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

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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: The West Coast…

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Look at me happy little face man! That was genuine joy that was.

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This is the West Coast, a stretch of road put up on the list of the best road trips in the world. Can you see why? Imagine the pure, raw, site of it all. That lazy ocean and frayed shapes of the pancake rocks. This little piece of my journey was enough to remind me that seeing an imagine second hand isn’t enough. That as much as I appreciate photography, as much as it may be my favourite visual art form, it can’t quite ignite the feelings of being present and reaching that cosmic level of understanding. Understanding the levels of beauty on our tiny piece of universe. This shit is what the aliens would invade us for.  Standing at a view point with that early summer breeze sauntering through the air, temperatures so perfect you’re niether shivering nor sweating, the crowds around you are nothing because what you see, this actual real scenery, has consumed you. The ocean is my home, it’s my councillor, my mysterious lover, the one place I will never tire of returning too and this chunk of road time swelled that connectedness in my heart.

My memory is a little mushed with the particulars of the trip but I’m almost positive that this was the connection between Westport and Lake Mahinapua. I have no pictures of Westport so I’ll quickly say that, though it wasn’t as magical as a lot of the trip, I did paddle board for the first time (such a meditative activity) and did enjoy the hostel heaps, Bazil’s Hostel. Me and a couple of the girls even did an early morning Yoga class and grabbed a surprisingly good cup of coffee before we set off which probably put my mind in the perfect set up to connect with all that natural wonder around us.

Love always, 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!

Want more of Amy?

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Nx

Ladies and Gents I would like to introduce you to…Jody! One of my favourite little nuggets, she’s made of light and good vibes and has one of the most contagious smiles. I’m constantly in awe of her chilled out, super Aussie-esque style and her creative energy. I met Jody, like most of my good travel mates, in Coffs Harbour during that all too long farm work stint. We shared beach days, drunken shindigs at Hoey Moey and a lovely little city getaway in Melbourne. My only regret is not making more of an effort to get to know Jody earlier. We ran in our own little cliques, friendly but not good friends until our friend circles over lapped and I welcomed a kindred spirit into my life. So here goes, I asked Jody about her travels and a little about life as a photographer and I hope you find some inspiration in her answers (I know I did).

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Name, age, favourite song…

Jody, 26, it changes all the time but the ones that make me boogie these days are “Our Town – Sticky Fingers”, “Sweatpants – Childish Gambino”, “History – Cosmo’s Midnight”.

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

I’m from Brussels in Belgium. My favourite thing about it is probably its central location. I can easily go on little getaways without losing too much time on the way.

Why did you choose Australia?

I’ve always been curious about Australia for the nice weather, the beaches, the good lifestyle and the surf. I actually didn’t know much about that big island before I jumped on the plane.

Most inspiring place in Australia as a photographer?

I think what inspired me the most was not a place but the light. The golden hours are my favourite, that light makes everything look magical and it brings me creativity for some reason!

Which camera do you recommend for the perfect travel shots?

I have an iPhone 6 and I shot most of my travel pictures with it. The quality is not the best you can have but it’s okay and it’s so easy to carry around or to hide in your towel when you go for a swim 😉 I also shot heaps with disposable cameras! You have to be patient cause you obviously can’t see the pictures straight away but it’s so worth it and so much fun!

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt whilst travelling?

Don’t let the little things upset you and don’t waste your time and energy on people who don’t put as much effort as you in your friendship/relationship. Makes life ten times better!

Favourite memory of Australia?

I think it’s too fresh in my mind to pick only one! When I met two french girls on the beach in Byron, we actually became friends in the blink of an eye and today they’re my best friends! Magic happens when you travel, I swear!! Or when I went skinny dipping in the ocean with some friends after a party. A security person pointed at us with a big torch so we had to paddle back in and run as fast as we could to put our clothes back on!

Top three things/places on your bucket list?

Stay happy! Explore South and Western Australia, Live in Australia

What are your travel essentials?

A few notebooks to write down what happens and what inspires me, my gopro to catch the little moments (underwater are my favourites) my phone to take pictures of everything all the time and a big bunch of good people!

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

Just go! If not now, then when? Don’t be scared to lose what’s or who’s home cause they’ll always be there no matter what.

Next Destination?

Probs back to Australia to live the life I started and then explore more of that amazingly beautiful island!

 

Want More of Jody?

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Keep an eye out for a fun new project coming from Jody soon, hopefully you and I will get to help out too!

N x

My second interview is with my BEST FRIEND Megan Plenderlieth. We met in the very early days of our Australian adventures and just clicked and that click only continued to click when we took on farm work together and spent twenty four hours a day, seven days a week in each others presence for like almost six months. There was a traumatic period of separation anxiety when I left Australia that’s for sure. It was intense! But the best kind of intense there is. Where Megan is a fucking genius, all logical reasoning and numbers (but like in a passionate, fun way, not an intimidating one). I’m a ditzy, dreamy, accident waiting to happen. She’s my better half, it has to be said. But our differences compliment each other SO BLOODY WELL and our opinions on the serious matters in the world are almost always the same so there isn’t much to fight over. We got each other through a pretty stressful time, trying to compete 88 days of farm work for our second year visa’s before our time was up on our first one. Have you ever tried picking blueberries for 8-10 hours a day, seven days a week in thirty to forty degree heat? It isn’t fun but we did it and I think it’s because we had each other.

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Name, age, favourite colour…Go!

Megan, 23, sky blue

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

I’m from Bromley, which is south east London/Kent. There is always so much too do and I loved roaming around on a cheap travel card with my friends on the weekend discovering new things to do and see.

How did you find yourself in Australia?

I was in my last year of uni and realised that I needed a break from studying but i also had no idea what I wanted to do but I knew that I wanted to travel and Australia seemed the best place to do that.

Favourite place in Australia so far?

There have been sooooooo many places I’ve fallen in love with but I think my favourite place has be between Melbourne, Coffs Harbour and the whitsundays! It’s too difficult to choose one because I love the city life but I loved everyone I was in Coffs Harbour with as we became a little family and the whitsunday was just breathtakingly beautiful.

Tell me a random fact (I know there are plenty in that noggin)

A turtle can breath out of its ass!! My favourite fact of all time!

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt whilst travelling?

That I need a lot less to survive and be happy than I thought I did. Like in Coffs Harbour I was broke pretty much the entire time but I had the best time because of who I was with not what I had.

Top three things/places on your bucket list?

To see the northern lights in an igloo in Norway, to bathe in the hot springs in Iceland and to trek the inca trail in Peru.

Favourite way of getting from place to place?

I love the train especially when you get amazing scenery and get to see the countryside passing by the window.

Favourite memory of Australia?

Christmas Day was one of the best days of my life, it started with cooking breakfast (and drinking) with my Coffs family, then going swimming and jetty jumping, then lunch at the hostel, with everyone! Opening my present from my family which had been in my cupboard for over a month waiting to be opened, back to the jetty to jump again and swim with a wild dolphin then finally going to a house party with all the Coffs family and getting to call all my relatives back home while it was Christmas for both of us!

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Fave memory – Aussie Christmas (“Plus my fave outfit! My pyjamas!”)

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

Travelling doesn’t have to be a long time away from family, go for a long weekend, or a week or 2 week holiday somewhere new. Travelling is fundamentally about experiences.

What book are you currently reading?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, it’s about an English women at the end of WW2 being transported back 200 years to the Scottish highlands a few years before the 2nd Jacobite rebellion (which Scotland lost and marked the beginning of the end for clan life in Scotland) basically I find it super interesting.

Next Destination?

After I finish my 2nd year in Australia my current plan is to head over too New Zealand for a year or so but my plans are constantly changing so who knows what will happen.

Want more of Megan?

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N x