On my way from Auckland to Wellington in May 2015, I took the KiwiRail Scenic Journey’s Northern ExplorerÂ train south across New Zealand’s north island. I got the idea from my grandfather, indirectly, because of his love of trains. He once explained to me that growing up, the train was the biggest event to happen to his small town in the Appalachian mountains each week – it was noisy, powerful, busy, and brought in all the interesting goods from the rest of civilization.
For my part, I used to take the train home from college in Minnesota because I didn’t have a car. I also had a couple great train journeys with the Boy Scouts for high adventure trips. I like the train better then airplanes because you can get up and walk around and talk to people. I was riding the train in Australia once, and an old man was telling me about his son who died in a war, and he started crying, indicating he had never expressed that to anyone else before.
Even though I like talking to people, I’m not a complete extrovert, and on this trip, I wanted to challenge myself. I quickly downloaded an audio recording app on my phone (normally I use a quality recording mic attached to my laptop) and made it my goal to talk to as many people as possible during the 12 hour journey to Wellington. I think I ended up having lengthy conversations with 18 people. This episode has stories and conversations with eight of those people. I ask people about why they like the train, what adventure means to them, and their thoughts about travel and exploration, along with picking up some helpful advice. Enjoy!
“A lot of people are riding the train to check it off their bucket list” – Bruce Morgan
“I like talking to travelers to find out why they have traveled and where ” – Bruce Morgan
“We enjoy the open road and getting off the main highways in New Zealand” – Derek and Jane
“I have an entire shelf on my bookshelf devoted to atlases” – Derek and Jane
“Adventure is doing something you never do in your everyday life, that you might think of as outrageous or stupid” – Calvin Joubert
“The train is very smooth and calming” – Calvin Joubert
“You have to think carefully about how you will change the world – but we do need more forests” Calvin Joubert
“The best advice I ever got was ‘hardern up’ – from my dad” -Grace Morris
What you will learn:
-How NZ saved their train service (Derek and Jane)
-How to connect with people from different countries (Bruce Morgan)
-How to find country pubs to stay in (Nancy McCarthy)
-What is a ‘batch’ vacation home in New Zealand (Derek and Jane)
-The difference between high school in the US and college in New Zealand (Calvin, Grace, and Jacob)
-How to explore New Zealand (everyone)
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