Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Five more weeks in Welly


It's been a while since I've posted so here's an update. I started working full-time about 4 weeks ago at the same hotel and since I'm not paying rent to live here I've been able to save a lot of money. So what am I going to do with that money, you ask? Well, in five more weeks I'll be leaving Wellington and going to Australia for a couple weeks! I'll spend eight days in Sydney and eight days in Melbourne. Then it's back to Wellington, where I will catch the ferry down to the South Island and then the Stray bus down to Queenstown where I plan to stay until I come home on June 29th! Very exciting plans. :-)

I'm definitely ready to be moving on here pretty soon. Overall wishing I was doing something a little more substantial and kind of getting over the hospitality industry. Not sure what that means for plans when I get home, especially considering the job market is still not so hot. I have a lot of things I'm interested in pursuing though and I suppose having a lot of ideas is better than having none. Depending on how much I like Sydney and/or Melbourne when I'm there I may consider trying to move there and get a real job, possibly in advertising. Otherwise I may look into going to school there, maybe for graphic design, maybe for something else. Or I may look into going back to school back home. Who knows! I probably should, but I definitely have learned a ton on this trip and I think it's probably the best thing I could have done for myself. So even if I haven't answered the question of "what do I do with my life?" it's definitely been worth it. And if nothing else, I've learned that "what you do with your life" is what you're doing right now. And this was it for now. And maybe that's enough as long as you're happy and can sustain yourself. Anyway, enough philosophy...

I've still been having fun in Wellington. The NZ International Arts Festival was this month and part of it was the "Writers and Readers Week" where they had a bunch of authors come and speak. I went to see Audrey Niffenegger talk at The Embassy Theatre. She's the author of The Time Traveler's Wife. That was pretty neat. It's interesting to hear what made an author create a story the way they did. Made me just want to read all day long. :-) A musician I really like, Newtown Faulkner, is coming to town in April and I'm going to the show with this cool English girl I've been hanging out with.

Other than that, not too much new here! Just working a lot and trying to get out as much as I can when I'm not working, but most of that consists of running along the waterfront, which is actually pretty cool. Oh, and going to the Sunday farmers market (since I work Tuesday through Saturday now, instead of Saturday and Sunday) and getting all my fruits and vegetables for the week. But these are things that I seem to immensely enjoy so it's nice.

I think I'll definitely miss Wellington. A big part of me wishes I had more time here, and more friends, and a real job and that generally it wasn't so far away. But perhaps I can come back sometime. Anyway, here are a few pictures of recent sunsets and such.Talk to you all soon!
Love, Laura

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Long overdue update


So it's been quite a while since I've updated this!! Hopefully most of you are somewhat in the loop of what's new in my life, but here goes anyway. I'm still working in Wellington and enjoying things here. Definitely gotten to know it pretty well and done almost every touristy thing there is in this region! The summer here isn't really very "summery." At least not compared to Colorado. It rains a ton, especially in Wellington, but it is at least warmer than winter was.

Eric came out from December 25th to January 10th, which was great. We made a pretty long list of things to do and see (and eat) while he was here and we made it thru most of it!! Besides just walking around Cuba Street, going to the Pompeii exhibit at the museum and walking thru the Botanic Gardens (where the roses where actually in bloom this time), we ventured out of the city a few times. One very rainy, gross day we braved the rocky waters and took the ferry over to Days Bay, just across the harbor. There's a cute town over there and some beaches. I could see it being super popular on a warm day, but it was nice to just get out of the city too. (The picture is us at Days Bay.) We also took the train up to Martinborough in the Wairarapa wine region and did some wine touring. We rented bikes and just rode from vineyard to vineyard sampling wine! That was rather fun and I definitely wouldn't mind doing that again sometime. :-) Our big trip was going up to Tongariro National Park in the middle of the North Island where we did the Tongariro Crossing and climbed Mount Doom! It was about a 22km. hike, 2km. of which was straight up the non-poled mountain. We stayed in the nearby town of Turangi for a couple nights. After the crossing we rode bikes to the hot springs, which was really nice. (And much deserved.) So overall we had a great time. Oh and we saw a penguin in the Wellington harbor one night!!!! I kind of thought people were joking when they talked about there being penguins in NZ and I at least thought they would be further south, but nope! There he was paddling along... :-) (see picture)

After Eric left I worked for about a week and then flew down to Queenstown to meet up with my friend Blake and do the Routeburn Trek. It was a three-day hike and we stopped and camped two nights along the way. It was really gorgeous and goes thru a lot of where Lord of the Rings was filmed so it was kind of like walking thru the movie for three days. :-) I think I've pretty sufficiently covered Lord of the Rings territory now what with the climbing of Mount Doom and doing the Routeburn. Oh and finding out that some of the trilogy was even filmed on nearby Mount Victoria in Wellington. Anyway, the Routeburn was gorgeous and it was nice to get down to the South Island, albeit for a short time. Oh, and I bungy jumped again! Blake works for the bungy jump down there so I didn't have to pay much to do it so I figured why not jump off a ledge?! It was way less scary than the first time, for sure. Queenstown has a very different feel in the summer than it did when I was there in winter. All the ski shops turn into bike and treking shops and there's no snow on the mountains... But it's still pretty cool. Just not quite the Breckenridge or Vail that it felt like before.

So that's pretty much what I've been up to! I'm just back in Welly and working now again. I was working a ton over the holidays, but I think that's calming down a bit now so I may look for another job to keep myself occupied during the week and try to save some more money. I want to get down to Queenstown to live eventually, but I'm not sure how soon. Or maybe I'll just go for a month or so before I come home. I really like Wellington. But also my friend Hannah just booked her ticket to come visit at the beginning of June so I'll probably try to be in Queenstown by then so we can ski. :-)

It's hard to believe I've almost been here six months! Everyone keeps asking me when I'm coming home... The answer is it depends. My flight right now is booked for June 29th because that was the latest I could book it last July. My visa expires August 3rd so it just depends on when it gets down to that time whether it's worth it for me to spend the money to change my flight for the extra month. I may deal with it sooner rather that later tho. So we'll see!! I'm also considering going to Australia and doing a similar work-holiday over there, but I'm not sure. I'll definitely at least go over there for a couple weeks since it's so close. There's a lot more traveling I want to do for sure!! I just need more money. Haha.

So that's me as of late! Miss you all!!

Love, Laura

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Working in Welly


So I've been in Wellington for one week and I already have a job and place to live! I had really good luck in my search. The job is doing weekend reception at a serviced apartments building (basically a really nice hotel) and it also includes accommodation. Here is the link to the website: http://www.questatrium.co.nz/. It'll be 20 hours a week, which I'll get paid for and then I'll also do three or four nights per week on-call to "pay" for my room, which is at the tippy top of the building. There's also internet, a gym, and laundry that I can use for free. I'll be on a six month contract, but I'm not sure how airtight that is. But I really lucked out. The only thing I will have to buy is food. And I'll also have time to get some other part-time work if I want. Today was my second day, but I'm definitely already picking it up. It's weird to be doing something totally new again, but it's also really nice to be doing something that's not coffee-related. The room is cute. Tiny, but nice. It has these cool little doors on each side that lead out onto the roof so I can go sit on the roof and read! I'm really excited about that. Unfortunately I can't move in quite yet because I have to wait for the other person to move out, but it is definitely a relief to have this all worked out.

Other than that, I've just been exploring the city a little more and hanging out! Wellington is definitely really cool and there's some events here I'm really looking forward to, not to mention Eric visiting me over Christmas and New Years! Lots of fun coming up.

The other day a friend and I went for a hike to Island Bay (see picture), about 4 miles south of Wellington on the coast. It's really nice to know that it's possible to walk to the beach afterall. I even caught a glimpse of the South Island in the distance. It's a really beautiful bay and a cute town. We stopped at a fish and chips place (which are all over the country) and got a package of fried food, which included a fried hot dog. It was interesting... and delicious. And definitely helped with the 4 mile walk home. ;-)

So that's the latest news!! Not so sure I'll be reporting quite as often for the next little while since I'm kind of settling down and not so much is happening, but I will keep in touch!

Love, Laura

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wwoofing at Tauhara


So I've been wwoofing at the Tauhara Centre for almost two weeks now and they are kicking me out. :-( There are so many wwoofers that want to come here so they tend to ask the older ones to leave pretty quickly to make room. No one really gets to stay longer than two weeks contrary to what I was told when I first emailed them. I would think it would get slightly exhausting to basically be training new staff constantly, but oh well. I don't really want to leave yet. But I don't really have a choice so I'm heading back to Wellington on Wednesday!

It's been really nice here. I made a couple of German friends and generally had a lot of opportunity to relax and feel at home for a while. It's so calm up here in the hills and the centre has everything we need. It was also nice to get back into working again, at least for a little bit. I've come to realize something interesting about myself. It's really important for me to have the sense of community that comes from being in a place like this. It's similar to how working at Peaberry felt. It's different than just having friends and family and telling them about your life. It's a sense of really sharing a part of your life with other people who are doing the same thing. It's interesting. I didn't really realize before why I always loved Peaberry so much, but I feel the same sort of community here with the other wwoofers.

One day Anne, Luise, (my new German friends) and I walked to the nearby L'Arte Cafe. It was this really nice cafe with an art gallery next to it. They had all these mosaics. I'm not normally into mosaics, but these were really cool. (See picture.) It was a really nice afternoon trip.

Today I ventured out and walked from Huka Falls along the Waikato River into town. (See picture of Huka Falls.) The Waikato is the longest river in New Zealand. It flows from Lake Taupo north to the coast west of Auckland. There is also a huge hydroelectric power station north of Lake Taupo and I guess something like 15% of New Zealand's power comes from the Waikato river. So that's pretty cool.

Nothing too much to report here! It's been fun, but I have to move on I guess. I'll be back in Wellington on Wednesday night and will start the job search again this week. Hopefully I'll have more luck than before. I think the break has probably done me some good.

I'll update again soon after I get to Wellington!

Love, Laura

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There and back again


Sorry for being so lazy on the updates lately. Lots has happened and I haven't felt like writing at all. I still don't, but I figure a few of you might wonder if I fell off the edge of the Earth or something... so here goes.

I left Waihi Beach and picked up the Stray bus again in Rotorua on the 29th of September. From there we went to Taupo. Along the way we stopped at these really cool pools of boiling mud. There's a ton of geothermal activity in the area so there's a ton of cool, free spots to stop. The weather was terrible though, so the Tongariro Crossing was canceled. From Taupo we went to National Park, which would have been really beautiful if the mountains weren't covered with clouds. I did get to see the mountains (including Mt. Doom (see picture)) on the way back up to Taupo, though (keep reading). We had beautiful weather then. But on the way to National Park we stopped and had a "picnic" lunch in a traditional Maori hangi. We got fish, kumara, sausages, pipis (little shellfish), asparagus, and mushrooms and cooked it all in this pit in the ground that's heated by the geothermal activity. It was pretty awesome. After spending the night in National Park we went to Wellington.

As I said in my earlier blogs, the original plan was to look for work in Wellington which I spent approximately one day doing before I decided that wasn't what I wanted to do. I think some combination of the gross hostel I was staying in, not having any friends, going from a tiny town to a huge foreign city, and looking for jobs being my least favorite thing to do in the world just kind of made me miserable. So I found an ad for a wwoofing place that sounded really cool and replied to that. So here I am back up in Taupo! Well, outside of Taupo, but close enough.

But before I left Wellington and after I decided not to look for a job, I actually had a pretty good time. I got to explore the city a bit and did even make some friends from the hostel. The first day there I explores the Te Papa museum. It's means "our place" and has a whole geological and cultural history of New Zealand. You could definitely spend a few days there. One day I took the cable car to the botanical gardens which were cool. I think they will be much more picturesque when things start blooming more, but it was still nice. Another day I walked up to the government buildings and a really old cathedral. The main government building is called the beehive (see picture) and is pretty interesting architecturally. Other than that I just walked around a lot and got to know the city a little bit. Enough to know that I do want to come back and try to find a job there still. It's a pretty cool place. Definitely very artsy. So hopefully I will be able to find a job when I get back.

The place where I'm wwoofing is called the Tauhara Center. It's basically like a conference center, but it's very spiritually oriented and whatnot. They have a meditation room and everyone here is very hippy. It's cool though. It has a great vibe and everyone is super nice. There's about 10 wwoofers here. We do all sorts of different jobs like working in the kitchen preparing meals, housekeeping, and gardening. Right now there is a conference group of about 60 people staying here so we've pretty much all been working in the kitchen. We work a lot actually. Either from 9-3 or 2-8ish. It's a lot of work for just accomodation and food, but it's just a really great place to be so it's worth it, at least for a little while anyway. I think after the group leaves things will calm down a lot too.

I'm not sure how long I'll be here exactly. Probably another week or so. After that I will head back down to Welly to try again with the job search!! So wish me luck!! I will try to be better about updating here too.

Love, Laura

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moving on


So I've been in Waihi Beach for almost three weeks now!! Hard to believe it's been that long actually. It passed pretty quickly considering I was somewhat bored what with not having a car and town being a 40 minute walk away. And the boredom tends to lead to homesickness and the "why am I here?" questions. I've definitely been dealing with some culture shock/distance issues this week especially. And the rain didn't help. But all in all it was a nice break from the craziness of traveling, a great chance to test out my cooking skills (turns out I'm not so bad) and the family was really great. But I'm excited to move on!!

I will be leaving here on Tuesday to head back to Rotorua where I will catch the Stray bus. From there we head down to Taupo, sky-diving capital of New Zealand. I really want to sky-dive, but unfortunately I kinda need to save my money for food for the coming weeks. (But don't worry mom, I'll make sure I do it sometime.) The next morning, if the weather is nice, we will do the Tongariro Crossing. It's an 18km. alpine walk by/over/in the general vicinity of Mt. Doom. Or whatever the real name of the mountain is. It's supposed to be extremely beautiful. The conditions aren't safe at the top if the weather's off so I really hope it's nice so I get to do it.

That night we will stay in National Park. I don't really know what's there yet, but the next day we head to Wellington where I will stay and look for a job!!! I'm really excited to see Wellington as I didn't really see any of it the first time we went through because we got there late at night and left early the next morning. But most everyone I've talked to says it is a great city for young, creative people. The people are supposed to be very friendly and interesting (unlike Auckland) and the only bad thing I've heard about it is it's supposed to be very windy. "Windy Welly" they call it. So we'll see how it goes!! I'm really hoping to find a job as a barista in a cafe or something. That would probably be the easiest thing for me to get (since I've kind of spent some time doing it before :-)) and it's a great way to meet people.

So wish me luck!!! I'll keep you updated on my travels down to Wellington and my successes (hopefully) there!!

Love you and miss you all. Tons.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Waihi Beach Wwoofing

Hello! Just wanted to throw an update out there to let you all know that I'm doing alright! I'm still at the house in Waihi Beach where I'm wwoofing. I will be here till the 29th so a little less than two more weeks.

So far it's going well. The house is beautiful. They live up in the hills above Waihi Beach. They have a gorgeous view of the hills and the ocean. It's a pretty long walk to the town or beach from their house, but I think I might tackle it one of these days. David drove me down to the beach two days
ago on his day off and I spent a couple hours walking along and watching the crazy surfers, which was cool. The rest of the family, besides David, left on Monday for Australia and will be back next Friday, the 25th. It's been pretty quiet, but nice. Getting a little bored and running out of things to read, but hanging in there. Before they all left Karen (Donna's sister who basically runs the house) showed me around the town of Waihi Beach and Waihi (yes, they are separate towns.) Waihi Beach is tiny and there's not much to do besides walk along the beach. Waihi has a giant gold mine. Karen asked me if I wanted to go see the hole and I said "sure" not thinking it would be quite that big. I didn't have my camera with me, but it was huge. I guess they're planning to turn the hole into a lake when they're finished and they project it will take ten years to fill. I didn't think people still mined gold anywhere, but apparently it's still very profitable in New Zealand. She also took me to this pancake restaurant that was AMAZING. So I got a chance to get out of the house a bit before they left, which was nice.

Last night I cooked parmesan chicken and it was definitely a hit! David told Karen on the phone that she has some competition so she said I'll have to make it again for them when they get back. Too bad that's basically the only thing I can cook. But it is a good opportunity to try some more things out! Other than that I'm just doing some light cleaning and playing with the puppies!

The puppies are great. Their names are Jessie and Frankie. Jessie is the collie. Frankie is the white puff ball. They are both two-years-old and pretty darn cute. Frankie loves to play tug-o-war. He can be a bit much now and then and I love dogs so that's saying something, but when he calms down he can be pretty nice. We even had a cuddle session last night. But he does go from naught to agitated and loud in less than a second. Jessie is a sweetheart. She loves to play catch. They both seem to be pretty excited to see me every morning so I think that's a good sign.

So that's what I'm doing now! Sorry this isn't quite as exciting as the adventure-packed blogs I usually post! After this I will hop back on the Stray bus and head to Wellington where I will hopefully find a job and a place to live. But I will update again before I leave here!

Love, Laura

P.S. Sorry I can't really get more photos up here. They take FOREVER to upload on here. But I have more on Facebook so check there. Also, I will be happy to show all of them when I get back!