Nifty Nooks: Wellington…

So sorry for my little absence. Life has lacked inspiration lately so I escaped to the city to seek out the energy I was craving. Mix the gritty, character filled, streets of Wellington with old friends whom have so many new tales to tell and adventure driven spirits to help raise you from the ashes and you definitely gain a fresh perspective.

It was strange to be back in the city after seven months to find that not all that much had changed. People had of course moved on and the nostalgia was haunting in every familiar place with no recognisable face but it was wonderful none the less.

On Sunday I celebrated my twenty fourth birthday (which was bloody terrifying let me tell ya) and we all used that as an excuse to drink, dance and eat all we could. I spent a bunch of money but I laughed so much and just felt the light lift me again.

Obviously, seeing as coffee is the key to my existence, I spent a load of time sipping some of my favourite city brews. I forgot how good Wellington does it. I know I spent a bunch of time reviewing places when I lived there last year but I definitely missed out on some hot spots and I even tried some new places this time around. So here we have a wee nifty nooks round up. Do enjoy sweet little coffee beans.

Beach Babylon

Where? 232 Oriental Parade, Mount Victoria, Wellington 6011

Beans? Peoples Coffee

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These guys do everything from a classic cup of joe to vegan milkshakes to cocktails. They have main meals and cabinet food galore and the vibe is very retro and carefully cluttered like a lot of digs in it’s loudly alternative mother city. They’re on the beach front and despite the winter tempts we made the most of the delightfully rare no wind of the morning by brunching outside. A classic avocado smash on toast with some yummo vegan pesto was my hangover choice and just writing about it has me craving it again. The soy flat white was top notch too, good smooth coffee and skilled milk work. They use peoples coffee which is quite a standard choice up north but rather less so in Wellington, home of the havana roasters. Still doesn’t beat Flight or Kakako for me but still a yummy one.

Enigma

Where? 6011, 128 Courtenay Pl, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

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This cafe is the heart of my memories in Wellington. From plant pots of chai on a winter morning with my favourite people to late night munchies, mid night out. It’s one of those hubs for the people. I used to escape there back when I lived in the hostel at night to do some writing and grab some alone time. It’s dingy in an underground, hipster, way. Very Wellington. The coffee is pretty standard really but they do a nice coconut milk and they have vegan food both on the menu and in the cabinet. The sweet muffins are real nice and the courtyard out back is a niche little retreat. I really missed that electric no sleep mantra of the city. Everywhere in the Mount closes super early.

Beat Ugly Bagel

Where? 5 Swan Lane, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

Beans? Havana

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This was a new discovery, despite having been opposite my place of work back when I inhabited Cuba Street. I get the hype now, though I didn’t actually try a bagel (my mates were real satisfied). They use Havana which I’ve never been a cheerleader for but it was a good flat white none the less and I dug the energy of the place. The staff seem to genuinely have fun, shouting the orders to each other and repeating them back, dancing around behind the counter and having a top laugh with one another.

Milk Crate

Where? 35 Ghuznee St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

Beans? Rich Coffee

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This spot is where you’ll find my ultimate favourite brew in the whole city. I found it about two weeks before I left back in November and made a huge effort to visit everyday because it was just that good. They’re just off Cuba Street, fronting a clean store that sells pottery and luxury clothing items. It’s one of them clean spaces, industrial looking and home to the less roguish and more pretentious city hipsters. But the coffee is fucking yum. It’s one of those rare spaces where I’ll more than happily nab a long black and enjoy every sip of it. They use Rich coffee, which is a roasters in Newtown, Wellington I do believe. And  it’s a beauty for sure. I hear wondrous things about their food too and I did spot some vegan bits flouncing around in the counter but I’ve not ventured into that territory so I can’t say. Just make sure this tops your list for city centre coffee fixes.

N x

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: Wairere falls….

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When I’m ‘Settled’ into routine and have to put travelling on hold, it’s little adventures and road trips that keep my spirits up. A friend took me to Wairere Falls the other week and it was a right test for my lungs and my poor little legs. Despite the pain once we reached the summit the trek up seemed like nothing. We weren’t expecting the waterfall to be so impressive anyways so even the road leading to it took my breath away a little. The first view point is about half way up and gives you a stunning view of the waterfall itself set into the rocks and lush greenery, you might very well feel like that’s enough and want to retreat but you have to troop on because waiting at the top is the real treasure. The day we chose was a windy one so the waterfall was actually floating up to shower us,  water droplets catching in the sun rays and pure views of green rolling hills. It took about an hour and half, round trip, if I remember rightly, with options for longer more advanced routes. Here in New Zealand there’s always something waiting to stun you around every corner, this place is in a league of its own. I’m keen to check out more of the trails around and about Tauranga and if you ever find yourself in the area be sure to give this one a go.

Love and Light, N x

Mount Moments 04…

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The breeze whispers memories around her in nostalgic tongues. Her body synchronises itself with the feeling of them even though who she is now is a foreigner to their meanings. The ends of summers, rolling through tall grass, staining a too pretty sundress. Daisy chains twisted into a crown, queen of fragile innocence. That same calming air closing in around her as the summer sun fades, a premature tickle of Autumn coating the twilight.

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Some things never change. Like the grip of word formations on my little escapist heart. Crying at a made up moment between fictional people in a public space and feeling, not silly, but warmed by it. Warmed by the easy sorcery of it. The pages of books have always been my haven, a fortress catering for my wildness. Even in those bleak weeks when I was forced to stay stagnant, restless and kept. The words built a door to escape.

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Perhaps this is my madness…

Standing on the brink of ambiguity at the surrender of that mystic caress. Playful trails through my matted hair, seductive down my weary arms, all touches teasing like a charming lover. Is this self destruction? To feel trust instead of violation, to fall willingly into its wayward constitution. But I see my likeness in those wild wiles, a home in the madness.

20.03.18

I recognise the gruffness in the twang of Northern dialect in the elderly man. “Where are you from?”

“Ah, Auckland these days but originally Morpeth, North East of England.” It doesn’t matter how long I’m away from home or how much isolation I felt growing up there, I smile warmly at the man and respond eagerly.

“I thought I recognised that accent! I’m from Newcastle.” He joins in with my grin and yells over to his wife.

“This ones a Geordie Lizzie, think we should trust her?” Lizzie laughs and Richard introduces himself properly. We chat for a little while and I find myself straining to hear the two converse as I potter around the cafe. The warming lull of the roughness, the yearning in my chest.

I find that I miss “home” more and more these days but still I have no real intention to return. It’s more a dislike toward a former self for training so hard in mellowing the accent and turning away from my youth and my heritage like it’s something to be ashamed of. My background isn’t all shiny privilege and a high class upbringing. It’s working class determination and the compassion of knowing the struggles of others. It’s knowing the unconditional love of two devoted parents who gave me everything when they had nothing, who showed me everyday that I was worth more than what society said I was, that I could do anything despite my circumstance.

Richard and Lizzie leave me their phone number in case I ever find myself in Auckland or a tricky situation where I might need a safe place to lay my head. As they leave my eyes water a little and I’m left with that tangible buzz of belonging. That echo of northern camaraderie.

Light and love, N x

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Nifty Nooks: Wild One Wholefoods…

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Where: 9 Prince Ave, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga 3116

The Beans: Kokako (An Auckland based Roasters that is both organic and fair-trade.)

Favourites: Soy Flat White, Salted Caramel Smoothie, Coconut and Blueberry muffin (can you tell I have a sweet tooth?) and I’m sure there’d be more if I could only make it to the actual menu.

During the awkward days on my first arrival in Mount Maunganui I do what I always do, when I’m bumbling about a new place, and seek out a sanctuary. Away from the pollution of people in the hostel, away from the too crowded cafes over run with intimidatingly cool locals. I find Wild One Wholefoods on Prince Avenue, just off of Mount Maunganui road. It’s space is clean and vibrant and the selection of vegan options overwhelming. My love isn’t cemented until I take my first sip of the smoothest soy flat white I’ve had in weeks. It’s a beautiful thing. The gnarliest barista.

I come back day after day as I fall into a wandering routine. Broken only by the promise of my own room in a flat a little too far away to frequent so often. Though that’s probably the best thing because money only lasts so long (spoiler, I’ve since moved out of said flat and into one right across the road, Good bye savings!).

The girls who work there are the loveliest, always good for a chat if it’s quiet enough and always working their little butts off on busy days (I wrote up this review a couple months back before I actually became one of those gals haha! I love brewing up a storm so pop in for a coffee made by moi!). If you are vegan, gluten free, or health conscious in any way then this is the spot for you. The menu is inventive, though I barely make it past the cake fridge where you’ll find the coconut and blueberry muffin, which is my all time fave. And the owner is super cool, a young woman making waves of change with a little nook for the health and planet conscious cafe lover.

Love and Light, N x

 

 

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: 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