Life or List?

I’m back in Wellington! Great!

One issue – wasn’t I supposed to have some sort of plan by now? Nothing too taxing, not a life plan or a year plan, or even a six month plan…. Just a ‘What-to-do-next’ kind of plan. I gave myself one month of work free exploration & self consultation time to come up with it. Well, you’ve guessed it. I couldn’t even do that.

So here I am. In Wellington with no job, afraid to spend money & ever so gratefully crashing at my friends place without one iota of a clue what my next step will be.

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A Wellington Sunset

Options include working in Wellington, working elsewhere in New Zealand or working/travelling elsewhere in the whole wide world. I’m swaying towards India or Central America. Stop laughing, yes I’m a mess – but winging it has always been my way!

The question is do I get on with a life in New Zealand or do I get back to my ‘To Go To’ List??

Confidently she looks down to her feet & remembers:

Her feet find their own path

 

 

Making decisions

I’m reluctantly ruling Central America out because of the Zika Virus. This is a virus spread via mosquitos which causes fever, rash, muscle & joint pain, headaches or malaise with potential autoimmune & neurological complications. It is currently live in Central & South America & Africa. As a highly revered delicacy to mosquitos I know I shouldn’t risk being anywhere near these guys. They would love a good chow on me & travelling solo I feel quite vulnerable to taking ill & being on my own incapable of taking care of myself. Sadly I will have to leave Central America high on my To Go To List for now.

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Current mood

India is somewhere I have been in awe of. The dream is to buy a tuk tuk, paint it in the colours of the Irish Flag (Green, white & gold) & travel around the country in style! (I have no intention of going to the cities in this mobil). If anyone has tuk tuk buying experience & knowledge please get in touch!

Being so close to Australia I feel obliged to visit my friends in Sydney. I don’t relish the thought of spending more money on a trip for myself after spending so much money last month, but I think because I’m so close it would be worth it to hug my fabulous friends.

I don’t want to turn my back on my time here in New Zealand, but I don’t want to spend my savings here in a month when they would last much longer in other countries.

I am craving the culture shock & appreciation of being alive in what feels like a different world. I got it in Ecuador where it was like nothing I had ever experienced. I want it again. I MASSIVELY want it again.

Decision made.

Wellington, my old friend

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I’m on the ferry bound for Wellington & I can’t take the grin off my face! I am so excited to see all my lovely friends again & be on familiar territory that feels like home. I feel like I won’t even mind the wind that much seeing as time has erased the ill memories of it.

Sadly I’ve had to miss out on Christchurch altogether as I have some Sports Rehabilitation work lined up for the weekend which I can’t miss. I’m excited to get involved with a competitive sports team again, even if it is only for a few days.

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Looking to the North Island I wonder is Wellington the place for me? I am clearly overjoyed to be returning & have a truly amazing group of friends here. I still don’t have a plan despite giving myself a month to come up with one. I need a kick up the arse. But for now, I’m just going to bask in the excitement of returning to windy Welly, the coolest little capital in the world.

Dolphin Watching in Kaikoura, NZ

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Kaikoura is a cute village on the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is famed for fish & chips (aka fush & chups), whale watching trips & dolphin watching. I was more keen to do the dolphin trip as I already went whale watching years before off the coast of Ecuador. All I remember is being in a small beaten up boat trying to change the film in my camera (yes folks, it was back in the day!) & making the whole boat sea sick in their kind attempts to help me. We did see whales on that trip but we were all a bit green to fully display our appreciation.

My interest in dolphins stemmed from when I was yachting. We had a few dolphin encounters across the Mediterranean. They always seemed so happy riding the bow & really uplifted my mood. When I saw a deal for dolphin watching on the Book Me website I quickly booked it & made plans.

The morning trip is supposed to be the most successful. I couldn’t face getting up at 5am however so I went for the midday slot. It took around 3 hours in total including checking in, a short video, transport to the boats, the boat trip & dolphin time. A lot of people were swimming with the dolphins which looked amazing! My budget couldn’t quite stretch to this unfortunately.

Our sail out was a bumpy ride. I was happy that I had prior experience at sea & was content that I wouldn’t get sea sick. After 20-30mins the swimmers were told to get ready & I went to the bow to look for dolphins. Lo & behold I saw around 40 of them approaching! One was leading & doing somersaults the whole time, it looked really incredible! I was so impressed!

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The swimmers hopped in the water & the dolphins curiously swam to them. It was amazing to see them so close & so carefree. The dolphins were completely in the wild in their own habitat & could swim away from the people if they wished. As someone with an intolerance approach to animal cruelty I felt that this did not harm the dolphins in any way & their environment & boundaries were well respected. The swimmers said they were surrounded by the dolphins & everyone was elated at the experience. The swimmers got to dive about four or five times & I wished I could hop in with them. Maybe another time?

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I recommend this trip for dolphin fans of any degree. The village is also pretty with nice restaurants, a few shops, a second hand book shop, an Irish pub, & award winning fish & chips to indulge that seaside feel.

 

 

Rangitata

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Lake Tekapo drive to Rangitata

 

Our Stray bus ventured to Rangitata for some rafting which was cancelled due to too much rain. My fellow Strayers & I just had a quiet evening minus wifi to organise anything. I wonder again why we pay $29 for basic facilities & no wifi?? We braved the rain & went for a walk to a let down of a view point. Are our expectations too high at this point??

 

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Lake Tekapo en route to Rangitata

 

I will be leaving my friends at the next stop as some go to Christchurch & others fly out of Christchurch airport. I’ll be heading up to Kaikoura to swim with Dolphins then go back to Christchurch before heading back to Wellington. I remember I am supposed to have some sort of ‘What Next’ plan by the time I get to Wellington. I should really work on that!

 

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Sunset at Rangitata

Aoraki – Mount Cook

Welcome to the World’s Largest International Dark Sky Reserve!

Star count this evening – zero. No, seriously. I could not see even one star because of the cloud cover. Naturally it was raining & cloudy all day so I didn’t even venture for a hike.

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Mount Cook*

My fellow strayers took the day to decompress & buy wifi access while 3 of us wandered up to The Sir Edmond Hilary Alpine Centre** to visit the planetarium & museum. I am determined to discover glorious Mount Cook digitally if I can’t do so in person.

 

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I recommend going to the planetarium for 3d & 2d cinema & planetarium shows. It costs $20 for your ticket & is valid for the duration of your stay. Some of the shows were a bit dated, but still enjoyable & informative. We found out about primeval New Zealand, Black holes, watched a documentary about mountain rescue & even sat through the children’s show. Each one of us did fall asleep at some point during the shows but this travel stuff is tiring, right??

 

*Mount Cook

http://www.mtcooknz.com

 

**The Sir Edmond Hilary Alpine Centre

http://www.hermitage.co.nz/en/the-sir-edmund-hillary-alpine-centre

The Little Blue Penguins

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It’s a drizzly night on Stewart Island & myself & some other strayers have wandered down to the local pub, South Sea Hotel*, for the Southernmost pint of our lives. I loved the pubs laid back atmosphere & how everyone probably knew each other – like at home. If you watch The Mighty Boosh, it was similar to the pub in the Old Gregg episode – The King Prawn’s Head! I was just waiting for Matilda & nan bread to pop up!
The locals told us there were penguins by the wharf so we excitedly hurried to see them. They were SO CUTE! The little blue penguins were smaller than I expected & more adorable than I anticipated. It took a great deal of effort not to grab them & snuggle them into my face i.e. motorboat them. God I miss the feel of my wee dogs soft fur on my face. Motor boating him is one of the most comforting things I can think of.
The bar tender told me that there were lots of little blue penguins at Ackers Point & he kindly gave us a courtesy lift there (its about 30-40mins walk from the pub). It was really dark, fortunately my friend had a head torch which she turned to the red light so as not to startle or confuse the little guys.
We followed the trail around Halfmoon Bay to the beach by Lewis Acker’s Stone House but we couldn’t see any signs of life. I got the impression we were surrounded by the little blue penguins but they were concealed from us. We quite crept over to the rocks & cliff face & found three little blue penguins. They were about 6 inches tall & quite shy. We tried to keep a respectful distance from them yet they crossed straight in front of us to get to the next rock. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of them because I didn’t want to frighten them with flash photography.
I could have stayed watching them for longer but I was concerned we were keeping them awake & they wouldn’t be well rested for tomorrow. I couldn’t face the prospect of them being too weak to go hunting the next day & maybe getting hunted themselves. I really cannot shake his catholic guilt.
I have fallen for Stewart Island.
The views were striking & the atmosphere was tranquil. I imagine it has incredible sunsets & impressive views of the stars…. It is so beautiful & I could happily stay here for a week exploring & relaxing. Unfortunately I don’t have the time or funds now to stay longer. I really recommend it if you get the chance to come over.
*South Sea Hotel

Go to Stewart Island they said, see a kiwi they said

So here I am on Stewart Island too bloody tired to do anything never mind hunt a Kiwi! A long day stuck on the bus has ensured that I have no energy to appreciate my awesome surroundings. I took the Stray bus from Gunn’s Camp at 8am & now it’s late evening post an 8 hour bus journey, wait around in Invercargill (which isn’t as bad as people say) & 1 hour boat trip.
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As soon as I set foot on Stewart Island I knew instantly I would like it. I am convinced there are places that instantly make your heart beat more contently. The water was clear, the sun was shining & the air was fresh & cool. There was even a blue tinge to the bright beaming white sky, but that may have just been the rain preparing to come. The rain came before I even collected my bag from the collection point.
I will force myself to go for a quick explore while I can still keep my eyes open! I’m looking forward to my amazing nights sleep & maybe a cold beer if I can convince myself that I won’t fall asleep during it!

Gunns Camp

This felt like another Stray rip off accommodation.

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Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to be secluded & the dorms are nice – but what am I paying 30 odd dollars for? No wifi, 4 hours of electricity, limited hot water, no breakfast…. Surely it didn’t need to be so expensive??

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The fridge

I don’t mean to come across all #firstworldproblems – I just really dislike being hoodwinked. I don’t believe it was good value for money. ‘Nuff said.

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Cute riverside seating

It was refreshing to be in a remote location & have no phone signal. Yes, we got to enjoy each others company without distractions – but if I’m with my friends I am normally having too much fun with them to be inclined to look at my phone anyway. It was fun to see people get caught up in a jigsaw puzzle & fun to join in to get equally competitive. I will certainly be buying a puzzle for one of my Stray pals when he gets home! He unearthed a hidden passion for puzzling!

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‘Quirky’ to say the least!

 

*Gunns Camp

http://www.gunnscamp.org.nz

The Incredible Milford Sound

Bright & early the Stray bus et al bid a fond farewell to Queenstown & ventured to the deep south bound for Milford Sound! I have looked in awe at the pictures I have seen of Milford Sound. It looks unbelievable & I can’t my luck that I’m going. Milford Sound was discovered by Captain John Grono in c.1812 after years of being overlooked from the sea as nothing significant. See folks, you can’t judge a book & all that!

Enter dark clouds & rain.

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As we approached the fiordlands the rain was getting heavier. Our driver kept pointing out the waterfalls, trying to lift the mood by saying on the bluebird day he went he didn’t see any waterfalls – how disappointing for him….

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Although what did I expect, it is one of the wettest places in the world, & the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand. I thought I had my quota of crap weather days throughout my trip, I wanted the luck of the Irish to help me with this one. Unfortunately the odds were against me, even in the height of the summer, it rains around 180 days per year here.

I took a boat tour around the fiords but was it wasn’t especially good. I felt like cattle herded on to the boat, certainly not an authentic experience. I got really fed up being pushed around by other people trying to get the best picture of a fog covered mountain & waterfalls. The rainfall certainly ensured there were plenty of waterfalls for people to take pictures of & never look at again. Bitter?? ME???!

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I was genuinely disappointed with the weather. This was one of the sights I was most eager to see & fully expecting to be awestruck. I felt cheated. I know I’m being dramatic, but I had taken the previous cancellations of activities & poor weather in my stride. Now this dark cloud felt like a taunting joke. I was upbeat with my friends but upset with the weather, which I know is silly because I can’t control it, but I so badly wanted it to be perfect.

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There are numerous boat tours you can take around Milford Sound. The one I did was average & nothing special. If you know your dates & can book in advance I would recommend booking via the Book Me* website for a considerable discount. There are several tour companies operating in Milford Sound, I expect the tours to be much the same. Please google pictures of Milford Sound so you can appreciate it in all its splendour – don’t use my pictures as a reference point to decide whether to visit. I hope you get better weather!

*Book Me

http://www.bookme.nz