North America, Australia and Oceania · 43 Days · 51 Moments · June 2017

Jeanean's adventure in New Zealand

6 August 2017

I had a lot of fun on this trip and I feel like I learned so much. It was so great not only meeting new people, but getting to live with them and learn about their way of life. There's definitely some things about my own way of life that I would like to change after learning from them. At same time I think I learned a lot about what makes up the core of me, the part of me that won't change. I have to admit though, I felt a bit ugly on this trip. Not sure if it was frumpy clothes or a lack of joy. I felt a lot of happiness on this trip, but not a lot of exuberance or joy. It's the people I'm close to that really make me feel that way (i.e. all of you), so I really missed you all a lot. 💞 I'm happy to be home and excited to see how this experience transforms me going forward. All good thoughts and feelings. Home sweet home!! 😍

5 August 2017

I had one last gas station pie for lunch and then booked it back over to Auckland because of course I somehow ended up running late 😲 I made it with plenty of time to the rental car place. But I didn't realize that their shuttle to the airport stopped running, so they had to call me a taxi, and of course it was cash only and I used all my NZ cash, so I had to give him a $20 US bill for a 5 minute ride 👿 then I stressed out about my luggage being too heavy and them not letting me on the plane, blah blah blah...everything ended up just fine. I had a harder time sleeping on the plane than I did going there because I was excited to go home, but eventually I got myself to sleep for about 7 hours and then watched an episode of Archer Dreamland and the movie Hidden Figures (which I totally enjoyed and cried through half of because...Space!! Women!! Black women!!! 😍😍😂) and then I was in LA, just like that!! To my surprise, customs didn't care at all that I had been on a farm...whatever 😌
My last day!!!! 😱 I did a 3 hour hike around the Kai Iwi Lakes that I don't want to talk about much because although it was pretty, it took WAY TOO FREAKING LONG AND I DIDN'T EVEN MAKE IT AROUND THE WHOLE LAKE SO YEAH I WAS PRETTY ANNOYED 😒 after that, I drove about an hour to the Waipoua forest, which is a very ancient forest with these enormous trees called kauri trees. I think my expectations were a little too high when I saw the biggest kauri tree, Tane Mahuta/Lord of the Forest. I expected it to be bigger 😂 but I also think it was just a bit too crowded to really enjoy. I then did a hike to the second biggest kauri, Te Matua Ngahere/Father of the Forest, and the Four Sisters (4 large kauri trees that are close together). I liked those soooooo much, and much better than the first one. It was really serene and awe-inspiring to be in the presence of these huge trees that were thousands of years old. It was weird but it felt as if you could sense some sort of wisdom about them.

4 August 2017

Today I finally get to go to the island!!! It's called Tiritiri Matangi. I almost didn't make it on the ferry, I was the last one on 😂😂😅 I really had a wonderful time here. An older lady gave us a guided tour and we learned all about the different birds and their distinctive calls. I finally understood why birdwatching can be fun 😆 the only thing I'm bummed about is that I didn't see any takahe, which are an iridescent flightless bird thought to be extinct until rediscovered in the 70s 😭 but I saw some little blue penguins in nesting boxes which totally blew my mind and made the whole trip worth it...oh my God that was amazing being like less than a foot from them... after the island, I booked it over to Dargaville in Northland, which took about 2 1/2 hours. This hostel was a little bit too friendly, there were only two people and the manager 😂 I was getting super antisocial by the end of my trip hahahaha. But I tried my best to talk to the people there and they were cool ☺

3 August 2017

Wednesday August 2: Headed to the airport this morning to go to BORING Auckland 😒 hahaha. I had been trying for the past few days to contact the conservation office to volunteer on this birdlife sanctuary island for a few days until my flight back home but sadly I couldn't make it work. Not much to report today ☺ Thursday August 3: I was supposed to go to the sanctuary island today to stay overnight but I found out in the morning that the ferry was cancelled!!! I was so bummed, it would have been amazing to stay overnight because I might have been able to see kiwi at night (they are nocturnal). Only a few people stay overnight so I would have had the island almost to myself, and apparently the birdsong during sunrise is amazing. Oh well...I ended up getting a tattoo so that was fun 😂 and then I chatted with some people at the hostel and watched the latest Jason Bourne movie 😆 this hostel is suuuuper friendly, I really wish I had stayed here at the beginning instead of the end!!!

1 August 2017

Oh, one more thing - around the corner from Little High, they had this life sized arcade game that you could play from the street!! The picture is a little hard to see but there's a giant game pad on the ground with a joystick and then a giant screen on the building across. Basically I think it's a Galaga type game but you end up saving Christchurch from various evils 😂 so cool!!!
I had a really lovely day today!! After I mopped the floor of my host's house, I decided to go for a hike up the Bridle Path, which is a historic path connecting Christchurch and the small port town of Lyttleton. It was the steepest freaking track I have ever been on!!!! I had to cut my own switchbacks, it was that steep. But so beautiful!! And there were sheep grazing the hills - WITH TEENY LAMBS!!! Sheep aren't supposed to lamb until September!! I loved Lyttleton too, really cute affordably priced boutique shops. Afterwards I took the bus back to my car because why torture myself 😆 shopped around a bit at The Tannery, cool venue but way overpriced (except for a cool vintage shop). Then I got some Japanese Curry at a hip food court called Little High but I was sadly disappointed with my meal 😣 finally got to chat with my host for 15 minutes when I got home, she's very friendly but SUPER busy. Her bubbly-ness overwhelmed me a bit. What an awesome day though. Loved Christchurch.

31 July 2017

I arrived in Christchurch the night before and after a little confusion with my WWOOFing host, I got set up with a really nice mother-in-law type suite - attached to the house but in kitchen and bathroom! I had already been in Christchurch for a night at the beginning of my South Island trip (when I stayed in the renovated jailhouse), but I kind of wrote Christchurch off because no one had ever said anything good about it. After I did a few hours of weeding and housekeeping, I headed off to the city and had a really interesting time! 6 years ago, Christchurch had a really destructive earthquake that killed almost 200 people. Even now, there is construction EVERYWHERE. buildings in shambles, empty storefronts - it was sad and intriguing to see a city trying to rebuild itself. You could feel the spirit of a people trying to regain a sense of normal life. Oh also the BEST GELATO OF MY LIFE 😍😍😍😍😍!!!! And check out those city sheep!! 😆

30 July 2017

Oh and here's a picture on Lewis Pass which is on the way to Christchurch from Maruia, it was a very pretty drive around sunset 😊
Right after I left that host, I drove to Maruia Hot Springs, which is a natural hot springs resort. It was cool but after I had like 10 locals tell me that I had to go there, it was a bit oversold at that point. Also - it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life!! Many of you may not know this about me but I actually have a hard time with hot liquids hahahaha. I don't particularly like hot tea or coffee or jacuzzis because I just find it too hot! Well anyway, I was trying go to do the whole hot pools experience properly the way they recommended and I was getting so dizzy and my body was like what the hell am I even feeling anymore?!?!? You can see the discomfort in my face in the last picture 😂😂😂 all in all I found the hot pools to be anything but relaxing. First did an infared sauna, then a hot pool, then a cold shower, another sauna, a hot pool, and then I went in the plunge pool!!! Ice cold water!!!!! I should've had someone get proof 😊👍 I felt pretty brave. And dizzy. 🤕
July 30. I finally got to leave that terrible place. It's funny, my last WWOOFing host asked me what I would do if I was being worked too hard. I found out that the answer is nothing - I would just stay. In truth, the work was hard, but I would have been glad to do it if I cared about the people I was working for and knew that they cared about me. To them, we were just unskilled labor. My host ended up giving me a greenstone necklace. In the Maori culture, a greenstone necklace is a very special gift. But as soon as I left the house I just wanted to throw it out the window. I felt so conflicted. I wanted a necklace; you are not supposed to buy one for yourself. But I didn't want one from her. Why would she give this to me if she didn't care about me?? I still don't know what to do with it, even though I know it did not cost much. I'm just glad to finally be gone. I will miss the Japanese ladies and our conversations about the Japanese and English languages...I'm wishing them well.

29 July 2017

On my last day of work, July 29, I caught a break. The other ladies were not so lucky - they continued the work with manure. I went to the market with one of my hosts to sell the mandarins. I liked the female host better than her partner, but I also felt that she was fake and also viewed us workers as objects. We had good conversations and I learned a lot from her about being environmentally friendly, and she also gave us nice dinners. But I just didn't like the way she treated us. She expected us to work and showed very little gratitude. Anyway the market was nice and I got a better impression of Nelson from it. It's very much a hippie kind of beach town. Still, my bad experience kind of overshadowed any goodness it might have had. Had a good steep hike after the market to - drum roll please - the center of New Zealand!! Usually a 30 min hike to the top but I did it in 15 which felt AMAZING. And then I went to a beach called Rabbit Island which was pleasant.

28 July 2017

The third day, July 28, was even harder than the last. In order to fertilize the mandarin trees, cardboard had to be laid down in rows along the mandarin trees, then chicken manure had to be laid on the cardboard, then sawdust had to be shoveled over the chicken manure to kind of keep it from moving in the wind or rain. Fortunately, my host laid down the chicken manure for us. Unfortunately, we were not spared the smell, as we had to shovel sawdust over freshly laid chicken manure. There must have been 500 pounds of chicken manure in the yard. I have never in my life smelled anything worse. The smell was soaked into my shoes, fixed in my nostrils. Up until the day after, I kept thinking I could smell it. That was truly awful; the other WWOOFers got the worst of it. And again, no thanks, no commendations. If you look hard at the first picture I posted, you can see a row of manure/sawdust mixture. Here we are all smiling. I loved talking to those Japanese ladies after dinners.

27 July 2017

The second day, July 27, was another difficult day of work. One of the Japanese ladies (Ayumi) and I essentially dug out small pieces of a fallen tree from the ground and shoveled them for for four hours. It was back breaking work and again, another task that was impossible to finish. He sort of thanked us for the work but I think he was more thankful about the truck coming to pave a path over the ground we cleared. After that I went to town and just tried to get my bearings. The picture here is of a nice church in Nelson. Once when I crossed the street, some guy who almost ran me over called me a bitch. Nelson was rubbing me the wrong way.

26 July 2017

So here's kind of the reason you haven't heard from me in a while. The reason is, I started working for my next host - and it was awful. I felt like I had a pleasant conversation with my hosts the night before, there were two other WWOOFers there from Japan that were every friendly, etc. But when time came to work, it was quite bad. The first day, July 26, no one really oriented me to the way of life there or told me how many hours to work. My host told me that he wanted to take two baskets of mandarin oranges to the market on Saturday. I did a different task for the first hour and then picked mandarins for five hours because I was panicked about him needing those mandarins. At the end of it, he didn't care I had worked extra hours and just criticized the ones I had picked. There wasn't enough daylight left to go to town so I ended up just staying home.

25 July 2017

I was super sad to be leaving the West Coast as it was gorgeous there and so different from the rest of New Zealand. So beautiful and untamed. But I had to start making my way up north towards Nelson to get to my next WWOOFing host, about 5 hours away. I decided to do about half of Arthur's pass on my way there (the whole pass leads out to Christchurch). It was a really long day of driving, about 8 hours on the road -the driving was tough too,a very steep grade... But as I think you'll agree, it was so worth it. Absolutely freaking spectacular.

24 July 2017

Today was all about Hokitika! (Mostly because it was raining the entire time so I couldn't go anywhere else! 😂) Hokitika is one of the areas where New Zealand jade, or Pounamu, can be found deposited at the riverbanks. I tried looking along the beaches to find some myself but it was a little too wet. 😅 They have tons of cool jade so where you can watch them carve them into Maori symbols. I also went to the Hokitika River Gorge where, surprise surprise, they had yet another scary swingbridge! I'm getting used to them by now though 😊 since it was raining, the river wasn't as shatteringly turquoise blue as I think it normally is, but it was still cool to go see. Hokitika is also famous for its sunset - not much sun today because of the weather, but that still didn't stop a nice view. 🌄

23 July 2017

Today was jam packed full of waterfalls, hikes, and a ton of driving!!! Can't believe how much distance I gained. Once I got past Haast, the scenery changed dramatically. It looks like how I imagine Maui - limestone bluffs, ferns, dense trees...& the rainclouds too 😂 my WWOOFing hosts told me that the West Coast is more rugged and they were right. There are so few people that live here, and I hardly pass anyone on the road. Did a short hike to the terminal face of Fox Glacier - the glacial valley is MASSIVE! I couldn't believe the size of it. It was a bummer to not be able to walk around on the glacier - you only get to do that on an expensive tour so hopefully next time 😢 Then I went to Lake Matheson, and had it magically been a cloudless day, it would have been amazing. When the water is still, it creates a perfect reflection of the Southern Alps. I'm really bummed because this was my second opportunity to see Mt Cook (see 7/8) and again it was obscured. You win again winter 😧
Started off another day of a ton of driving with a good hike. And by good I mean OMG IT WAS SO STEEP WHY DO YOU DO THIS NEW ZEALANDERS???? anyway good views from the Haast Pass lookout and made a few more stops on the way through the pass: Fantail Falls, Thunder Creek Falls, and Roaring Billy. No shortage of amazing waterfalls in the South Island 😍😍 the only part of the drive that was not so good was that I got to Haast, the first town after the pass, and there was still no cell reception! That's when I learned that there's a 200km black hole of cell reception in the South Westland!! Kinda crazy and can be worrisome since it's so remote out here. But anyway, I found reception eventually, and more importantly - I made it to the West Coast!!!!! I happened to drive in on a great day but it rains really heavily ALL THE TIME here (including tomorrow 😅)

22 July 2017

After I left my host, I was mostly driving forever 😖 I saw #ThatWanakaTree (it's a thing I swear, and in other seasons it looks way better 😂 just a lone tree on the lake). And then i stopped by the Blue Pools via a few more sketchy bridges 😅
I had to say goodbye to my WWOOFing hosts 😢😢😢 they were really generous and lovely to talk to, we always had something to laugh about together. They gave me soooooo much food, didn't work me very hard, and had the sweetest accommodations a wwoofer could dream of. I will miss them as I continue on with my journey 😢

21 July 2017

Today I actually took more pictures at work than I did when I was off work 😂😂😂 this morning I woke up early and helped my WWOOFing host, who is a sheep farmer, scan the sheep to see if they are pregnant!!!! It was super memorable and super fun!!!!!! This was actually the kind of work I really wanted to do when I decided to do WWOOFing in New Zealand - I really wanted to work with animals and learn more about how to take care of them. I wish I had gotten more opportunities to do that but I still learned a whole lot about other things anyway. Hard to explain the process of scanning them in words but my host was super impressed with me, he said that I picked it up the fastest out of anyone he knew and said I did a great job. That meant so much to me!!!! (And was super validating because that's the kind of work I wanted to be doing all along.) Then I went to a town called Invercargill to have a long distance date with Gary watching the movie Dunkirk 😊❤❤

20 July 2017

Today was pretty laid back; all I did for work was put some shrubs in the holes I dug earlier and then did a short day trip to a nearby site called Mavora Lakes. The road there was 35 teeth rattling kilometers of unpaved gravel road so that was fun praying that my rental car would escape without a scratch 😂 despite being overcast, it was beautiful and the clouds didn't obscure many of the peaks around the area. The reason I decided to go there was because this was the filming location of two Lord of the Rings related places: when the fellowship is leaving Lothlorien and when they are shoring up after finishing their journey on the Anduin River. See if you can tell which is which! 😊 Oh PS, I had to get on the scariest swing bridge ever to get some of these photos, Gary you would have hated it 😂

19 July 2017

I was supposed to do another two days worth of work to make up for my second full day at Queenstown, but I didn't end up doing very much before my host decided to take me riding 😂 the name of the horse I was riding was Cougar. I loved him!!!!! I thought we got along pretty well. That was a really special moment for me.

18 July 2017

Went to Queenstown two days in a row! Monday July 17: drove to Queenstown, it was a bit of an overcast drizzly day so I just walked around and got a deep fried kiwi (😁) and bought SO MUCH STUFF OMG TOO MANY SOUVENIRS. Ugh Queenstown is a really expensive place though so I didn't spend much on fun stuff on this day, though I did wait in line for an hour to get what is apparently the best burger on the planet at Fergburger. No doubt it was yummy but compared to LA with all its culinary creativity, it kinda fell flat. Tuesday July 18: Drove to Queenstown again and went to the kiwi birdlife park where I GOT TO SEE KIWI BIRDS!!!!! that was really awesome, they are so much bigger than I expected. They don't allow you to take pics of them tho. Also I made myself a bomb meat pie lunch 😁 Then.... Bungy jumping 😱 honestly I can't believe I did it. It was so scary, it felt exactly like the dream where you're falling 😖 but I gotta say...I felt pretty proud of myself for mastering my fear. 😌

16 July 2017

Not much exciting happened today because I was doing two days worth of work so I could go to Queenstown the next day for the whole day. Basically I painted a bunch of posts for my WWOOFing host and dug holes. 😁 That's my view from work, not bad eh? 😉

15 July 2017

Omg. This freaking hike was RIDICULOUS. It was really awesome for the first part and REALLY ANNOYING at the end. Basically what happened was this: I took a water taxi across Lake Te Anau to cut a few kilometers off of my day hike of the Kepler track (I was going to finish the hike at the Luxmore hut). Hiked to the top, it was super steep (climbed 800 m) but really awesome views and I felt pretty good about it (was super windy, included a pic of me looking like a bandit. HOWEVER I HAD TO THEN WALK BACK DOWN AND ALL THE WAY AROUND THE FREAKING LAKE TO GET BACK TO MY CAR!!!! which I knew I had to do but somehow I didn't process how long it was going to take... The hike was 15 miles total and it took me 9 hours. 😑😑😑😑😑😑😑 I got nothing else to say about that except that I have never been happier to see my car in my whole life.

14 July 2017

Today was So. Freaking. Amazing. Took a bus from Te Anau to Milford Sound, had a bunch of scenic stops including The Chasm - I couldn't really get a good picture of it but it's a fierce waterfall that appears to have worn holes into stone over years and years!!! Met some Kea too, which are lovely mischevious New Zealand parrots that have brilliant colors on the underside of their wings. And then - the Milford Sound and Mitre Peak, in all its gorgeousness on a perfect sunny day that I was somehow graced with in the middle of winter. And to top it all off, this pack of seven or so dolphins came RIGHT UP TO OUR BOAT. Never in a million years did I expect that, and the guides said it was quite rare as well... Today was absolutely magical. 😍 definitely a highlight of the trip.

13 July 2017

Today I helped my host feed and work the horses!!!! (A lot of these are blurry because I took them on accident but thought it might give you an idea of what farm life is like). The first pic is a typical pic of how people get around the farm and also how they corral sheep - by motorbike! I did quite a bit of riding in the back of these 😂 helped my host brush one of her horses (this one's name is J-Lo 😂) and work them as well, which means to exercise them by having them on a rope and leading them around the farm a bit via the motor bike. A bit hard to explain but kinda like walking a dog while you're on a skateboard so they can run a bit. It was scary because horses are so powerful and I want sure how friendly she was and also was scared of her getting run over by the motorbike. But it was an amazing experience. I also dug like 40 holes in the garden 😂😂😂 Then I drove to a town called Te Anau to do some sightseeing for a few days before I come back to the farm 😊

12 July 2017

The first two days at this new WWOOFing host were just spent doing work, hanging out, and figuring out my next steps. My accommodation is freaking amazing - it's a separate 3 bedroom cottage, and she provided me SOOOOOOOOO MUCH FREAKING FOOD!!!!! and I can just make my own food as I please. This has been fantastic because not that I haven't been feeding myself, but I haven't exactly been eating the best while on a budget... 😅 Also do much freaking lamb omg I'm dying it is so awesome. Anyway where I'm staying now is a sheep and cattle farm, and I think the owners are fairly wealthy. The hosts are really nice and very generous but I kinda miss my hosts in Rotorua, we got along really well. Anyway all I did for work these two days was clean and organize their stable. And then it snowed the second day I was there!!!!!! Soooooooooo much snow!!!!!!!!

10 July 2017

Ahhhhh!! This day was amazing!!! Basically I drove through a place called The Catlins. It's at the southernmost edge of New Zealand. Such a beautiful scenic drive, and I didn't even have time to see all the scenic things I wanted to see because I had to get to my next WWOOFing host!! Pictured here are Nugget Point, Purakaunui Falls, and McLean Falls. You probably can't tell from the pictures but these waterfalls are absolutely MASSIVE. Ugh. Someday I'll have to do this drive again but split it up into two days so I can see it all. 😍😍😍

9 July 2017

Today I made my way down from the Mt Cook area to Oamaru, Moeraki, and Dunedin. It was a fairly uneventful day and yet super stressful!!! I only made a few stops here and there to see things or figure out where I was going and yet I was almost late to my ultimate goal: to get on the tour to see the most endangered penguin species in the world, the yellow-eyed penguin, in Dunedin. I drove past "steampunk HQ" in Oamaru but didn't go in (not pictured). Stopped by the Moeraki boulders, which are these strange giant spherical boulders on the ocean. Cool but a little underwhelming... Then I sped all the way to Dunedin to try to catch the tour, it was super stressful!!! I had to go down this super windy narrow road for an HOUR hahaha. Worst road to drive on when you're late... It's kind of a bummer cuz winter is the worst season to see the penguins, there's very few on land. But it was still a cool experience seeing them in these trenches 😊 the penguins pictured are in their rehab center.

8 July 2017

Drove to aoraki/mt cook the next day and all the hikes i wanted to do were completely snowed in, plus mt cook wasn't even visible!!! What a disappointment. I did a short hike to a lookout point and then skedaddled. Still nice views but meh. Passed by Gondor from Lord of the Rings on my way out ☺ hopefully my trip gets back on track.

6 July 2017

In Christchurch, I slept in a hostel that was a converted jail so that was pretty interesting 😂😂 the last two days have been kind of a bummer because of bad weather - the first day i went to lake tekapo and was expecting to do stargazing because it's an international dark sky reserve but for some reason I didn't see that many 😔 the drive up to lake tekapo on the inland scenic route was absolutely amazing at least - however I again took awful pictures 😂😂
More Welly!!!! We up and went to a place called Best Ugly Bagels, when they wood fire bagels Montreal style. BEST BAGEL I'VE EVER HAD!!!!!!!!!! Sooooooo bummed I could take any home. Went to Te Papa, the national museum, after that. Normally I think museums are really boring but this one was amazing. They had an exhibit on Gallipoli, which was a very bloody failed attack on the Turkish by the Australians and New Zealanders in WWI. It was super well done and really gave you a taste of the horrors of war. They had these enormous realistic statues of people from the war - you can see the scale of the one pictured by looking at the person next to it. Really awesome. Then went to a botanical garden and mostly enjoyed the duck garden because who the heck goes to a botanical garden in winter 😂😂😂 in the evening I got on a plane and for to Christchurch too begin my South Island tour!!!

5 July 2017

Wellington was sooooooo freaking beautiful and amazing and wonderful!! 😍😍😍 It was a lot like San Francisco because it was hilly and a port town, and it had all these super cool restaurants and bars everywhere you turned. And the reason I didn't journal about it until now is because I took really awful pictures of it 😂 the food is seriously to-die-for 😤 I went to a place called Mexico and had tacos. At first I was pretty suspicious of whether it would be good or not but it was amazing. I also had a feijoa and vanilla Margarita, also amazing (feijoa is a fruit that apparently only New Zealanders eat but it's awesome). Then I had these waffles that Wellington is really famous for, they were just okay 😂 I wanted to go to this bar called Crumpet really badly but I was already too full hahaha. I'm basically already planning my return trip. Anyway this entry was really boring, it was basically for me to remember all these places and things I want to do again so yeah anyway 😆

4 July 2017

Yesterday was just me doing the 6 hour drive down to Wellington with some stops along the way 🤗 swam around a hot springs with a waterfall, saw this astounding waterfall called the Huka Falls, had THE MOST AMAZING meat pie (it was a seafood chowder one) from a freaking GAS STATION, and drove down the Desert Rd to my accomodations 😊 sadly no fourth of july celebrations for me as I was too tired and got here pretty late - so y'all will have to have twice the celebrations on my behalf!!! Now I'm just lazing around trying to recoup before I fly to the South island (which I am kind of nervous about because it will be a LOT colder!!! 😨😨😨)

3 July 2017

I had to say goodbye to my WWOOFing hosts, it was super sad 😢 I loved them so much!!!
This is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It's 19km long. It was the most amazing hike of my life. Seriously challenging; I couldn't believe I completed it. I did a great video blog of my experience having no idea when the hard part was over or just starting and freaking out that it was snowing and bad visibility 😂😂😂 this will have been one of the highlights of my trip for sure. Oh also Mt Doom and Mordor from Lord of the rings are pictured here 😊

2 July 2017

On July 1 (Saturday) I went to a living Maori village (Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand). It was pretty darn cool. The main awesome part about it was a cultural performance they did which unfortunately I can't show you because journi won't let me upload videos 😢 I'll have to show y'all when I get back. They use the geothermal pools to cook their food and it's super fast!!! Later that day I dropped my phone in the toilet like a dummy. Watched the second Lions vs All Blacks rugby game, it was a "rubbish game" as my hosts would say because the All Blacks lost 😜 I'm getting the hang of the rules though, I'm excited for their third match on Saturday!!!! Sunday I just worked all day and tried to figure out my phone situation so that was that.

1 July 2017

Hi loved ones, sorry for the radio silence--I freaking DROPPED MY PHONE IN THE TOILET AND IT COMPLETELY DIED!!!!! I was really freaking out because I didn't know how I was really going to continue this trip by myself, getting directions to places and keeping in contact with my parents to let them know I'm okay... Anyway, I can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief now cuz I bought a tablet with 4g capability that is working out really well. I'm sooooooo happy that stress is over... Now for the updates 😅

30 June 2017

Rotorua is known for having lots of geothermal pools, so I went to Waiotapu Geothermal Wonderland yesterday 😊 lots of cool pools of different colors because of the minerals in them. It was super foggy unfortunately, but still able to get a decent look at them.

29 June 2017

The Green Dragon 🐉🍻 (and one last look at the Shire)
One word: Hobbiton

28 June 2017

Arrived at my first WWOOFing host...the drive there was absolutely breathtaking (not enough pics, I was enjoying it way too much). AND the family is so so nice and generous. They're really flexible and just want me to have a good time. They're also really wonderful to talk to, friendly and kind and ugh couldn't have worked out better in my wildest dreams. Tomorrow I'll get a bit of work done around their house and then off to Hobbiton...😁
Today I drove on the left side of the road for the first time!!!!!!! 😱 It was really stressful at first and probably still is in the city, but most of my driving was on highways and two lane country roads so much less stressful. Whenever I make any sort of turn, I Iiterally have to keep telling myself, "keep left keep left keep left keep left" 😆 no close calls yet! I drove from Auckland to the Waitomo glowworm caves first. Sadly many of the glowworms were washed away by a recent cyclone, which flooded the cave. But it was still cool and slightly terrifying 😂 they hang little toxic threads from the ceiling to catch flies and whatnot to eat...sounds pretty much like spiders about to fall on my head to me 😓 also I felt like Bilbo in the cave with gollum 😆 they didn't allow photos in the cave so just a pic of their visitor center.

27 June 2017

Took my trip to Waiheke Island yesterday. Absolutely gorgeous. Had a wine tasting and a super fancy cheese board by myself 😂 it was a short trip but so beautiful. When I got back to my room at the hostel, some new Australian girls had just gotten there so I went to the pub with them to watch the rugby game (Lions v Hurricanes). That was quite a bit of fun - of course we talked about all the food items we do or don't have in common 😆 soooo many candies I have never heard of...sadly no pics with them but wishing them well on their travels. I think I made it on one of their Snapchat stories at least 🤷
I overheard someone saying it and it's true - it's such a wonderful day today. It's a little brisk but so warm in the sun. I feel much better than yesterday; I was jetlagged and felt really frumpy wearing my airplane clothes all day. Feel much better after a shower and donning some makeup and a dress 😊 I a great breakfast at a cafe called Stark's, chickpea roll with some kind of ketchup and an iced chai latte. The barista looked at me funny when I ordered my drink; I can't figure out if it's because it's cold or because no one orders it iced. Anyway it was the best ever. It was almost like drinking eggnog!!!! I wish they made it like that in the States... Mostly just spent the morning planning my trip; on my way to Waiheke Island now to do some walking around and a romantic glass of wine at sunset by myself 😉

26 June 2017

Spent the first half of the day walking all around Auckland; I've logged 3.5 miles so far. I see it as a combo of downtown Chicago and Vancouver - the city centre is mostly just shopping, but in other areas there are really diverse restaurants (lots of middle Eastern and Asian food). Lots of people seem to have traditional Maori tribal tattoos. It also seems pretty diverse in the city. Went the waterfront, Myers Park, and found a suuuper cool/hipstery area of Auckland to hang out (but it is also a little bit in a bad part of town strangely). Ate a lamb gyro, it was okay. I was too hungry to wait for something better!! A shop owner recommended to me that I go see a rugby game. That would be super fun, I wonder if I can swing it. Now I'm just waiting for my room at the hostel to be prepared so I can finally lie down and get situated...🙂
I made it to Auckland City!!! 😁

24 June 2017

Here I gooooo! I'm a bit terrified but excited...I wonder what this trip has in store for me. I miss everyone that I love and wish they were with me