Month Sixty-Seven was not as travel heavy as the previous month, but I still had a busy one and moved around a lot.
I started the month in Papamoa at my Mum’s, where I got some last-minute presents, watched Christmas movies, decorated the Christmas tree, and made a whole lot of Christmas cookies.
On Christmas Eve we drove to Waihi Beach where we spent the next three nights celebrating Christmas with my Step-Dad’s family. As usual, it was a whole lot of fun and included lots of over-indulging in Christmas treats, beach walks and swims, and cricket on the reserve.
From Waihi Beach, I spent three nights back in Papamoa beaching, and hiking Mauao, then took the bus to Hamilton to spend New Year’s Eve with one of my besties.
To celebrate the New Year, we had a party at her house, making a couple of different cocktails and laying out lots of nibbles. On New Years’ Day we spent the day in Raglan, swimming at the beach and exploring town – a great start to 2021.
After a night in Auckland, my brother and I flew to Great Barrier Island for a week, where we soaked in hot springs, hitched around the island, did a three-day hike, and hung out at the beach.
I flew back to Auckland for three nights then flew down to Nelson with my Dad for a week, staying at Dad’s business partner’s house again.
I did pop away for one night to Kaiteriteri, to visit a new friend that I met the previous month on the Abel Tasman track and to meet her family.
The last three nights of the month I was back in Auckland, spending one night at my Dad’s then house and fish sitting for my bestie for the last couple of nights.
Countries Visited: New Zealand
Places Visited: Papamoa, Waihi Beach, Hamilton, Raglan, Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Nelson, Kaiteriteri, Motueka
National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: None this month
Islands Visited: Great Barrier Island
Best Meals: Matzo Ball Soup and potato latkes from Federation Deli in Auckland, Margherita Extra pizza from That’s Amore in Auckland, mushroom and blue cheese pie from Toad Hall in Motueka, the hash brown dish I had at East St. Cafe in Nelson.
Worst Meals: Nothing I can think of.
Best Craft Beer: Raspberry & Juniper Sour Ale and Kiwifruit Sour Ale by Mount Brewing Company in Mount Maunganui, and the Doris Plum Sour Ale by Garage Project in Auckland.
- Waihi Beach walk at Waihi Beach 8km/5 miles
- Orokawa Beach trail from Waihi Beach 6.5km/4 miles
- Trig trail at Waihi Beach 5km/3.2 miles
- Mauao Summit hike in Mount Maunganui 4.8km/3 miles
- Papamoa Beach walk in Papamoa 6km/3.8 miles
- Hakarimata trail in Ngaruawahia 4.3km/2.7 miles
- Kaitoke Hot Springs track on Great Barrier Island 6.5km/4 miles
- Medlands Beach walk on Great Barrier Island 5.6km/3.5 miles
- Aotea Track on Great Barrier Island 31km/19.5miles over three days
- Domain and Mount Eden walk in Auckland 10.8km/6.7 miles
- Founders Heritage Park to Centre of New Zealand in Nelson 5.6km/3.5 miles
- Nelson Coastal Walk to Tahunanui Beach in Nelson 9km/14.5miles
Watching: Ted Lasso – someone told me to watch this, even though I don’t like sport, and I am so glad I listened because it was fabulous. It was so nice to see my old home Richmond on-screen too – I miss that place so much.
I also watched and loved Dirty John 2: Betty (did anyone else feel more sorry for Betty than her piece of shit ex?), season three of The Sinner, and Big Sky.
Reading: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.
Posts Published on The World on my Necklace This Month:
Incredible Hawaii Tree Houses That You Can Rent
When I was adding Airbnb options to my 7 Days in Hawaii post, I realized how many awesome tree houses there are in Hawaii, so I created a post with the most interesting, dreamy, and highly-rated tree houses.
My Travel Wishlist for 2021
Who knows what is going to happen this year, but I am hopeful that with the vaccine rolling out, some normalcy will start to return. I put together this cautious list of travel hopes and dreams for this year.
Digital Nomad Life: 2020 in Review
2020 wasn’t the worst year for me and I was lucky that I was able to travel as much as I did – with most of my travels taking place in the first quarter of the year before the pandemic gripped the world. Take a look at what 2020 in travel looked like for me.
How to Become a Housesitter: 10 Best Housesitting Tips
I revamped and updated this post to help you get started housesitting. It includes the best housesitting tips and what you should expect if you are a housesitter.
Christmas Celebrations at Waihi Beach
I spent three days from Christmas Eve with my Step-Dad’s family at Waihi Beach and had a fabulous time. It was great to have my brother there too this time, because when I last spent Christmas there three years ago, he was working.
We ate so well – Mum even made one of my absolute favorite desserts, Brandy Snaps. Along with eating lots of delicious Christmas treats, we played cricket on the Domain and petanque, went for walks along the beach and around town, over to Orokawa Bay and up to a viewpoint over town, and watched Christmas movies.
It was so nice to see everyone again, but Rosie, the family matriarch who died suddenly from a brain aneurysm in October, was very sorely missed.
Starting the New Year With a Day in Raglan
I really enjoy Raglan although I hadn’t been there for a few years, so it was so nice to spend a sunny New Years’ Day there with my friend Ann Maree and her kids.
I was surprised how good I felt considering all the cocktails I drunk the night before, and we made the most of the day, swimming and boogie boarding at the beach, having a picnic at the park, and exploring the shops.
Raglan is definitely on my list for places to live in New Zealand when we move back!
Exploring Great Barrier Island With My Brother
It was so exciting to finally visit Great Barrier Island, an off-grid island north of Auckland. My cousins grew up on the island yet we had never visited, so me and my brother decided to book a trip there just after New Years’.
Great Barrier Island turned out to be even better than I imagined – super friendly and local, and stunningly beautiful.
Along with doing the three-day Aotea Track, which was beautiful although the weather was a bit crazy, we also soaked at the natural Kaitoke Hot Springs, checked out the two main settlements on the island – Tryphena and Claris, visited numerous beaches, and ate at a few local cafes.
I really enjoyed where we stayed, Crossroads Lodge, which was old-fashioned in a good way, with a very friendly proprietress who made us feel very welcome and at home. There was a really cute kitty there too.
I stayed a couple of extra days after my brother left and revisited my favorite beach on the island – Medlands, walked to Okupu/Blind Bay, and went to a local market that was raising money for the church.
I didn’t get to see everything on the island as I didn’t have a vehicle, so I know I will definitely be back, and I’ll bring Toby with me next time.
Lots of Beach Time and Swimming
I got so much beach swimming in this month and that always makes me happy. I swam at Papamoa, Orokawa Bay, Raglan, multiple beaches on Great Barrier Island, Kaiteriteri, and Cheltenham in Auckland.
I’m hoping to get many more beach swims in before returning to winter in Colorado.
A Fun Night Out in Auckland
I tagged along on Eagle Bar’s staff outing where we went to an Amusement Arcade – and it was so fun! There were about twenty of us and we took a private van to the arcade in Newmarket after a few drinks at the bar first.
First we bowled, then we had a payment card each for an hour in the arcade, which had VR games, skee ball, and even bumper cars!
After all that fun we returned to the bar for more drinks and dancing. It was the most fun I have had on a night out in a while.
Visiting a New Friend and Her Family in Kaiteriteri
While staying in Nelson, I escaped for a night to visit my friend Courtney, who I met the month previous on the Abel Tasman track.
Courtney, her husband, and their two kids live a couple of bays over from beautiful Kaiteriteri beach, and I had such a fun time swimming at the beach with them, and just hanging out.
We also spent a couple of hours drinking in the sunny courtyard of Toad Hall in Motueka, talking travel with my Dad, who had come to pick me up.
It’s so nice to meet new like-minded friends, and I will definitely make sure to see these wonderful people again.
Attending the Famous Nelson Market
On my last visit to Nelson I wasn’t there on a Saturday so I didn’t get to go to the weekly market that Nelson is famous for. I really loved attending on this visit, and it was even larger and better than I thought it would be – definitely one of the largest I have ever been to.
I loved all the local food stalls – I bought cheeses, smoked fish pate, poffertjes, local strawberries, and freeze-dried boysenberries and feijoas. There was live music and I even bumped into a friend there.
If I do end up living in Nelson one day, I would love to work at the market – I loved working them in Hawaii.
We Have a New President!
So beyond thrilled that Joe Biden is now our President and that hopefully Trump can’t do any more damage (although I am not convinced yet).
It is definitely a relief to know I am going back to a country that is saner than the one I left.
Bed Bugs on Great Barrier Island
Unfortunately, I had my first run-in with bed bugs in many years on Great Barrier Island. I was covered in bites and damn, they were so itchy.
I’m not sure if I got them at the lodge or in one of the huts, but I did tell the owner of the Lodge and she moved me from my initial room and made sure to do a deep clean on the room I was in.
When I got back to Auckland I washed everything on a hot wash and haven’t seen any sign of them since so that’s a big relief.
Turbulent Weather on the Aotea Track
On my first day on the Aotea track I nearly overheated – it was so hot as we were climbing the last hill to our hut and we had no shelter. I had to keep stopping every five minutes to avoid a terrible heat headache that I could feel creeping in.
Then on our last day, it rained solidly for the four hours we hiked out. Despite wearing a raincoat, poncho and having a bag cover, pretty much all my stuff got soaked, and I felt like the biggest drowned rat.
Night Terrors in Nelson
I’m scared of big houses. I know that is weird but I always feel like someone could be creeping around in another room and I wouldn’t hear them coming to get me until it was too late.
There was a flock of ducks that were living on the property we were staying in Nelson and when I heard them walking past my window at midnight, I was convinced it was a person.
Even when I realized it was the ducks after creeping out into the lounge with the only weapon I had to hand – a large candle in a glass jar – I still couldn’t get to sleep.
Every noise I heard was a possible intruder, and I ended up having to take sleeping pills, finally getting to sleep at 4 am. This is one of the reasons why I want to live in a tiny home. I feel so much safer in smaller spaces.
A Scary Flight Back From Nelson
Man, did we have some turbulence on the way back to Auckland from Nelson. It is only a 90-minute flight but we had turbulence almost the whole time, with a bad bout around the middle of the flight where the flight attendants had to immediately stop service as the plane kept dropping.
I don’t have a phobia of flying anymore but I still get really scared when there is bad turbulence and it definitely made me nervous for the fact that I am flying back to the U.S. in less than a month.
The Insurrection in Washington D.C.
I don’t even know what to say about this except that I am disgusted but not entirely surprised.
I know that not all Republicans, or even Trump supporters, think that it is OK to storm the Capitol violently when they didn’t want to accept that their President lost the election, but the amount of people who participated was shocking to me, and that Trump incited it – just so disgusting.
Let’s hope these people crawl back into the darkness now that their figurehead has been dethroned.
A pretty cheap month overall, although I did manage to still travel a fair bit. I only had one week when I had to pay for accommodation as the rest of the month I was staying with different people. I also cooked a lot so my food costs were down a lot from last month.
My paid accommodation this month consisted of five nights in a single room at the Crossroads Lodge on Great Barrier Island, and two nights in huts on the Aotea Track on Great Barrier Island.
My free accommodation for the rest of the month included four nights at my Mum’s in Papamoa, three nights at my Step-Uncle’s bach in Waihi Beach, three nights at my friend’s place in Hamilton, five nights at my Dad’s in Auckland, six nights at my Dad’s friend’s house in Nelson, one night at my friend’s place in Kaiteriteri, and two nights housesitting my friend’s apartment in Auckland.
Food and Drink $468
I ate out less than the previous month which definitely brought my food and drink costs down.
- Bus from Tauranga to Hamilton $18
- Bus from Hamilton to Auckland $31
- Return Flight Auckland to Great Barrier Island $168
- Flight from Nelson to Auckland $79
- Auckland Transport HOP card $7
- Return ferry to Devonport $7
- Auckland City buses $4
- Toiletries $18
- Hulu $6
- Phone plan US $40
- Phone Plan NZ $16
- Gifts $47
- Notebook $6.50
- Face Mask $7
- Sunglasses $15
- New New Zealand Driver’s Licence $32
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van Costs $0
What’s in Store for Next Month
I’ll be starting the month with a few nights back in Auckland, then I’m going camping at Uretiti in Northland for four nights with friends – I can’t wait!
After that, I will probably spend a week back in Auckland, catching up with friends and hopefully hitting the beach and visiting some of my favorite places in Auckland.
I’m planning to go see my Mum again in Papamoa at some point and maybe go back to Hamilton to visit my friend there again before returning to Auckland in time for Big Gay Out on Valentines Day (so excited!)
And then on the 18th, I fly back to the U.S. I am definitely nervous and sad to be leaving New Zealand, but I am also really excited to see my husband, and my friends and family there once I have quarantined.
The last five nights of the month I will be in Colorado, laying low in a hotel room and adjusting to the cold weather.
To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here