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! 🙂

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:)

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!

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!