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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Spence

Yoga, Cold Showers, Nature In New Zealand

Attempting to keep a post short after a month in New Zealand in a campervan is challenging, so I’ll keep it light and simple like a Yin Yoga class.

Hiking Heaven here in New Zealand

Each day of travel brought picture perfect natural settings just begging to be enjoyed. We traveled clockwise around the South Island (out of Christchurch) hiking 104 kms during the month and putting 3,525.7 kms on our Maui campervan (decorated with lights, of course) we named Kathy.

You simply can't take a bad photo here!

I practiced yoga in many shared spaces. Most unique was in a theater company. The teachers were all incredibly welcoming. Yes, the Kiwi people pride themselves on friendliness – but you know I’m especially partial to getting YoginiHugs around the world. The teachers I met were certified, professional, loving and deeply committed to their students. My only criticism was that the studios were so cold I was unable to remove sweaters and socks except in one studio. We were here at the beginning of Spring, but most mornings we awoke to low 40 degrees.

Flow Hot Yoga, Christchurch

My recommendation for studio to visit while on the South Island is Flow Hot Yoga in Christchurch. Many classes to choose from, although not nearly as many as most Americans are used to. What I loved, though, was that all of the classes in New Zealand were slower paced. They’re not trying to fit in 100’s of poses here. It reminds me of yoga in the USA about 10 years ago. The teachers oftentimes stopped, discussed a pose or why we were doing it, and the students asked questions. I rarely see that anymore in the US unless it’s a workshop.

The country is set up for campervans. I hated the cold shower rooms. The water was hot and the rooms were clean, so it was a great relief when we arrived back in Christchurch at The George hotel (which we highly recommend).

Kathy the Kiwi Campervan

Swing bridges and waterfalls were a favorite

Michael and I fall into such a beautiful rhythm in our tiny moving home. If you can’t do a campervan in New Zealand for a month with someone, you simply shouldn’t be together. Tiny, yet functional. If you enjoy nature and outdoor fun (like our day of muddy off-roading in a quad) then this is a trip you’ll want to take.

Street art in Christchurch. A moko on the face is the ultimate statement of one's identity as a Māori. The head is believed to be the most sacred part of the body. To wear the moko on the face is to bear an undeniable declaration of who you are.

Christchurch is in a massive stage of reinvention. After two devastating earthquakes the downtown area has 90% new buildings. The positive energy is intriguing and inspiring. We highly recommend spending a couple of days there.

Random thoughts:

1. Noticeable number of women traveling solo. Very inspiring.

2. Incredibly kind people. The three times we pulled over, someone immediately pulled over and asked if we were ok and if we needed help 

3. I love driving on “the wrong side” of the road. Incredibly narrow, winding roads. If you get car sick easily be warned. Constant road work because of landslides.

4. We became very accustomed to solitude. Very few people here. What a treat.

5. Favorite treats on the hikes were the waterfalls and the swing bridges. Hundreds of bridges. One of the reasons we returned to NZ is because the trails are very well marked and groomed.

6. Lack of vegetables and fruit. Perhaps it was the time of year we visited?

7. 1st time to see hops farms 

8. While the burning rainforest in the Amazon jungle was front and center in our news feed we were seeing first-hand how climate change is affecting the glaciers. Our first time to hike a glacier. Must experience for yourself.

9. If you’re an adrenaline junkie Queenstown in your place to be.

10. Most intense moment for me:

I met a man while doing laundry that was traveling with his two small boys and his father. He asked about my lights and decorating of our campervan. I said we were celebrating life. 

His wife died a year ago. He is searching. I told him:

"after a great loss - when you really do your inner work,  you start to open up to life again. you cry when things are sad, and you cry when they are beautiful. you find that you've regained a sensitivity, and a reverence, for  life. you worry about others, not just yourself. you feel  fear and terror and beauty and rage; but it is possible  to feel joy at the same time. this does not mean that  you are never broken open again, because life will  continue to happen.  it means that you are finally,  finally healed.  your happy memories are no longer eclipsed by your dark ones. . go through the process, be very kind to yourself, breathe, get to yoga."


Off to Singapore. Stay tuned. Namaste.

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