Pieces of: Lake Tekapo…

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Lake Tekapo was always just a stopover place when I was planning the South Island, a moment to gather myself between the lively scene of Queenstown and the end of the route in Christchurch. In fact, it ended up being, like many of the smaller stops on the way, one of the most memorable. I suppose it has to do with limiting your expectations. As a daydreamer and a romanticist I tend to put too much hype in the way of future plans. Lake Tekapo didn’t strike me as spectacular so all it could really do was surpass that and surpass it indeed it did.

I make friends with another solo female traveller on the bus between Queenstown and Tekapo. An intimidating look sets on her face and I’m apprehensive to start up conversation on the drive. She speaks first though and she’s bloody hilarious, a girl from Finland roaming around a couple countries before she devotes herself to the army back home. We clamber up Mount John, a small forty five minute hike, and chat like we’ve known each other for years. We even scout out vegan food in the village together and are reluctant in our farewells in Christchurch, just the next day.

The scene of it all is something magical all on its own and you’d think that by this stage I’d be over the remarkable natural treasures of the South but nope, each stop has something that sets it apart from the others. Here it’s the sprays of Russell Lupine’s, a wildflower that has quick become my favourite and one I’ve only spotted here in New Zealand, blooming around the still glassy surface of the Lake. Up on Mount John’s peak we take in the full view of Tekapo, tones of purple, pink and turquoise, accented in that lush evergreen that trademarks these lands for me. There’s an observatory up top which we both skipped out on. As with most activities here, it’s pretty pricey and we fancy a free, mellow, star show by the lake later anyways.

On the drive in, our tour guide gets us all stoked for clear skies filled with constellations. For most of the night we aren’t at all fortunate and everything is instead blotted out by thick clouds. Luckily after a restless couple hours trying to sleep on a squeaky bunk, I get up and go for a walk in the early morning hours, I’ve never been so grateful for a sleepless night. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me and it’s not like it would have captured the site all to well anyways. But the sky was filled with stars. I grew up in a city and other than a couple camping trips where the light pollution was left behind, I’ve not had such an opportunity to really see them. It frustrates me some, that such a simple sight, should be so rare but simultaneously renders me speechless that such a small moment could leave such an imprint on me.

Light and love, N x

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Pieces of: Queenstown…

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Queenstown is the backpacker capital of New Zealand. It’s got all of the hikes, water sports, the infamous bungy and of course the wild nightlife. It’s a perfectly fun place to visit…for a couple of days. This is where the strain of being on a guided tour kicked in. I’d based my whole South Island trip on research alone, with an allotted amount of time, before an already booked flight back to England, I’d made a, very unlike me, itinerary. The whole thing was based on the experiences of friends and countless hours of research, so of course Queenstown came out on top.

In the end I had four days there and not all that much to fill them with. The bungy jump had never really appealed to me, I love adrenaline but having to stare over the edge and then throw myself off of a very high platform did nothing at all for my excitement levels and everything for my anxiety. People who had done it gave very mixed reviews and I’d already done my lifelong bucket list goal in Wanaka (read all about my sky dive HERE) so in the end I passed on the whole bungy hype. I don’t regret it by the way, a lot of people have asked me that since.

Other than that there are smaller activities around, the luge gets a good write up, as does the jet boat and the parasailing but I was just over it by then. Overall I’d spent a lot of time, and funds, on activities in the previous stops and nothing in Queenstown really got the blood pumping. It is very touristy, too many people for such a small town. And whilst the atmosphere was thrilling, everyone was putting so much pressure on doing stuff that it sort of sucked the fun right out of it. Not to mention the prices of some of the stuff was just daft. So I did some treks, some sunbathing and some partying and called my time there ‘vacation mode’. I ate a lot of vegan cake and drank a lot of coffees too. It wasn’t a bad time at all, I made some mint memories with some good people but I just wished I’d planned more time in Wanaka and Abel Tasman.

If you are more of the thrill seeking, do absolutely everything possible, type then you will love Queenstown. It’s activity central and the nomads hostel there is a proper good hub for meeting people to do stuff with. Great for my fellow lone wolves out there who sometimes need to grab a group for those group only excursions. But I do feel I have to be honest and say it was by no means my favourite stop, not even close really.

Light and love, N x

Amy Perrins is my soul sister. We met at University on our very first day and seemed to just continue to vibe in tune together throughout the experience. When it came to travelling I couldn’t of chosen anyone better to do it with. We both have the same freedom seeking spirit, both creatives not destined for that brutal nine to five grind. Neither of us had much of a clue to be fair, we just sort of booked the trip once we both had the funds and let the rest fall into place. A one way ticket and dreamers optimism. Thankfully, Amy is a little more organised than me. She’s a list kinda girl and without her I’m not entirely sure I would of gotten a lot of things done. She’s a strong headed, open minded, fun chica to be around and I miss her ever so much! So here’s a little looksie into that marvellous mind of hers.

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Name, age, favourite movie (good luck choosing just one)…Go!

Amy Perrins, 22. Ooh that’s really really difficult and I have loads but I’m going to go with Pulp Fiction.

Where do you come from originally? What is your favourite thing about that place?

I  am from the West Midlands in England. I don’t know exactly my favourite place about that exact area but whilst I was away I did really miss British pubs – very random but there’s nowhere else quite like them.

Favourite memory of Australia?

That is so difficult I loved the experience as a whole but in terms of a ‘big thing’ I did. Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge was probably my best memory, I loved the time we chose to do it and that I got to do it with my best friend and that I could look up at it after and be like ‘omg I was at the top of that’

Is there anything you learnt about yourself whilst travelling?

yeah definitely. I feel like I grew a lot over the last year, I still make mistakes (and who doesn’t) but I’ve started to learn from them. The biggest thing I’ve learnt though is just to be yourself and if people don’t like you then that’s okay. I’m so much happier that everyone in my life loves me for who I am and not for someone I’m trying to be. You can’t live life worrying about what everyone else thinks because you’re always going to be making someone unhappy so all you can do is do what makes you happy.

Top three things/places on your bucket list?

I really want to do a bungee jump in New Zealand. I’ve heard it’s a great place to do it and I’m sure I’ll be terrified right before but it’s still definitely at the top of my bucket list.

I am obsessed with great white sharks (and sharks in general) and it is my dream to get to see one up close, preferably in Cape Town. Once I have got this ticked off my bucket list I’ll be happy.

I really want to kayak by orcas. I think you can do it in Norway. You can’t approach orcas but when you do it in the right place they will approach you and I think that would be just incredible.

As a bit of a make up addict, if you could only choose five products to take on a trip, what would they be?

No make up is cool too. I’d take one shadow palette – it would be a hard choice but I’d probably go with my Kat Von d metal matte palette because it has such a variety of colours, I’d have to take my too faced mascara, my too faced sweet peach glow highlighter. I am lost without lipstick so I’d have to take one but it would be a really hard choice – I love really bright ones but if I had to pick only one it would be my Kat Von D studded kiss lipstick in the shade ‘lovecraft’ just because that colour goes with everything. For my final item I’d take my Kat Von d lock it concealer.

I always think of you when I think of fashion. What three wardrobe staples are necessary for a trip to Australia?

For a trip to Australia you definitely need shorts! I personally love denim ones that are high waisted, I feel a lot more confident in them. You obviously need to take a bikini, you’ll be doing a lot of tanning and beach time! I’d say the last thing is a pair of comfy shoes, that you can wear on a night out or for long walks in the day. I am a huge fan of heals but Australia was not the place. My White converse did me proud in Australia!

Any pro packing tips?

I did start off as a massive overpacker myself but I do feel I have conquered now (eventually) A good tip for when you leave to go travelling is to remember you will buy stuff whilst you are away so don’t take every single thing you own with you. The one thing you should overpack on is underwear! It will cut down on washing! Nothing more annoying than having enough clothes but having to pay for washing just because you need underwear!

Advice to someone who wants to travel but always finds a reason not to?

My advice to someone who really wants to travel but always finds a reason not is just do it! It’s not going to ruin your life just trying it, you may love it, you may hate it but at least you gave it a go! I ended up loving it but there was no chance anything would have stopped me going, even a seizure and epilepsy diagnosis. If you are always finding an excuse not to go be honest with yourself about why are you putting off going. If you are scared then just go for it!

And try and connect with other people by booking with a company like Gap360 so you have connection with some people before you go so it will make you less nervous.

Next Destination?

My next travel destination will hopefully be Southeast Asia followed by New Zealand, providing I have saved enough money, if not I’ll reverse the two and save more money for Asia working in NZ!

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