Isn’t it so strange how time works? You know when you’re really excited for something and it feels like the days leading up to it go by so…very…slowly. Then all of a sudden, BOOM, you’re in the midst of it and it almost feels as if you blink, take a breath, and then it’s over. While our travels are not over, it really feels like time has been going by so quickly - we’ve been traveling for two months already!
Since it’s now November, we have to rewind to the middle of October and catch up!
We left Brisbane on October 15th around 10:40am, arriving into Vancouver at 7:30am October 15th after a 14 hour flight - TALK ABOUT TIME TRAVEL! From there, we made our way to the train, waited an hour for the bus, and from there onto the ferry. Making our way to Duke Point, my mum picked us up and we were on our way to Duncan to spend a couple of nights at my aunts place (saving us some money and allowing us to visit with family). We arrived mid afternoon and after all of that travel, I was itching to shower. The next morning we were up bright and early to make our way into Victoria for our appointment with the all important Canadian Immigration. They asked us four short questions, stamped James’ passport, and said, “congratulations, you are now a permanent resident of Canada”. After nearly three years of gathering and saving plane tickets, rental agreements, bank statements, photos, and going over our lives together in meticulous detail, roughly $3000 into Canadian Immigrations pocket (PLUS round trip tickets to and from Australia), and many sleepless nights - those were the words we were waiting to hear. My eyes immediately filled with tears and as we walked out of the appointment, I raised my fist in triumph, and promptly collapsed in James’ arms. We did it. With that all done and dusted, it was time to celebrate! A couple bottles of champagne, hugs all around, a good home cooked meal in our bellies, and a night of repacking our bags.
The next morning we awoke ready for a really long day. Sorry, *another* really long day. Our flight wasn’t until 11:55pm so we spent the morning making sure that we had all of our documents printed off, saying goodbye to family, and making our way back to the ferry terminal. From there it was the same song, second verse; ferry > bus > train > airport : wait for hours and hours to board another 14.5 hour flight (something about head winds and all that makes it longer coming back this way…physics and whatnot) > arrive in Brisbane at 7am, get our bags, go through customs, find next airline, check in, drop bags, make our way through security, have breakfast, twiddle our thumbs, board flight to Auckland (3 hours) > bus to hotel aaaaand collapse in a pool of my own sweat. After 24 hours of travel, we had landed in New Zealand. Time was: 9:30pm, October 20th and life was looking a little less hectic from here on out.
21st: Our first full day in Auckland was spent getting our bearings in the city. We had to check out of the hotel and into the hostel (we are on a budget, after all), explore the area, and make some plans for the next couple of days.
22nd: We had heard that Waiheke Island was a great day trip from the city, only a 30 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland to a lush winery haven - YO, COUNT ME IN. We had planned to rent scooters but unfortunately mother nature didn’t receive the memo and decided she’d rather pour rain. With that, we forked out a bit more money and rented a car for the day. We drove around the entire island, stopped at beaches and wineries along the way without a care in the world. Freedom level: 100.
23rd: The next day wasn’t much better weather wise, but we weren’t going to miss out on something just because a little bit of rain. Scratch that, a lot of rain. We had about an hours walk just to the base of Mount Eden, an extinct volcano within the city of Auckland. From there it was another easy 20 minutes to the top, with a beautiful (rain or shine) 360 degree view, and you can’t beat that. By the time that we had gotten back to the hostel we were drenched, but it was well worth it.
24th: After hours and hours of weighing our options, we decided that it was well worth our money to rent a car and make our way around New Zealand as we please. That way, we can use our tent and camp as we like along the way. Brilliant, if I do say so myself. We picked up the car mid morning and headed North in our new wheels, Silver Bullet Betty. She’s younger and a smaller bottomed gal, (unlike Norma) not too bad on gas mileage (which is great because gas here is ridiculous), and a little less temperamental. Not quite as racy looking, but we’re able to look beyond that.
We spent that night in Waitangi, comfy and cozy in our tent along the water side, waking up to ducklings and momma duck nibbling at crumbs (probably mine) outside of our tent first thing in the morning. Aaah, bliss. That morning after packing up, we decided to put some clicks on these sticks and made our way to Haruru Falls, which is a 10km round trip hike - our longest one yet!
From there it was a bit of a drive up to Cape Reinga, (one of) the northern most points in New Zealand. It also happens to be where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. We spent three nights camping at Tapotupotu Bay, a quiet campground along the beach with mountainous jungle all around us, buuuuut no hot showers. That aside, we couldn’t have been happier and decided to stay for three nights. From camp we were able to hike to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, which was again a 10km round trip, but this was 10 HARD kilometres. Our legs and lungs were BURNIN’. The afternoon was spent recuperating in the sunshine and eating, as you can imagine.
The next day … oh booooy the next day. We hit up the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes. We had read that you can rent boogie boards once at the dunes and uhh HELLO LET ME NOT EVEN HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT FOR 10 SECONDS. We headed for the steepest slope of sand that we could find and the result was less than ideal. I bailed and got sand EVERYWHERE. Even in places I didn't know existed. The video of that will come later.
From there we must have walked 5km all around these giant dunes, and that was nowhere near covering half of the ground that they take up. We slid down some more dunes, albeit, not as steep, before we took another run *literally* at the steepest dune once more. I didn’t even think about it before I took off on a bit of a run and belly flopped on my board for maximum velocity, and this was definitely a mistake. As I came down and nailed the nearly 90 degree angle from dune to well … not dune, I gave my head a good ol WHAM off of the board and I tell ya, I was feeling it for a couple of days after. After emptying our pockets, clothes, and all bodily crevices of sand, we were feeling duned out. We spent the afternoon walking the bay and trying to get the remaining sand out of my hair.
The next day we awoke to some dreary looking skies but were keeping our fingers crossed that the rain would stay clear of Whatipu Lodge and Campground, our next destination. We had read some reviews and most seemed good, there was one that did say the manager had approached him with his cock out, but we decided to look beyond that. Our drive time was going to take up a decent amount of the day, and the last 7km of that were through mountainous jungle and dirt road, but we thought - why not? As the day went on the rain fell, and fell, stopped, and then poured and poured. Outlook: bleak. We made it to the campground, drenched and looking for a space *insert Oliver Twist impression here*
“Please sir, do you have one more?” I asked.
He mentioned that they only had one more spot, it was quite small and the car likely wouldn’t make it over the grass as it had gotten quite wet and muddy.
“Oh, and the rain is about to get much worse in the next three hours or so” he said. AS IF THAT’S SUPPOSED TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER.
By this time it was getting late and dark, so James and I cut our losses and decided to head to the outskirts of Auckland and pay for a night in a hotel. Hot showers and a real bed - bliss.
The last few days and nights have been spent quite simply; taking walks through forests and hunting waterfalls, bathing in hot pools at Hot Water Beach, hiking to Cathedral Grove, and trying to get used to the smell of Rotorua (a geothermal hotbed - the sulphur is strong). *click through the pics below
In between all of that we've been planning out the next stages of our adventure, which is proving quite stressful, but we're managing. Somewhere along the way we looked at each other and decided that the rest of our lives can be spent working - so we're going to skip that bit and go explore. From Rotorua we will spend the next five days making our way towards the South Island, where we will spend nearly three weeks traveling around, exploring glaciers, skydiving, hiking, and hopefully get in some kayaking!
From there we are heading to BALI! And are looking forward to a nice suite that is just ours, no tent, no blow up sleeping pads, no cold. We'll be there from November 24th-Dec 1st. Then we're heading to Singapore on an extended layover - 23 hours exactly and are planning on making the most of it. On December 2nd we're flying to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and will be there for nearly three weeks (until the 20th) while we make our way to Hanoi, Vietnam, checking out all of the stuff in between! Next up, the Philippines and Palawan Island where we will spend a week exploring some islands, snorkelling, and swimming. On December 27th we're headed to Tokyo, Japan. We'll be in Japan until January 4th and are going to get as much exploring in as we can.
On that note, we're in Rotorua at the moment and are enjoying some good ol Canadian hospitality (thanks Naveen!) we were welcomed with New Zealand treats and a cozy house <3 and being near friends makes home feel not so far away.
Thanks for reading. Now, where did I put my wine glass?