Write hard and clear about what hurts

Hello!

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This week, I have ‘celebrated’ (more like pretended December 12th was just like any other day) the first anniversary of my departure from NZ. Seems unreal that this lifetime dream, that we spent years first talking about it in a distant future, then months on, getting ready for the big journey, my gap year that turned into a year and a half trip, is not only over, but far gone, part of this past that can no longer be. I spent months pretending I would go back, that I was still a backpacker wandering the planet, living the life I had chosen, but it was just a lie I kept telling myself to make me feel better. Comes a point you have to face it, when the longing and craving becomes an obstacle and no longer a force that drives you.

I can tell now that I am able to look forward and not back anymore, even though most times the looking forward is forced because the looking back is not bearable, but still. I am happy that I finally reached that point of ‘peace’ of heart. I can recall the memories, without crying or wanting to punch someone. And maybe, it is time to start planning something new, a new trip, a new dream, who knows what lies ahead anyway?

But there are still a few places I want to show you. The show must go on damned! Anyway, I will continue on Queentsown, and more precisely a day out that we did with my Mother, to Walter Peak farm. We did not care much for the farm to be fair, we just wanted to have a trip on the old steam boat. Turned out, the whole day was brilliant. The sailing in the bay of Queenstown was just unbelievable. The view, my god the view! With all the things and time I’ve spent down there, it always comes down to that, Queenstown and lake Wakatipu. Sailing on that boat with that perfect weather, I wished I could have my whole life there, in that little town so far from the whole world, just me and the lake. We eventually landed in the sheep farm, where we had a demonstration of dogs and sheep shearing. Then a huge barbecue of sheep meat, potatoes, veggies, etc. Best meat ever! I remember the rose garden, the lonely black sheep, the still lake and the little boy, with his blue rain jacket, all alone facing the lake, just his blue jacket and the grey still lake.

The sailing back was under the fog, don’t matter, NZ sky always has so much to offer!

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We are on a hike to nowhere

Hello!

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One thing that was on our must do list while in NZ was a horse ride in the Lord of the Rings Land, the very place Boromir lost his life, I name: Glenorchy.

You should see that place, completly lost, mountains and horses, forest and lakes, you won’t even dare to speak cause you feel so small compared to what is around you. It turns out that many movies have been filmed there, from Wolverine to the Lord of the Rings, Narnia or Prince of Persia. The first time I went to Glenorchy, it was freezing cold, the mountains were still covered in snow and the horses really just wanted hibernation… It was just the two of us and the guide, a lovely guy very fond of every thing lord of the rings. He introduced us to all the ‘famous’ horses, showed us all the sights and picked me up from the mud when my horse decided to throw me off its back… No offense taken, I just carried my messed up shoulder till the very end of the trip!

I took my Mom again when we were in Queenstown. We only had a few hours but I insisted she had to see it, that it was way worth the drive. It was a very different sight that Glenorchy offered us that day, the sky was so low it nearly touched the land. It was the begining of Spring then, the whole place was packed with Lupin flowers. That’s when my love for lupins began!

I believe very few words can describe Glenorchy, so I won’t attempt to say any more about it. Just leave you with a few photos!

Have a great week end!

  • In winter:

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  • Spring:

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Queenstown fever

Hello!

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It is only when I first reached Queenstown that I realized what a small town it was!! By the size of its reputation I thought it would be the biggest city of the south island, but oh no, 10 000 people live there only! It has the feel of a mountain village, exactly like I imagine it in my head.

Long story short, Queenstown is amazing. Party place, it is called the city that never sleeps. World capital of bungy jumping, you have all the crazy activities on offer. And that is not it. Queenstown can be summed up in one word:

FERGBURGER!! That is all everybody can talk really when you mention Queenstown. Just the biggest burgers you’ve ever seen in the entire universe. Special mention to Patagonia too, for their amazing chocolate, churros and ice creams.

We first stayed at the Butterfly Lodge, a lovely, lovely little hostel. Basically a house with a few more bedrooms than normal, you can enjoy a good movie in the lounge with the house cat loved up on your laps. They have a collection of TAPES, yes tapes, you know those things we used to have to watch movies… It’s like spending the week end at your grandma, except the beds are a lot comfier! We later picked another hostel, just because we are lazy girls and the Butterfly Lodge is on top of a cliff. Only people who have been in NZ will know what I mean.

So we also stayed at Bungi Backpackers. There are a few hostels, not many though, in NZ that I have not liked at all and this is one of them. So yes, it was so very cheap, and yes there was free soup for dinner BUT the roooooooms!! OMG! We had the room that was outside, so we had to walk outside to get in the main building to have access to the bathroom (which was not bad I have to admit). We were sharing a room with a lot of people and even if it was freezing outside I slept with the window open for I’ve never smelt anything so horrendous in my life! The room was full of sick people and we later realized one of the guys was growing pot under his bed, which probably explained the smell.

We spend three days in Queenstown the first time, we had too much food, too much fun and so much beauty thrown to our faces everything seemed plain afterwards.

Have a great week end!

Cheers!

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A life well lived is the most exquisite work of art

Hello!

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God it’s cold! Cold and wet. The worst! Today, we are leaving the Westlands to get to the Fjordlands… I was going to talk to you about Queenstown, as it is in the chronology of the trip, but I can’t get to it yet. I think it deserves a couple of posts for being such an amazing little city! We’ll see about that later.

One of the things we really wanted to do while in Queenstown was to see the Milford sounds, more commonly called THE Milford. We were so lucky the first time, the day we picked was a wonderful sunny winter day, with the first snow in the mountains. When I took my mom, we weren’t that lucky… The road was cut by some kinda storm, the Milford was therefore out of reach.

We had booked a Jucy day trip, they came to pick us up at 7:30 AM. All bundled up with as many layers of clothes as possible we bravely made it out in the cold so early! The bus stopped a few times so we could take some photos and have fun with the snow. It is a far drive for just one day but what a sight! Breathtaking really! I remember at some point we went under a tunnel, and I thought ‘ this is the shittiest tunnel in the history of tunnels’. It was like they had dug a tunnel into a mountain and left it at that. No concrete on the walls, and just a few dim lights. Weird!! The road became so narrow and winding after we had passed Te Anau I don’t know how the bus drivers did it!

We also had a stop at Mirror Lake, all Lonely Planet users will remember it as being the front page of the book! As for the Milford, I could only describe it as coming straight from Avatar! Remember that scene where they are flying the weird beasts with the rocks flying in the sky? Well somehow that’s what the Milford seemed to me. We took a cruise, and raced with the dolphins, had a tiny crush for an english cute guy that surely was a rugby player, we froze our ass outside but did not mind for a second. I am happy I’ve seen the Milford, to me, it is one of the things to see before you die!

I also appreciated that the captain of the boat took us as close as possible to the waterfalls. So close you’re drenched and fieel the vibrations of the water falling coming all the way from your feet to your heart.

I hope you enjoy the photos!

Cheers!

M.

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No reason to stay is a good reason to go

Hello!

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I always knew working full time on a 9 to 5 job would be the death of me. One month and a half only and I can already feel it. The uuuurge to break this stupid routine, I mean why do I have to stay quietly sitting on my seat, getting this endless paperwork in order? Money it seems. I thought I would never settle for a job I hated just for money. And so little money on top of it. How did I got so far from what I dreamt of? It seems all I ever wanted, all I ever worked for has vanished in this one little month.

The time of travelling is not only over, it seems like it never happened. What’s left of it nowadays can be sum up to this: an endless rambling about NZ and Oz and a few photos. So here you have it, the rambling and the photos:

Let me tell you about a very very special place in New Zealand, a little town by a lake, surrounded by moutains and crazy skies, with funny trees growing inside the lake: Wanaka. Seeing the photos, I got reminded of how Wanaka first appeared to me, a haven of beauty and peace. It was the place we had heard of from day one by every single traveller that we met. We decided to have a go at it because we felt like we had to, but we totally expected to be disappointed as we had heard so much about it. The truth is you can’t describe Wanaka and saying ‘you MUST go there’ will not even start to give it any justice. If you have the chance, take my word for it, spend a day or two there. Just to admire the view. Remember that one day, it will all be gone, no more lakes and no more mountains, just your memories and the leftover feelings.

We stayed at Wanaka Backpacka. The best view on the lake for sure, walking distance from the bus stop and the city, cosy lounge rooms and private bathrooms in the dorms, muffins and internet, what more to say? We rented a bike for the afternoon and went for a bike ride around the lake.

I went twice to Wanaka and both times the weather was horrid. Nonetheless, the sun appeared here and there, just enough to get the most amazing photos and memories. I hope you enjoy it, I sure did.

Cheers

M.

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Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them

Hello!

France-NZ is on tonight, no matter my unboundable love for NZ, I will follow my French rugby team till the end! First time we meet since that notorious World Cup final, we don’t stand a chance but who knows, miracles have happened in the past!

I have been quiet for a couple of weeks, not for a lack of will, but a lack of time. Who would have thought working full time could be so exhausting? I’m happy though to come back to my NZ trip story, on that rainy Saturday.

Last time I left you in Franz Josef and today we reach Fox Glacier, about 30 minutes from Franz Josef. Exactly like Franz Josef I’ve seen that glacier twice, with reasonably good weather both times! I would advise you to do both glaciers, they are very different and you can get really close to Fox. Lake Matheson is also a must see of the Glaciers region, it’s about 6k from Fox. They have shuttles to get you there, however that day we waited and waited for it to come, it never came so we ended up walking there… We were so tired by the time we arrived, and knowing we had to do the same way back to the village, we actually only reached sight of the lake before turning back… They say on a clear day you can see Mount Cook in the back, the reflection on the lake being THE attraction, however, both times we were far from being able to see anything reflecting on the lake.

We stayed at the Ivory Towers Backpackers, a really really nice place, and we regretted we only had one night booked… I remember the theater room downstairs, of course we watched a Lord of the Rings, the reading room with a fireplace, and the kitchen with a lot of tables with table cloth just like a restaurant. I actually doubt having said that that they had table cloth but for some reason in my memory they did! Whatever, it is a very nice place and I would advice anyone to go there.

These are the photos from our visit in May:

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Photos from our visit in December:

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How long is forever? Sometimes just one second

Hello!

On this rainy Sunday, let’s talk about another wet land: the glaciers of New Zealand! Franz Joseph was on top of our Must See list as we started in NZ. My brother had contacted me a few days prior to our arrival in the glaciers zone to say happy birthday of course but also to tell me he wanted to offer me a sky dive experience… What better place to do it than in the glaciers?? Don’t get too exited, it did not happen… First, my mad foot needed to be cured ASAP. 15 days of antibiotics and a traumatizing egg bursting later, all that was left of the poisonous spider was an enormous scar, still visible as of today. Second, the impossible weather. Foggy, raining and windy, what was the point?? Third, probably my lack of confidence in my ability to jump from a plane…

Both time I went to Franz Joseph I first had a stop in Hokitika. It is only after wandering in the ‘city’ the second time around that I had to admit I had already been there, once, when the Intercity bus took a two hours break… Lonely Planet says it is a nice place, worth to spend one or two nights, and that’s about the only thing I’ve been mad at them about. Because Hokitika may have plenty to offer, I absolutly hated it. Can’t get anymore boring, wondering in the city on a Monday with everything closed. Sunset viewpoint yes, but not enough to make it a stop! We were staying at a lovely hostel though,Birdsong Backpacker. We had one of the private rooms, that actually consisted of two rooms and a bathroom. The common area is fully opened on the coast with a very nice kitchen, there is a balcony bif enough to have a meal or read a book in the sun.

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So as I’ve mentionned before, the first morning we woke up in the glaciers it was raining a bit… To say the least… Very foggy on top of it. We only had one day and two nights planned in Franz Joseph so we had no choice but to go for it anyway… The man from the hostel told us ‘when it rains, the glaciers is blue’, so why not? We were with that French girl then, that we met back in Punakaiki, Laurence, that had the same itinerary as us up to that point. We took all our strength to get in the shuttle that was to take us to the glacier site, armed with the huge umbrellas the hostel had landed us. Downpours of rain by the time we arrived, so much fog we couldn’t see anything. Did not matter, we did the hike as far as it is allowed, and yet, we did not see the glaciers… However, we met a group of 3 guys, the only ones on the trail. One English man that had been travelling for 8 years in a row, one crazy german guy, Oscar, who had spent the past 6 months in a tent , the only human being that I’ve met that claims to actually have seen a wild kiwi one night he was camping in the woods, and A., the cutest English man I had the opportunity to meet! They stayed at our hostel then and it is one of the best nights we had on the trip! That’s when I started to understand how amazing it is to meet people on the road, people you are going to share your entire life story and all your dreams with for just one night, wake up the next day and leave without a word of goodbye and later realize you don’t even know there names. These nameless people are the ones I remember the best. And Oscar and his rainbow world of course…

We were staying at the Chateau Backpackers, hostel that we only picked because of its name. Very cheap, free soup, what more could we ask for? The dorms were very basics, although we did have a girls only dorm, but it is one of those hostels were you just feel at home. Very homelike kitchen where they serve free soup everynight, they also have a ounge room with a huge flat TV screen and tons of DVD to borrow for free. Of course we watched the Lord of the Rings, with some free pop corn offered by the hostel for those who want to spend some time watching movies. There is a room downstairs that I called the Fire Room, with obsviously a fire and stuff to hang your wet clothes, and sofas to have a read while warming up. By the time we arrived that night after the hike in the rain, this room was unapprochable because of the horrendous smell of wet dirty socks…  The manager is lovely, there is a hot tub, there is nothing wrong I can really say about that place. Just go and try it for yourself!

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But, I took a detour by the glaciers once again when my mom came to visit, I would have hated to stay on a failure like that… The glaciers are, I find, a very unusual sight in the rest of New Zealand. I still don’t really understand what they are doing there, but what I know is that they are slowly disappearing. They say slowly but I was astouned by it actually, I think the glaciers decrease by something like 20 meters each year.

One more thing about Franz Josef: Picnics Bakery.

Cheers!

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Pancakes at the Pancake Rocks!

Hello!

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I think from now on I will do the NZ posts on Saturday instead of Friday, I just don’t have the time and the energy after a week of work to do it. Sharing my experience in this country is important to me, so I feel more comfortable doing it that way, taking the time to do it properly.

After the Abel Tasman National Park, we took a bus to Punakaiki, best known as the Pancake Rocks (due to their funny shape FYI), in order to have some fresh pancakes! And pancakes we had, 16 dollars for a plate of two pancakes no less, but the fattest pancakes in the planet for sure…

We had booked a room at the YHA, which is apparently the second best hostel in town. The other one looks very fun from the outside and is located right in front of the beach. However, we chose the Te Nikeau Retreat because it was ‘in the middle of the rainforest”. It is a very different type of hostel, they have (our dreeeeeam if we win the lottery) a bungalow with a glass ceiling to see the stars as you fall asleep, and we loved it. We had a little bungalow that we shared with another 8 people I think. Their was a kitchen, bathroom and living room downstairs, an upstair living room and the dorm in sort of a mezzanine, with the mattresses on a half circle on the floor, to create sort of a sleepover party! We met a crazy English guy, we had already ran into him in the Old Macdonald’s farm a couple days before and had a fun night of board games and scrabble. He told us the craziest stories of the lamas of the old Macdonald being Shamels and miniature poneys for blind people.

They were having some road work in Punakaiki the day we arrived and apparently they had cut open a pipe by mistake, so the entire hostel was out of running water… No showers but thank god, the toilets were working! I woke up in the middle of the night with a strange feeling, something weird on my ankle, it starting itching, then burning and aching, then my head starting going nuts, I started to sweat and when I woke up the next morning I had sort of an egg that had grown on my ankle. Of course, the nearest doctor was out of walking distance. I did not want us to get away from our schedule, so I chose to leave to Franz Josef Glacier as planned with my fucked up foot, hoping I’d find a doctor there…

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But back to the story: Punakaiki! There is nothing more than the rocks in this place, and they are worth seeing I’d say. We took a stroll back to the hostel, which was a few kilometers from the rocks, and we found a huge cave on the way. We got in as far as we could even though we had no lights, it’s only as we were walking out of it that we noticed the sign telling us of all the disgusting gigantic insects hanging on the ceiling…

Someone in the Abel Tasman had advised us to take the Truman track, a little track that takes you to a beach with an amazing rock, where we watched one of the most beautiful sunset I have got to see in NZ.

I’d say Punakaiki is a nice stop on the way to the Glaciers if you are coming from Picton for instance but I wouldn’t spend more than a day really. Check it by yourself:

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Don’t confuse your path with your destination

Hello!

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Penguino ice cream in Nelson

How are things? Fall hasn’t even started and I already forgot how the sky can be so blue and the sun shine so high… Last week, I started the South Island with Picton, and today, we reach Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park.

We took the Intercity from Picton, with no idea really on where to sleep, which I find quite surprising now seeing how organized we were. I guess we must have had a phone problem, or maybe we just got lazy, I don’t really remember. All I know is that we got off the bus in Nelson where we had to spend one night before living to the National Park. There was a lot of people from different hostels with mini vans waiting at the station to pick people up, or see if they could get more customers. We randomly picked The Palace, probably because everything seemed to be free on their ad… I don’t think it was on the Lonely Planet and what a mistake! That was an amazing hostel!! One of the first place that made me really want to embrace the hostel and backpacking life. It is right in the heart of Nelson, a neat little city with lots of shops and coffee places. It is set in an old wooden house and when you get in, it’s like you’re entering your grandma’s house: the carpets, the flowery wall papers, the lamps, the tiles in the bathroom walls, etc. All the rooms have a name, we were in the Cathedral room, where we litteraly froze all night, but we did not mind everything else was perfect! The guy at reception was lovely and so helpful, he advised us to book a kayak experience in the Abel Tasman, which we did.

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The best place to get to the National Park is Marahau: it is the nearest from the start of the trail. We booked the Old Macdonald’s farm, mainly because it is also a lama farm and a little because I confused it with MacDonald’s… It was… definitly a challenge! It was more of a campsite than a hostel, we had a little bungalow with spider webs and I liked to imagine no spiders. The showers, toilets and kitchen were outside,  which made it an ‘experience’ given the temperature…

Abel Tasman is said to be the sunniest place of New Zealand, and I believe it. What a weather we had! We went on a hike in the park the first day and on the second day we started with a kayak tour to see the seals. They are such fun and cute animals, they swim around your kayak, play with your paddles and one even jumped on top of the kayak to pose in front of us! We had lunch on the beach, which seemed like a good idea till I realized the sandflies were upon me. I had shorts on so no other options than leaving as fast as possible. I know too well how sandflies can ruin a trip so not risking it again. I was a bit mad at the kayak company for taking us there when I realized the beach was called ‘sandfly bay’ but anyway, we did the way back walking, taking the sun and the view, chatting and laughing.

Cheers!

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Marahau

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extreme cooking

extreme cooking

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Warm me like sunlight and soothe me like rain

Hello!

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Just realized the meaning of TGIF… I am so happy that I finally have the opportunity to talk to you about Picton! Yes, because I have chosen to do a weekly post about NZ, starting from the top travelling all the way to the south – if you haven’t noticed – but really, what I wanted was to start with my beloved Picton.

E. and I loved it at first sight, the village feel, the people and of course, the beauty like we’d never seen before thrown to our face on the sunniest day of the trip so far.

What made our stay even better, and I will start with it, because really, if just for three nights, it became our true home, the best stay we had in NZ by far: Tombstone Backpackers. Lonely Planet recommend it because being accross the street from the village graveyard, they chose to play along and made the whole place on a ‘grave’ theme. But it is far more than that! Gordon and Lynne will become your grandpas, will take care of you, drive you around and Lynne will bake you some fresh cheese scone every morning, for free! The house is lovely, the dorms are cosy (hotel quality), there is a hot tub with a view on the harbour, a giant flat screen TV with the cosiest couches ever imagined. They have a lounge room with books, some colorful parrots and last time I went, they also added some free wifi!! Make sure to book ahead because they get busy all year round.

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I also want to mention the Picton Village Bakkery: have a muffin, or a pizza, or a cookie, or anything you’d like it’s delish!

When I went there in May, it was so sunny, we first went on a stroll from the village, towards Bob’s Bay. It was an easy walk among the bushes, till you reach a little beach. You have to climb up then, but the view is definitly going to make you forget your burning thighs.

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As it was very sunny, we booked a cruise, which was expensive but it was a fairly long one so we did not regret it! We were hoping we’d see dolphins as they come very often in the Sounds but we did not… The cruise we took was with BeachCombers, who also take care of the mails of the few people living the Sounds. Just a few houses scattered here and there, that can only be reached with boats. People come down to their piers when they see the boat arriving, usually they have their dogs with them so the driver makes sure to have enough treats for each of them. As soon as they hear the boat you can see the dogs running to the pier and get over exited for what they know will come.

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When my mom came over, in December we weren’t as lucky and the weather was really bad. Grey and rainy, yet we decided to go on a hike in the Queen Charlotte Sounds. We took a water taxi to Ship Cove, same water taxi that came to pick us up from the next point. I can’t remember exactly how long was the hike, it was more than 10K but it is fairly easy because we really aren’t hikers.

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So what did you think of Picton? I know it was a lot of pictures… I tried my hardest to get it down to the smallest amount of it but it was just impossible to pick for so many of them bring back so many good memories. It hurts a tiny bit now, to look at these pictures. To think that one day not so long ago I was there, I was seeing Picton for the first time and still had the belief that soon I would be able to stay a few months in that place. Now I know it was just a hopeless dream but some mornings, as I’m driving to work with the grey sky and the rain, I like to remember Picton, the sunny sky and the pure air.

Cheers!

M.

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