2009   up to ups


New Zealand · 2009   came and went


Milford Sound / New Zealand

Milford Sound / New Zealand · 2009   the calm after the storm






places / stories

North Island / To Be in the Moment or to Be in a Long-Distance Relationship

Mt Eden, Auckland / New Zealand

Mt Eden, Auckland / New Zealand · 2009   friendly crater


A semester abroad, on paper, our sojourn in New Zealand was certainly more abroad than semester. A mildly pesky course or two for some lousy credits, none of it too much of a distraction from life. The three of us – me and my two fellow friends from home – rented a house near the university in Albany, a suburb of Auckland that was so far out that you couldn’t feel Auckland at all. Stevie set up the same life he’d lived back home, while Sarah and I tried to shed as many familiar routines as possible. A campervan trip, a sub-sojourn in Tonga – every inch and second, new.


Waterfall in New Zealand

New Zealand · 2009   flowing, falling, flowing


Huka Falls / New Zealand

Huka Falls / New Zealand · 2009   turquoise turmoil


I’d also brought a long-distance relationship with me that was now longer still – Mexico to New Zealand. It was love, true and meteoric and beatific, the kind that should come with a warning label. None of that flat and trivial off-the-rack stuff. And that kind of acute love is painless dedication, but dedication nonetheless, bondage for the heart until forever’s last kiss. We spent hours and hours on Skype, not monthly or weekly, but daily, worshipping each other’s magnetic lips. Made it hard to be in the moment. Of course, being outside the moment felt righter and sweeter, and if there was anything to miss out on, I would have missed out on it by being in the moment. Or so my love-stricken heart thought. And maybe it was right, or maybe spellbound, or maybe it was lazy. Our togetherness apart was a sort of silky solitude, and our polestar never portended an end, let alone in such unlikely proximity.

If I had divined the inferno ahead, maybe I had chosen the moment over the long distance, been in it more, been in those parties more. Those affairs were wild and cute at the same time. These Kiwis seemed to be getting their first whiff of alcohol in college. The drinking age was 18 and harsh fines made sure that supermarkets and bars applied strict scrutiny, or else. They even had signs in the supermarkets, something along the lines of “Take it as a compliment if we ask for your age.” And if you appeared drunk, you couldn’t get into the bars whereas elsewhere big spenders like that would be welcomed like Louis XIV. They would also cut you off at the bar if they thought you had enough, which was never when you thought you had enough. Sarah wasn’t having it that first time, and so she poured herself another beer from the tap when nobody was looking. When the waitress saw her with a full glass in her hand, she was livid. All lies were to no avail. “We don’t pour beer in these glasses,” she replied dry as salt. Then she went into the back to roll the security tape. The beer heist had been blown. When she came back, she threatened to call the police. We preferred to pay for the beer and get going.



Albany / New Zealand · 2009   one night love


Albany / New Zealand · 2009   first semester of adolescence


Another time we were much luckier. We went for a Chali 2na gig in Auckland, and while I got us some drinks, Sarah made friends with a stewardess. Turned out she was staying in the same hotel as the musician and gotten to know him over breakfast. After the gig he invited her backstage, and us too by proxy. Cocktails as tall as rain boots and joints as fat as ice cream cones. I had a little heart-to-heart chat with the nonchalant Tuna Fish with the deep-sea voice, raving about Jurassic 5 and alternative hip hop classics.



Auckland / New Zealand · 2009   boiling fish tank



Auckland / New Zealand · 2009   backstage beat


Auckland / New Zealand · 2009   2na tornado


South Island / Godscapes


Southern Alps / New Zealand · 2009   mountain maze


Milford Sound / New Zealand · 2009   sea mountains


If the North Island had been beautiful, the South Island was stunning. It was a bit like the difference between Newfoundland and British Columbia – idyllic, picturesque fishing coasts as opposed to awe-inspiring vertigo-mountains and psychedelic lakes. On the North Island I could climb into those soft, verdant hills, pull a meadow over me, take a nap. On the South Island I had to stand, awestruck by the severity of these Godscapes.


Waterfall and river in New Zealand

New Zealand · 2009   vertical stream


Cannibal Bay / New Zealand

Cannibal Bay / New Zealand · 2009   nature's jungle gym


Cliffs and coastline in New Zealand

New Zealand · 2009   rock nuggets


Blowhole in New Zealand

New Zealand · 2009   water monster


The country was mad with nature down there.


Sandfly Bay Beach / New Zealand

Sandfly Bay / New Zealand · 2009   inland sand


Farewell Spit Beach / New Zealand

Farewell Spit / New Zealand · 2009   standing up to the wind


Forest and rocks in New Zealand

New Zealand · 2009   hidden human




bottom of page