Tag archive for "nz"

Hump day photo: green skies at night

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Photography

Hump day photo: green skies at night

2 Comments 30 May 2012

This has to be the most colorful sunset I’ve ever seen. Taken at Pilot Bay in Mount Maunganui, the clouds turned bright orange amongst a soft blue sky when the sun went down on this March night. The dark ocean below reflected the colors above.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

After a few minutes, part of the the sky then became a bit green.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful sunsets in New Zealand, but this is my favorite.

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6 ways to travel New Zealand: Pros and Cons

Destinations, New Zealand, New Zealand, Road Trip

6 ways to travel New Zealand: Pros and Cons

11 Comments 08 May 2012

The best way to see New Zealand is by long drives to every corner of the country’s two islands. From the road, people can make the most of this country’s scenery. Rolling mountain ranges, crystal clear lakes and waterfall after waterfall, you really shouldn’t miss a single sight here.

But not everyone can travel this way. Depending on who you’re traveling with and how much money you have to burn will determine how you travel New Zealand. People have a few options of transportation while touring the country, each has its pros and cons. One or many could be right for you.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Car or campervan

Pros

Freedom! You have your own wheels, which means you can go where you want, stop wherever and always have a place to sleep. Not to mention you no longer have to lug around all your bags and with a car you can collect as many souvenirs as you’d like.

Having your own car or campervan will allow you to see a side of the country that all other means of transportation cannot. Sure you can stick to the normal route and visit Franz Josef Glacier or Milford Sound, but you can also visit less-traveled spots such as Tasman Glacier and Hokitika Gorge.

Cons

With freedom comes responsibility. When you travel New Zealand in your own vehicle or a rented vehicle, someone has to drive. Plus, you should consider travel insurance. It’s not a huge deal, but some might not want to even bother during their vacation.

The price of private transportation is another con and even a deal breaker for some. It’s possible to keep this option cheap if you have enough people pitching in, but petrol is expensive in New Zealand as is buying or renting a vehicle. Even if traveling this way works out to be more affordable in the end, a large sum of money is almost always required up front.

Nzine.co.nz

Public bus

Pros

This is usually the most affordable way to travel the country. Companies like Intercity or Naked Bus offer bus fares as low as $NZ1. Of course you’ll have to be pretty lenient to get a rate this low, but it’s all part of the adventure right?

On top of cheap fares, you’ll get your fill of scenery during long coach journeys in which you won’t have to drive. Make sure to get a window seat!

Cons

Lack of freedom. Not only will you have to plan your travels around the company’s timetable, but you also won’t be able to stop wherever and whenever you please. It’s a pretty big negative considering all the scenic lookouts and trails located directly off the main highways here.

Tour companies

Pros

Like with public buses, this is a relaxing and stress-free way to travel the country. Unlike public buses, private tour companies stop for some things along the way to a destination, such as scenic lookout points.

Another upside to these tours is that it’s easy to get to know people on them. Imagine a group of travelers in your age group all holidaying together on one bus and making the same stops. For some people this is a huge asset.

Cons

However some may not enjoy traveling with a group of fellow travelers. They may prefer to be on their own or travel more like the locals would.

Some might also want to have a bit more control of their trip. A lot of these tour companies stick to the accommodation or restaurants they have partnered with and either include these places in the cost or use these places as drop off and pick up points. Again this could be a pro or con, on one hand everything is planned for you, on the other you don’t get a lot of freedom or spontaneity in your trip.

What could also be considered a pro or con is the price of these tours. Usually they work out to be a lot more expensive than public transportation. However, sometimes depending on where or how many places you want to visit, certain hop-on, hop-off bus companies can actually be more affordable.

Jade Johnston is one of my favorite NZ hitchhikers. She’s hitched rides all around the country and written about her experience on Our Oyster, which is where this picture is from.

Hitchhike

Pros

This option is more practical in New Zealand than anywhere else I’ve traveled. Driving around the country, you’ll see loads of people sitting on their bags, holding a piece of cardboard box with places like “Queenstown” or “Wellington” written on it in black marker.

Obviously the big perk here is free travel, though you should really give the driver a few dollars. Another big perk is the thrill. It’s exhilarating, waking up with no plans but to get somewhere, hanging out on the side of a road hoping for the best and taking off with a random stranger.  Hitchhikers always seem to have the best stories.

Cons

It’s a risk. You’re taking a chance hopping into a car with a stranger, that is if anyone even offers to pick you up. The fear factor is on both sides and a lot of people can’t be bothered. This means waiting in the rain or snow, sometimes getting stuck somewhere for longer than you’d like.

On the TransAlpine train to Arthur's Pass, Arthur's Pass, New Zealand

This travel blog photo’s source is TravelPod page: Our first tramp

Train

Pros

Chances are if you chose to travel this way you’re doing it more so for the journey, not the destination. Routes like Christchurch to Arthurs Pass aren’t just a way for getting somewhere, but popular activities in the country. The five-hour journey leads passengers through the Canterbury Plains, past the Southern Alps, gorges, lakes and more. Even if you don’t need to travel by train, I would recommend looking into what scenic routes this country’s railway system has to offer.

Cons

New Zealand’s railway network is not very big. Sure it can take you from Wellington to Auckland or from Greymouth to Christchurch at a pretty fair rate too, but it’s not a practical way to travel the whole of the country.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Plane

Pros

This is the quickest means of travel, especially because you’re not required to arrive extremely early to get through security for most domestic flights around New Zealand. You’ll also get aerial views of places like the Marlborough Sounds or Queenstown traveling this way.

Cons

It’s expensive. Plus you’ll miss out on a lot. Sure you’ll see some things from above on short flights or at the end of long flights, but you’ll miss out on the sights that make traveling New Zealand so special.

Not to mention that this option is pretty impractical for people wanting to stop at a lot of destinations in the country. All airports in the country besides Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are quite small and only offer a few flights a day to only a few domestic locations. This means you might have to switch flights in Christchurch for what should only be a one hour flight from Queenstown. It just doesn’t make sense.

The best way to see New Zealand is by using more than just one of these means of transportation. Weigh out which options fit best with you time, budget and expectations of the trip.

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Photo of the week: Church of the Good Shepherd

New Zealand, Other, Photography

Photo of the week: Church of the Good Shepherd

2 Comments 13 April 2012

Church of the Good Shepherd is a small, stone church located right on Lake Tekapo in New Zealand. One of the country’s most photographed churches, it was built in 1935 and is still operates today. Though it was closed when we visited, wedding services are a regular here and people can check the church’s website for dates of public worship.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I found out about the Church of the Good Shepherd and Lake Tekapo while researching for my trip to the South Island. The first photo I saw of the church included the Southern Lights above it. Lake Tekapo is a quiet, holiday town without much light pollution, so it is possible to see the South Lights from here.

We didn’t, but we loved visiting the town. The church is so adorable. On our visit, there was a bride and groom taking photos of each other in front of the church. It was kind of weird to see just the two of them doing this, no wedding party, but it is an ideal spot to photograph for a wedding.

The town isn’t very big, so the church should only be a short walk from camp sites located around the the lake.

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A day in Hobbiton

Destinations, Film Locations, Guides, New Zealand

A day in Hobbiton

11 Comments 14 March 2012

Driving through Matamata’s grassy hills and counting sheep, you would never believe a multi-million dollar motion pictute was filmed here, but that it was in 1999 and again in 2011. Hiding out in this farm town is Hobbiton, better known as “The Shire” from Lord of the Rings.

Yes, it actually exists and not in a movie studio.

Welcome to the Shire. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Doors are hobbit size and painted colorfully. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

During an aerial search of places to shoot the film around New Zealand, Peter Jackson spotted Alexander Farm and approached them about using the farm in his film. Imagine getting that knock on the door. The owners agreed and site construction began.

The road that Gandalf arrives on. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Enlisting the help of the New Zealand army and a massive film crew, an entire tiny village was brought to life complete with Green Dragon Bar, mill and of course Bag End.

To the pub. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Before the film’s release in 2001, the set was kept secret and extreme measures were taken for it not to be exposed. People behind the film went as far as taking away the licenses of any pilots trying to sneak a shot from the sky. However, after the film’s release, they couldn’t stop fans from making pilgrimages to Hobbiton.

While the set was meant to be completely destroyed, the farm owners approached the studio about keeping it intact for tours. They agreed and it came in handy as the set was used again last year for Lord of the Ring’s prequel, The Hobbit. Parts of the set were destroyed after the first Lord of the Rings, but tit’s been restored for The Hobbit.

Naturally homes of Hobbiton fishermen were placed right on the water and right under the Party Tree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The Party Tree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Today Hobbiton runs seven tours daily to visitors from around the world. Starting across the street, people are taken by bus to the film set, which is hidden very well. One could be on the other side of a hill to Hobbiton and have no idea it was there.

Guides point out where makeup and wardrobe tents once were and talk about the farm on the way. Once on set, the tour goes on foot for a 90-minute guided walk around the village, which gives visitors plenty of time to take photos.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

On the tour, groups see several Hobbit houses, The Green Dragon and mill, the road Gandalf rides in on, The Party Tree, Sam’s home and Bag End, which is at the top of a hill, complete with an oak tree growing above it. Our guide was very friendly and great at pointing out which places were featured at what point in the film.

Visitors can look at The Green Dragon and Mill, but only from across the water. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This humble home is Sam’s house. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Overlooking the Shire is the Baggins’ residence. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What I liked most was learning about all the thought that went into create the film set. Everything from making moss using yoghurt and other products then throwing is on random spots to make the town look older to shipping in an oak tree to go on top of Bag End. It was really amazing to see all the detail to the film set and hear how much work went into perfecting it.

Unfortunately, they did not create actual Hobbit homes here. Most of the homes are just a front, behind their doors, only dirt. Two homes that could be entered, but only as far as their doors would open, were Frodo Baggins’, though not by people on tour, and a random Hobbit home, which tour members could stand in and take photos.

Oh, hello. Photo by Richard John Hackey

The Hobbiton tour costs $66 and runs seven times daily. The last tour is at 5:20 p.m. People can purchase tickets online or at the farm’s front office. Located next to there is The Shires Rest, which serves breakfast and lunch items, including “Second Breakfast”. People can also feed and pet the farm’s sheep on their visit.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

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Cruising Milford Sound, a photo tour

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Photography

Cruising Milford Sound, a photo tour

5 Comments 08 March 2012

Calling Milford Sound the most spectacular sight in New Zealand is a pretty bold statement.

Have you seen New Zealand?

It’s quite possibly the most gorgeous country on earth. Everywhere you look is amazing.

But for me, Milford Sound was the climax of our two week scenic tour of the South Island.

Located in the mountainous Fiordland, Milford Sound is a fiord located 15-kilometers from the Tasman Sea. It’s jaw-dropping from land, but the best way to experience it is by boat.

Several cruise operators offer Milford Sound tours, including overnight, morning, and afternoon tours. Prices range, but I found Jucy Cruize to be the most affordable option.

Starting at $65, the 90-minute tours leads its passengers from the Milford Sound Visitor Center and Boat Harbour to Dale Point, which is where Milford Sound opens to the Tasman Sea, and back. Along the way a guide will point out some of the most well-known sights, including Stirling Falls, Seal Rock and Mt. Pembroke.

The cruise felt just right on all levels. Jucy’s boat is smaller than other boats docked in the harbor, but they don’t cram it with people, allowing passengers to move around freely. The length of the tour was enough so that passengers really saw Milford Sound, but could spend the rest of the day exploring the area on foot or driving to their next destination. Most important, the price is unbeatable for backpackers.

Further, the staff was really friendly and they offer free tea, coffee and hot chocolate. We spent a night in Milford Sound staying at Milford Lodge, but for people who can only visit for one day, Jucy sells a cruise trip and return coach journey from Queenstown package starting at $159 for adults. Altogether, Jucy Cruize was a really informative and affordable way to see Milford Sound. Here are some highlights from our trip.

A classic Milford Sound shot with Mitre Peak in the background. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The white-tipped mountain in the back is Mt. Pembroke, the tallest mountain to look down on the fiord. It’s glacier is over one million years old. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Stirling Falls from a distance, the magnificent waterfall drops 146 meters. This photo was taken at about 10 a.m., so the waterfall is shadowed by surrounding mountains. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Clouds surround the mountains in Milford Sound. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

 

Speckled with forestry, rocky mountains surround the fiord are quite steep. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

 

Fairy Falls drops straight into the fiord. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The view from Dale Point on the way back on our cruise. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

When the black waters in this fiord are still, they mirror the mountains above. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

 

New Zealand fur seals scattered all over Seal Rock. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Our cruise backed right up to Stirling Falls. Everyone with nice cameras were running for cover. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Thanks to Jucy Cruize for sponsoring my ten day South Island adventure. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Digging for heat at Hot Water Beach, NZ

Destinations, New Zealand, New Zealand, Road Trip

Digging for heat at Hot Water Beach, NZ

12 Comments 12 February 2012

After six months of living in Wellington and a month of traveling New Zealand, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how extreme the sun, how warm the day or how beautiful the beach, the water is almost always unbearably cold in this country. So you can imagine just how appealing a place called Hot Water Beach is to travelers.

Located on the Coromandel Peninsula, about a ten minute drive South of Hahei, Hot Water Beach has thermal waters beneath its sands. With visions of hot springs and jacuzzis in my head, I approached this beach outing ready to unwind and relax.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one. Nor did I realize just how hard it is to dig a hole in sand. This may not be the experience you would expect from a place with thermal waters, but this was my experience at Hot Water Beach, NZ.

I was excited to visit the beach from the moment I woke up. I slipped out of my tent early and wandered down to the front office at Hahei Holiday Resort to rent a spade (shovel) and check low tide times for the day. I paid a $NZ10 deposit for a spade, which I received back upon return.

You’ll find places selling or renting spades all over the Peninsula. A lot of the places that rent them collect a deposit and charge a fee. I was lucky to find our accommodation lent them pretty much for free.

People should visit the beach either two hours prior to or after low tide. 

Ric and I arrived at Hot Water Beach almost exactly two hours prior to low tide and walked out to the type of view that makes New Zealand so special; gorgeous sands below, rolling farmland in the distance, clear water in front and only a few people in sight. However, this wasn’t the Hot Water Beach we came to experience. To reach the piece of beach with thermal activity, we’d have to walk ten minutes to the right.

A whole Hot Water Beach to ourselves. Not really. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

As I walked further down the beach a large rock that had been hiding a small piece of it started to reveal my worst nightmare, 150 meters of Seaside Heights on Fourth of July weekend. For those who have never visited New Jersey or never watched The Jersey Shore, this means a ridiculous amount of people, screaming kids and obnoxious people who don’t even try to not kick sand on your towel as they walk by.

Like I said, my nightmare.

Everyone from Hot Water Beach crammed into one spot. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

But I still had to give the place a try.

As soon as we reached the crowd, we found the emptiest spot we could and started digging. Five minutes in and the water was cold. Ten minutes in and the water was still cold. Fifteen minutes of digging and although we were hot, the water was still cold.

What were we doing wrong?

Finally, a wonderful man came over and told us we had to search for warm spots. Those spots can be found as soon as you walk on them. 

I looked up to see a massive group of people digging around one area of beach. They were surrounded by steam. I had to test it out.

Hot water?

More like boiling water.

I literally felt like I burnt my feet after walking in their hole.

So I kept searching for a hot spot of my own. I felt everywhere in the area, but couldn’t find it. I started to think, “Is that it? Is just that one spot ‘Hot Water Beach’?”. Ric and I both started to get annoyed and stupidly just started digging at a random spot.

And this is no easy task. In fact, digging a hole on the beach is probably one of the most discouraging things I’ve ever done.

I would dig a spot just to see more sand sink into it. Only after a few minutes of digging would a hole start to form and that would come just in time for a wave to crash into the short wall Ric and I had made and shatter our dreams of reaching warm water.

It went on like this for about twenty minutes without the water getting even the slightest bit warmer. Just as we were about to give up, Ric went to look for a hot patch. He came back shaking his head, so I gave it a try.

The tide had gone out a lot since we first arrived, giving the crowd room to spread out and a lot more beach to explore. I started feeling around an area right at the water’s edge.

Cold.

Warm. 

Warmer.

Warmer.

Ouch!

There it was, an extremely hot patch. I motioned for Ric to come over. He started digging, but waves just kept crashing into us and destroying our wall of sand. This was our spot, but we had to wait out the tide. So we stood there, spade in hand, for about twenty minutes, giving it a go every now and again to only be let down.

Finally, we just started digging like crazy. Ric dug into the sand ferociously with the spade as I got on the ground and started throwing out sand with my hands. Slowly, our hole started to resemble the hot water pools we’d seen on posters.

We must have dug for about an hour and only created a pool deep enough to reach the front of my hip bones while laying down. It didn’t matter.

We did it.

Relaxing in our hot pool, finally. Photo by Richard Hackey

All we had to do now was lay in the warmth of the earth and watch everyone else work. And that’s what we did for about an hour as a few tiny bubbles popped up around us. After all our hard work came the bliss I had imagined.

It’s really quite amazing that a place like Hot Water Beach exists and certainly nothing like I’ve visited before. For that, it’s worth a visit, but prepare to work for this New Zealand experience.

Here’s some things to remember on your trip:

  • a spade (shovel)
  • sneakers (hot spots are often too hot to even stand on)
  • sunscreen (NZ sun is extremely strong, don’t forget to protect yourself while digging)
  • water
  • low tide times

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Cruising on the Interislander

Destinations, New Zealand, New Zealand, Road Trip

Cruising on the Interislander

2 Comments 03 February 2012

Those traveling all of New Zealand, not just the North or South Island will have to cross the Cook Strait either by plane or boat. Facing the added expense of both options can be a bit concerning for travelers on a budget.

Luckily, Interislander makes the crossing more than just a mode of transportation, but also a great activity to add to the agenda. Passengers can expect jaw dropping views through the Marlborough Sounds, onboard food and entertainment, maybe even a few dolphins swimming beside the ship.

While on a recent ferry crossing with Interislander from Wellington to Picton, I said a few times, “Now this is how to travel.”

Amenities

Interislander is set up similar to a cruise ship. It offers a few eateries, a bar, a movie theater, several lounges and viewing platforms, a children’s play area, a travel information center with a real live person on site to help book trips, VIP sections, even a lounge for truck drivers.

I boarded early in the morning and headed straight to the cafeteria for breakfast. At $12, the big breakfast was extremely reasonable considering how much airlines and ferries usually charge people for food these days. Expect your standard cafeteria food. Visit the cafe for better meals.

Big breakfast served on board. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

One of the ship’s dining areas. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The only other purchase I made was an hour or 40MB of internet at $7. I would only purchase it to do a few little things online, but I found the connection extremely good considering we were out to sea and in the middle of nowhere most of the time.

The majority of my time on board was spent either napping on the ferry’s big, comfy lounge chairs or on the top deck checking out the views.

Sights

The top deck was definitely the place to be on the clear summer day I traveled. Views are absolutely stunning sailing through the Sounds with massive mountains cascading into blue and green waters.

I was even lucky enough to watch a pod of dolphins swimming and jumping beside the boat. The captain who first spotted them, made sure to announce it to everyone on board.

A view of the Sounds from inside the ferry. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It seems like wildlife spottings are pretty common through the Marlborough Sounds too. All three times I’ve taken the ferry, each captain announced seeing dolphins. In fact, I’ve actually been on dolphin sighting tours that cost more than my Interislander ferry trip and didn’t give me nearly as good an experience.

Staff

A great interaction with the staff started as soon as we drove onto the ship. One of the staff members directing Ric where to park the car, pretended to be pulling us in on a rope while giving a massive smile. For me, it’s little things like this that always make a trip that much better.

From then on every member of the staff was extremely kind, even fun. The duty manager waited by the exit door bidding everyone farewell at the end of the journey.

Duration

Expect three to four hours for this trip. Those traveling with a car must arrive before final check in, which is usually about an hour before departure, but don’t worry about arriving much earlier than that, as you’ll just have to wait in line.

Ric having a nap during our trip. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Price

People can book through their website, at a ticket counter or through an agent. A single adult ticket with no vehicle costs $NZ52-$NZ75. For two people traveling with a standard sized vehicle, the price is between $NZ215 and $NZ330 depending on what kind of ticket you purchase and time of travel. These prices seem to have stayed the same the few times I have checked.

The cheapest option is a web saver reservation and these are a lot cheaper so it’s beneficial to book as early as possible as only a limited number of these non-refundable reservations are available. Interislander also offers promotions which may be worth looking into.

Thanks to Interislander  for sponsoring our ferry crossing to the South Island. As always, all opinions are my own.

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A video montage of South Island scenery

Destinations, New Zealand, New Zealand, Road Trip

A video montage of South Island scenery

8 Comments 29 January 2012

While New Zealand may be known for its extreme sports, sheep and friendly people, it’s the country’s scenery that dominates anyone’s travels here. We spent ten days traveling the country’s South Island from Picton to Milford Sound constantly saying,”Look at that!” or “Wow that’s beautiful!”. Ric said after three days, “You really run out of superlatives for this place.”

He couldn’t have been more right. 

Driving this great country is truly incredible. Every turn presents a new landscape and every bend a sight more breathtaking than the last. We traveled about 2,000 kilometers up, down and through mountains, beside vineyards and crystal clear lakes.

Our general route of the South Island on Google Maps.

No picture or video will ever do this country justice, but hopefully this montage of our drive across the South Island will help people realize why I can so easily declare that New Zealand is by far the most beautiful country I’ve ever traveled.

Thanks to Interislander and Jucy Cruize for sponsoring my ten day South Island adventure. As always, all opinions are my own.

Banner photo taken by Bobbi Lee Hitchon near Milford Sound.

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Wellington on a whim

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

Wellington on a whim

6 Comments 19 January 2012

We arrived in Wellington cold, homeless and hungry.

Yes, five months ago we arrived in this city and it’s hard to believe how much has changed. We had no idea where we’d go or what we would see when we first arrived in New Zealand, but we definitely didn’t expect to make such an amazing home in Wellington. This is the tale of what brought us to the windy city and how it blew us away.

After about five months of jobless travel around Asia and America, we took a chance and headed to New Zealand on a working holiday visa instead of saving up at home. We didn’t have a choice really. Since Ric and I are from different countries, this was one of the few easy ways to stay together and work. Parting was out of the question.

So we boarded a plane for a long flight in early July. Destination: Queenstown, but not for long. Queenstown was our original arrival city, because-well it’s Queenstown; winter wonderland, extreme sports, lots of backpackers. Unfortunately, our arrival date was mid-ski season, making it hard to find work. Further, it had yet to snow in Queenstown that season, making it even harder to find work.

On the way from Queenstown to Blenheim in July.

No worries. Ric had a friend he met in Australia living and working in Blenheim. Biggest legend ever, not only did she let us crash at her house for a long time, but also sorted Ric out with a job before he even arrived.

We arrived at the small town in the middle of Marlborough, a huge wine region, and met our friend for drinks. While at a bar, I met a guy who worked in viticulture and he gave me a contact for a local vineyard looking for workers. Next day, I was sorted with a job.

We thought we made it. We thought we were going to be okay. We thought wrong. Family matters had me on a plane back to the States only ten days after arriving. I spent two weeks at home then was on a plane back to New Zealand. Talk about jet lag.

In that time, Ric was ready to leave Blenheim. It’s not the most active town, plus Ric wasn’t doing his passion, cooking, so he had enough. To add to that he had fractured his thumb, making him actually unable to work for a few weeks.

I arrived back in Blenheim with a choice. Either stay in the quiet town doing jobs that weren’t nessarily our favorite or make a move to Wellington, the closest city, and see how it worked out.

We went for Wellington.

It’s not a cheap trip either. Wellington is on the North Island and Blenheim on the South. People must take either a plane or a ferry to get to Wellington from the South Island because they must cross the Cook Strait, either way your looking at spending about $70.

We came to Wellington with one night booked at a hostel, hoping to find a flat, jobs and a routine in a day. That’s when things started to look up.

It was just me job hunting at that point. Ric couldn’t because of his thumb. I felt so much pressure hunting for jobs that day. Between contacting people on TradeMe and walking into places, I had about seven job opportunities within the first day of looking.

I remember sitting at a kebab shop on Courtney Place, nervous but excited about what would come in this city. The owner gave us one of those “buy-ten-kebabs-get-one-free cards”. I wondered if we would even last long enough in this city to get that free kebab.

Ric was in charge of finding us a room. He looked on TradeMe and Easyroommate. We had a few good prospects in just two days of searching. One room and couple looked like an especially good match for us. That night while I had a job trial, Ric looked at a room. At the end of my trial, I had a message on my phone that said, “Come home.” I grabbed my stuff from the hostel and hopped a bus to Mt. Cook.

Since we arrived so late, we didn’t really have time to make our new room comfortable. Our new roomies were nice enough to give us comforters and pillows, but they were covered in cat fur and Ric and I are both allergic. The room only came with a bed, which is actually quite lucky considering most of the rooms we saw came with nothing. We had to make it work though.

God that first night. The matress was so old that the springs had worn out, so Ric and I just kept rolling into eachother in the middle of it. On top of that we were sneezing and coughing all night because of the cat. I’m not writing this as a complaint, just as a funny note on how ridiculous that first night was.

The next day I did a trial at Fidel’s Cafe, pretty much a Wellington icon, and was hired. The next week we both organized our new room, sorting the bed out, using boxes as tables and dressers and putting some art up on the walls. The following week Ric found a job at Hotel Bristol and was hired to do what he loves, cook.

This little door can be found out the back of Fidel’s. I fell in love with it when I found it. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Leaving Wellington we are in a completely different situation. We both saved up a lot of money, met so many wonderful people here who were so welcoming, got to experience the World Cup in one of New Zealand’s biggest cities, beat our cat allergies (we both fell in love with the little guy) and we’ll even get to eat that free kebab.

Now that it’s time to say good bye to Wellington, I can’t help but look back on how we arrived and just give the city and all the people in it a massive thanks. I can’t speak on behalf of Ric, but I’ve never had a work place treat me so well and the people working there welcome me so much. We made a home here when we were literally close to being homeless. Everyone here was so amazing, it was a true realization of how kind the kiwi spirit is.

My favorite shot of Rondell, the best cat ever. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

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Sound to Sound Finale: Rugby

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to Sound Finale: Rugby

No Comments 17 January 2012

Of course our final fact has to be about Rugby, a game that’s won the hearts of so many Kiwi actaully arrived in New Zealand by South Island in Nelson.

It all started when New Zealander Charles John Monro studied abroad at Christ College, Finchley, England. He played rugby at the school, learned the rules, then returned home to Nelson and shared the sport with New Zealand, making him the “father of New Zealand rugby”.

[Monro] introduced the rules  to the Nelson Football Club in January 1870. He suggested a match be played against Nelson College, whose headmaster, Rev. F.C. Simmons, was himself a former student of Rugby School, as were his two predecessor principals. This led to the historic match four months later.-The Prow

So the first official rugby game ever to take place in New Zealand was on May 14, 1870 between Nelson College and Nelson Football Club.

Boy did it start a frenzy. Today, the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team, is one of the most well-known symbols of the country. Their famed Haka, which is a Maori battle ritual, instills fear in the opposition and gives chills to sports fans worldwide.

Photo of the Nelson College Rugby team in 1876 courtesy of The Prow.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island. 

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