North America, Australia and Oceania · 86 Days · 83 Moments · January 2017

New Zealand a-go-go


20 April 2017

Feijoa and apple chutney all finished, fresh from the trees outside :)
Today I spent some time planting and singing to a huge bundle of leaks my host was given. I also weeded out the remainder of the garden and edge shelter trees so they could grow to their full potential. After that was done I began making feijoa chutney. I've never made chutney before, or even tried it to be honest, but from my experience today it smells quite weird. The smell is caused by the immense amount of malt vinegar put in. Im about to put it in jars ( that I put in the oven first so they wouldn't break from the heat) and I will post a picture as soon as they're done

19 April 2017

There was a big brouhaha when the chickens escaped today. They bent their fence over so i had to catch the three escapees and fix the fence up. I was also able to catch three chickens in the act of laying, one in a nest made in the grass on the other side of the fence. After I spent a while weeding and trimming the heads off the flowers that have past. I left the stalks, so there would be a space for pollinator insects to create homes for the coming winter. Finally I picked some feijoas off the ground because you can never have enough, and when the season is right there are waaay to many just falling off the tree everyday. Because of the surplus I made some feijoa, coconut, and lemon muffins! Cant wait to try :)

18 April 2017

Had some serious clean up to do after our easter weekend break. There were still logs and branches all over the garden and several of the trees still needed a trim from the storm last week. We spent hours clearing brush and stacking logs for fire wood use. We also got to break out some of our tree pruning skills we picked up from teaching gardenshare. It was hard work but well worth it to see all the garden beds clear once again. We were also able to find some compost to add to the plants that had a particularly bad hit from the storm. Where hoping that the added nutrients will help spring the plants back into action, or at the very least help them to stay alive.

14 April 2017

Because of the storm yesterday we were stuck inside. We ended up making quince jam by picking some of the quince out in the orchard, grating them, boiling them, and adding a bit of sugar. The jam came out pretty tasty, although quince has quite a weird smell. Today we were on storm clean up, raking leaves and picking up discarded fruit. We collected at least 50 fejoa, a native fruit to NZ, from broken branches in the yard. Most aren't ripe, regardless we're planning on making some sort of jam or relish with them just so they wont go to waist. We also had to resurrect a fallen lime tree that wasn't broken but quite mangled. Im just happy the rain sounded like ocean waves and today is bright and sunny :)

12 April 2017

The past few days have been rainy, which has brought about the last of the pear packing duties for us and a bit of weeding. These pears are certified organic meaning that they have nothing done to them. This is not the process used by everyone, but it has seemed to work for our hosts. For the first few years they pruned and maintained there trees with no fruit. For the past 7 years they have done nothing, including pruning and their trees have been happily producing great amounts of pears every year. Over the years they have gotten a bit of fire blight on their branches, but for some reason this hasn't spread and hasn't affected the fruiting process at all. The pears are brought to a cold storage center then shipped out to Christchurch in the south island to be sold at markets. It has been an amazing experience being able to be a part of this process.

9 April 2017

Egg hunts! We are coming up on our first easter away from home and its felt like easter almost everyday here. That is pretty much only due to the constant egg hunts in the chicken coop. The grass is pretty long, especially around the fences, so we spent a while hunting around and then we weeded out much of the grass right along the fence. We are hoping this will deter the chickens from laying in these sudo nests they have created and go back to the coop to lay. One of the corners was full of eggshells, which I'm guess was due to the amount of eggs and the amount of time. So many chickens were going back there that they were just crushing the eggs that were already there to get to a new spot for their own egg.

8 April 2017

Spent quite some time sorting through pears with our host at break neck speeds because her nephew came to pick pears. There were several crates piling up in there garage so the pressure was on. It was pretty easy with an experienced sorter there with us. After we finished there was talk of making pear cider because of the amount of bad pears we had collected. This is a skill I would love to learn so hopefully that happens sooner rather than later

6 April 2017

We spent today weeding out the various gardens, including the somewhat small veggie garden packed with goodness. We were able to picks some large beets, lettuce, coriander, and beans. There was also an abundance of mint and several cloves of garlic and onions spread out in the garden that had begun to sprout so we covered them with dirt. We also talk to our host about why some of the apple rows had this reflective sheets in between them. She explained to us that to properly color the apples fully they put down these reflective sheets to reflect sun up to the bottom of the apples. And it was obvious just looking at the apples, they were almost all perfectly coated in red. Our host said they couldn't be sent to America if they didn't look perfect.

5 April 2017

Day 2 of pear sorting and rain. We spent our time sorting the rest of the pears in the large bin into crates with exact weights. After we had to sort through the good and bad pears we moved on to sorting through just the rejects. We threw all the mushy or holy pears into a bin to be fed to livestock and put all the pears with too many marks to be shipped to Wellington in a bin to sell at a market near by. We also took some of the mushy pears and made a couple pear creations in the kitchen. We made pear, apple, ginger, and chocolate muffins. We also made pear chips and are in the process of making pear apple sauce. Its amazing all the ideas you can come up with when you have an abundance.

4 April 2017

Today and tomorrow will be full of rain so we have been sorting through the pear harvest and weighing it to be brought to market. We must go through the crates of pears, take the damaged or browned ones out to either be fed to livestock or made into juices and cider. The rest we are putting into crates and weighing them to exactly 25 kg and stacking them on pallets so they can be forklifted onto trucks and shipped out to the market. Its interesting how fun such a mundane task can be when you've never done anything like it before.

2 April 2017

Spent a while with the chickens this morning feeding and observing them. Our hosts shared the story of why the chickens are so happy all the time and why there eggs taste so darn good. They had rescued about 10 chickens from a caged chicken farm where all the chickens were kept in tiny cages just to lay eggs and had lost all their feathers due to stress. Once the chickens laying rate goes down the farm sells off the chickens to people who generally just want to eat them. Our amazing host Alice decided to save these chickens, bring them home, and let them know freedom. The chickens take some time once they're home to get used to open space, good food not on a conveyor belt, and laying in a house, but eventually they all grow their feathers back and are the happiest chickens I've ever seen. We also spent a while weeding and trimming native bushes. Later we were brought to a friends winery to learn about the processing and picking. We got to see a huge truck of grapes dump into a smasher

1 April 2017

We made it to a beautiful new location! It has a huge orchard filled with apples, pears, and a strange pear hybrid that is necessary for the pears to be pollinated. This pear hybrid isn't very sweet and just looks like a massive yellow pear, but its only real use is for cross pollination. Tim, our host, doesn't touch the pear trees and they flourish. In the first few years he had them he couldn't get them to fruit but once he left them alone they exploded with fruit and have looked and acted like happy healthy trees for the past 7 years. After walking through the orchard and picking a few things, we got started on weeding out the several garden beds they have around the property. Tomorrow will be more of the same probably although I honestly cant wait. The hosts are amazing and the property has a special energy to it then makes working here feel invigorating.

30 March 2017

The rest of our last day was dedicated to cleaning up their veggie garden. Because our host left for the day we were able to take initiative and do what we wanted. We spent the whole day clearing weeds, harvesting over grown swiss chard and celery, and staking tomatoes. When she came home she was over joyed with the work we got done and the fact that her garden was no longer a jungle, but actually a manageable area. I hope she is able to keep it that way after we leave because it actually has a lot of produce hiding in it. There are several cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and beans that are growing and are more visible now, but without someone to harvest them, will suffer immensely. Over all I'm happy with the work we got done here, but I am also happy to leave tomorrow as we have done all the gardening possible in two days.
First thing this morning we went to the orchard to pick loads of oranges for fresh squeezed orange juice!

29 March 2017

Spent the day harvesting what we could manage out of the small garden bed. We did happen to find a massive zucchini that we are either going to make into bread or stuff with other veggies, something our host suggested that we have never tried before. After weeding and harvesting a bit we spend a long time making a fresh dinner. I made bread for my first time on my own (every other time has been just watching my mom and barley helping) and it worked out much better than I would have expected. It could have used a bit more time in the oven but it was a great learning experience and the eggplant parmesan worked out perfectly.

28 March 2017

Today we weeded out and thinned several rows of carrots, after hours of clearing work and a bit of convincing the host. We also sang and chatted away to help them along their growth. Just after we finished it began to pour heavily so we were unable to do much else outside today, besides buy our bus tickets for traveling down to Napier on Friday. Im very excited to move on and be back in a space that is more open to me gardening instead of clearing out bush. Although this is a beautiful space it is not at all what I thought it would be in terms of me learning for school and I'm thankful I get to move on so quickly.

27 March 2017

After my first post today we were taken to the orchard which is a beautiful huge section of land filled mostly with lemon trees but also spotted with avocados, oranges, grapefruit, and passion flower over growing over the trees. The passion flower is called a banana passion flower and has long yellow fruits filled with gooey seeds that were quite bitter and sweet. It was amazing climbing trees and picking fresh fruits, but after we were sentenced to clearing work, cutting up wisteria vines and small trees to make space for a future chicken coop. I told the host I am enrolled in school and am trying to learn about farming and gardening, but she didn't seem to acknowledge that much. Unfortunately I'm afraid all we will be doing is clearing until Friday, unless we are able to move on sooner. This host site isn't working out like we hoped and I'm very unsure how they made it on to the WWOOFing website in the first place. We are hoping to work more in the two small gardens or just move on.
We have arrived in Gisborne with plenty of work to do on this huge old property. There is a huge house with several gardens in the area. We were already able to plant in a few herbs in a garden spot and tour the other areas, although we have yet to see the over grown orchard yet. We are excited at the possibilities here, however it's a bit overwhelming the amount they want to get done here. We are definitely not expected to do it all but im excited and interested in what i could do here. Excited to find out more

25 March 2017

Spent the day weeding, mulching, and pruning to finish up our maintenance of the garden we are currently enjoying. A lot of the flowers were just past and the rain from yesterday had knocked several of petals off so we had to dead head the flowers for the health and hope that more flowers would grow. We also spent time evening out shrubs and taking away any seeds so that things wouldn't self seed. Over all im very happy with all the work we've put into this space and will be sad to see it off tomorrow, but always excited for the coming adventure.

23 March 2017

Mulching day! Today we spent hours and hours spreading this mixture of compost and mulch around trees and garden beds. We made sure to keep the mulch away from the bottom of the trees so it wouldn't rot away the bases. The lower down the mulch got in the pile the heavier it got, although the method used for getting the mulch was amazing. Instead of buying bags and using plastic, our host chose to get truck loads. She borrowed a friends truck and payed 40 bucks for a massive pick up truck load that we are still working our way through after hours of spreading it around. She could have also gotten a large truck delivered for only 60 dollars. If she had gotten the bags of mulch it would have costed much more and added to the plastic heap that is polluting our world. Our host is very conscious of plastic pollutants, always reusing and barley ever getting plastic bags. The average plastic bag is used for 12 minutes before being put into another plastic bag and sent off to a landfill.

21 March 2017

Of course there was more weeding to do today, as well as trimming some trees so they could become full and bushy trees one day. We also did a lot of research on compost and what is okay for the bins. Fresh grass clippings are a plentiful summer supply and should be layered with other items. Flower stems should be chopped up forgoing diseased plants. Nettles act as good natural activators. Vegetable and fruit peelings can be added straight to the heap from the kitchen as well as vegetable crop residue. Young weeds can be added, being sure to avoid perennials weeds is important if you dont want a bunch of weeds coming back. Herbivore manure, such as from horses, cows and chickens and tea leaves, but tea bags will take longer to break down. You can also use paper and cardboard in small bits. Its important to layer your compost to help it break down. Also having a closed bin is useful for controlling moisture content as well as keeping pests, such as rats, at bay.

20 March 2017

Spent quite a while cutting back dead leaves from old lilies so that the new plants would have a better chance at life. We pulled everything that looked dead or diseased and miraculously found little sprouts already pushing through underneath. They seemed so much happier with the new found space and will quickly flourish in the fertile soil they live in. Because Rotorua is a volcanic town, the soil is rich in minerals and contains barley any clay, very refreshing compared to everywhere else we've been so far. We also spent some time weeding around young fruit trees so they will be able to grow to their full potential. A huge problem in this garden and around the area are these tiny daisies with long stems. They grow in clusters and totally take over areas. We pulled so many strands but they seemed to just keep coming. They are adorable with tiny white and pink flowers, however they choke out many plants that were planted purposefully, so we found a new purpose for the flower ;)toe ring

19 March 2017

Went to the local farmers market this morning and learned all about new local veggies. There were ball shaped zucchini which people call courgette, which were called kamokamos. They are better for salads, while the regular courgette are better for stir fry. We also got some apple cucumbers which are yellow balls that are sweet and delicious. They had huge carrots and cabbages that were all grown locally as well as fresh breads and plenty of local honey. The market was also surrounded by compostable bags for any excess food scraps, as well as recycle and rubbish bins. There was also some amazing local music which made the space feel like a great community. It's amazing to see what local farmers markets are like in NZ.

18 March 2017

My research on snails was much needed. While we were weeding we found tons of snails destroying the leaves of the plants. We found through research that you can make a trap out of grapefruit or beer. Either one will attract the snails and then evidently drown them when they get stuck in the container. You can also put down coffee grounds (preferably caffeinated) to deter snails from entering the beds. This also works if you spray vinegar on your plans, although if you are going to eat them after it would require a decent washing beforehand. The last idea was diatomaceous earth just sprinkled on the ground would also just deter the snails from ever arriving. We are going to talk through these ideas with our host and set up a few in different areas to see what works best. We also got a lesson on eggshells in compost from a local cafe that was having a problem with rats because of the amount of eggshells they were disposing of. They washed, dried, and crushed the eggshells precomposting.

16 March 2017

We spent most of our day weeding out various garden beds between veggies, herbs, and ornamental plants. I replanted several succulents to make the water feature surrounded and hopefully convinced the owner to plant some sort of productive water plant, such as water chestnut, in the water to benefit her. This property is much more gardening and landscaping rather than the farming I have been doing, but i'll only be here for a few days and it's a good challenge to keep me thinking of ways to make food grow in any sort of setting. She already has a great array of herbs and a few veggies scattered about, but really planning future plantings out will be a fun task for me. I spent a while caring for her compost today adding in paper to complement her food scrap heavy bin and turning it to get the compost decomposing. This garden will be a lot of weeding and planning. The household only uses veggies from the local farmers market and has given us amazing opportunities to cook all organically.
We had a great time today mixing sheep pellets into the gardens. We had to spread out the pellets then fork them into the soil around all the plants. They are made of sheep poo and wool and add nutrients like nitrogen to plants and composts. They aid in the flowering of plants and the growth of veggies and help balance out compost heaps like most fertilizer. We also were able to cook some delicious kumara stuffed with onions, peppers, sage, nuts, and garlic. Later we will be making fig and date balls and researching all natural ways to get ride of slugs and snails. As with everyday, there was also plenty of weeding to do.

15 March 2017

We arrived late last night in Rotorua at a lovely woman's house with a rather small garden. We had plans to go stay on an avocado orchard for months, unfortunately the couple cancelled on us last minute and we were able to quickly find this wonderful woman to stay with. She doesn't have the largest garden, however she seems to have some very interesting tasks planned for us including building/ refurbishing a compost pile in her yard and restructuring her veggie garden. Im excited to what work is like on this small property! Today she had some things to take care of in Hamilton so we were able to explore the redwood forest across from her house as well as the geothermal pools in town. We learned a lot about local plant and animal species including the huge zooplankton population in the pools. They also had a experimental tree farm to see what trees grew best in nz. Its interesting to see what sort of things grow and thrive in this kind of environment.

13 March 2017

Our last day of working in marks amazing garden space. I got to harvest the potatoes, peppers, beans, and the few tomatoes that are still hanging on. We are going to make some of these beets for dinner as well, boiled and sliced into a salad with some amazing feta goat cheese. Our seedlings are coming along swimmingly and will be planted with love by the next group of wwoofers hopefully. There is a huge sweet potato vine that is also growing next to where the potatoes I dug up were residing but they unfortunately need more time in the ground until they grace our taste buds. The goodbye to the chickens was harder than I thought. The pack has realized we are the feeders and now chase us around even after we feed them. Im gunna miss everyone here, except the obnoxious rooster.

11 March 2017

This morning we spent a while grinding up shells and eggs shells to mix with a meaty dog food to feed to the chickens for proteins and an addition that will make their eggs stronger in the future. After q bit the rain let up and we were able to weed out quite a few of the vegetable beds. The rain has brought some serious winds with it that have knocked several crops, including some corn plants that developed only to the baby sweet corn stage. After we took out one of the major beds of tomatoes because they are past their prime season and have mostly been producing green or rotten tomatoes since before the storm. We covered the bed with a comfrey fertilizer to preserve the soil and aid the basil and pepper plants that are still planted in the area. After we spent a while cutting down the various artichoke plants that have already flowered because if you cut them down they are able to regrow and produce more flowers. Our seedlings are even larger today and will be even better tomorrow!

10 March 2017

We spent a long time at a neighbors orchard picking apples and mushy pears in intermittent down pours to help our host collect fruit for the retreat kitchen he works for. They also had several kiwi bushes which need to be trellised so you can walk underneath the bushes to get to the fruits. There were peach trees that were all gone by, walnut and macadamia nut that weren't quite ready, and some fruit I had never seen before that looked like a squished green tomato growing from a tree whose name escapes me at the moment. We also spent some time planting a few trays of wheat grass for juicing purposes later on and we continued our praise to our various seedlings which are way ahead of schedule and bolting up even in the rainy sunless weather. Im such a proud plant mama :)

8 March 2017

Today is another rainy day so we are making tomato sauce to conserve all the tomatoes we've been collecting. We also slow roasted several of them on fresh herbs from the garden and salt. We used parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and basil all from right outside the door. We will also be finishing up the nut cracking. The macadamia trees outside are already full of the coming years harvest but the green nuts wont be ready for another several months so we may end up freezing some of what we are working on so they will last. Our seedlings have sprouted up an amazing amount just overnight and I'm hoping they may be big enough for us to plant before we leave. We are planning on starting carrots today as well to put them in between the trees outside within the next month.
The world here has begun to flood. The rain is so intense its coming through the walls in some places and the radio is continuously talking about power outages and road closures. The weather forecast is that it will continue for the next week which hopefully will change in the next couple days so we can get back outside but for now we are stuck inside seeding, planning out a drip irrigation system and herb spiral, and cracking nuts. I learned a bit today asking questions about the compost toilet on the property. It takes 6 months to break down and then requires an addition of organic material so it wont kill plants. The next few days will be mostly planning and watching our seedlings which already sprouted 5 days ahead of time, which I think is extremely based on our praise and singing to them :)

5 March 2017

Today was full of weeding out garden beds luke most days. I had to carefully pick in between the carrots to ensure they would have the most space to grow and thin out the broccoli plants, although they were already quite large. We also completed the daily tasks if feeding the chickens, watering the seedlings, harvesting whatever was ready and seeding a few more coriander plants. We found that because of the clouds today it was a perfect opportunity to get some bok choy plants in the ground and cover them with a cage so the quail family couldn't reach them. We also were able to get mulch to finish off taking care of the young fruit trees. The mulch will help retain water and keep the weeds at bay. We finished up the day with card-boarding a section of freshly cut lawn in the back to create a potential herb spiral on in the future or to leave for next years plantings. Working in this cloudy day has been quite refreshing comparatively to all the intense sun we've had lately.

4 March 2017

Although the growing season seems to last all year round in New Zealand, many of the plants are reaching the end of their particular seasons. Several plots are almost empty or just pushing out the last of their fruits. Because of this we have to harvest the tomatoes and beans everyday. Most of the squash plants have past already so we are throughly breaking up the root systems in all of those plots and card-boarding over the dirt to prepare them for their next season. One of the plots was an old onion patch which we discovered several onions left in to add to the onion bin harvested just before we arrived. We also fed the chasing chickens and went on another egg hunt with little success this time. Finishing off the day we seeded some coriander and nasturtiums and watered all the seedlings that are freshly planted through out the garden. Every time we've seeded we have been singing to the plants because it is proven they will grow better with love and attention just like people :)

3 March 2017

Spent the day harvesting fresh tomato and clearing the ground of rotten tomatoes. We collected the rotten ones to feed to the chickens and prevent them from spreading and disease or bugs to the other fruits. There were a few plants that seemed to have some weird bugs and aphids on them which we just pulled and put somewhere far away to prevent them from spreading to any other plants as well. Aphids are notorious for spreading and taking over crops, especially herbs and tomatoes. After the extensive tomato harvest we moved on to cucumbers. They are growing a yellow and white variety which I had never seen before. Its really interesting to taste the difference in the varieties to what Im used to. They get all of their seeds from a local seed saving permaculture group so some varieties an be expensive but the outcomes are almost guaranteed. We were also able to harvest several calendula flowers and seeds. We will use the flowers to make an oil infusion soon after they dry.

2 March 2017

We finally completed our clearing project, taking out all the weeds and roots from the clay soil and covering it with cardboard to prevent new weeds from forming. After we went on an egg hunt in a huge chicken pen. Several of the chickens chased me around thinking I had food for them. 3 of the chickens are new to laying eggs so they have been laying eggs outside of the coop. We were only able to find one outside and one inside the chicken house along with a fake egg inside, which was only there to encourage the new birds to lay in the right place. After our egg hunt we spent some time seeding cauliflower, spinach, silverbeet (which is plain Swiss chard), and cabbage. Our host ended up having a family of friends over from Australia to stay for a few days so we capped off the night cooking a huge meal full of fresh veggies. The whole time we were cooking we were running out to the garden to gather more fresh herbs and veggies. The most delicious and friendly meal we've experienced far :)

1 March 2017

After work we spent a bit of time picking tomatoes so the owner of the gardens could make some beautiful tomato sauce. We found plenty of interesting creatures out in the garden including a face on a tree and several mini praying mantis. There is an amazing book the owners use to learn more about growing in their area that has been immensely useful to me as well. Its crazy how different gardening is in a different location just because of climate and soil. The growing season is much longer but the soil is much more difficult because of the clay content. They have opposite problems and benefits so its like farming in a whole new world, but this book has helped answer many of my questions about this kind of work. I will be doing much more research tomorrow.
Our first day of work was quite productive and satisfying. I finally got my hands back to their dirty selves. We spent hours clearing out a section of garden to prepare it for planting citrus trees. The section we were working with was their original no dig plot which hasn't been touched for a year or two so there was some remanence of cardboard composting, but at the beginning of the day it was overgrown with a variety of weeds and a large rose bush. We had to separate out woody weeds and greenery to put into the compost bins we are going to be making at the edge of the property soon. After weeding and harvesting lots of comfrey to make compost tea we had to chop up all the clay soil and pick out the roots, then cover the ground with cardboard once again to prevent new weeds from getting light. Before we put in the citrus trees we are going to be adding lime or some other fertilizer to ensure the success of the young trees in the harsh soil. The difference we made today was immense.

28 February 2017

Our first day arriving at the Coromandel peninsula has been quite the rush. Getting here took almost all day but we finally arrived to a wonderful space. The entrance is decorated with the neighbors clay creations which lead you too a huge planting space held by one of the most energetic spirits I've ever met. There are several trees (grown figs and peaches and immature apples for eating and making cider) and a massive variety of veggies and herbs. They have about 12 chickens and are working on implementing a compost bin within the coming weeks. We were treated to a home grown and home cooked meal of mixed veggies and tomato sauce over rice and chicken. Thankfully our host also spent years as a chef so it was all perfection. We start tomorrow bright and early getting our hands dirty with this new locale.

27 February 2017

Had a very interesting weekend full of yoga and work... unfortunately more work than I would have hoped. We were stationed in the kitchen for most of the weekend and I wasnt able to take many photos but I did get a shot of the edible flowers I collected to put on a raw cocoa and nut cake we created. I collected mint leaves, nasturtiums, calendula, lavender, and borage. Each flower added a bright spark of color and the lavender especially added a crazy fragrant taste. I had a blast learning all about food, especially considering the amount of vegan foods we created, which substituted a lot of the ingredients I would usually use like eggs and milk products with plant materials like coconut milk, dates, and blueberries. It made me think about food in a whole new way. Tomorrow we are catching a bus to the Coromandel peninsula to work at another permaculture property to see what else New Zealand can teach us.

24 February 2017

Spent my last day at this second location (owned by the same woman as the yoga retreat) weeding out the herb spiral hidden in the bush. The spiral is right next to the massive amounts of beehives which felt like the best location possible. The flowers in this garden are thriving and the smells from the herbs are pungent even from far away. I found a new variety of lavender with the most beautiful little periwinkle flowers and the most soothing aroma. Im glad I could use my last day to improve the herbs well being for weeks to come. Next stop is back to the yoga retreat/ farm area to work at a yoga festival for the weekend and then off to the Coromandel Peninsula to work on another farm homestead. Wish me luck! :)

23 February 2017

Got to plant new lettuce! A lot of the lettuce here has bolted, meaning the stalks have begun to grow upward and the lettuce is becoming quite bitter. Because of this we had to go around to all the different gardens and pull the bolted lettuce and plant in new plants. There were several spaces all over the property that needed this new planting. Having such a long growing season seems so luxurious to me. Especially due to the massive amounts of pictures of snow ive been getting from home each day :p I hope everyone is able to stay warm, but it makes me appreciate the hands on experience even more. Now were making a fresh meal from the peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and lettuce we picked out today. All this fresh food has done wonders for my stomach, I dont think Ill be able to eat much without it.

22 February 2017

One of the most interesting things I've found while working with vegetables and herbs here is the difference in names. For example we spent a long time weeding what I would call rainbow chard, but later learned was a "rainbow beet". Comparing the two I would say there is no difference. Red peppers are called capsicum here. Also the herb cilantro is called coriander. The best vegetable I've enjoyed so far is a maori sweet potato, also known as a kumara. Some how the clay soil and the indigenous people have worked together on this plant to make it 10 times more delicious than the average sweet potato. Im interested to find out how it actually came to be, however no one has been able to answer my questions so far. The day ended with finding a beautiful herb spiral and koi pond hidden in the bush. Im planning on working in there tomorrow to see what else I can learn.

21 February 2017

Today was my day off so we went for a 6 hour hike! We hiked up a huge mountain, then down into a bay right next to the karekare beach. There was a huge cave on the beach that we explored and the current was so strong I was convinced we were going to get swept away. There were crabs and 8 legged starfish lining the walls of the cave and a beautiful natural skylight at the heart of the cave. Thankfully we went at low tide so the water only went up to our waists and we could hold our own walking through the water. The walk back was full of interesting birds, plants, and mushrooms I cant wait to identify.

20 February 2017

Any where that grows plants, weeding seems to be never ending. The best parts of every day is learning new things wether its at work or throughout the day in this farm land haven. Hiking around in the forests here you have to be quite aware of the plants. The Kauri trees are some of the oldest living species in the world. They can grow to extreme heights and live for thousands of years. There are frequent boot cleaning stations located at the entrances and exits of the bush to prevent the spread of different diseases and fungus. The effort to protect these trees and other parts of the native bush in New Zealand is quite inspiring. Im very interest to find out how successful these cleaning stations are. On the way to the forest we ran into a pig with a ring on its nose to prevent it from digging up the fruit trees that had recently been planted. I also met some beautiful horses, one of which was obsessed with sucking on the wooden poles to get a sort of high from the air and wood.

19 February 2017

Today was a lot of weeding around the property in different garden spaces. There is a lot of flax around the area that can be utilized to make rope, bags, weavings, and several other things. The material of the plants is fibrous and strong and the roots are extremely deep so it grows and is used all around New Zealand. Unfortunately it is very susceptible to plant disease so we spend a lot of today pruning off dead or diseased sections of the plants as well. On our way back from our job we ran into another friendly neighbor who has recently put a food forest into his property. I asked him several questions about what he was working on and I plan on going back tomorrow to help out and learn more. He told me it would take 6 years for the forest to fully establish and he has only had it for a few months at this point. I cant wait to learn more about planning and maintaining this kind of property.

18 February 2017

I got an excellent opportunity to work with the bee keepers today and another resident who is very enthusiastic about bees in the area. The honey thats created around here is called Manuka honey because of a certain type of tree that flowers only in New Zealand. Manuka has many medicinal qualities along with being a honey that is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. This variety is know to be great for cancer treatment for eradicating tumors. The bee keepers on the property have 42 hives, which is actually making their bees quite aggressive. The resident told me that having 20 hives in a 3 km radius is an enormous strain on the environment because the bees dont have enough flowers and end up fighting for their food and robbing each other. There are several parts to a honey comb. The wax and propolis are both binding agents that are extremely antiseptic. The bee pollen is used to feed the babies and create honey for winter to feed the bees and keep them warm. The hive stays at 37 degree

17 February 2017

The rain finally let up and I was able to farm with a neighbor in the community who owns sheep. Today was his sheep sheering today. My first mission was to catch the single sheep that wouldn't cooperate and just kept running around the larger pen. I eventually cornered her into a small house and had to grab her by the front legs so she wouldnt run anymore. As soon as I grabbed her legs she dropped her weight entirely to the ground and I basically had to hoist her over the fence to get her in the pen. After they were all in the small pen we used a buzzer and some old shearers to clip the hair off these sheep. This was there yearly haircut and they looked quite good after. We had to sheer them to help get the bugs off and keep them off. After they were cut clean we put magsheep on, a concoction that helped to clean any cuts and to keep the flys away. The younger sheep were much more of a challenge to sheer because their hair comes off in smaller clumps while the older sheep come off...
The older sheeps' wool comes off like a coat. The clumps of younger sheep wool often jams the buzzer because it is smaller and more coated in lanolin oil, the substance that makes wool so greasy feeling. Many of the sheep have short tails like what we are used to seeing in America, however a few dont. When I asked the farmer about it he said that the ones who still have long tails were simply to quick when they were young enough to have their tails cut and therefor he left them on. Most are cut because poop can easily get stuck to the tails and creates a breading ground for bugs which can cause a lot of internal problems and spread of disease. Working with sheep has been an interesting experience that has made me realize I would never want that many of a single species. Animal farming is not for me, although chasing that sheep was pretty entertaining.

16 February 2017

Im hoping to learn more about the bees soon and maybe even work with them, however it seems it may be too wet to really get my hands dirty (or in this case sticky). While working I found some amazing creatures. The sheep throughout the property have black faces, a variety that only needs to be sheered ones a year. She uses the wool to stuff pillows and add a bit of ground cover around some of her vegetables. If the rain lets up tomorrow I will take even more pictures of them. There were also stick bugs I found while pulling things in the garden that seemed to be mating. The ground cover used on the property is eco sourced seed so the plants take off. They seem to be right at home growing all over the landscape and easily breaking up the clay particles to later make planting into much easier.
The weather has taken a turn and seems like itll be extremely wet for the rest of the time we are here. Tomorrow there is supposed to be thunderstorms and today was all rain but I still got some weeding done and got to meet the resident sheep and goat. The goat was very shy, staying in the woods, but the sheep came bounding up to me when I brought it all the scraps from the garden. All the sheep and goats on the property are used only for weeding, rather than for meet or milk. They are there to enhance the soil and decrease pesky weeds like buttercup. They occasionally bring cows to different parts of the property as well to add nutrients to the soil. There used to be horses, however they compact the clay and add acidity to the land which is terrible for crops. They used to keep many more goats for milk, but the owners got pretty sick of the taste after some time, so now its primarily sheep which are spread out throughout the property. They also have several beehives for Manuka honey.

15 February 2017

In these Ayurvedic practices, people often dont eat onions or garlic (which was crazy to me because I know these to be extremely good for all parts of digestion and overall health) because they are constitutionally hot. If you already have a strong fire personality (Vata) then eating garlic and onions can actually make you burn to hot, burning you out faster. Learning about the different ways food can effect you has really opened my eyes and changed my mind about how I want to treat food. Ive also started a daily practice of giving silent thanks before each of my meals so I will be more mindful of what I am putting into my system. I cant wait to share this information to help people in my life and in the world. In our culture there is not enough stress in the food industries about what fuels us and I would love to bring this information to light for everyone. Along with weeding we were able to plant some tomatoes and learn about the compost system on the land. All around an amazing day
Last night we moved again to another property owned by the same woman as the last place but in a much more secluded area of New Zealand. The views are absolutely stunning and the food is all fresh and delicious. Unfortunately it is said it will rain for at least half of our stay here, but the rain is usually only a drizzle and never lasts all day. It made weeding out the extensive veggie and herb beds quite easy today. The beds all seemed to be full of organic matter and fresh soil so the plants were very happy and now they have much more space to grow and fuel us. There are insane amounts of basil, borage, cilantro, leafy greens, and much more that I am learning all new things to do with. We have been cooking community meals together and really feeling the connection between fresh food and good energy and all around well being. The women who owns these spaces often goes to Indian and is inspired by the foods and cooking there. She told us quite a bit about Ayurvedic food practices.

13 February 2017

The community meal was a big hit! We made potato wedges, pasta with guacamole and roasted peanuts, roasted veggies, mushroom soup, and a beautiful salad. All the things were taken from the garden except the peanuts and the pasta. It was so much fun cooking food straight from the garden for so many people. I also brewed up some kawakawa which I could tell really helped with my digestion once I was stuffed full of fresh goodness. I cant wait to cook like this again. Its inspiring to think of making a profession out of this. It makes me want to own a farm to table restaurant, relatively small scale, that has a garden right outside for easy access. My restaurant would also have several herbal teas to help with various aliments. The dream would be to have this in an area that had a long growing season and had good soil for a variety of plants. New Zealand could be perfect once the organic matter in the soil is built up!
Today was a great mix of clouds and sun. We picked some fresh veggies for the community meal tonight including zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce and other greens, and plenty of herbs. Were going to be washing and prepping them later tonight for a full vegan meal. I got to meet the resident chicken who comes to a whistle. She is used to help clear the weed seeds all over the property. I also learned something very interesting about the three bin compost system that started in New Zealand. If you build your bins on a hill it is much easier to flip them into the next bin once they have decomposed. So you can start off by allowing greens to turn brown at the top then use gravity to help you move them down gradually until you are able to bring it back out into the gardens for organic matter. The bins are already very full from community produce and all the weeding we've been doing so we will take out whats in the last bin soon so we can add it back into the land.

12 February 2017

11 February 2017

I found the kawakawa right outside my room this morning. Its funny how things can be right in front of you for so long and you dont see them until you learn more about the world around you. Before leaving for this trip John Gerber told me that, because i had no required classes left I would learn much more from an experience like this and i am forever grateful he pointed this path out to me. I feel I have learned more about agriculture in 2 weeks then i would have taking random classes and staying home from school because of snowy days (although I do appreciate the snow) its so refreshing being in a lush green environment to continue my hands on learning. I also began to learn french words for plants because I have been working with a french WWOOFER and we have been teaching each other. Im going to brew the Kawakawa now but I did chew some up after I found it because another WWOOFER told me about how it is good for wisdom tooth pain. It tasted quite peppery but it worked!

10 February 2017

I got the chance to help out making a very interesting banana bread recipe, with locally sourced bananas, which really surprised me. I have only see bananas grow in tropical climates, so I was intrigued to find out that there is actually a slightly large banana production in NZ. Not only is there a tree on the property, people often plant them in their backyards. I did some research and discovered that there are several species of bananas that were breed for subtropical conditions so they don't really have an issue growing here as long as their nutrient and water needs are met [just like most plants]. I found this really interesting website... http://www.subtropical.co.nz/writingBanana06.html that describes the different varieties, what they look like, and how they can and will grow in this climate. The banana bread turned out to be some of the best I've had and the freshness of the fruit was definitely a huge factor in that.
Since we have arrived here a Kawai Purapura, the weather has been extremely variable. Most days there has been a bit of rain, however today it rained quite a bit. Never the less we were hard at work outside so I wasn't able to bring my phone around to take many pictures. Whats bad or devices is great for the plants. All the garden spaces have been looking fully nourished and the things that we have planted look like they have really enjoyed the waterings. I was able to identify several Kawakawa plants, however I was hoping to pick the leaves for brewing when they are a bit more dry. I also discovered another weed on the NZ must kill list, English Ivy, which is over taking many bamboo paths in the area. It's hard to deal with these weeds because they are so prevalent in the bush and there isn't much you can do in the wild to prevent it. Te only thing I can think of is to find a natural enemy, but i'm planning on asking about it tomorrow.

9 February 2017

However chickens seemed to be destructive to the other plants and herbicides are not organic so they are out of the question. The weeds are similar to home, which led me to learn that Queen Annes Lace, a common weed to both are a close relative to the carrot and their roots actually smell exactly like a carrot. The majority of vegetables grown here are typical to ag everywhere, however the trees and bushes which make up the majority of native species have a lot to teach me.One of the trees, right outside the kitchen we've been using is called a Kowhai, which provides a perfect habitat for the giant NZ wood pigeons called Kereru. The Kawakawa tree is a close relative to the pepper tree and can be made into a fresh tea which is great for digestion and is anti-inflammatory. There are several of these trees on the property, which I'm planning on utilizing tomorrow to make the whole crew some tea.
Grounds today was more of the same. We spent time weeding, watering and planting, however the planting were all herbs I've already learned a great deal about at UMass. I was able to talk to several of the full time employees and learn a lot about native bush and invasive species in the area. I also learned quite a bit about the native bird species that were constantly whirling overhead. There are about 12 invasive weeds that are taking over in NZ and are on the must kill list of plants found. Out of those 12 I've only spotted one so far, however this one is everywhere! It's called wandering willie and can be found all over the woods and in farms. It smothers the ground in shady bush areas and keeps native seedlings from sprouting. Dealing with this weed is difficult because of its ground cover roots and there singular approach of hand weeding hasn't been extremely successful for long term effects. We had a discussion about the use of chickens for eradicating all parts of the plant...

8 February 2017

There were many things that were left to go to seed for expansion of the crop. Things like tomatoes were growing up through cracks in the side walks because of this. There is also a very popular plant here called the swan plant, that attracts monarch butterflies and creates a necessary environment for their young. This can be seen popping up almost everywhere in clumps all around the property along with hundreds of butterflies fluttering about on a daily basis. There are several ground covers that work really well in salads, New Zealand spinach, Lemon Sorel, and some time of asian lettuce being some of the more popular plants occupying the ground level of the garden spaces. Along with this large kitchen garden there were also several community plots, beehives, a huge 3 bin compost pile [which originated in NZ], and a number of other ornamental and herbal gardens around the property. One of my favorites was the red bottle brush bush, a pompom of a flower that was just fun to look at.
Because of the rain today, grounds work ended up being much more interesting than just weeding. We were able to plant in several herbs and a few veggies into the network of plants already growing steadily. There is a vast array of ready to go foods growing in the garden, which are all used to cook community meals on Monday's and Wednesday's. Because of the never ending warmth the growing seasons are extremely different here, meaning that things are consistently planted and harvested throughout the year making time for cover cropping difficult. The farm here uses a different method of adding nutrients back into the soil, using nitrogen fixing plants that still produce a yield [such as beans] and adding organic fertilizers [fish emulsions]. The majority of plants that grow here I've already had great experiences with in teaching the Gardenshare class back at UMass, however there were a few that were very new to me and quite interesting to learn about...

7 February 2017

The next stop on our tour around the north island is at a yoga retreat/ permaculture farm. For the most part we will be participating in hand cultivation (weeding) which is a huge component to farming and gardening. At the moment it has been to dry, although it is expected to rain today, so they aren't planning on planting anything. There are about 30 WWOOFERS staying here who are set out on different tasks with different leaders. Todays our first day so wish us luck!
These are our final plans and suggestions were are leaving for the property. I drew out a plan and measured the slightly odd shaped garden beds so that our host could begin keeping better track of her system. We had a great discussion about what permaculture ideas would work, what she has tried, and what wouldnt work in the landscape she has. Because the land is so slanted you would think that a long zig zag swale would fit in nicely, however upon further discussion the amount of space doesnt really allow for that kind of watering system. Instead we realized that rain barrels all over the property would help save her great amounts of money due to the taxes on water out here. We also discussed stick to a single crop rotation and cover cropping one plot per rotation to aid significantly in the addition of organic matter to her mostly clay soil. We also suggested adding in hugelkulter beds to make a perfectly fertile soil that can be planted directly into. Clay can be amazing overtime

6 February 2017

Bethells beach was quite a powerful experience. Waves were continuously pounding the shore line and carving enormous rock formations all around us. The moms we were with kept warning us not to go in above our waists because the undertow was so severe that several people a day had to be saved from its strength. We explored caves in the rocks and discovered blue crabs in the crevasses. The black sands burned our feet as we ventured over a hill to a surf inlet to watch locals shred, and play with large strands of seaweed all around. One of the moms was an exworkawayer herself, originally from Scotland, who gave us great advice on traveling the island and learning from all the farmland had to offer. We also learned about how they are continuously planting new grasses to hold dunes in place, however during storms there was no controlling massive surf from taking over and transforming the land. The only question I was left pondering was how the giant rocks got there in the first place.

5 February 2017

Within the past 50 years this forest has been cut back to nothing to farm potatoes, then reclaimed as a forest. It's amazing what a little love and extreme attention can do for deforestation. Today native bush is protected by law in New Zealand and in many instances it can be illegal just to cut down a native tree on your own land. Before and after entering the forest it is required to brush and sanitize your boots, as not to spread fungi or other harmful pathogens. While this seems a bit extreme, NZ has faced extremes in invasive species reeking havoc. The only mammals native to here are two species of bat, and now the biggest problem they face is over grown carnivorous possums that over run the island and eat about 50,000 native birds a night. When Captain Cook sailed to the island it was said that he could hear the birds from far off shore, and today we barely heard a bird in the forest. Educating people about these issues can help protect native habitat in every way possible.
...Wind blew where it had not and mud covered the ground. The newcomers went to great lengths to fell the giants and didn't stop until they were almost gone. Kowhai watched and waited. Gathered light for the ones who were left. What was to become of them? More visitors stood upon the shore. A great forest towered above them. They took a deep breath and knew they were home. They learned all they could and in turn taught their children to look after the great forest filled with giants. Today I met some truly inspirational plants, especially the 600 year old giant trees from this story. Walking around in the native bush and learning the history of the land and it's people have really opened my eyes to what can be done to protect and reinstate forests. Although this shadow box story is a bit simplified it's message is clear. Respect the forests, they have much more knowledge than us. Model your life after their beauty and always encourage it to grow.
Kowhai first appeared from the golden glow of a beautiful flower. She had long limbs and was quick. She lived for thousands of years among a great forest filled with giants. Kowhai gathered light from many places to feed the great giants, whose breath in turn gave life to the creatures all around. This breath covered the land, filling valleys and giving voice to strange and haunting birdsong. There were many birds and few predators to silence them. Until the first visitors arrived, weary and triumphant. The stars and currents had given them courage. A new land, new hope. as time passed new became old and the great giants of the forest grew taller. At times fire burned their bones and their creatures were taken as food. More time passed and still more visitors arrived. Kowhai tried to speak with the newcomers. Her voice came as mist and wind. Some heard, others didn't. She held her arms wide but she could not stop the great giant from falling. All around breath and birdsong began fading

4 February 2017

This tree obviously had a lot of stories to tell. You could see in it's bark how much it had been through. There was a huge section that had been burned up, a few branches taken down from lightning strikes, and several steps nailed higher up that had at one point been a ladder to higher ground. On the parts that were stripped of bark it was decorated with what looked like beetle carving stories. The whole aura around the tree was peace, as if its soul was reaching out to nurture and shade all around. It was well loved. After our visit with the tree and our adventure back up we decided to walk into town and check out the community gardens. On our walk we got quite lost and ended up nearby but not quite to where we intended to go. None the less it was a beautiful walk and I made another close tree friend with a couple that appeared to be dancing and intertwining like a strand of DNA. We also got to try some local fruits, if you ever come out this way I highly recommend the strawberries
Today was Saturday so we had the day off and, rather than finish the hose like we had planned, we decided to explore the massive bush directly behind the house. We invited the daughter of the house, Alex, to join us because she had some experience back there. She pointed us in the direction of a beautiful series of trickling waterfalls that supposedly is covered in glow worms at night [we're going back tonight to see them for ourselves]. The waterfalls each emptied into little pools that glistened in the alternating sun and shadows brought on by the massive ferns and trees surrounding us. Following the falls brought us out to a school yard where Alex used to attend school. She told us stories of the chicken monitors [in place of hall monitors they have chickens and kids that cared for them], owls and parrots that often flew around the area [just as two colorful parrots flew by], and the massive story tree. The story tree was a majestic beast that sat on the top of a hill near by....

3 February 2017

We ran into some problems. Because of the holes, there wasn't enough water pressure to get the water up to the top of the hill so half of the hose had nothing coming out. We tried moving the configuration so that the hose ran all the way up the hill first, then zig zagged back down the hill [trying to utilize gravity to make the water run smoothly]. This made the water stop even closer to the source so we tried just running the hose down the hill to see if it really was a matter of gravity. After discovering it was, we decided we would have to think of things in a different way. We went in to eat generously provided pizzas and an interesting new beer and came up with a new idea that I'm almost sure will work. It often helps to take a step back from projects when they seem hopeless. I can't wait to see tomorrow if our idea really works.
We awoke quite early to what sounded like a chicken being attacked, but what turned out to be several chickens laying eggs. Because we were already awake we decided to go out and care for the 7 chickens, change their food and water, and collect their eggs. After doing so we were able to make an extremely fresh scrambled egg breakfast. The morning was quite rainy, although it was very light, so we decided to work on drawing up our plan for the property. However, before we could finish the sun came out in full force and we felt the need to go enjoy the outdoors. We got to work on creating an area directly behind the greenhouse for potting materials that utilized the space and shade provided. After, we worked on installing a drip irrigation hose for the garden beds at the top of the hill. We found hoses and connectors around the property and, after hooking up to the water supply, began drilling holes in the tubing to create the drips. Unfortunately once we began to lay the hose...
The loo with a view!

2 February 2017

Cont again... the agriculture in the area] There are so many differences between New Zealand agriculture and American. This makes it hard to create a well thought out plan, however working with Kharen has been extremely beneficial because she is very knowledgable about local plants and animals and has recently gotten her permaculture certificate. I have already learned so much, however jet lag has caused me to forget most plant names [and Kharen often uses the scientific names]. It just started to rain here and it supposed to continue into tomorrow, but hopefully we will make great headway on that watering system and continue our sketch/ plan for the yard.
cont... The house is on a slope so we also talked about implementing rain barrels or swales as watering systems that would work with gravity to get everything watered. We are going to be installing a drip irrigation system tomorrow in the garden beds and a misting system in the greenhouse that would easily be hooked up to rain barrels. We also spent some time learning about the local agriculture and a lot about the weeds that have been a huge problem here. Because we are on an island, much of what is here now was imported for one reason or another. Many of the plants are not native to the land and are reeking havoc on the native bush. There are several weeds on the property [whose names escape me at the moment] that are on a list of plants that you must destroy, so we will be spending some time getting rid of these. We will also be creating a schedule for Kharen so she can rotate crops and be sure not to get root growths on her brassicas [one of the most common problems in the ag...
Day one of working on the homestead In Glen Eden [ It's been a busy day and I'm exhausted so I'll try to make sense but we will see how that goes...]. Today started off rough due to immense jet lag from the 30 hour travel and the loss of my voice due to the protest we were a part of back in LA. We woke up early, and got in some much needed breakfast and yoga before the work began. After the morning rituals we began working on mapping out the garden space and building a comprehensive permaculture plan for the yard. We wrote down a huge list of permaculture ideas that may work in the space allotted with the dense clay soil that covers most of New Zealand. We discussed many possibilities for making the soil more fertile, including hugelkulture beds, organic matter lasagna, possible one time tillage to break up organic matter, cover cropping, and deep rooted crops to break up the dense clay particles, along with many other methods that in the long term would work wonders on the land.

1 February 2017

Finally made it to our first new home. A beautiful property full of native bush, friendly animals, and many permaculture techniques in the making. There are several raised beds, made from recycled wood from around the property, full of compost and chopped leaves to aid in the flourishing veggie and herb garden. There is also a small hoop house and what seems like an endless supply of native bush to explore down the hill. We will be working to build a permaculture plan for the landscape and to set up a drip irrigation system for both the green house and the raised beds as well as enjoying some of the fresh veggies! Although we just got her a few hours ago im already inthralled with whats to come next.

30 January 2017

LAX has been more than enough adventure for a 10 hour layover. As soon as we stepped off the plane we were greeted with beautiful 82 degree weather and a whole community of protesters, standing strongly together against Trumps new Muslim ban. We felt an immediate pull to join the cause and stand with our brothers and sisters in solidarity for the injustices that are occurring. We especially felt it was our time to act in protest because we are leaving our country during such an unstable and chaotic time period and would like to make our voices heard before we depart. We are now sitting in the airport an hour away from our 11 hours to fiji, then only another 3 after to finally arrive in New Zealand!!
On the road again! Or in this case in the sky... While on our first flight of three [6 of the 30 hours we will be traveling] our row buddy decided to take a different seat leaving us to lounge comfortably in the whole row. We are now in our last 2 hours of this journey, spent mostly catching up, studying the world map, and planning our next adventures. LAX here we come for the next 10 hours of adventure.... hopefully they have some good in airport entertainment.

24 January 2017

Getting ready to leave is a lot harder than I thought it would be. There are so many tiny aspects of life you have to think of when planning such an extensive trip. Luckily New Zealand is similar to the USA in that they speak English, there are no serious predatory animals, and cost of living is only slightly higher. Regardless planning is not my strong suite and trying to figure out exact dates and locations seemed almost impossible, until recently. Plans are finally coming together and believe it or not i'll be shipping out on my 30 hour adventure in only 5 short days! See you soon New Zealand!