… i’ve lost count of all the amazing things i’ve seen in the last 9 days. cheesy title for a post? sure. but it’s true so i went with it.

in a lot of ways i don’t even know where to start trying to relay everything. or even just a slice of everything. i don’t know how to put on paper the kindness i’ve felt, the accents i’ve wanted to bottle up and take home with me or the beauty that i am surrounded by. it’s true – this country really is a [slightly hidden] slice of paradise.

but since i know that is not going to cut it for most folks following this journey of mine, i’ll try to conjure up something magical so you can ride along side me for a while. maybe go grab a cup of coffee? or a cold brew? this might take a while …

let’s start with a map. i’ve had a few people say how cool it would be to have a map, push pins and string to follow my travels. i agree. that would be pretty cool! it makes me think of those scenes in Indian Jones where he’s going from one epic place to the next. Hollywood always depicted that with an airplane graphic sailing across a map and a bright red line trailing behind… I secretly hope my life is like that somewhere… But since I know it’s not, I made ya’ll a map to follow me.


Follow that red line and you can see where I’ve been, ending with Motueka – my home for at least a few more weeks.
In my first few days I had a lot of people (here and at home) ask me what my plan was – where am i going and what do i want to see in NZ. Since I didn’t come prepared with much of a plan, yet I’m a HUGE planner, I really clung to the fact that I had to get to the S Island in a week to start work. It was a little invigorating and also a lot stressful to have so many possibilities for the time in the middle. Do I buy a car? Or maybe instead I take the train? What about the bus? Do I stay with friends on my way? Or do I fly to Wellington and see friends later? And how long do I stay in Wellington?? What about when I get to the S Island? How do I get to work? Car? Bus? And do I want to stay somewhere along the way? And for how long?
Yikes even typing that out again is stressful. Someone get me a glass of wine, please!
In the end I decided to take the bus, to stop and see friends then to come back to the North Island later to explore.
Once I settled on that, I was pretty excited that my very next stop after Auckland would be a friend’s house! Like, a real person that I know from the states. Granted, I had only met her a few times – maybe even just once back in 2004 – but I was still incredibly grateful to have received an offer to stay with them!
Meet Kelsey and her fiancé, Warren.


They reside in Hamilton and have a lovely home full of charm with lively chickens, buzzing bees and delicious tangelos. To be clear, all of the later live outside.
I got to sleep in a real [big!] bed, I was treated to some incredibly delicious food and I even walked away with a laundry list of places I should go to in NZ. I can’t thank you two enough!! And I certainly hope to make it back up for the wedding in March 🙂
Then, on Thursday I packed everything up again, left the comfort of their home, grabbed a stellar cup of coffee and hoped on a bus for 9 hours to get from Hamilton all the way down to Wellington.



The bus was enormous but decently comfortable, considering how long I was on it.

I thought for sure I would spend a decent amount of my ride reading, or writing emails, or maybe even working on the scarf I decided to make because it’s a wee bit colder than I thought it would be… But did I do any of that? Nope. I looked out the window. For 9 hours.

I figured I had plenty of time to read, write and crochet later, but I might only pass through here once so I might as well pay attention!!
To my pleasant surprise, we stopped off for afternoon tea at a little roadside cafe. I traipsed around a bit and snapped a few spring photos that I’m kinda in love with …


Then we continued onward and made it into Wellington about 7:30 that evening, well after dark. I found my hostel, settled in a smidge and then went off in search of something amazing to eat. I ended up having one of the best margarita pizzas + wine served by one of the funniest Italian waters I’ve ever met. I turned in early that night since the next day was to be another relatively long one.

Bright and early I headed off to the ferry terminal to catch the early boat over to Picton. A gal in my room the night before said if the weather was good I should head to the sun deck straight away to ensure I got a great seat for the journey. It was quite literally a breathtaking sight from up there …


Once we headed off it got incredibly windy so the deck cleared off except for a few of us hardy folk. In some ways I couldn’t imagine going below and putting glass between me and that beauty.

So, I suited up in my raincoat and scarf and hunkered down in my seat for the long haul.


3.5 hrs later, after meandering round a while, we arrived in Picton.


From there I grabbed my bag and took off on yet another bus. This one to Nelson.

Which by the way, having that as a last name has entertained me to no end. I’ve had a handful of ‘double take’ type replies when I give it. My favorite was the bus driver who I’m pretty sure thought I didn’t speak English.
“Last name?”
“Yes.” … Likely assuming I was trying to tell her where I was going … “But what’s your  last name?”
“No, sorry, my last name IS Nelson.”
“Oh buggar. Jessica? So it is!”
So away I went. My last bus for the day took me into Nelson. It was a smaller town than the others I’d been to, very quaint and in an insanely beautiful spot! To get there we cruised through the mountains and then all of a sudden the road opened up to the ocean.


I gathered my belongings, took off for the hostel and again got settled in. This hostel was definitely new and happened to have a bar attached. That evening I was thrilled to finally have found my first amazing beer here in NZ. I really felt quite at home in that town.
But alas, I only spent one day there too. The next day [which if you’ve lost track by this point, was Saturday] I had my final bus to catch. I was headed to Motueka – my home for at least a few weeks + site of my one and only pre-arranged job.
More on that in another post because this one has become INSANELY long. I’m willing to bet I’ve lost quite a few people so I’ll wrap it up quickly here …
Things are going well. I’m having an amazing time. I miss everyone from back home but I am starting to decompress. I need that. Clearly.
The last photo for now will be a precursor to my next … This is the beach about 1/4 mile from the B&B. Stunning, I know. And this is where I get to call home.