Voyager: Dispatch 5 of a Worldwide Odyssey: Globetrotting the Southern Hemisphere – Entertainment


By Eric Leiberman and Sarah Falter, Travel Features Syndicate,

Eric and Sarah are on a 6 month sabbatical around the world, joining a huge movement of young people choosing to live the nomadic life (at least for a while) and travel or work remotely, immersing themselves in local life and Culture. They classify these dispatches periodically. They previously recounted their adventures in Mexico, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia, and Indonesia. Here is their Southern Hemisphere Dispatch #5: Australia, New Zealand, Chile.

We took an overnight flight from Bali → Melbourne (actually we flew separately although our flights were a few minutes apart – cheaper!). The cost of food in Australia took us straight back to San Francisco at >$20/meal.
In the colder climate of Melbourne, Sarah expanded her little wardrobe when she first realized she wasn’t just fitting into Eric’s tops, but his pants too! A whole new world. Feeling fresh in Eric’s khakis, we spent our few days there wandering hipster neighborhoods, catching an AFL game, exploring a winter food festival (including fake snow) and laughing our asses off during a comedy show (we definitely missed a few local references, but Sarah squealed when they mentioned anything Bravo-related). We think it was a very good time.

NEW ZEALAND Lake Hawea, Wanaka
We arrived in New Zealand just in time for the winter break, which meant our chance trip planning had met its match. When we started our search for accommodation just three days before arriving, we knew we had made a mistake – everything was booked. A shout out to our friends and we were connected with Jack & Cass – our saviors! Jack and Cass showed us their beautiful town of Lake Hawea on the South Island, where we hiked, marveled at the views of the gigantic lake, drank flat whites in the morning and craft beers in the evening, and became real locals watching the All Blacks (rugby) in a local pub.

At the Mount Iron Track we had a great view of the mountains, lakes and ski slopes of the South Island 🙂 Did you know that the only land mammal native to New Zealand is the bat? Everything else came with humans… wild. And still to this day, there are no big scary predators or poisonous snakes in all of New Zealand…heaven. And did we mention that public restrooms everywhere are nice and spotless!? Again, big shout out to Jack & Cass for showing us their home and having such a great time. This was a highlight of our entire trip!

Cardrona, Remarkable
Skiing in summer (or rather, our summer, their winter)! To complete our stay on the South Island, we hit the slopes of the Cardrona ski area with lots of borrowed gear and a few thrift store finds that Eric couldn’t resist ($8 for a helmet, goggles and gloves ?!). It was basically a blank all day on slick ice, but Sarah only fell once, moaned twice, and we were so thrilled to get the chance to ski on this sabbatical. When the opportunity arose to ski Remarkables again a few days later (about an hour south near Queenstown), Eric jumped at the chance and lucked out with a Bluebird day. Sarah overheard and jumped into a local jewelry making class. [FYI: The Remarkables is part of Ikon Pass.]

We flew from Queenstown → Auckland, but took time to explore this charming, glittering lakeside town. Our Airbnb gave us ghost vibes, so we hopped around town as much as the freezing temperatures allowed. Notably, we named delicious (and huge) fish n’ chips and drizzled it with fried kiwi for dessert (!!).

Van Life – Coromandel Peninsula
We traveled to North Island to begin our week-long van life extravaganza. We hit the road after filling up on pb&j, chips and craft beer. First stop: the Coromandel Peninsula. We were treated to fluorescent greenery, the salty ocean and a cool fog (but fortunately little rain despite the forecast!). Plus, no road trip is complete without Taco Bell, and Eric wants everyone to know that TB in New Zealand is unparalleled – perfectly crispy tortilla, succulent pulled pork and weighed approx. 1KG. Watch out, San Francisco burritos.

Van Life – Rotorua, Taupo
We continued south in the van, finding that New Zealand was bubbling with thermal activity, especially in Rotorua and Taupo. Geothermal steam seeps from ponds in local parks and Eric has veered off the road for every opportunity to jump into a hot spring bath – his favorite being the Hot N’ Cold River where two rivers converge (one very hot, one freezing, like the name suggests). It was his dream come true – a natural version of a hot tub and a cold plunge! Our campsite in this area was chosen for us when our van got completely stuck in the mud. Luckily a lovely Kiwi helped us get MacGyver out in the morning. Sarah also tried mountain biking here for the first time and basically screamed the whole way.

CHILE Santiago, Valparaiso
The direct flight Auckland → Santiago, being vaguely in the direction of our home (California), finally led to the decision to conclude our adventure in South America. We landed in Santiago and immediately had to prepare our stomachs for the cream sauce and mayo topped with everything (Eric was ready). Sarah’s dad, Joel, joined us for the Chilean leg, and we spent the first two days in the parks, drinking pisco sours and consuming “completos” (local version of a hot dog). Eric also spent an extra day on the slopes in Valle Nevado (you know, because he needed to maximize the return on the ski gear he bought in NZ). [FYI: Valle Nevado also part of the Ikon Pass.] Then we picked up a rental car and drove west to Valparaiso, a graffiti-filled port city. We wanted to love Valparaiso, but lots of crime warnings plus stray dogs and their doodoos every inch of the street left us a wee bit meh. Joel did find a really cool hat at the market though.

Casablanca, Maipo
We continued with a stop in Casablanca (wine country) where we sipped delicious (and inexpensive) vino, ate pizza, and slept in a little house overlooking the vineyards. We loved the much cooler, less elite vibes of the wineries we visited (compared to Northern California). And to complete the road trip, we visited the mountains of San Jose de Maipo. We stocked up on food and took the hosts’ 4×4 van up the steep, rocky road to our Airbnb. The cute cabin had a furnace, so Eric and Joel were able to practice the manly skill of fire building 24/7, and we all slept in four layers of clothes. We spent the days cooking and taking many walks with mountain views (the neighbour’s friendly dog ​​accompanied us everywhere we went).

Atacama Desert
Last stop in Chile: The Atacama Desert, the driest and one of the highest deserts in the world. Lots to see in this vast, arid land, which often felt like another planet – salt flats, sand dunes, lagoons with flamingos (did you know that flamingos are born white and their diet consists exclusively of sea ​​monkeys makes them pink!?), multicolored canyons and geothermal springs. At one point we were locked out of our car in the middle of the desert, but luckily we are little humans and were able to climb through the trunk back to mobile safety. Once the panic passed, we were treated to a herd of llamas walking alongside our car for 30 minutes. This desert oasis has an added bonus – a small boho-chic Death-Valley-meet-Albuquerque town called San Pedro de Atacama. Lots of awesome souvenir shops and live music to check out.

We are now off to Peru and Ecuador for trekking and wildlife viewing, the grand finale of our six-month odyssey.

Photo: Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand © Sarah Falter/

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