September 20, 2011

North Island

I'm Sitting somewhere between the History of New Zealand and Shakespeare in the Featherston Library about an hour outside of Wellington at the moment. The sun is trying to poke its head out from behind the clouds, but until then Luke and I are catching up on the goings on in the world and long overdue emails (and blog posts). We caught the ferry yesterday morning leaving behind the South Island for good now. It was a pleasant 3 and a half hour trip across the Cook Strait. I don't know if sea/car/motion sickness is hereditary, but if it is then I am really unhappy with my parents. Luckily we had a window seat so when the famously rough strait got a bit too rough with the giant ocean liner we were on, pushing it from side to side, I could look out the window for a bit of inner ear steadying.

We were into Wellington by about 12oclock and headed straight up north to find our camp site for the next five days. Like I said, its about an hour outside of Wellington. We are using the first two days (yesterday and today) just to sort out our transport into Wellington for Wed-Fri and to let the rain pass. Tomorrow the real exploring begins. We are excited to get back into a city and see some sights and are taking advice from the locals on all the good spots. Then of course Friday is our first World Cup match, Australia Vs USA!

Check out the photos I posted on Facebook Here.

September 18, 2011

The (Mis)Adventures of Camping

What an experience it has been so far! The last few nights have certainly been entertaining! I’ll try and take you day by day so as not to leave any of the good stuff out.

Our first night was spent at Aussie Bay (after we got a new camera of course) where we arrived, paid our $12.20 for the night, and set up our “bedroom” at the back of the car. It was a pretty nice evening, so we took out our fold up chairs and sat watching the water for a while. As it started to get dark we decided it was a good time to start cooking (first rookie mistake of the night), so we starting preparing our food. We used our cooker for the first time and I made some rice while Luke cut up the chicken. Then we did a few bad things: 1. We moved the cooker with the canister inside of it; 2. We used a pan that was bigger than the cooker; and 3. We placed the cooker on gravel (all later to be found out were no-nos). Well this caused a bit of a problem because the flame got out of control and luckily we were able to put it out with some water, but not before it melted the knobs on the cooker. So we had some rice with flavoured tuna for dinner. Then we slept in the car for the first time and realized it was cold . We had thought it would be a good idea to unzip our sleeping bags and use them as blankets (rookie mistake number 87). After terrible night’s sleep we were rewarded the next morning when we woke up to about 8 playful dolphins putting on a show for us. All of the problems from the night before were forgotten.

We had a lot to do when we woke up. We had to put our bedroom away and turn it back into a car. Then we had to use our camping kettle which heats water using the cigarette lighter and drive to the next bay to sit and watch boats while having a cup of coffee and some breakfast. Then we took the world’s longest and windiest route between two places (but very scenic) from Picton to Blenheim. There were so many turns we actually had to pull over the car because I thought I might lose my breakfast (and also we spilled some milk). Then our real task of the day started, we had to get a new tire for the car and get it a Warrant of Fitness. Luckily with its new tire it passed the test no problem and we were on our way! (after a celebratory beer at the Renaissance Brewery). We left Blenheim and headed back halfway down the world’s windiest road to get to our free campsite, Robin Hood Bay. Luckily it was a nice quiet evening with no forest fires and we headed to bed for a much better night’s sleep than the last.

The next day was boring and I don’t have much to say about it because we spent most of it in the car waiting for the clouds to clear, but that’s ok because we are sort of just biding our time until we leave for the North Island. Once the clouds cleared around 3 o’clock we headed outside to the beach to walk and play Frisbee until the wind came whipping through at about 5. We decided it was time to try the cooker again after spending some time the day before looking with no luck for another one (because obviously it’s the cooker that has something wrong with it not the users). Anyway, so we read the instructions and realized how much we had been doing wrong and so we tried again (with water at the ready) and successfully made some more rice! Yay! So now we can have hot meals.

Friday was a much better day. We got up and turned the bedroom back into a car and headed down the road to do a hike in a place called White’s Bay. From the bay there are incredible views of the sea so we were excited to get up higher and see some more views. It said on the sign that it was a 5 hour hike so we prepared ourselves for the day. We got to the turning point expecting a view only to find ourselves in the middle of the woods. Luckily as we wound our way down we got some incredible panoramic views of the surrounding bays. We made it back in 3 hours too! We were more adventurous on the cooker that night as well. We made spaghetti with a really spicy tomato sauce! It definitely kept us warm for most of the night!

Today was our last morning at Robin Hood Bay. We said goodbye to the sea and headed back to Blenheim with a stop for coffee and a view on the way. We got some more essentials in Blenheim and now we are in Picton doing laundry, checking emails and getting ready for some world cup matches at the pub! Not a bad life!

sorry for no photos again, but it doesn't seem to be working. I will do my best to get some up soon!!

September 13, 2011

And we're back

Sorry about the hiatus! We have been out in the Marlborough Sounds all week – no internet, no cell phone service, no cars and tv only for the World Cup! It was bliss. The location is similar to the first place we wwoofed, but further out into the sounds. It is called the Lazy Fish Retreat. I would show you the photos of the beautiful views we had from the couch, the bright colored flowers all over the property, us fishing off of the jetty, kayaking in the bay and hiking around the sounds...but I dropped my camera when I got off the boat on our LAST DAY HERE. Soooo, obviously I don’t have any of those photos. Bummer.

Ok, now that I’ve had that pity party, it really was an incredible last week of wwoofing. The work was light, if you could even call it work. We spent about 2-4 hours a day doing painting, light weeding and cleaning then spent the rest of the day eating home baking, relaxing in the spa pool, and watching the Rugby World Cup – USA scored a try against Ireland woohoo! World Cup finals here we come! Ok, definitely probably not. Watching the games has got us so excited for the North Island and seeing some of the matches live and even just being around all the buzz is going to be an incredible experience.

Until then we are spending out first week camping in our car! Have I mentioned that yet? Oh yea, we’re camping in our car for the remainder of our time in New Zealand bar a few nights when we will be in Auckland. We got an air bed, a camping stove, an electric kettle, pots and pans, forks, knives, spoons, cups plates, sleeping bags and camping chairs. All we need now are coozies. We even got curtains for the car! They fell down on the first try, but they are now securely fastened in with safety pins. I will do my best to post when I can, probably once a week. I will be sure to buy a new camera in the next day or so because I can’t live in a car and not document it (for proof it actually happened mostly). Stay tuned!

September 05, 2011

365 Days and Counting

I cannot believe it has been a year now since Luke and I arrived in New Zealand! And what a year its been! In the last 365 days I have done more than I ever imaged I could have done in a lifetime! Some of things I have enjoyed this year have included:

  • Jumping out of a plane
  • Walking on a Glacier
  • Flying over Queenstown on a hang-glider
  • Experiencing more earthquakes than I ever really needed
  • Hiking through 5 National Parks
  • Seeing dolphins, whales, penguins and seals in their natural habitat
  • Touring breweries, wineries and drinking in just a few pubs
I could carry on listing things for days. We have explored so many cities, seen so many angles of the oceans that surround New Zealand, and hiked up some of the steepest hills just to catch a glimpse of these views. I feel so lucky to have experienced all of these things and may it long continue!

We've had a nice celebratory weekend not only to commemorate our year in New Zealand, but also to say goodbye to the Nelson/Mapua area that we are leaving tomorrow. On Thursday, Luke coached his team for the last time and to thank him they gave him a gift certificate to a local restaurant, Wharfside. We decided to split it up and use it for two meals, a lovely Eggs Benedict breakfast one day and a full on lunch then next. To top off our last day here, the Price's took us to Woollaston Winery for a wine tasting and some lunch.

It's always a little bit sad (at least for me) to leave somewhere that you have spent an extended period of time. For almost four months we have called Mapua home, so to be leaving now, though it is exciting to be moving onto new adventures, is a little bit sad. The things we will miss most about this area are the incredibly kind people and the incredibly beautiful weather!

The yummy Wharfside Restaurant

Luke after filling up on his Eggs Benedict

The local and yummy ice cream shop on the Wharf

Our amazing view from the chalets that we will really miss!

Bye Bye Mapua!

September 03, 2011

Photo of the Week

This week's photo is of Luke with his team that he has coached for the last three months. They had their last game today and finished off the season with a 1-0 win! It ended at a perfect time as we prepare to leave Mapua on Tuesday.