Welcome to the Monthly Happiness Report of June, 2014! During this month, I finally got to say bye-bye to my slightly depressing internship and say hello to a great South Island road trip. It was a proper ending to a fantastic period in New Zealand. After the South Island road trip, I took a flight back to the Netherlands in order to finish up my Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. In this post, I want to show you how my happiness ratings were effected by these activities.
This post is going to contain a little more pictures than usual, as the South Island of New Zealand is absolutely stunning. If you like these pictures, let me know, and I will try to include more of them in future posts.
My average happiness rating in June, 2014 was a 7,77. This is very similar to last month’s happiness. This is somewhat unexpected, since traveling and sightseeing have always had a great and positive effect on my happiness. You could expect this month’s average happiness rating to be higher, right?
The chart below might explain things a little, as it shows my happiness ratings during June, 2014:
You might see here what caused my “low” average happiness rating, considering I spent most of the month traveling. There was some bad stuff happening during a couple of days at the start of the South Island road trip.
The table below shows all the happiness factors for June, including the factors that influenced it.
You can see here what caused me to not be as happy as I could potentially be. It was a very bad case of illness. I will get to that later, after discussing some of the amazing things that happened during this road trip! The bar graph below shows the number of times certain factors positively influenced my happiness.
It might not come as a surprise, but traveling made me extremely happy during this period. I finished my internship in Auckland on the 4th of June, and immediately stuffed my car with everything I needed for the road trip. The next day, I took off early in the morning for a 9 hour drive to Wellington.
This day was simply magical. I had worked my butt off during the previous 4 months, and was absolutely longing for this trip. I was going to meet-up with a friend in Wellington, and travel around the South Island together. The 9 hour drive across the North Island from Auckland to Wellington was amazing. I spent the entire day listening to beautiful music, while driving through the awesome places that I visited over the past 4 months. Driving in New Zealand is fantastic, and sitting in the same car for 9 hours straight didn’t bother me at all!
The day after, we took the ferry from from Wellington to Picton. The South Island road trip was about to begin!
Abel Tasman National Park
Our first destination was the Abel Tasman National Park. It’s a great place for easy hiking, and the beaches are amongst the most beautiful I have ever seen. In addition, the weather was still very good. Especially since it was already June at this point, which is Winter in New Zealand! We decided to take a water taxi to one of the beaches and hike back along the coastal tracks. It was absolutely stunning. The blue waters, golden beaches and beautiful forests were a treat. This is in part why my happiness ratings on these days were a whopping 9,0.
What I’m going to say now might sound strange, but during the Abel Tasman hike, I got a very bad case of the hiccups. Nothing bad I remember, but it lasted well over 2 hours. I tried to neglect it. Once we got back to my car, we decided to drive straight to our next hostel, which was only a 30 minutes away. The hiccups still continued though, and were pretty unpleasant.
What happened after we arrived at the hostel is something I will not forget anytime soon. Only 10 seconds after exiting the car, I started feeling extremely sick and nauseous. Another 10 seconds later, I was puking my guts out on the parking lot. I think the hiccups had something to do with this. I don’t remember a lot of what happened next.
What I do remember is that the next 2 days were absolutely terrible. I was either in a bed feeling miserable and shaking or hanging above a toilet throwing up. I wasn’t even able to write about it in my journal. That’s why I wrote about it 3 days later. I later estimated my happiness ratings based on what I still remembered. Needless to say, it was a very bad time for my happiness.
“The next 2 days were absolutely terrible”
Luckily, my travel companion continued the road trip by driving us to the west coast of the South Island. We had to skip a lot of awesome activities though, which sucked.
In hindsight, I think this sudden illness was a result of pushing my body for too long. I was stressed-out from my internship, sleep deprived and spent most of my time continuously pushing my body. Well, my body finally had enough.
I want to write about this experience in another post soon, as it’s a perfect example of a bad day. I now have written a Bad Day post about this particular experience!
Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers and Skydiving!
Once I felt a little better, we continued to drive down south along the west coast. This is a beautiful coastal road, with many amazing sights to see. Driving through the North Island of New Zealand has brought a giant smile to my face, and it continued to do so on the South Island.
Our next stop was the Franz Josef Glacier. I was still feeling a little unstable, so there was unfortunately not a lot we could do here. We did hike up to the glacier though. We were both very impressed by its size. The glacier is melting quite rapidly however, due to the warming of the earth. So if you still want to see this giant thing, I recommend you to be fast!
I always wanted to skydive. I have already talked about how adrenaline can give you an euphoric feeling. Well, that’s exactly what I was looking for again. And what better place to do so than the highest skydive of the southern hemisphere?
“I was the luckiest guy on earth”
I was still feeling a little shaky from the illness, but on June 12th, the weather was too good to not jump. The sky was perfectly clear, with not a single cloud in sight: something that was very rare considering the season. I was the luckiest guy on earth!
So I jumped out of a plane at an altitude of 18,000 feet. It was a fantastic experience. Not only was the adrenaline rush huge, the sheer beauty of New Zealand from above was mind blowing. I was able to see the entire South Island from the sky: the snow-covered mountains, green forests, giant glaciers and ocean were all right underneath me.
[Edit: I have now dedicated an entire ‘Good day’ post just about the skydiving experience!]
Wanaka, Queenstown and Te Anau
After skydiving, we continued our way down south untill we reached Haast. Haast is a very small town, which marks the start of the mountain pass across the Southern Alps to Wanaka. The road was temporarily closed after dark, because of potential unsafe situations, so we had to stay the night in Haast. Despite the beautiful scenery in the Haast area, there is not a lot to do here. Luckily, the FIFA World Cup 2014 was just about to start, so we were able pass the time watching the games. I have always been a major soccer fan, so it was a nice way to spend the time.
The drive through the mountain pass was beautiful. It’s the type of driving that makes me feel euphoric. I still remember how amazed I felt after seeing so many different types of nature within such a short timespan. The landscape on the other side of the Alps is completely different when compared to the West Coast scenery.
We spent a night in Wanaka, where we met up with another travel companion. I was finally feeling fit again, so it was a lot easier for me to enjoy the activities in the area.
On the 14th of June, I woke up early to watch the first game of the Netherlands in the FIFA world cup. The match was between my home country and Spain, the reigning world champions. It was a big game, because the Netherlands had actually lost the previous World Cup Final to Spain just 4 years earlier, in 2010. It became the best soccer match I have ever seen. The Netherlands crushed Spain in a 5-1 victory. I still remember me laughing like a complete maniac while the rest of the hostel guests were either still asleep or having breakfast… We quickly continued our way towards Queenstown not long after the game finished, but I had a smile printed on my face for the rest of the day!
“There’s nothing like racing down a mountain in a small cart, while trying to beat your frenemies”
Queenstown is known as the center for extreme sports, not only in New Zealand, but internationally as well. We would be spending a couple of nights here in a great hostel. We wanted to do as much of the fun stuff as possible, so the first thing we did was luging. I did some luging before, during my weekend trip to Rotorua, and it was still a lot of fun. There’s nothing like racing down a mountain in a small cart, while trying to beat your frenemies. If you’re ever in New Zealand, do not skip this activity, no matter how old you are!
After Queenstown, we headed to Te Anau, which is a small village with some nice things to do in the area. It’s not as extreme as Queenstown, but there’s still enough fun to be had. We spent an afternoon exploring a glow-worm infested cave system on the other side of Lake Te Anau. It was extremely beautiful. The ceilings of the cave were littered with tiny little lights. It reminded me a lot of the magical area around the McLaren Falls Park on the North Island of New Zealand.
However, Te Anau was mainly a stopover for us, because we were heading to Milford Sound!
We spent a single day in Milford Sound. We wanted to stay a lot longer, but were unfortunately running out of time. Nevertheless, the single day we did spent there was easily one of the highlights of the South Island road trip. The drive from Te Anau to Milford is already a beautiful experience, but it doesn’t compare to the beauty of the fjord itself.
We booked a typical boat tour for the day, and made sure we had enough storage on our cameras. We were pretty lucky with the weather again, considering the Winter season. It was a little clouded, but it didn’t take away any of the beauty of the fjord.
“There are hundreds of waterfalls dropping left and right”
As the boat transported us over the Sound, we were all in awe at the sheer epicness of the scenery. Massive mountains rise from the sound, of which some have a nearly vertical face. Some of these cliffs are nearly 1.000 meters high. In the meantime, there are hundreds of waterfalls dropping left and right. These waterfalls come in all sizes. Some of them are huge while others are beautiful cascades. It’s all very spectacular. Not a single picture I took does it justice.
We were all in shock while trying to record what we were seeing. In the meantime, there were dolphins playfully swimming along with our boat. I had seen dolphins before during my weekend trip to the Bay of Islands, but I didn’t expect to see them here, in addition to this beautiful scenery. It was the icing on the cake. Milford Sound is a truly magical place, and I wish we could have stayed longer.
After our short visit, we traveled back to Te Anau and eventually Queenstown. I dropped one of the travel companions at the Queenstown airport , and had a few days left to get to Christchurch. I would fly back to Auckland on the 22nd, and leave New Zealand on the 23rd. That would be the end of this giant adventure.
The remaining days in Christchurch were relatively uneventful. I tried to sell my car at a local car auction centre, but they basically had a chuckle and and told me the car is absolutely worthless, before sending me away. I luckily managed to sell the car to my travel companion for 80% of its purchase price. Sweet.
I spent the remaining time either preparing for the departure, watching the FIFA World Cup, playing guitar or running. Running was especially nice in Christchurch, since the city is extremely flat compared to the rest of New Zealand!
Returning to the Netherlands
Leaving New Zealand at the end of this road trip felt quite strange. I had mixed feelings. I was about to be reunited with my girlfriend, friends and family, but at the same time, I was leaving the most beautiful country on earth. These mixed feelings quickly evaporated the moment I actually got to see the people I love wait for me at the airport. I was glad to be back home!
I am grateful for everything this adventure has given me, and luckily I have a complete journal filled with these amazing memories!
Also, my long distance relationship survived! We were both very happy to be together again. Sure, we had ups and downs during this period, but we always remembered it was not eternal. I think we managed quite well. I want to do a specific series on happiness through a long distance relationship in the future, as my girlfriend and I have quite some experience nowadays. This was not the last time we would be having a long distance relationship!
I still haven’t shown you the chart with the negative factors on my happiness!
The biggest negative factor was clearly the sickness. It was an absolutely miserable couple of days, and my average happiness rating would be much higher without it!
Also, after returning to the Netherlands, I still had to formally finish my Bachelor’s Degree. This meant I had to visit my college again, to defend my disseration and present the results. It did not have a positive effect on my happiness. Let’s just say that I’m happy it was the last day I ever spent inside a college building. Yours truly received a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering!
This wraps up my happiness report for June, 2014. It’s also the end of my 5 month period in New Zealand. This does not mean that I have lived a boring life ever since. Hell no! I enjoyed some holidays, spent time with my girlfriends, friends and family and eventually started looking for a job! But more on that in the next post. If you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer them!