Auckland & Back Home

This morning it became clear that I probably should just go back to the UK, and I dealt with this all before having a coffee. I’m flying back tomorrow afternoon NZ time.

Today is my first (and turns out to be only) full day in Auckland. I really wanted to make the effort to go out and enjoy it. This morning I was looking up reliable information online, and ended up just going to the British Consulate. After some advice and a coffee, I booked my flight and not really in the mood to do anything. I’d wanted to go out on one of the surrounding islands, but I think my day is better spent chilling as it’s sandwiched between two big travel days.

It’s a bit ironic how I’ve said that I’ve had to cut my trip short – it’s only been over four years long. But there is not a lot that can be done about it. I’m really glad that four years ago I decided that I was going to do more with my 20s than go to work and pay my bills.

My favourite country is definitely New Zealand, and my time spent on the African safari trip and in Egypt have been great highlights. Even the things that have gone wrong I do find amusing now, besides the pandemic.

As it stands, I could been self-quarantining only if I start to feel unwell after a week of being back in the UK, or for two weeks straight away. I’m not too sure what the government advice will be, or if I should take the stricter quarantine advice from countries like Australia and NZ. I guess I’ll find out in London. But I would appreciate any good recommendations of things to watch on Netflix should I have to lock myself away.

Queenstown/Milford Sound

After spending three and a half days hiking in Mt. Cook, I knew I’d be shattered. It was still nice outside having arrived in Queenstown at 7pm, so I took the gondola up to the top of Queenstown Hill during sunset.

I’d used cookies and chocolate as incentives for reaching the end of hike a couple of days before. If I were to walk to the top of the hill, I would’ve probably had to use a trip to the pharmacy to get the over-the-counter strength ibuprofen as an incentive to do so. I was very sore.

Friday morning I wasn’t really feeling up to much. It seems that if you don’t want to hurl yourself out of a plane, jump off a bridge or be flung through the air on the Nevis Swing, there isn’t really much else to do. As I don’t have a death wish, I used the day to chill and recover after the previous three and a half days of hiking.

Saturday I took a daytrip to Milford Sound. Last year I visited Doubtful Sound, so had been a little on the fence as to whether or not to go this time around. I figured that I’d enjoy the day in Milford Sound a lot more than being in Queenstown, so off I went.

All in all, it was a 9-hour(ish) round trip, but Milford Sound is great. The cruise was two hours long. It’s meant to rain there 182 days of the year, but we had a blueish sky. It’s meant to be better in the rain as there’s a lot of temporary waterfalls, but can’t complain about nice weather.

This morning I was meant to go to Auckland from Queenstown. Instead, I have faced a 10+ hour delay, and sat in Dunedin Airport (east on the South Island, a four hour drive away), waiting for my flight in four hours time. The flight I was meant to get had to turn around from Auckland because of engineering problems.

I had the choice of having Air NZ put me up in a hotel and catching a flight tomorrow, but could be put on a flight as late as 7.30pm. I decided to call today a write off and get the long delay in another airport, so I can make the most of my day in Auckland tomorrow.

In light of the Coronavirus, I’ve had to cut my trip short and leave for the UK on the 25th. It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment and I’m not too sure of the route I’m to take, as I will be facing border closures. With that said, I am relieved that this has happened right at the end of my time away, and haven’t quit my job and moved out of somewhere to find out that my plans have gone to shit.

Mt Cook

On Monday afternoon I arrived in Mt Cook, taking only a couple of hours on the bus. I changed into my walking gear, and went out. As most of the walks here are 3+ hours, I did a couple of smaller ones, saving the 3+ hour ones for my full days.

In the morning I did the Hooker Valley track, taking roughly three hours. The track is 5km long, with an incline of 120m, so a nice easy one, with great scenery the whole way too.

Over the past few years I’ve learnt to not get too excited and exhaust myself on the first day. Instead of going on another walk I went back to the hostel for some dinner, and had a chat with the people in the dorm.

On Wednesday morning I chose to do a track called Sealy Tarns. It’s dubbed as the ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ with over 2,200 steps, with a 600m height gain. The name is a bit sugarcoated as whilst it is a spectacular view from the top, I felt as though I needed an oxygen tent up there after getting to the viewpoint.

Like you would with a four-year-old child, I used the incentive of having a cookie at the end of the stairs. There was no visibility at the top, but after an hour everything cleared up and the view was spectacular. Well worth the effort to get there.

I left Mt Cook for Queenstown on Thursday, but not before fitting a cheeky hike in before the bus in the afternoon. It ended up being the perfect day to go hiking – blue skies all morning. Unforunately I was out of cookies and chocolate to use as an incentive to climb up more steps, but managed to do without.

Mt Cook was one of the places I wanted to visit the most whilst in New Zealand. It’s been well worth the wait. The weather couldn’t have been better, and some nice roommates too. The only downside has been that the dorm did have quite the smell with 8 peoples’ hiking boots in the evenings.


Friday was my last day of work for at least 8 weeks. During the last few weeks in Wellington I stayed in a hostel around a fifteen minute walk to the CBD, though I did not get up to much. The highlight was seeing our local celebrity (yes it really is a cat) strutting down the street. As I was running late for dinner I couldn’t stop, and he seemed to be on a mission to get somewhere.

I went to the airport straight after the shift to fly down to Christchurch, and got the extra leg space by getting an emergency exit seat. As I’d arrived during the evening, I couldn’t get a bus straight to Tekapo, so I stayed the night in a cheap hostel. Someone very considerately set the fire alarm off at 1.30am, a night where I wanted to get at least a half-decent sleep.

On Saturday I boarded a bus down to Tekapo. It’s a place well known for stargazing, and has international recognition for it as the sky is so dark at night. After arriving and sorting out the hostel malarkey, I went for a walk by the lake and ended up by the Church of the Good Shepherd, which is a church to commemorate the first settlers in New Zealand. Now it’s one of the most photographed spots in the country.

During the evening I went to the Dark Sky Project. It’s amusing how when I lived in Australia I would spend my evenings out drinking, but now in New Zealand I was intending to go out to look at the stars. There were two tours: 10.45pm or 1.15am. Both were cancelled as there was no visibility, so I saw how the weather looked on Sunday morning. In the end I opted to go to the Dark Sky Project during the day – it was an interactive experience. It was good, but a lot of science in one sitting.

Sunday morning was spent on a walk up to the observatories on top of Mt John. The weather was a bit crap, so I did the shorter walk and stopped off at the cafe on top. Every time I have a good walk up a hill, I swear there is a bloody car park on top. I raced down before it started really raining, and went off to get some more coffee in town.

An hour or so was spent at the Dark Sky Project, then I went back to the hostel to have some down time – reading and Netflix. I finished reading a book and bingewatched some of the Good Place.

At night I went out to the lakefront to look at the stars, as it’s the place in New Zealand to do so. When it got too cold, I headed back in and went to bed. The next morning I headed off to Mt Cook, where I am at the moment – it’s been great here so far.


I arrived back from Nelson around five weeks ago, just getting around to posting about it!

I drove to Nelson via a kayaking trip in the Abel Tasman, which was great. It was for a couple of hours, and went past a seal colony with cute baby seals.

After the kayaking detour, I went straight to Nelson. I couldn’t check into my room as I was there too early, so went straight to the most central point of New Zealand.

By now, I should’ve realised that to get to post places in this country, you have to climb up a hill. This was no different, and probably should’ve worn something other than flip flops to get up to the top.

For pretty much my whole trip in the South Island, my hostel roommates were nice, but just woke me up all the bloody time. I didn’t feel like doing much during my first day. Instead of forcing myself out to do something I went to the cinema and watched Jumanji.

In New Zealand there are what’s known as the Great Walks, which are essentially the best multi-day hikes. The Abel Tasman Track is one of them. I didn’t particularly feel like walking for two to three days with camping gear. Instead, I caught a water taxi out to the track, and walked back. It was definitely one of the nicest walks I’ve done in New Zealand.

My final morning in Nelson, I went for a coffee before catching a flight to Wellington, then started back at work the day afterwards.

Overall, the trip was great. Kaikoura was definitely the highlight, seeing whales, dolphins and seals. I did feel as though I’m getting old though, as I feel that I cannot really do hostels anymore. They just wind me up too much. Since arriving in New Zealand, I’ve done a pretty good job of seeing everything that I want to – now there’s only a few places left which is all booked up.

Takaka & Golden Bay

The drive to Takaka took most of the day – a good 8 hours, with stops. I ended up stopping at a waterfall that I can’t remember the name of, Nelson Lakes National Park for a quick walk, and Te Waikoropupu springs.

To get to the springs I had to drive through Takaka. I figured that it was the time of day where least people would be there, so it’d be easier to get a park. Google Maps did throw me off guard, as the springs are shortened to ‘Pupu Springs. When I heard “Head left onto poo poo springs…” I did laugh more than I probably should have.

Te Waikoropupu is the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand. It contains some of the clearest water recorded in the world, and is a place of great significance to the Maori people. The picture doesn’t do justice as to how clear the water actually is.

For my first whole day in Takaka I drove up to Cape Farewell. You can’t walk past 4km onto the spit, unless you are with an organised tour. I had a bit of a walk on there, then drove up to Wharaiki Beach.

There’s been very few times where I’ve gone for a walk in flip flops and been really glad that I did. This was one of those walks. It’s a bit of a walk onto the beach, and then it got really, really windy once on the beach. It’s one of the featured wallpapers on Windows 10 computers and the most northern point of the South Island.

Afterwards, I went back to Takaka, stopping off at the Labrinth Rocks. It’s a bit of a hard one to explain – it’s a maze of rocks, with toys scattered around it. I had the Pikachu toy that I won on a claw machine in Tokyo on me, so it made some new friends.

On the final day there I headed off to Wainui Falls – the walking track was quite short, around 20 minutes. After, I went to Rawhiti caves. The road there only allowed one car to go in either direction, so it did put my reversing skills to the test.

The walk to the top certainly was not the easiest, but I was really surprised by the caves – I was expecting a small area, but these were huge. I didn’t take my camera camera with me, just my phone camera, but better pictures can be found with a google search :).

I left Takaka early in the morning to go to Nelson, via kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Hanmer Springs

After Kaikoura I went to Hanmer Springs. It only took a couple of hours to drive there – I was expecting a good few hours at least.

As I arrived around midday, I was expecting the thermal pools to be busy as. Instead, I went for a coffee, passing the springs, which confirmed my assumptions. I checked into the hostel and then walked up Conical Hill – the view from the top was pretty sweet.

Afterwards I went for a cheeky beer, and then to the pools – a great spot to chill for a couple of days. I very quickly found the pools that children were not allowed in which was great.

For New Years, there was literally nothing on apart from a couple of pubs being open for the countdown. There were people in the hostel going to bed at 10, so not really anything worth doing. I had a quiet night in, and went to bed at 12.10.

I started the new year at a petting farm. I was trying to find a waterfall, but the GPS was giving me directions after I had passed the turnings. I’ve been to numerous waterfalls including Victoria Falls and Niagara, so I thought I could live without seeing it.

Instead, I petted some llamas – amongst elephants and sloths, they’re some of my favourite animals. One of the llamas was a shit and spat at me whilst I was feeding them. At least the year can only go up from there. I’ve been asked if I spat back at it by quite a few people, but I was a bit too startled to think of that.

Besides going to the springs and petting cute animals, I didn’t do much in Hanmer Springs. Afterwards, I moved on to Takaka, Golden Bay.


During the end of autumn and winter I didn’t really get up to much. I’ve stayed in Wellington, and haven’t done much apart from work, yoga, and going to the pub. The highlights have been doing the Paekakariki Escarpment Tracks – one of the most reputable walking tracks near the city. I finished a 40 day yoga challenge – did something like 28 classes in that time – it’s nice to finish something that isn’t a packet of biscuits every now and then.

I had some time off over Christmas – supposed to be two weeks off, but I managed to score almost three. The last place I visited in the South Island was Kaikoura for just a day which was not enough. So I took the ferry over, drove for a couple of hours and had dinner on the beach.

Whilst on the ferry, I had to make a phone call to the car rental company and confirm that I was making my way over. The response was “we don’t have a booking for you,” so spent a good hour or so sorting that out. I was hoping that due to the faffing around, I would get a nice car (preferably a ferrari) but instead got a Mazda that had definitely seen better days.

I wanted to come down to Kaikoura most to go whale watching. Last summer I’d booked up to go, but the trip was cancelled. This one went ahead with a high sea-sickness warning, and I’m so glad I bought some tablets. The boat was kind of like being at work the day after a staff party – no one felt particularly great, and a few people were ill.

The whale watching was great – we saw three sperm whales, quite a few albatross and a shark. You can’t really see a huge amount of the whales from the boat; you can see when they’re at the surface, and their tail when they go back down under.

After getting off the boat I went for a bite to eat, then decided to go to the seal colony. The area is so nice with a couple of different walks – nothing is fenced off, so you can walk in the same area as the seals. It’s recommended that you keep 10 metres away from seals (I used the zoom on my camera), but there were quite a few people who didn’t adhere to that advice.

The following day I got up early and drove to Mt Fyffe, with the intent to go hiking. I got about 20 minutes in and was just not feeling it. A further five minutes later I thought sod it, and went back to the hostel.

I was in the car deciding what to do with my day. With a quick Google search, I saw that I could go watch some dolphins and got the last spot on the trip. It was so much better than hiking would’ve been, and ended up seeing heaps of dolphins.

Overall, Kaikoura was great. I feel as though I’ve done pretty much everything there that I would like to do. Moving on, I drove to Hanmer Springs.

Six Months in New Zealand

It’s either hit or about to hit the sixth month mark of being in New Zealand. The past few months I haven’t really gone out of my way to do anything worth mentioning – my visa is for 23 months, though limited to only 12 months work and I’d rather just do the travelling in one go when the weathers nicer. For the first time in a few years I have grown up things to deal with – being signed on a lease, paying bills and ignoring everything else that constitutes as grown up.

Over Easter whilst I was in Taranaki, I’d realised that in the prior three years I had shown more commitment to having pizza on a Sunday (20 weeks in a row was my personal best) than having a full time job. It’s something that I really am quite proud of myself for. With that said, next Thursday that will be broken, and working will overtake that.

I’m still doing cafe work – it’s the most chilled job I’ve ever had which is something that I’m really glad that I found, and with the hours 6.30 – 2.30, I don’t think I could go back working 16+ hours/day. Waking up at 5.15 is something that I have come to realise that I will never get used to, no matter how hard I try. The best bit about it is having the work/life balance – I’ve stuck with the yoga which I’m really noticing the benefits from, and am being a bit more sensible with my spare time compared to how much time and money I spent on going out in Australia.

The winter here isn’t as cold as in the UK or Melbourne – just more wet and windy, so if it’s not that bad over the weekend it’s good hiking weather. A few weeks back I went to the Red Rocks to see the seal colony, and another up to a World War II base near my house. I doubt this weekend I’ll get up to much – I have either a sore throat, tonsilitis, or irritated my throat from eating too much peanut butter chocolate. The weather is meant to be not so great too, but there’s one 12km trail that is probably to be done next.

In terms of where I’m going to go to next, I am intending to save most of it for the summer. Recently I’ve looked at spending a weekend in Mt Cook, but it’s -19 there, so I’d rather just wait for spring/summer to come. In the near future I’ll be working out visas to try to stay on this side of the world, but for next time I’m back in Europe I’ve been looking at a trip to South America and/or Mexico on my way. If I make it to both Mexico and Peru, I will see both the remaining seven wonders of the world that I’d like to see. Back when I was 20 and starting to plan my travels I just had the intention to spend a few weeks in Europe and then a bit of time in Aus, and it’s interesting to see how it’s all worked out fourish years later.

Six Weeks in Wellington

It’s been around six weeks since I’ve moved into an actual house. There was little thought as to why I should move to Wellington; I had my mind made up before I even got to New Zealand, and it’s worked out pretty well. Now I’m out of hostels, it’s so, so nice not sharing a room with anyone, to chill out in a blanket burrito with Netflix on, and to sleep without much disturbance.

Trying to balance waking up for work is a bit tricky – I snooze until 5.25 and leave at 5.40am, and finishing at 2.30 gives me the rest of the day to myself, but I’m also sleepy by that point. I also feel as though I’m catching up on around 8 months worth of sleep so I’m taking things easy. My job is going well; it’s probably the easiest job I’ve had to date.

Since my second year in Australia, I’ve learnt that I should try to look after myself and have learnt that my body(/liver) is not a machine. I’m not turning up to work in questionable states as a result of the previous nights shenanigans, working less than ten hours a day and I’ve been taking good care of my back. I’ve even Googled dehumidifiers for my bedroom, so I guess I’m a grown up now.

Outside of work and the house, I’ve completed the beginners yoga course which I’d signed up to – it’s been a while since I’ve completed something that isn’t a packet of party mix or a book, and have moved onto taking classes without having to trek into the city. Been out for drinks a few times, but nothing really of much interest. The other week I experienced my first earthquake and a bit of sideways rain, which I guess adds to the list of expanding weather conditions I’ve experienced.

This past weekend was the first where I’ve left the house to do something somewhat touristy, and I returned to Zealandia which is an eco-reserve for birds. By the time I’d woken up and taken the 20 minute bus ride there it was 2pm, but only really spent a couple of hours there. There was more wildlife when it was hot outside a couple of months ago, but now winter is about to start, there were less birds around. There’s also night tours that run there and thinking of going within the next few weeks.



Over the Easter Weekend I’m off work so I’m going to be going away, maybe hiking but haven’t really looked too far into it besides car hire and booking accommodation.