Akaroa, A Hidden Gem!

Hello Hello!

I have been on a few trips for work in July. Victoria University holds information evenings around New Zealand so kids can come and get a feel for the university. We present at these info evenings about accommodation and the application process to live in the halls of residence. Dominique and I went to Auckland and Christchurch together and I went to Tauranga on my own. Thankfully I got to ease into public speaking in Auckland to a crowd of about 70. In Tauranga the crowd was much bigger- just under 300! That was a bit more nerve wracking but it was a good challenge for me because I hate public speaking.

Anyways, the reason I mentioned the info evenings is because they allowed me to do a few cool things around New Zealand at the same time. Yay free flights! Dominique is from Christchurch so we stayed there for two days after the IE. She introduced me to a lot of her family members and they were all very lovely! My favorite part about our trip was Akaroa, which is in the peninsula of Christchurch. It’s a classic curvy countryside drive to an itty bitty town in the middle of nowhere.

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We were originally just going to swing around the bay pictured above and go to Lylleton, but we were blessed with a perfectly clear sunny day so we ended up making the hour and a half drive out to Akaroa. The road(s?) can get icy in winter, causing them to close down so we ran the risk of getting stuck out there. The weather was perfect so we decided we wouldn’t get stuck. The town was picture perfect, something out of a movie! We got coffees and admired the scenery and sunshine for the rest of the afternoon. I probably would have overlooked Akaroa and the peninsula if it wasn’t for Dom and I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about visiting New Zealand.

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If you want to know what much of New Zealand is like this sheep photo with the wrinkly hills sums it up pretty well….

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Akaroa is a New Zealand Must Do in my opinion!

We spent a day exploring the city of Christchurch as well. Christchurch is a really interesting city and unique in every way so it deserves its’ own post. More on it later! 🙂

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Quick Jaunt to Napier

Over the Queen’s birthday weekend (beginning of June), Fran and I decided to rent a car and go on an adventure! Being the great planners that we are, we promptly booked the car weeks in advance. Then, the evening before departure, we decided it was time to decide where to go…

Napier? Okay!

Essentially, we drove 4.5 hours to Napier just to walk around the town and eat Turkish food and drive back. It felt so good to be back on the road and I loved driving through the Rimutukas on our way out of Wellington. Those windy roads are so thrilling vrooooom vrooooom.

IMG_2421Napier, situated in the Hawke’s Bay region, was an alright little town on the waterfront. It’s the epicenter of wine haven and had we taken advantage of that, we may have had a true Hawke’s Bay experience. But we didn’t, so moving on…

Did I mention the Turkish food? YUM.

On our way home we stopped at Te Mata Peak near Hastings. This little gem of a spot surprised me with it’s epic views of the rolling hills. My favorite part of New Zealand are the endless rolling and wrinkly green hills that take over much of the landscape. Wrinkly is probably the most accurate way to describe the north island’s hills.

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Lastly, Fran and I thought taking a ‘slight’ detour into the countryside would be a great idea. We estimated it would take about 30 extra minutes to get to the longest place name in the world (Guiness Book of World Records- check!). Wrong, it took over 2 hours. It’s amazing how easy it is to get so ‘deep’ into the countryside. In less than ten minutes it can instantly feel like you are lightyears away from any civilization.

So we drove and drove for decades until we found it. And boy is it long. Coming in at a whopping 85 characters, the english translation of the Maori place name is: “The place where Tamatea, the man with big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘land eater’ played his flute to his loved one.”

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Tamatea, a cheif warrior, lost his brother in a battle with another tribe. Tamatea sat on the hill for days playing his koauau (flute), lamenting the loss of his brother.

So that was our little trip to Napier:)

Cheers!

I Fell In Love

Before you all spaz out, no- it’s not with a local guy who will keep me here forever.

It’s with WELLINGTON! Obviously.

There are so many outdoor and indoor activities in Wellington, along with about 18 million coffee shops and restaurants so I wanted to share some of those things here to help explain why I am so in love with “The Coolest Little Capital.” This post would start to bore you if I wrote it all in one so I’ll break it up into a few posts. For now I’ll stick to nature related things!

1) Mount Victoria

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Sunrise, daytime, sunset…it doesn’t matter, the view never disappoints. I really enjoy spending time here and love the view from the second viewpoint which doesn’t seem to be as popular to tourists. Just walk down the road from the main one and bam! You got a slightly different vantage point and less people! I don’t think there’s a better spot to sit and stare at this amazing little city. I like walking up the trail to the top, then walking down the road which takes longer but offers some more sweet as vantage points.

2) Makara DSC_0227

Makara is about a 25 minute drive from the city center, but only due to winding skinny roads. It feels like your so far out of the city so it’s a great day escape. You can spend the whole day out there hiking or mountain biking.

3) Mount KauKau

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KauKau is the highest peak in Wellington and opposite of Mount Victoria. You have to drive the the suburb of Khandallah and it’s less that 40 minutes walk to the top. The Sound of Music 2 was filmed up here!

4) The Brooklyn Wind Turbine1888927_10155559999210370_6382465988752026730_o

This is the view from the Brooklyn Wind Turbine. There is a solo turbine just hanging out right here and this is the view from the base of it. This is one of the first places I visited in Wellington when I studied abroad because Liam brought a group of us up there. I have ran up there a few times because Esteban showed me the mountain biking trails that start in Aro Valley and lead up to it. It’s about three miles/5k uphill on the trails, so quite challenging but worth the view every time.

5) Wellington Waterfront DSC_0340DSC_0758

You can walk from Queens Wharf and out past Oriental Bay, or I suppose you could just keep walking around the bays until you’ve walked yourself silly. This is my most frequented running spot because I love the giant trees decorated with lights that line Oriental Bay. They look fake, like those little plastic lego trees but on a giant scale. I still don’t know what they’re called.

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Walking through the Botanic Gardens gives you some awesome views of the harbor and city. If you go at night you can even find glow worms! There are many pathways and stunning flowers to check out and it’s also where the iconic cable car finishes its’ journey. Lucky for me the gardens are right next to my office so I snapped this photo on my lunch break!

7) The Bays

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There’s Lyall bay and there’s Island Bay, then there’s Evan’s Bay and Owhiro Bay. There’s also Oriental Bay and Shark Bay and Scorching Bay and a zillion other bays I have yet to venture out to. They’re pretty and make you feel like you’re really far out of the city. I’m excited to visit more of them.

8) Red Rocks Reserve

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Red Rocks is a marine reserve and coastal walk in Wellington. Many fur seals hang out here and breed in certain times of the year. This is a nice half day walk not far from the inner city. And yes, some of the rocks are a vibrant red color which is neat. I won’t bother with a geology lesson today…

9) Day Walks & Mountain Biking

There are all sorts of day walks in the hills surrounding the city, including the Skyline Track, Southern Walkway, and City to Sea Walkway. You can also go out to Somes Island for a day trip which is beautiful, or go to Zealandia, a nature reserve. There are also heaps of mountain biking trails which would be really cool to try out if I had a a bike. It’s good to know the opportunity is there. Maybe the bikers won’t be mad at me if I run on them?

10) Close to Tararua Forest Park and Rimutuka Forest Park

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Did someone say tramping?! Yep, there are some amazing hikes to do in these two forests.  I haven’t done any tramping in the Rimutukas but Fran and I drove through them a few weeks ago. I’m stoked to get out there and camp. Just waiting on a nice weekend to pop up!

That’s the nature side of Wellington.

Cheers:)

Travel Related Questions

I recently read a an article titled “30 questions that made me quit my job and start traveling.” I thought some of the questions were really good, while others didn’t pertain to me because I already did technically quit and start traveling. This is a bit more cheesy than my average posts, but I thought answering some of the questions would be a good way to reflect on my travels. I answered most questions in relation to travel.
If not now, then when?
Exactly.

What would you do if nobody would judge you?

I would continue traveling after New Zealand or even stay in New Zealand longer. I would go to Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal on another lengthy trip like my Southeast Asia trip. Anyone keen to join- message me?! I could also see myself teaching in either Laos, Cambodia or Indonesia as well. Teaching in Southeast Asia is something I find myself wanting to do more and more. OR, maybe I’ll go home, because I’ll be ready to.

Have you done something worth remembering lately?

I’ve done a lot of things worth remembering and am so thankful to have had these experiences. Some highlights of my last year of traveling include hiking Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia, diving with manta rays off Nusa Penida Island, Indonesia, Canyoning in Da Lat, Vietnam, hiking the Queen Charlotte track in Picton, New Zealand, going to the Killing Fields in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and running my first full marathon in Oakland, California.

Diving in Indonesia

Diving in Indonesia

Time or money?

Time and just enough money. Money does buy happiness, but only up to a certain point. I want enough money to pay off my school loan. I’ll never feel completely free until then. The more I travel, the more I realize how valuable time is. Every trip I plan for comes and goes so quickly. The fact that I left for Southeast Asia a year ago is mind blowing, honestly. I’ve already been in New Zealand for nearly 4 months and the end date is daunting. I often stop and remind myself to really soak it in and appreciate my time in New Zealand because it will be over before I know it.  Because time flies so fast, it’s important to do all the things you dream of doing now, instead of waiting for someday. I have had people message me asking me how I travel so much and the only answer I have is that I make it a priority and I have nothing tying me down. I didn’t buy a new car out of college or move into an expensive city apartment in Minneapolis because it wasn’t my priority. I lived with my parents and drove my 1993 grand am because that meant I could travel as soon as possible.

What is the one thing you are proud of  but would never put on your resume?

I’m really proud of myself for saving and paying for all of my travel on my own and for moving to New Zealand by myself. In the last two years I have done a road trip to California, traveled Southeast Asia for three months and when I got home, I immediately started saving for New Zealand. I worked three jobs for 5 months and made enough to be able to follow my gut instinct and move back to Wellington. I do recognize that it would have taken me longer to save if I was not able to live with my parents, so thank you mom and dad! And thank you to all of my family and friends who have supported me and have only wanted the best for me. It means the world to me.

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If you had to move to a country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

That’s hard. I would move back to a country in Southeast Asia for sure. I would have more time to really get to know the culture that way. Maybe Cambodia because there’s something really special about that country and I just didn’t get to spend enough time there.

What is something that you have always wanted to do since you were a kid?

I’m doing it.

When did you first realize life is short?

When Asia was over. I spent a lot of time daydreaming about it and planning for it and it was over in the blink of an I. And when I left for New Zealand the second time. I just sat there thinking “Wow, I’m really going. I’ve wanted to go back since the second I left, and look, I’m already en route.”

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What memory from the past makes you smile the most?

Breaking the number one rule of diving while surrounded by manta rays: deep continuous breathing. Too busy spazzing with excitement to breathe properly! Or that time I flipped upside down, dangled from the cliff face of a waterfall, bashed my knee into said cliff, and plummeted head first into the water. I am the brightest.

In one year from today, how do you want to be different?

I want to be more mindful. I want to be even more aware of my surroundings, of all of the little things that make a place what it is.

What do you need to do to make it happen?

Learn about and do meditation, and just catch myself when I’m not being perceptive.

What do you absolutely love in life?

I love talking to locals in new countries I go to. I find their stories interesting and most often find that people with the simplest lives have a happier outlook on the world and others around them. I love meeting up with people I have met traveling again and I also love spending time with the people in my life that I am so close with. I absolutely love exploring because it gives me my energy!

Maddy, Desiree and I reunited in Canada

Maddy, Desiree and I reunited in Canada

What is success for you?

Success to me is just being happy.

What makes you feel great about yourself?

After I help someone

After going for a run (well, some runs…. it’s a love-hate relationship)

When I can share something I learned about a place with someone (someone who is interested in hearing about it haha).

What do you admire most in the world?

The resilience of people and the creativity of people. People all over the world have really hard lives and huge mountains to climb but still find happiness in their lives and it’s so inspiring. They suffer through hard times and bounce back even stronger.

I recently went to a poetry slam and loved it because I was so impressed with how creative people are. I’m not that creative so it really impresses me when others are. It was amazing to listen to the poems and how their words could move the audience.

If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like doing?

Because we are too afraid to stray from the norms of society and follow our own gut. Because we are afraid of change, even when where we are or what we are doing is making us unhappy. Because of other people’s expectations of us.

When was the last time you started something new?

It’s been a while since I’ve done something new and continued to do it. I really should pick up a new activity, especially while I am in New Zealand. I did play Cricket the other day, which I really liked!

In order of importance, how would you rank happiness, money, love, health, fame?

Happiness then love, then health, then money, then fame.

What was the thing that didn’t last forever, but was still worth a while?

Every activity I’ve ever done hasn’t physically lasted long, but the memories last forever. It’s way more important spending time making memories while doing activities than buying things that “last forever.”

What has fear or failure stopped you from doing?

I am a bit afraid of something big financially happening to me while away from home. I’m not exactly sure of what that would be, but I’m afraid of having to be bailed out and having to go home because of it.

I’m afraid I’ll never find a career I’m passionate about.  Although, I do feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years, so I’m slowly weeding out things I know I don’t want to do forever and figuring out avenues that my time would be better spent on.

What are you thankful for?

The support of my family and friends and knowing that no matter where my life takes me they will support me and be there for me when I get home. I’m also SO thankful for Face Time, seriously, I spend at least three lunch breaks per week catching up with family and friends. And of course I am thankful for all of the incredible people I have been able to meet. When I think of all the amazing personalities I’ve stumbled upon I can’t help but smile 🙂

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What do you need to let go of?

Caring about what other people think of me. I’m pretty sensitive, so I need to let go of this in order to really follow my dreams.

In one word, how would you spend the last month of your life?

Happy.

What do you want to be known for?

Being an encouraging person and living my life on my terms.

Alright, that’s a wrap. When I read the article, I thought some of the questions were pretty awesome and that it was a good chance for me to think and reflect on my travels. It’s good to do things like this to remind myself to be thankful and keep doing my thing. My blog is typically me just scrambling words onto the screen quick (sorry for all my short sentences and grammatical errors lol) about what I’ve been up to, so I thought something a little deeper was in order.

The end!

 

Island Bay to Lyall Bay

I haven’t posted in a long time so I thought I’d share a small adventure I went on in Wellington.

Last Monday I took a half day at work because the sunshine was taunting me and I had some time in lieu. My plan was to hop on a bus and head out to one of the bays. I got to the bus stop and randomly picked Island Bay as my destination which turned out to be quite beautiful. By the time I got there the sun had disappeared behind the clouds in classic Wellington fashion.

Not to worry, this gave me the opportunity to work on my overcast day photography. My next purchase will be a tripod because if I want to take my photography to the next level and learn more than I really need one! I got some nice photos of the beach as the sun was setting in the hills behind me.

I ended up walking from Island Bay to Lyall Bay, which isn’t that far, but I actually thought Lyall Bay was just around the bend. Wrong. No fear, I was on an adventure, a very tame adventure! I do thoroughly enjoy doing things by myself and being my own company sometimes. I’m quite a social person but some of my fondest memories traveling have been times where I have strayed off to do something simple on my own.

Anyways, here are some photos!

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Queen Charlotte

Francesca and I spent Easter Break tramping the 71km (44 miles) Queen Charlotte Track. I have been wanting to do this track since I found out about it two years ago. It didn’t disappoint; the trail was well maintained and mostly easy going apart from a major uphill the last day, and the views were unreal as expected. To walk Queen Charlotte you have to get a water taxi to the start of the trail head at Ship Cove so we started the day with a nice boat ride from Picton through the Sounds.

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The general region is called Marlborough Sounds, a collection of individual sounds, including Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru, the two sounds we walked between. Essientially, a Sound is the same as a Fjord, the only difference is that a Sound is created by a river and a Fjord is created by a glacier. A Fjord is a relatively narrow inlet of water with steep cliffs. If you’ve ever heard of or seen photos of the iconic Milford Sound, New Zealand don’t be confused- it was mistakenly named ‘Sound’ when discovered, but it’s actually a Fjord. Alright, geology lesson over, on to the photos!

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Where we hiked in relation to Wellington

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We hiked the  between Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds (Ship Cove to Anikiwa)

Our first day was a long 27km to our first campsite, Camp Bay. I really enjoyed walking along Endeavor Inlet and Resolution Bay because it reminded me of a summer on the lake and the weather was perfect. There were many Batches (New Zealanders call cabins a batch), lodges, and summer camps. The water was deep blue in some areas and quickly changed to a bright aqua blue in other areas. When the water meets the land it creates this beautiful range of aqua colors mixing with pale sands. People were out sailing, jet skiing, or on their jetties (New Zealand word for dock) sunbathing. I wouldn’t mind retiring in batch on the QC…

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The campsite was really close to a little pub on the water so Fran and I went in our socks and flip flops and had a seat on the jetty.  We drank Bailey’s on the rocks with a giant full moon lighting up the sounds as our backdrop. I can’t imagine anything more peaceful than relaxing in that exact spot after tramping 27km.

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Our second day was another 25km to Cowshed Bay. We got to see a lot of beautiful panoramic views of Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sounds.  The weather turned kind of crappy so we spent some time drinking hot chocolate at the neighboring resort, which was the most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever had, before setting up the tent. Yup, this hike is luxurious compared to others! After a while, we set up our tent, made dinner, and made friends with some Canadians who we watched the sunset on the beach with.

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We were meant to hike Queen Charlotte over 4 days but we read that the weather on Monday was supposed to be really bad. We decided to turn our 8km day into a 20km day and finish off the track. So our Easter day was spent crawling the last half of the day to Anikiwa, the end of the trail. We even attempted running bits of the trail because our feet were so so sore we wanted to be done! No, we didn’t want the views to end but your feet can only take so much walking in 2.5 days haha. The weather was pretty mediocre on our last day and there was a giant stretch of uphill to start out. Going uphill so much gave us some incredible views and makes tramping more rewarding because it’s hard work! The view is so rewarding when you have to hike uphill 🙂

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Once in Anikiwa, I immediately ripped my boots off, only for a gang of mountain bikers to gasp in shock at the state of my feet. I think I counted 10, maybe 11 blisters. The pads of my toes were no longer toes, but big bubbly blisters, I kid you not. I even had them forming between my big toe and second toe. A sign of hard work and accomplishment, I nodded with approval at the condition of my feet.

It’s safe to say my new boots are a tad bit to small- sob.

Since we decided to do the trail quicker, we stayed at my friend Georgie’s sisters house (thanks Faye!) for the evening and woke up monday morning to explore the town of Picton. The weather turned out to be alright- it just sprinkled a bit and the sun showed itself here and there. It was nice exploring Picton and walking on some trails we found, however that didn’t last long because our feet ached. We shopped a bit and relaxed at a cafe on the water then caught our ferry home.

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This trip was awesome! It was great to finally do a big hike again and experience the South Island again. Fran and I enjoyed camping and conquering all 71km of the QC!

Next up? A potential weekend trip with Alan to hike to the summit of Mount Taranaki at the end of April. stay tuned!

Tauranga and Makara Walkway

A few weeks ago I took a lengthy bus ride up to Tauranga to visit my friend Kate who I met in Australian History class two years ago. I was still homeless at this point so it was a good time to go up and visit before she moved to Melbourne. Kate and her family welcomed me and spoiled me for the few days I was there. Her family is so wonderful, kind and warm.

Kate and I hiked up to the summit of Mount Maunganui. The views from the top were stunning and I could not stop staring out.

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Kate!:)

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Kiwi Kipp

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Kate and I walked around Maunganui town and laid out on the beach for a few hours. We also walked the circumference of the mount because it’s a nice leisurely stroll that offers some awesome view points. I could do that every day if I lived there.

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Today, Katherine, Mads, Francesca and I drove 30 minutes to Makara Beach to hike the Makara Walkway. This track follows the coast to a large field of windmills, which I find kind of majestic. We were meant to do the 8km hike but we took a wrong turn and it ended up being somewhere between 10 and 12km instead. Woops. It was so beautiful it didn’t even matter. On the way out we hiked up the hills and through the trees to the windmills. On the way back we walked on the beach following the coastline. Wellington doesn’t have the nicest beaches….You wouldn’t go to Makara to sunbathe. It’s super rocky and has a shit ton of driftwood everywhere. But beautiful to look at nonetheless. I loved this day because it was peaceful, sunny, and the perfect day trip.

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Katherine and I

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My flatmate Francesca and I

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The South Island in the distance

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And random, for people who want to know-

my address is:

6/267 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand

if you send a package please send it to my work:

Anna Langer: Level 2, 42 Kelburn Parade, Kelburn, Wellington 6012, New Zealand

All My Ducks Are Sorted

…Or in a row.

I have internet finally, therefore and update is in order!

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I ended up being offered a position at a call center where my flatmate just got hired! I accepted and I was supposed to start last tuesday. When I first arrived I applied for a job at Victoria University working in Accommodation Services but the application deadline wasn’t until February 27th. Knowing I wouldn’t hear anything until March, I continued my job search. Thankfully I was called in for an interview the Friday before my call center job was to start. I left feeling like the interview went well and they said they would contact me late the following week or early the next. That meant I had to start the call center job in the mean time.

I was contacted the following Monday by Accommodation Services asking me to come back in for a chat. We had coffee and I was offered the job! Literally two days after my interview! I am so excited about this job because it’s really good for my resume and it’s something new for me. I can see myself working at a university in the future and it’s a step in the right direction if I want to work in a study abroad office at a university in the future. I didn’t have to start the call center job and quit right away thankfully.

I’ve been on the job three days now and so far two thumbs up! The team of people I work with make me feel very welcome and I can be myself. Working in a serious job will give me a better insight into the 9-5 workplace of New Zealand. It has a reputation for being pretty laid back which I’m already noticing. The job is a lot of admin type stuff, processing applications for the various halls at Victoria and helping out a bit with Wellington Hall ( a ‘hall’ designed to get commuting students involved on campus).

Plus I get FOUR WEEKS PAID TIME OFF. And an extra five days for public holidays. WHAT. I’d have to work like 15 years to get that much time off in the States.

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And last but not least I have a home. Francesca, Jake and I found a flat on Cuba Street which is one of the most vibrant and bustling streets in Wellington. We have completely furnished it using a site called Vic Deals on Facebook and Fran and I even sawed a kitchen table into a coffee table- it looks fabulous:) On the negative side, our stove and oven didn’t work when we moved in almost three weeks ago and still don’t. They gave us a little plug in stove in the mean time but hopefully they sort it out any day now. HA! We shall see!

Back in Wellington

After Canada I spent a few days in San Francisco catching up with Anna and Megan. Thanks for having me ladies, it was a blast! I also hung out with Glen because he happened to be in San Francisco (we met in Thailand)! I’m so glad I got to see so many friends along the way, it makes me so so happy:)

I became Katherine’s temporary flatmate for two weeks. She was my neighbor last time I was in Wellington and is a Kiwi Mate for international students. We hiked up Mount Victoria my second night back—The view never disappoints!

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View from Mount Vic

A few days later Alan and I hiked up KauKau, which is in the opposite direction of Mount Victoria and is the highest point in Wellington. It was such a clear day, we could see the South Island from the top.

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View from KauKau

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South Island in the distance

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I am absolutely loving being back in Wellington. This is my favorite city on earth! At least so far 🙂 My first week back was spent walking around a ton and enjoying the city. It really is ‘the coolest little capital on earth.’

I was having a slight panic attack before I left home because this time, leaving was different. I knew I had to find a job and a place to live and it was all a little more scary. I’ve never been nervous to travel before but this time I was. Then I landed and I was back to my calm self. I didn’t even start looking for jobs for a few days. I was just enjoying being back in Wellington. It’s like being nervous for a race…. you’re antsy and have butterflies in your stomach… But the second the gun goes off all your nerves instantly disappear.

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Since my arrival I have applied for many jobs and when I’m not applying for jobs I’m sifting through flats on trademe and oxygen or attending flat viewings. A couple from England and I have teamed up to get a place. It’s seriously a job in itself. The market is really competitive right now because all of the students have returned to Wellington for the start of the school year.

I have turned down two fancy restaurants. Mostly because I would work nights only and I’m reluctant to serve somewhere where I can’t pronounce the food. If I’m going to be challenged, I want it to be in a new type of job. Most places I have applied to have been for reception positions. Tomorrow, I have an interview at a call center, where my friend Francesca just got hired (she’s the girl from England who I will be flatting with). Wish me luck!!

We also might have a flat by Wednesday, PLEASE!!!! All three of us are living in hostels and in and out of friends places.

I spent a few days in Tauaranga and will post on that trip soon!

CANADA

Alright I’m back on the road again which means I’m also back on the blog! This time solo, although I’m still trying to convince Martha to come to New Zealand 😉 I think it might be working… On my way to New Zealand I decided to stop in Edmonton, Canada. I wanted to see Maddy and Desiree, the two girls Martha and I met in Chiang Mai and continued to travel with through Laos and Vietnam. I spent 6 days living with Des and bopping around Edmonton. I could literally eat my way through that city there are so many fun eateries and cafes! Edmonton is a cool city, it has so many festivals and artists of all sorts. Maddy and Des both do theater. I went to Desiree’s dress rehearsal for a show she was directing. I loved seeing her in her element. Hopefully I can see them both perform someday, I’d love that. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset IMG_9808 One night we went to a 90’s themed party at a bar in Edmonton. They were serving shitty alcohol you’d drink in high school and that was it. We dressed in all denim and it was hilarious. Then we went to The Buckingham which only plays music from the 50’s-70’s. It was probably the funnest bar I’ve ever been too even though we were the only ones dancing! Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Saturday morning I met up with Brett, who I found on a bus in Cambodia over the summer and traveled with for three weeks. He brought his Fiancee Erica and her Sister Adrienne to meet me at Sugar Bowl for breakfast.  Brett and Erica live 5 hours north of Edmonton in Fort Mac. Erica and her sister were going wedding dress shopping! It was so good to meet Erica finally because we heard so much about her while traveling with Brett- she’s so sweet! Unfortunately we only had an hour to hang out because we all had stuff going on but it was SO SO SO fabulous to see Brett and meet Erica and her sister! It was all so quick that I’m still like WHAT, I saw Brett?! Next time will be a longer visit for sure!

After breakfast with Brett, Maddy, Desiree, Erik and I left for Banff National Park. It’s about five hours from Edmonton. We stayed in a hotel and went to Banff Brewing Company for dinner. We went to Lake Louise the next morning and went ice skating. It was so beautiful at Lake Louise and it was snowing! It felt like Christmas. Basically we ate a lot and enjoyed the mountains! Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset IMG_9862 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset  Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset The four of us went for dinner at the Banff Springs Hotel, AKA HOGWARTS. We got wine and a medley of cheeses, meats, and pickled items to share. It was delicious and the view from the hotel was incredible, see below.. We got to the hotel at peak time for sunset; the colors were beautiful. DSC_0724 DSC_0725 DSC_0729 Maddy and Des were such good hosts and spoiled me! I can’t wait for our next adventure! DSC_0735 Seeing Maddy, Desiree and Brett made my heart happy 🙂 It’s crazy how close you become in such a short amount of time with the people you meet traveling. Until next time guys!