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Expectations vs. Reality: New Zealand

I had grand expectations of my trip to New Zealand. I’ve been planning and fussing over the details for months. I have been in the country for 10 days and I wanted to share with you some of the realities vs. my expectations.

Expectation Number One: In the North Island it would be warm.

Reality: I’ve spent most of my time slogging through mud looking like a frozen gnome. It is not the warm, balmy Springtime I expected. Yes, Spring is just about here and it will get toasty up on the North Island, but not right now. Right now, with all of the rain I feel like I should be building an ark.

Rockin' my gnome look
Rockin’ my gnome look

Expectation Number Two: With WWOOFing Wi-Fi would not be an issue.

Reality: The Taliban has better access to Wi-Fi and the internet than most New Zealanders

I mean people practically pan-handle for wireless access here; “can you spare a 3g mate?”

My big, bold foray into the blogging world has turned into an expensive foray as I have to carry a mobile hotspot with me everywhere I go; I can practically hear they money debit from my account with every picture I upload.

Expectation Number Three: Easy public transportation.

Reality: Yes, in the public areas transportation is easy. However, most of New Zealand is spread thin. Roughly the size of Colorado there are only around 4 million inhabitants and there is A LOT of country in between towns. For example, my farm that I am currently at is 20 miles from town and there is no rural bus system (and most of the country is rural). For me to get out and actually see New Zealand and not stay in the muddy poo-patch mentioned above, I can either hitch-hike, rent a car or buy a car. Very unexpectedly I have decided to plop down $1000 a buy a car for the duration of my stay. Since I’ll be leaving at high season I expect to sell it at a small profit. Many backpackers buy cars here- something that totally took me by surprise. So, to actually get to see this beautiful country I’ll be driving around my very own 1990 Honda Logo. Woot.

Expectation Number Four: Having plenty of time.

Reality: No, there are still 24 hours in a day down in the Southern hemisphere, I just thought 2.5 months would be enough time to properly see the country. Hmpf, if I can speed through Spain in 10 days surely 2.5 months would be enough to see New Zealand “proper like.” Wrong. My own only stress inducing element so far has been trying to figure out how to see everything I want to see in the time I have allotted. Hence the car purchase, but even then I am going to have to limit the time spent on each WWOOF Farm and bounce around more than I would have liked too. Most of the other people I am running into are here for 8- 12 months. If you would have told me that in the states I would have thought you were nuts- “whaddya need that much time fer?”

Cape Reigna
Cape Reigna
So much to see!
So much to see!

Expectations Number Five: New Zealand would be pretty.

Reality: New Zealand isn’t just pretty, it’s life-changingly, take-your-breath-away, stunning. In all my travels around the world I haven’t seen such a beautiful landscape and we haven’t even hit the gem of South Island yet. The natural beauty here is otherworldly.

North Island Bay
North Island Bay
The very top of North Island - where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific
The very top of North Island – where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific

-Until my next adventure- Jo

At the edge of the World
At the edge of the World
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My First Week in New Zealand and my Very First WWOOF

My View From the Farm
My View From the Farm

So far I’ve spent four days in Fiji, and three days in Auckland (with one of the three days spent in Matamata at The Shire). I have to admit that Auckland was not the most impressive of places. This is a generally accepted fact by people that as far as cities go, you do not visit Auckland for the grandiose architeticure. It is a mixture of British influence meshed with Kiwi practically, which creates a convoluted architectural mix that is not so pleasing to the eye. The most beautiful aspects of Auckland are the bays and the natural landscapes. Auckland is heterogeneous, generally friendly and easy to navigate, but not a place that you’d want to spend massive amounts of time in.

Nightsky
Nightsky

After leaving Auckland, I’ve headed North up the coast to Kerikeri where the first place that I am going to be WWOOFing is located (to get more info on what WWOOFing is please see my other post ). About an hour out of Auckland, the scenery became so beautiful it was unreal. I felt as if I was a character out of Avatar and I had descended on a new planet. So many different types of plants and fauna rendered me agape with wonder. Three hours later, the bus arrived in Kerikeri, a small town located in the Bay of Islands region. Sitting at the bus stop I waited for my WWOOF Host, Julia, to pick me up. A few minutes later, and armed with a friendly smile, Julia picked me up. Upon my arrival she immediately took me to the grocery store and gave me $25NZD to buy myself breakfast and lunch materials. The agreement with her as my host was that I was given accommodation with a small kitchen, (no stove but a microwave) and I was responsible for preparing for myself breakfast and lunch and Julia would take care of dinner every night.

System Engineer now horse tamer
System Engineer now horse tamer

Julia’s ranch is located about 20 minutes outside of Kerikeri and pulling up to her place was like something out of a movie. Surrounded by lush green hills dotted with cattle, massive paddocks with horses grazing, and on top of the hill sat a truly stunning house. The accommodations here are fantastic from what I’ve been told by other WWOOF’ers. There are four sets of WWOOF’ers currently here, an Aussie/English couple, two sets of Germans, and myself and my brother. We each have our own “mini-apartment” with own bath, shower and small kitchen. The views from my patio are to die for. The “work,” which I have a hard time calling work considering every moment spent outside is pure joy, consists of tending the horses, ducks and general farm/stall upkeep. Each couple takes turns helping Julia cook dinner every night and we all eat together. Dinner is very enjoyable, not only is Julia a certified chef, it is wonderful to be breaking bread every night with such a wonderful collection of people from around the world – people whose stories under other circumstances I would have never have gotten to hear.

Fellow WWOOF'ers
Fellow WWOOF’ers
A laugh and some work
A laugh and some work

In my childhood I grew up on a ranch in California. We had goats, horses, chickens, pigs, dogs, cats and an occasional peacock. I left home at 16 and thus ended my farming career. However, returning to this environment I have been shocked with what ease I’ve remembered on how to do everything. At 16 I dreamed about wandering the world and having a career, who knew at 29 I’d leave the career I gave everything up for to wander the world and return back to farming? From a bossy professional women to horse tender, I’ve never been happier with change. I experience no anxiety and my conversations with the horses fill me with contentment. With no Wi-Fi at our location I have to head to the library to be connected and it’s been quite the detox. I used to have my phone connected to me 24/7 and at first with no connection to the outside world I experienced a bit of anxiety but now I am so at peace, rather in love, with the isolation. No television at night, and after our group dinner I return to my room to read and fall into a peaceful, prescription drug/alcohol free sleep. This is what I came on my journey for; to find myself, to experience quiet, nature and get back to basics. Fiji and Auckland were great, but here up North, well at least for the next three weeks, is home.

WWOOF_5

-Till my next adventure- Jo.