Sydney – Part 1

I have been living in Sydney for about a month now! It has had its ups and downs, but for the most part I am loving it. I will say, it has been different actually living somewhere than traveling around. I obviously have not updated this blog in a while as I am doing less than when I was constantly on the road, heading off in new adventures every day. This is an adventure in its own though because this is all new to me. I have never been living in a new place by myself. I don’t count my study abroad experience because that was all scheduled through the University with so many other students (aka built in friends). I have been struggling a bit here making new friends, while working and living in this suburb of Sydney, called Jannali, but I think I have officially started to find my groove (but more on that later).

Let me back up here as I do have a lot to catch people up on. Most of you already know this, but I found a job as an Au Pair in Sydney. An Au Pair is basically a live in nanny, however with the kids in school and daycare, I have a lot of time off. When I first arrived at the end of January, I had already planned to travel to Port Stephens to see some old friends for Australia Day. It was a very brief trip, but a lot of fun. I would describe Australia Day as a slightly less wild 4th of July, but still a ton of fun. We found ourselves at Murray’s Brewery eating some ribs and drinking some great beer! But, before, I knew it, it was time to head back to Jannali and officially start my new job.

Unfortunately, my adventures in New Zealand and the first few weeks in Australia put me on a very tight budget for when I arrived in Sydney, so I had to put my adventuring on hold a little until I started to make some money. I was still able to do a few things, but wanted to wait to really sightsee, until I could actually enjoy it without worrying it would break the bank. Here is some advise to anyone who wants to travel… sell your car before you travel or plan your travels after your car lease is up because having a monthly car payment back home while traveling is a bit of a bummer, although I am making it work. The biggest downside: my car lease is up in August, so I won’t even have the car when I get back, I just get to pay for it while I am here…

Anyways, there were two things that made my first few weeks here awesome, even though I was very tight on money: Number 1. HASHING! The Hash House Harriers’ group that I was a part of back in Boulder, is a world wide group, dedicated to drinking and running. It is literally a built in group of friends wherever you go in the world, which is awesome! Right when I arrived, I got the pleasure of joining the group for a wonderful day of drinking and running at their annual red dress run. I was super stoked since I actually have not been able to attend one of these back home.

Number 2. Seeing Rachel! Rachel is an AMR coworker who decided to do a working holiday visa in Australia as well. Although, we have different plans for our time here, it was awesome that we overlapped a day in Sydney before she set off on her Southern Australia adventure. I did just find out, she will be back in Sydney very soon, and I will talk her ear off to plan my Southern Australia trip coming up in April

The kids I am nannying for are so lovely. Of course, they have their moments, but for the most part, are great kids. The parents are Lucy and Adrian who are actually from the UK and moved here about 10 years ago. They originally came for a year and never left, funny how that happens. They have a 2 year-old son named Jack and a 3 year-old daughter names Emily (who will turn 4 in April).

These kids are the only kids I have ever met who ask for salads and tomatoes for an afternoon snack. Emily’s favorite food is smoked salmon… I am very certain that is not the normal favorite food for a 3 year-old.

Jack likes to eat yogurt with his hands, but you can’t blame him, he’s 2 and once he starts, there isn’t much you can do except let it happen.

Apart from hashing, I have now finally been able to do sightseeing and do some weekend adventures in and around Sydney.

I started with doing the Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach coastal walk a few weeks ago, which was spectacularly amazing.

Last weekend, on Sunday, I was able to be a proper tourist (yes, I brought my selfie stick out) and do a day in Sydney, starting with eating a very over priced avocado toast at the opera house restaurant…

From this restaurant, you also get a pretty amazing view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

This was, of course, followed by a very overpriced (but worth it) tour of the opera house. I will say, it was pretty amazing learning about the history of it being built. I think the most interesting fact was, the Danish architect, Jørn Utzon was pretty much kicked off the project before the interior of the opera house was started, following a change in government. Jørn Utzon never even saw the finished opera house. I was a little disappointed seeing the inside of it, as it did not even compare to the beautiful outside.

I am only putting a picture of the inside of the opera house here as I have taken so many pictures of the outside from all different angles, and my 2 favorite ones I will put a little later in this post.

Following the opera house, I took a stroll down the Rocks Market. The Rocks is the oldest part of Sydney, where the pubs used to be for sailers on old ships coming into Sydney Harbour. This is also where the convicts were housed a little later. Every weekend, there is a market held here, that is just like a farmers market, but still really fun.

After this, I went to the Contemporary Art Museum. So, I am going to be honest, I have never gotten art; I am bad at interpreting it, and just don’t really have much interest in it. However, I did feel like this museum (which was free), was something I should at least see while I was here, as it is one of the main attractions, so I did. The piece of art I found most fascinating was this one and only because it made me laugh and you will see why…

Needless to say, I am still not an art person, but now I have checked this museum off my list of things to do in Sydney (and it is a long list).

There are many money making tourist attractions in any large city you go to and Sydney is no exception. You can even pay $300 to get harnessed up and walk over the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for, what they say, is the best view of the city and the opera house. Or… you can pay $15 dollars to climb 200 steps up the South-East pylon of the bridge for the exact same view (this is called Pylon Point). This is the option I chose.

Picture 1 of 2 of my favorite pictures of the Opera House

And! you even get a view of the bridge from this lookout.

My day was coming to an end as my feet were killing me (this was a bad day to break in a new pair of shoes). I got some gelato from Messina’s (very famous gelato place here)…

… and headed back to the train station to go home.

I was greeted back at the house by the kids who had been playing with their kiddie pool and the hose…

Welcome home Kali! Luckily I had already changed.

The next day, Monday, I went back into the city for a tour of the Rocks that was also a pub tour. Not only did you get a great historic tour of the Rocks, but we also got a beer at all 4 of the oldest pubs in Sydney. If you are ever here, I would highly recommend this pub tour, with Dave’s, The Rocks Pub Tour. This company also has other tours, which are also supposed to be great.

And regretibally, I was so hungry and of course a little drunk, and my night ended with this…

I am ashamed despite my large smile in this pic

I did however, take my all time favorite picture of the Sydney Opera house on the night of this tour.

I think I am on a sightseeing roll, because on my day off this last Thursday, I went into the city again for even more sightseeing. Rather than go into excruciating detail about every sight I saw that day, which I am sure you all really desperately want to read, I will just show some of the highlights. I did a free walking tour in which they rely just on tips at the end, it is perfect if you are on a budget.

St. James Church                               Royal Botanical Gardens

                                         St. Mary’s Cathedral

I will wrap up this post by telling the wonderful story of my adventures with my new friend Audrey from yesterday. Audrey is also an Au Pair and she actually lives really close to me. I am honestly so excited to have a new friend in the area. Kristen, I really feel like you should have been on this adventure with me as we almost died. I guess it’s both of us that are bad luck, as you are no longer the only common denominator when we almost die on our excursions.

It all began with some miscommunication. Audrey asked me if I wanted to do a coastal walk to a beach with her on an island just a short ferry ride from Cronulla (the town Audrey lives in). Since I had done the other coastal walk a few weeks back, I was assuming it was going to be like that, having restaurants and bars along the way. Boy was I wrong, it was in Royal National Park (which was on my list, I just did not know that was where we were going) and there were no facilities of any sorts around. Luckily I had dressed for a walk, but was not prepared aside from that. I had not eaten breakfast that day, I packed no food and I only had 3/4 of a bottle of water. We started the journey to the beach which only took about an hour.

The views along the walk to the beach were pretty amazing.

We finally arrived at the beach, but this is where the story starts to go south. We laid our towels on the beach, but the winds were high and we were getting pelted by sand. We decide to pack up and go to this fresh water lagoon we knew was around there somewhere. We must have missed a turn because we ended up on a completely different path, taking us over 2 hours to walk back to the main road. With no water and no food, and a temperature of 100 degrees F, we were exhausted. We finally made it back to the road, but unfortunately, it was so far from where we started and it was going to take us almost 2 hours to walk back to the ferry. We ended up hitchhiking back to the ferry, which worked thankfully. Shout out to the awesome Scottish family who picked us up, you rock! I don’t think we would have made the last ferry without them. Well, we ended up shoving our faces with some mediocre Mexican food and margaritas when we finally got back to Cronulla. The good news is, we didn’t die and we live to see another adventure.

Until my next adventure!

Cheers.

Top 10 Things to Know Before Your First Backpacking Adventure

Okay so this is my first post out of (what I hope to be) many posts offering advise to people wanting to travel and backpack around. I plan to kind of break this up into sections. This first one is just general advise for anyone who wants to travel. This is not limited to a specific continent or region, but it is advise on what every traveler should be aware of before they leave.

So, here it is…
The 10 things every traveler should know before setting off on their adventure:

1. Set A Budget: When you think you have a good amount, multiply it by 2. Seriously. It is easy to do a backpacking trip on a budget, but if you are on too tight a budget, it makes it really hard to do some of the things you really want to do in a city. Yes, you can walk around for free, but do you really want to spend (insert amount of travel months here) just walking around every town/city you go to? The answer is most likely no. You want to adventure and not worry if it will break the bank if you decide at the last minute you want to go sky diving or bungee jumping.

2. Be aware of extra travel fees you may not be thinking about when you set your budget. Plans are almost guaranteed to change! If you change/cancel your buses at the last minute, you may only be reimbursed 50% of your payment and a lot of times if you cancel less than 24 hours in advanced, you will not be reimbursed at all. A good way to avoid this, is always do the flexible booking option if there is one when booking transportation. Yes, you may pay an extra $3.00 upfront, but it is better than losing $60.00. Believe me, I speak from experience. The same goes for hostels… Makes sure to do the flexible booking and be aware of all cancelation policies. Most hostels will make you pay the entire cost of the room if you cancel less than 24 hours with or without flexible booking.

3. International bank fees can get you! Be aware of all international banking fees with your specific bank. For example, mine charges me $5.00 extra any time I make a withdrawal from an ATM and that is on top of the normal $2.00 charge for using an ATM not associated with my account. The best way to avoid this is get a travel card. My suggestion is a Charles Schwab account. I personally do not have any experience with them, as I (regrettably) have just accepted the bank fees in the past. However, I have met so many travelers and had so many friends tell me they are the best for traveling. This one you can do your own research on. If you are in a country for an extended period of time, consider opening a bank account there (more on that in a later post). Sometimes your bank will have options for traveling as well and have ways you can avoid international fees.

4. Do not forget to tell your bank you are traveling. If you decide to forgo a travel card, but forget to tell your bank you are traveling, you may be SOL the first time you try and use your card abroad. I know this one seems obvious, but I do feel the need to put it on this list, as it is a pain to try and contact your bank the second you arrive in a new country and your card is declined. Just save yourself the trouble and tell your bank ahead of time.

5. Get $100 or more (depending on how much you feel comfortable bringing) worth in whatever currency your first destination uses. On the off chance you do tell your bank you are traveling, but your card still gets declined you will be happy you had that cash while you get settled. You do not want to be making a panicked phone call to your bank at the airport after you arrive. Trust me, the only thing you will want to be doing is heading straight for the hostel because I promise you, you will be jet-lagged.

6. Get GOOD travel insurance! This one is huge. I would suggest using World Nomads. You do have to pay upfront for however many months you are traveling for, which can get a little pricey. But it is worth having good coverage if something were to happen. I know this is something no one wants to think about, but shit does happen and trust me you will want to be covered for it.

7. Packing. This one is tricky because if you are like me, you do not have your whole trip planned out. This one is honestly going to depend on the region you are going to and the time of year you are traveling. With this, you are just going to have to look up the weather.

If you are planning a trip to do some crazy mountain adventure in Nepal for example, you will be able to rent all the snow gear you need in the larger cities like Kathmandu. So do not take up room in your backpack with snow jackets and snow pants. Pack well before the night before or the day you leave. Anyone who knows me, knows I have not followed this advice for any trip I have ever done, but I should have.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane… Study abroad in Granada, Spain 2014: Me, my mom and my sister were up till 3AM packing for my 6 month study abroad trip. Backpacking trip to Europe 2016: I packed the day I left and forgot my, non-replaceable train pass (friend had to mail it to Europe). Working Holiday trip to New Zealand and Australia 2017: Packed the morning of and forgot my rain jacket and my hiking pants.

So please follow my advise and do not wait till the last minute because you are 100% guaranteed to forget something.

8. Planning your adventure. Unless you have an entire year+ to travel, pick a region or pick the countries you want to travel and stay there or at least around there. If you try and cram too much into a backpacking trip, you will exhaust yourself. There is so much to see in every single country around the world and if you try and go too many places you could really miss out.

The best part about traveling is you are on your own time table. If you like the place you are, stay a little longer. Do not feel rushed to get to the next city. I met this guy traveling in New Zealand and he did the entire South Island of New Zealand in 2 days. He saw all the main points, but I do wonder if he got anything out of it.

9. Cell phones! We all are obsessed with our cell phones these days and for many of us our smart phones are our cameras, so I am sure you are planning to bring yours. However, I know worried parents are concerned with how they can reach their kids while traveling and vise versa. There are a few ways to go with phones while traveling.

Option Number 1: If your phone is paid off, you can contact your service provider and figure out how to unlock your phone. Normally, it is as simple as going online. Once you do this, you are free to purchase pay as you go SIM cards in every country you go to. Most pay as you go plans have some international calling included, but all plans offer you data and with data you can use WhatsApp. If you don’t have WhatsApp, get it now! You can register using your phone number and it allows you to text, call and video chat your contacts who also have WhatsApp (so make all your friends and family download it too). The best part about it is, when you get a new number with a new SIM card, WhatsApp gives you the option to keep your existing phone number associated with it so your friends and family don’t have to keep changing your contact number.

Option Number 2: If your smart phone is not paid off and you are not able to unlock your phone, you can ask about putting an international plan on your phone. This one can get expensive if you aren’t careful with roaming charges, so I would be careful with this option.

Option Number 3: You can take your smart phone as purely a camera and get a cheap phone to use. You can literally get a cheap smart phone at Target . With this option, you are still purchasing pay as you go SIM cards in countries you visit, but you don’t have to worry about the issue of unlocking your iPhone or Android.

Option Number 4.:The fourth and final option is you can forgo any phone plan, keep data roaming off and rely solely on WiFi. This one you have to be careful with depending on where you are going. In Europe, there is free WiFi almost everywhere and this option is probably the best one. However In Australia, there is no free WiFi anywhere.

No matter which one you choose, just remember to keep an eye on your phone in any country. I have been pickpocket at the bars in the US, but it is a lot harder to replace your phone while traveling (again, I speak from experience with this one).

10. Have the time of your life. This is one of the most amazing experiences you can have. You meet so many amazing people doing the exact same thing you are. Enjoy every single second of it. I found a passion in traveling and a happiness I didn’t know I could feel. There will be times you miss home and that is normal, but remember your friends and family will be there when you get back. Live in the moment while you are on this grand adventure and remember the reasons you wanted to travel in the first place.

Cheers.

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.

 

The End of My Adventure on the South Island… Queenstown

I will preface this post by saying, it will be long, but I promise it is worth it! Queenstown was the last city that I was going to on the South Island and I had big plans per usual. However, I guess the weather in New Zealand is about as unpredictable as Colorado so my plans got all messed up (again).

After the 5 hour drive to Queenstown, we finally arrived just in time for me to pick up my ticket for my first great walk of the trip. Now, I mentioned earlier that I was supposed to do one of the great walks in Abel Tasman National Park,  but that ended up not working out. I should also mention that there are 9 great walks in New Zealand and I was supposed to do 2 out of the 9. So, I was very excited to do the Routeburn track which was a walk from just outside of Queenstown to “The Divide” which was located just outside of Milford sound. The master plan was to do the track starting on Christmas Day and end on the 26th, spend the night in Milford sound and do the Milford sound cruise on the 27th.

Christmas Eve was spent meeting up with someone I had met in Nelson. I met him at his hostel’s bar and eventually had a large group of people from a whole range of countries sitting with us (I love traveling for this reason). We ended up getting a bunch of beer and heading to the beach on Lake Wakatipu, the lake Queenstown is on (so pretty).

We ended up playing beer pong (teaching everyone this wonderful American drinking game).

In Queenstown, you are allowed to drink on the beach until 10 pm, which is awesomeeeee. We took full advatage of that and played beer pong until 10. Since it is the middle of summer here, the sun wasn’t fully down until about 10:30 pm.

After leaving the beach, everyone wanted to go to this place called world bar, but me and someone else hadn’t eaten, so went to get pizza and fries (or as they say in New Zealand, chips). Now this is where I tried French fries and Aiolo sauce for the first time… OMG it was amazing. I would highly suggest dipping your fries in it. You thought ranch was good, this is better. Anyways, after that I decided I needed to get some sleep since I was hiking the Routeburn Track the next day, so I went back to my hostel and went to bed.

Morning came way too fast. I packed a few last minute items and went to go catch my bus to the start of the track. By the time we got to the start, it was absolutely pouring rain (picture I posted when writing my last post). Well, in case you were on the edge of your seat wondering if I did the hike, I didn’t. I sat there for about 3 hours waiting for the bus to come back around and waiting for the weather to clear up. The rain finally cleared right when the bus was coming back around, but at that point, I had an 8 hour hike to do and I wasn’t about to start that at 2pm. So back to Queenstown went Kali.

It wasn’t raining in Queenstown luckily and I was able to get a last minute hostel. I ended up messaging one of the people I had met the night before and we had a wonderful Christmas dinner of Chinese food since that was the only thing open on Christmas Day. A restaurant was also the only place that you could actually buy alcohol on Christmas Day.

We walked around Queenstown after that. Long story short, we met up with some people my new friend had met previously and we wound up just restaurant hopping to have a few beers. The night ended fairly early as Christmas Day was the first day where I realized I had really injured my back skydiving. By the end of the night, I could barely breath, could barely move… It was not good.

Since my plans got messed up with the Routeburn track, I still needed to make it to Milford Sound the day of the 26th for my hosel booking and for the cruise on the 27th. One of the people I had met offered me a ride in that direction. He was like “Oh! You can just hitchhike the rest of the way.” I hesitantly said okay, but didn’t have a good feeling. We made it all the way to where he was catching his boat. And after about 2 hours of attempting to hitchhike the rest of the way in the hot sun, I gave up, switched sides and was able to get a ride back to the nearest town (Te Anau) in about 5 minutes. The hitchhiking here is usually pretty easy, but Milford sound is one of those places that is a bit out of the way. I spent the remainder of the afternoon in Te Anau, which was actually really amazing and absolutely gorgeous.

I booked a cheap bus and back to Queenstown went Kali (again). Booked the same last minute hostel, which did have a bar. When I got back, I checked in and went straight to the bar because after 2 mishap days, I needed a few beers.

This is where the fact that New Zealand is a small country comes into play. After those beers I was walking back up the hostel stairs when 2 guys walked right by me. I did a double take and just blurted out “did I go skydiving with you all in Fox Glacier?!?” Turns out it was the same guys. Seriously small world. We hung out the rest of the night and went out to some bars, got Kebabs at the end of the night (which is the best drunk food in the entire world).

The next day was a lazy day. I woke up, checked into the new hostel, and napped and napped and napped. I had planned to meet this girl I had met in Nelson, but slept right through the time I was supposed to meet her (Ooops). I did end up meeting her, just a bit later. We laid on the beach a while, got some delicious ice cream, jumped into the freezing cold water, looked at some cute baby ducks…

… and hit the hay very early after making some dinner. Made some dope grilled cheese and tomato soup with my new friend that I met in Nelson, who’s name is Hannah by the way.

The following day, I finally got the chance to go to Milford sound, which is said to be the 8th wonder of the wold. Needless to say, I was so excited especially after all my bad luck the last few days. Luckily I was able to get a full refund on the other cruise and book an even cheaper one for the 28th (worked out in my favor in the end). It was a longggggggggggggg day though. The bus out to Milford was 5 hours, the cruise was only 2 and then a 5 hour bus ride back to Queenstown. However, it was so worth it. The beauty of this place was unreal. I thought to myself many times, that this actually cannot be real. Here are some pics of Milford Sound. It was hard to choose just a few honestly and you will see why.

The pictures don’t even do the place justice. If you ever find yourself here, you absolutely must go. I was so tired when I got back that I just made dinner and went to bed. besides I had to be up early the next day for another bucket list item… BUNGY JUMPING!!!!!

The bungy was scheduled for 8am, but had to be there to check in at 7:30am. They bussed us out to the jump site, and got us all harnessed up. I should mention that this is the highest bungy in New Zealand at 134 meters (or 440 feet), so really high. We had to get in a cable car to get out to the bungy platform.

Before I knew it, it was my turn to jump. The key is to not hesitate…

1, 2, 3… JUMP!

I keep doing this where I do an epic adrenaline thing at the beginning of the day, then nothing else will live up to it the rest of the day.

I ended up meeting up with the girl I had met hiking in Abel Tasman National Park. She had just gotten to Queenstown. We had some food and drank some beer and just took it easy that afternoon (the night was a different story).

I did seriously have plans to do nothing my last night and just pack and get to bed early for my 7am flight to Auckland the following day.

However, that did not happen. I will save everyone the details of the drunken mess of the night. The important thing is, I made my flight. I also came across a sign that I thought is very fitting for New Zealand.

If I didn’t mention it before, I will mention it now. New Zealand is obsessed with 2 things… Subway and KFC and this sign was just so perfectly fitting with that.

I did leave my phone in the taxi that morning after getting dropped off at the airport. Again, the important thing is, I got it back. So in summary, I made my flight and I got my phone back. That is all that needs to be said about that night. That and Scottish people can seriously drink.

Next adventure…. Raglan, where I get to see 2 of my favorite people from Colorado. After being so sick for the beginning of my trip and all the mishaps, seeing familiar faces will be awesome.

Bye South Island, you will be missed.

Cheers.

That Time I Ended Up in Fox Glacier

I currently have some down time to write about Fox Glacier. I am sitting at the Routeburn shelter right now where the track starts that I was supposed to do over Christmas. However… it is pissing rain and I do not have a rain coat (only a shitty poncho). That mixed with how badly my back has been hurting, does not make for a great start to this hike. Luckily the bus driver will be back around about 2:00 pm should I decide to bail on this hike (which is looking like I will). Long story short, I have 3 and a half hours of doing nothing while I wait for the bus.

It’s a little hard to tell, but its literally pouring rain in this picture

So this is the story of how I randomly ended up in Fox Glacier…

I have to start this part of my adventure back in Marahau. I caught the bus from there back to Nelson. I was literally the only person on the bus and there were 2 bus drivers. One of them decided to come back and talk to me and ask me about my travels, asking me where I was off to next. I told him that I was taking the bus from Nelson the following day back to Christchurch for one day then onto Queenstown for the holidays. To which he replied, “why are you going through Queenstown?” He then said “No! You have to go along the West Coast instead and go through Fox Glacier. I called the bus company and they had no problem changing my ticket for me, I booked the hostel the bus driver told me to book and the next day I was off to Fox Glacier. It was a long ass bus ride there. The bus left at 7:30am from Nelson and we got to Fox Glacier around 6:30 pm. The ride was absolutely beautiful though, it was along the coast and it was gorgeous.

After finally arriving to my hostel, I was ready to just have a relaxing night of doing nothing. The guy working at the front desk was super friendly and was telling me all the things to do in Fox Glacier including sky diving. He told me that, the views from the skydive at Fox Glacier are ranked number 1 in the world. Naturally I had to do it… he booked me right there for 9:00am the next morning. Now I had never gone skydiving before, but for anyone who knows me, you know it’s been on my bucket list for literally ever. I could barely contain my excitement. I had an easy rest of the night which included eating dinner, going on a small walk to see the glow worms, and eventually going to sleep.

Of course, I had no troubles waking up the next day for skydiving. I arrived at the place nice and early. It was only about a 3 minute walk from my hostel (this town is literally one street). The airstrip was one runway and the only plane that takes off and lands there is the skydiving plane.

They briefed us, got us suited up and then we waited our turn. They honestly had this down to an exact art. The plane took the first 3 people up, came back, landed, someone put fuel in the plane, the next people got in. You sit in the compartment on your tandem instructor’s lap, where they hook you to them and give you a bit of a briefing. We enjoyed the most beautiful views of the Tasman sea and the glaciers while on the way up.

 

Before I knew it the door was sliding open and the first jumper was gone. And then we were next! It honestly happened so fast, we scootched up to the door and then just like that we were free falling. It was amazing!!! I had never had so much fun. We free fell 8,000 ft before we pulled the chute. The free fall was the best part, the views were spectacular and the adrenaline rush was pretty epic. There is a reason this is rated number 1 in the world.

After the instructor pulled the chute, we just coasted down and really got to take in all the views. He let me steer for a bit and down we went.

The landing was funny because you land on your butts, and there was a van waiting for us to take us back to the landing strip.

Okay, but for real, this was seriously the most epic way to see the glaciers. You can also see them via a helicopter tour, but this is way BETTER!

I took a sec to take in what I had just done and immediately wanted to go again (next time). I waited for my pics and walked back to the hostel.

The people working at the sky diving place honestly have the best jobs. Almost every single guy working there was not from New Zealand. These people literally travel the world and get jobs at different sky diving places for a few months a year. How cool would that be?!?

The rest of the day was alright, but honestly how could it live up the the skydiving? I took a long run up to the glacier lookout where you actually cannot see the glacier anymore because it’s receded so much. You can see a pretty waterfall though.

I rented a bike after that and went to dinner. Now I will say how good I have done saving money by grocery shopping in the cities and cooking in the hostels. That being said tonight was the night to splurge ad eat out. I had wine and steak and even ordered desert and a coffee. I really can’t make a habit of it or my money will run out in a week, but it was so good and well deserved in my opinion.

I met this Swedish and French guy in my hostel room that day as well and we decided to go out for a drink that night. Well 1 drink of course turns into many many more. Funny side note, when I met the French guy he told me my American accent was so strong and his exact words were “you sound like from the movies”. I thought was was pretty funny.  Really unsure whether he meant that as an insult or a compliment, but I don’t think I really want to know. The bar we went to was literally next door to our hostel. We had a few beers and met some cool people, including these 3 Scottish guys who were staying in our hostel. And after we got back to the hostel, they brought out some rum and more beers. Before we knew it, it was 4:30 in the morning and we all really needed to sleep.

The next morning, I hitched a ride with the Scottish guys to Queenstown (where they lived). It was a bit crammed and hot in the car, but it was worth it because we stopped at a lot of view points along the way that were absolutely spectacular. I could not have gotten those views on the bus.

Random Waterfall

Blue Pools

That about raps up my time at Fox Glacier. I would not have gone there if it weren’t for the bus driver, so special shout out to him for telling me to change my plans.

The highlight of my time there was of course the skydiving.

The next adventure… Queenstown.

Cheers.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park/Marahau:

I have about 2 and a half hours before my bus gets here to leave Abel Tasman National Park. This was my first real start to this great adventure. I caught a very early bus from Nelson into Marahau (the town just outside the National Park) on December 19th (December 18th for everyone reading from the US). The Bus dropped off right at the edge of Marahau and right at the beginning of the National Park. I was starting at this place called “The Barn”, which is a hostel and a campground which a kitchen, plugs and WiFi (which did not work for me at all).

They had little dorms, little private rooms and a campground to pitch your own tent, which is what I did.

My plans got a little messed up due to being sick for so long in Christchurch. Originally, I was supposed to arrive in Nelson on Saturday, December 16th, catch a bus into Marahau on December 17th and do the Abel Tasman Coast track for 3 days. The Coast track is this 55 km track that goes all the way through the National Park along the coast. You reserve campsites and can stop and swim at all the beaches along the way. Unfortunately, I ended up having to cancel my campsites and forfeit my deposit for them. But… I made the most out of it. Instead I ended up staying in Nelson for 3 nights, which turned out to be good because as I said, I had a lot of stuff that needed to be done. I ended up catching the bus into Marahau on December 19th.

I arrived (to my surprise alive) and checked into the Barn. I feel the need to say that I arrived “alive” because we were driving in this very large bus up this windy, narrow road, with rocks protruding into the road and the bus taking up both lanes. Oh, but do not worry it was so curvy, the the cars coming down cannot see the busses (taking up both lanes) coming up the road. So, when I say I arrived alive, I was relieved. I then proceeded to pitch my tent, and figure out what I was going to do for the day. It was not a particularly warm day, a bit overcast and a little chilly. I asked the very nice guy working at the reception what he suggested I do that day. He asked if I liked to Kayak and I said “Yes!”. He said “great! We will get you signed up; the bus leaves in 30 minutes”. I then had to very quickly get my crap together to go. I hopped on the bus which met up with the water taxis. I just need to take a minute to comment on how funny I thought these water taxis were. First of all they are on land to start out with. You literally get in the boat at the water taxi office which is on a trailer with a tractor pulling it. The tractor then drives you to the ramp into the water and backs you into the water. The tractor driver is the boat driver as well, so he then gets out of the tractor, gets into the boat, where then another guy working at the ramp releases the boat into the water and proceeds to drive the tractor back up the ramp and park it. It was so funny to witness. It also took a long while to get into the water because there were so many boats, to which the boat driver commented “rush hour in Marahau”.

The water taxi took me to one of the beaches called “Observation Bay”, where I met my Kayak guide. It was me, a couple on their honey moon, and an older couple who is just living life traveling the world and living in Greece (I aspire to be them when I am 70). Of course, since I am traveling alone, I get paired in a 2 person kayak with the guide, which ended up being a lot of fun. We kayaked along the coast and across to this Island called Adele Island, where it had a seal colony. Yes, I got to see 1 week old seals and they were the cutest things I had ever seen. Sadly, I could not get pictures because I did not want to take out my phone out in the middle of the ocean on a kayak. We took a small break at one of the other beaches on the way back to Marahau; our guide made us cappuccinos (yum).

But… that small break gave the wind a change to pick up making the ocean very choppy. Leave it to me to have my adventures turn very sketchy. The winds were getting so bad, that that water taxis were stopping at all the kayaks on the ocean to make sure they were okay. We got going and we had a direct headwind back to Marahau, so bad that if we stopped paddling we actually went backwards. To add to this, the older couple was getting very tired and the man’s back was hurting bad, they were unable to make any forward progress. Well… since I was paired with the guide, we obviously had to make sure they were okay. Our guide ended up having to attach the tow line to their kayak and we towed them against the wind all the way back to Marahau. We got back, my arms were noodles, my fleece was soaked from the waves splashing me, I had swallowed so much salt water and I could barely see out of my sunglasses. It was so much fun. I love those kinds of adventures because even though there were a few hiccups, it was amazing.

That night I showered, ate, read a lot of my book and went to the park cafe and had a well deserved (very expensive) beer. I will say, it has been a long time since I have had any time to myself to just read and relax… I forgot how nice it is. I kicked off my shoes, tried to get situated to read in one of the hammocks they had set up, then fell out of the hammock, then eventually got to read. Leave it to me to fall out of the hammock (I do not think anyone saw though).

For my 2nd and last full day in the park, I decided to do a long hike. I figured since I couldn’t hike the entire Coastal Track, that I needed to hike a portion of it. I took the water taxi out to one of the beaches called Torrent Bay. Where I got right on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track and started the walk back to Marahau. Now, this seems a good of time as any to mention the tides here. Apparently, the tides in New Zealand are some of the largest tides in the world. The difference in the low tide and high tides are crazy, so much so that the Coastal Track has to have a low tide route and a high tide route, otherwise you couldn’t make it to some of the bays. I started in Torrent bay at high tide, so had to take the high tide route to Anchorage Bay. The high tide route was about 3 miles where the low tide route is about 1/2 mile (to give you an idea of how insane these tides are here). I took a little detour off the track to Cleopatra’s pools, which I had a heard was a must see and it was. It was this beautiful fresh water little pond and waterfall.

It also had this “water slide” which was this little chute that was covered in algae where the water came into and you could actually slide down it… it was so much fun.

After laying in the sun and having some fun at the pools, it was time to move on. My next stop was Anchorage Bay where I stopped, took off my hikers and walked along the water for a bit. I sat on this log to put my hikers back on where I struck up a conversation with 2 girls also putting back on their shoes. It turns out they were both staying at The Barn and were hiking back to Marahau like me. We all just then hiked together. One was from New York and the other was from The Netherlands. This is honestly one of the things I love most about traveling by myself. Normally I would never strike up a conversation with 2 random strangers, but it is different traveling. And pretty soon, you are acting like you have known each other for years. We all stopped to lay on the beach at Apple Tree Bay and took a dip in the beautiful blue water. We started talking to these 2 guys and they asked us how we all know each other and we laughed and responded that we only met about 2 hours ago. Funny how that happens. It was about 3pm and was time to get going because We still had probably a 3 mile walk back.

View from the last 3 miles of the hike

We finally made it back to The Barn and took an hour or so to shower and change. I then went to dinner with the girl from New York and we ate sooooooooo much food. My hike ended up being 11.5 miles in total, so needless to say I was starving. The beer I drank with dinner mixed with the hike made me very sleepy, so I went back to my tent after dinner and passed out (it was only about 8:30pm).

Which brings me to today… the day I am supposed to go back to Nelson. Sitting here enjoying a coffee on the beautiful sunny day in Marahau. Not ready to leave, but so excited to see where my next adventure takes me.

Some final thoughts on Abel Tasman National park and New Zealand in general:

1. I have had 2 “Oh Shit” moments where a view has taken my breath away. The first was in Washington State at the Gorge Amphitheater. The second was here at Abel Tasman National Park. It was after the first day of kayaking, the sun was going down, I was having a beer outside looking over the Ocean and the National Park. It was probably one of the most spectacular sites I have seen. I tried to take a picture, but the picture just does not capture the beauty of this view.

2. I am still very unsure of which direction to look when I cross the street, this cars on the other side of the road thing is very confusing.

3. I guess you do not have to wear shoes in public here, I have seen many people in grocery stores (in the cities) not wearing shoes…

4. It does not feel like the holidays. I have never experiences Christmas time in the summer, but it is weird (I love it). Like I would never guess that Christmas is in 4 days.

Next adventure… unknown.

Cheers.

The Adventure Officially (Almost) Begins…

Nelson: 

I arrived in Nelson after spending I think 4 miserable days in a motel room with the flu in Christchurch. However, the weather was miserable and there was not much to see there, so out of all cities to be stuck with the flu in that was the one. I finally was feeling well enough to plan my trip and on December 16th, I hopped on a bus to Nelson. Now, there were many things I had to do in Nelson like get a SIM card for my phone since I was too sick to do literally anything in Christchurch. However, nothing in Nelson was open until Monday so I had a few days to “explore” and when I say “explore”, I went to the beach twice (one of he times I ran since it is about 6 miles round trip) and walked around the city a bit, got coffee, and… that is about it. After I got everything that I needed to done, on December 19th, I jumped on another bus into Marahua (the city just outside Abel Tasman National Park).

Next adventure… Abel Tasman National Park.

Cheers.