Category Archives: New Zealand

Check here for early blogs about my travels in New Zealand during 2012!

Lost for words

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Not long after I left behind a brilliant holiday in England, life started happening fast…

It was a bit like running down the street while blind folded during an earthquake — though I  was grateful there were directions to move in even if I was about to hit something somewhat unforgiving at full speed.

What am I on about, you ask? Well, I returned to Australia in February 2015 with a weighty decision to make – where to next?

I faced the three classic options:

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Do something, haphazardly.
  3. Conquer the world.

In reality, these options looked more like this:

  1. Continue studying in Oz and keep soaking up the sun.
  2. Get certified to teach English and move to Asia.
  3. Find a better quality of life in New Zealand — find a home.

On May 24, 2015, I landed in Auckland.

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Auckland skyline

The outcome: a topsy turvy mindset and many unsteady steps into the unknown.

Traveling: Reflections from the Road

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Life on the road happens fast. One day you’re at McDonalds happily hogging their free Wifi and chomping chicken nuggets ….

OK, I can't afford all of the nuggets! (Image: WanderingEarthLost ©)

Image: WanderingEarthLost

And the next day you’re in the bush being terrorized by little blood-sucking fiends (bugs, mostly), wishing your mobile phone had just one more bar of signal to allow a connection to Facebook.

While traveling, a good chunk of each day is spent finding a place to sleep (and maybe a shower), assessing the cleanliness of underwear, figuring out how much vital stuff got left behind at the place you stayed last night, and divining feasts from random food stuffs. Picture this: toast, baked beans, wilting broccoli and half a chocolate bar. Yum! (Don’t get me wrong, I do love wandering the world despite the lack of creature comforts and hollowed out writing time!)

While I have settled in one place for months at a time during my travels, something distinct I have noticed about my lifestyle is the development of a spectacularly distorted sense of time much like a Dali painting:

That's what All the clocks look like!!!

What happened to all the clocks!  (Photo courtesy Google)

Days feel likes weeks, weeks like months, and months like years. And 2  years abroad still feels like a 10-day holiday that is about to end soon.

Truthfully, so much can happen quite quickly while travelling, and, in effect, a week can hold more upsets and triumphs than some people experience during a normal year of life.

The silver lining: the steaming pile of shit life has offered up today will likely be wiped away by a positively amazing experience tomorrow:

Tongariro Alpine Crossing -- a moment/place I visited in my lifetime that is truly unforgettable.

Tongariro Alpine National Park, NZ — Just an example of one of the truly unforgettable places I have visited so far in my lifetime.

The trouble is: while there is always comfort in knowing the struggles of yesterday will pass, the thrills of today can slip away just as innocuously ….

Yet still, as a traveller I keep moving forward in hopes of living the dream that guides my little heart.

Mt. Cook and the Southern Alps

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As I head to Mt. Cook, the weather turns overcast and rainy ….

This gorgeous aquamarine lake with a faint rainbow (to the right) is the last thing we see before heading into the mist:

Water should always be this color!

I am disappointed about the gloomy weather as I am only staying in the mountains overnight before making my way to earthquake-shaken Christchurch. The visibility proves so poor one would not even know Mt. Cook and rest of the Southern Alps are concealed, quietly waiting to be unveiled once again. I am given little hope that the weather will clear. (Check out the Maori creation story for the Southern Alps.)

However, I awoke this morning to a fantastic surprise:

Well, hello Mt. Cook!

The Southern Alps

Just a quick close-up.

I am so grateful to see this amazing scenery just before leaving leaving New Zealand! I have experienced everything I had hoped to throughout this leg of my journey and heaps more.

***

As I head into Christchurch, I have no idea what to expect. I have seen pictures of the earthquake damage and heard stories about the impacts. There are even reports that the area experiences small tremors on a daily basis.

Due to this information, I have chosen to avoid exploring the city. Instead, I will be boarding a plane bound for Cairns, AU, tomorrow, and I am filled with a strange mix of excitement and sadness ….

Mitre Peak: Cashews Don’t Do It Justice

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The Deep South is much cooler than the rest of New Zealand, and I’ve started dreaming of the much warmer tropical climate of my intended working-holiday destination in Australia: Cairns.

None-the-less, I embark on a boat cruise to explore Milford Sound and see Mitre Peak — set in glacial hanging valleys and reported by some to be the “eighth wonder of the world.” I had not heard of the place before landing on New Zealand’s Southern Island, but I have built a model out of tasty honey-roasted cashews for a theoretical (yet ugly) representation what I expect to see.

Mitre Peak of Cashews: Ninth Wonder of the World?

Yes, the actual Mitre Peak should be taller ….

Unfortunately, the early morning lighting doesn’t prove ideal for taking photographs within Milford Sound; I do get a neat snapshot of the boat sitting almost underneath a waterfall!

Hey, I’m getting misted here!

And of course, the famous Mitre Peak is easy to spot!

Mitre Peak

I am pushing on onward to Mount Cook, a hunk of rock with a reputation that definitely precedes it! And really that’s it — just a few more quick stops and I will be catching a plane to Oz (Australia) from Christchurch.

Queenstown: A Majestic Blur

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Another stunning vista!

Queenstown is located on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the breathtaking Majestic Mountains; it is by far my favorite place in New Zealand!

With Lake Wakatipu and the mountains at my fingertips, I had the opportunity to kayak, take a boat cruse, ride a gondola into the mountains, go parasailing and go mountainboarding. I hear there is also plenty of fun to be had in winter when the snowfields attract skiers and snowboarders. And in spring, the lupines bloom, transforming the mountains.

Looking a bit closer.

Unlike some other places in the world, Queenstown doesn’t come with an informative tagline such as “the city that never sleeps” or “what happens here stays here.” While it is a resort town, there are more bars and restaurants than one can possibly hope to explore in the course of a week (even with the aid of a pub crawl or two)! In fact, stumbling back to the hotel like a zombie at 4 or 5 a.m. is really just a sign that one merely made the most of an evening and likely stopped to have a delectable FergBurger to avoid alcohol poisoning. (The second best burger I’ve had in my life with the Fat Tui in Abel Tasman taking first place!)

The downside of the 24/7 partying is the sudden detox accompanied by checking the old bank account balance — I haven’t even mentioned the diverse shops that offer almost everything one can need or want.

All kidding aside, it is the natural features and activities beyond the pub that push Queenstown into the top five on my list of traveling destinations …..

Flying!

Next stop: The Deep South. This statement would normally incite fear if I were still in the United States, but I am confident that New Zealand will have even more amazing sights to offer!

Just Passing Through: Lake Wanaka

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My new screensaver.

Lake Wanaka is nothing short of picturesque.

With a surprisingly robust number of shops and restaurants, Wanaka is a great place to spend some time. Even when it snows, the area offers great fun in the mountains for those who enjoy winter sports.

As amazing as this place is, I am pushing onward to Queenstown.