The next adventure…..

We are off, it’s been a year! We have officially been in NZ for a year and it’s time for us to say goodbye and embark on the next adventure which we are so excited for!

We have loved every second of our NZ experience there have been many highs and some lows but we wouldn’t change it for the world. I am so happy that we can say we made the most of every experience and seen so many amazing things whilst here.

We have been made to feel so welcomed by everyone and were overwhelmed by everybody’s kindness to help when we arrived. We have made some brilliant memories and some even better friends who know they are welcome to visit the UK whenever they wish. I want to say thank you to each and everyone one of you – especially my colleagues who have become good friends at Opus.

It was a major highlight for both of us to have both our families and Stacey and Zach came to visit – you guys made our time here and we are so grateful you got to see the country we have called home for a year.

We always talked about living abroad but I don’t think deep down I ever thought we actually would but I am so glad we did! I am so grateful the opportunity came along when it did, which was 100% the right time for us, and the whirlwind that followed didn’t leave me much time to worry about actually moving here (a great advantage for a born worrier).

NZ we love you but it’s time for us to move onto the next adventure…. A 7 week trip home which includes;

  • Australia
  • Indonesia
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Poland

I hope to blog on the way and keep you undated in real time like I did for our South Island trip. A rough trip route is shown in the picture below (obviously minus Poland) where we meet my family !!!!

trip

Thank you to everyone and thank you for everyone who has read my blog for the year I have been a way. This is getting a bit soppy now so I am off- first stop SYDNEY!

Love you all,

Lucy

P.s I am keeping the name Northerner in NZ, I couldn’t bring myself to change it now 🙂

Pangea Seeds – Sea Walls Murals

Napier was host to this year’s Pangea Seeds Foundation – Sea Walls Murals for the Ocean, this is their public art project that brings the oceans to the streets around the world. They collaborate with some amazing street artists to create massive street murals to raise awareness for ocean conservation, and the artists do it all for free. They came to Napier and it was so cool, and it will also be taking place in Toronto this year!

The artists had 5 days to paint amazing murals all over Napier and they were fantastic! We got a map from the visitors’ information and walked the whole thing. It was such a great day. I will leave you with photos which don’t do them justice but show you how great they are better than I can. We had so much fun interpreting them…

Lucy 🙂

New Plymouth

Hello there everyone,

I thought it was about time I got my bum in gear and started blogging to all you lovely people again. So basically after a bit of a bad patch plus no motivation (I won’t go into detail) I stopped blogging for a while! But I’m fine now and back 😀

This blog is about our trip to New Plymouth and a bit of an update on a few other exciting things we have done. We went to New Plymouth back in April now (I know I’m sorry I am very behind).

There isn’t loads to tell about our trip there its very seasidey and a lot like Napier but on the west of the north island. We got there on Friday night it was a pretty long drive about 5 hours so we didn’t do a lot on arrival! On Saturday we wandered along the sea front taking pictures hand in hand (how romantic). I was taking a picture of Chris and a massive wave hit him (lol before and after below).

We went to the museum which was pretty cool and took some standard stuffed animal pictures. I was pretty upset as my favourite team off the Block NZ were there and we missed them by 15 minutes (hi if you are reading Cat and Jeremy). We drove to mount Taranaki which was covered in cloud (not very successful).  We did a bit of a lonely planet bar crawl which is standard for Lucy and Chris, so it was a pretty chilled day really. This is why I shouldn’t leave my blogs until 3 months later because I can’t remember anything.

The one thing I do remember is Chris’ surf lesson the next morning. It was two hours long and the poor boy was shattered afterwards (after standing up a grand total of once). Fair play to him though as I didn’t even give the lesson a try.

Our route home took us along the Forgotten highway which is a gravel road full of cool places to explore, waterfalls, tunnels and ‘ghost towns’. It added a lot onto the journey but was definitely worth it! I am sorry for the short but sweet blog but I just wanted to tell you a brief of New Plymouth and say sorry for being off the radar! I am back now I promise.

So other things we have been doing;

  • Pangea Seeds Foundation Art work in Napier (blog to follow)
  • We went to Rotorua to see a kiwi and Chris went mountain biking.
  • We are currently gearing up for the big trip home (blog to follow)

So we currently have 1 WEEK left in NZ.

Crazy.

Until next time

Lucy

Tongariro Crossing

Finally on the 4th try we got to do the Tongariro crossing. On the 3rd March, the weather was looking perfect so we took the day off work and headed over on the Wednesday night. Hugh the car camper came in handy again and we arrived at 8.30 reclined the chairs and watched The Night Manager on my ipad – great night.

If you don’t know, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is described as one of NZ’s greatest day walks and it climbs over the volcanos in the centre of the North Island.

It was an early start the next day for the shuttle bus that drops you off at the start and picks you up later, our bus was at 7am. We got to the start of the crossing both equipped with everything we needed – you are told to be well prepared due to the weather changing quickly on the mountain (we weren’t too sure about the two Chinese girls in jeans with only a carton of milk). The walk is around 20k and the first 10 are all uphill, the first part of the walk starts very gently but as you start to climb the main volcano – it is tough! Climbing steeply over lava fields for 10k it was very tiring. It was that tiring (I will admit I am a bit unfit at the moment) that I asked Chris to call me a helicopter at one point (dramatic). I had to get confirmation off my friends Stacey that did it in January that she found it hard too!

When you get to the top though it is worth it, the views are amazing. We walked past Ngauruhoe (When spoken Narahoey) which is Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. It is enormous and a 3 hour extra trip up steep shingle which you are advised not to do as it’s quite dangerous (we saw the two Chinese girls with the milk climb up there!) We ate lunch at the bottom of Mount Doom it was pretty cool. The next feature is the Red Crater which is an enormous volcanic crater that you can look right into, you can feel the heat coming through the ground all around it. The whole walk was crazy it was like being on the moon (I think anyway I have never been)!

My favourite part has to be when for a start we started going downhill and we saw the iconic Emerald Lakes they were beautiful. Three bright green lakes sat together in a desolate environment it was special. The walk down to them was a challenge it was steep sand and people were just sliding down. After this it was onto the blue lake and then the decent down the mountain.

There were three buses one at 2.30pm, 4.00pm and 5.30pm, we were just on track to make the 2.30pm and we didn’t want to miss it. We set of down the mountain which was a windy gravel track for the first park and it slowly descended into jungle. This was probably the longest and most tiring part for us. As we were having to keep a fast pace to make the bus the downhill walking juts killed your legs! We made it with 10 minutes to spare and it was brilliant.

I am so glad we did it and all the effort was worth it and the weather was perfect! We were very tired we had to stop in a scenic lookout on the way home for a sleep. What an amazing walk it was though 🙂

Lucy

Art Deco Weekend

Well firstly I would like to apologise for my lack of blogging recently I know my die-hard fans (Hi Alan) will be missing me. Reading my friend Fran’s blogs (thosetwoinoz) this morning (she is currently blogging her way around Australia) made me get back into the blogging swing of things. I have been busy with work, travel, illness etc. (boohoo) but I’m back (its only been 4 weeks)! So what have we been up too? We finally got to do the Tongariro Crossing – later blog to come and we are off to Fiji on Monday –even later blog to come! So it’s all go as usual!

In February now we went to the Napier Art Deco Weekend – all I can say is what an amazing weekend it was! I felt like I had gone back in time or been transported to a movie set- everyone was dressed up and in the spirit of things. On the Friday night I dressed up in a glitzy number with feathers in my hair and Chris dressed as a pilot and we headed out to the Emporium (the famous Art Deco Restaurant in town) for a meal with our friends Bev and Pete. It was a great evening we sat by the window watching the costumes go by and everyone having fun outside as we ate and drank 🙂 At 7.30 the planes flew over giving an spectacular display!

On Saturday we headed out again – this time I was in a daytime deco outfit! We watched the vintage car parade which was fantastic I have never seen so many old cars. They had the brass band playing and so many different activities going on. We walked up to the main parade by the ocean and people were dancing to 30’s music and generally having a great time. We stopped for some lunch and had a nosey again at people passing by in their amazing costumes (met an Australian guy we met in Coromandel – small world!). Everywhere you turned there were costumes and something different going on. We were exhausted – but that didn’t stop us going back on Sunday.

There was a soap box race where kids could build karts with their dads (or mums – equality and all that) and race down the main street it was a fun event to watch with a few scary moments – kids have no fear! We headed to the airport to look at the old planes there was so much going on we didn’t want to miss it all. Another highlight was the Gatsby Picnic where hundreds of people set up picnic tents and are judged on creativity, we had a lovely afternoon walking around with a Hendricks gin looking at all the tents.

I really don’t feel that it does the weekend justice just talking about it so I will let the photos do the talking in this instance.

Lucy ❤

8 things nobody tells you when you move abroad

  1. The TV is crap, it is never the same as TV at home. I have only found one NZ program I loved (The Block NZ) and the ones you do love from home Corrie etc. are two years behind. So you will definitely need to invest in a Netflix account and a Chrome cast to survive. Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars have become my lifelines (sad but true).
  1. It takes forever to get used to the currency, after 6 months I still convert to pounds. I have a mini heart attack every time I pay for something as the NZ dollar is roughly double to the pound – so when I see $50 I see 50 pounds not 25 pounds. Complicated stuff.
  1. How bad the homesickness can be. It’s a real struggle, as we are having the time of our lives out here and wouldn’t change it from the world. For people at home battling floods and winds who see us having an amazing time think it’s silly to miss home when its 30 degrees here. It’s something that unless you have done it you never realise how it feels to just want a cuddle from your dog, a pint with your mates or a Saturday night chill with your family.
  1. Adapting to new supermarkets and brands is hard and you will always miss things like bacon and tea. That’s why when we see Yorkshire tea we go mental. Expat shops are genius.
  1. You come to appreciate how great your home country really is. Being so far away and talking to a lot of people makes you realise that you really haven’t made the most of you home country and how close you actually are to Europe. This is something we have vowed to change when we get home.
  1. How amazing it really is. I feel so lucky that we got this opportunity when we did before getting a house or anything else. It came with perfect if not a little rushed timing, and everything just fell into place for us. We have seen and are still to see some great places and I am so glad we made the leap to come here, because trust me it was bloody scary for both of us.
  1. You do things you never thought you would dare do (especially me as a chicken) like caving, jet boating, swimming with dolphins, because why the hell not? I might never be here again. If someone asked me to go caving in the UK I would propose a pub lunch instead.
  1. You will settle in quickly. We had no choice we had a flat and a car within 3 weeks and its surprising how quickly you settle into a job when you are away from home and only have a 12 month contract.

Lucy 🙂

White Island

Whakatane is famous for its White Island tours – a trip out on a boat to see NZ’s only active marine volcano. An old sulphur mine sits on the volcano used up until the 30s where workers would move to this harsh environment for 3 months at a time (the longest stayed for 8 years).

I was so excited about this trip it’s not every day you get to go inside a volcanic crater and as a keen geographer I was in geek mode bad style. We went with a tour company called White Island Tours and it was $200 each for the trip, so it isn’t cheap but it is 100% worth it. I guess with all the permits and insurance the company must be required to have to take tourists onto a live volcano, would set them back a bit. The boat was lovely and spacious with lovely soft sofa seats downstairs, the journey out to the island is 80 minutes so we opted for an inside seat.

To actually get onto the volcano we had to get a rib boat across, climb some metal ladders and then clamber across some boulders to get ashore (I felt like Lara Croft). The volcano was breath-taking, it was a harsh landscape, emitting steam everywhere and bright yellow sulphur chimneys steaming from the ground. We had stepped directly into the crater! The gases being produced weren’t harmful but they made you cough really badly so we had to wear gas masks – teamed with our hard hats we looked pretty snazzy (think Heisenberg from Breaking Bad). Chris found his Darth Vader impression pretty hilarious as we were walking around.

We got to walk right up to the main crater, which had a bright green bubbling volcanic lake inside with a huge plum of steam from the main vent. It was amazing. There were bubbling pools of mud around us and volcanic streams which were really hot running across the landscape. It was a very special trip for me as since uni I have always been fascinated by volcanoes.

We went into the old abandoned sulphur factory which had an eerie feel to it, a lot of the machinery was still there and all badly corroded due to the gases. The guide told us that their t-shirts only last 6 months due to the gases disintegrating the cotton stitching. It must have been such a strange place to be for long periods at a time for the sulphur miners.

I really can’t stress how much I enjoyed this trip and I would recommend to anyone who was a little dubious about spending the money on a trip.

Once back on the boat we were provided with a lovely lunch (cheese sandwiches, cake, oat bar, apple and a crunchy!) and then made the 1.5 hour journey back. We both fell asleep Chris the nodding dog and me with my mouth wide open!

Our Waitangi weekend at Coromandel and White Island is something we will never forget and it probably tuned out to be one of my favourite weekends we have had so far.

Lucy

Coromandel

We had a long weekend last week as it is Waitangi day in New Zealand so it was the perfect opportunity for us to explore Coromandel Peninsular and get it ticked off the list, we were optimistic  until we saw the forecast. To make things more interesting we were camping to save money as we had booked a really expensive trip. It was forecast to rain the whole weekend as cyclone Victor was making an appearance! We decided to go anyway as we didn’t think we would get much of a chance to for the rest of our time here.

We arrived after about 6 hours and set the tent up in a dry patch of weather just in time before it started raining again! Once we had set up I actually had a really nice time, I hate camping but it was lovely and it was cosy in the tent talking and drinking wine from mugs. I was all ready to change my opinion of camping actually until I couldn’t sleep at 3am due to the wind blowing the tent around, so I spent the rest of the night sleeping in the car! It was surprisingly comfy and when Chris came to find me at 7am in the car he fell asleep too and we both work up at 10 o’clock! It was very handy too because when we woke up we just put the chairs upright and drove to the shops without even getting out of the car.

That day the weather was on and off with rain but very humid. We headed to Cathedral Cove which is famous in Coromandel as it’s absolutely beautiful. Its sits very secluded and is an hours walk and for a tourist attraction it didn’t feel crowded at all. There is a huge cave cut out of the rock linking two coves, and this is how its gets its name due to the shape. We walked along the beach and Chris swam in the sea (until a massive wave smacked him in the back). We were very lucky with the weather because as soon as we got back into the car it started tipping it down again (it was like being at home, which was surprisingly comforting).

It was in the car on the way home that we made a life changing decision- to take the tent down and turn Hugh into a Camper car (best decision ever). So in a gap between showers we took the tent down completely emptied the car and repacked (chairs reclined, toothbrushes and chocolate in glove box and wine slotted nicely between the bed chairs). It was so comfy and cosy that we are actually taking Hugh the Camper car to the Tongariro crossing with us at the weekend – genuinely wish we had discovered this delight earlier! That night we cooked 18 sausages (dinner, breakfast and lunch sorted – we were sick of them by the end) and just read in the car it was lovely.

 

On Sunday morning we woke up to an overcast day which actually turned out to be really sunny. The plan for today was to head to Hot Water Beach and then drive down the west coast and across to Whakatane for the night. Armed with bucket and spade we set off for the beach, the beach is famous because there are geothermally heated waters underneath the beach and you can dig a hole to make your own little hot spring. It is a very crowded beach and it is the only place that we have been in NZ where I have really felt that it was too busy. It took us a while to build a pool because big waves kept coming in, and until we had a satisfactory wall it kept getting washed away. The funny thing was when we actually had a nice little pool the water was cold, and we had to create a channel from the lovely couple’s pool next to us to have their hot water!

Next we drove the 309 gravel road famous in Coromandel to the Kauri Tree reserve and then down the west coast to Whakatane – for our very exciting trip to White Island!

Lucy

Stacey and Zach come to Napier!

A week and a half ago now (time flies) we had a visit from my best friend form uni Stacey and her other half Zach. I had been looking forward to seeing her for ages and it kind of crept up on me really, with our South Island and visit and being so busy. So on the Friday as when my parents came I didn’t really believe they would be here until I actually saw them stood in the campsite car park ready to be picked up for a civilised (yeah right) meal.

It was great to see them both and it felt like we only saw each other yesterday like it always does with Stace. After a quick tour of the Dark Knight (Stacey and Zach’s campervan) we headed back to our flat for a few drinks. After cracking out the compulsory prosecco that my mum left us (thanks momma Jules) and a well-earned catch up (mainly Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars debriefs) we headed out for a meal. I think I’m going to just skip to the good bit with this one, as you can imagine after our food it got quite messy and we ended up doing a pub crawl of every bar on our street and back again! The night highlights include me cutting my foot open on the dance floor, Stace having a very long conversation with the bar man about the best way to cook a lobster and dancing like idiots until 4 am. We then thought it would be a good idea to walk into town for a kebab (come on its Napier nothing was open) so we just went home and I passed out fully clothed (successful night all round).

The next day I am safe to say was very slow paced it started with a late breakfast and coffee on our balcony and when we did decide to surface we headed to the air show in nearby. This was followed by a trip to Napier town, an ice cream (best hangover cure), another little walk and then a G&T (even better hangover cure). We finished the night with a lovely little BBQ at Stacey and Zach’s campsite and a chat to some tipsy kiwi guys on a stag do. I was told the next day they were knocking on their campervan at 4am asking them to ‘party’.

Sunday we were able to function a little better and I think if I was a tour guide I would call Sunday ‘Booze and Views’. We headed to Hastings Market for a wander around and then ventured up Te Mata peak to admire the view (more successfully than last time). The last time we went up Te Mata Peak Hugh broke down as he wouldn’t go into reverse and we had to get a tow truck home! Next on the agenda was The Filter Room our little cider heaven we take all our guests too (because we love it and it’s an excuse to drink cider). It’s safe to say my favourite Sangria Cider was a hit! We then went back to the flat via the ice cream place again for a little bit of lunch and it was straight back out to the winery!

This time we went to Elephant Hill winery which is my favourite so far, it wasn’t too posh but it was very grand and had amazing views. We had a wine tasting which was fun as we played a game of who could guess the most flavours in the wine (I won because I cheated and looked at the sheet). This was followed by a bottle of wine on the terrace (so posh) which Stace and Zach treated us to –so thanks guys! After a few goofy pictures with an elephant we went to Emporium for a pizza! As it got dark we showed the delights of Napier at night all lit up (it really is beautiful) and then back to the campsite to say goodbye (sad times).

We had an amazing time with Stace and Zach I just want to say thank you so much for coming out to visit us! It really was nice to have friends out here and be able to show you around and for you to see as much of New Zealand as you did. For me it was lovely to have Stacey here to have some girl time and gossip with someone other than Chris (sorry Chris).  They are flying home tomorrow after travelling the North and South Island so have a safe flight guys!

Lucy

Family Christmas in NZ

Hello
Just over two weeks ago now I blogged about my excitement as my family were flying to New Zealand for Christmas! On Saturday 12th December Chris and I flew up to Auckland to surprise them at the airport (something I didn’t blog about for obvious reasons).

We got there early and had to kill time in what felt like the longest 3 hours ever! We had lunch and wandered around a butterfly farm as slowly as we could taking silly pictures on the way.

   

As we sat in the arrivals lounge time went so slowly I was so excited to see them. After an hour and a half wait I saw a tired looking mother come through the doors followed by my dad, Josh (brother), Amy (Josh’s girlfriend), Auntie Tracy, Cousin Harry and Grandad Roy ( I have a big family). It was amazing to see them I can’t describe it in words and I was that overwhelmed I forgot to take photos! There were a few tears shed and lots of hug and after the initial emotional outbursts we went back to the hotel and had a massive catch up English style (curry and lots of booze).

On the Sunday we didn’t have to fly back to Napier until 7pm so we could spend the whole day with the fam. It started with brunch at a cafe in Auckland harbour and the biggest struggle of the holiday began – getting a table for 9! We decided to go up the Auckland Sky Tower as Chris’ mum had told us a lot of good things about it on her visit here a few months ago. It’s the tallest man made structure in the Southern Hemisphere (328m) and you can see for 80 kilometres in all directions at the top. It was really special it was a sunny clear day and you could see for miles around we had such a laugh up there jumping on glass floors and Josh had a picture with a rather creepy Father Christmas who kept following him around.

   
    
    
 

After the Sky Tower we went to see a few more bits such as the Mount Eden lookout and then we had to catch our flight. We had one last week at work before Christmas. In this time my family were travelling to us via the famous sites of NZ – Rotorua, Waitomo Caves and Taupo. It was really nice that they were going to all the places me and Chris had told them about and doing lots of the activities we did (including Blackwater Rafting – well done girls and Harry).

On Saturday the 19th December they arrived in Napier. We did so many things in the time they were here I think I might have to tell you day by day what we did so here goes;

Saturday 19th December – Chris and I were allowed a plus one to our works Christmas party so we took my mum and dad (I did try for a plus seven but they thought that was a bit much). It was great for them to meet all my work friends and put faces to names of all the people I always speak about on Skype. We had a great catch up (and drink) and I absolutely loved it!

Sunday 20th December – On this day Poppa Pete, Josh and Chris went on a farm tour which a colleague kindly arranged for them (for those of you who know Josh this was his ideal day he even offered to work for them). The rest of us went to Ocean Spa for a chill everyone was pretty tired from all the travelling so we just sat in jacuzzis overlooking the sea it was lovely!

Monday 21st December – This was the Lucy and Chris tour of Napier town, a trip to Lick This ice cream parlour and lots of souvenir shopping for Amy!

Tuesday 22nd December – This was actually one of my favourite days we went to Splash Planet in Hastings. I am usually a big chicken and really not one for water parks but it was so much fun messing about like big kids on the slides that I had a great time. My favourite moments include my dad falling off a step into the pool, Roy tackling the high speed slide and watching Chris and Harry play total wipeout!

Wednesday 23rd December – This itinerary included a trip to the aquarium, The Filter Room Cider Brewery and the Hastings Farms Market (lots of cakes, olive oils, fruits and fudge was purchased).

Thursday 24th December – Our trip to Cape Kidnappers on the tractor Gannett trip was another one of my favourite days and I think it was a successful day all round with the rest of the family too. We were piled into a tractor trailer which set of down the beach in and out of the sea bumping around over rocks it was really fun! At one point we had to get off the tractor and climb over a massive slip on the beach I think all of us nearly had a serious injury at somepoint climbing over there but it was a laugh. We met out other tractor at the end of the slip and set off to see the Gannets at Cape Kidnappers. As we got to the main area there were a few birds around and an amazing view, to see the main Gannet colony we had to climb to the top of a massive hill in the burning heat. It was well worth it as we got to the top it looked like something out of a David Attenborough documentary there were hundreds of Gannets all on nests with their chicks it was pretty special (even better to have all the family with us too). On the way back Josh rode up front with the driver in true Josh style (I think this was his favourite bit). It was an unusual but refreshing Christmas Eve.

   
    
    
    

Friday 25th December – So for Christmas Day I had booked us in for a five course meal at the County Hotel! It was 23 degrees outside and clear blue sky such an unreal feeling on Christmas. We had such a great meal (Carrot and Pumpkin soup, prawn salad, turkey dinner, cheesecake and coffee – oh and I forgot the 2 bottles of wine me and Chris shared). We wanted to do something different after this that we wouldn’t do at home so we all went for a swim in the sea, followed by a more traditional cheese, biscuits and drinks back at ours, a very Merry Christmas I would say.

Saturday 26th December -Boxing Day involved a trip up Te Mata peak a big peak that looks out over Napier and Hastings, Waimarama Beach for a chill and I will skip to the good bit which was the wine tasting! We went to Craggy Range winery for a tour and tasting, we had a tour around the cellar and then to taste nine different wines. We got a little tipsy especially me, Poppa Pete and Chris who kept finishing all the ones no one else wanted (really classy).

   

Sunday 27th December (Today)- Today my family left Napier to carry on their adventure back up to Auckland and then fly home. I don’t want to go into the sad goodbyes too much and put a downer on the amazing time we had in Napier.

I just want to say thank you so much for coming guys and I love and miss you loads! Our Christmas would have been rubbish without you and I hope you have enjoyed New Zealand as much as we have loved having you here.

As we speak Chris and I are in hotel in Wellington as we set off on our three week adventure to the South Island tomorrow- I will keep you posted.

Thank you for reading my emotional and very long blog post.

Lucy 🙂