Great Barrier Island Magic
Typical scenery - Leaning Pohutukawa, white sandy beach and blue water
The other day someone really close to me asked me what my favourite feeling is. This may sound like an odd question but it is actually a really good question. Is it a hot shower on a cold day? Beautiful food when you are really hungry? Seeing loved ones again after being apart? The spring sun on your face after a long winter? To every person the answer would be something different.
After thinking long and hard I came up with my answer: It is the moment I step off the plane in a new country about to embark on a new adventure. Not knowing what tomorrow may bring, not knowing where I am going to sleep that night, what interesting people I might meet. What new things I might learn. The new smells and the different air that greets you just as you step off that plane. The air of excitement, adventure and new beginnings. And it was as I was talking about this feeling that everything started coming back to me. Kayaking among sea lions in glazier waters in Alaska, being face to face with a rhino in Africa, taking the slow boat down the Mekong in
Stop and smell the roses....
Where else do you get tracks like this?
Laos. And I realised that it has been six months since I have been back from my amazing trip around the world and quite frankly it seems like a life time ago.
The last comment on my Laos blog is from my good friend Steve who asks: Vicki, how are you going to hold on to all those amazing experiences when you get back into the rat race? At the time I remember thinking that how can I ever not hold on? However, the reality is even the strongest memories fade over time.
So, I decided that just because I have a job and a permanent address it doesnt mean that my life has to be without adventures and excitement. This is when I decided to write a blog about my adventures in what some people call a normal life. I chose to use my travel blog as no where have I felt more alive than when writing stories about my adventures to you.
And dont despair my dear reader. This story contains almost as much drama as any intrepid travel story, from tropical diseases to love and hardship. Got your attention?
This story starts with
Kath & Me
Managed to borrow the bride for a second. Isnt she stunning?
my favourite feeling: I stepped off the plane and took a deep breath, not of that new exciting air but off perhaps the cleanest and most familiar air that is: New Zealand. 8 months, 17 countries and a lot of money spent later I once again step foot on the green green grass of Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud. For once, the feeling of excitement of the familiar was just as real as the excitement of the unknown. I was home. I was going to see all my friends soon again. And barely had a landed before I was back in very familiar form again: Chopping down my favourite lager (Export Gold in case anyone should wonder) while singing ABBA songs at my mate Brett's 40th wearing an Elvis costume (as you do).
Two days later I found myself embarking yet another plane, this one headed for Akaroa, on the beautiful Banks Peninsula by Christchurch on the South Island. This place is truly one of the little gems of the world. Akaroa was settled by the French and still bears a lot of the atmosphere of a small French village. Perfectly nested in a sheltered bay with
the greenest hills as a backdrop, this place is truly magical. After settling into the local backpackers (felt good to be in familiar surroundings again) I headed for the big tramp I had been looking forward to. A six hour circuit around was going to take me up over the saddle to the tip of local mountain and back into town. It was a beautiful sunny morning as I headed up through sheep paddocks (yes, a few wrong steps here and there) to the summit. I think this walk was exactly what the doctor ordered. The solitude and splendor of the landscape reminded me that the grass is not always greener elsewhere. Some times the most beautiful places in the world are just in your backyard, you don’t actually have to travel that far. I guess after coming home from such a long journey there is always a certain sadness that such an amazing chapter of your life is over. So, tramping to the top of the summit and overlooking Akaroa bay, the green hills of Banks Peninsula and the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean made me incredibly happy to be back home.
Kathryn & Nick’s wedding at
a local vineyard was absolutely stunning. It was a beautiful day and the ceremony took place outside overlooking Akaroa Bay. Kathryn looked like a princess and Nick could not stop smiling all day. I had a brilliant day and night and for once resisted the temptation of giving a speech at the wedding. Obviously didn’t drink enough. Thanks again Nick and Kath for sharing your day with me.
Once back in Auckland I was ready to get fit again. My mate, Dearna, asked if I wanted to do the bike part (90km's) of a half ironman for her and even though I only had five weeks to get ready I of course accepted. I treated myself to buying a new bike, a Cervelo Team Soloist (for you fellow bike freaks out there) which of course has become my favourite possession. The event went really well and it felt so good to finally be fit again.
After handing in another paper towards my Master’s Degree I started a new job contracting for Tip Top Ice Cream which is New Zealand’s largest ice cream manufacturer. While it was tough working full time again after 10 months of living it up
Tramping with sheep
On my way up to the summit on Bank's Peninsula
it was fun looking after ice cream brands and marketing to kids again. And to quickly sum up (before the big story) other news from this summer: I managed to bring home a not so wanted souvenir from Africa: Bilharzia - a tropical parasite that lives in your stomach. The good news is that I lost about five kilos while eating litres of ice cream every day not knowing that my little parasite friend was eating all my ice cream for me. Luckily a 48h treatment later I was all cleared and am working hard on putting on the weight I lost again (very hard when you work for an ice cream company ). For Easter, a big group of us went to Great Barrier Island a stunning almost unspoilt island a 4h ferry ride from Auckland where people still use generators and where there is only one shop. What a great weekend away. I also managed to get fit again and compete a few triathlons. My new bike proved to be a magical machine so had a lot of fun over summer. Now I just need to learn to swim and run and I will be away….
Just follow the signs
The last bit of the track up to the summit was pretty steep and I had to get on my knees and crawl up a few times, but it was all worth it
Meanwhile I have deliberately saved the best story for last. My coach, Frank, runs a triathlon series in Auckland where we all help out at the races. My job is to meet and greet all the athletes in the morning and answer questions like: What time does it start? How many laps is the bike course? And where is the start line? So I get to talk to all sorts of people. As this is at about 6am on a Sunday morning I am not always at my best and brightest. So when a guy one morning walked up to me and asked if I had seen Nick (my friend’s wedding I went to) I obviously thought I knew him from somewhere. At the time I was housesitting for Kath & Nick while they were on their honeymoon. We then proceeded to talk about all sorts of things before he went off to race the race. I remember thinking what a lovely guy I wonder how I know him. Anyway, the next day I got txt from Kath (Nick’s wife) to say that she thought I had an admirer as Nick had just got a txt from his mate Tom
The token self-portrait
When you are alone on the summit there is only one way to document the sense of victory of having conquered a mountain: Self-portrait!
inquiring about their housesitter (aka me). For the next month or so I kept seeing Tom at races and we would chit chat. I remember thinking that every time I would talk to him my heart rate would increase which is obviously a sign of something. Kath & Nick kept playing matchmakers. Kath would txt me whenever Nick & Tom had been for ride saying: “Tom asked a lot of questions about you today” perhaps you should give him your number. I was obviously trying to play it cool (but secretly wondering why he was taking so long to ask me out). Anyway, one night he finally asked me out and that is how it all started.
Now five months later I am sitting here on our couch in our home (although technically he owns both the couch and the house ), I cant believe how lucky I am. I never thought I would see the day when I would actually meet someone who would completely sweep me off my feet. Tom is my total match in every way and we both knew when we first met that this was something truly special. But for independent me, it has
A little haven...
On my way down the mountain I walked past this really cool cafe that hall great sayings written on the wall. This one is one of my favourites: "I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific". So true.
been an amazing transformation to meet someone where you can be yourself 100% and where a relationship is so balanced that you can feel independent whilst still looking after each other. But the best thing about Tom is that he treats me like a princess and every time we go out I still - after five months - get butterflies in my stomach. Sigh. Sorry about the last bit of romantic blab but it’s very hard to describe it any other way. On a side note, I later found out, that the whole 'pretending we knew each other' story was of course all just part of the game to lure me in. And it worked :-)
So, I can’t wait for everyone to meet Tom. We are coming to Europe in July for a holiday but also to do the big ‘meet the family’ tour. Tom is English so we are going both to England and Denmark to visit the families and then heading to France for a few days to catch the Tour de France. Unfortunately our itinerary is pretty full on which means that we will only have one day in London and Copenhagen respectively to catch
Kath & Nick
Stunning setting eh?
up with friends. So if you are in London or can make it to London on Monday the 9th of July please tick this date in your diaries. Same goes for the 19th of July in Copenhagen - book your flights/canoes/scooters now to make sure you are there on that date (please). Would be such a shame to miss you. And I am sure that if not for me, then you would of course do it just to meet Tom.
And to continue the line of exciting news, I have finally managed to find my dream job. Whilst contracting at Tip Top, I have been desperately trying to find the right job. In six months there have only been two jobs I actually wanted to apply for and luckily one proved to be the right one. It has always been a dream of mine to have my hobby as my job. To work in the sports industry where you deal with like-minded sports people and have to market a brand that you are truly passionate about. And guess what? I got it. As of 1 August I will be working for ASICS NZ which means that I will not
Group Photo on Great Barrier
Tina & Greg, Sandy & Robyn and Richard is missing (taking the photo)
only work for the best running shoe brand in the world but also a brand that is deeply involved in the triathlon scene which I am so excited about.
So, I guess the moral of this lengthy story is that even if your daily life may not feel as adventurous as when you are traveling, there is an adventure waiting on every corner if you just choose to seize it. I certainly feel that my life has been just as eventful and exciting and happy as when I was traveling. So, who knows what the next chapter brings…
Thanks for taking time to read!
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