Hello South Island

Winter is gone. Spring almost too. And as you are now correctly guessing, long expected summer time is finally on. It’s also the time to answer the calling of the South Island…

It has been nearly five months since I arrived to Wellington in search of a winter shelter and new experiences. Happily I found both. The city life is cool. The only thing is it gets tediously same after a while. All days suddenly appear as one and a month lasts like a blink of the eye. Some call it a stereotype, I see it as an enemy of all wandering souls. That’s why I need to move on.

My year in New Zealand went pretty fast but more startling is the fact that I haven’t visited the second island, bigger, less populated and much more spectacular South Island. It would be a pure crime to leave this country without seeing it, without experiencing it, without knowing it. I decided for kind of a rough way to do so. First I’m going to pick cherries in hot Cromwell for eight weeks and then I intend to hitchhike in all directions of this breathtaking piece of Earth.

The farewell with my coworkers at Wellington’s airport lasted longer than expected so I almost missed my flight. They even last-called out my name for the whole airport. The pronunciation was bad, shame. I landed in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, just passed 7pm. Early that day I received an email from my future employer saying that the work starts on Friday 9th December. Since it was now Wednesday evening the only way how to get to the cherry paradise Cromwell 400 km away was to possess a car and drive there the next day. I know, my experiences with cars in New Zealand are not the greatest, but I’m going to live on a campsite as well so having a car became a necessity again. It would be like going for a barbeque with no meat. You can surely do that but you will suffer seeing everybody eating juicy steaks while you hold a bread, read a tent.

I managed to buy a steak just one hour after arriving to Christchurch. I have to thank my Czech friend Dominik who picked me up from the airport and actually also did a test drive of the car I was buying because I forgot I already consumed three nice cold beers. Two before the flight as a goodbye and one to greet the South Island by my presence. Czech mentality I guess. But the blue Subaru Impreza was ready to go.

Thank you too Nancy for providing me a place to sleep. It’s nice when you come to the new city and you are taken care of, you drunk Czech. Following morning I quickly bought all the stuff I needed for two months of camping and living in the car and hit the road. Hello South Island! From rain to clear sky over Lake Pukaki I made it safely to Cromwell in six hours. I met my friends who I worked with in the kiwifruit packhouse before and followed them to the camp. My last New Zealand work episode has started.

While I’m writing these words two weeks of cherry picking are already behind me. And let me tell you, it’s a hard job. Picking from 6am to 2:30pm every day on the burning sun is no fun. Still it is very likely the first job I’ve ever loved. Why? Because you get paid per how much you pick. And it doesn’t only mean that you work like crazy without stopping just to pick as much as possible. It also means that no one tells you what to do, it’s all up to you. No one to do your job for you, no one to complain about, no one to blame. Almost all discomfort about dealing with people such as customers or colleagues is minimalized. Everyone works totally effectively without wasting a minute of the time. It’s a fantastic work system. You will never see people running to work not because they are late but because they want to be there first. In return you can get $1000 per week and as a bonus eat as many cherries as your stomach can handle. At 3pm you are off to take care of your needs and to do nothing. All while getting tan. Ideal summer. And that’s about it. Now if you excuse me I have nothing to do but I will go to have a swim in the lake before the sun drains out all the beer I drank today.

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