(Trying to) Stay Healthy While on Holiday

I have read plenty of articles on how to stay in shape while travelling. They are great articles, and I tend to follow their advice. But staying in shape while on holiday is not as easy as you think. Sacrifices must be made. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not too keen into sacrificing my precious sleep or my time at the pub. Some healthy habits are easier to maintain depending on where you have chosen to holiday, or the time of year. Others healthy habits seem downright impossible. I would like to share some ways to keep fit when you are away from home, while being realistic. Because I feel your pain. Or I may be trying to come up with excuses for why I returned with a few extra pounds.

YouTube

YouTube videos are great! There is a workout for everything. They are fast, heart pumping, and don’t require any equipment or much room. All you need is an internet connection. Some problems I faced was space. Either my hotel room was too small, or I didn’t feel like working out in the middle of my dorm room. Downward Dog when your new, opposite sex, attractive dorm mate walks in could be awkward. Or it could work in your favor. Wink Wink. Then there is that pesky internet connection. In some countries wi-fi isn’t as readily available as you might think, and the speed isn’t up to par with streaming. All in all, when I had my own room, plenty of space and valid internet I usually did a workout video. Unless I was hung over.

Some of my favorite leading ladies on YouTube include: Rebecca Louise, Jessica Smith and Zuzka Light.

Running

For a high intensity workout, running suited me best. The weather had to be quite poor for me to vacate a run. My main problem was daylight. Especially when traveling during the winter, when daylight is limited. After filling my day up with various sights, museums and churches that all close at 5. It left little time for a run, especially when it became dark at 5. I’m not a fan of night running in a foreign country for safety reasons. So I tried to incorporate running into my sightseeing schedule. Whether it was going for a run through Central Park on my way to the Natural History Museum, or running through Hyde Park to see Buckingham Palace. I’m all sweaty in my selfies, but sacrifices must be made.

If you are into tracking your runs, my favorite methods are the Nike Running App, Runkeeper, or my Garmin Forerunner watch.

 

My “sweaty” seflies

 

Walking

This has to be my number one form of exercise while travelling, and my predominant mode of transportation. I would walk instead of taking public transportation. I figured if I walked so much during the day, then I deserved that extra pint with dinner, or butter croissant for breakfast. My only complaint about walking is the weather. While out and about I have been caught in the snow and in numerous rain storms.  I also want to lump hiking into this category. This is probably my favorite form of exercise while traveling. You are among nature and experiencing raw beauty at its finest. If you are at a destination where hiking is a part of your daily routine, will I fit in your suitcase on your next trip?

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Walking with Sandy in South Africa

 

Eat your fruit and vegetables

Pretty sure all the nutrition experts say eating right prevails over exercise in terms of which is more effective.  It’s probably one of the hardest habits to maintain while travelling because you are always on the go, and possibly always eating out. I want you to enjoy your holiday. So please don’t count calories. Instead enjoy everything in moderation, and eat some fruit and vegetables. You can grab an apple at the local supermarket, or maybe even farmers market. And get the side salad with dinner. If you have a kitchen available, cook when you can.

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One of numerous consumed gelatos in Italy

 

Health apps

I decided to separate this from YouTube, because a lot of the workout videos you can download prior and don’t need internet for. I am not a big fan of their instruction, if there is any, but it’s still a workout. You can still run into the same issue of space, but since you are no longer bound to the internet, you can take your workout to a nearby park. Only downside would be weather. It the park is muddy, or it’s raining, your best bet is to head to the nearest pub.

I love the Nike Training club app and Pinterest.

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Canyoning in Wanaka

 

Drop in Classes

If you are on a tight budget, you may not want to fork out the money for that hot yoga class. But studio classes are a great option of meeting new people while getting your workout on. Check your local Groupon; there might be a discount available.

 

Cheers to looking fit and fabulous in all your Instagram photos on your next holiday. 

 

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Trying to look cool in New Zealand

 

 

 

My Hitchhiking Tips

I had been in New Zealand for over a month and had not tried to hitchhike yet. I only had a few weeks left in the country, so I thought if this is something I want to try I better get to it. I was heading to Hokitika, and had read all about the Hokitika Gorge in my Lonely Planet book. It was definitely a place I wanted to visit. My only problem was I had no car, and the gorge was about 35km (22 miles) one way from my hostel. It was my chance to shine and hitchhike for the first time. I succeeded. I even hitchhiked again in Wanaka when I wanted to hike Roy’s Peak. My personal experiences are documented in my blog which you are welcome to read. But now as an expert hitchhiker, I would like to share my tips to make your hitchhiking experience a smooth one.

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The Hokitika sign at sunset 

 

  1. Have a plan. Whether it’s a backup plan, like if no one picks you up how will you get to your destination? How long are you willing to wait for someone to pick you up? And if you are walking with your thumb out, remember in the event you don’t get picked up you will have to walk back. So don’t walk to far away from home. I never knew of someone who didn’t get a ride in New Zealand. The kiwis and their tourists are some of the friendliest people I know. But I would like this guide to be a universal one you can use all over the world.

 

  1. Pick a bad ass place to go. It just makes everything that much more exciting. You are headed to some awesome, one of a kind location, and getting a ride from a total stranger. It’s exhilarating, and makes for a hell of a story. As someone who travelled exclusively by bus, hitchhiking got me to places I would have never been able to see otherwise.
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Swing bridge across the Hokitika Gorge 

 

  1. The thumb or the sign? I would use the sign in the event that from your current location you can get to multiple destinations. This prevents people from pulling over just to find out you aren’t going in the same direction. If you are on the main road, and it only goes to your desired destination then I believe your thumb will work just fine.

 

  1. Walk on the same side of the road as the cars going in your desired direction. I think this is common sense. Also, if you happen to be on a narrow road with little to no pull outs, I think you should stay still at a good pull over point. Maybe stand just before the pull over point (in a safe location obviously), so the driver has time to see you and pull over.

 

  1. Make eye contact. I think this is important because it creates a relationship with the driver before they pull over. They could have thought, “Don’t really want to pick up that hitchhiker.” But then they see you making eye contact with them, and they see your smile, and it could just change their mind. I would walk facing the direction I was headed, and when I would hear a car, I would turn to make eye contact. Sometimes, my one arm got tired, so I would walk backwards.

 

  1. Smile, think positive and have fun. Think about when you are driving down the road and you see someone with their thumb sticking out. Who are you more likely to pick up, someone smiling and happy? Or someone who looks miserable and frowning? You will be surprised how far a simple smile can get you. Also, if you think you are going to fail, you are more likely to fail. So keep sticking your thumb out and know that someone is going to pull over for you. But most importantly have fun. Hopefully no one is in a dire situation, and you are just looking for a new experience to write home about.
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The summit at Roy’s Peak (Wanaka)

 

So get out there. Be safe. And experience something new!

Auckland and the Journey Home

I really should go to bed, so I probably won’t finish this post all tonight. I leave for Europe in a few weeks, and I don’t want to get in the habit of staying up late and sleeping in. It will make the time adjustment that more difficult. Besides, I really want to pay attention to the domestic flight from Queenstown to Auckland. First off the airport is tiny. And they have no gathering places (shops, food, ect) once you go through security. I think they only have like 5 domestic gates or something. When I walked through security I didn’t have to take off my shoes or jacket. I didn’t have to take out my liquids. I didn’t have to walk through an x-ray machine. Just your typical metal detector. It took maybe 2 minutes. And then I had plenty of time to sit and wait. They didn’t even check to see if I had a boarding pass. They boarded the plane about 10 minuets prior to take off. She did check my boarding pass then, but not my id. Strange. I’m too used to traveling in America I suppose. The flight was cake. Air New Zealand is awesome. They give you free movies and tv shows on all their flights. Plus snacks and drinks. Getting to my hostel from the Auckland airport was cake. I took a shower and decided to relax and walk around the city one last time. I did a bit more shopping, got some food and called it. The weird thing was I had been on the South Island for over a month, and it wouldn’t get dark there til 9:30 easy. It was still twilight at 10pm. So when I left the hostel for food at 8, I thought I have plenty of daylight left. It was dark. It was bizarre. I slept like a baby that night. No snorers. No late night party goers. It was nice. In case you are wondering I did go to bed. This is now day two of me writing this blog. I slept in a little later than I would of like, but its a work in progress. It was officially my last day in NZ. My last hours. I did finally hear from my kiwi friend Matt, and he said he could give me a ride to the airport. I took my shower, packed my things, and then dropped off my bag at the luggage storage area. I finished the rest of my hot chocolate, and what leftovers I had. Then I ventured into town one last time. I did a little bit more shopping, and found a nice bench by the harbor that I sat in to soak up some sun and read my book. I was melting, and was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I wanted to savor this moment because I knew what it wouldn’t be like this back home. Or in Europe. I met my friend at a burger joint. We still had some time to kill and went to a driving range near the airport. I had never hit a golf ball before. It was quite interesting. I shared with him some of my stories from my journey and told him he lives in a lovely country. I mean an awful country; I don’t know how he lives there. (I say this in hopes New Zealand won’t become over crowded with tourists 🙂 We went to the airport and that was it. I was heading home. On the airplane, I was fortunate enough to sit next to a kiwi boy, so I could feel close to NZ for a bit longer. He was headed to Germany to meet some friends,and then they were headed to Northern Finland and the Arctic Circle. Brrrrr is what I was thinking. He will be traveling home from Europe just about as I am leaving for it. I slept much better on the plane ride home then I did coming. I was landing in SFO ( San Francisco) on December the 23rd. We had to wait almost 45 minutes to taxi into a gate (it was wonderful having service on my iPhone again). Then I spent about 2 to 2.5 hours in line at customs, and then it took us like 3.5-4+ hours to drive home. It was like 7 hours in total that I finally made it home after landing. It was a long day. Since I was having a lot of family over for the holiday, when I walked in the door I was greeted with a large welcoming commitee. It was cool and overwhelming all at the same time. Well that concludes the basics about my trip to New Zealand. I have some other thoughts, like how much I missed my skinny jeans, and how I will never leave home without them again, but that is for another time. Until next time. Peace. Keelie.

 

The Skytower in Auckland was lit up Christmas colors.

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The Final Countdown

Sadly I write this post from my home in California. Don’t get me wrong, spending the holidays with my family has been fantastic, but I do miss New Zealand.  I’ve got a few friends still there, and the pictures they share get me jealous. I had such a fantastic time in New Zealand. I’m tempted to tell everyone how awful the country is, so I can keep it my own little secret. But to make the recollection of my time in NZ complete I shall now recall my final days. I was taking a new bus service to Queenstown. I ran out of hours on intercity and was taking the mana bus. I paid $1 for the ticket. I was nervous because there was only one other girl at the bus stop and the bus was already 10 minutes late. She was waiting for the Naked Bus, and when it finally arrived I decided to ask the driver if Naked Bus and Mana Bus were the same. They were. The bus was fine. Different from Intercity but it was fine. You can’t beat $1. I arrived in Queenstown, checked in and figured out my final days. After wondering around for a bit, I made my way to an Irish bar and met with some friends I had met during my previous visits. I was pretty tired and sore and looking forward to a good night sleep. Not long after I fell asleep (around 1:30), a dorm mate of mine came home (around 4am). He was sick, so you could hear him coughing throughout the night. My other dorm mate was leaving in the morning. She had an early bus so she was up at 7:30 am. I did what I could to sleep in, but my sleep was awful. I watched Batman and decided it was time to get up. My plan for the day was to shop, and that is what I did. I grocery shopped, bought myself some goods, bought some Christmas gifts. Needless to say I spent way too much money. All still within my whole NZ budget, but I still spent too much money. After a long exhausting day of shopping in the sun, I went to the beach and read and took a nap. I had planned to go back to my room and take another nap. I met two of my other dorm mates from before. One was new and one I hadn’t met yet. We all got along quite well and decided to go out that night. The nap was deemed unsuccessful. For reasons that may only seem funny to my dorm mates. So tonight would be a power through. We met more people downstairs and decided to head out. We had quite an eclectic group. Myself the America, and Israeli, a German and an Australian. That was definitely one of the coolest parts about my trip was all the different people you would meet. The Australian warned us that he snored. He does snore, I made do. Everyone had a busy day planned. My dorm mates were going on the jet boat ride and doing the canyon swing. I was going to hire a bike and take it to a hike I had been interested in. Sleep was better, but still not great. I rented my bike and made my way to the trailhead. So I was going to a place called Sam Summers Hut. I was told I wouldn’t see a lot of tourist and it would be epic. I was not disappointed. The ride was beautiful. I followed Queenstown- Glenorchy road. There were a few off road paths I could take, but I missed them both. The road was up and down. More up. My legs were burning. I don’t think I have ridden a bike so much is about 5 years. It was about a 1 ½ bike ride. I still had to hike and bike back. The hike was amazing. The views, the terrain. It was a perfect last hike in NZ. It went through an old gold mining area. I started the bike ride back and decided to take both off road paths back. Mind you I am not a mountain biker. My first real mountain bike experience was in Rotorua. This was my second. The path was steep and narrow and I started to walk my bike. I needed to get back at a decent time so I didn’t want to walk the whole time. I walked when it was too narrow and steep and rode what I could. I was sweating. Mountain biking is hard work and works your entire body. I was plugging along and enjoying the sites. Again the view was gorgeous. I’m not sure if I found a bad view in NZ. Maybe the freeway. I did encounter an injured biker. He was with plenty of people, and they said they had called for help and were fine. I tiptoed passed them and continued my way. I took numerous rest stops for water. It was another warm day. I was sweating enough I was debating jumping in the lake. And then I found my happy place. On the shore was a long pier that went out. It went out long enough that the lake was deep at the end. It looked like the perfect place to lay out in the sun and do jumps into the lake. If only I was going to be in Queenstown longer. I continued my way along the long bike path. After numerous roots, rocks, steep cliffs, and sharp corners I was back in the city. Well, a city for South Island New Zealand standards. I was filthy, tired and ready for some ice cream. I thought the ice cream shops in Queenstown might close at 6 like the one in Wanaka, so I was racing back. I raced back for nothing. The ice cream parlor stays open past midnight. Oh Well. I took a much needed shower and met up with my dorm mates. One was going to dinner and the other was interested in the ice bar. I said I’d join after dinner. My last cooked meal in NZ was tacos. And if I don’t say so they were quite delish. I was in Queenstown for 4 nights which is why this story seems so long. Queenstown is the city that doesn’t sleep and there is something always to do. It was kind of a joke in my room that we were all ready to move on so we could get a good night’s sleep. Ice bar was fabulous. Different from the one I went to in Vegas but still great. Afterwards, my dorm mate decided to call it a night and I decided to venture out where I met two pretty rad Americans. They were both just starting their NZ trip and I was ending mine. Tear. The next day I met up with some friends and played Frisbee Golf for the first time. I was not very good at it but it was still fun. They were headed to a movie, and I would catch up with them later for my last night in Queenstown. Another dorm mate of mine, it was also his last day in Queenstown, was meeting someone to go watch a friend of theirs that was a busker from San Francisco. It was a neat show. He definitely got a lot of laughs. My last night was pretty cool. I was with a boy from The Netherlands and a German girl who was now living in Norway. I was also able to meet up with my friends who I had met the first time I was in Queenstown. They are all in NZ on a working holiday visa, so they will be in Queenstown long term. One was from Ireland and the other from Scotland, and I told them that I hope the people in their native country are as cool as they are. I said my goodbyes and we parted ways. Actually the boy from Scotland ended up giving me a ride to the airport the next morning which worked out really great. I couldn’t sleep a wink that night. We had an extremely loud snorer in our room (not the Australian, he already left). It was terrible. I was hoping I would get some better sleep in Auckland.

P.S. Since I am home and have my lap top I can post a picture with it!

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#thatwanakatree

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Wanaka. My last new spot in New Zealand. It is another mountain town by a lake. But smaller than Queenstown. It has a few ski resorts nearby and is a bit drier than the west. Wanaka also had a few pine trees. If this doens’t sound familiar. It reminded me of Reno-Tahoe again. I booked my canyoning tour for the following day. It was supposed to a bit cooler and maybe even rain. I would save the long day hike for my second day in Wanaka. I have decided that going for a run is an easy and efficient way to view a new place. You move at a quicker pace than walking, and can see spots you wouldn’t see driving. I took a path along the lake and it was gorgeous. My friend I had met in Rotorua was also in Wanaka, so we made dinner plans for the following day. The mountains in NZ aren’t really that high in elevation, but they look so dramatic because the towns are close to sea level, so the climbs up are always intense. I can’t remember exactly where I was, but one bus driver told me if they put in a pipe from the lake to the ocean the town would flood. The mountains are 1000 meters or 600 meters tall (which isn’t really that tall compared to some mountains in the States) but the town is basically sea level. Some are below sea level. Where in Tahoe or Denver the towns are already at a higher elevation. This is my theory on why the mountains in NZ look so dramatic. I was pretty pumped for canyoning. I went to check in and the guide was hilarious. He guessed I was from California. I don’t know if that was a lucky guess, or if California natives have a certain vibe. In our small group it was two couples and me and then the guide. Everyone in the group was really rad. We were going to be canyoning in Hasst Pass, so I made the drive up like going to the west coast for the 3rd time. Good thing it is such a pretty drive. I had been once before in Costa Rica, so I was excited to see how they were different. For one this water was freezing! In Costa Rica you wore your own clothes. Here we had  thermals and a wet suit and some special shoes and gloves. And you needed it all. The 2nd difference was the group was a lot smaller. We had about  4 guides and 30 people or something in CR. We made the hike up and did our first practice abseil. Abseil is what they call repelling. In total we only abseiled twice. Once for practice and then once down a 12 meter waterfall. The other ways we would get through the canyon was by walking, jumping and sliding. The slides were wicked. You go down a natural rock slide and then it just ends and you fall into the pool of freezing water. It was also beautiful. I didn’t bring my camera, but I did buy the photos. I can’t wait to look at them. Some of the jumps were smaller and easy. But I will admit I am a bit afraid of heights, so when the first 6 meter jump came about it took me a moment. The guide started to count for me, but I can’t do that. I have to jump on my own terms. I would look over the edge and think oh heck no and step back. I know the longer I stare at it the harder it gets. So my method, is I say I’ll jump on the count of three (mind you this is my third time counting to three), in reality I count to three but I finally jumped at two. I think it catches myself off guard and I am able to overcome my fear. The day was awesome, but cold. Some times you would have to slide and hit in a certain spot, or jump in a certain spot. Our guide didn’t abseil once. Not even off the 12 meter waterfall. He jumped or slid everything. But hey that is his job. So the girl I met in Hokitika, that had been living in Wanaka, said she had some friends who were canyoining guides. Turns out my guide was one of them. Small world. The other hard jump was about the same height as the other, but you had to jump out because the rock went out a bit at the bottom. That was trippy because boy I wouldn’t want to break my legs on those rocks. I still have too many adventures ahead of me. We all made it successfully out of the canyon and stopped to have some well deserved lunch. At this time we were all hoping for a hot shower and some warm tea. We had been freezing all day. I got back into Wanaka just in time for dinner with my friend. I decided to explore around Wanaka a bit before calling it a night. Turns out the best way to window shop is to go when the stores are closed which isn’t hard to do in NZ. The next day I was going to hike Roy’s Peak. Another hike that had been recommended to me by a few people. The trail head is about a 10 or 15 minute drive out of town. I was now a hitchhiking expert. This was going to be easy. I did walk along the lake a bit to see the sites and the Wanaka tree. The tree is a sole random willow tree about 3 or 4 meters from shore in the lake. And everyone flocks there to take pictures. Then I decided to keep walking and stick out my thumb again. This time I walked for about 15 minutes before getting picked up. It was a French guy who was driving around looking for different trail heads. He dropped me off at the trail head and I was on my way. The hike was steep. Boy was it steep. And some of it went through a sheep farm. So lots of poop on the trail. The baby lambs were worth it though. I met a Hungarian who I ended up walking with. His sister lives in Auckalnd, but she was still working, so he was going on a South Island tour on his own. And then he would do a North Island tour with his sister. We made it to the first picturesque peak and then made the journey to the summit. It was a climb, but completely worth it. One thing I thought was cool was while we were at the summit another boy came up and he was from Colorado. And then a girl came up and she was from Texas. Why is that cool? Because you never out number the Europeans like that! Its always Europeans everywhere and one American, and here we had three Americans and one European. Its the small things haha. We walked back down and then decided to get some well deserved ice cream in town. I ran into some people from my hostel I had met at breakfast. We chated and one of the boys was like hey I saw you hitchhiking. It always funny when this happens because the response it always “Why didn’t you pick me up?” He was with a guide, so I got it. I made some dinner and went to bed. I had one day left in Wanaka. Did I mention how sore I was becoming? Between Canyoning and the hike I was feeling like an old woman. But I had one more day in Wanaka and one more hike. I went up Mt Iron which also has a nice view and then went to puzzle world. Puzzle world was cool, they have an illusion room and then a real life outdoor maze. I totally felt like a character from maze runner. It was getting hot and my feet hurt. I just wanted to chill by the lake while I waited for my bus, and that is exactly what I did. Wanaka was awesome. I loved it. I could of stayed longer, but I already had everything booked. Its okay though, I was headed back to Queenstown for my final days in New Zealand. Life is good.

The Coolest Little Town

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After my hitchhiking adventure, I decided to explore around town a bit more. I checked out the beach and their driftwood sign. I went into the jade shop and saw all the money I would spend. It started to sprinkle so I made my way back to room. My dormmate was pretty cool and her and I would chat a lot. She was staying at the hostel long term. I made my way into the lounge area and they had a massive movie collection. I had been reading a book about Imoteph, so when I saw they had the Mummy I knew I had to watch it. A Canadian girl joined me. She had never seen it. She was pretty young though. I think 18. After the movie finished, I had plans to go see the glow worms near by. Basically they are fungi that live in caves and glow at night. I had not seen any yet. About 4 of us from the hostel went to the glow worms. It was really cool. They looked liked stars. We made our way back, and one of the boys wanted to watch the movie hostel. Of the group still in the lounge, I was the only one who had seen it. Some of the boys were kind of scared. It was silly. So I watched Hostel in a Hostel with some Europeans. The movie is so silly, and I would tease them asking if Europe was really like that. It was fun. The next morning it just rained. It poured. I caught a break and ventured out to buy some jade and check out the perimeter walk. At sunset point, they have an old shipwrecked pirate ship which I thought was cool. The Jolly Roger! And then the rain came again. My rain coat did a decent job, but it didn’t help my pants or shoes. When I got back to the hostel, I was drenched. I put some dry clothes on and made some hot chocolate. It was a perfect time to read and skype. We got a break in the rain long enough I could run to the beach and watch the sunset. Then back at the hostel I had met a boy from New Orleans and we decided it was time for another movie. This time Jurassic Park. My final day in Hokitika was a little less rainy, but still not ideal. I was running out of dry clothes so after exploring around the beach a little bit I retreated back to the hostel for some more book reading. I was heading back to Franz Josef where I would do my glacier heli hike. Also, two girls from Hokitia were headed to Franz Josef as well, so it was going to be a mini reunion.

The final days

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I write to you about my final days in New Zealand on my final day. My plane leaves at 8pm tonight. I can’t believe my trip is already over. After leaving Hokitika, I only had one new place to see, Wanaka. I stopped in Franz Josef first, for the second time, for a few more days before heading to my last new New Zealand destination. I arrived in Franz Josef and hung around for the free soup, and then decided to go for another run. Franz Josef has a lot of little trails nearby and it wasn’t raining, so I wanted to take full advantage of it. Plus, I’m kind of in training for an obstacle course I will partake in in March in England. Since the next day was my glacier heli hike, I wanted to see how far up a certain trail I could get to today. It was one recommended to me by someone I had met along the way. I went a decent distance, but ended up settling for a small reflection lake instead of the summit. It was still beautiful, and the sky had cleared enough I got a clear view of some kind of snow capped mountain. I don’t know if it was the glacier or not. I had the room to myself that night which was cool. My book was getting interesting, so I called it in early to read. I woke up the following morning and it was raining. I had a feeling my hike would get cancelled, but I hadn’t received any word about it yet. There was another trail nearby I decided to check out. This one went to a swing bridge and it was awesome. I don’t know how many of you have been on a swing bridge, but it is a trippy feeling. Especially over a roaring glacier river. I see the water below me, and I know it’s moving swiftly, and I know it’s freezing. I always imagine a scene from Indiana Jones where the bridge collapses, and I wonder if I will be able to hold on like Indy does, or if I will fall into the river? Then I’m curious how I would react falling into the fierce and freezing river. Would I be able to make it to shore? Needless to say, the bridge did not collapse. None of the bridges I have been on have collapsed. And I’m pretty sure I would be able to hang on like Indy anyway. I wanted to get some lunch before my hike, so I raced back. The weather was still crap; this wasn’t good. I have met a lot of people on my trip, and of everyone who was scheduled to do the heli hike, I only know of one couple who was able to do it. When talking to reception, they said in the last 90 days they were able to do about 3 flights. And they usually do 3 flights a day. With the feeling that I wasn’t going to go on my hike I made my way to check in. Of course they refunded me everything. The only thing I was bummed about was there was an all day hike I was going to do if my hike was cancelled. But since I didn’t get the official word until after 1, my day was shot. I decided to mop around the wildlife center where I got to see some kiwis. That was actually really cool. They are bigger then I thought, and kind of crazy. The center also had some fake glacier statues that I went on and took pictures. Since I didn’t make it to the glacier, I thought I would pretend and envision what it would of been like on the glacier. Another time. I met up with one of the girls from Hokitika, and we waited for the second girl to arrive. We decided to hit up a happy hour and then shared a bottle of sparkling wine. Turns out one of the girls was going to be on my bus to Wanaka the next day. She had been living there for almost 6 months or something, so she gave me all sorts of tips and things to do. I was looking forward to it. Anything besides the cold, wet and windy weather I feel like I had been experiencing ever since I arrived on the South Island (with a few exceptions). I had made the bus ride up the Hasst Pass once already. I was doing the exact same route. It was still beautiful.

The Journey West

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I was making a pit stop in both Queenstown and Franz Josef because the bus didn’t go all the way to Hokitika from Dunedin. That would be an awful drive anyway. My time in Queenstown was short. I grabbed some food and said hi to a few friends I had made the previous time I was there, and then had a nice chat with my dorm mate about some various hikes throughout New Zealand. It was good info because he had just come from where I was headed. The bus ride from Queenstown to Franz Josef was absolutely breathtaking. You can see the transition from a more mountainous drier region to a lush rainforest. The bus made numerous stops along the way so we could take in some of the sites. One of the stops was at a waterfall which was pretty cool. I decided to watch Mad Max during my journey, and I thought it was a bit ironic. Mad Max was filmed in Australia and is portrayed as a wasteland, and here I was, driving through their southern neighbor’s lush rainforest. Green everywhere. I thought it was silly. I don’t think Mad Max does Australia justice. I’ve heard nothing but positive remarks about the country and its beauty. Once arriving in Franz Josef, I settled in and then went for a nice run closer to the glacier. I had wanted to go to the top of a nearby small hill, but the trail was closed. The weather had absolutely destroyed it. On my way back I wanted to see another short trail near the town center. That trail only went a short way because it too had been destroyed by the weather. Since the West Coast, Franz Josef, is a rain forest it rains a lot. And the last few months had been particular rainy. The temperature was warmed than Te Anau or Dunedin, but it was still cool and wet. I was having some poor luck with my weather. The following morning, I made my way to Hokitia. Their nickname is the Coolest little Town. And it was a cool little town. Right on the beach, and known for beach wood and greenstone, jade. On a clear day you can get an epic view of Mt Cook from Hokitika, but the weather was awful almost my entire time there. My first day was supposed to have the best weather, no rain but cloudy, so I wanted to take advantage of it and try to get out to the Hokitika gorge. The river that runs through the gorge is turquoise and the pictures I had seen looked amazing. The bad part was the gorge was about 35km out of town, and I did not have a car, nor was there a bus or shuttle that went out there. At this point I had been in New Zealand about 6 weeks; it was about time I tried hitchhiking. As I walked along the road with my thumb sticking out, I thought about the rules of hitch hiking. Are there rules? Are you supposed to walk? Stand still? Hold your thumb a certain way? Face traffic or walk with it and turning your body when cars approach? I had no idea. So I started walking with my thumb out; I was walking forward, but when a car would approach I tried to turn my body to make eye contact. Half hour of walking and nothing. How far was I going to walk out? Because if I never got picked up I would have to walk back. I decided I would walk for an hour and then I would stay put. That way I wouldn’t have far to walk back if I failed. At like 55 minutes someone pulled over. It was a local lady pulling a horse trailer. She was going part of my way, so then I thought. If I get a ride with her it takes me closer to my destination, but not all the way, and further from my room. Thus, if I failed I would have a longer walk back. When hitching, you probably shouldn’t have a negative attitude and think about failure because then you really will never succeed or get anywhere. I accepted the ride and drove for a short distance with her. When the lady dropped me off, I checked my map and truthfully I still wasn’t too far from town. It would probably be easier to get a ride into town, but even if I did walk it wouldn’t be terrible. When I started walking with my thumb out again, I decided not to walk as long. Only like 30 minutes I think. I stopped along the side of the rode with my thumb out. I tried to pick a location where people would get a good view of me from a distance and have ample room to pull over if they decided to give me a ride. Another kiwi farmer stopped and gave me a ride. He wasn’t going all the way out to the gorge. Really only tourists go to the gorge, but he could get me a good chunk of the way out there. I kept thinking, I can’t fail, I won’t fail. I will get to the gorge, and I won’t be stuck out here. He dropped me off at a turn off. I was about 17km from the gorge. As soon as I got out of his truck, a camper van pulled over. I thought, o heck yeah! They asked if I needed a ride to the gorge and I said, “Yes please!” They were an English couple on holiday and had been traveling around Australia and New Zealand. We arrived at the gorge and I thanked them profusely. I had made it to the gorge. I still needed to get back, but I was here. The parking lot had a decent number of cars in it so someone was bound to let me ride with them into town. I made the short trek across the swing bridge and to the river gorge. I took some pictures and soaked up its beauty. Then the sand flies attacked. I felt like I had been pretty lucky with sand flies. Only really being attacked in Te Anau and now in Hokitika. I made my way back to the car park and started my scout for how I would get back to town. I saw a family that looked like they were getting ready to load up and leave but there was quite a few of them, and I was unsure what kind of room they had. I saw a few couples leave, but they left so quickly I couldn’t make my move. After maybe 10 minutes I saw a girl by herself. She was walking toward her car; I quickly followed her. “Excuse me, you wouldn’t happen to be leaving would you?” The cool thing about the route to the gorge, is even if you aren’t staying in Hokitika you have to come back to town to get on the main hwy to go north or south. There was only one way to go. She nodded, and I asked if I could get a ride with her back into town. She said yes, and I was ecstatic. She was an Australian doing a South Island holiday. It was actually her second time coming to the gorge. She was headed to Punakaiki for a few days to relax, unwind and divulge into a good book. The weather was supposed to be terrible, so I think she had a good plan. I was dropped off in town and I was feeling accomplished. Hitchhiking was a confidence booster for me.

New Edinburgh

322Dunedin is Galiec for Edinburgh. It was settle by the Scottish in the late 1800s. They designed the city after Edinburgh, the buildings, the streets, and even the street names. The difference. Scotland is much older. Dunedin is just a baby. After getting off the bus, I made my way to their local brewery, Speights, for some tastings. It was here I was able to watch my first football game since arriving in NZ. It was extremely chilly in Dunedin; cold enough I purchased another thermal layer. My plan the following morning was to venture out to the Otago Peninsula. I met a French girl during breakfast who was also planning to check out the peninsula, so we decided to take the bus and venture out together. When we got off the bus we felt very alone Not a lot of tourist, cars or people in general. We did speak to the store clerk who gave us some pointers on a nearby beach. The walk was long. We followed a gravel road for 90% of it. We walked past an inlet that was almost more like a swamp. We saw lots of sheep, and lots of birds. The birds we dive bombing us. It was freaky at first, but then it became comical. I have no idea why they were dive bombing us. The weather was horrible. Absolutely horrific. The wind was so strong it would cause us to stumble. At times it also started to rain. Many times we contemplated on turning back. But we continued on and made it to the beach. It was beautiful. The sun came out, and the wind even died down. We hung out for a bit; I drew some pictures in the sand. It was a good time. The tide snuck up on me while I was drawing a picture in the sand. I took off running, and all my pictures were gone. With the tide coming up there wasn’t a whole lot we could do on the beach anymore. We decided to make the trek back to the bus stop. We took a slightly different way. The scenery was better. The inlet was less swamp like. It was still really windy, but sometimes we were sheltered from it which was nice. We made it to the bus stop and made it back to Dunedin. At that point, I decided to make dinner and then check out Otago University. It was a beautiful campus. I think graduation is soon because I could see students taking pictures in their caps and gowns. The rain to come down so I made my way back to the backpackers. The following morning I explored around town one last time before taking the bus back to Queenstown. I went to the art gallery and the settlers museum. I saw the first Church of Otago, and the first jail. I took pictures of all the old timey looking buildings. The weather this day was the best weather I had seen in a while. Of course, since I would be leaving that day. It was still chilly, but at least the sun was peaking through. After my time in Dunedin, I made my way to the bus stop for my journey to Queenstown. The ride was beautiful, but the road was windy, and the bus driver was going fast. I think to make up for lost time. But unfortunately for me, this made me queasy I was going to be in Queenstown for less than 12 hours. Just enough time to grab some dinner and prepare for my journey to the west coast the following morning. I have been to the west coast once before. Greymouth if you remember. That is further north on the coast, and now I was going to explore the central and southern part. Hokitika and Franz Josef to be excat.

Twelve days

309Twelve days. That is all I have left. Hard to believe my time in New Zealand is almost up. I am currently in Hokitika enjoying the west coast. Since I left Te Anau, I went and explored the southern eastern part of the south island and then made my way through Otago to the West Coast. My first stop on the east coast was Oamaru. I chose Oamaru because of the penguins. They have excellent viewing places for both Blue and Yellow Eyed penguins. The yellow eyed penguins are the bigger of the two, and they are shy. For this reason you have to watch them from a cliff. It was a bit of a walk to see them, but completely worth it. The view of the beach from the cliff was beautiful. Even if I didn’t see any penguins the view was worth the journey. I did get to see two or three penguins. I say that because they are quick and sneaky little buggers. I would never see them come from the beach. Just next thing I knew they were waddling along the sand. So I say 2 or 3 because one may have quickly joined with the other when I blinked. The yellow penguins come out just before dusk. The blue penguins come out at dark, The darker it is the better it is to see them. I made my way back to the backpackers and made some diner, and then ventured back to the harbor to see the little guys. The blue penguins are about the size of my forearm and the yellow ones are about twice that size. The blue ones are not shy. I had to look out for them on my walk because they waddle right into the path. They are also very talkative. They sometimes sounded like a cat, and others times like a bird. It was a unique noise. I walked around the harbor and listened to them squawk and it was an amazing night. I only spent one night in Oamaru. I wanted to see the penguins. I came, I saw, I conquered. Off to Dunedin.