On The Way - a journey through aotearoa

Aotearoa is the Maori name for the country of New Zealand literally translated as 'the land of long white cloud'.  It was the last major habitable land mass to be discovered, initially by the Maori's Polynesian descendants in approx 1300 AD.  It was at this time the countries stunning landscape and natural resources were explored for the first time, leading to new mythology and cultural practices developed throughout the land.  According to Maori legend the land of Aotearoa was fished from the sea by the demigod Maui who was the son of supernatural parents.

Every year there are approximately 2.5 million visitors to New Zealand, made up from an extremely variant demographic; gap year students as part of their round the world trip, keen hikers who have come specifically for the great walks, young professionals seeking to start a new life in a new country.  The modern day explorers of Aotearoa, each cutting their own path through the country.  'On the Way - A journey through Aotearoa)' gives a glimpse into the daily life of the modern day explorers of Aotearoa, specifically the backpackers who are comparable to an acutely niche nomadic tribe.  They have left behind their home comforts for a life on the road, not staying in one town or place for an extended period.  This lifestyle brings with it it's own challenges, restraints and rewards.

"Travelling is a brutality, it forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.  You are constantly off balance.  Nothing is yours except the essential things" - Cesare Pavese.  Once the familiaity of friends, family, and home comforts have been left behind the backpacker is left in a vulnerable position and is forced to focus on the daily essentials of food clothing and shelter.  The communal living arrangements in the hostels make privacy and personal space something to be cherished, especially when having to share bathrooms and dorm rooms.

However the nomadic backpacker lifestyle also brings with it an almost euphoric sense of freedom and exhilaleration from stepping into the unknown.  New places are experienced, their cultural heritage observed, explored and absorbed.  People, initially strangers, soon turn into friends, only to then go their separate ways.   Sharing tales from the road whilst  around a communal dining room table, or just talking to a fellow passenger on the Intercity bus, folklore for the future.  Intimate Strangers.