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Kaikoura to Nelson

30th September to 4th October 2011

Picton Pickups

On the way to Nelson we stopped off at the ferry terminal in Picton. We had around 10 folks joining us. As the passengers disembarked we saw a white pompom beanie come bobbing up and down towards the bus, enthusiastically waving and smiling. This turned out to be Tom from England, but I dubbed him PomPom. Got to love the folks you meet on the Magic Bus.

Mmm Icecream

The day was perfect, the drive was beautiful and the company great. At our lunch spot, in the middle of nowhere, the cafe owner gave us double scoops for the price of a single. Woohoo! I got Hokey Pokey, vanilla with honeycomb pieces, it was delicious. At this cafe they also serve a variety of interesting pies, such as rabbit, venison even possum. Then we hopped back on Marg’ the Magic Bus and headed the rest of the way to Nelson, the sunniest town in NZ.

WWOOF

Wwoof means – willing workers on organic farms. I had organised 3 nights of Wwoofing at a lodge just outside Nelson, not exactly a farm but they count as well. Nic and I figured out where it was and we organised for me to hop out of the bus along the road. We just hoped it was the right stretch of road, as it was a long walk into town. As I waved farewell to the crew on the bus I settled down on my bag to wait for my ride. Luckily it didn’t take long till Alan showed up. We picked up their son at school and then headed up the hill to the lodge. The view was breathtaking.

Stunning view

Within a short span I was given chemicals and sent to scrub the shower. It took me a good hour and I was fairly high after cleaning the glass with the water resistant coating…weeeeeeeeeeee

For dinner we had Thai Curry and watched the sunset. I great evening which was followed by heading into town to watch the SA vs Samoa rugby game. I walked in with James and Chloe dressed in my flag, with springbok paste on tattoos on our cheeks, to discover the entire bar supported Samoa. The others grabbed a drink and settled unobtrusively in a corner, I sat at the bar and supported the Boks, as much as possible without risking severe bodily harm from the Samoa supporters.

Sunset over Nelson

A weeding We Shall Go

The task of the day was weeding the elevated vegetable garden. Normally this would seem like a breeze, but considering it had spent a couple of seasons cultivating its weeds, the garden wasn’t too impressed when I was trying to pull them out. Add to this the fact that it is at a height of 4ft, meant some of the particularly stubborn weeds threatened to cause me to fall backwards. Luckily I remained somewhat stable and it only took me 3hrs to weed a plot approximately 10m by 1m. Wish I had taken photos, cause I was rather proud afterwards.

Later the 3 of us wwoofers went into town to check out the last few minutes of the market and walk around a bit. The Aussie vs Russia game was on and the atmosphere was electric, with the Aussies all decked out and everyone else (no matter of nationality) all supporting Russia. In the Rugby World Cup the motto is pretty much anyone but Australia/England or France. Unless you are from one of those countries of course.

Aussie Pride

With the rugby game on in the town of Nelson, Candace and Alan (our hosts) were running a snack cart at the game, the boys were watching it live, which left the house to us. It was great having a big house to relax in. We watched movies, I made Toad in the hole for dinner and when everyone did arrive home we watched the next game on the telly.

Chloe and I having "breakfast"

Nelson the sunniest town in NZ…REALLY??

Woke this morning to torrential downpour. It was actually rather impressive. The region did need rain so we didn’t mind the rain too much. It also meant that Alan’s plans to redo the whole garden were put on hold. Instead we worked on changing the beds and cleaning the bathrooms, which took just under 3hrs and gave us the rest of the day off. I worked on my blog and then we all went and sat in the hot tub in the rain. Felt fantastic. A little afternoon nap and then time to make dinner. I had offered to make the Schmidt’s famous Spaghetti Bolognese. In between brownouts and thunder and lightening we sat down to enjoy the meal, followed by icecream. After the rugby game I asked Candace to take a look at my back in exchange I would make her a necklace. She had me stand and bend and squat, then announced that my pelvis was out of line, she gave me some stretches and assured me that would help. Well then, now that I know whats wrong I can work towards fixing it… but then again I am terrible at remembering stretches.

Return to Paradiso

I had been offered work trade at Paradiso hostel for a few days, so ended my time with the lodge and was able to get a ride into town. It was still pissing with rain so moving bags was fun. But I managed with minimum rain dampness. I was put into a small 4 bed dorm and had to quickly dump my bags and slip out as there was someone sleeping. My chore for the day was reorganizing the chemical cupboard. The dilemma – the chemical cupboard was not under cover…and it was still raining, buckets, in fact, cats and dogs. Luckily around 3pm there was a short break in the weather, so I quickly went about tidying and sorting the chemical cupboard. All of 20min for a nights accommodation. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, doing my strings and my blog.

Unpacking for Painting

Trade work for this day was to help unpack the tv room for repainting. This involved removing all detachable items, gathering the furniture in the center of the room and sorting through the VHS tapes and book trade shelves. Its always dangerous going through the book shelf, so far I have managed to keep my book baggage down to one for reading, one for journal and one for guide. But now found myself with 3 extra for reading, and I just couldn’t decide which one to leave behind. So now I found myself with 4 for reading, 1 for journal, but no guide. However, I did have my next journal ready in the wings.

But it was an enjoyable couple of hours of trade work!!

As far as weather went, it was still raining. Nelson is the sunniest town in NZ and it had rained for the last 3 days, solid. Without even a glare to call sunshine. The first time I was here I was sick, and now it was raining constantly. I decided to head out the next day, if nothing else I was fairly certain my departure would ensure the sun’s return for others. Murphy’s Law.

The good news was that during the crappy weather I had managed to secure work trade at a hostel on Stewart Island for 10 days. EXCELLENT!!!

Tomorrow is was off to Greymouth and then Franz Josef on the Magic Bus.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Returning to the land of Kiwi’s – days 209 to 212

30th of August to 2nd September 2011

Immigration and cab drivers

Arriving at 1am in the morning and being slightly less compus mentus, especially after having one of my full row seats given to someone else, the fear on my mind was getting through immigration. You may recall that I apparently have similar information, to a person of interest, who the government wishes to talk to! But turned out I had no worries, after joking a bit about the rugby, I walked on through, got my bag and hopped in a cab.

I had exactly $45nz and had estimated it would cost $25. I had a great cab driver and we chatted all the way to Kirsten’s about his days on the boats that ran to Portland, Oregon. As we got closer I noticed we were at $45 and still ticking. In addition to the actual charge there is an extra $7 charge for the airport. At the house hte final charge was $52, but he was sweet and said the $45 was fine. Thank heavens!

Plans Plans Plans

After a rough month it was great having a good friend to bounce ideas off of and figure out what to do next. Its amazing how emotionally draining things can be. I was at the point where I just needed to go and do something fun and not have to worry about costs or transport. Kirsten recommended a tour of the Northland and up to the very point of NZ, Cape Reinga. We looked at just doing a basic bus service up there, at Kiwi Experience and at Magic Bus. Magic won the day as they had exactly what I wanted and included a dolphin tour, sandboarding, Kauri tree museum, visiting the giant Kauris and much more. Normally I would have run in the opposite direction of the cost, but right then and there I didn’t care and it sounded like the perfect trip to get my mind off things. Not to mention that my cheapskate ways now mean that I have a bit extra to do something fun!

So its off to Auckland to stay in the Surf ‘n Snow hostel for a night and then an early pickup Saturday morning. I am so looking forward to this you have no idea.

Look out Northland you are about to be invaded by a Schmidt!!!

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Manukau – Days 176 and 177

30th July and 31st July 2011

Old Friends

Today I went to meet up with an old primary school friend who I had not seen since Std. 7
(9th grade), which makes it over 18yrs. The best memory I have of Megan is when I went
horseriding with her. It was my first horse ride and was sitting behind her on her horse.
Unfortunately I did not realise that she was very tender in the flanks and so when, not
knowing where to put my legs, I slid them up near her hips. I promptly found myself on the
ground unable to breathe. I then remember Megan’s dad leaning over me and telling me to
breathe.

Having the wind knocked out of you at about 13 is quite frightening! But it never stopped
me from getting on a horse again.

During our reunion we were discussing memories from school, old friends, teachers, the
time our class almost got sent home from a camping trip for behaviour (but as chief
teachers pet I pleaded our case and we were allowed to stay). Then I recalled the memory
of our assignment to create a food invention, one girl created “bubblegum in jelly/jello”.
She kindly gave me a piece of “bubblegum”… only to discover that it was actually a tiny
chilli. I ran out of the class ignoring the teacher and drank most of the water in the
bathroom. Megan laughed and said “oh yes, that was me”. Got to love your friends.

After wandering around the shopping center and talking for a while we parted ways and I
managed to hop on the bus home. I had the afternoon to myself and got some work done.

Sunday markets

Kirsten and I headed out Sunday morning to the farmers market and what a market it was.
Amazing fresh produce, yummy venison hot dogs, delicious coffee and much much more. There
was a company selling buffalo meat and they had biltong, but it didn’t have much flavour
so I decided to save my money.

It was a great morning and in the afternoon we took Harvey for a walk in the forest
behind the house. A great day! Got my bags all packed and set my alarm for bloody early
in the morning!

Tomorrow off to Tonga!

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Birthday On The Road – Day 175

29th July 2011

I have now turned a year older on 5 continents and in both hemispheres:

South Africa
USA – Oregon/Washington/Cincinnati/Alaska
Ireland
South Korea
New Zealand

As I turn 34 (or 3+4=7 is my preference), I find myself in New Zealand with great friends and 7mths into a year of travel.

To many I may be considered a bum, someone with no future who just floats around from place to place. Many would say I should be married, have a house, a steady job, 1 or 2 kids, preferably a large screen TV and an SUV. And yes, maybe I would be content with a family and my own place, in truth I am teetering on the edge of my love of travel and my hope for a family.

But, on the rare occasion I listen to these nay-sayers, I think back to everything I have done and experienced in the last 34yrs and think to myself:

Damn I am kind of cool!

Here is a list of what you can achieve by being a “bum”

– 5 day hike through the Umfolozi Game Park in South Africa
– Graduate high school
– Graduate Uni with a BSc in Natural Resources
– Work as a vet nurse
– Kiss the Blarney Stone
– Fish for Nessie
– Live in South Africa, Lower USA, Alaska, Korea
– Visit Denali National Park, on a clear day
– See a moose
– See a bear
– See a pod of Orcas
– See lions, leopards, wild dogs, hippos, Rhinos and many more
– See platypus, kangaroos and koalas in the wild
– Work in a zoo… or rather 3
– Live and teach in Korea
– Earn my 1st degree blackbelt in taekwondo
– Earn my 2nd degree blackbelt in taekwondo
– Learn to inline skate and win my 1st 5km marathon
– Learn to read and write Korean
– Visit the DMZ
– Visit Angkor Wat
– Explore the forests of Thailand
– Kayak in Halong Bay
– Ride a horse
– Ride an Indian Elephant
– Ride an ostrich
– Cage swim with great whites
– Learn to scuba dive
– Snorkel with a manta ray
– Drink a beer in a hammock on an Ecuadorian beach
– Drink a beer in a hammock on a Thai beach
– Search for the world’s largest flower
– Eat a fresh coconut
– Help in surgery on a monkey in the Amazon wildlife refuge
– Live in the Amazon for 2mths
– Force feed a Kookaburra bird
– Take a monk Saki monkey for a “walk”
– Bitten by a snake, non-venomous
– Bitten by a kinkajoo
– Bitten by a spider monkey
– Visit Cusco
– Visit Lake Titicaca
– Visit Machu Pichu
– Overnight with a Basotho family in Lesotho
– Cover myself in mud in Korea
– Cover myself in mud in South Africa
– Cover myself in mud in New Zealand
– Dig my own hot tub at Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
– Shave my head for charity
– Visit 25 countries
– Made lifelong friends in all of them!

And that’s the short list, not to bad for a “bum”…the adventures just keep on coming!

Thank you so much to my mom and dad for bearing with my travel addiction and to all my friends and family who have put me up and put up with me.
I LOVE YOU ALL!!

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Auckland, New Zealand – Days 166 to 169

19th July to 22nd July 2011

NZ Immigration

Now, as I mentioned in the previous post, this trip had gone relatively smoothly except for the running around to print things and the possible delay for a day of my flight. If you don’t count these issues then it was a very smooth trip. But as you know all things come in threes and the third one was waiting for me at immigration.

The flight had been super easy, a whole row, great food, excellent entertainment system, I think I will be flying LAN air again. I was feeling fantastic as I got off the plane and rather relieved to finally be in NZ. Making my way to immigration I had a short wait and then it was my turn. The officer was very friendly and we joked a bit as he looked through my passport.

JUST A NOTE: they NEVER asked me for a printed proving an exit ticket from NZ.

With a smile he asked me to come round to the back of his cubicle and then pointed to a chair and asked me to wait there. Then he walked off and handed my passport to another officer. I was nervous, but assumed it was because I had marked “handled animals other than cat and dog”. As I sat there for 5, 10, 15minutes I started becoming a bit more concerned and imagining being deported to some other location. Just then, a lady walked up and introduced herself as “Jane from Immigration”. She explained that I had “similar information to a person of interest that they would like to talk with“.

Is it wrong that I thought this was kind of cool, however very relieved that it was not! She also told me to expect the same thing when I returned from Tonga at the end of August.

Now I must make it clear that in all the years going through US immigration and the hard times I have been given before I became a citizen, their customer service came no where near NZ’s. As everyone told me in Australia, Kiwi’s are just nice! And I agree, even their immigration officers are just plain NICE!

After collecting my bag and joking with the guy checking my declaration form that, as a vet nurse, I was carrying anything that had been down or up an animal, I exited the airport to be met by an my fabulous mate, Kirsten.

On Thursday we went for a walk through the native forest that sits behind their house. The ecosystem is truly amazing with numerous evergreens and giant ferns that make it look and feel like any minute a brontosaurus is going to stick its head out to greet you. The preserve also links to the botanical gardens so we just continued our walk all the way to the cafe for coffee.

Harvey

Harvey, Kirsten’s 10wk old son, was very patient with us the whole time and pushing his pram around you build up muscles as it acts as a wind break. He also has impeccable timing as he started to fuss right as we finished our coffee. On our way out we stopped at the African section of the botanical gardens and marveled at the array of protea flowers.

Protea

Animals First

Friday was a nice relaxing day. Kirsten and family were heading down to Christchurch that evening and I had a talk to go to in Auckland. I was meeting Karen from SPAW was meeting at the talk hosted by SAFE, an organisation fighting for animal rights. It was a very interesting talk and very enlightening to the plight of food animals. For the most part I felt like a wolf in sheep’s clothing as I am a carnivore amongst the vegans. But luckily it appeared as if they were not going to shove veggies down my throat. I enjoyed the talk by the guy who spent a month in a cage in protest to battery hens, the talk by the dutch guy who converted the celebrity spokesman of the pork industry into a SAFE spokesman… but then we got to the lady who feels we should evolve to being veggie eaters. Oh well it was good well it lasted and I did learn a lot, even the vegan cupcakes were quite yummy.

Karen and me with the Sad pig


Housesitting

With the family away I was official housesitter and loving having the place to myself. Slept in late, worked on my blog, went for a walk in the forest, took a nap, worked on my blog! A great day and tomorrow I would be leaving for Rotorua and chance for a geothermal mud bath.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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