My New Zealand Experience | Giulia Gartner

My name is Giulia, I am a travel and lifestyle photographer based in the Dolomites in northern Italy. For the last six months I have been living on the road of New Zealand and now I want to share my experience and some photos of the trip. 


Not everyone feels comfortable traveling alone and I knew that it would take a lot of courage, but after 19 years of living in the same village, I was ready to leave and go on an adventure, all by myself.

The decision of going to New Zealand is linked to my passion for photography. When I started out with posting my photos on Instagram, I connected with people from all over the world and learned about places I didn’t even know existed! I met a few people talking about that after their graduation, they went on a “work and travel” holiday to New Zealand. Travelling after graduating sounded like a good plan and going to explore and see incredible beautiful landscapes sounded even better.

My idea was to buy a van and live in it while capturing every beautiful corner of New Zealand. I booked a one-way ticket and the next thing I know was buying a 20-year-old van in Auckland. 


The first week in the van was hard, I was scared and felt very insecure. What if I find no friends or what if, for whatever reason, my dreams fail? 

With the weeks passing, my anxiety started to settle. Photography and Instagram helped me to connected with many kiwi photographers, a lot of awesome people supported me and let me stay at their house, offered me food and a shower.

The best thing about the van life was that I was free, I could travel at my own pace and play by my own rules. Living in such a tiny space leaves only room for the necessary and it really made me realise that you don’t need a lot to be happy.

When you are traveling alone you have to be comfortable with change and you have to face  challenges. 

Your companion is yourself, so it's to you who has to shut those negative voices in your head and take decisions for yourself.

Many people think that traveling alone is super scary and unsafe, but with the right mindset and intuition you’ll be far away from any potential danger. New Zealand is generally a very safe place to travel. It’s not riddled with disease and doesn’t have any animals that can kill you. 

If I had to pick a favourite photo, it has to be the one I took the first morning when I walked into the Hooker Valley and New Zealand's highest mountain, Mount Cook, appeared right in front of me.


The things that I was most worried about first, ended up being one of the greatest benefits and lessons of this adventure: when you have a dream or a vision, you just have to go for it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it, no matter how silly or ridiculous your dream might appear to others, following your passion is the only thing that will bring you happiness.

For everyone who wants to travel and follow their dreams, there is never going to be a right time to leave your responsibilities at home and go on an adventure. I think all you can do is to find the courage and to just go. The memories of the adventures and experiences will last a lifetime. 

Thank you, New Zealand for being so good to me!

A big Thank You to my friends at @Canon_Photos for letting me share my story!

Find my work on Instagram @giuligartner or on my website