Monday, May 31, 2010

new beginnings?

I've been home now for... um... 4 nights. Four cozy sleeps in my own bed. Well, it will be 4 sleeps when I actually sleep tonight. As it stands, I'm doing the jet lag thing. When that's finished it'll probably be the post-travel depression thing from what I'm hearing... That's ok.

Home. Here I am. Sorta. I've been a bit of a zombie the last three days. Today showed marked improvement. Tomorrow I'm hoping I'll even have a real outing and visit the rock climbing gym (fingers crossed). Being back feels strange (which I did expect). I don't feel like any time should have passed here, though I know it did. There are small differences I notice... ah, I'm rambling...

What I wanted to say was this:

I don't know how New Zealand "was". I feel like I should just say "yes, it was great/beautiful/amazing/etc." - and it was... but it wasn't always. I want to be honest about what I experienced and how I felt, but I don't feel like that's what people want to hear (or what I want to tell them). The thing is, the trip kinda imploded on itself. There was a lot of disappointment, frustration, insecurities, and tears. There were really great things too - and eventually I'll forget all the crap and focus on just the good... I just feel like... like I failed at it some how. See, I believe the saying "if you're bored then you're boring", and translate that into "it is what you make of it". So, if I didn't have a good time, then I was doing it to myself. And I was! I wasted so much time complaining and feeling down on myself, and holding back. I knew I was too, it was so hard to shake those moods. I succeeded sometimes, but it I'd always slip back. Sometimes it felt hard just to be there! But I feel awful saying that. People travel all the time, for longer periods, to more difficult places, find themselves in far more challenging situations, and sometimes don't get to go home. So what am I feeling sorry for myself for?

One thing about being back is that I don't want to go back to my old life. Not that it was bad or anything, but I've already lived it that way. I'd like to change. I really wanted to come back a "better" person - I'm not even sure what that means to me anymore? More evolved maybe? For me, it was a rite of passage to travel; a rite that I put off far too long (at least I went at all...). Everyone comes back a little different, it seemed like they knew something I didn't. Did I miss something out there? I must have... I'm still processing, obviously. But I do think everything happens for a reason, and I'm confident that good things will come from the stuff I'm still struggling to accept. Er, that's what I'm hoping anyways... heh.

So, what's next? Well, I'm going back to school in september to finish my undergrad degree in Secondary Education (with a fine art major and a special education minor). Between now and then, I'm keen to find a full-time summer job and save up enough to pay off my credit card debt and cover my tuition and books for the fall semester. I'm unsure yet what kind of job; massage therapy is too unreliable right now and I might not be able to get adequate hours at the gym (assuming they give me back my job). Maybe landscaping? I dunno. Also on my list of things to do is get back in shape. Yep, I let myself go in NZ. Did you know they're known for their pies? Heh heh...

I guess that's it for Chels-iwi - the blog anyways. I don't know if I'll ever go back to New Zealand, I'd like to think that I will. We'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

soon... soon...

well I wasn't going to blog until I got home but I'm bored and had to pay for the internet anyways to check-in to my flights (which didn't work in the end, ha ha).

So... I'm going/coming home tomorrow. It is a very strange feeling. I wonder how I'd feel if I had stayed the whole year?

Anyways, in the last two weeks I travelled the "deep south" of the south island, visiting Milford Sound in Fiordland, spent the night in Te Anau, the next night in Invercargill, then to Dunedin where I hopped off the bus to stay with friends again for two nights. I really loved Dunedin; it's a lovely city. It helped that I was also with people who were relaxed and welcoming (and not my scarey bus driver, who in the end turned out to be a lot like me - moody with uncontrolled bursts of energy).
From there I took a different bus directly to Christchurch to spend more time with other friends. They picked my up at the bus stop (right outside their apartment) and we immediately proceeded to drink. I spent the next 3 days in a rotating state of drunk/hungover/exhausted. I had a great time! We mostly just talked, bullshitted, and watched movies. We did a little driving tour of the surrounding area (Lyttleton and... err I forget the other... started with an s?). Then it was back onto the Stray bus en route to Kaikora (means food of the sea or something like that). This lovely little township is popular for going on whale watching and dolphin swimming tours. I thought it was expensive so I just hung out on the beach (yes, hungover).
The next day, on our way to Picton to catch the ferry to the north island, we stopped at Ohau waterfall. It's just a small little roadside stop, and you walk into the bush for 5 minutes or so to the waterfall. Anyways, this little stop was one of my most favorite moments of the last 7 months because under the falls were seal pups! And not just a few, more like 50! They were incredible to watch; they came up so close too us too - one even touched me! I have some pictures (but they're poor quality) and a video that I'll put up as soon as I'm home. Ahhh! It was just so flippin' cool!!!!
That night we stayed in Wellington again where I had the worst sleep ever, then got up very early to catch the bus and spend nearly the entire day travelling to Auckland. It was a long one. And, obviously, that brings me to now. I'm in Auckland. Tomorrow I won't be. Tomorrow I'll be making my way home through 3 flights, and 2 layovers that are not long enough for me to leave the airport but long enough that I will probably lose my sanity a little bit. From the time my flight takes off tomorrow afternoon I will be in transit for a little over 28 hours - ugh!

But it'll all be worth it when I get a hug from my parents then crawl into my own bed next to my kitty.... Mmmmmmmmm I can't wait!

soon... soon...

Friday, May 14, 2010

On the topic of "goodbyes"

Two weeks until I return home!

Tonight I'm in Queenstown to catch the bus in the am heading to Milford Sounds and Gunn's camp. The next day I'll go to Invercargill (largest southern township), then Duniden for a couple nights, then on to Christchurch for a few more... My tour of the south island is actually almost done...

I spent the last four nights in Fox Glacier twonship, which is an hour south of Franz Josef. This is where I caught up with some old friends and said the first of my big "good-byes". Now, I try really hard to be honest and realistic but when it comes to saying "see ya later" as a backpacker I find it rather trickey. I would like to say the whole "keep in touch" and the "meet you again someday" stuff in a way that is truthful, but I highly doubt that I'll see many of these people again. But I want to believe in the possiblity that it's the beginning of a story. Serendipity is a romantic idea - and therefore one I like. But it occured to me that hope, while being optimistic, is also a bit diluted. It's not quite lying to myself but it's being willing to if I have to.

I just thought that was neat. Hope gets such a good reputation but it's a little sneaky in that way...

Anywho, Fox/Franz was wonderful. I got to take a helicoptor ride onto the Fox glacier and do a little hike (yep, I have friends in high places).The weather was perfect for that day. I also got to just chill out, read, relax, eat food that I didn't have to cook - all things I really enjoy doing. One night there was a big storm and I woke up in the middle of the night both excited and a little terrified of the west coast rain. I visited a place called Gillespie's Beach and watched the Tasman Sea for a while (one of my favorite visits). We were sitting on a huge piece of driftwood that we thought was super solid, then a big wave came and moved it! I was sure we'd be dragged out to sea - panic! It was delightful. The waves were so big, and I was a little kid cheering as they crashed onto the shore. I'll really miss that...

erg! good-byes! I don't like good-byes! Lie to me! Tell me I'll see it all again soon...

Friday, May 7, 2010


(ok. efficient. i will do this efficiently...)

My last blog was pre Napier so I'll start there. Napier is a lovely town on the east coast (but not the East Cape) of NZ. Hawk's Bay. In 1931 there was a massive earthquake that destroyed most of the city so they rebuilt it (of course). The 30'2 were the Art Deco era so of course all the buildings are still maintained in that fashion. I particulalry like Art Deco style so I was quite keen to see it. Napier was also the place I chose for my imaginary massage/yoga studio that I had to make a business plan for in my final year of massage therapy (I just did it for NZ so I could stay interested in doing my homework really). I enjoyed my stay there. It was peaceful. I do have pictures but I'm having difficulties uploading them here.

I was only in Napier for one night then went back to Taupo for a night, then the following day I headed north to the Bay of Plenty to work the Home Show in Taurunga. Now this was doing the same sales job I did in Hamilton and Palmerston North back in march. I really only did it so that I could see my boss again because we really had a lot of fun in Palmy. Plus, the extra cash definitely helps - I even sold enough this time to make some commision! I stayed a couple extra days on my own just to hang out and climb Mt. Maunganui. I have pictures of that too, stay tuned. The beach was only a 10 minute walk from where I was. I just like sitting there listening to waves. Again very peaceful and I was quite content. Oh Yeah! I almost forgot - my wallet was turned in to the police in Gisborne so I asked them to send it to Taurunga where I could pick it up. So now I have it again! Yay for humanity! My credit card can't be turned back on but I've only got a few weeks left so I should be ok without it (knock on wood).

Next I returned to Taupo to hop back on the Stay bus (you may remember it from earlier adventures such as "Pahia and the Bay of Islands" or "Stray Southbound: Auckland to Rotorua"). Once back on the bus I headed to Tongariro National park to do the Tongariro Crossing which is a 7-8 hr hike that goes over a volcano/mountain range (small), past some Emerald lakes, hot springs, and through rainforest. I was SPECTACULAR!!!! I wanted to do it and I really did not want to do it. But on the day of, we had perfect weather. Not a single cloud in the sky! The air was nice and crisp (remember it is autumn here now, so it has been quite brisk the last few days). There was actually frost on the ground that morning even! But what makes the Tongariro Crossing extra exciting for me is that it is where part of Lord of the Rings was filmed - do you recall Mt. Doom? Well, I've been there. Yep. I could climbed it, some people did, but I was sure I'd have a stroke (you'll understand when you see the pictures ). It is soooooo steap, and it's all just loose rock. It was a 3 hour climb just to do Mt. Doom and you still had to finish the rest of the crossing after. So I settled for just getting my picture taken in front of it multiple times. I'll get those pictures up as soon as I can because they really are quite amazing. The best part was, I didn't have to do the crossing alone. I met a girl from the UK at the beginning who was going the same pace as me and through the course of the day we got to know eachother quite well. I have no doubt we'll keep in touch. She's so lovely and we have a lot in common. That night we stayed at a lodge in the national park where a friend from Kerikeri is now working. I met him when I was doing fruit picking, he lived at the same hostel as me. So after the hike we met up. I was so exhausted though I really wasn't much company to him unfortunately. But it was still nice to meet up again. He's from Portland, Oregon so we'll probably keep in touch to and meet up some time again in North American (and no, mom, it's not romantical. Just friends).

The next day we headed to Wellington. I love Wellington. If I were to live in NZ, it would be there. It's just a good-feeling kinda city. Really cool and arty. I met up with one of the girls I lived and worked with at the motel in Franz Josef while I was there and that was so great! (See, some really wonderful things came out of my time in Franz Josef). After we had our own sit-down-catch-up-with-wine thing we went to the bar at the hostel I was staying at so she could meet my friend from the crossing. We all had a wonderful time that night dancing up a storm! Ahhhhhh! It felt so good to get on the floor and dance!!!

The next morning came very quickly when I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30am to catch the ferry to the south island. I didn't have to get up that early but after a few drinks the night before, mixed with some anxiety, it seemed like a really good plan... Not as such. But I survived of course. Caught the ferry, then got back on the bus on the other side. Now I'm at Old MacDonald's Farm in Abel Tasman (the top west point of the south island). I could do a walk today but I think I'll just chill out and wander around the farm. I saw some llamas down the road, and I do love those crazy long-neck beasts...

Tomorrow we'll head to Barrytown which is nothing but a hostel/bar. Where we'll all dress in costumes and get completely shitfaced. Then I'll be back in FRANZ JOSEF. I'm a little nervous and a little excited to see what that'll be like. Fun, I'm sure, as I still have friends there. I'll hop of the bus for a few nights then catch up with it again in Queenstown. My plan might change after that depending on my bus driver who I think is crazy and a little bit spiteful. We didn't hit it off so well back in Tongariro... long story. I'll get my pictures up ASAP! Especially since I'm running out of space on my memory cards.

Less than three weeks to go now! I'm looking forward to being home and catching up on the last 7 months with you all. I love you so much! See you soon!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

wish I may I wish I might...

...please please please please, let me get out of this funk in time to enjoy my last few weeks in NZ...

The East Cape was lovely. I wish I had gone there earlier in my trip, maybe then I'd feel differently about NZ. I thought I'd fall in love with this country. I thought it'd be my mecca. Instead I just feel disconnected and lost at sea. I could live here happily, but I wouldn't feel a spark. I wouldn't call it home. A part of me is very disappointed by that because I don't really feel like Edmonton is "home" either. It's definitely where my heart is in terms of my family and friends, but for months before I even decided to leave I felt like I wasn't going to evolve any further there. There was nothing but ghosts for me. Maybe I'll see things differently when I get back? Who knows. I sorta hope not. New Zealand is just the beginning, and now that I know it isn't where I want to call home I can go out and find a new place that I do.

Currently I'm in Taupo... - Oh yeah, while in Gisborne on the East Cape I had my wallet stolen (or maybe it just walked away, they do that from time to time). So I'm in the process of sorting things out. It really wasn't that bad because I'm a smart lady and tucked away various pockets of emergency cash. And with a little help from home (thanks mom), my credit card was cancelled efficiently. I can replace just about everything else, and what I can't I maybe didn't need it anyways. So now Taupo via Rotorua. I played speed pool in a sumo suit tonight. That's about the highlight of my current trip. Last night I saw a really good NZ roots band too - Corner Stone Roots. They played at the hostel I was staying at so I got in for cheap.

Really not exciting. I know. I'm grumpy and anti-social. A wise friend once told me "if you want to have fun, you will. If you don't want to have fun, you won't" (something like that anyway). And she was right. Hopefully I can reset my mentality in Napier tomorrow and finish my New Zealand Adventure right. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

blahdy blahdy blahhhh I'm on the East Cape

howdy folks!

my update is a tad more delayed than I originally intended, sorry. I'm now in Gisborne on the East Cape - famed for it's claim to be the very first place to see the sunrise of each new day. I will see on of those celebrity sunrises tomorrow at the wee hours of 6:30am. Can't wait. Riiiiight...

Anywho, this is a gorgeous and wonderfully laid-back place and I wish I could stay longer. I know in theory I can stay longer, but I still think it's time to come home. Err... I don't know anymore. Kerikeri was such a shithole it made me not care about even seeing the rest of NZ I just wanted to get the F out of dodge, as they say. But now that I'm not there I feel like I've been overzealous in my decision making! Gah! I'm really very frustrated with myself, particularly in the self-discipline and commitment departments...

Otherwise life is good. I'm relaxed, if not introspective. I have many things to look forward to in the coming weeks and each day my optimism and sense of adventure are returning. Oh! And I actually have a schedule! That's right right, I know (in theory) where I'll be for each of the remaining 30-something days of my trip. For example, tomorrow I will be back in Rotorua. Next week I'll see Taupo, Napier, Taupo, and Taurunga. Then Taupo (yes, I meant to put it in 3 times, if I zig-zag no one will follow my trail), the National Park, and Wellington. Followed by, as I'm sure you can predict, the south island. Incredible. It's almost as if I planned it all out. Imagine...

so that's me for now. Same ol' moody, emotional, semi-antisocial, tired, and grumpy-but-trying-to-hide-it me. The only thing I'm not is hungry. Go figure.

Friday, April 16, 2010


hey! I'm using the internet in a MacDonalds and think I might tear out my hair from all the chaos around me. Here's another quick update due to money/time/internet/sanity restraints:

I've finished work as of yesterday. It was a glorious day (I think it may have even been a lotto day...). I'm leaving Kerikeri tomorrow in the wee hours of the am heading to Auckland to visit a friend and pick up a way-layed christmas parcel (yay!). Then I head back to Rototrua (for the ump-teenth time) to catch a bus for the east cape (said to be incredibly beautiful and rugged - like me). Then Taupo, Tongariro, and Wellington before returning to the south island for my "Good-bye" tour.

Living in Kerikeri has been less than wonderful but maybe strangley healing for me. I cried many nights from the frustration of feeling stuck and sharing personal space with 5 other girls. In the end we have become friends and they let me be moody and talk shit (also healing in a way, I love talking shit - it's a creative outlet). There will soon be a video floating around the internet of me making an ass of myself that won't make sense to anyone but us six. You may or may not see it one day, if I can get ahold of it.

When I get back to civilisation in Auckland I'll do a proper post. I can't form thoughts in this place (well, at least not ones that don't end in punches and flying karate kicks...)

I can't wait to come home :) less that 6 weeks now!