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Recalling the Earthquake I Felt in New Zealand

Recalling the Earthquake I Felt in New Zealand

I was in New Zealand a little over a year ago. I was sitting in my partner's home in Napier when I felt it—the entire couch was shaking. Then the lazy boy started thrashing about on its own.

I've been reflecting on this moment this week because of the earthquake that happened in Kaikoura, New Zealand early Monday morning.

Natural disasters like this always put things into perspective for me, like with the Louisiana flooding after my visit to New Orleans this summer. But New Zealand hits particularly close to home for me because of my ongoing connection to the country.

New Zealand Food: The Most Comprehensive Guide for Non-Kiwis

New Zealand Food: The Most Comprehensive Guide for Non-Kiwis

Non-kiwi foodies may look no further than this post for the most comprehensive guide on what to eat while in New Zealand. If you've never been to Aotearoa , the "land of the long white cloud," then you have probably never heard of the majority of the items appearing on this list.

I devoted 10 months of my travel time to living in and eating my way through New Zealand. Inevitably, I ended up sampling almost every food for which New Zealand is famous or infamous.

I still find myself day dreaming about eating some of New Zealand's foods again. This guide describes all of them.

Sunrise Track during winter in New Zealand

Sunrise Track during winter in New Zealand

At exactly this time last year, I was preparing to depart a rainy, wintery New Zealand to dive in the warm, northern waters of Australia.

Jono and I decided to make the most of my last weekend there. So we "tramped" (kiwi for hiked) Sunrise Track and stayed overnight at a mountain top hut during what turned into a violently windy rainstorm.

In this post, I finally tell the story of this trepid adventure and the ending that was so good, I couldn't resist returning to New Zealand some 3 weeks later.

Shine Falls at Boundary Stream in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Shine Falls at Boundary Stream in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Last week, I posted a throwback to my time in Iceland. This time, I'm giving you another throwback but to last year when I was living in New Zealand. Reminiscent of all of the waterfalls I saw in Iceland, this post is about a waterfall I visited in Hawke's Bay. Hawke's Bay is on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. There's tons to do there, including several easy hikes that make for great day trips.

When Spring had finally sprung in the Southern hemisphere, Jono and I immediately took to the outdoors to cure our cabin fever. After a hike to Cape Kidnappers, we planned another jaunt to the famous Shine Falls. The walk to Shine Falls goes through the Boundary Stream Reserve. It has some impressive views through farmland and native bush (forest) with plenty of birds to hear and observe along the way. The waterfall is deep in the reserve and its stunning—the perfect example of typical New Zealand beauty!

Hiking Cape Kidnappers: Much More Than a New Zealand Golf Course

Hiking Cape Kidnappers: Much More Than a New Zealand Golf Course

Throw back! I never talked about the time I visited Cape Kidnappers, so here it is!Throw back time! Once upon a time, I did a review of all the great places to visit in Hawke's Bay New Zealand. I mentioned a golf course named Cape Kidnappers, but later learned Cape Kidnappers is so much more than a golf course.

After 7-months living in the area, I got increasingly curious about this place with its criminal name, rumors of mudstone protrusions, and an enormous gannet colony. I had to see what it was all about.

Jono and I took a day to stroll along its shore out to the headland and back. I ended up being enthralled by its geological features, I had a photo shoot with seabirds, and I was even almost caught in a landslide on the return trip!

Eleventh month check-in: Revelations from an Aussie adventure

Eleventh month check-in: Revelations from an Aussie adventure

I spent the last month in Australia and now I’m in New Zealand again. Say what?! That’s right. I had a great time in Australia. I did a ton of adventuring, visited friends, and saw so much wildlife and marine life. I can’t wait to share it all through many posts in the coming months.

Ultimately, my Aussie adventure was destined to be a jam-packed one, but a short one. I set out with an agenda: deviate to illuminate. As intended, some revelations helped me realize the most important things to me so I could return to New Zealand to pursue them.

Cathedral Cove, NZ: Where you re-enter Narnia and the ‘ceiling can’t hold us’

Cathedral Cove, NZ: Where you re-enter Narnia and the ‘ceiling can’t hold us’

One cold, wintery day on The Queen’s Birthday weekend, Jono and I drove 5 hours up North to the Coromandel Peninsula.

There, we met his sister and her family where they were staying in Whitianga. Whitianga is situated near two iconic Coromandel must-dos: Hot water beach and Cathedral Cove.

I had already visited hot water beach on a previous occasion but Cathedral Cove was not accessible at the time. Now I was finally able to visit this gorgeous beach and natural archway. Perhaps you’ll recognize it from a famous movie, music video, or both!

15 things to do in Hawke’s Bay: Pretending to be a Kiwi

15 things to do in Hawke’s Bay: Pretending to be a Kiwi

I like to try to blend into a place as much as possible. Short of mimicking the Kiwi accent, I think I did a pretty good job at blending into the Hawke’s Bay life while seeing as much of it as a “tourist” as possible.

During my four months living in Napier, I saw and did heaps. I’ve picked out the best of the best to give you an idea of what local living is like in the Hawke’s Bay.

Craters of the Moon and Huka Falls near Taupo, New Zealand

Craters of the Moon and Huka Falls near Taupo, New Zealand

While traveling the North Island, I kept passing through Taupo instead of actually spending any time there. One time I finally did stop. Jono and I were on our way back from a weekend trip near Hamilton. Huka Falls and the “Craters of the Moon” had been on my mind since I passed through Taupo on several occasions prior.

Stopping to visit both was definitely worth it. The bubbling Earth of the geothermal field and the gushing power of the falls were awesome to behold. The best part? Laughing at the expense of frightened tourists riding in speedboats down the river!

Tenth month check-in: Goodbye New Zealand and hello Australia!

Tenth month check-in: Goodbye New Zealand and hello Australia!

That’s right, for the 10 month anniversary of my travels around the world, today marks the first day I will set foot in Australia. I am writing this post in advance of my landing and have scheduled it to appear while I am probably still in-flight over the Tasman Sea!

But this post is less about Australia, and much more about my final days in New Zealand. After over 7 months there, I still have several stories to share. This story is about leaving and why it was so difficult to go.

The most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen: 90 Mile Beach, New Zealand

The most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen: 90 Mile Beach, New Zealand

This post is about one thing: The best sunset I have ever seen in my entire life.

I’ve seen a lot of sunsets in my lifetime but none was ever so #earthporn worthy as the one I saw with Jono back in March when camped on the 90 Mile Beach in New Zealand.

Instead of talking about it, I’ve decided to simply post the photos and allow the sunset to speak for itself. My camera brings out colors as opposed to dulling them like most lenses. Otherwise, there was absolutely no enhancing or filtering done to them. Enjoy!

Wild horse tracking in Te Aupouri Forest of New Zealand

Wild horse tracking in Te Aupouri Forest of New Zealand

Like most Westernized countries, New Zealand has many domesticated horses. On any given drive across the country you’re bound to see them fenced in on grassy hillsides, being ridden by tourists across a country road, or jumped by locals for prizes at field day events.

Wild horses, on the other hand, are a rare sight to see. I was lucky enough to track some down and witness their majestic beauty as they freely trotted through the Te Aupouri Forest and galloped across the dunes behind the 90 Mile Beach.

How to survive the 90 Mile Beach in New Zealand: Fishing and tides

How to survive the 90 Mile Beach in New Zealand: Fishing and tides

The Ninety Mile Beach is one of the most unusual highways I’ve ever driven. At low tide it becomes a legitimate highway. It’s an alternative to state highway 1 and often a scenic route for tour buses.

But the 90 mile beach can be as dangerous as it is beautiful.

The tide can catch tourists off their guard resulting in their vehicles stuck in the sand and an unexpected overnight stay in the dunes behind the beach. Luckily, my kiwi friend, Jono, and I had deliberately worked an overnight stay into our Ninety Mile Beach plans. With plenty of fish to catch from the beach and another food source under our feet in the sand, we had all we needed to survive several days on one of New Zealand’s most beautiful and remote beaches.

4 steps to sandboarding the Te Paki dunes in New Zealand

4 steps to sandboarding the Te Paki dunes in New Zealand

I finally went sandboarding!

Sandboarding has been on my bucket list for a long time. I was stoked when I found out I’d have the chance to finally tick it off my list in New Zealand!

Surprisingly, it took me nearly 3 months of traveling New Zealand to make it to the best sandboarding location—the Te Paki Recreation Reserve.

Life and death at Cape Reinga and Spirit’s Bay: The sacred North of New Zealand

Life and death at Cape Reinga and Spirit’s Bay: The sacred North of New Zealand

The Northern point of New Zealand’s North Island has great significance among the native Maori people. The land there is predominantly Maori owned and untouched with plenty of native vegetation growing wild.

Once we passed through the last town of Kaitaia and began the 100km drive up the Aupouri Peninsula, I could already see and feel its sacredness.

SCUBA diving a ship wreck in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

SCUBA diving a ship wreck in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

 I dove a ship wreck!—and became an advanced open water diver.

While visiting the Bay of Islands, Jono and I booked a two-dive day trip in which I would experience diving down deep to explore an underwater ship wreck. It would be my first ever! I had been itching to dive again since I received my open water diver certification in Koh Toa, Thailand. Paihia Dive offered a package in which I would learn to dive to 100 feet.

The ship wreck was eerie, beautiful, and hilarious. This plus an awesome underwater kelp forest dive and surprise visit to the famous Hole in the Rock made my Bay of Islands diving trip an unforgettable experience.

Cheap, self-guided snorkeling in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Cheap, self-guided snorkeling in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

I’m all about finding my own fun while traveling—and at low cost. Part of deviating is looking for ways to explore a new place without paying for a tour guide to show you around. Sometimes self-guided tours take you to unique places that turn out to be just as good as the tours or better!

This was the case the day Jono and I arrived in Paihia in Northland New Zealand. We had a whole day free to fill with whatever we chose. So we went snorkeling in the Bay of Islands on our own for just $20 each. Here’s how.

Auckland LGBT Pride 2015: The parade, Maori history, and human rights

Auckland LGBT Pride 2015: The parade, Maori history, and human rights

In celebration of the month of June, this post is about my experience attending Auckland Pride this year. New Zealand’s most populated city hosts their LGBT Pride parade, or as they call it “Hero Parade,” in February rather than in June (Pride month in the USA).

The parade and LGBT people were not always so accepted in New Zealand, however, and LGBT needs continue to be ignored by the NZ government.

Ninth month check-in: Living in the present while making travel plans

Ninth month check-in: Living in the present while making travel plans

I have been traveling for as long as it takes to carry a baby to term. Which begs the question—have I birthed any major plans for future travel destinations?

The answer is yes. But I am not quite ready to reveal them. All I will say is there are plans in the mix. In the meantime, I am trying to remind myself to stay in the moment and fully appreciate everything I have come to learn and love about New Zealand after over half a year here.

Lake Pukaki to Tekapo: The world’s best star-gazing and my favorite place on the South Island

Lake Pukaki to Tekapo: The world’s best star-gazing and my favorite place on the South Island

Finally, I get to tell you about my favorite place on the South Island: The heart of the Mackenzie Basin from Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo. By this point in my travels around New Zealand, I had circled the entirety of the South Island. The weather had cleared up and we were on our way to a location I had been anticipating for days.

Soon, we would be swimming in milky blue glacial waters and viewing constellations through telescopes which would lead to one of the deepest reflections I would have during my many months of travel.