My first time was about six years ago. “There is always a first time”, is what they say. Of course, it does not only relate to what you might be thinking now! What I am talking about is the first “creative trip” of my lifetime. Imagine the heat of the summer sun, shady palm trees and what is perhaps New Zealand’s most renowned cultural plant: Harakeke or New Zealand flax. The garden I came to – paradise. And peaceful. Just the way Kiwis like it to be. The relaxing lifestyle “down under” is what made settling in really easy for me. Stephan Gilberg & Maureen Harte are two of a kind. And the first ones I was to meet as part of the “Creative Tourism New Zealand” network in the city of Nelson and Golden Bay, situated right at the top of the country’s South Island.
So what did we do? In just two workshop sessions, we drilled, hammered, polished, cut, weaved, learned, understood, accomplished, laughed and enjoyed! Creative Travel is for all the senses, ultimately reaching for your heart and linking the souls of both: You and the place you visit.
Creative Travel is adventurous. You seek out local people’s homes and workshops while discovering new abilities (and friends) along the way. It makes you never want to travel any other way again.
Just half a year later, my family and I gladly repeated Maureen’s creative weaving workshop upon their visit to New Zealand. I remember we all sat together learning about cutting, preparing and weaving this incredibly soft, yet extremely durable natural fibre of harakeke (New Zealand Flax). Sharing creative experiences like those are still the most vivid travel memories I have today.
Contrary to many other forms of travelling, creative travel really immerses you in the culture, the place and the people you are visiting. In my opinion and experience, nothing beats the joy of holding your own individual piece of home-made souvenir in your hand. You are just so PROUD of what you have achieved! To me, creative travel has proven to be a very unique and special connection to New Zealand, and one I still cherish to this day.
Only a little later, I decided to do (a lot) more. Inspired by all the creative exchange and my own experience of flow, I made it my goal to experience as many “hands-on creative workshops” in New Zealand as possible. This involved gaining new friendships with Aotearoa’s creative class and their families, some of which have lasted to this present day. In my next travel articles, I will tell you more about them. And also how, fuelled by my new sense of creativity, I managed to finance my first trip across the South Island. What I have experienced there, including the organisation of a “Creative Tourism New Zealand” network meeting in the city of Christchurch, is the essence of another story here, tagged, Tiki Touring New Zealand.
Tiki Touring?! Well, they have truly inspired me there, those Kiwis. 😉