Kayaking, Hiking, and Sea Lions

It seems like I’ve been ping-ponging back and forth between the two islands, but here I am, back in Wellington for my final two days of my New Zealand adventure. I can’t complain, as I really have fallen in love with the city and the country. I’m definitely going to have to come back here to explore Auckland, Queenstown, Milford Sounds, and the rest of the beautiful sights and places. New Zealand really is a¬†traveler’s¬†wonderland.

I did go kayaking in the Abel Tasman, and it was spectacular! I had to wake up early to make the transfer bus from Nelson to the national park, only to be reminded that I packed poorly and that I was sure to freeze to death. Everyone else seemed to have been prepared on the bus as they were wearing touques, windbreakers, and had lots of thermal, waterproof layers on. I had plenty of layers on as well, but two shirts, a button up shirt and a pleather jacket just didn’t compare.

My kayak and Tonga Island

Once we got the the park, we were taken out on a water taxi and brought to Tonga Bay. It was there that we were briefed on how to kayak, and what to do if the kayak tipped. By this time, the sun had appeared, thankfully, and was warming me up a little. Once we were in the kayaks (they were two seaters, and I was paired with the guide; which practically ensured that we weren’t going to tip and meant I only had to paddle half as hard) we headed out to Tonga Island, which was part of the Marine reserve. The island was known for its sea lion population, and they didn’t disappoint! It was really cool seeing them and hearing all of the facts about them.
– Fun fact #1: The males are only with the females for a three month period, and then they find their own island to stay for the remainder of the time.
– Fun Fact #2: The males sometimes fight to the death.

Can you spot the sea lion?

We also saw a shag (a rare bird that lives only in New Zealand), other birds, starfish, and some even saw a penguin, but it swam away before I could spot it.

The shags

After the kayak was done, we had a picnic and then I embarked on the 2 hour hike back to Torrent Bay, which was where the water taxi would pick us up. It turns out I didn’t need to dress warmer as the physical activity was enough to keep me warm with the sun’s help. It turned out to be a beautiful day and the weather was perfect.

My hiking shoes….

Me and the swinging bridge

The hiking trail.

I stayed the night in Nelson again, and then headed back to Wellington with the ferry in the morning.

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Crossing the Cook Strait and the South Island

At the moment, I’m in a huge B&B in Nelson, NZ. Nelson is a small little “city” at the top of the south island of New Zealand. In order to extend my visa, I realized that I have to wait until my other visa expires, which means I need to stay out of Australia until the 25th, which is the perfect excuse to explore New Zealand a bit.

After three days in Wellington, I took the ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton, where I stayed the night and then headed over to Nelson. I’m amazed at how friendly the people are here. The bus drivers all have gone out of their way to help me find the right bus and once, a bus driver waited with me at the bus station, just to make sure I got on the right one. Kiwis are all very laid back and helpful, and I’ve been really impressed. It makes it so much easier to travel if people are willing to help you out and give directions.

I’m going to stay here 2 nights, just because I can and the B&B is so cheap and quality. It’s like a mansion, and the bathroom is HUGE! I’ll have to take a picture tomorrow, just to prove it. Tomorrow morning, I’m headed to Abel Tasman National Park for kayaking and to explore the park. I’m really excited and I’m bringing along my camera and will make sure to get some good shots. I just wish I had a better lens, in order to zoom in some more. I’m nervous I will be cold, as I don’t have tons of warm clothes or sweaters, but I’m hoping the physical exercise will keep me warm.

Here are some pictures of my trip so far! Stay tuned for more stories and updates. And that bathroom picture!

The South Island!

The pathway to the B&B

The view from the back balcony

Back Balcony

A river running through Nelson, NZ

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I Made It Safe and Sound!

After a thorough questioning at customs in a drug related search (never cross a border with a severely red left eye. It may lead to lots of praying, nervous sweats and thoughts of deportation) I made it safely to Wellington! It’s crazy to think, but I’m here!

After getting a taxi ride to the backpackers, I dropped off my luggage and headed to the nearest Macca’s. Since it was a Friday night, it was pretty busy outside with lots of people walking around, and walked right into a drunken brawl. I wasn’t sure what to do at first, as it didn’t seem to serious but then it escalated with both parties engaging in a scuffle on the street. I yelled and started for them, but another white car came up behind them and honked it’s horn and they all started running. The angry, really drunk man started chasing these two guys in a ridiculous manner, and ran off, so I continued on my trek to McDonald’s. Once I had made it a block or two, these guys appear again, still in the same situation, with one little angry man running after these two dudes. It was so weird. I weighed my options and really didn’t think I could do much, other than get security. As I headed off in search for security, there already was one headed their way, so I let it be.

Such a crazy introduction to Wellington, which involved a lot of praying, and an elevated heartbeat, for an extended period of time.

Just a Spontaneous Trip to New Zealand!

I can’t believe it yet, but this coming weekend I’m going to New Zealand!! I never thought that I’d be able to make it to New Zealand on this trip, but when Friday rolls around, off I go to the land of earthquakes, the kiwi bird, and beautiful Lord of the Rings scenery. It’s surreal.

The reason why I’m going, and so spontaneously, is because I need to apply for a new visa, and I need to leave the country to do that. It’ll be a weird feeling knowing that I am in between countries without a visa for a period of time, but at the same time, it makes me feel like I’m living on the edge and being adventurous. It is technically a safe process, as the approval is sent right away via e-mail, and I still have a week left on my old visa, so my parents and aunties don’t really need to worry. Too much.

I’m going to Wellington, which is the capital of NZ, and is apparently a big cultural hub and the city that has the 12th best quality of living in the world (in 2009). I’ve read some facts about it, and it apparently has more restaurants, cafes and bars per capita than New York City. Considering I’m now a coffee addict (thanks to Blaine and One Drop), I’m really looking forward to trying new coffee and the cafes that Wellington has to offer. I’m travelling by myself, so my options are unlimited and the city is mine to explore. Apparently the architecture is incredible, so I’ll be sure to take pictures and share them, along with all of my cuisine experiences.

I’m not sure if I should just stay in the city for the 3.5 days that I’m there, or if I should venture out past the city limits in order to see a little more of the beautiful scenery. I’d like to, but renting a vehicle might be a bit expensive, although I could sleep in it, which would save me the cost of a hostel or hotel. In either case, I’m really excited and can’t wait!

The Survey Co.

Yesterday, Joel, Ruth, Gabby and I all went to a restaurant in Brisbane called the Survey Co. It was absolutely amazing! The inside of the restaurant was incredibly designed with exposed brick walls, cow hide and cork booths, dim, pendant lighting, and a little courtyard in the back, completely surrounded by buildings. Besides the great decor and atmosphere of the restaurant, the food was absolutely incredible and fairly reasonably priced as well. We all had walnut sourdough bread with butter and rock salt for an appetizer. I had a rib fillet steak with jus and deep-fried rice cakes. The meat was tender, juicy and very filling. For dessert, we all shared dark chocolate mousse profiteroles (think cream puffs), a mango passionfruit parfait, and a spicy creme brulee.

I loved it and would love to try more restaurants like that. It was great and the company was even better.

Phones Will be the Death of Me

I’m having phone problems again. The loaner phone I am using (or was using) is dead. With my limited iPhone knowledge, I think it has something to do with the battery as it isn’t charging. At all. So once again, I’m incommunicado.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had problems with phones in Australia, and I think it’s one of the most frustrating problems for multiple reasons. One, they are damn expensive (it’s okay, damn isn’t a swear word in Australia). Two, they are almost an everyday essential. I can function without one, but it definitely isn’t convenient. Three, you feel lost without a phone. For me, and I’m assuming many others, it means you don’t have a calculator, a camera, a watch, a time-waster, or even an excuse out of an awkward social encounter. It really is a horrible (albeit, first world) problem.

In any case, if I don’t respond to your attempt of communication, you can blame it on my phone. Although facebook and e-mail communication may be harder to forgive me for, as my computer still works…

Guess Where I Am?

Caloundra!!! I think I was born to live here. And we’re going to get ice cream. Can life get better?
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If there is one thing that I love, it’s new music. I love discovering a new artist and finding they have great songs that really speak to you. I found this guy because of Joel and he’s great. I would love to do something like this one day. Write a song and perform it. Being sponsored by Burberry would be a bonus. Just thought I would share this with you.

No one can pray and worry at the same time.
– Max Lucado

Third Times the Charm!

I think I’m in love. Today marks the third time that I’ve been to Byron Bay, and it still captures me and makes me want to stay there forever, or a very long time. I love the beach, the company that I travel there with, the food (I even had fish at this great fish and chips spot. I HATE seafood!), the fun we have, and the beautiful sun. Today was perfect and I wouldn’t have wanted anything less or anything more. I was happy and content to bask in Byron Bay and it’s wonderful vibe.

If you haven’t been, you have to go!Image