Bliss

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Seaward Kaikoura Moutains, December 2015

When the Intercity bus made its way into the town center of Kaikoura, a seaside town with a population of 2,000 people, I felt instantly refreshed. While the town is touristic, it still manages to retain a certain charm. The commercial area were lined with small businesses; ranging from cafes to surf shops.

The air was humid and it started to drizzle as I dragged my 50lb suitcase to the hostel where I will work for accommodation for the month of December. I was nervous, yet excited; this was a experience I wanted to try. Not only will I gain hospitality experience, I will also get to live by the sea, and slowly explore the area. I can finally say to myself, “it’s alright, take your time”.

I was mid-way to the hostel, when I noticed I had left my precious reusable water bottle on the bus and I trudged onwards. C’est la vie. You win some and you lose some.

At the hostel, the owners made sure I felt welcomed. My coworkers, a French couple and a Brit, were making gingerbread cookies, while a guest was stirring a pot of fudge with intense focus. It felt like a proper holiday atmosphere. I have a bit of social anxiety when it comes to large groups of people, so i made small talk, and scurried away to tucked my luggage in my room which I will be sharing with two teenage German boys, whom were also my coworkers.

I made my way back to the kitchen and chatted with a traveler from the Netherlands. Later we bumped into each other in town and strolled by the beach together. Then, we had cider at a local bar with a fireplace. We talked about solo – travelling, our lives back home, and made plans to visit the Kaikoura Pennisula by bike the next day.

I remember that when I laid my eyes upon the Seaward Kaikoura mountains combined with the mist, ocean, beach, and small town, I think I felt love at first sight.

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Onwards

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Blenhiem, November 2015

After a week in Wellington, where we stayed at an AirBNB owned by a lemon and cat aficionado in Brooklyn (not the one in NYC, of course), we made our way South via the Cook Strait in search of seasonal work. We scoured the internet for the best way to get employed and decided on a working hostel, an arrangement where the hostel will help customers with finding employment. Long story short, we got played. We ended up being hired by a contractor who fired us shortly after and short-changed us.

While I remained unemployed for the 2 weeks I was in Blenhiem, I met great people and made wonderful memories.

Quickly realizing I wanted to travel more instead of work, I accepted a work exchange in Kaikoura. Difficult as it was to part with my travel-mate, it was time for new adventures. I resigned from work a week before coming to NZ, and I was still restless after a month of travelling.

Tips:

  • Judging from experiences I heard from others, good working hostels include: Arrow Backpackers, Koanui Backpackers, Swampys, and Cooperbeech.

Tongariro, At Last

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Emerald Lake at the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, November 2015

In the span of three days, three things happened:

1) I responded to my future travel-mate’s post on Facebook; we met for coffee and decided on a travel plan (and to scope each other out).

2) We set out on a roadtrip to tramp (i.e. hike) the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, located in the Tongariro National Park, the oldest in the country.

3.) We completed the crossing in 6.5 hours! (Having only hiked Bear Mountain in New York prior to this was quite the feat for me.)

Tips:

  • Stay over in Turangi instead of Taupo. Cheaper accommodation, less travel time and cheaper shuttle bus ($30NZD roundtrip + free beer) due to proximity to the crossing.

Solo

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Frying Pan Flat at Wai-O-Tapu in Rotorua, November 2015

My third to last day in Rotorua, was spent at Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal park with an array of hot springs, mud pools, and geysers. I remember feeling lonely as I boarded the shuttle bus to the park by myself, but met a Canadian – traveling NZ by bike – who I explored Wai-O-Tapu with. After that event, I made a conscious decision to find a travel-mate.

While I sometimes hung out with a German (tourism student) and 3 Danes (travellers) that I met at Rotorua Central Backpackers, I spent a majority of the time alone –  we clicked, but there was always the daunting feeling of the inevitable;  that they will move on with their travels soon.

Eventually, I joined the New Zealand Backpackers group; I didn’t want to leave it up to chance and meet a travel mate at a hostel…I wanted to be proactive and create opportunities for myself.

 

 

 

 

Anonymity

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Auckland Domain (November 2015)

The first week of my New Zealand Working Holiday was spent in Auckland, the country’s largest city with a population of slightly over one million people. Having spent the first few days exploring the city with fellow newcomers from JJ Backpackers (hostel where I stayed at), this picture of the Auckland Domain was taken on my first solo excursion in this unknown place.

I remember the mix of emotions that came with this event. The feelings of nervousness, fear, excitement, and exhilaration; the same mix that accompanied me as I waited for my flight to board at JFK Airport.