Samoa, It’s All About the People

If you travel all the way from the UK to New Zealand it seems silly not to take the chance to go to a South Pacific Island at the same time.  After doing a bit of research I decided that Samoa seemed like a good option.  The country’s two main islands appeared easy enough to travel around and the flights, although not cheap, are cheaper than Fiji.

Chris and I arrived into Apia, Samoa’s capital, at 9.30pm on a Tuesday night.  As we stepped off the plane and were hit by hot humid air we smiled at each other.  Finally some hot weather! We collected our bags and went out to the arrivals area expecting to be met by a Kiwi man, Dennis, who would drive us to his accommodation.  However, Dennis was nowhere to be found and instead, there was a row of Samoan taxi drivers all fighting for our attention. Continue reading

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Taking a Walk on the Wildside

A few weeks ago Chris and I had just finished our second season working at Cardrona Alpine Resort.  After being in the the same place for over three months we were both pretty eager to get back into the car and do some travelling again.  Also the thought of being unemployed for a while was very appealing.

Our first stop was the Wildside Backpackers in Hari Hari on the South Island’s West Coast.  We weren’t going there as guests, but instead as WWOOFERS.  This would be our first WWOOFing experience.

Arriving

We arrived at the Wildside to be greeted by Dan, a friendly guy sporting a long beard and mullet.  He directed us past his house and into his work shed instead.  It’s hard to imagine what this place is like.  It was full of all kinds of tools, machinery, wood work, metal work, three motorbikes, a pool table and a large newly varnished table.  Dan cracked open a few beers and started talking, pointing out his various projects around the room, along with the table he’d made that was going to sell for $2,000.  “She’s a good life,” he’d keep saying, “she’s a hard life but a good life.” Continue reading

Whale and Dolphin Safari

While living in Auckland I went out on a dolphin and whale safari into the Hauraki Gulf.  Out of the various tourist traps I’ve got myself into this one is definitely one of the better ones.  Saying that I did get to go for free, one of the perks of working in a restaurant in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour.

WWOOFing in New Zealand

Silage

When you’re travelling around a country such as New Zealand it’s easy to feel like you’re following the same tourist trail as everyone else. As you drive along the roads reading through your Lonely Planet Guide Book there’s countless signs pointing to waterfalls, viewpoints, historical sites etc etc.  And if you take the time to stop and check these things out, you’ll usually find you’re just one of many trigger happy tourists snapping away on your camera.

Usually the best experiences you can have are the ones that get you off the beaten track and spending time with the locals.  With this in mind I decided to sign up with WWOOF NZ.  The organisation stands for ‘Willing Workers on Organic Farms’ and gives volunteers the chance to stay with Kiwi families and experience their way of life.  The types of hosts you can stay with are vast from large organic farms, to small family gardens, to vineyards.  And it’s not always strictly organic, there’s also a section for Cultural Exchange hosts meaning you can find all kinds of weird and wonderful hosts in the WWOOF database. Continue reading

Time To Start Writing

Me and Chris

Me and Chris

22 months ago I decided to leave home in Northern Ireland and go travelling to New Zealand.  I’ve never really known what it is I wanted to do with my life career wise, all I know is I’ve always had a desire to travel and see what else is out there.  I’m not one of the many Irish who leave home, looking to move to the other side of the world and expecting the grass to be greener.  For me it’s all about seeing different places, experiencing different cultures, and at this point, I still expect I’ll be home some day.

Since arriving in New Zealand I’ve done so much.  I’ve waitressed in a busy Auckland restaurant, tried my hand at orchard work, and spent two ski seasons as a snow bum.  When I wasn’t working my boyfriend, Chris, and I were travelling around the country freedom camping in our car.  It was our goal when we arrived to see as much of New Zealand as possible and in a bit of depth.  I didn’t want to be one of these people who work in Auckland for ten months and then book onto a tour bus and rush around the country in six weeks.  And I’m pretty sure we’ve achieved this, maybe even overdone it a little!

My only regret the whole time I’ve been here is that, other than the odd Facebook status here and there, I haven’t written down any of my experiences.  When you’re travelling the weeks very quickly run into one another and before you know it, half a year’s gone by and, other than hundreds of unorganised photos, you don’t have much to remember it by.  So I thought I’d give blogging a go, to share my experiences and remind myself of what I’ve done.

Vicki Larkin