Words and photography by Jacob Hopkins
The 7th of August, 2017, was undoubtedly the hardest day of my life. After years of chemotherapy, radiation and multiple surgeries, I unfortunately lost my mum to cancer. This hit me hard and unfortunately led to some pretty bad depression that I managed to hide from 90% of the people who were close to me.
I had fallen into a routine that consisted of work and sleep, I was having next to no social interaction with people I had been friends with for years. Living like this was only making it worse and I could see that unless I changed something it wasn’t going to get any better.
Over those first few months I had been searching to find something that I truly enjoyed and had a passion for to help take my mind off things. I decided to pick up my old camera and start taking photos of the local area. It didn’t take long to realize that this was what I had been looking for.
A couple of months later I made the decision to put more time into my photography and see if I could actually do something with it. I quit my job, sold my car and headed somewhere new to see what I could come up with.
New Zealand was the most logical decision at the time due to my financial position. I booked a flight with a few days notice and took a risk that has ultimately led me to where I am now. I had always heard stories about how diverse the scenery in New Zealand was and as the flight loomed closer I began to feel a real sense of excitement.
I flew from Sydney to Christchurch and spent my first week in search of a van to call home for the foreseeable future. Out of pure luck I met a lovely German women who was finishing up a 3 month road trip and purchased her van. Soon after I took off with the intention of making my way to Wanaka.
I knew within the first hour in my new home that I had made the right decision. The ever changing landscape was blowing my mind. I hiked mountains that I would have previously considered out of reach, met people who have ultimately made me who I am today and experienced things I would have never thought I’d have the chance too.
Since travelling New Zealand my passion for photography has continued to grow and seen me live and travel throughout the majority of South East Asia, Japan, Central America and currently South America. I’ve had the chance to freelance as well as work with companies such as Jetstar Airways and Leo Customs Motorcycles.
Losing someone will always be one of the hardest things to deal with and I would never wish it upon anyone. However it has opened my eyes to how short life is and that you should take every moment in your stride. I currently have no intention of returning home in the near future and will ultimately continue to travel until I’ve seen and experienced everything I possibly can.
How do you know where you want to live if you haven’t been everywhere?