Month Twenty Two, like last month, was spent wholly in my home country of New Zealand.
I was working full-time for the whole month but also managed to squeeze in a lot of fun activities and catch-ups with friends – it turned out to be a pretty awesome month.
My month began with a weekend in Auckland: A dinner catch up with a travel friend who I hadn’t seen in years, visiting the La Cigalle Farmers Market, a hike up Mt Eden, and a couple of drinks in my friend Kurt’s bar. And then something unexpected: I went to see Adele!
She was amazing, of course, but the weather definitely didn’t play ball: more on that in the lowlights below.
Then the next three weekends of the month were spent in different destinations – it has been busy!
I spent a weekend back at my Mum’s in Tauranga, a visit that coincided with my friend Marcelle also visiting her parents. We went to High School together and she organised a big night out in Mount Maunganui which involved dinner followed by (too many) drinks.
It’s always fun to go home to Tauranga but I definitely felt a bit rough on the bus back to Auckland after my big night out.
I headed up to Matakana the following Thursday morning for the Management Team Offsite that I planned and everything turned out great.
We finished early on the Friday and I stayed at my Auntie’s on Friday night. We walked down to the new Vietnamese Food Truck for dinner and had a relaxing evening catching up – it was really nice to just relax after a really busy week.
My relaxation didn’t last long. After spending the morning taste testing local products and basking in the sun by the river at the Matakana Farmers Market, Dad picked me up and then dropped me back in Auckland at the bus station: I was heading to Hamilton for the night to visit my friend Ann Maree and her family.
I always love catching up with Ann Maree and this visit was no exception. We went for a peaceful walk in the countryside near her house then had a chilled night at home. Sunday ended up being tinged with sadness as Ann Maree’s friend Mary’s husband had just died of a rare condition, and we went around to her place to watch her kids while she went shopping for funeral clothes.
Family members came and went while we were there and I just felt incredibly sad for the three young kids who lost their Dad, and for Mary who lost the love of her life, and so young.
It definitely puts things into perspective and made me appreciate being fit and healthy.
My big trip of the month was doing the Tongariro Northern Circuit via a stop in Waitomo Caves over Easter, but as a Cyclone that was threatening the whole country with crazy storm weather was due to hit the evening we were leaving, the trip almost didn’t happen.
Luckily it all turned out to be a massive non-event, diverting course and missing Auckland entirely. The Bay of Plenty had a bit of a battering but all we saw of it was reasonably heavy rain.
We made it to the Waitomo Caves Hotel which was super weird but awesome to return to after so many years away, then the next day we were Tongariro National Park bound!
The weather wasn’t great for our drive to the park, there was a lot of rain but nothing out of the ordinary. No cyclone in sight.
After visiting the famous Chateau in Whakapapa Village and checking in to the Visitor Centre to find out track conditions, we left the rain and finally got some sun in the cute mountain village of Ohakune. In the evening we had dinner at the cozy restaurant in National Park Village, The Station, then had a quiet night at our lodge including another jacuzzi soak. Man, I love jacuzzis.
It rained overnight and I didn’t know if I would get the go-ahead to do the Circuit but luckily I did. And it was just incredible. The absolute highlight of my time back in New Zealand.
I can’t wait to do my next multi-day hike.
The last day of month twenty two I spent visiting my cousins, and cousins kiddies out in Howick, then, on a whim, visiting the Howick Historical Village. I hadn’t been for 25 years (!) and I really enjoyed exploring the historic buildings set up like a village from the 1840s – 1860s.
And that was my month – my last one fully in New Zealand for the foreseeable future.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries visited: New Zealand
- New Zealand: Auckland, Tauranga, Matakana, Hamilton, Ohakune, National Park Village, Waitomo Caves, Te Kuiti, Taumarunui, Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park
Islands visited: No islands this month
National Parks and Monuments visited: Tongariro National Park
Best meal: I LOVED the Veggie burger at Burger Bar in Auckland, in fact I loved it so much that I am going to claim it as my favourite vegetarian burger ever. It is made up of an Indian spiced chickpea pattie with salad, beetroot relish and tzatziki – and pure joy. I also had another amazing veggie burger this month – the crumbed mushroom and blue cheese burger in a black bun from Fokker Bros in Auckland, and I have to mention the Apple tart from Matakana Market Kitchen – so damn good!
Worst meal: Butter chicken pie from Bakery in Taumarunui – sloppy and weird tasting.
Best craft beer: Alcoholic Ginger Beer from Zeffer Cider Co. This Ginger beer is made with fermented ginger root and spiced with Kawakawa leaves, giving it a real kick. It is super spicy and the best alcoholic ginger beer I have ever tasted.
- Mt Eden Summit via the Domain in Auckland, New Zealand 5 miles/8km
- Mount Maunganui loop walk in Tauranga, New Zealand 2.2 miles/3.5km return
- Taitua Arboretum Hike from Dinsadale in Hamilton, New Zealand 4 miles/6.5km
- Tongariro Northern Circuit – Whakapapa Village to Mangetepopo Carpark 24.2 miles/39km over 3 days
Reading: I haven’t read anything this month because I have been so busy but definitely looking forward to getting back into it in month twenty three.
Watching: 13 Reasons Why. This controversial show had me hooked from the first episode. The show is based on a book of the same name about a teenage girl who commits suicide and leaves 13 tapes – one for each of her bullies – that explain why she did it. I do think that teenagers that are suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts should stay away from the show, but I can definitely see how it can help high school students see that their throwaway remarks and behaviour can be really hurtful. It was a very full-on show but it was just magnificently done.
Getting to see Adele
Just two days before the concert, I had no idea that I would be going to see Adele. Luckily for me, my bestie Kurt was suffering from a serious case of FOMO and booked tickets last minute. He didn’t want to go by himself so he got me one too!
Our seats were amazing – only about 50 metres from Adele, and the concert was so good. She played all of my favourite songs except for Turning Tables, along with some new ones. And she talked, and cried, and was just a real person. I have never been a massive Adele fan and I would never have gone if it wasn’t for Kurt, but I am so glad that I did.
Mini High School Reunion in the Mount
This month has been awesome for catching up with old friends that I haven’t seen for a while, and my night out in Mount Maunganui was basically a High School Reunion. I loved seeing my old friends, a few friends of friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and letting loose for a night of fun. After dinner at Taste of Asia, we hit the Mount’s best bar – Astrolabe – for drinks and live music.The hangover the next day was worth it.
Offsite in Matakana
The Management Team Offsite that I planned took place over two days in Matakana and went off without a hitch – and it was actually pretty fun.
The catering was delicious, the accommodation was perfect, and the wine tasting and dinner I had organised in Matakana Village was a lot of fun – we tried some great local wines, stuffed ourselves with three courses of delicious food at one of my favourite restaurants in New Zealand – the Matakana Market Kitchen – and sung along to a talented work colleague who managed to get his hands on a guitar. Even the minute taking wasn’t too bad.
Returning to the Waitomo Caves Hotel
Our night at the historic Waitomo Caves Hotel was like a trip back in time for both me and Dad. Dad was the General Manager for 15 months and I was a Hotel Receptionist there – my first full time job.
This was 15 years ago now and we hadn’t been back since and the crazy thing was that it looked almost exactly the same. We had a drink in the bar, dinner in the restaurant, I soaked in the jacuzzi (that wasn’t there 15 years ago!) and just wandered the halls – it felt like I was 19 years old again.
Hiking the Tongariro Northern Circuit
Even thought it rained on and off the whole three days – the landscape I hiked through on the Tongariro Northern Circuit was just unreal. I saw numerous waterfalls, rainbows everywhere I looked, scrubby plains, snow-covered volcanoes, lakes of highlighter hues, pristine native forest and incredible views.
I met some cool people, loved the hut life (well, most of the time), and physically nailed the hike itself – something I was worried about as I haven’t done much exercise lately. Life changing.
Re-discovering Howick Historical Village
I love historically recreated villages. I’ve been to a few of them now in a number of countries, but the Howick Historical Village is one of the first that I ever went to. I loved going there as a kid but it has been many, many years since I was last there.
So it was time to go back. The village is set around a tranquil duck pond and has so much information to read about the buildings and who used to live there that I ended up spending a few hours there, walking around in the sunshine. It was great.
Re-newing my connection with New Zealand
With all the crap that is going on in the world right now, I am just so proud that I am a Kiwi. I know that New Zealand isn’t perfect – nowhere is – but I love the compassion, kindness and humbleness of Kiwis and I have thoroughly enjoyed being back in a place I feel a sense of belonging in – more than anywhere else in the world.
And it is just so stunningly beautiful to boot. I love this country so much and am looking forward to living here again in the near future. How could I not?
Booking some exciting trips
I am so freaken excited about my travel plans for this summer. Because I got such an awesome job that paid well for the two months I spent in New Zealand, it means that I have extra money to spend so, of course, I am spending a large portion of it on travel!
I have booked two weeks in Canada in June to the Rockies, Vancouver and Salt Spring Island, then three weeks in Europe – UK and Malta – in July. It’s going to be a really fun summer!
Getting back from Adele in the rain
You know the saying when it rains it pours? That was definitely the case when I was at the Adele concert. It had been raining on and off all day but had cleared a couple of hours before the concert started and we thought we were safe.
But then, literally as she came out and started singing, the heavens opened and it just poured and poured. Non-stop. For three hours. We didn’t have any cover and quickly got soaked and cold, which wasn’t a massive deal when she was singing as the show was so amazing.
But then we had to get home and my God was it a bloody nightmare. It took ages to get a bus, and I was just generally miserable. That’s why I don’t generally go to big concerts or festivals any more – I just can’t deal with the traffic and long wait times when the event finishes, and having to do it all in torrential rain just made the whole the situation pure hell.
The worst timing for a Broken Camera
So my camera decided to stop working on me the day before I began my three day Tongariro Northern Circuit hike. Ironic timing. Luckily my new phone has a pretty good camera on it and I managed to get a lot of great pics still.
I am waiting to get back to Denver to get someone to fix it so fingers crossed that it won’t cost too much (and that it can be fixed).
No one likes being sick and I am no different. It’s especially bad when you have a couple of very busy weeks planned – in both work and life – meaning you just have to get on with it despite feeling stuffed up, headachy and with a throat like sandpaper.
Luckily my cold didn’t turn into anything worse but I was definitely not feeling myself for the better part of two weeks. Not fun.
Still not losing weight
I think it probably has to do with my age and the fact that I haven’t had time to do much exercise, but I haven’t managed to lose any of my holiday weight despite eating healthy during my two months in New Zealand.
I am looking forward to having more time to exercise once I get back to Colorado and I am determined to stick to my (mostly) healthy eating plan so hopefully I can shift my extra weight (and fit into all my clothes again) soon.
Overly full hut on the Tongariro Northern Circuit
The Oturere Hut – the second hut on the Tongariro Northern Circuit – definitely has the most beautiful setting but it is WAY too small for the amount of people it sleeps.
And the night I spent there, the hut was full, taken up mostly by a family group of twenty, plus about six campers and three young German girls who got lost hiking the one day Tongariro Crossing. To say the hut was full would be an understatement.
The kids in the group were like regular excited kids – loud – so I retreated into my bunk room pretty early to get some peace, a few of my room mates were on the same page and we chatted in the room instead. It wasn’t a terrible night but it certainly wasn’t peaceful, and that is the experience I was looking for.
Ouch – pretty high this month considering I have been mostly staying in one place, and not paying for rent or groceries. Having to get big spend items like a new passport and a new raincoat definitely pushed my spend over the mark.
I mostly stayed with friends and family this month again with my only accommodation expense being a couple of nights in huts on the Tongariro Northern Circuit.
Food and Drink $416
Pretty high this month – I may have gone a bit crazy with a number of restaurant visits, a couple of biggish nights out, and groceries for my three days hiking the Tongariro Northern Circuit.
- Raincoat $171
- Underwear $35
- Summer dress $23
- Heel boots $18
- Stockings $10
Not the cheapest month for clothing but other than a couple of things I need to buy once I’m back in Denver (a dress to wear to a wedding, a new hoodie), clothing costs should be a lot lower next month.
- Parking in Auckland $2.50
- Return bus Auckland to Tauranga $10.50
- Taxi home from Mount to Papamoa $48
- Return bus Auckland to Hamilton $19
$11.50 Howick Historical Village Entrance
- Toiletries $13.50
- Charity $38
- Business cards $41
- Passport $127
- Passport Photo $14
- Phone top up $28
- Outdoor gear (hiking socks, travel umbrella, poncho) $42
- Batteries for head torch $5
- Toiletry bag $14
What’s in Store for Next Month
The first week of month twenty three will be my last week in New Zealand before heading back to another former home of mine: Sydney, Australia!
I’ll be in Sydney for three nights, staying with one of my closest friends Beck up in the lovely village of Mona Vale on the Northern Beaches. We have plans to go see an Old Skool Aussie band on the Friday night then likely there will be Farmers Markets, delicious food and beach time for the rest of my stay. And lots of catching up of course.
Then I will be flying back Stateside.
I am so excited that I will be seeing Toby soon after two and a half months away from him. And his family. And the kitties. Just the thought of being back in Colorado makes me smile.
The rest of month twenty three will be wholly spent in Denver where we have a couple of housesits booked, a family wedding, lots of Karaoke and Board game nights, and lots more Denver exploration.
There are so many hiking and biking trails, breweries, and restaurants to try and May will be the month to do it!
To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here