I had the pleasure of meeting Matt in Queenstown back when I was backpacking New Zealand. Matt is the brains behind Backpacking Matt a man on an ongoing five year adventure. If youâ€™re looking for any advice on kiwi land then Matt is where I would point you. Get in touch with Matt on twitter.
Tell us where you’re from and what would you recommend we do there?
I’m from a small state in the middle of the USA â€“ Iowa. It’s a fantastically beautiful place that I would venture to guess not many people reading this blog have ever traveled to â€“ nor will they. It’s a state that is strangely beautiful in its own right â€“ heavily agricultural with over 95% of the land being farmed. Iowans are simple, friendly people that would invite you in for dinner and offer you a place to stay â€“ despite having no idea why on earth you’d have left your own home with only a backpack.
So, what to do? I’d recommend you fly into Des Moines, hire a car and get lost on backcountry Iowa roads. Take in the grandeur of our miles and miles of rolling hills and the golden corn as far as the eye can see, sample Iowa-made wine, Iowa brewed beer and get to know the locals that call this little corner of the world home.
What one thing have you seen on your travels that’s blown your mind?
I recently finished a three week trip in South America â€“ Argentina and Chile. Whilst in Patagonia, I did a tour of the Perito Moreno Glacier. Hands down, this was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve seen glaciers here in my current home of New Zealand, and they pale in comparison.
This mammoth piece of ice is 3 miles wide by 19 miles long and over 250 feet high off Lago Argentina. It’s vividly blue and quite simply takes your breath away. It is constantly caving and when chunks of ice fall off a thunderous roar can be heard for miles.
What’s the most memorable Hostel you’ve stayed in?
I spent four weeks living in Istanbul in 2009 at a hostel called the Anzac Wooden House. As a hostel, it wouldn’t have won any awards for anything specific, yet like most things in traveling the experiences I had there over four weeks were just brilliant. This is what made it.
There was a good group of backpackers staying long term, and we would spend our days exploring Istanbul and our nights watching the sunset from the hostel, drinking raki, having Turkish styled barbeques and playing the national game â€“ tavla (backgammon).
Scuba or Sky Diving?
Sky diving. I’ve bungy jumped here in New Zealand and am yearning to throw myself out of a perfectly good plane. I’m not sure why I haven’t jumped yet â€“ a combination of fear and budgeting I suppose.
What camera do you take travelling with you and why?
For the longest time I was convinced the only camera I needed was my iPhone. In hindsight, I hugely regret this decision. As a traveller â€“ and specifically one who writes a travel blog â€“ I think its crucial you have a camera that can adequately document your journey.
About four months ago I tired of living in the most beautiful place in the world â€“ Queenstown, New Zealand â€“ and not being able to really capture the impressive landscapes right outside my back door. I bought a Olympus PEN E-P2 and it was the best travel related decision I’ve made in a long time.
In camera speak, it’s a micro four thirds, mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and I use a 17mm lens. In non-camera speak, it takes kick ass photos.
Have you had any brushes with border patrol/police/security/government officials?
OHH, yes. When I first began traveling, I was on a 6 month working holiday in the UK. During that time, I fell in love with Edinburgh and fell into a serious relationship with a Scottish chick. After six months, I wasn’t yet ready to leave Edinburgh’s terrible weather but brilliant pubs and opted to do the right thing and not overstay my visa. I left for a city-break to Prague with my ex and returned a day after my visa expired planning on ‘hanging out’ and ‘exploring Scotland’ for another couple months on a tourist visa â€“ also known as, work illegally for cash in hand.
I’m a terrible liar, and once I got to border control the agent could apparently see right through me. I was held up for a good 30 minutes â€“ the most terrifying 30 minutes of my life as they could have very easily turned me away and put me on the next flight to the USA. Somehow, I convinced them I didn’t have ill intentions and they let me in.
Ever since, I panic going through immigration â€“ even when I know I’m doing absolutely nothing wrong.
What’s next? Any big projects in the works?
Yes, I’m finally on the way to developing a website that I’ve had in my head for years. I’ve spent the last three years living in and traveling New Zealand â€“ I’m very much in love with the country and have been keen to offer other travellers a chance to learn more about this place I call home.
GoBackpackingNewZealand.com will become a one-stop resource for these travellers prior to coming to NZ and after they arrive. Static regional content and advice is complimented by an ongoing travel blog from travellers around New Zealand and a user-based system called PlanIt NZ – this gives users the ability to find ride-shares, travel mates, jobs, things for sale, and a forum to share advice. It’s going to be â€“ as they say here â€“ sweet as.
Prior to launch, we’re running a sweepstakes that will see the winner walk away with a pretty sweet New Zealand Road Trip prize package. We’re giving away:
â€¢ 7 day JUCY campervan rental
â€¢ One night in JUCY Hotel Auckland
â€¢ JUCY Cruize Milford for two
â€¢ 12,000 skydive from Skydive Lake Wanaka
â€¢ Round trip tickets for two thanks to grabaseat
Check us out now on Facebook.com/GoBackpackingNZ and give us a like and enter the competition to Win an New Zealand Road Trip.