Finally Made it to Australia!

So I guess I am a little behind on blogging, so I will do my best to kind of sum up what I have done so far in Australia. I have been in Australia for a little under 2 weeks now and am loving it. It is very hot here right now though, so thank goodness for the ocean and beaches.

These were my last 2 weeks before starting work in Sydney. I am happy to announce that I got a job as an Au Pair in Sydney with this lovely family. The job is basically like a nanny, but it is live in and is slightly more involved with the family. It is a change from my past few nannying jobs, but I am very excited about it.

Anyways, I arrived in Brisbane on January 10th after a very long day sitting at the airport in Auckland and I was completely exhausted. Although, I did get a decent meal on the flight to Brisbane because I was on a China Airlines flight with a final destination of China, but had a stopover in Brisbane (where I of course got off). I tiredly made my way to the terminal and caught my shuttle to “The Bunk”, which was the hostel I was staying in. I was a bit bummed I was going immediately to Lismore the following morning, as the hostel had a bar in it that looked rather nice and fun (spoiler alert! I decided to stay in it again and I was right, it was a lot of fun). If you ever find yourself in Brisbane, I would highly suggest staying here. Without even knowing it, I booked a hostel that was right around where all the good bars ad night life is.

The following day, I woke up, ate a FREE breakfast (another reason to stay at this hostel), and made my way to the coach station where i caught my bus into Lismore. I was met by Rachel, the woman who lives on the farm where I would be staying for the next week. We arrived at the farm and luckily I was able to take a little nap and relax the rest of the day. The farm is just outside the city of Lismore in an village called “The Channon” and was a small farm with some chickens,

alpacas,

and some very adorable dogs…

This is Jazz

This is Pixie

I will be honest and say, I was so excited to meet the alpacas.

The next morning, I was put to work with the other workaway girl also living there (Amanda). We were sent to rake leaves. I texted my mom after we had finished and said that I will never complain about raking her law ever again, as this was about 5x the size. Despite that, we did it without a complaint and finished. I was honestly so thankful for the free room and board, that I was willing to put in as much work as they needed. I stayed at this farm fro about 6 days in total and between the light house work, some tree removal, some outdoor cleaning and raking, I also got to explore the beautiful area this couple lived in. David (married to Rachel), took me on a hike to “Protestor Falls”, which was this gorgeous waterfall.

The story behind how it got its name is actually amazing. The area was originally used for logging, but the locals did not want the area to be demolished, so in 1979, there was an anti logging protest that took place. This protest was actually successful and the area was made into a national park called “World Heritage Nightcap National Park”. So you can see where this gorgeous waterfall got its name. Swimming is not permitted at the base of this waterfall because of the Fleay’s Barred Frog and the Giant Barred Frog, two species of frogs that live there and are, unfortunately, endangered. Despite all the signs around the area, people still swam in it, which is very sad because this area is beautiful and if enough people continue breaking the rules, they will be forced to close it down to the public.

The Sunday before I left the farm, there was a little market that happens once a month. This really reminded me of the farmer’s market back home, which made me very happy. It was nice to get a little taste of home when I am literally on the other side of the world.

That Tuesday, I hitched a ride into Lismore with David and caught the bus to Byron Bay.

The best way I can describe Byron Bay, is if Boulder, Colorado was on the ocean. It was an amazing little beach town. The people there were so incredibly nice and the beaches were absolutely beautiful. I met some awesome people in my room at the hostel (I stayed at “Byron Bay Beach Hostel” which I would highly recommend).

The first night I was there, we just went out and had a few drinks, listened to some live music…

… and met some cool people from England that we ended up hanging with the rest of the night.

I guess even over here, I am still the EMT. I say this because that first night,  one of the guys decided to jump onto a pile of rocks feet first when we were sitting at the beach; he landed straight on his ankle and within about 10 minutes, his ankle was the size of Texas. Me and one of the other girls in my room helped him walk back to the hostel (luckily he was in the same hostel as us). I really question what goes through peoples’ heads while drunk sometimes… like why did he think that was a good idea? He did ask us why we let him do it, to which we responded that he gave us zero warning he was going to do it.

Anyways moving on…

The next day was the first day of surf camp!! I just laid on the beach for a little in the morning and at 1:30, it was time to go to my first surf lesson. It was soooo much fun and I actually managed to stand up.

I was completely exhausted from surfing honestly and so I just took it easy that night. Me and one of the girls in my room took a beautiful walk to the lighthouse that overlooks Byron Bay.

We walked up there at sunset, which was probably one of the more genius ideas we had that week. It was amazing and now I officially understand why everyone says that Byron Bay stole their heart.

Byron Bay, you stole my heart too ❤.

I had another surf lesson at 9:00 AM the next morning so after the lighthouse and dinner, I passed out. It was another successful surfing day, but I was sore from the day before. I actually really do want to keep trying surfing while I am in Australia.

Byron Bay is a super chill town and people really just surf, lay by the beach and party here. So that is pretty much what I did for the last day and a half I was there.

I was lucky enough that the couple who I stayed with on the farm was headed to Brisbane that Friday. They were so kind and offered to pick me up from Byron Bay and give me a lift. I am so appreciative of them; they were amazing.

Now I am in Brisbane getting ready to head off to Sydney tomorrow. I honestly just used my few days here to just chill and relax and catch my breath. I feel like I have been going non stop for a month and a half. I did some laundry and just walked around a bit.

I did get to have lunch with a friend (Ashley) who I met in Granada about a year and a half ago during my European backpacking adventure. It was amazing to get to see her again. We had lunch and drove up to Mt. Coot, which overlooked the city.

Next adventure… Sydney, where I officially start working.

Cheers.

New Zealand North Island Part 2

Well… here it is, my final few days in New Zealand. I believe I left off where my friend Dave was dropping me off at Hannah’s hostel to continue our adventure. After loading all my crap into her car, we set off for Gisborne. At this point the rain had stopped, but we still were very cautious driving. The road was super sketchy and there were rock slides all over the road we had to go around. Luckily we made it to Gisborne safetly. It was a bit clouded over, but it didn’t stop us from doing a little sightseeing when we got there. We had a few hours to kill before we could check into the hostel anyways. We drove up Kaiti Hill for a very pretty view of the city/ocean.

We then got ice cream and did a little walk on the beach. Before we knew it, it was time to check in and we went back to the hostel. We had plans to take it easy that night, but when does that ever happen after you say it? We ended  up making some dinner (we kept the American thing going and made some macaroni and cheese, but we made it healthy and had a salad with it). During dinner we met some other travelers and ended up getting a few bottles of wine and hanging out and chatting until midnight.

Unfortunately, the conversation had to turn political. This is one of the few times in this blog that I will comment on anything political. But, I am aware of everything going on back in the States and I understand it makes the news all over the world, but if I have to have one more conversation that starts with, “What is the deal with Trump?” Or “Did you vote for Trump?”, I may go a bit crazy. I know everyone is really just curious and honestly I would be too if I was an outsider watching everything go down, but honestly there is a reason I am traveling and wanting to see the world. Alrighty, that is all I will say on that subject. I just needed to comment on it.

We abandoned our original plan to wake up early and watch the sunrise because we were just exhausted. Staying up late drinking wine will do that to you. We woke up the next morning and decided to go hike Cook’s Cove. If you ever do go to Gisborne, I would highly suggest renting a car because everything that is a must do around there is a 30-45 minute  drive. I got very lucky that Hannah had rented a car and invited me to go to this beautiful city with her because I would not have been able to go otherwise.

Cook’s Cove was this gorgeous hike. Now, I really haven’t seen “Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit”, but this hike seriously seemed like something out of one of these movies (or at least what I imagine to be out of the movies).

I love how many cows and sheep there are here. It just makes me happy. We got to the end of the hike where there was this awesome cove (hence the name Cook’s Cove I guess).

It turns out that the hike was literally right next to Tolaga Bay where there was, according to the map, a “very long historic wharf”.

Longest pier in New Zealand

We went back to the hostel for a bit to have some lunch and to debate what we were going to do that afternoon. We had come to Gisborne really for this rockslide called the “Rere Rockslide”. It is this natural rockslide that you can boogie board down. We rented boogie boards at the hostel that morning, but we were warned about the possibility of the rockslide being dangerous. I guess with all the rain, it could have too much water going down it. The sun had also been hiding all day, so we weren’t sure if we wanted to do it. We decided to at least drive that way and check it out. On the way we stopped at the Rere Waterfall…

We finally made it to the Rere Rockslide and there were a lot of people safetly boogie boarding down it. We honestly had  come all the way to Gisborne just for this, so we decided we had to do it even if it meant freezing our asses off.

… and we did it. The first time down went smoothly and we decided to do it a second time and get a video (I mean did it really happen if there is no video?). It was my turn first with Hannah filming. I am very unsure what happened, but when I went to go down, the boogie board got stuck on the rock and I was then about to go down without the board. The rockslide can scratch you up and actually be dangerous if you go down it without a boogie board and here I was about to go down it without one. I guess in my attempt to save this, as I was sliding further away from my boogie board, I was giving all the other people watching a good laugh. Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending, I ended up grabbing the board and went down and survived. We can laugh about it now that all is okay.

That night we did actually take it easy because we did want to get up early and watch the sunrise the next morning. Since it is summer, the sun comes up at like 5:30 AM. We made some delicious pasta, watched “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, and went to sleep.

We woke up early the next morning to watch the sunrise as planned, but ended up going back to bed when we saw how foggy it was.

We left Gisborne and headed off to Taupo. I went to Taupo with Dave a few days earlier, but didn’t see anything due to the rain, so I was pretty stoked to go back. When we finally got to Taupo there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and we headed straight for Lake Taupo.

We stayed there till the clouds unfortunately did come in, so we left and went to go get McFlurry’s at McDonald’s. Now, I know what you’re thinking, why go all the way to New Zealand and get McDonald’s? I will tell you why. First, it is the most frequented McDonald’s in the world. Second, it is on the list of the “10 coolest McDonald’s around the world”. This is probably due to the awesome airplane that the kids can eat in.

We spent the night eating an oven baked pizza and drinking some beers. A perfect way to start winding down our time in New Zealand.

Unfortunately the next day we were off to Auckland, our final destination of New Zealand. We just went to the beach and tried to soak up every last minute of New Zealand sunshine. We seriously couldn’t have asked for a better last day.

That night we just hung out, played cards, ate salads and drank beers.

We made some friends from the States as well. One of the people we met was this girl who just finished a working holiday in Australia and was now in New Zealand to do another one. I owe her a big thank you because I now have found an Au Pair job in Sydney because of her (more on that later).

We woke up the next day, packed our bags, got one final delicious flat white and headed for the airport. Hannah’s flight was about 6 hours before mine so I had some time to kill at the airport. I finally ate KFC (it did not live up to my expectations haha).

So, here are some final thoughts about New Zealand…

1. I am in love with New Zealand. I am writing this while already in Australia, so this final thought was before I knew how awesome Australia was too. But, as I was traveling New Zealand, I was wishing my working holiday was there.

2. I am coming back to travel New Zealand after my year in Australia. There is just so much I want to see still and do there.

3. Traveling New Zealand made me realize how much I love to travel and how much I missed it. I am truly my happiest when I am traveling and New Zealand seriously stole my heart.

4. I miss my friends and family back home like crazy, but I am having the time of my life here.

5. I am so excited for the rest of my travels.

Next adventure… The Channon for my awesome workaway.

Cheers.

New Zealand North Island Part 1

Right now I am sitting at the airport, waiting to be able to check in for my flight to Brisbane, so I have a bit of time to catch up on a few things. Of course, I need to update everyone on the last 10 days on the North Island (which was amazing). There is way too much to write in a single post, so I will  break it up into 2 parts.

Part 1

I arrived on the North Island on December 30th (yay for making my flight). The flight was way too early and so I got into Auckland around 8:30 am. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and so the buses to Hamilton were only running every few hours. There was one at 8:30 am and there was one at 11:30 am. Lucky me, I got to sit in the Auckland airport for 3 hours until the 11:30 bus. I did catch some Zs at the airport cuddling my purse with both my feet through the backpack straps so no one would steal my stuff. New Zealand is fairly safe honestly, but you never know. My bus finally arrived and I was off to Hamilton.

Now Hamilton is not a normal destination when backpacking through New Zealand, but it was pretty amazing and the reason for that is I was getting picked up there by Robin and Riley. They were waiting for me at the bus station and I was sooooo excited to see them. Although my adventures have been amazing, I still really could have used family and friends when I spent those days in Christchurch sick and when I could barely move from throwing out my back sky diving. So, seeing some familiar faces was needed. They picked me up and we did some grocery shopping, stopped by the family’s house in Hamilton to pick some veggies, then we were off to Raglan.

Raglan is this breathtanglinly beautiful beach town. We relaxed on the beach, ate food, drank wine and hung out with Robin’s whole family. They were so nice and I was so thankful they let me stay there for a few days. I will admit, it was so nice to not be in a dorm.

The night of New Years Eve, we went out to this place called the Yot Club, where they were holding a New Year’s event with music, dancing, and booze. We only stayed till midnight as I think we all didn’t really want to stay up that late. I brought in the New Year with some amazing friends and that is all I could have asked for.

That and some awesome fireworks.

I woke up on New Year’s Day thinking how amazing 2018 could be. My New Years revolution is to make the most out of this trip. I know I have friends and family I miss back home, but they also encouraged me to go on this trip. They will be there when I get back, which is what makes them all so amazing.

Alrighty, enough mush for one post haha. Moving on. Robin’s awesome family friend drove me into town that day where I met up with a friend. I had met some awesome guys in Munich Germany the last time I traveled. They had invited me to come to Oktoberfest with them where we all had the time of our lives. 3  of them are actually from New Zealand and 2 of them live there now. Sadly, Dave was the only one I got to see. I met up with him and one of his friends in Raglan for a beer. We had planned for him to pick me up in Ragaln and then take a little tour around the North Island. We went and got my stuff from the beach house and took off from there.

I do want to give a special shout out to Dave for making my time on the North Isalnd amazing. Dave, you were an awesome tour guide and you seriously saved me a lot of money on hostels!

We went to Dave’s family beach house in Whiritoa (apparently everyone in New Zealand has a beach house). I also learned that a beach house here is called a “bach” which is pronounced like “betch” (or at least it sounds like it is with the Kiwi accent). We Spent two nights at the beach house and were able to do a few short little day hikes between rain storms.

The first day we lucked out with nice, sunny weather and we did the Wentworth Falls hike.

We felt like we deserved an afternoon snack after that and went into the town of Whangamata and got some beer and delicious wedges (French fries basically with lots of sauce and goodies on it). That night back at the house, we went on an amazing beach walk. Everywhere in New Zealand seriously amazes me with its beauty.

The next day was not looking good weather wise, but we still decided to risk it and try for another hike.  Literally the second we got to the trail head, it started pouring rain. We waited it out a little bit, before deciding to just put our rain jackets on an go for it. The walk was in Karangahake Gorge and was called the Windows Walk, going through old gold mining tunnels (which as soon as we got to the tunnels shielded us from the pouring rain).

I guess luck was on our side and the rain cleared part way into our walk.

Back at the beach house, my stuff had exploded all over the room I was staying in and we had planned to leave that afternoon. So I had some packing to do when we got back. After finally packing we made our way towards Tauranga where Dave’s parents live and so graciously let us stay. We were absolutely starving though and so this was the night that I got introduced to Burger Fuel! It is the In-N-Out of New Zealand. It’s “fast food”, but millions of steps above McDonalds. Anyways, that night we just took it easy, watched a movie and passed out fairly early. I was exhausted for some reason.

Oh, by the way, if you can’t pernounce some of these cities, don’t worry, neither can I. They are Maury words and for those of you who don’t know, the Maury are the native New Zealand people.

The next day (January 4th) the forecasted tropical storm hit and it started raining on us as we were driving to Rotorua. And of course, these weren’t the original plans. The plan was to drive into Taupo the night of the 3rd and do the Tongariro Crossing, which is this amazing hike that is apparently a must do in New Zealand. However, the company that shuttles people to the start canceled all the shuttles that day and we unfortunately were not able to do it. Not that we would have wanted to do it anyways with the weather… I feel like this is the theme of my trip because any outdoor hike I want to do, the Universe just doesn’t let me. Oh well, just means I have to come back, right?

We made it to Rotorua, which is this cool geothermal town (smells like sulfur everywhere in the town). We walked around for like 45 minutes and saw a few free attractions.

Government Gardens

At this point the rain was really starting to come down. We made it to Taupo where Dave’s sister lives, who was also super nice to let us stay at her house. She was with her husband and kid visiting their parents at the beach house. That night we hid from the rain and scared ourselves watching “The Conjuring”. Good stuff.

We decided to brave the weather the next day and do some touring on the way back to Tauranga. Today, it was really pouring rain. I would say this was the worst day of the storm. It was actually so bad that there was a lot of flooding and unfortunately there was a death due to a tree falling on a car (we saw an obscene amount of fallen trees everyhere).

On the way back to Tauranga we stopped at Huka falls…

We also stopped in Wai-o-tapu and saw the Lady Knox Geyser…

… and some geothermal mud pools…

A fun fact about New Zealand is that 85% of New Zealand’s energy comes from renewable souces like geothermals and solar energy… pretty cool I would say.

We made it back to Tauranga just in time to get fish ‘n chips at Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market.

This was the real deal. It was a fish market as well and they literally take the fish off the boat and fry it up fresh. It was sooooooooooo good. My friend Hannah, who I met on the South Island in Nelson joined us. She was also In Tauranga where we had planned to meet for the second part of my North Island travels.

Dave drove me to Hannah’s hostel the next day where we then set off for the remainder of our time in New Zealand. Hannah had rented a car so it made the remainder of our travels super easy.

That about concludes part 1 of the North Island.

Next adventure… Gisborne.

Cheers.