pssssst. i’m still in New Zealand!

… and i’m really thankful i am able to say that!


after much thinking, debating, discussing and number crunching, i decided to prolong this amazing adventure a few more months.

so right now, instead of snuggling with the girls crowded on my lap, in a house filled with the smells of home, my dad, the heaps of boxes i left in Minnesota and the sounds of spring wafting in the windows, i’m sitting in Mapua, New Zealand, looking out the window at the fall colors, the estuary at high tide, the snow on the Richmond ranges in the distance and the smell of peanut butter + chocolate muffins baking in the oven.

when i set out i had this grand plan of going from summer to summer to another summer. sounds pretty amazing, right?? the BEST kind of snowbird there is! but with my change of plans, i will have a bit of winter before i land back in what will likely be the balmy, sticky, sweaty and all around HOT summer in minnesota. i certainly didn’t pack for any kind of winter, so my solution is to wear everything i brought with me. all at one time. ha. i am certainly creating fashion trends.

but in this new time i have acquired, i’m also on a mission. a mission to explore more of the bush and sleep in some of New Zealand’s amazing backcountry huts. i’m sad [and slightly embarrassed!] to say that i’ve only stayed in one hut the entire time i’ve been here. and that was back in October. i settled into a nice life here – i had 2 jobs, then i had 1 job, then i had friends, then i had books to read, photos to take, beer and wine to drink, people to travel with and then i had those friends again.

[by the way, ‘the bush’ can be defined as “rural, undeveloped land or country area” and in New Zealand, it’s the bulk of the country.]

so i’ve calculated i have the month of May to really get out and get lost. not literally because that could be dangerous, but figuratively, following trails, sleeping in huts, getting cold, wet, muddy and stinky. i’m pumped. though i’m running into some problems … the 2 or so weeks of virtually nonstop rain, rain and more rain has either washed out necessary roads, bridges and trails or has knocked down so many trees that trails are impassible. besides that, fall is here and winter is coming. many of the trails i want to do are alpine trails and i am certainly not the “experienced parties” the DOC people mention, who would be prepared for this: “snow craft experience is required and equipment taken should include at least an ice axe. Weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly and icy snow conditions can be experienced at any time of the year.” yikes. so the sky isn’t quite the limit that it once was, but i’m still determined to get back to my earthly roots.

now just because i haven’t stayed in many of the huts doesn’t mean i haven’t seen the bush. the bulk of this island is magical, beautiful and virtually untouched bush [which is pretty stinkin amazing, if you ask me] and with the land being so wild, you can see an amazing amount from the highways alone. i’m sure my dad + aunt and uncle would agree with this thought …

and when you are on the road and sleep in your car, you can sleep in places like this…

this was simply magical.

i was insanely fortunate to have family join me in both December and March, but beyond that i’ve made some great friends who have helped me suss out the best of the best in NZ beer, exciting jobs, living arrangements that are so outside my experiences, wine that is top notch and outdoor adventures that keep me amazed AND they have [really!] helped me in all walks of life here in this foreign land.

one of my biggest regrets of my trip is that i passed up the opportunity to take photos with a BIG number of the people i’ve met here… i’ve learned my lesson and i’ll know better for the rest of this adventure and of course, for my next one. and if you are one of those folks, THANK YOU and i hope the day comes when i can take that awkward self portrait of us with something remotely cool [or maybe rather mundane] in the background.
anyways, the internet is calling me. it’s May 1st and i have some walking to plan!