Martin and Debs: Exploring New Zealand

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Originally from South Africa, Martin and Debs grew up with mountains and the ocean on their doorstep and loved the outdoor lifestyle. Work prospects and the hustle and bustle of London lured them to the UK in 2003 but after 10 years they needed a change and felt that a move to New Zealand would be the perfect way to rekindle their spirit of adventure. Now settled in New Zealand, they’ve made it their mission to be lifelong ‘tourists’ in their newly adopted home country and use every opportunity to get out and explore. Whether it’s hiking, scuba diving, paddleboarding, mountain biking or anything outdoors, Martin & Debs are always up for it and love to share their experiences online in the hope that others will be inspired to do the same.

We love your goal to be lifelong tourists in New Zealand, the country you now call home. Can you tell us about your journey to New Zealand, and what makes it feel like “home” to you?

Our journey to New Zealand was mostly a leap of faith. We’d reached a point in the UK where we knew we had to make a change and that we needed to get back to our outdoor roots. It took us about a year from the time we made the decision to move to when we finally both arrived in New Zealand and it was a challenging time, some of it spent apart on opposite ends of the globe, but eventually, through perseverance and good fortune, we achieved our dream.

What makes New Zealand feel like home? It’s a little difficult to articulate as being here just feels right, like we’ve always been here. Ultimately, it’s a feeling of contentment that makes us feel at home wherever that may be, and being outdoors does that for us. It sounds a bit cliched, but with so much to still see and do here in New Zealand, there is nowhere else we’d rather be.

Where are some of your favorite places in New Zealand for adventure? What makes them special?

Although we’ve only just scratched the surface, we’ve managed to do a fair amount of exploring in New Zealand, on both the North and South Islands. While our answer to this question most probably changes every six months, our current favourite places would have to be:

The North Island’s Central Plateau – home of the North’s highest peak, Mt Ruapehu, this volcanic plateau is the closest thing we have to an alpine environment without us having to travel to the South Island. It’s also has some amazing day and multi-day hikes for the warmer months.

The Coromandel – this peninsula to the east of Auckland has some of the most stunning beaches, rocky coves and sea caves and is one of our favourite stand-up paddleboarding destinations.

Mount Cook National Park – situated on the South Island, this national park is home to 19 peaks over 3,000m including New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook. While we’re not experienced alpinists (yet) and we’ve only explored some of the lower level tracks, this in one place we will keep coming back to.

Queenstown – known as New Zealand’s adventure capital and for good reason. There are so many exciting things to do in Queenstown, from bungy jumping to river rafting and skydiving. It’s also a good base from which to explore the lower south island and is close to the Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Cardrona ski fields.

What are your goals with your website OutThere.Kiwi?

Right now, the website is our bucket list more than anything else as it contains a list of all the places we want to visit and things we want to experience in New Zealand – over 280 destinations/activities in total and growing. As we explore and share our experiences online, our hope is that over time the site will become a valuable resource for fellow outdoor enthusiasts planning their own adventures, particularly those visiting from overseas.

What are some of the obstacles you face while trying to keep a work-travel balance?

This can be summed as ‘so many adventures, so little time’. If we could, we would love to be full time adventurers and our goal is to achieve this one day. Until then yes, balancing work and travel is a challenge and we simply endeavor to make the most of the time we have. That means lots of weekend trips and 4am starts to get to where we need to be. We use up all of our annual leave each year and invariably end up taking unpaid leave as well so we can do the things we love. It’s a sacrifice we’re more than willing to make.

Your adventures on your website include scuba diving, paddle boarding and hiking, to name a few. What are some of your most memorable adventures?

Scuba diving off White Island – White Island is an active volcano situated about 50km off the east coast of the North Island. One of the unique features of diving here is that there are geothermal vents and diving around them is a bit like being in a cross between a bubbling spa pool and a whistling kettle.

Fox Glacier – Fox is one of two glaciers on the South Island’s West Coast, the other being Franz Josef. They are quite unique in that they end less that 25km from the coast. We spent an incredible day on Fox Glacier, flying in by helicopter before landing and making our way up the glacier through sheer crevasses and around overhanging seracs. We also got our first taste of ice climbing which left us wanting more.

Paddleboarding Pakiri – Pakiri is a popular beach north of Auckland. We were paddling about a kilometer offshore when we found ourselves surrounded by thousands of seabirds chasing a massive shoal of fish. In an attempt to escape, the fish were forming bait balls underneath our boards and we found ourselves having a real David Attenborough moment with birds diving into the sea around us and larger fish jumping out of the water in a feeding frenzy. It was incredible and of course the one day that we didn’t have a GoPro or camera with us.

We at This Adventure Life want our readers to live life fearlessly in the pursuit of living their ideal life. What would your advice be for someone who wants to live fearlessly and pursue their wildest dreams?

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