In some of the countries we visit we cruise around and explore. New Zealand is such a place, and here we have fully embraced a travel philosophy that is new to us: I have named it
SPONTANEOUS MICRO-EXPLORATIVE FLOW
on our last world tour 2001/2002 we used the following mix:
1/3 Lonely Planet
1/3 tipps from travelers we met along the way
1/3 local knowledge
I greatly respect Toni Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet who I met in Vancouver in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, his amazing success has led to dramatic inflation. His well researched guides used to be off the beaten track, but because of the amazing popularity of these guides it has now become THE beaten track. The reason is that pretty much everybody travels with a lonely planet, regardless of age group. We have declared our trip a “Lonely-Planet-free-venture” for this very reason. The result is a trip full of surprises and unexpected adventures. Rather than traveling to and ticking off the beautiful “must-see” sites, we travel into the unknown, fully embracing Tim Duffy’s “the plan is there is no plan” strategy. So how do we travel?
We have decided to stay away from guidebooks altogether and use the following mix:
1/3 local passion expert tipps (in our case kitesurfing locals)
1/3 tipps from travelers we meet along the way
1/3 local knowledge (tipps from locals)
The result is that our travels have a different style and result, which we have truly enjoyed:
- spontaneous: travel plans are on the go, most of the times we do not know where we will travel to, or what we will see. Decisions are based on inspiration from tipps, weather, and longing for food, sleep, waves, wind. An essential element is that we did not book or reserve anything in advance.
- micro-explorative: we stay longer at fewer places and explore those more thouroughly, in more detail, with more patience, and often find hidden jewels. It is also a much better way to meet the locals, find out cool stuff about the area (history, nature, culture, sports, weather patterns etc.), and to get a feeling for what life is like in this specific spot. We never stop asking and looking, we all seem to have a bit of James Cook in us. The kids of course are very excited about new places and – like all kids – are mesmerized not by beautiful grand vistas, but the beauty and novelty in the detail of a small rock, a butterfly wing, a bug, a wave, a bird, hidden trails, etc.
- Flow: this is probably the most important element with the greatest rewards. The Dutch happiness researcher Venhoeven has collected the World Database of Happiness Studies, and one concept that has emerged strongly as an indication for happiness is the FLOW principle, first defined by Csikszentmihalyi in the 1960s. It basically means being fully in the moment of an activity without any external influences, rewards, motivators. This activity could be anything, good examples in my life are loving, snowboarding, playing with the kids, surfing, kitesurfing, laughing with friends. We are trying to live this principle on our travels. It basically means letting go and going with the flow. Be assured that wonderful, completely unexpected things happen to you. Without training it is quite hard to just let go, enjoying the moment and going with the flow. In our lives in Western society we have been trained to keep in control, to plan our life and our days, to live as a hostage of time, to follow a clear schedule, to manage projects and keep timelines, to achieve milestones, to make rational decisions. FLOW is the opposite of this, it means letting go and letting mind / body / soul be fully immersed in an experience that is happening now. FLOW is good and brings peace love and happiness.
The result of this style is that we visit fewer places, but experience each one of them with greater intensity. We also get a much better understanding of what it is like to live here. And it feels good to let the soul rest a few days. We have taken a route less travelled, we have been more off the beaten track. There have also been classic impressive highlights which are frequented by thousands of travellers – such as Cape Reinga – but for the most part we travelled far away from other tourists and saw places that are not listed in guidebooks. We found hidden jewels, and had unexpected experiences such as the House of Sham Reaggae concert in Opononi or Shane’s kite party in Rangiputa. We ended up doing more “freecamping”, just finding spots right on our own private beach and staying overnight, since there were no campgrounds in sight.
Here are some of the people who have inspired us for our travel experiences and destinations:
Glen Butcher or “Butch” who has launched his kite surfing empire at Foxton Beach, a very underrated spot with a beautiful estaury 1 hour North of Wellington. Butch has been cruising the world and now settled for a while with his two girls in Foxton, playing with wind and water every day. He is also the only man I have witnessed kite surfing in under 5 knots of wind. Go see him at
Shane from Auckland who drove us with a boat to the sand bar for a kitesurf session, kept his five kids and wife engaged in activity and happy, and threw a party for all kitesurfers in sight, all at the same time! RESPECT!
Anneke and Anthony who share passions for random acts of kindness, healing, snowboarding (including some world cup touring), surfing, living as a free spirit, and the colour orange.
Olly Brunton, the local madman in Raglan, did 254 days of kitesurfing in 2009. But if you think, this is his life, you are totally off. He makes happy music, was on the olympic snowboarding team, has a heart for kids, runs a successful accupuncture practice, and I am certain I forgot a few items on this list… Most importantly, he has a great spirit!!!
See for your self at www.ollybrunton.co.nz/
Hoani Harris, a Maori from Northland, fully embraced the gentleness we felt from virtually all our contacts with Maori. It is the same friendliness and warmth we have experienced from Polynesians in Hawaii, Samoa and Fiji. Hoani was very open to share the wisdom of Maori culture and how this is lived today. He also shares our passion for surfing, cooks great food and has a great smile and spirit. For those who would like to explore Maori culture and New Zealand’s beautiful nature, his brother offers some great tours at Indigenous Trails www.itrails.co.nz
Arnie and Zoe who run Airzone kitesurfing school in Rangiputa on the Mati peninsula, raise their child right near the beach in the bush and head back to their native England every summer for more kitesurfing instruction. If you want to learn kitesurfing and love to stay in a beautiful bay, this is the place to go:
Dave Kay and Sue run a kitesurfing school in Ruakaka near Whangarei and make kiteboards in a cool little “factory” that has all the fancy technology but gives every board that personal hand-made touch, including the option of personalized design. Dave can talk to you for hours about how good kiteboards are made. We tried one and instantly had to buy one, a 135 x 40 Falcata. The wood core gives the board a response, flex and liveliness that really makes riding feel special, makes landing after big airs smoother and drives well through choppy waters. With a history of radical kitesurfing, Dave and Sue have a passion for quality and creating nothing but the best and this has led to their success with
www.decaykiteboards.co.nz. They kindly shared the experiences from the major kite spots in NZ, which brought us to some very cool places.
Shane and Sue Anderson are the local kite chiefs in Nelson, one of the best and most popular kite spots in New Zealand. They run a shop and school at http://www.kitesurfnelson.co.nz/, and can be found in the water or at the beach almost every day, just playing …
Categories: New Zealand