Hi Samuel! Tell us a little bit about yourself, who are you, where are you from, where are you living now, etc?
Hi my name is Samuel Smith and I am the guy behind Travelling Sam. I love adventure and challenges; I have cycled the full length of the UK and soon I am hoping to walk it, a distance of around 1,000miles (or 1,600km). I was born in England but I would call myself British. It has always been a useful passport to have with access to all of the Schengen Zone. It has allowed me to go on some fantastic adventures camper-vanning all around Scandinavia and Central Europe. Recently, I took the train from the UK across Europe and Asia through to Hong Kong, and now I am in New Zealand!
What did bring you to New Zealand?
I visited New Zealand with my wife back in 2010 and fell in love with the country. It does not have the same overpopulation and urban development issues as the UK. The UK has a population density of 271 people per km2, whereas NZ has only 18 per km2. Overall, this produces a much more laid back mentality with a lot less stress, and a greater sense of community enabling people to work together. Not to mention the fantastic scenery!
What were your expectations before arriving in New Zealand?
More opportunities for adventure and a better quality of life compared to the UK. One of the big things was the expectation of all round better weather, as we all know the UK isn’t renowned for sunshine!
What was your first impression?
The scenery and raw nature of the countryside is so powerful it leaves an impression that you can never forget. The first time I travelled around the Coromandel region I was constantly stopping to take in the amazing views along the coastline. With the crystal clear blue skies and beaming sunshine everywhere looked like real paradise on earth.
Did you have any cultural shock? What was that?
The biggest culture shock for me was one of the things that you only really start to notice when you stay in a country for a long time. In my case it was the availability and cost of goods. As NZ has no real manufacturing infrastructure the majority of goods are imported into the country meaning exorbitant costs. This is even seen in vegetables as you can only buy what is in season in NZ at the time, whereas back in the UK you can pretty much buy anything you want any time of year.
What’s your favorite historical or cultural spot nearby?
Mount Taranaki is a dormant volcano and the perfect conical image that a child would draw, complete with flat surroundings. It has real cultural significance with the Maori population, as it is part of the legend of the Tongariro mountain ranges in the middle of the island. They believe the mountains to have a life: Taranaki challenged another mountain for the love of a beautiful maiden, upon loosing he left and moved to the other side of the island. His path made the way for a large river. To me it is a beautiful story.
What would you miss the most if you moved away?
The people, New Zealanders, are so friendly and welcoming. They cannot wait to invite you into their homes and lives. They pride themselves on their ability to help others, especially in times of need.
If you could add anything from your country in New Zealand, what would it be?
The public transport network. As NZ is so rural and wild, public transport is limited and, expensive in the places where it does exist. This places a lot of pressure on people to own their own vehicles, which overall has a negative impact on the environment.
Travelling Sam Bio
Sam is a traveller, triathlete and adventurer making his way around the world one country at a time – always looking for the next new challenge.
He began full time travel in 2016. His adventures include cycling the entire length of the UK, and taking a train from England to Hong Kong. He is currently travelling in NZ.
You can find Samuel here: