Seven Reasons Why You Should Travel Solo (At Least Once)

You love traveling with your friends. The jokes, the memories. It’s those times wandering through Time Square or getting lost in Barcelona that you’ll remember for a lifetime. But you will also remember the first time you successfully navigated the London underground by yourself or sat on the Spanish steps eating some delicious gelato pondering the meaning of life. Traveling Solo is an incredible experience and one that everyone should try at least once.

Build Self Confidence

If anything is going to help you build some self-confidence it’s traveling solo. You have to make all your own travel plans and ensure they are carried out. If you want to talk to someone, you’ll have to break the ice. If you get lost, you will be the one to find your way. There is something empowering about traveling solo – especially in a foreign country. I will always remember my first solo journey in New Zealand and my first adventure in the country. I took a ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island. I ventured around the island visiting wineries, finding hidden beaches, and devouring the most delicious burger I’ve ever had.

Mt Cook NZ

What You Want

This is a big one. No more agreeing on what sites you want to see or what hikes you want to do. You don’t have to worry if one friend wants to go rafting, but the other wants to zip line. If you are on a road trip, you create the itinerary and even better you are in control of the playlist. When you travel solo, you can do whatever you want, no questions asked.

Quad Ride Peru

When You Want

What you want, when you want. I was on a water taxi crossing Lake Te Anau getting ready to hike the Kepler Track. There were two other guys in the water taxi and we were all traveling solo. The driver asked if we liked traveling solo and in unison, we said, Yes! We can do what we want when we want. If your alarm goes off, and you want to hit snooze (for a few more hours) you can do it. You set your own schedule and you choose if it changes. There is truly something liberating about traveling solo.

Make New Friends

Either someone will see that you are by yourself and approach you or you’ll be craving for a conversation that isn’t on your phone and you’ll strike up the conversation. I believe it’s almost easier to make new friends when you are traveling solo vs with a group, and especially with other people also on their own. While traveling through New Zealand, I sat down for breakfast at a table with two girls and we started a conversation. I mentioned how I would be traveling to Ireland soon, and one of the girls said she lived in Ireland, and I should hit her up when I was there. Not only did I see her in Ireland, but I was headed to Scotland in a few weekends and she also had plans to go to Scotland with some friends, and we met up again! It was so much fun!

Rose and Keelie Ireland

Learn About Yourself

When you only have yourself to rely on, you tend to learn a lot about yourself. Like if you are good at directions, what type of activities you like the most and how you want to spend your time. You learn your limits like how long you want to spend exploring a city or how adventurous you are willing to get with the local food. There is no one there to persuade you in a direction and every choice in one you made.

No Expectations

Timon and Pumbaa said it best – “It means no worries.” When it’s just you, you are forever on island time living the island lifestyle. You might have some bad days, but no one but you will know. And tomorrow will be a brand-new day filled with brand new adventures. Create your own schedule and go with the flow. It’s relaxing when the only needs to service are your own and there aren’t any expectations to meet.

New York Skyline

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

I always thought of myself as a shy person. The new people I would meet were through friends or we would be paired together somehow whether it was school, work or a sporting team etc. And I usually took the safe route. I went to the safe school, took a safe job. But when I was in a foreign country all on my own, I had to broaden my horizons a little. Eat foods I wasn’t used to eating, jump off rocks I thought were a little high, and strike up a conversation with countless strangers. I love traveling with my group of friends, but I think we tend to be complacent when we are around people we know. When it’s just you, the limits tend to get pushed and you step out of your comfort zone.

Vatican Rome

So what do you think? Have you traveled solo before and it changed your life? Do you have an reservations about a solo trip? Tell me in the comments below or tweet me at @keeliec5 and let’s get the conversation started!

Until next time….



Which Country Has the Prettiest Sheep?

This is a little outside my normal realm of blogs, but with an open mind, it should be entertaining nonetheless. When I was planning my trip to New Zealand, I read numerous articles about there being more sheep than people on the small island. This is 100% fact. There would be times when I would go on a walk and not see anyone for hours, but I would see about 500+ sheep. There are also a lot of jokes between the Aussies and Kiwis about how they treat their sheep – perhaps a little too friendly. After returning from my trip, my friends had found a movie for me to watch titled Black Sheep. It was a horror film about New Zealand and their sheep.

As I continued my travels, I found more sheep. These countries didn’t necessarily have more sheep than people, but they still had a lot of sheep that were a huge part of their economy. This sparked a debate amongst my close group of friends. Which country has the prettiest sheep? I told you this blog was going to be entertaining.


I was in Ireland for about a week. I had hired a car and planned to drive around the whole country. It was February, so not a lot of tourists, and I felt pretty lucky with the weather. I’d heard an Irish winter can be quite rough. The countryside was beautiful. Lush rolling green hills, pristine beaches and old castles and churches. When I would reach my nightly destination, each town was as lively as the next and offered a true Irish experience. Cold Guinness, and a lot of Irish folk music. I was driving from the Dingle Peninsula to the Cliff of Moher and would spend the evening in Galloway. Driving on these tiny roads on the left side was a little challenging for me, but I was gaining more confidence each day. On this particular day, I turned a tight corner and saw a herd of sheep! They were headed right for me and taking up the whole road. At this point, all I could do was stop the car and grab my camera. I just stood still while the herd of sheep swarmed me and the car. The farmer was close behind on a quad and continued to herd the sheep past me. Welcome to Ireland, Keelie.


I went to Peru with two intentions. I wanted to hike to Machu Picchu and I wanted to do some volunteer work. I was there for three weeks. I volunteered at a local school where I helped make lunch in the morning and taught the children English in the afternoon. It was a humbling experience. After my volunteer work was complete, it was time to hike Machu Picchu. If you would like to learn more about the Lares Trek, you should check out my blog on Machu Picchu. During the trek, we walked through villages and farms of alpacas and llamas. They were everywhere! I know alpacas are more related to camels than sheep, but they have some sheep like qualities. I did manage to find some sheep sprinkled throughout a herd of alpacas, but they looked a little out of place.

New Zealand

The sheep capital. Technically, there are other countries that have more sheep than New Zealand, but they might win the category of most sheep per square mile. When I was on my Hobbiton tour, our guide told us that they used to let the sheep graze near the Hobbit house to keep the grass short. The Hobbit houses consist of the outside, and enough room inside for someone to walk in and shut the door. All the filming inside the houses took place in a studio in Wellington. Anyway, the guide said they can no longer use the sheep to mow the grass because one day a sheep wondered inside the small area inside the house and managed to shut the door on itself. The sheep panicked and busted out the fake window of the Hobbit house and destroyed the front area. It was quite expensive to fix, so now sheep are not allowed to graze near Hobbiton.

Another funny story about sheep and Hobbiton is that when they were filming Lord of the Rings, they brought in stunt sheep. The country of New Zealand has around 30 million sheep, but they thought the sheep looked too happy and the landscape wouldn’t look like dreary England. So, they hired some sad looking stunt sheep for the films.

United Kingdom

Speaking of England, the UK is home to a lot of sheep. While most of the sheep can be found in Wales, I did see some when traveling around England and Scotland. It was winter, so the weather was rather dreary, and the sheep were grazing through grass and mud. Stonehenge is located near a sheep farm, so as I gazed upon the ruins I also saw sheep, I couldn’t help but think about how they had to import sheep from England to New Zealand because they needed sadder looking sheep. And then it started to rain. Yeah, I’d be kind of sad too.

Now that you’ve heard my stories and seen pictures of the sheep, what country do you think has the prettiest sheep? Tell me in the comments below or tweet me at @keeliec5. Hopefully, my stories weren’t too bias to sway your opinion. 😊

Until next time…



Five of New Zealand’s Greatest Day Hikes

New Zealand is an adventure seeker’s dream. The country offers everything. Boat life, beaches, Heli-hiking into glaciers, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, mountain biking you name it. Another activity the country is famous for is its plethora of “tramping” or hiking trails. Here is a list of 5 must-see day hikes in beautiful New Zealand.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Know as one of the greatest day hikes in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is just over 20 km one way and takes you through the volcanic land of the North Island or Mordor for Lord of the Ring fans. Mt. Ngauruhoe is a site to see on this trek and doubles as Mt. Doom. Booking a shuttle with a tour company from a nearby town is recommended. And bring layers! You will go through about 3 microclimates during this amazing journey.

Abel Tasman

Located along the coast on the north side of the South Island, Abel Tasman is a tropical paradise full of golden sandy beaches and marine life. There are a few different ways you can enjoy this beautiful park.  You can explore the shoreline via kayak, boat or on foot. For the day hike option, you can hire a water taxi or book with a tour group to take you up the coast and you walk back. I stayed in Nelson when I hiked through Abel Tasman. I took a bus to Kaiteriteri and hopped on the water taxi from there. Just don’t do what I did and miss your water taxi on the way back!

Hooker Valley Track

This out and back trek is one of the most popular hikes in the Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park. The trail is 5km long one way and will take you across swinging bridges, by roaring glacier rivers and to Hooker Valley Lake which offers a picturesque view of Mt. Cook – the tallest peak in New Zealand. The walk from the town center to the trailhead can add about 40 mins to your hike, but you might be able to stick out your thumb and catch a ride there, or someone might just pull over like they did for me. This is one of my favorite hikes on this list and for good reasons. The views are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Roy’s Peak

Probably the hike you’ve seen the most on Instagram, Roy’s Peak is a steep 16 km trek. The trailhead is about 3km away from the city center, but with the popularity of the hike, you’re bound to find someone driving your way that can give you a ride. The start of the hike goes through a sheep farm, but if you’ve spent any time in New Zealand, you already know there are sheep everywhere. You’ll wind up the mountain for a picture-perfect view of the glacier-carved Lake Wanaka. The hike is fully exposed, so bring appropriate cover, sunscreen and water.

Kaikoura Peninsula

Located in the small coastal town of Kaikoura, the Peninsula Walkway is almost 12 km long and takes you along the scenic peninsula. Here you can get up close and personal with a seal colony, see whales and dolphins from the shoreline, and take in some of the best views on the South Island. This walk is easily accessible from the city center and the perfect way to explore an incredible coastline.

You really can’t go wrong with any day hike in New Zealand, but if you find yourself there and looking for a hike, these 5 are a great place to start! Now I want to hear from you, where is your favorite country to hike? Tell me in the comments below! I’m always looking for new destinations to explore!

Until next time…..



(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 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.


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



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?


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.


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.


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. 




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.

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.

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.

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!




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


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


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.