Hobbiton…

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging..”IMG_2422

IMG_2416“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” IMG_2203IMG_2160“Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?” OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Just a bit daft

This is a little bit of a fun one. A once in a life opportunity to be catapulted into one of my most treasured fantastical worlds. Little Hobbit homes on lush green hills, rolling just like Tolkien described. Huge, cinderella pumpkins and budding blooms in pops of vitality. The tour is annoying, like a school trip, everybody overcrowds to get that photo and even take pictures of me and my friends as we act silly in our giddy amazement. It’s still worth it, all of the touristy frustration is okay because this is Hobbiton and this is a very real enchantment. I think I suppressed my expectations for the week building up to the trip. It had been on my bucket list forever and was the first thing I wanted to see on my arrival in New Zealand. Granted it was overpriced and you didn’t get nearly enough time there but it’s just one of those things that’s such a treat if you’re even a little bit into Lord of the Rings. And so much effort went into that movie, the things you learn about the set and the design; individually painted leaves, smaller and bigger Hobbit holes to allude to size difference and the importing of specific cattle and tree types to get Tolkiens world just right. It’s a testament to the whole team behind the series to have this permanent piece of their hard work here.

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.”

Light, love and the courage to adventure, N x

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Pieces of: Wanaka

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Where was my favourite stop on my South Island trip? This mellow little lakeside town, brimming with young souls, bordered by protective green giants. I love site seeing and all that proper travel stuff but what makes this lifestyle the one for me is the people you meet, doing all that average everyday stuff in a new place with new faces. Grabbing a coffee, getting drunk, dancing, chatting about the world and your hopes and dreams and finding an echo of it all in the words of someone else. Someone born miles away, with a different upbringing, a different culture, different religion, whatever it is. But you have this little snap of a nonsensical moment on the swaying deck of a boat in New Zealand. That is what I want my life to be, a mosaic of chance encounters and spontaneous moments.

I spent three days here but could have stayed longer. I even contemplated moving here when I came back out to New Zealand, after my trip home for Christmas, and sometimes I still feel like I might just up and move. The only reason I really did stay a little longer was to catch up with a friend, Meg. Meg was once on of those chance encounters on another journey on another land not too far away. I met her in Coffs Harbour, Australia, doing blueberry picking for our second year visa’s and had tried unsuccessfully to reunite throughout the months since when we were always near but not quite near enough.

Meg knew Wanaka well, she took me around to her favourite cafe’s (something we did all too well together back in Aus), she shared her friends with me, her plans with me and showed me all of the reasons why she adored Wanaka. Seeing a place through someone else’s eyes is an odd thing, it should be such a straight forward experience to see a town, a city, a country. But, as with all things, humans are peculiar, as are our perspectives and I think Megs perspective on this place made me see it as something more.

Oh, and I finally got to skydive here too. A final nudge from Meg and a lot of money later and I was throwing myself out of a plane over some pretty gnarly views. It cost a lot more than pretty much every other place I’d researched into but it was an unbeatable experience, I was buzzing off the madness of it for days after. My ultimate South Island highlight.

Light and Love, N x

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Pieces of: Franz Josef…

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From beaches and lakesides to mountains and hot pools. Franz Josef is grey and that very tangible colour doesn’t transition for the three days we mourn there. Trapped in a hostel with violent clouds that press down and seep into our moods. The whole bus is sullen, moving slower, talking lower, life is at a stand still as we wait and wait for the clouds to lift. Maybe you feel it’s a little melodramatic to be so fixated on the weather, a little eye roll worthy even. But in Franz Josef our two main activities were hiking on the infamous glacier or, in my case, skydiving over it. The skydive there is the highest in New Zealand at 19,000 feet and the view one of the rarest in the world. Not only that but it is voted the second best spot in the whole entire world to skydive. It didn’t happen though. The clouds made flying conditions unsafe and guaranteed that if we did make it up into the skies we probably wouldn’t catch a glimpse of very much. So it was a sullen slump but made for a quick recharge moment, I ate a lot and bonded with others on my bus lots. So there’s that. And I did managed the tiny hour or so trek to actually see the glacier. Not a complete loss but not a trip highlight either. I truly think that this could have been a trip highlight had the sun broken through for just half a day but you win some, you lose some and the disappointment here only made for an amplified experience at my next destination…

Light and Love, N x

Pieces of: Lake Mahinipua…

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N x 

Pieces of: Kaiteriteri (Abel Tasman)

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Christchurch > Nelson > Kaiteriteri…

If I regret anything from my South Island experience it’s not spending more time in Kaiteriteri. A place of abundant beauty, soft sunlight and warm sand. Another regret is not taking more photographs. The colours during the day, of toasty orange sands and glittering sapphire ocean, remarkable blue skies and lively green shrouded cliffs in contrast to the smooth violets and navies as the sun called it a night. The air was warm, breeze pleasant. It makes me smile to think of it.

The morning of the day we left, we got to kayak along the shoreline of the Abel Tasman national park. Though a couple of my bus chums snapped a few shots and took a couple videos I’ve yet to chase them up and I didn’t dare sacrifice my camera or phone to the waters in case we did, in fact, capsize. Despite the lack of evidence my memory still serves the trip true at the moment and the feeling I get remembering the place is enough.

There was no time to hike through the park but maybe I’ll go back there and live the wonder of it fully. The kayaking was a treat though and actually one of my most favourite memories of the whole trip. The weather was stunning, the water so blue, the instructors so fun and informative. They could tell us Maori tales and sprout facts (that could very well be bullshit) about the national park. They told us the legend of the split rock just off of its shores too, telling us to paddle over and touch it for luck. Me and my kayak partner, Erin, did just that. I vaguely remember it being about a feud, that some valuable possession once stood there and turned to rock over the years, split in two by a God to appease the squabbling pair. I’m sorry I can’t recite it fully, the story is at odds with various others I’ve heard about the split rock since and then those again are at odds with what I read on the internet. There is also a story with its origins in Greek Myth (which baffles me) that a couple other travellers told me back at the hostel, something to do with Zeus (isn’t it always?). As much as Greek Myth fascinated me, I prefer the Maori tale.

The traditions and beliefs of New Zealand’s people really do amplify the experience. I’m a firm believer in the magic of nature, of our earth and all of the stories and traditions that the Maori people are grounded in gave every part of my South Island tour such soul.

 N x

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Pieces of: Nelson…

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Christchurch > Nelson…

Vivid blue hues, lively greenery, pebbled bays, quaint town centre, bustling weekend market, mini road trips, local tour guide, reuniting with friends, beach photoshoots, actual english style chippy chips, busy harbour, dog walks with Rosie (just look at her!), bonding with bus buddies, lazy hikes to the centre of New Zealand, hunting down vegan treats at The Kitchen, talking with the locals, community vibes, old school buildings. 

In Nelson I met up with one of my flatmates from Wellington, Kea. She was studying back in the city but was home for the summer having grown up in Nelson and was the loveliest tour guide for the afternoon and morning I spent there. It’s the cutest little town with some quaint little spots and if you’re there at the weekend you have to check out the market. With thrifty stalls, fruit and veg and food trucks it’s a good way to spend a morning and meet the locals.

I talked with a lady at a trinket stall, selling handwoven bags and terrariums, she was from Christchurch originally but dwelling in Nelson, by the sea. I’m not one to just talk to anyone, I always want to chat to the locals and be a “real” traveller rather than a tourist but I’m always too shy. This was easy though, she was a very light being, full of spiritual wisdom and when I told her about my need to constantly be on the move, to never settle, she told me to keep following my gypsy soul because that was a rare freedom so many people were afraid of. Such a small pocket of time on my little adventure but one of the most memorable. So yeah, hate to be a cliche but talk to the locals y’all. I also bumped into one of my regular customers from my time working in a cafe in Wellington. She was visiting family and invited me to dinner the evening after but I was already booked onto a bus to leave in the morning. I felt truly connected to the locals in Nelson, odd considering I spent only one night there.

All of the blissed vibes, N xx

 

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Pieces of: Christchurch…

Christchurch: 15/11/2017 – 17/11/2017

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It’s a brutal city lost somewhere in the South Island. Stripped of it’s history and character by nature but rebuilt in thriving hopefulness by it’s community.

It’s twenty four degrees, the street I follow follows the river, just around the river bend (you sang it, didn’t ya?) is a small city centre. It’s slow and disjointed. New built mega stores one street over from shipping container temporaries.

Everything is new and everything is quiet.

It’s not that the city has no soul, or that it’s a sleepy city not worth a stop over (a lot of people had told me that lie). It’s that it misses out on the hustle and bustle of every other city I’ve been too. Almost a little desolate. After nine everything seems to shut down, I fail to find any night life exempting a couple bars. It’s strange but entirely unique all at once. There is a whole bunch of culture, of course, in the museum and the art gallery. In Cathedral square there is an open photography exhibition that steals my attention for a while. It’s a new, old city and it’s charming the way it exhibits itself to strangers. “Here is the shell of what I once was but just wait until you see the amped version.” It says, the shadow buildings with cardboard windows and rubbled interiors don’t fit in beside the newly renovated hotels and chic cafes. But this is Christchurch and the terror of it’s past is the allure of its present. It’s reincarnation.

Favourite Cafe: Black and White, pictured above. I stopped by a couple times and whilst the soy chai was good, the soy flat white was the shit! The barista knew her stuff and the texture of the soy milk impressed me greatly.

Cultural Highlights: Christchurch Art Gallery boasted a couple interesting exhibits. Silly me did not photograph or catalogue any of it but no doubt it’s a constant theme there, it’s a pretty big gallery. The Botanical gardens have a bright little space reserved in the snapshots of memories. It was summer when I got to Christchurch, so laying in the sun with a book is what I did, I found a little spot by the lake and stayed for hours. The Canterbury Museum is also joined to the gardens. They held an exhibition on Māori women when I went which was all kinds of awe inspiring. And their little homage to nineteenth century Christchurch was quaint too, with life-size store fronts and figures.

Accommodation: I stayed at the Jailhouse Accommodation. Nice lil niche thing they got going. It’s an actual converted jailhouse, the bed was pretty comfy, the place clean, though the kitchen was a wee bit small the rest was all pretty stellar. It was a half hour walk to the centre of the city but the route takes you through a park and then along the river, so no qualms. I never mind a walk anyways. Would stay again, would recommend.

Top Memory: Walking into the city on the first day with a map in hand. Feeling like a traveller again for the first time in months. Taking little back streets and seeing everything, even the most mundane sites, for the first time is always my most favourite part of a trip.

All the blissful vibes, N x

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