Coming from: Baurfield Airport, Efate Island, Vanuatu
Going to: Auckland International Airport, North Island, New Zealand
Documents required: Passport
Waiting time: 10 min (Vanuatu), 10 min (New Zealand)
Distance from Bern: 18.470 km (as the crow flies)
Land distance covered since Bern: 35.182 km
My trip through Oceania
On 18 November 2017, my adventure was over: In the early morning, I had left Vanuatu, the last exotic destination of my Passport Party trip. What was left was an epilogue: A road trip around New Zealand and then a long flight back home. I was happy to have reached New Zealand, but that wasn’t exploring unknown lands anymore. The adventure was over.
New Zealand’s border gate at Auckland International Airport
The passport control at Auckland’s airport reminded me a bit of land border crossings. Arriving passengers pass through an entrance gate in pseudo-Maori style. Behind of it are the desks for the passport checks. The control was a friendly chat, seemingly interested in my plans but probably filtering out bad guys. Stricter was “biosecurity”: Nobody is allowed to bring any food, plants, soil etc. into New Zealand. But in the end, it was just a lot of questions and no baggage check. New Zealand is much more welcoming than Australia: A previously arranged e-visa is not needed. Instead, tourists get a pretty passport stamp.
Kava is brewed from the roots of the pepper plant – the photo shows the display on a market in Suva, Fiji.
The night before, I had made my last Oceanian experience: I tried Kava, the local intoxicating drink. For that purpose, I went to a Kava bar or nakamal, as it is called in Vanuatu. It was hard to find: The hut stood almost in the dark, and there was neither music nor conversation. I bought myself a bowl of Kava and tried to make my way through the darkness to a table. I stumbled and spilled some Kava on my arms. Trying to stop it with my tongue, I tasted the bitter drink for the first time. No surprise: it tasted of insect repellent, with which I had covered my arms beforehand. Taking a real sip from the bowl, however, didn’t change much: The drink really tasted like repellent. After a few sips, my mouth went numb, but I didn’t experience any other impact. Sitting in the nakamal was a strange experience, though: People were sipping Kava alone or in company, but in darkness and silence. The only sound to be heard was a burp or a fart once in a while.
Lots of similar sights: Beachside road on Efate Island, Vanuatu
It was a funny experience, but my sense for adventure was quite exhausted. After exploring all the countries between Switzerland and New Zealand solo, I started to miss my friends, my daily life, even my job – I was longing for civilization. Oceania had been a big surprise to me; it was much poorer and less developed than I had imagined it. But after five weeks travelling here, I was done with the heat, the humidity, the phlegm of the locals and the all too cool lingo of fat expats. The sights were becoming all the same: Beaches, waterholes, snorkelling spots, WWII relics, waterfalls… And the rainy season didn’t make the nature more attractive.
Impressive nature, no adventure: New Zealand
So crossing the “border” to New Zealand was a change. I enjoyed New Zealand a lot, rented a car and did a road trip around South Island. The weather was cool, the people friendly, the landscape amazing and I even found some interesting towns. But it was not exotic, I was no more exploring. I was on my way home: From New Zealand, I returned directly to Switzerland. Now I’m home since four months already, and wanderlust hits me again. I’m longing for adventure: For Vanuatu, not New Zealand.
Entry requirements: Europeans just need a valid passport to enter New Zealand as a tourist – no e-visa like in Australia.
Transport: As a change from other Oceanian countries, New Zealand is easy to reach, with many international flights throughout the region and further afield. The world’s longest commercial flight leaves from New Zealand: Qatar’s Auckland-Doha link.
Accommodation: Lots of options, as Auckland is a big city.
Food: I was not too impressed by New Zealand’s food, which is mainly British pub food – sometimes better, sometimes worse. But it’s usually not very hard to find a good restaurant with foreign food or burgers.