Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Let me tell you how it can be a little awkward to show up on a dairy farm and announce that you are lactose intolerant. It wasn't that my audience was unreceptive about my dietary restrictions, but it did become a bit of a running joke throughout my stay. Meg was very good to me and claimed she had fun being creative with her cooking. She made plenty of tasty meals (and sweet treats), and adapted some recipes so I would be able to taste some traditional Kiwi (and Scottish) cuisine!

My dad has sometimes commented about how I would be an asset to a dairy farmer if I was keen on helping out because I wouldn't be tempted to drink any of the profits. Well, it turns out that the only thing the family consumes directly from the farm (aside from the meat they freeze every year) is eggs... not heaps of raw milk! Even so, it seemed like almost a threat that they wanted me to help out at the cow shed some day, since time was passing and it never actually happened.

It came up again two days before my departure, and it was agreed that (rather than leaving at half past five in the morning) I would help out with the afternoon milking the next day. Todd stopped by the house after riding his horses on Thursday and picked me up on his motorbike (4-wheeler). He lent me a pair of overalls (full coverage, neck to ankle, and fairly huge since Todd is tall) and I borrowed a random pair of gumboots when I got to the shed (also ginormous on me). I later understood the importance of both of these articles, as without them I would have been covered in fresh brown splatter marks and up to my ankles in slop!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Well done, Nanny" [composed 22ish November 2010]

I haven't updated in a while because I have actually been staying in one place (for the time being anyway)! Instead of bouncing from one adventure to the next, I hopped off my tour bus at a Honey Shop on the major highway heading south, right smack dab in the middle of farm country. I am staying with one of the only contacts I knew in New Zealand before I set off on my journey: my sister's "Scottish sister." How does that work? Well, I'm not sure what else to call her, but my sister spent 6 months living with Meg and her family in Scotland while they were in high school. Now Meg lives in the outskirts of Palmerston North with her husband and four kids on a dairy farm, and she invited me to stop in for "as long as I would like." Little did she know I would actually take her up on this offer and stay for just short of three weeks!

The accommodation is lovely: a flat to myself with a huge bed, plenty of room for my nightly yoga, way more couches and overstuffed chairs than I would ever need, my own bathroom (or "toilet" as they're called over here), and even a little kitchenette (as if I would ever need to use it with all the food provided in the main house!) The flat is separate from the house, both of which are nestled at the end of a long gravel driveway. Outside my window is the paddock that belongs to Misty, the pony, and behind that is the chook house. In just about every direction, there are various paddocks occupied by Jersey (brown) cows, that are rotated around depending on the day or time. The driveway branches off to loop around the house and the rest turns into the "track" that leads up the family farm to the cow shed, where the milking takes place.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Slow Travel

I've decided that I am meant for "slow travel." Whether hiking or walking or taking in scenery or visiting a museum or even making plans, I like to follow my own pace. Sometimes it is quite fun to plan a day chock-full of activities and meals and adventures, particularly if you have a time restraint. Some of my favorite memories include times where I planned out several highlights of whatever town I was living in, in order to show around a visitor who was only there for a short time. There are times, however, where one or two things per day seem to be plenty, and allow you time to relax and enjoy yourself for the rest of the day. This may sound lazy or boring, but I have come to really appreciate my down time when it comes!

I have been in New Zealand for a month so far, and I love it. I have had crazy busy days where I crash into my pillow at the end of the day, but I have also had a few laid back days where I accomplished hardly anything. Of course I enjoy looking back at the days where I can't believe that I did so many things, and went so many places, but they sure are tiring! I am beginning to prefer the days where I do one or two things of note, but also allow some time to breathe, to take in the world, to reflect, to stretch, and to write.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Picture Story... Road Trip!

I know, they are long awaited as I keep talking about all the wonderful things I'm doing in such beautiful places but you have yet to see what I mean! It's difficult to upload pictures with limited internet access, so I have omitted them for the most part so far. But, alas, I am going add some here from the road trip I took with Nate last weekend so you can finally have a taste the beauty I see every day :)

Here is our rental, at a look out along the major road (one lane each direction) that brought us up the Coromandel Peninsula. Looking at a map of the North Island, the Coromandel is the piece of land that sticks up in the middle, East of Auckland.
We arrived at Whitianga and found a backpackers (hostel) on the water where we ended up staying for two nights. Here are some awesome clouds from the beach the first night!

Acts of Love

I find it hard to summarize the amazing experiences I've had in a blog post. I have only been in New Zealand for three weeks now, and yet it feels like much longer. I am so glad I decided to come for a full year, as I can only begin to imagine how much more there is to see and do! In three weeks I have managed to squeeze in some couchsurfing, a three day tramp, some WWOOFing, an extensive road trip, heaps of beach visits, a bit of rock climbing, and even some down time here and there. I am happy to be here, and still glad I am adventuring alone!

I met a German girl at a hostel this past weekend who is also on a working holiday. She has been here about the same length of time as I have, but said she is going home next month. She explained that traveling alone is not for her and she really misses having a place to call home. She talked about meeting tons of people in different hostels and while traveling, but how she was sick of sleeping in a different place every night. I can empathise with the part about hopping from place to place. It was nice when Nate and I spent two nights in the same hostel and we didn't have to pack up everything for once. It was also nice to have a "home base" while I was WWOOFing, but there were other aspects to that situation that made up for it. I haven't, however, actually done much traveling solo. I have been alone during different parts of my journey, but always had a companion (or several) to spend time with if I wanted to. This is partially due to the circumstances of events, but largely by design. I like to think I know myself well enough to plan for what I can handle. Then again, getting to know myself is what this adventure is all about!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Quick Summary... [composed 30 October 2010]

These past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind of new experiences. Once again my days have been busy with little time to write, so instead of an extremely long post, I think I will have to summarize in list form. In the past three days I: learned to drive on the left side of the road, enjoyed the best chai latte I have ever had (twice), kayaked to a place called Lonely Bay and enjoyed much of the morning with just two people on the beach (Nate and myself), scampered up an overgrown path to Shakespeare Cliffs (and ran into a couple who had DRIVEN to the top), did cartwheels and handstands in the surf, took LOTS of pictures, visited Stingray Bay and didn't see any, hiked to Cathedral Cove for what Nate has deemed the "quintessential NZ picture" where I did more cartwheels (and headstands) in the surf, climbed numerous rock structures on various beaches, took more pictures, dug a hole at Hot Water Beach to create a personal hot-spring-fed hot tub (okay, so I didn't dig one from scratch, but I helped maintain one somebody else had left), grilled a tasty dinner on a BBQ that took ages to cook, drove on the longest unpaved road I had ever experienced (complete with many one lane bridges), hugged a Kaori tree, ate lunch on the beach, and several other things I'm sure I'm forgetting!