Finding Home While Away

Al's Deli
After traveling for nearly 5 months straight, I started longing for my simple home comforts while on the road. Bouncing from place to place, sleeping in uncomfortable (and sometimes dirty) beds, socializing with strangers, living out of a suit case, while trying to make a hostel my home at times made me want the simple things in life. I never get tired of flying,  traveling, meeting new people, seeing new places, and doing new things; yet, it is the small things that can get old really quick. I’m reminded of a YouTube video called Jessica’s Daily Affirmation, of a curly blonde hair child singing to herself in the mirror, “…I like my dad, I like my hair, I love my haircuts, I like my pajamas, I like my stuff, I like my whole house…”. How ironic that her name is also Jessica. I can sense the passion in her voice, as I feel the same way about my home (I love my house!).  The little girl does a better job than me at describing how much she likes where she is living. There gets a point while on the move when I just miss my bed, bathroom, kitchen, and a sense of normality. However, you know as well as I do that as soon as I am home for a couple weeks enjoying those “missed luxuries” that I will be already dreaming and longing for another journey. Continue reading

Tongariro National Park is Mordor

After seeing the Tangariro National Park, I can see how it was a filming location for Mordor in Lord of the Rings. Its name means windy and cold and as impressive as it is, it is actually quite grim looking (and as its name states: cold and windy). Tongariro National Park

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Whakahoro’s 9000 Acre Blue Duck Station

Blue Duck StationBlue Duck StationAfter hours of driving and what seemed like forever, I arrived to Whakahoro (pronounced Fuck-a-horo, no joke) the most remote region on New Zealand’s north island. The 9000 acre high country farm, otherwise known as “station” in New Zealand, is known as a working farm and environmental conservation station. Blue Duck Lodge as its know is defiantly off the beaten path. With no reception, I was able to spend two nights in the bush to enjoy the quiet and serenity of New Zealand. After hearing so much about the Blue Duck Station from previous Stray passengers I met on the south island prior to flying to the north island, I was excited to see it for myself. Continue reading

Taupo’s Spa Park

TaupoResidents and visitors can access Spa Park for free to wade in the water or observe where boiling geothermal water meets cold fresh river water. What happens when boiling water meets glacier run off, asked our Stray driver? Warm bath water for us to enjoy! As soon as we reached the water’s edge I quickly took off my sneakers and socks, rolled my pant legs up, and scurried over the rocks to dip my feet in the warm spa water. The warmth was just what I needed on that cool autumn day. Although the sun was warming my skin, the air was still cool. Spa Park was a nice moment of relaxation before hopping back on the bus for the long drive to the most remote part of the north island-Whakahoro. Continue reading

Rotorura’s Steamy Smelly Sulphur City

RotoruraAfter my caving adventure in Waitomo and Stray’s cultural overnight stop in Mourea we drove to Rotorura, the north island’s steamy, smelly sulphur city. I am really enjoying that Stray does things out of the ordinary. Stray is the only bus travel company in New Zealand to stay at a traditional Maori, while also stopping at various sites other companies exclude. I came to New Zealand to have an authentic experience, rather than a cookie cutter tour of the islands. When we arrived in Rotorura our driver, Seagull, gave us a quick orientation tour of the city highlighting all the points of interest. I decided to “hop off” the Stray bus to spend a night in Rotorura considering it is one of New Zealand’s ‘must see cities’. I was interested in exploring the city’s geothermal activity. Continue reading

Staying at a Maori Marae

Maori MaraeFrom the Waitomo caves, we crossed the Bay of Plenty to Mourea to stay at a Maori marae-a Maori meeting place. Mourea is home to a number of small Maori communities. The Ngati Pikiao people, a sub tribe of the New Zealand Iii of Te Arawa are some of the most spiritual and inviting people I have met throughout my travels. Their traditional welcoming onto their land gave me goose bumps as we walked silently toward their scared marae. Continue reading

Blackwater Rafting in Glowworm Caves

With my Gummy Boots on

With my Gummy Boots & Westsuit on

After Raglan, we headed through the bush back roads to a small town called Waitomo, known for its holes in the ground and underground network of caves. The caves I visited were lit naturally by glowing worms native to New Zealand. I heard that the best way to explore the caves was by Blackwater Rafting (otherwise known as Black Water Tubing). I thought Tumu Tumu Toobing, where riding an inner tube through an underground network of pitch black caves, would be exciting. I am always up for trying something new and I knew Tumu Tumu Tubing would be the perfect thing to try in Waitomo. Continue reading