from north to south

yesterday I left the North Island… I forgot to mention that on my last day in Wellington I met another German, Susanna. she’s traveling by herself too and she’s coming to the South Island on Friday… we exchanged emails to see if maybe we do part of the trip together…

I came to Picton on the ferry… it’s a VERY expensive way of traveling south, but once you’re there and you see the sounds, and you get the feeling that you are arriving to the South Island… it’s totally worth it!

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I met Cameron on the ferry, he’s from Christchurch. I had such a lovely time with him…. he’s funny and smart, and he told me that if I come to Chch he will show me around (if he’s there, cause he travels a lot).

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so, I arrived in Picton and went to the Tumbstone Backpackers… when Ali and I were on the Internet looking for hostels in Picton, we came across that name (and saw all the good reviews people left), and I couldn’t figure out why someone would call their hostel as if it were a Halloween party. when I arrived to the place though, I could see exactly why they did it…. it is right next to a cemetery… and to make the joke even more obvious, the entrance door is shaped like a coffin.

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I went to the supermarket to buy some food, and back at the German-packed hostel I met (besides “ze Germans”) Jon, from upstate New York.

Jon is here under the working holiday visa; he likes to hike so he invited me to do the Queen Charlotte Track with him for four days… the only problem is: I do not have tramping gear to stay several nights in the outdoors – this being sleeping bag, tent… not even a fork! – so I had to decline after several minutes of consideration, but we decided to do a little bit of local tramping in Picton the next day… and then who knows, maybe we’ll meet again to do some traveling together.

so next morning we went to the supermarket to buy stuff four our fancy pick nick on the mountain and headed to the Queen Charlotte View Track… one thing that truly amazes me of New Zealand is how every touristic thing – tracks, lookouts, rest areas, etc – is signposted giving you directions, information, times… it’s wonderful to get a general idea of what you are doing and where you are going!… so we started the track, and this new friend of mine had some of the most interesting conversations ever! I think we covered all topics… such nice company he was! I really wished I could’ve had all my camping gear to go with him on the 3-4 day track!

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after our beautiful day together, it was time to go back to the hostel and figure out how to get to Nelson not too late… I will be staying in Nelson with Mark’s sister, Donna, so I had to get they “early” so they could pick me up. I sent Donna a message to tell her that I might be hitch hiking, and she called me back telling me that her husband, Colin, was still working near Picton so he could pick me up! apparently, luck is with me on this trip!

it was around four in the afternoon, and Colin would pick me up a little after six… so I was in the hostel with Jon, and when he went to take a shower I met one of the most beautiful couples EVER!
Meet Geoffrey and his beautiful wife who’s name I cannot remember:

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they are from York, and their children live in Australia and New Zealand, so every two years they travel down under to visit them. “they tried to get rid of us by moving to the farthest countries they could find.. but they didn’t count on us coming to visit them every two years!”
they are a beautiful happy couple, over 70 years old each (or more), they met on a trip through the UK when they were young, and one night on the dance floor he asked her to dance, she accepted, and that was it! though the way they tell it is obviously much, MUCH better… I’m just summarizing… Geoffrey has a very nice way of waking up every morning, he told me “if when you wake up, you move your elbows sideways, and you don’t feel wood… then it’s surely a good day because it means you are not in a wooden box… you are alive!”. I fell in love with them, they are radiant, and joyful, and they just love each other so much! when Jon came back and met them (I’m pretty sure he fell in love with them too haha), he asked them “if you could travel back in time to tell your 20 year-old selves any advise, what would this be?” and they simply said: BE YOURSELF AND TALK WITH EVERYBODY!
I had to leave them, and was pretty sad I had to do so, but I’m taking with me their beautiful faces, and their beautiful words.

and… to Nelson (Richmond actually)…

windy welly

I could definitely live in Wellington
such a nice place, small yet it has everything!
it’s not as spread as Auckland, which makes it a walking/biking city.
the weather might be the only thing that sucks in the windy capital… at first it showed me how beautiful days can be, sunny and shiny and warm, and all was perfect from Tuesday to Saturday… but Sunday came, and with it a long white cloud and wind and rain, and it didn’t stop for 48 hours… and then sun again…

never the less, my days in Wellington were happy days.
I could just imagine myself living there for the rest of my life.
it’s a city with lots of things to do… there’s always a market or a concert or a play… there’s museums, cafes, and premieres of The Hobbit… people are nice and friendly, food is diverse, and nightlife is amazing!
everything is near, and if it isn’t, public transportation will make it near for you! it’s just perfect!

this is the Sunday market on the waterfront... and as you can see, this is the fish kiosk! :)

this is the Sunday market on the waterfront…and as you can see, this is the fish stand! 🙂

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I was totally welcomed as a member of the Mills-Wallis Family.
my kiwi parents and siblings are just amazing! although they were all tight in a small apartment because their house is being renovated as you read, they gave me my own room!
and each one of them took me out to do something different.

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so, on my first day I had breakfast with Jesse, then I visited the Te Papa Museum which is brilliant! it has a lot of stuff, from geological and natural to early and late human history of New Zealand… seems like it never ends, every floor has something really interesting to show.

Te Papa
in the evening I went with Mark to see the sunset from their house in Island Bay, and this is what Wellington had for me (the mountains that are in the far back, are actually part of the South Island):

Island Bay

the next day was all about doing some touristic stuff… I went on the cable car up to the botanic gardens, then had lunch with Ali, and finally I visited the Museum of Wellington City & Sea… not bad!

on Friday I went to “Weta Cave” – Weta Workshop is a special effects and prop company, producing effects for television and films such as The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Narnia, District 9, Avatar, Tintin, The Hobbit, etc- … arriving I met Caitlin from California. we toured together, then we had lunch with Jesse, and at night we went to have several beers in different bars… it was a GREAT night! unfortunately after this Caitlin went to Blenheim to live and work and I wasn’t able to see her again… maybe later we will be able to do some traveling together!

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Saturday was my special day with Ali. we went to the Orongorongo Track outside of Wellington to do some hiking, this was my first track in NZ! I really loved it! it was nice to see green from up close, and to smell all those beautiful scents… I hope I can be able to do more “tramping” as they call it in New Zealand, and apparently the South Island has loads of tramping tracks, and that’s right where I’m heading!
in the evening we went to an awesome bar called Havana.

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Sunday – FunDay: Saint Patrick’s Day!
Jesse invited me to spend the afternoon pub crawling around Wellington with his friends. mostly we visited Irish pubs, and on my favorite, Molly Malones, the band played a song I asked them to play by saying this: the next song is to Karen from Mexico… this is Rocky Road to Dublin!!!

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finally, when my days in Wellington were coming to an end, I decided I should get tramping shoes for my walks in the South Island… and that’s when I discovered the magic of the Salvation Army Family Stores!
Tasarla and I went to have breakfast – mushrooms on toast… yum!!! – and then headed off to do some op shopping on Cuba Street.
I couldn’t find what I was looking for, and Tasarla needed to go to uni, so I went to the big Salvation Army Family Store in Newtown by myself… and there I bought a jumper ($10), 4 pairs of socks ($2.50), and a pair of tramping shoes ($6)…
total spent: $18.50
conclusion: op shopping is the best shopping!

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on my very last day in Wellington I decided to finally walk up to the lookout on Mount Victoria. I think it’s the perfect place to see it all… 360° of buildings, mountains, ocean, ferries, and houses… 360° of joy… and that’s when it hit me, standing at the top of Wellington, I just thought “I love you New Zealand”… I’m HERE, and the journey is just beginning!

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on my way down I met Christiane, 65 year old German teacher… she’s now traveling because she’s not working anymore back home… after a small chat of where we come from and what we do she said to me in a very sincere and empathic way: enjoy your life! may you find what you need to complete you in every direction!

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and that’s all I have to say, about that..

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today I met beautiful Paul.
I think he’s one of the “osomest” persons I’ve ever met… a lesson in life, inspiration, a great message: NOTHING CAN EVER STOP YOU (yes, you… and me… and him)

Paul has travelled through Kenya, most of Europe, Australia, Jamaica, and now New Zealand.
in this occasion (I don’t know about the rest) Paul came to New Zealand to see the cricket matches where his home country, England, plays.
the first match is here in Wellington, then he goes to the second one in Auckland, and he ends his trip in Rotorua doing a little bit of outdoorsy activities.

the story of how I met Paul is not very exciting, but it sure is beautiful and it fills me with happiness and somehow with hope.

I was walking out of the Te Papa museum about to head left to go get something to eat when I saw him, struggling a little bit to find his way, but managing to get through, there was Paul… I offered him my services as a guide – though I had NO idea of how to move around the city – and he happily said yes, he told me that he had been kayaking in the morning and that he wanted to chill at a beach called Oriental Bay, and since I had to tell him that I was not a local (because obviously I had to ask for directions), we both found out about each other that we are traveling by ourselves in this beautiful country…

you see, Paul is blind, and there’s nothing in the world that stops him from traveling… he lays on the sand and feels the sun touch his face… he travels to SEE a cricket match… he goes kayaking and seeks outdoor activities… he moves and gets through, all by himself… he seems happy… I can’t even imagine what traveling is for him… and he does it, he travels and feels and smells and listens… he travels and lives, although he’s got a great disadvantage… he LIVES…
what is our excuse to not do the things we want in life?

NOTHING CAN EVER STOP YOU!

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novaeseelandiae

I came to New Zealand ten years ago… it moved me so much that I had a 20 year old life crisis… I tried for ten years to come back and start to live… but I was not able to do so… or maybe it wasn’t the time to do it… maybe I needed experience – both in life and work – maybe I was too young to really know what I wanted… I guess I’ll never truly know this… but I do know that I’M HERE! and I’m finally living the dream!

I arrived in Auckland on Thursday 7 of March… and since my host was working, and I really needed a shower, I had to pay for a night (though it was 9am) at a hostel downtown… this was good, because I met wonderful people from all around the world… some were just finishing their travels in NZ, some were just starting like me, so maybe I’ll meet them again somewhere this year.

my “new best friends” were Vivi from Uruguay, and Camila from Chile.
we met everyday in the city, until they left to start an adventure in India.

Chile, Uruguay and Mexico

Chile, Uruguay and Mexico

my hosts in Auckland were great! at first maybe a little distant, but I guess this is normal with anyone during workdays… but the weekend with them was awesome (“osom”)!

on Saturday I went with Jeremy to Devonport, snobby area with a lot of coffee shops, and a park called North Heads Historic Reserve next to the ocean where you can see Auckland centre from the distance (map with arrows showing where the camera was pointing)… really nice place to sit and chillax!

North Heads

Auckland Centre

Rangitoto Island
we walked a lot, and I think we got to know each other pretty well. he was born in South Africa but he arrived in New Zealand with his family when he was a kid. now he’s a doctor in some Auckland hospital. he speaks fluent Spanish, he’s been learning the past couple of years, and it’s funny because he’s got Spanish from Spain accent. we were saying bad words all day… those that have to do with “cojones” and “me cago en las cosas”…

Jeremy

next day was Gareth’s day to take me out.
he’s a really cool guy! funny, smart and a quick learner!
we went to the beach to spend the day, and then we went to eat at a night weekend market on a parking lot. heading back home we stopped at another park/volcano called One Tree Hill to see the city from above

from One Tree Hill

Gareth

Monday was my last day in Auckland and I just stayed home to get everything ready for my departure the next morning… at night I went with Gareth to a food court and we both had Thai for dinner.
and the goodbye picture with both!

Auckland Hosts

my time in Auckland still doesn’t make me feel like I’m in New Zealand. I guess it’s all the “big city” thing… it’s a nice place, but not where I would stay for long.
the Auckland Museum and the Toi o Tāmaki Art Gallery are really worth visiting, they both have New Zealand historical paintings, sculptures and artifacts.
also the Viaduct is recommended to walk around and sit at a bar to have a beer or a glass of some New Zealand wine.

hotspots auckland

Auckland Museum

Toi o Tamaki

I personally skipped the Sky Tower because it is expensive and there are some other places where you can see the city from above, such as Mount Eden, One Tree Hill, and of course Devonport’s North Heads Park.

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From Mount Eden

next stop… Wellington…