From Israel to New Zealand

Most people, if not all, were exposed to New Zealand through the Lord of the rings trilogy in the past, and the "hobbit" in the present. Not me, I recognized New Zealand thanks to 2 tv shows in the 90's : Hercules and Xena, they were both filmed in New Zealand.  As a child I was amazed by the landscape, the spacious beaches and I was caught up, since then, visiting New Zealand was always in the back of my mind.

January 2014, my feet finally stepped in New Zealand and I have already made acquaintance with Kiwi's manners. I wanted to go to "Habad House", a place where young Israelis are hosted, but I couldn’t find the address. I stopped someone randomly but he wasn’t be able help me. After about 5 minutes he came back saying he did some inquiries and he gave the directions. To tell you the truth I was shocked that he even returned, later I learned to respect kiwi's politeness and hospitality from which I also heard from other travelers, Israelis and non Israelis.

My first destination was Arthur's pass, here we go, my first track ever. I entered the DOC's office and they recommended my on Avalanche Peak track, now, the first law in tramping is checking the weather, and it wasn’t ideal. My partner got cold feet and refused to join me. My legs were burning, my motivation was sky high, I didn’t cared, I'm finally in New Zealand and I won't let the weather to overwhelm me, so I hit the road.

In retrospect, I can't believe  the Avalanche Peak was my first track ever, like boot camp, everything afterwards seemed light. The track set the tone for what will come: I climbed, I slipped, I drank from clear waterfalls and I stopped hundreds of times looking back to the mountain views.

For me, everyday I'm not out there tramping is a waste day, but I didn’t skipped the attraction New Zealand got to offer. I walked on Franz Josef glacier, did kayaking, but the highlights were the Milford Sounds cruise and Downhill mountain biking in Queenstown.

I never thought such a beautiful place as Milford Sounds exists. I was flooded with emotions and couldn’t contain all the beauty, the sights were truthly mesmerizing and serene.

In Queenstown, I had fun like never before. I used to ride my mountain bike back home and I have always wanted to experience in Downhill. I rented a downhill bike and bought day pass to skyline gondola. I tore the trails. But my extreme experience wasn't complete, so I walked into one of the stores in Queenstown and came out with a Go Pro camera. So worth it. In one of the times, I took a picture of myself with the mountain bike, and while I was stabilizing my smartphone on a pole, an helicopter has landed at the airstrip behind me. I put a timer and stood in front of the camera, in that exact moment while the timer was counting back, the helicopter started to soar and I thought to myself " I wish I caught it on frame", I ran to the camera and what I saw you can see below.

New Zealand, the land of mirror lakes, I will be back, I haven't finished with you!

This story and photos were submitted by Samuel Sigler of Israel as a competition entry for Omega's Summer Holiday Writing Competition in 2014.  Thanks Sam, we certainly look forward to your next visit!

downhill helicopter
mt cook