Aviturian Molly Misek departed for a year-long sabbatical across the globe on January 4th. To stay in touch, she's sharing blogs about the world she's experiencing ... all through the lens of Aviture's six core values. Below is her second blog about life in New Zealand.
Hello again! As the months go by I’ve gotten officially settled into travel life — perhaps too much so. I’ve just gotten back from a four-day solo camping trek that rocked my world (in good and bad ways), so I’m a bit late on this update.
Out of the six Aviture values, February mostly challenged me to Remain Grounded (value #4). A lot of crazy things happened that challenged my way of thinking and traveling, and I’m grateful for the lessons learned because of it. Despite some chaos, I managed to find relaxation, fun and a tight-knit community away from home. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
I started off February not quite rotting in Rotorua, a cultural center of New Zealand that features many native Māori cultural experiences. Though the city’s history was incredibly cool and the landscape was full of hot, stinking lakes and geysers, I was worn out from doing so many touristy things. Nonetheless, I relished my time in Whakarewarewa Village eating corn cooked in sulfuric pools.
Still on NZ’s North Island, I drove down to Taupo for a few days to meet my friend Maarten and encounter some trials and tribulations on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing — a day hike that ended in a sprained ankle and a 10km limp back to the parking lot. Through the pain and slight humiliation, I was grateful for friendship, and especially grateful that I didn’t have to be life flighted from a mountain. Cheers to that, folks!
Taking some time for my ankle to heal, I spent a few days living well in Napier, the Art Deco capital of the world and a wonderful wine region of New Zealand. I stayed in a bed and breakfast run by a retired German couple who took me to Buddhist dance classes and taught me the wonders of a good white wine. They even mixed up a natural salve just for my swollen ankle.
And then it was on to high tea, craft beer and wild Wellington, NZ’s capital city that I believe was created solely to lift my spirits. I became a diehard fan of the Garage Project brewery and Wellington’s fun food and drink scene — a welcome reprieve from most small town New Zealand eateries. I seriously considered staying in Wellington for the rest of my life, but luckily for all of us, I’d already booked myself a ferry to the South Island.
After a three-hour ferry ride south, I was once again grounded and ready to start a few weeks of work at Tasman Bay Backpackers hostel in Nelson, one of the country’s sunniest places. In exchange for a few hours of work, I got free accommodation and a solid (if ever-changing) group of friends. I appreciated the mundane joy of cleaning bathrooms and making hostel beds, while spending the afternoons wandering on the beach, catching a flick at the local cinema, or eating Dutch mini-pancakes at the Saturday market.
On a day off from the hostel, I spent two days in Golden Bay, a gorgeous region north of Nelson that’s filled with hippies. I wandered up to Wharariki Beach to experience some truly transcendent caves and an ocean view that’s literally a Windows screensaver. I also ate some killer mussel chowder and had my fair share of local beers.
I’m still writing about the second half of my stay at Tasman Bay hostel, which I’ll include in my March roundup. Despite some uncertainties in my personal travels and on a global scale (elections, viruses, and who knows what else), my time here has been incredible. I have another month in New Zealand, and I plan to spend my time here to the fullest.
Cheers and kia ora,