Te Hapu Farm- My Favourite Place in New Zealand

IMG_1502Whenever someone asks me where my favourite place in New Zealand is you might think I’d say Wanaka with it’s beautiful lakes and mountains, or maybe the Coromandel with it’s long, white sandy beaches. I used to find it hard to decide where I liked best, but that was before I stumbled across Te Hapu Farm in the Golden Bay. But you won’t find this place in the Lonely Planet Guide Book, and it was by complete luck that I found it myself.

Last October I’d been looking for places to do some Wwoofing when I came across hosts, Sandra and Ken, who own a thousand acre sheep shearing and beef farm along with some holiday cottages. The farm lies on the North West tip of the South Island, in between the Kahurangi National Park and the Tasman Sea, right on the coast.

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The Isthmus Peak Track

I wanted to share one of the best and most beautiful walks I did while I was in New Zealand, the Isthmus Peak Track.

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It was around this time 2 years ago I was living in Wanaka for the ski season. My boyfriend, Chris, had started pre-season work at Cardrona Ski Field, but I was jobless and struggling to find work.

So one morning, I decided to get out of the house and go off by myself for a hike, hoping it might make me feel better. After a bit of research I decided to do the Isthmus Peak track, a 16km day walk that takes you up to a 1,385 metre summit. With the sun out and barely a cloud in the sky I left Wanaka and drove 30 minutes to Lake Hawea and the start of the walk.

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Asia Can Wait

Before I went travelling I had a plan, and that plan started with New Zealand. There was just something about the country that attracted me to it, the natural beauty of the place, the mountains, the unique landscape, the people, I couldn’t wait to get over there and see it for myself. I also thought New Zealand would be a good starting point for someone like myself who had never travelled before. The culture wouldn’t be much different and there wouldn’t be a language problem.

From here the plan was to step it up a bit and go to Asia, do some ‘real’ travelling as I thought of it. I thought that after 2 years travelling around New Zealand I would be craving something a bit more adventurous, I would want that extreme culture shock, to be put out of my comfort zone and experience crazy things. And this is exactly how I feel! But I didn’t follow the original plan and instead, I went to Australia. Continue reading

NZ Tax Back, Do It Yourself!

pile-of-new-zealand-money-keyimagery_29684_350x350If you’ve been in New Zealand for a working holiday, and only worked for parts of the year, you can be pretty sure you’ll be due some tax back. And when it comes to claiming that tax back, it’s really not that hard. You don’t need to have a degree in accounting, there’s no secret password, really anyone can do it! That’s why it frustrates me so much to see all these tax back companies targeting backpackers, and charging a fee for their services. Continue reading

A Look Back: Wanaka, Queenstown and Glenochy

The other day I spent some time looking through photos from my time in New Zealand. I was happily flicking through them but it was when I got to the album titled ‘Wanaka, Queenstown and Glenochy’ that I couldn’t help but stop and look at each photo again and again, thinking about where I was and what I was doing when each one was taken. I was filled with a complete sense of nostalgia, I think I’d somehow forgotten just how beautiful this part of the world is.

But looking at these photos has brought it all back to me. Arriving in Wanaka in May 2012 for my first ski season, hiking up Mount Roy, camping on the lake side, the dodgy drive along unsealed roads and through rivers to reach the Mount Aspiring National Park, and taking a road trip from Wanaka, to Queenstown and then on to Glenochy.

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Free to Camp Where You Want

1Freedom camping. What a great way of saving money while you explore a country. All you need is a campervan style vehicle, some food, money for petrol, and you’re good to go!

When I was in New Zealand I freedom camped my way around the whole country, determined not to spend a penny on accommodation. There was the odd occasion where I chose to stay at a low cost campsite, but overall, I must have saved hundreds of dollars. Continue reading

Guide To Becoming a Kiwi Ski Bum

It’s that time of year again. All the ski fields around New Zealand have opened up their online applications and people are 1378572_10153297332665532_1556245225_nfrantically applying for that all important mountain position that will give them the chance to spend winter as a glorified ski bum. And why wouldn’t you? Free ski pass, free ski leasons, cheap seasonal rental, 50% off every other ski field in New Zealand, it makes a very expensive sport suddenly become very affordable. But the problem, like I said, is that everyone is applying. You’ve got backpackers, local Kiwis, people who are currently skiing in Europe or Canada and do back to back seasons, literally thousands of people.  And don’t forget about all the returning staff. At Cardrona Alpine Resort in Wanaka they usually have as much as 70% returning staff each year, not leaving too many new positions.

1450232_10201716312322203_760281048_nI spent two winter seasons snowboarding in New Zealand and was lucky to get a job at Cardrona. The first season I applied it was a bit of a stressful process but I managed to get my foot in the door as a cleaner. Then when I returned for a second season I was guaranteed a job and able to work as a lift operator. Here’s what I learnt from the process: Continue reading

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