The Year Of My Life: Travelling Aotearoa New Zealand. Today: First Time Exploring Creative Travel

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 meStephan 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.

Der Deutsche Stephan Gilbert ist als ehemaliger Gitarrenbauer schon vor vielen Jahren nach Neuseeland ausgewandert und hat sich hier auf die Kunst des Knochenschnitzens spezialisiert, eine traditionelle Maori-Kulturform.

German Tutor Stephan Gilberg is a former guitar designer having emigrated to New Zealand many many years ago. He now teaches the ancient Maori art of bone carving in the city of Nelson. Here, my friend Christina is about to finish her very own, individual carving. Check out more on:


Schon kurz darauf geht es für mich zu dieser charmanten Dame, Maureen Harte von "Wildsands Weaving": Sie hat sich auf das Flechten & Färben des Harakeke spezialisiert, eine ebenfalls von der Maori traditionell praktizierte Kulturform.

Just a little later, I have organised a visit to this charming lady, Maureen Harte of “Wildsands Weaving”: She has specialised in preparing and weaving harakeke flax, another typical cultural attribute of the Maori people in New Zealand.


Mein(e) erste(n) Mal(e): Glücklich im Garten von Maureen Harte, die mich kreatives Kulturhandwerk beim Reisen lehrt und mich mit ihrer unbändigen Fröhlichkeit ansteckt!

My very first creative travel experiences: Happy in Maureen Harte’s garden, who teaches me her unique approach to creative handicraft, such as the ancient weaving tradition, enriching both of us in the process of meeting, learning and sharing.


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.

Die ersten Ergebnisse meiner Kreativ-Reisen in Neuseeland können sich sehen lassen: Harakeke-Kete (Flachskorb) und mein Anhänger, geschnitzt beim Bone Carving Kurs in Nelson.

The first results from my creative travel experiences in New Zealand: A small harakeke basket weaving as well as my bone carving, polished and accomplished during Nelson’s bone carving workshop with Stephan Gilberg.


Bei Maureen Harte geht es herzlich wie kreativ zu. Unter ihrer Anleitung entstehen auch unter meinen ungeübten Händen wahre ...

At Maureen Harte’s place in Golden Bay, we continue being creative and communicative. She teaches me how to weave, a skill I rediscover from childhood and school days …


… Kunstwerke aus dem für mich beim ersten Mal noch sehr exotischen Harakeke-Flachs!

… yet at the same time entirely different and unique, to learn how to work with Harakeke New Zealand flax in the tradition of the Maori people.


Glücklich ist, wer nie glaubte so etwas schaffen zu können - und es dennoch vollbringt. Die "Freude des Gelingens" beim Kreativ-Reisen in Neuseeland!

The “joy of happiness”: So proud of my newly gained creative travel skills here in New Zealand!


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. 😉

Tiki Touring Neuseeland: Eine kreative Collage an Schätzen und Begegnungen während meiner Kreativ-Reise über Neuseelands Südinsel, von Christchurch über die West- und Ostküste des Landes. Ein Traum wird wahr … !

Tiki Touring New Zealand: A creative collection of meetings, skills and ideas while travelling the country’s South Island for the first time, from Christchurch to the West and East Coast of the South Island. More about it next time!

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