All roads lead to Home

Robertos 32. Geburtstag

Everything is reverse. Roberto’s 32nd birthday was in summer and my 28th in winter.

Al roads lead to Home


New Zealand is as far as I can get from home. Well, to be exact the very furthest point from Germany is just water in the South Pacific. But close enough. Christchurch is exactly opposite of the Spanish Galicia. And that’s pretty much just around the corner from Germany. So let’s just say we were more or less as far from home as it gets.

Roberto und Alan

Roberto and Alan enjoy the new picnic bench

Things work differently here. The sun moves from right to left, the water in the sink swirls the other way around, rear brakes on local bikes are used with the left hand and the moon was shaped like an a when it waxed. We had late spring while back home the first snow fell down and it was daylight while most of Germany was asleep. Many things were different. I did not see a single person walking upside down though.

Ellen and Jenver at Hachi Hachi

My Sushi-Colleagues Shu, Ellen and Jenver

It has been a long year of hard work. I rolled and sold Sushi three days in a week and sold outdoor gear on the other three (with an occasional sushi evening shift). Roberto’s visa didn’t allow him to stay with an employer for longer than three months. So he sold outdoor gear for a while, made pizzas for the next quarter year, washed dishes in a Thai restaurant and worked as a supervisor for World Vision in the end.

In summer we spent nearly every free second in the garden. Our flat mate Alan is a very talented wood turner and he timbered us a beautiful picnic table, so we wouldn’t have to sit on blankets anymore.

Weihnachtsbaum in Neuseeland

Who needs a Christmas tree anyways? We wouldn’t spend too much time indoors on Christmas Day.

This table has been great for our Christmas Eve, when we had some friends over for barbecue in the sun. We have both befriended so many lovely people, that this time it would be even harder leaving them all.

With an actual base, we have also had the chance to have guests over in our place. We lacked a guest room, but had a sofa, a spare mattress and plenty of floor space for mats. And all of those had been in frequent use.

Bärbel und Johan in Neuseeland

Our first visitors: Bärbel and Johan from Germany and the Netherlands.

We have met Johan and Bärbel in Melbourne, but we had been in contact long before. They started cycling about the same time as we did. More than once have we been so near to each other, but we always only found out only afterwards when it was too late.

Colin from England.

We met Colin from England in Australia.

Colin spent a few nights and then took the early bus to the North of the island – where he still lived more than a year later. We met him cycling in Australia and had a great time together.

Anaid selling Sushi in New Zealand

Roberto’s sister Anaid turned into a sushi-packer.

Roberto’s sister Anaid came to live with us later in the fall. After a few weeks she found a room with a family only two blocks away from our house. Anaid was looking for any kind of job, so I gave her CV to my manager and soon we were workmates! It was early spring when she decided that she wanted to return home. Poor Anaid had three winters in a row.

Birgit in Neuseeland

Birgit celebrated her 30th birthday in January – for the first time in her life she had an outside-party.

Birgit from Germany is a friend of Astrid and Gerd, who we knew since Kyrgyzstan. She took a bit less than a year off work, so she could travel through New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia. Gerd (who is currently cycling Australia) got her in contact with me and just a few weeks later in between some of her travels she even moved in with us. Alan found her a job in at the Woodturners’ and we had a great time with Birgit.

Cartoon Party

Torsten (Popeye) celebrated my birthday with Trevor (Picachu) and Ritsuko.

I first me Torsten back in Bremen, Germany. He had considered a Working Holiday for quite a while and then applied for it just a few days before his 31st birthday, so he could fly in just before his 32nd. Soon after, his girlfriend Lisi came and the two had a great mix o working and travel. Torsten even bought a campervan, so they could travel comfortably. Many backpackers nowadays do that. They buy it cheaply and just before they leave, try to sell it just as cheap to another backpacker.

Familienbesuch in Neuseeland

Roberto’s family also came for a visit. Here we enjoyed a glass of local wine at the Rob Roy Glacier walk near Wanaka.

Family visit! In September we all took three weeks off work so we could travel New Zealand’s South Island with Roberto’s and Anaid’s parents.

Caro reist mit einem riesigen Rucksack durch Neuseeland

Caro is the heaviest packed hitch hiker I have ever met. .

We met Caro on the day of the World Cup Final. She came from Germany and worked at Arthur’s Pass. She traveled all the way down to Christchurch only to watch the final with other fans. We had some beers together that evening. Caro usually hitched rides to where ever she wants to go. During her time in New Zealand she had left some of her bags in several different towns all over the South Island. Before her departure to Australia she went to pick them all up and couldn’t believe herself the amount of things she had collected during less than a year.

Caro reist durch Neuseeland

Caro (second from right) has a great timing. She happened to be in Christchurch right on the day that Birgit (middle) and Rikka (left) came to visit.

Rikka is from New York. She met Birgit online and the two decided to travel the South Island together in a little green car called “the frogger”. After their travels they came back to Christchurch, where we planned a girl’s night (plus Alan). So while we were opening our first beers there was a knock on the door. It was Caro, who just happened to be in Christchurch and decided to hop over and see if we were still living there. Caro and Birgit made so good friends, that they met again later in Borneo for Caro’s birthday.

Steffen und Britta in Neuseeland

Steffen and Britta from Oldenburg, Germany

Steffen (aka Kortie aka Lord Kort) grew up in Bad Bederkesa, just like me! We met back in High School and were good friends ever since. Now he and his girlfriend Britta lived in Oldenburg and decided to escape the cold German winter. They had travelled over 50 hours to get to our home early on New Year’s Eve. Sleep? Nope. You can’t just throw away the chance to celebrate New Year’s in New Zealand! Instead we grabbed some bikes and helmets and cycled (with no lights and on the left side of the road) to the park, where we enjoyed Irish music and fireworks.

Mark and Chrissie from Sydney

Britta, Roberto, Steffen, Chrissie, Mark and Annika

We have met Mark und Chrissie back in 2012 in Kyrgyzstan (crazy little story) and visited them in Australia in 2014 Now it was time for them and their friends Maddy and Jimmy to come and visit us in New Zealand. Together with Steffen and Britta we all grabbed our bikes and cycled the Otago central Rail Trail.

Vier Tage auf dem wunderschönen Central Otago Rail Trail

Another day, another trail, but the same team

We biked for four days and had a great and relaxed time. Chrissie and Mark liked it so much, that they decided that this bike tour hasn’t been their last one.

Birgit und Amal

Birgit and Amal

Birgits second travel partner was Amal from Germany. The two started and ended their trip in Christchurch at our place.

Peace Runner Kay from Japan

Peace runner Kay from Japan

We met Kay from Japan in Australia. His profession is to run for World Peace. His aim: running 40,000 Kilometers through this planet and running on every continent. We met him on his run in Australia and even made it to the final run in the Sydney Opera House.

In New Zealand he did just a “short run” of “only 2796.58 Kilometers”. I was lucky to have a short shift at work on the day of his final run to the Christchurch Cathedral Square. Kay updates his blog every day and his next tour will lead him through Europe. Make sure to check his blog, so you will know if he will run somewhere close to you.


My colleague and supervisor Sayaka surprised me with a home made cake on my last shift at work!

When the year was over, everything seemed to repeat. We read posters about the second annual beer festival (and didn’t go for the second time), the second Japan Day, Roberto’s second New Zealand-birthday (this time with sun instead of rainstorms). And of course the second start into a big adventure. Part two – the return. As we are so far away from home, anywhere we go is direction home. It’s like when you stand on the South Pole and no matter where you step you go towards the North.

Anne from Christchurch

Anne loves Mexican food. She has tried a lot on her recent visit to Mexico and was quite excited when Roberto offered to make Mole

Preparations of part two reminded me a lot of part one. It was fall in Germany when we packed our things and left and it was fall in New Zealand too, when the date was coming closer. Roberto had a new bike again that he was still getting used to, we bought plenty of dried fruits again and we would have cycle paths to follow (at least every now and then). And we had plenty of new equipment (staff price from work) to try out.

Kathmandu Workmates

These are some of my lovely colleagues from Kathmandu. Never in my life have I worked in a warmer and more friendly and understanding work environment.

New Zealand has grown into our third home. We have lived here together for a longer period of time than we had lived together in Germany or Mexico. Now we were curious to get to know these beautiful islands. We want adventure. So we would have to let go of the comfortable life in Christchurch. The collection of games, the fitness ball, some books, most of our clothing and the soda stream were gone. The bed was sold and would be picked up soon. And – woosh – we would have a life just like at the very beginning: Half full panniers all over the place and foam mats as a bed.

More Kathmandu colleagues and friends

More Kathmandu colleagues and friends

Both bikes were ready too. Our friend Craig, who knows literally everything about bicycles, helped me to strip all parts off my bike, tell me which ones I’d need to replace, and assemble it all again. Roberto’s bike was a brand new Novara Safari. We just had too many problems with the old one and couldn’t take any risks of serious bike-failure on our future travels through Alaska and Northern Canada.

Avokado Pflanze als Baby

It took me several months to start a few leaves. This was how my avocado plant looked like just before we left. Now it’s Alan’s job to keep this little sweetheart alive.

Jogging sounded like a good training for me, so while my travel bike was under construction I decided to work on my endurance by running every day. It has happened exactly six times. We had cycled all the way to the sea twice, swam a few times, went out to dance every now and then and cycled 150 kilometers on a flat rail trail. And that was it.

Hachi Hachi Team

Goodbye dinner with some of my Sushi colleagues. Annika quickly converted into Anni-Chan, so that was my name for this year.

I felt terribly unprepared, nonathletic and in absolutely no shape for this. But there was something that made me feel like everything was going to be alright: At the start of Part one in Germany, I hadn’t been running even once. Or swimming. Or doing any kind of sport apart from bike-commuting and dancing on the weekends. And back then I didn’t even know how to handle a fully loaded bike. Somehow we made it half way around the world nevertheless. So why not the other half? The mountains are still a week or so away and by then we’d be in a better shape. And when it would come to crossing the Southern Alps, we’d be all ready and fit. And if not we’d just suffer a little while and go a bit slower. Where ever we go – all roads lead to home. And we were half way there already.

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