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And My Destination Is…

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Two weeks ago, I mentioned in my post The Year With Two Summers that I would be leaving sometime in October to spend a year in another country.  This country is in the southern hemisphere, which means I’ll be able to enjoy the North American summer and leave just as summer is beginning down there.

I did not reveal the country because I wanted to make sure I would have the appropriate Visa to be able to stay for twelve months.  If it had been denied for some reason then I would have had to choose a different destination.

Not that I’ve kept this a secret, in my offline life.  I think all of my friends know by now, and I’ve announced my resignation to my boss.

Well, this week I got the great news: my Visa has been approved.

Five months from now, I will be living in New Zealand.

The General Plan

In mid-October of this year, I will travel to Victoria, British Columbia, to visit friends and family for a week or so.  After saying my goodbyes, I’ll take the ferry to Vancouver and fly across the Pacific from there.

My flight plans are not yet finalized, but it looks like Hong Kong will probably be my landing point on the other side of the ocean.  It’s a major hub, and most itineraries route through there.  I don’t think I’ll see much of it other than the airport, but from there I’d like to take a small side trip to Thailand if it is feasible.

So right now it’s looking like Winnipeg > Victoria > Vancouver > Hong Kong > Bangkok > Auckland.

From Auckland, I plan to spend a month or so backpacking southwards, through the national capital of Wellington, then down through the South Island.  I’ve got a laundry list of stops that I want to make, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown among them, but I haven’t begun to plan at this level yet.

Once I’m done touring the countryside, I’ll settle in one of the major cities (leaning towards Wellington at the moment), find a place to live and a job to work.

Why New Zealand?

It was probably about a year ago that I decided to take a trip of this scale. I considered quite a few destinations including England, Ireland, France and Australia.

I figured it made sense to choose an English-speaking country for my big trip.  I’d like to explore France when my French is better.

My parents took a big trip before they had children.  They hopped around the South Pacific, visiting Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia among other places.  They seemed to speak most fondly of New Zealand, and the beautiful landscapes and the kind people they met.

New Zealand has always struck me as exotic and beautiful.  Epic land and seascapes, laid-back and interesting people, great climate, and a very diverse geography.  Beaches, mountains, forests, glaciers, and cities.  To me it represents paradise.


Career Concerns

The first question I get asked whenever I tell someone I’m doing this is, “So you have a job lined up over there?”

No.  I don’t.  This seems to surprise people.

“Well, have you made arrangements to return to your job when you get back?”


I’m a smart person, I’ll be fine.  In my culture people are very highly identified with their jobs, as if they cannot exist without them, and to take on another type of work is like starting from scratch.  I’m not afraid of losing this kind of ‘progress’.  To me progress means getting closer to the life I want to live, one where I earn a living doing something I would do for free.  I’m constantly gaining skills and getting better; switching careers doesn’t ‘reset’ anything.

I do like my current line of work, but it isn’t my calling in life.  I’ll get into this more deeply in another post, but I’m starting to realize how completely crazy it is for a keen and resourceful person to earn a living by selling his time to a cause that is not important to him.

For those of you who don’t know, I am an engineering tech, I design roads and residential subdivisions and underground utilities.  I enjoy my clients and coworkers, but at the end of the day all I’m really doing is helping people to take up more space on this planet, and taking a cut of the profits.  It stimulates my brain, but not my heart.

I intend to spend the next few years shifting to self-employment, making a living only from what I really believe is helpful to humanity.  This blog is just the beginning of that, but it will be a while before I can sustain myself without selling significant amounts of time working towards someone else’s cause.

So I’m not at all scared of jumping off whatever rung of whatever career ladder I’m on in order to go on this trip, because I know that climbing this ladder is not what I want to do in life.  But at the moment my civil engineering skills are still very helpful for getting me to where I want to be.  In fact I may pursue similar work in New Zealand, but I’d like also to explore new streams of income while I’m there.

I don’t care what I end up doing.  Whatever it is, I’ll certainly be taking a pay cut and making a significant lifestyle adjustment.  I just want to see a new country, meet new people, and continue to write.


David Goes Kiwi

Of course, Raptitude isn’t going anywhere.  I’ll still be blogging full-bore, from the road.  And I want to take you with me.

As my Second Summer approaches, I’ll be launching a new section of this site, tentatively called David Goes Kiwi.  There I will post updates as to the progress of my trip, along with a full online photo album.  I’ll be documenting the places I go and the people I meet.

This trip is also going to be an experiment in social media.  Between now and when I leave, I’ll be establishing a network of contacts overseas, using Twitter, Facebook, CouchSurfing and other forms of social media.

Because of the internet I already have dozens of friends in other cities and countries.  Even though we haven’t met physically, I feel very close to many of these people, and I’d like to make some more online friends whom I can meet in person when I’m abroad.  This way I can more easily find things to do, places to stay, even job leads, by establishing familiarity with people who are already there.

Social media fascinates me because it is the intersection between the internet and real life.  I didn’t always really appreciate the fact that ‘internet people’ are actually flesh-and-blood offline people too.  I mean I knew that, but I didn’t quite feel it.  Social media has changed that.  It’s humanizing the Net at an incredible rate, and I want to explore this concept first-hand while I travel.

This whole undertaking is by far the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done.  Even just a few years ago, taking on something like this would have been impossible for me.  There are so many steps and sticking points to it, too many uncertainties and things to be afraid of.  I would have thrown up my hands and given up before long.

But now I’m a different person, and to this new David, this is completely doable.  There’s no doubt this trip will help me grow even more.

I wonder who I’ll be when I get back.


Photos by Allie Caulfield and kiwinz

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Kelly June 8, 2009 at 4:47 am

Congrats! Moving to New Zealand has been the best decision of my life, despite all of the drama that Ive been through. I think you will love it, especially since you are arriving in Spring and backpacking ll through the best time of the year.

Remember though, that the entire country shuts down for about 2-3 weeks around Christmas and New Year. Realistically you probably wont find much work until February as everyone is at the beach! Im not kidding, I was floored. Everything grinds to a HALT.

Hurray for Canadians in Kiwilandia! The more the merrier =)
(ps I came through Hong Kong too, on Cathay Pacific. Best airline ever!)

Kelly’s last blog post..Christchurch Art Gallery

Jay Schryer June 8, 2009 at 5:45 am

Very Cool! I’m excited for you…and looking forward to hearing from your adventures!

Jay Schryer’s last blog post..Mindful Meditation Monday, Week 4

Lauren June 8, 2009 at 6:51 am

Sounds fantastic, David. And you should make sure you pop over to Australia at some point and check us out too! Here’s to adventures and new experiences.

Lauren’s last blog post..Next Book

Ian | Quantum Learning June 8, 2009 at 6:58 am

That’s great David! Even more great is to read that you’ll be taking us with you so we can be Kiwi Voyeurs, or something like that.

Ian | Quantum Learning’s last blog post..Life: powerful and fragile

Roger - A Content Life June 8, 2009 at 7:00 am


Very, very cool! I’m envious. :)

I’m sure you’ll have a great time and I’m extremely impressed with you sense of adventure and courage to do something different. Let me know if you need to hire somebody to carry your bags. :)

Roger – A Content Life’s last blog post..My First Zen Experience

Lisis June 8, 2009 at 7:11 am

David, this is a fantastic plan. I think everyone should have a great adventure or two, preferably before kids come along just so you can make it all about you. I’ll bet it felt wonderful to turn in your resignation and know that you will soon be done with that part of your life and on to the next phase… whatever it may be.

I can’t wait to see the pictures and read the stories!

PS: I can just imagine you walking around New Zealand with Roger behind you, carrying your pack. ;)

Lisis’s last blog post..Adventure: What About the Children?

Frances June 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

I can tell you from experience, this will be a wonderful change in your life. It’s amazing to be able to leave behind what was once your life and create a completely new and different life in another part of the world. It’s a very powerful feeling. It sounds like you chose the perfect location for yourself. I wish you the best in your travels.

Frances’s last blog post..Standing on the Shore

David June 8, 2009 at 8:23 am

Kelly — Good to hear from you Kelly. It’ll be nice to celebrate Christmas in the summertime. If I’m forced to go without work for a while, well I guess I’ll just have to deal with that : )

Jay — Me too!

Lauren — Thanks Lauren. I’m not sure if I’ll make it to Australia this time around, but you never know. I’m definitely keeping options open.

Roger — Thank you for offering to carry my bags. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to ask. I’ll be in touch.

Lisis — That’s why I’m doing this now, while I’m single and childless. Having already resigned, I feel a profound sense of freedom.

Frances — Thanks Frances. Yes, I will be rebuilding my life on all sorts of levels, from the kind work I do to the brands of groceries I buy. Life is all details, and many of them will be completely different.

David June 8, 2009 at 8:37 am


I recommend you check out Kelly’s blog at http://marmalade.ca/

She is a fellow Canadian currently living in New Zealand, and she’s documented her adventure on her blog, with some amazing photographs.

Chania Girl June 8, 2009 at 8:50 am

I’m very excited for you about this trip, David, and am very much looking forward to following your posts in David Goes Kiwi.

As a fellow traveler and someone who has also set off to an unknown country to do something new, I can tell you that every day will be an adventure, and you will be changed in ways you never imagined. You will be stretched, pulled, pushed and tugged, but if you keep the integrity of your inner core, what will result is someone you will be surprised by, amazed by, and proud of.

As we say in Greece, Kalo Taxithi!!! Good journey!

Chania Girl’s last blog post..Footsteps in the Dark

Nadia - Happy Lotus June 8, 2009 at 9:27 am

Hi David,

Congratulations on the visa! Yay! You are in store for a wonderful journey. Traveling around the world is something that I wish everyone would do along with living in a foreign country. It is a great experience.

I am sure you will have fun and I know what you mean about how people find it strange that you have no job set up for New Zealand or for when you return. I got the same reaction from people and I always replied that a person can always find another place to live and another job.

One more thing, I look forward to when you, me and whomever else has the same dream can make a living doing what they love full time. However, until that happens, may we all have tons of fun in the process. I think we are and will. :)

Nadia – Happy Lotus’s last blog post..Listening to My Intuition

Tim June 8, 2009 at 9:37 am


Congrats — sounds like a great choice. If there is one regret in my life, it is not travelling more after I graduated from college. I spent a few years drifting from temp job to temp job and trying to figure out what I wanted to when I grew up. As far as I’m concerned, your decision sounds like a very smart one. I look forward to reading your posts in your new locale.

Tim’s last blog post..RIP Koko Taylor

Positively Present June 8, 2009 at 10:10 am

SO exciting!! It sounds like an awesome plan and I think it’s great that you’re doing this without a job planned out. Seize the day! Take advantage of life! Love it! Congrats on getting everything in place for your journey…sounds amazing! I’m so excited that you’ll be keeping the blog too so I can follow you on all of your fabulous adventures.

Positively Present’s last blog post..trust me: to be happy you need to trust

Marko Saric June 8, 2009 at 10:37 am

Great plan David. I am sure it will be a great experience and a great adventure for you. I wish you all the best luck with your travelling and also with your goal of getting income sources from things that stimulate both your brain and your heart.

Marko Saric’s last blog post..Top 33 silliest search queries people have found my blog with

Jared June 8, 2009 at 11:50 am

Good for you David!!! The more I read about people doing this, the more it tells me I can too someday if I choose.

This must be the exciting news you alluded to on twitter. I was starting to wonder what that was all about. Can’t wait to follow your journey.

Jared’s last blog post..The Secret About: Change

suzen June 8, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Your plan sounds wonderful – and exciting! What a life-enhancing opportunity! I will look forward to all the travelogue blogging and photos as I’m sure all your followers will, each of us living somewhat vicariously through you adventures. It takes courage to cut loose from the somewhat false securities we insist we need to survive and just go “out there”. You can be rich in life experiences and livin’ on kiwi’s – have a great journey! Ooops – you aren’t going YET – but when you do……..

suzen’s last blog post..Marriage in the 60’s – Just a Peek!

prayerthegate June 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm

You will be transformed by the journey, no doubt. Those experiences where we are brave and decide to make this level of change should be quite rewarding on many level. We look forward to tales of your adventure.

prayerthegate’s last blog post..Making a Great Week

prayerthegate June 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Oh, and one less thing to add to your laundry list, you don’t have to cancel the newpaper!

prayerthegate’s last blog post..Making a Great Week

Alison | Quest for Balance June 8, 2009 at 4:46 pm

David, I am so excited for you! I look forward to reading all about this amazing adventure. Visiting New Zealand is definitely on my some-day list. –A

Alison | Quest for Balance’s last blog post..Adventure: What About the Children?

Sean June 8, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Congratulations! What is life if not for living in a big way?

I am really looking forward to reading your posts on this grand adventure. Good luck!

Sean’s last blog post..How to Work Effectively at Home!

Brad June 9, 2009 at 12:05 am

Wow, that’s awesome! I haven’t read your blog much but I’m really glad I tuned in tonight. I wish I was in your shoes. Well, you’re what, 27? I am 25, maybe in a couple years I will be ready to do something similar. Thanks for the inspiration.

Kaushik June 9, 2009 at 5:08 am

Kudos for taking the plunge! I did the same three years ago–quit a lucrative job to backpack in India…and have never been happier. Life knows how to live when we are able to get out of the way.

Kaushik’s last blog post..Acceptance – 7th Awakening is Simple book excerpt

David June 9, 2009 at 8:17 am

Hey, thank you for all the feedback everyone. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted. It’s going to come fast, I’m sure.

Carnalzen June 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

NZ was the most magical place I’ve been, met some mates I’ve kept since. I’ll dig out the old travel journal (ok so it’s only 2 years old) and share stories or just connect you to it via email – it publicly outs my real name and for work reasons I keep the CZ job seperate. Most important think – make sure you hike Tongariro Crossing…it’s pure ecstasy.
Cheers and good luck!

Carnalzen’s last blog post..House of Belonging

Angie June 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Awesome! I can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures! I met some great friends from New Zealand In 1991 in Hawaii, they actually ended up coming to see me in Troutdale Oregon a few years later! We wrote back and forth for 4 or 5 years, then we lost touch. The pictures I saw were amazing. I have always wanted to travel to there… who knows, someday:)

Angie’s last blog post..0711ddebe7fd2b92.jpg

David June 9, 2009 at 8:49 pm

That sounds great, CarnalZen, I’d love to hear your stories.

Angie, one of the things that has drawn me to New Zealand is the great reputation Kiwis have for being good friends and interesting people. That’s what excites me the most, meeting new people.

Dave Ridarelli June 10, 2009 at 7:26 am

Congrats David-

My roommate in college went to NZ the year before I lived with him and I think 90% of what he talked about was how awesome the experience was. I’m sure it will be fantastic.

Dave Ridarelli’s last blog post..Six Reasons Why I’m Infatuated with Whey Protein

ann elise June 10, 2009 at 10:08 am

Do they say, “Good on you!” in New Zealand? I am so excited for you. I enjoy your thought-provoking personal development articles, but I hope to learn about David’s personal Kiwi adventures in your destination.

A place that shuts down for a few weeks at the holidays to go to the beach? Sounds like heaven.

ann elise’s last blog post..gratitude day 19

vomle June 11, 2009 at 5:49 am

woohoo NZ! i like it most days, i’m sure you will too.
you should definitely do the south island west coast, it’s very cool.
i think it’s a great place to work or maybe absorb the “no.8 wire mentality” and do your own thing…

greetings from the land of the long white cloud,

Nate @ ItStartsWith.Us June 12, 2009 at 3:58 pm

This is awesome, David! I think New Zealand is a great choice. Of course I haven’t been there myself, but it would be on my short list of Southern Hemisphere choices.

I like how you said, “I’m a smart person; I’ll be fine.” I feel the same way. Most people are way too attached to their careers, and afraid to let go and try something new. You’ll find a way to make your situation work, and you’ll be better for it.

I’m excited to follow along with you and see how the journey goes.
.-= Nate @ ItStartsWith.Us´s last blog ..Be Remarkable (It’s Not That Hard) =-.

Mel July 6, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Great choice, David, I’m sure you will love it here. And what you’ve heard is true… we Kiwis are terribly interesting and friendly people! :-)

I’ve lived here all my life, and although I’ve travelled a lot, I really don’t think there’s anywhere else in the world I would rather live.

David July 6, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Hi Mel,

I’m currently reading all about New Zealand and getting extremely excited. Travelers from all over have given such glowing reviews of NZ and its people. I can’t wait.

Laura August 11, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Nice choice! My boyfriend and I traveled the North Island last September, renting a camper van for a few days, taking the Naked Bus (for cheap!) other days, and renting a car to get back up to Auckland.

We stayed 21 days. The one thing we really truly regret: going to the south island!!!! Everyone in NZ that we told that we were just staying in the north island looked really disappointed and said the south island was even more beautiful.

My favorite thing was the glowworm caves. I wish we could have gone black water rafting but we were on a tight budget, as the flight prices themselves were really expensive.

I linked my flickr of my NZ trip if you’d like to see that. Another thing that I recommend is in Palmerston North, there is a huge park called Victoria Esplanade and it is amazing. There is a huge all-aged playground with trampolines and human-sized hamster wheels and really fun swings. There is also a mini-railroad that is fun to walk on since it’s so miniature.

And one more thing… the miles and miles of rolling green hills is an absolutely incredible sight. I would love to go back and check out the south island sometime. I can’t wait to hear how things go for you.
.-= Laura´s last blog ..DSCF3878 =-.

David August 12, 2009 at 6:53 am

Wow, thanks so much Laura! I’m excited to look through your photos.

I’ve planned many stops on South Island, it’s reputed to have some of the most beautiful places on earth.

I will check out Palmerston North, too. Awesome, thanks for your comment.

Beth L. Gainer September 28, 2009 at 8:28 am

Hi David,
I admire your gusto and courage and applaud you for going on this journey while you have the time. Being a civil engineer, you will have no shortage of jobs while you pursue the career of your passion.

I look forward to following you in your travels. BTW, I was in China in July; Hong Kong is GORGEOUS. If you can see the skyline, please do.
.-= Beth L. Gainer´s last blog ..Just For the Records =-.

David September 28, 2009 at 9:11 am

Hi Beth,

I’m not an engineer, I’m more of an engineer’s assistant. In any case, engineering techs are on the NZ skills shortage list, so it should be okay.

It turns out my Hong Kong experience will only amount to about an hour in the airport. But that’s okay, my travel dollars will go much further in Thailand.

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