Bridges Around the World: In the Land of the Lord of the Rings: Julen Meyer from Gerstetten lived in New Zealand

Bridges Around the World: In the Land of the Lord of the Rings: Julen Meyer from Gerstetten lived in New Zealand


I have lived in many places on this beautiful planet, but have never felt like staying anywhere for a longer period of time. Then New Zealand came …

As always, the journey began unknowingly: with one last “work holiday” before age restrictions prevented me. I already had friends there, a friend from England that I met while diving into Gili Trawangan and became my closest hiking companion in the Land of the Lord of the Rings.

And a native “kiwi” – that’s what New Zealanders call themselves after their national bird – with whom I’ve lived in Australia and on the Sunshine Coast.

So the start was very easy for me, as I was picked up at Nelson Airport and dragged on the first adventure trip. Seven days in Nelson Lakes National Park on a hiking tour of the jungle, far from civilization and mobile phone reception. What else can you dream about at night?

I’ve lived and worked in Nelson – New Zealand’s sunniest place – for the past year and I’ve learned to love the country and its people. The world seems to rotate a little slower there.

Maybe because the country is too isolated or the population is relatively small. Everything is manageable and we still take care of it. Work does not create an identity, but rather a means to an end. After work, you can spend your time outside exercising or in the city in the myriad of bars and restaurants.

Very sociable kiwi. Children learn mountain biking and mountaineering in school and there is no such thing as Amazon. A New Zealand citizen goes to town to shop and (finish) retail. Of course, this also has its drawbacks: life is very expensive. But it’s good enough for basics, and for the most part, it satisfies.

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Then came 2020, the year of the epidemic. The first shutdown on Aoteaora (NZ) was strict. I was not allowed to meet anyone outside my shared apartment for five weeks and was only allowed to drive to the nearest supermarket.

Aside from groceries, you can’t buy anything, not even online, not even fast food. A really contemplative time, I spent most of it on the lovely little mountain in front of my front door or on long walks on the beach. It was tough, especially since friends and family at home in Germany enjoyed more freedom.

Amazingly, the New Zealand government showed enough solidarity to pay me compensation for the loss of my restaurant job, despite my foreign status. After the strict lockdown, Corona was forgotten as quickly as it came. Bars and restaurants reopened: with restrictions at first, but quickly without them. Even clubs are starting to operate again and New Zealand has allowed the first major events around the world because the global pandemic is no longer an issue here.

Meanwhile, I returned to Germany for my graduate studies, but also in love and anchored in the land of kiwi and wak, ki, penguins, dolphins and sea lions.

She made wonderful friends on the other side of the world and a unique partner in crime. And in the long run, I’d like to go back there, to emigrate, since I don’t have to choose between the Alps and the sea like I do at home, but have them right at my doorstep.

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The editorial team submits reports every year as part of ‘Bridges around the world’ About people from the Heidenheim area who live abroad. Read all articles here.

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