South Island Road Trip

Catlins National Park

June 12, 2016

📍  Nugget Point, Caitlins National Park, New Zealand

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Farewell Spit & Picton

January 26, 2016

Alright! It’s my last night in Napier and therefore I am going to write my fifth and last post about my time in the South Island of New Zealand. This part of the trip we went to the longest natural sandbar in the world called the “Farewell Spit!” It is located on the top left hand side of the South Island. Most of the sandbar is inaccessible but it was still cool to visit.

Upon arriving, we found a random access point to the beach. We started walking and walking and walking… We weren’t too sure where we were going and to be honest, we really didn’t care. We arrived at sunset, which is my favorite time to take photos. As we walked along the deserted beach, we arrived to this sign pointing inland to another access beach. We had already left our shoes in the sand ways back so we went along this trail barefoot. Once again, we kept walking and walking, this time on some uncomfortable rocks. It wasn’t the easiest path to walk on but in the end it paid off! We arrived to a different beach with massive sand dunes all throughout. The sun was setting and it was a stunning atmosphere to pass time in. As the sun began to set we decided to hike back across the rocky way to find our sandals before settling down in Collingwood that evening. The woman at the hostel was, once again, extremely friendly and spent nearly a half hour checking us in as she was getting to know us.

Brittany and I had to leave Emma and Marsha the next day in time for Brittany’s flight home for Christmas. It was at the end of November and we caught the ferry up to Wellington in the North Island after six months in the South. We said our goodbyes and went back the same route as before. Along this route is a famous bar called the “Mussel Inn.” It was recommended to us as ‘the best pub in New Zealand” so we stopped by the day before along the way. The craft beer was dank and the mussel chowder was on point. Anyways, we continued onward until we reached Picton where we caught the ferry to the North Island. The ferry was full that day so we got a campsite that night and caught the ferry the next morning to Wellington!

Wellington ended up living up to its expectations. I have tons of photos to post about it next time but not too sure when that will be as we’re back on the road tomorrow living in our tent! Next time we “settle down” and have WiFi I can begin the North Island… I guess this is the end of the South Island! Thanks for reading along. 🙂

 

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Farewell Spit Sunset

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Farewell Spit Sunset

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Farewell Spit Sunset

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Farewell Spit Sunset

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Farewell Spit Sunset

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The sign where we went inland to the rocky path to the next beach.

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The unexpected long path.

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Onward we go!

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Then… THIS!

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Nice little walk on the sand dunes.

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Selfie with Emma!

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Oh hello up der!

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This beach was beautiful up in the Farewell Spit!

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The walk back to the car – Took some time!

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These trees made a nice little walk back to the car.

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Finally, we reached Picton! This is the Interislander Ferry which we took the next day form the South Island to Wellington in the North!

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I found Picton surprisingly beautiful! Definitely, not just a port town!

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We ate fish and chips here while simultaneously fending off sandflies!

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Picton.

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Our last sunset in the South Island.

 

Able Tasman National Park

January 25, 2016

Alrighty –I still have some of my favorite places coming up! Before leaving Nelson, we did a brewery tour around Nelson up through Golden Bay. It would have been rude not to after doing the winery tour the day prior. After Nelson we continued onward through Golden Bay towards Able Tasman National Park along top of the South Island. At this point last November, Brittany and I had only been on the road for about two weeks. We still slept only on our sleeping bags as cushion from the ground. After a month or so, I realized a blow up mattress was only about $16.00 so I grabbed one. Best decision ever. Luckily Warehouse, the Kiwi Walmart equivalent, will take anything back. Whenever it pops I take it back and swap it for a new one. We’ve done this for our tent too!

Leaving Nelson, we continued onward through Golden Bay going in and out of the tiny towns along the coast. There were lots of tie died everything as it tends to be the “hippie” area of New Zealand. You can tell, it’s definitely relaxed and care-free. We finally reached the famous Able Tasman National Park. This is one of New Zealand’s famous National Parks consisting of one of the “Great Walks.” It is a multi day hike throughout the national park. Unfortunately, Brittany had a flight out of Wellington a few days later so we were unable to do the hike. Emma and Marsha did however a few days later after we left. We made the best of our time and did some day hikes of instead.

Able Tasman National Park is lined with colorful sandy beaches and impressively blue water. We camped in the center of the park next to this gigantic hole in the ground where people can go cave dwelling. The night we arrived it was dark so we camped nearby and did the hike to the massive abyss come morning. On a side note, that morning consisted of those huge, massive bumble bees pestering us as we cooked breakfast. I told the girls that they were harmless and don’t tend to sting. Moments after the words came out of my mouth the bastard came up and stung me on my stomach for no reason! I didn’t see that one coming.

The big hole in the ground, was well, a big hole in the ground. You couldn’t really look too far over the ledge but we managed to get a couple peeks in before my fear of heights kicked in! Later that day we drove to some beaches. You can see that by the hoodie I am wearing it wasn’t quite yet warm enough to properly enjoy the beach. It was still nice though. This was in November and still technically Spring!

The park itself has most of its best points only accessible by the overnight hikes. There is a lot we didn’t get to see this time. I definitely would consider going back through when I eventually make my way back to Queenstown!

After this was the Farewell Spit, but I’ll save that for later!

Previous Posts of the New Zealand Road Trip:

Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier:

https://ontheloosejuice.com/2016/01/16/fox-and-franz-joseph-glacier/

Hokitika, Arthurs Pass & Christchurch
https://ontheloosejuice.com/2016/01/24/hokitika-arthurs-pass-christchurch/

Kaikoura & Nelson:

https://ontheloosejuice.com/2016/01/24/kaikoura-nelson/

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Able Tasman on the way to the hole – I should look up the name really to be honest.

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The girls getting way up to the sink hole.

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THIS – I was able to get this shot only bc I had my camera on a tripod – I set up a self timer and hung the camera over the ledge.

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It’s hard to get Brittany to smile for a pic – Any time I do, I consider it a succes.. Even if my face is blurry.

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Yep.

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Able Tasman National Park

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Able Tasman National Park

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Brit being emo.

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Doing the HAKA! or something else.

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I wanted to get on that boat.

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Able Tasman National Park.

 

Kaikoura & Nelson

January 24, 2016

Last November, after we left Christchurch we headed north towards Kaikoura, making our way towards the north of the South Island. Kaikoura is known for its diverse marine life of mainly whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals. The drive into the small town itself was a sight. The road followed the rocky beach line as it winded in and out around the coastal hills. Kaikoura itself was a small town and we drove to this lookout point shown below. The whale tours were way out of our budget and having seen lots in Australia, we decided to pass. We headed north and visited this waterfall with seals swimming in the streams and splashing in the waterfalls. They looked to have been quite enjoying themselves! They’re funny little creatures.

After Kaikoura we headed north to Sawcut Gorge. Emma and Marsha, our friends from Queenstown, were planning on meeting us there! It was really exciting because we hadn’t seen them since they left a month or so prior. Sawcut Gorge itself was quite a hike. I don’t have any photos of it because I didn’t bring my camera because it was a three hour hike along a rocky riverbed. I mistakenly wore my sandals and it was hard to cross the river with the slippery rocks with the current. I definitely slipped a handful of times. I was surprised by how many times we had to cross it in general. Once we got towards the end I saw Emma in the distance! It was a good sight and we swam in some of the bigger pools and did nothing for an hour or so. Emma ended up getting attacked by some eel that bit her a few times. Haha. It was a nasty looking thing.

After the Sawcut Gorge we headed north towards Nelson. We did a winery day and visited a handful of wineries in the Marlborough region and tried free wine and bought some bottles for ourselves later that night! It was a long day but a good one none the less. After the Marlborough wine tours we headed towards Nelson. Nelson is the start of the northernmost part of the South Island. It is the start of the area known as the Golden Bay. The Golden Bay is the hippie, sunny area of New Zealand. The vibe is extremely laid back and the people are really friendly, per usual. This area, the Golden Bay area is my favorite part of the South Island besides the Queenstown/Wanaka/Fiordland area. In the Golden Bay area we went to Able Tasman National Park and the Farewell Spit but that’s for another time!

 

Previous Posts of the New Zealand Road Trip:

Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier:
https://ontheloosejuice.com/…/…/fox-and-franz-joseph-glacier/

Hokitika, Arthurs Pass & Christchurch
https://ontheloosejuice.com/2016/01/24/hokitika-arthurs-pass-christchurch/

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On the way to Kaikoura!

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WOT?

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Kaikoura from the viewpoint.

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Some seals hanging out off the shore.

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What’re you looking at!?

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Yep

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Brit being photogenic 🙂

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Lot Scene!

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Typical New Zealand coastal road.

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NZ Coast

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haha I love this guy!

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Relaxing

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Moody

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Morning Lauuughzz

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Punk

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Campsite in Nelson

 

Hokitika, Arthurs Pass & Christchurch

January 20, 2016

HELLLLLO! Hope everyone is doing well! In case you missed the last post, I decided to separate the road trip into sections and post a few photos at at a time instead of dumping them all on you at once. Hmm.. Let’s see, so after the Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier, Brittany and I continued heading North along the West Coast of the South Island. The rain started to lighten up as we hit a little town called Hokitika. This was a little laid back town by the sea that had kind of a hippie vibe. It was really small and here we tried the famous “white bait” sandwich that we kept reading about. We were a little apprehensive about the cost as it was $12.50 for one sandwich, but, when in Rome.. so we ordered it and took a seat with our coffee. As we watched the sleepy town pass by we suddenly were greeted with our breakfast. I wasn’t sure what to expect but as I looked down, to our surprise was two pieces of regular bread with what looked like thin egg omelet inside. No sauce, nothing. Upon inspecting the egg searching for the white bait part we noticed a thing white spirally thing cooked inside the omelet. I guess this was the white bait portion? We took a bite and looked at each other thinking “what the hell?” It was extremely anticlimactic! Haha So we got some Sriracha sauce from the car and tried to flavor it up a little! Oh well, we tried!

After the tasteless sandwich we went to check out the little town. It had a unique feeling about it, It was small and most places were independently owned shops with handmade signs outisde. There were a lot of green stone jewelry stores. In New Zealand, it’s custom to wear a green stone around your neck or to have it in your pocket during the day. There is a catch, you’re not allowed to buy it for yourself, they must be a gift! Andy got me one as a present before I left which I still have around my neck. I love it. Brittany also received one from a friend and wanted to turn it into a necklace. We stopped in a store to ask a woman if she could help. She told us she couldn’t and told us where to go down the road. Of course, in Kiwi fashion, she then spoke to us for a good 15 minutes asking about our travels and sharing hers with us. She was really interested and engaging even though she knew we weren’t going to buy anything. After our chat with her, we set out to find the other store to make Brittany’s necklace. When we found the place the guy told Brit that he could help but that she had to drill the hole in the stone herself! I think it was a traditional gesture because he was the kindest old man. He set up all the tools and then let Brittney drill away! Luckily she didn’t mess up and left with the stone around her neck as a necklace. The guy had a really calming characteristic around him. We said that he reminded us of an old Morgan Freeman! Hah! Afterwards, we checked out the beach before continuing onward.

After Hokitika, we cut inland away from the West Coast heading East. We crossed over Arthurs Pass which is supposed to have great hikes. When we got there it was raining buckets again and upon seeing that Christchurch was a quick drive away, we continued onwards and skipped it all together. We kept forgetting how small New Zealand is.. I think we got to Christchurch in 4 days when we anticipated 7 or 8! We drove from the West Coast to the East in mere hours. We stopped a couple places on the way once the rain subdued. We found this epic campsite tucked deep into the valley and said one day we would throw a huge party there! Not sure if that will actually happen, but the idea was nice. We also did a little hike around these caves and saw people all decked out going into and coming out of the cave itself. After the few pit stops we headed our way to Christchurch.

Christchurch is the biggest city in the South Island. On February 22, 2011 it was struck with a devastating earthquake. The entire downtown CBD area was hit and it is still being rebuilt to this date. It’s shocking to see the extensive damage that you can still see 5 years later. Furthermore, I can’t imagine having this happen to the city I grew up in. In a matter of minutes, most of the buildings are either destroyed or damaged to a point where it’s unsafe for people to return. I saw many sites where old buildings were still standing yet no one allowed inside. I assume they will get around to knocking them down and rebuilding them in time. What was really impressive about this city was how I perceived the peoples reactions to such a hard time. The city center is filled with different artwork and colorful additions to brighten up the town. I like how the city turned it into something beautiful and didn’t just roll over and give up. I respect that.

In Christchurch, we met up Poppy, an old Coronet Peak workmate. Poppy grew up there so she took us on a little tour of the city! It was nice to hear stories from someone who actually grew up there and experienced the entire ordeal. Her passion (and just her overall amazing, bubbly personality) helped me see Christchurch from a different angle. I am really thankful for that and just in general her being in my life, she’s awesome! Reuniting with old friends didn’t just stop with Poppy, we stayed with a handful of old friends from Queenstown who have since moved to Christchurch! It was a GREAT reunion and even though they had a bed for us, we fell asleep watching TV on the couch every night. There is something special about falling asleep watching TV with your mates because neither one of you want to go to bed and end the day! Special thanks to Lloyd, Dan, Chiara and Sammy for the hospitality! It was a nice three nights to regroup before returning back to tent life! I also met up with Bex, who I met my last time I was in Christchurch! Talk about back to back reunions!

After Christchurch is was up the East Coast of the South Island.. but lets save that for another time. wink emoticon

Previous Posts of the New Zealand Road Trip:

Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier:
https://ontheloosejuice.com/…/…/fox-and-franz-joseph-glacier/

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She didn’t know I had my camera on a self timer and was gonna jump in the frame!

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Brit sitting waiting for me to come with a coupe beers! 🙂

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Serenity on the West Coast

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The clouds on the West Coat before we arrived to Hokitika.

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Arthur’s Pass

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This is I believe at the campsite we found where we will throw our future hypothetical party!

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Botanical Gardens in Christchurch

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I liked this little arch of flowers in Christchurch Botanical Gardens

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Botanical Gardens Christchurch

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Christchurch

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Here is one of the famous churches that was hit by the earthquake.

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Here is where you can start to see the artwork seen throughout Christchurch!

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Street Art

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Art in Christchurch – I don’t think you are allowed in any of those three buildings in the frame, I could be mistaken though.

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Christchurch

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Random Pot Garden in Christchurch

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Christchurch

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Containers were seen throughout the town as well, this was in an effort to preserve parts of old buildings. You can see the face of the building here being held up by the containers.

 

 

 

 

Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier

January 15, 2016

So it begins, I am going to take this rare opportunity of being in the same place for 10 days and try to write and post as much as I can about the South Island Road Trip. It started in late November and has ran its way from the South to the North where I am (back in) Napier to work a week and a half before continuing onwards. Now, let’s just hop we find some work on Monday.

Alright, I hope everyone is doing well – So, before this part of the trip in New Zealand, I was in Queenstown living for about 6 months. That is where I worked at Coronet Peak at the ski field on the lifts. After about 6 months, I left Queenstown and went to Dunedin, Catlins National Park, Milford Sound and finally back to Queenstown for one night before continuing forward. I posted some pics of this back in November, but this is where I left off so I’ll pick up there. Opposed to posting 250 photos at once of the entire trip, I will cut up the trip into about 7-8 blog posts with photos relevant to each post! I will post them on here because I know people get lazy when it comes to clicking a link J – but I will also post them on my blog – www.ontheloosejuice.com

Leaving Queenstown from the second time was the final “goodbye.” The first time I left, less than a week prior, I knew it wasn’t the real goodbye because I would have one night left in Queenstown.. I would see my friends, and most importantly, Andy, one more time before I went on. The last night in Queenstown was real nice. Andy and I had a big meal and then went to the Ice Bar (bar made out of ice) for a couple drinks before heading home. The next day, Brittany and I said our goodbyes to everyone and finally hit the road. I’ll never forget the feeling of driving down the road with Queenstown behind me, getting further and further each moment. What the hell was going to happen now? Where will we go? Who will I meet? Well, at that point you are as free as you’re about to ever be. The road is yours. Take out a map. Choose a place. Go.

There are three routes from the bottom to top of the South Island. There is a road on the west, east and center. The route on the East is the less scenic of the three so automatically that was a “Nope.” The central route is nice too, but luckily I saw it already with various weekend trips to Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo. The West is supposed to be the most epic, filled with landscapes resembling Lord of the Rings or Jurassic Park. Therefore, it was an easy choice to go there.

The first stop after Queenstown was Wanaka, a small town I had seen a couple times up until now. We paid the mandatory visit to “That Wanaka Tree” and headed onward via Haast Pass. This is when the real landscapes started to kick in. I really can’t describe the rugged, jagged faces of mountains towering higher than I can comprehend. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and raining so we couldn’t see the tops of some, as they were too high in the sky. The clouds did make for an eerie mood. It had a real unique vibe with the clouds and the rain. I really did expect a pterodactyl or Froto Baggins to come out at any time.

After we finally got over the pass we made it to the coast! It was nice to finally see the ocean after 6 months in New Zealand. When we got to the coast the rain and wind had really picked up. You couldn’t really do anything outside for too long and the forecast showed no sunshine anytime soon. Therefore, unfortunately, the West Coast was kind of rushed and completed in about two days time. The rain was relentless and wind unbearable. The worst part about the West Coast was the sandflies. I mentioned these before, but they’re the worst thing known to man. I never thought I would meet something I despised more than a mosquito.. and then I met the sandfly! Their bites are brutal. One morning we accidentally left the front of the tent open and by the time we noticed and shut it there were over 300+ sandflies inside the tent? It was raining at this point so we decided to just take down the tent and worry about it later. It was still raining that night so when we put up the wet tent, dead (and some alive) sandflies were still trapped inside. It definitely wasn’t one of the fondest moments but made for a great story because, hell, we’re still alive.

Besides our initial bad luck with weather and sandflies, the West Coast itself was beautiful. The West Coast is home of the largest glaciers in New Zealand. We were able to visit two, the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef! When we arrived at the Fox Glacier, it really started to rain. We wanted to do the walk to the base of the glacier, but decided to continue 45-60 minutes up the coast to the supposedly more impressionable Franz Josef Glacier. We did the “look out” at the Fox Glacier but couldn’t see much. When we got to Franz Josef, the rain stopped temporarily for the first part of our hike to the base. What we saw on this hike was incredible.

In short, these glaciers are melting. They have been melting for decades and they’re diminishing quicker and quicker as time goes on. In the near future, they won’t even exist. It’s sad, but most likely true. At Franz Josef, we parked the car and started the hour and a half round trip to the glacier base. As we walked towards the glacier, I noticed we were walking in a gigantic bowl shaped valley where the glacier used to be before it melted. The valley was covered with rocks deposited by the glacier as it tore its way through the hillside years ago. The rocks increased in size as we made our way to the glacier. After a short hike through this valley, we finally reached the base of the glacier. The glacier is rested in the valley of two mountains. It’s massive. Unfortunately, the rain started again just as we reached it, so most of my photos were mental photos as the ones with my camera came out quite bad. It was a real treat to see such a unique part of the world as this. I am not sure I have ever seen a proper glacier before. Let’s just hope they remain for our future generations to enjoy as well.

The Glaciers and the first part of the West Coast were good, but not properly explored due to the weather – Luckily, as we continued North, the weather began to work in our favor and the sun began to shine. We reached beaches, got sunburns, ran into friends, partied, worked, etc. But that’s for another day and time. This is just the beginning of what was yet to come!

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Reflections

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OK – so this pic is pretty embarassing – I had just woke up and went to take some photos of the moody lake. I set my camera up on a 10 second timer and posted it up on the tripod. I wanted to get to that final rock for a little old harmless selfie but I didn’t get there in time.. Not only did I not get there but right after this photo I lost my balance and fell into the lake! haha! My shoes and pants were soaked. Not my finest moment!

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The trail of people walking down the path towards toe base of the Fox Glacier – We didn’t do this hike as it was raining quite hard at this point.

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The crappy view point of the Fox Glacier – That big white thing is the glacier sitting between two moutnains!

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You can see here this valley which is where the glacier used to be before it melted – We are en route to the glacier bas

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Reaching the base of Franz Josef as the rain starts to pour

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Yep – this is what I meant by the mental photos – The light jus wasnt working out in our favor, not to mention the rain – So here is my attempt of shooting the glacier itself.

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Damn this photo could have been so good if my fly wasn’t down!! #FAIL!!!!!

 

 

South Island Road Trip!

December 17, 2015

Leaving Queenstown was one of the top five hardest places to leave since I left home back in May 2013. I had such an amazing life set up there.. I never had such a large group of friends at the same time while abroad. We rolled deep. So why leave? In the end, I only have a year in New Zealand and 6 months was already spent in one place. Yea, New Zealand is small, but still, I needed to get out and explore. So off I went with my mate Brittney, this crazy Canadian. . not sure how I ended up with her.. jokes, she’s an incredibly fun person and we spent the most of our time together laughing. What more could you ask for? We set off from Queenstown and went down to Dunedin, Catlins National Park and Milford Sound which I already wrote about before, so scroll down if you missed it 😉 After the Milford Sound, it was time to pass through Queenstown for one night before continuing North. That night Andy and I had a nice farewell dinner to send me off. It was the best way to end my time in Queenstown. The next day, Brittany and I set off North via the West Coast of the South Island.

Now, if I could put into word the scenery bestowed in front of my eyes, it would be best described as a scene from Lord of the Rings or Jurassic World. I was waiting for Froto Baggins to be seen walking amongst the green terrain or a pterodactyl to fly from the sky. These landscapes are out of this world. Sheer mountain faces and jagged rocks reach for the sky while being covered in the greenest of greens. There are white spots throughout the terrain, of course, which are all of the sheep. There are approx. 30 million sheep while there are only 4.4 million Kiwis living in New Zealand. Now, alongside this terrain is a road unlike any road I have ever driven. Its nearly all a two lane road, winding road with hills throughout. It seems like a level in Mario Kart. There were a handful of times where my (recently developed) fear of heights kicked in and I literally had to stop the car and have Brittany drive! The cliffs on the side were too much to handle! They were mental these roads. Not to mention, the Kiwi drivers. This is the only thing I could possibly say negative about Kiwis as they are some of the kindest people I have met. However, they drive soooo fast (love you Kiwi friends). It seems to be socially acceptable here to tailgate, which is really stressful when you’re going on such a dangerous and foreign road (not to mention, driving on the left side of the road while the drivers seat is one the right side of the car). It was intense.

Now, just in case anyone stops reading here. I just want to reiterate how friendly the Kiwi’s are in general. Do any of you have a grandfather who will speak to anyone in public? And typically will speak a littler longer than usual to a stranger? Well, my grandpa will talk to anyone about anything wherever he is (he’s awesome like that). Well, when you interact with a Kiwi, they often will just pick up casual conversation and go on and on and on. . and on and on and on. It’s great! They are genuinely interested as well. I think a couple campsites took about 15 minutes just to leave the office bc they wanted to chat about anything and everything. You see, Queenstown is extremely international and is a holiday (vacation) destination. I think I had a total of about 3 Kiwi mates there? The rest were bloody English! ☺ So indeed it is nice to get out and interact with people who are actually from the country you are living in! When we moved to the North Island, there was a big transition. Not only does 2/3rds of the population live there, but the North has a lot of the Maori culture. The Maori are the native group to New Zealand. They are MASSIVE people. I’m talking 6 foot plus and arms naturally the size of my legs. At a glance, they can easily be intimidating. OK, let me explain myself with a story. I had just arrived in Wellington and I was already overwhelmed by the size of this “city” (it’s actually quite small). I finally had a night out and walking away from the bar I bumped into someone and spilled my drink on them. As I looked up.. I kept looking up and up and up until I saw this giant of a man looking down at me. I thought, “Here it goes.” I think he saw the concern on my face and looks at me with an intimidating stare before breaking out in laughter. He pats me on the shoulder and says “no worries, cuz!” Now this happened over and over. Not spilling on people, but the random interactions from people who stereotypically look intimidating but once they open their mouths they are full of smiles and good intentions. I started to refer to them as “gentle giants.” Even one night out and about I was washing my hands in the bathroom, and the guy next to me just starts a full convo asking how I like New Zealand. Being slightly buzzed, I told him about my “gentle giant” theory. He thought it was hilarous and ended up giving me a hug! I can’t express how wonderful and friendly the Kiwi’s are. They’re amazing.

Now, back to the road trip itself. As Brittany and myself left Queenstown and went through Middle Earth, we finally reached the sea which was a relief after being landlocked for so long! We camped next to this lake that had a mirror reflection of the sky and clouds during the day. I actually did a self timed selfie with my tripod and camera and missed my footing and fell into the lake! In hindsight, its funny, but at the time, I wasn’t laughting too hard! Brittany didn’t let me live that one down.. and yes, I have a photo right before the “incident.” On the West Coast I found my arch nemesis in life.. Sand Flies. Now, I never thought something could be worse than a mosquito.. but then I met the sand fly! They’re these tiny black winged creatures that live during the day *and* night. Now, when they bite you, just like a mosquito, it itches and itches. However, with a sand fly bite, it can go “dormant” and not itch for a couple days and then it will flare up again! It is the WORST! Ah, so yea, there were so many sand flies that we zipped through the West Coast. In general, New Zealand is so tiny we really over estimated how much time it would take to get from place to place. Along the West Coast we visited two glaciers, the Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier. We didn’t have the best weather, but we made the best of it. We did a couple hikes to view points of the glaciers. Basically, if you imagine two huge mountains and in the valley, a huge piece of ice.. well, then you have the glaciers! It was really cool to see and also upsetting to see how much they have melted in recent years.

After the glaciers we headed up to Hokitika, a little hippie town on the coast. Brittany had a stone she wanted to turn into a necklace so we went to a store where the guy had her use the drill and make the hole herself! We bolted East over Arthur’s Pass which was honestly super anticlimactic. Everyone rages about Arthur’s Pass but to be honest, I wasn’t bothered. I wanted to get to Christchurch as soon as possible as a handful of our mates from Queenstown had recently moved there. It was SUCH a nice reunion with everyone. Not to mention, they had a bed for us both so we didn’t have to sleep in a tent for three nights. We honestly didn’t do much, which was perfect; we just enjoyed each others company. Next, we headed up to Kaikoura, a place known for having wild seals and sea lions. We saw tons of seals sunbathing and bouncing around the boardwalks. We went to this waterfall where we saw them splashing underneath. They’re funny creatures! After Kaikoura we met up with Emma and Marsha, two mates form Queenstown as well. It was nice to see them on the road. We met them in a place called Sawcut Gorge. This was a hike along a riverbed which included no real set pathways, you simply follow the river, crossing it from time to time, until you reach the gorge at the end. Yes, your feet get soaked. To be fair, it was quite a hike, taking a couple hours. It is also was finally when it started to get WARM. I was really getting tired of the cold. Oh, and the wind.. I have never experienced such constant wind until I arrived in New Zealand. Anyways, after some hours into the hike, we finally ran into Emma and Marsha! It was wonderful! We swam and laughed and found a nice campsite that night with each other.

That night, we stayed in White’s Bay and in the morning found out that we could catch fresh mussels there! Therefore, we went to the beach and low and behold, thousands of mussels were attached to the rocks! So what did we do? We caught them and cooked mussels on the beach for lunch! They were delicious! If it weren’t for the sand flies, it would have been a 100%! That day, we went to the wineries. I am not sure how many we went to but by the end of the day I was feeling it! Next, we visited Nelson, which is known for its breweries. It would have been rude not to visit, so we spend the day going from brewery to brewery. Nelson is a cool town. The only other town I saw in the South Island where I would consider living (besides Queenstown). It just has a cool vibe about it, maybe something to do with the brewery culture, but for whatever it was, this place stood out. The beach is nice too with tons of things to do and see along the beachfront.

After Nelson we went to Able Tasman National Park which is stunning. The beaches are lined with tan sand and blue water. Heaven. After Able Tasman, we went up to the largest sandbar in the world, the Farewell Split, which sits on the Northwest side of the South Island. We did a hike at sunset and then settled into Collingwood for the evening. The lady running the place was once again extremely friendly and talkative. Unfortunately, at this point it was time to say goodbye to Emma and Marsha as I had to go to the North Island as Brittany had a flight home from Wellington.

On the boat to the North Island, it finally set in that I was leaving the South Island. I felt like I was leaving the country. Queenstown was no longer “just down the road” and a body of water now separated everyone I care about back there. Not to mention, the next day I dropped Brittany off at the airport and for the first time in six months, I was by myself. Now, I should be used to traveling by myself, ya? Well, for whatever reason, this was extremely difficult for me. I was missing my friends and especially Andy, who luckily is just a phone call away. I think it was a mix of being on my own and the fact that I was in Wellington, the biggest place by far I have seen in NZ. It did not help that the first three days was some of the worst rain and wind I have seen to date here. It was just a challenge. But I always remind myself when traveling that you are going to have a bad day(s). I just have to admit to myself that, ya, today sucks, however, it will pass, just like the other bad days I have had abroad.. and you know what? It passed! I made some friends, particularly some from Brazil, who really took me in and made me feel at home in this “big” city. Not to mention, I got a text from Emma saying that she would be coming to meet me in Wellington from the South Island! The moment she got there everything started coming together. The sun was finally shining and off we went to explore Wellington together. We had a blast. Wellington turned out to be an amazing city and I could see myself living there (if it weren’t for the wind, sorry but it’s a deal breaker!). But overall, the town has character. The city centre is merely a small grid while the majority of the houses sit on the hillsides just outside. Driving around Wellington is a trip too, the roads are so narrow and windy with hills throughout.. kind of like the rest of NZ but this time with traffic!

We had a night out and the next morning had a struggle to find accommodation. You see, AC/DC was in town and overtook Wellington! We wanted to stay for the concert but after looking at our bank accounts, we decided we had to leave. So, we got in our cars and drove North! We found some free campsite and pitched our tent before making our way even further North to Napier. Napier is known for having tons of farm work available most of the year and we went in hope to land a job, fast! We arrived and went to a working hostel called “Kiwi Keith’s.” A working hostel is a hostel where they find you work nearby and most of the people living there are there to work and save. In a nutshell, not too much partying on the weekdays and then a blowout on the weekend. I love a good balance of scales! We spoke to the Keith, the owner saying that we were here for work. He told us that his hostel was booked and that he likes to keep his jobs for those staying at his hostel. We left our name and number and thanked him and went on our way. Then, literally under an hour later, we received a call from Keith saying that he found us jobs thinning apples on a farm! He said that he would do his best to squeeze us into the hostel the next day (which he did). I actually pitched our tent in the back, bought a blow up mattress, and made my four person tent home for the next couple weeks! It is a fun hostel and to be honest, it’s nice to have a tent to myself opposed to sharing a room. So ya, that’s where I am today. Emma and I are on our third day of work and we’re slowly making friends at the hostel. We will celebrate Christmas next week and then onto Rhythm and Vines Music Festival over New Years Ever! It is a three day camping festival and I can’t wait to get loose and listen to some music!

I am really liking Napier, it’s a quaint small town but has a Art Deco vibe going on. It’s right on the beach and will work for now. The main focus now is to work, save, and then go enjoy ourselves at the festival. I think we’re on track. I’m excited to see where the road takes me, who I will meet next, and what memories will be made. New Zealand hasn’t disappointed me yet, and I am sure it won’t start now!

Hope all is well! LOVE YOU ALL!!!

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