Where it all began...


Sparky and Rosie in New Zealand Me and my Kiwi BFF… © Emma Sparks

Since I started this blog to supplement my STA World Traveller Intern application, I guess I should start by explaining where my insatiable craving for travel comes from. A love of travel tends to be accumulative; the more you do it, the more you want to do more! But I can pinpoint the very experience that lead to my wanderlust and ultimately changed my life forever.

In 2002 the Sparks family moved to New Zealand. It was a drastic move I had never expected to happen, but am so glad it did. As a shy fourteen year old I was dreading the thought of leaving my comfort zone. I was perfectly happy with our life in south Wales and saw no reason to up and go to some strange country (a country pretty much as far away from home as humanly possible might I add) that I knew nothing about.

We stayed for a year. Long story, but home ties proved too strong for my parents. I, however, having initially been reluctant, was torn at the thought of leaving all that I’d discovered. Luckily, New Zealand was not over for me…

Sunny New Zealand Sunny New Zealand… © Emma Sparks

I can’t sum up the year that changed my life in a blogpost, whilst attempting to retain your attention. But I’ll try to give you the key elements:

1) The people. are. mental.

In a good way. The best way possible. They don’t take life too seriously. Or at all seriously for that matter. Laid back, approachable and positive, the people have a real sense of community, a strong national spirit, mainly due to the country’s young age I suppose. These people are interested in building their culture, and by golly the kiwis I have met and grown to love are among the most creative, witty, talented people I have ever met.

2) The landscape.

Even those who think appreciating the beauty of nature is only for oldies cannot deny the jawdropping views these islands have to offer. The diversity is incredible - you could go dolphin spotting and skiing in one day if you wanted to. The air is the freshest I’ve ever breathed and the countryside retains that sacred, magical feel that seems to have been lost elsewhere; one of the reasons NZ was a perfect location for The Lord of the Rings.

3) On a personal level, New Zealand is so special for me because it inspired me.

I wouldn’t be the open-minded, adventurous travel-nerd I am today if it wasn’t for the Land of the Long White Cloud. Living in Wellington for 12 months taught me to appreciate the similarities that exist between us as human-beings, and astonished me with our differences.

I went back solo when I was eighteen to stay with my friend Rosie for two months. Three years later I still felt right at home.We took a road trip across the entire length of the North Island and back, then went skiing in Methven down south - Incredible. I don’t have the words to describe the experience adaquately… You’ll just have to trust me and get out there yourself. I’ll be revisiting New Zealand for the rest of my life.

My main point is; there’s a whole world out there. And every culture and sub-culture is just as rich and captivating as this one culture I was lucky enough to be a part of. That’s why I’ll never stop moving. Life is about learning - so GET OUT THERE!

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