I’m sorry I haven’t written properly about all that we have done lately. But well, as I told you, sometimes being travelling is not easy. And after 5 months travelling, I feel that I need a proper rest.

But, despite all, I don’t want to forget this period in Wellington. Because this city is just amazing. So European! Wellington has a city center, people walking in the street, Wellington has life! Wellington even has night life!!

So after three weeks I feel like I’ve been here forever. I can walk past friends in the street, I can even meet friends to have a coffee!

To sum up: all that we have done in the last three weeks is just enjoying this awesome city as much as we could. I’ve met soooo many nice people!

Me and Marina cooking catalan "panellets"

We even met a catalan guy (hola Ricky!!) who just arrived to Welly with his wife and kid, and we became friends immediately. So nice to find someone who truly understands your view of a certain country! And with Ricky we cooked a typical catalan food for autumn (in Barcelona we would eat this in October…): PANELLETS!

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Panellets

We have enjoyed the Kiwi typical Easter sweet too: Hot Cross Buns. Last year I did them by myself while in Spain. This year I just had to buy them.

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Hot Cross Bun

We also have visited all the city has to offer. The museums are great here! And also the Art Galleries. The best part, without a doubt, is the shopping area: Cuba Street is totally filled with amazing vintage shops. The first day Marina and I were nearly crying. I could spend so much money in those shops!!

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Te Papa museum in Wellington

Anyway, as I said, what I love the most from Wellington is its people: Anaya, Totos, Ricky, Ronise, el Pelos, el Otro, el Perla, Hugo, Laura 2, Andy, Alex, Laurent.

Oh guys! I’ll miss you! You made this weeks in the city just awesome!!

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Windy-Welly or Wellywood, just Wellington.

After all, I’ll miss New Zealand too.

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Finally back in summer.

I had lots of expectations about Golden Bay, and it is truly beautiful. Here the scenery is all about low and high tide, something surprising for me, as the Mediterranean Sea doesn’t have any of them. In Golden Bay everything changes in a matter of a few hours: from brown sand to blue water. All stunning!

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Low tide

So last week we visited as much as the weather allowed us of the Golden Bay (we had been too lucky, so I’m not going to complain for a bit of rain). Wainui Falls, Pupu Springs and towns like Motueka or Takaka. This whole area has to be really touristic in summer, but now it was quite and peaceful. Perfect time to enjoy it!

We also went to visit the Abel Tasman Memorial. For those you don’t know it, Abel Tasman was the first European to reach New Zealand. So we were expecting a quite impressive memorial. But no, it was just a block of concrete. No carvings, nothing. Just a block. A white block. I didn’t even take a picture of it.

We went as far as we could (you can only reach the actual Spit in a guided tour) to Farewell Spit. An amazing track that took us through unexpected views:

 

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walking next to sheeps

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facing the Farwell Spit

For those you thought I wouldn’t dare bringing my dresses to my trip: I didn’t, but I bought new ones here. I thought I could do it without nice dresses, but I couldn’t. Living without a closet is not that easy.

Anyway, I’m not going to start a dissertation about how my luggage is increasing every week, so let’s stick to the traveling topic.

In Collingwood we found an incredible chocolate shop. Hidden in the middle of nowhere, but totally worth a visit if you’re in the area. This was almond cake and white chocolate cake. And it was as delicious as it looks!

 

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Rosy Glow Chocolates in Collingwood

And after so much driving, we decided to stay in Nelson for some days as soon as we saw how alive the city is. Nelson has people walking in the streets and has an actual city center, not just one street. It’s still not a European city, but hey, compared to the hundreds of kilometers we have driven in the last weeks, Nelson is pretty crowded.

So we visited the market on Saturday and enjoyed cheap and yummy blackberries, we ate chicken satay pie, we drank local beers and well, definitely, enjoyed the city for the whole weekend before going to the Marborough Region.

 

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Nelson

 

The route from Dunedin to Queenstown is called Southern Scenic Route. On Monday we did from Dunedin to Invercargill (pronounced “invercago” by the kiwis. Like “chicago” or “avocado”). The route is amazing, truly beautiful.

It was less than 250 kms and it took us around 8 hours to do it, because we had to stop every half an hour to admire some of the amazing places of this country. Nugget Point, Kaka Point, Matai Falls, Lake Wilkie, McLean Falls… And we only did a small part of all the scenery stops! But it was easy to get carried away by the nice walks along the route.

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Nugget Point

We also stopped in Curio Bay, where there are supposed to be penguins. We arrived there with no hope at all after the last three days trying to spot them in different places without luck. But this time it was different. We stepped at the beach and we started seeing those weird yellow-eyed penguins all around! It was so magic! We arrived there around dusk, when there are more penguins. They are so funny! So cute! (just for your information: I’m quite obsessed with those animals since I was a child)

 

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Yellow-eyed penguins in Curio Bay

In Invercargill we had contacted some Couchsurfers to stay with, but we arrived really late and we thought it was too late to contact them. Then another miracle happened: a guy wrote us saying that he had even prepared us dinner, that we had his house waiting for us. We couldn’t believe it. This can only happen in New Zealand, where hospitality is beyond what you can imagine. Dory took care of us for two nights. He is just amazing, pure energy!

So on Tuesday he took us with his car to visit Bluff, the very far south of the country. Actually we were as close to the South Pole as we will ever be. Just 4810 kms!!!

 

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Bluff sign

 

Bluff is famous for its oysters. So, even though I find raw pacific oysters disgusting, we had to try them here. Unbelievable, but they were yummy! And compared to Spain, really cheap! A dozen of cooked oysters was 16 €! So, I like Bluff’s cooked oysters. Hell yeah! We also tried Paua fritter. And well, I’m not really sure if I like it.

 

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Oysters and Paua fritter in Bluff

 

We also did an impressive walk up to Bluff Hill, with stunning views of Stewart Island and other Islands which names I can’t remember.

 

 

Bluff Hill

And on Wednesday it was time to hit the road again. So we continued the Southern Scenic Route until Te Anau (Fiordland), from where I am writing now. On the way to Te Anau we didn’t forget to try Tuatapere’s famous sausages, truly delicious.

Te Anau and it’s surroundings deserve another post. Today I run out of adjectives while we were driving around. So I don’t even know how to start talking about it. Fiordland just blows your mind. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, and probably I’ll never see anything like this again.

We spent the last week in Rotorua until Friday and then in Auckland. It was our last week in the North Island, and I think we did it pretty well.

On Tuesday, in Rotorua, we did one of those touristic things that we had to do: go to eat a traditional Maori hangi. We asked around which was the best place to go and everyone told us about Tamaki Maori Village. It costed 105$NZ (more or less 60 €) and it included the bus to the place, show, dinner. Well, for us was way too touristic. It was nice to see, nice to try it, but I don’t think it was worth it at all. Anyway we had to do it, it was a matter of once in a lifetime.

 

Hangi

On Wednesday we had an awesome present from our hosts: a voucher to do… RAFTING! Incredible! So on Tuesday afternoon we went to river Kaituna and got ready for it. Before starting I was quite scared, well, a lot, but once we were in the boats I realized that I could just enjoy it. And I did. It was sooo much fun!! We went down a 7 meter waterfall!! unfortunately I have no evidence that I was there, so you’ll have to trust Marina and my own word.

On Friday we took a bus back to Auckland for the last time. But before that we had to say good-bye in Rotorua to lots of friends: our dearests hosts Dennis and Catherine, Molly and Jack the cats, Simba the dog, the three cows and Jamon and Fuet the pigs.

 

Me and the cows
Me and the pigs

So on Friday afternoon we arrived back to Auckland. Last weekend in Auckland! After two months it was for sure our last weekend in the city. And we decided making from it the best one too.

On Friday night Marina and I went to the Lantern Festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Really beautiful to see, but incredibly crowded. Anyway, the food was yummy and the karaoke was hilarious.

 

Me and the penguins

After that we went with Marty for some drinks and came home early. Saturday was the market day. We discovered (well done! the last weekend!) that there are lots of markets going every Saturday in Auckland, obviously with kiwi timing: so they close pretty early. We only could make it to the French Market, which was sort of mediterranean food market with lots of things that we have been missing, they even had paella!

Then it was time to say good-bye to our favourite streets. So we went shopping to K’Road and Ponsonby. My collection of vintage dresses has increased again… te he he. And in the evening we went with Marty and Jai to have dinner to a Japanese restaurant and then for some drinks. Every time I hang out with those guys I have the same feeling: it seems I know them for ages. It still impresses me how some people can make you feel so relaxed, so at home.

Sunday was our day to get organized for the trip to South Island. And we went again to the Lantern Festival to see the fireworks. As you all can see, I’ve been very lazy taking pictures this week, but it was really beautiful.

And… well, the last weekend in Auckland was over.

So yes, we are still in Lavender Hill, not for long though!

Today is our last night here and after 8 days we couldn’t be happier about the experience. Tricia and John have been just awesome taking care of us.

After the two days harvesting and distilling lavender, Tricia gave us a day off and took us to some sightseeing in the area. First stop: Mount Eden in Auckland.

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Auckland from Mount Eden

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far from home

Then she drove us to Muriwai, a really nice beach with a gannet colony located close to Auckland and to Lavender Hill.

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Muriwai beach

Our days here, then, have been weeding, cooking spanish food (empanadillas and croquetas again!), eating delicious roasted meats, enjoying the jacuzzi and the company and watching movies. We couldn’t have any complains!

Thanks to Ellen we learned about the anzac biscuits and had the chance to try them. Just delicious!

 

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anzac biscuits

By the way, Marina and I have been talking about the idea of weeding and we have lots of questions. What defines a weed? Why certain plants are considered weed and some others deserve to survive? Actually mint is a weed! Why spinach aren’t weed? Is potato a weed? Uhm. We want to start an organization defending weed. Weed deserves to live! Darwin would be totally against weeding!

One week in our own Farmville and we are already delusional. But hey, not everyday you have the chance to see a lettuce of almost your own height!

 

Me and the lettuce

Tomorrow we are going to another Bed & Breakfast, in the south of Auckland. We’ll keep you all informed!

After almost three months travelling and a month and a half in the North Island of New Zealand, we thought it was about time to save some money so we could go to the South Island properly: renting a camper van. To do it we checked in the Help Exchange website and we found that it wasn’t that difficult to find a place where we could stay and eat in exchange for some hours of work.

So after another weekend in Auckland, when we cooked some spanish food for the guys (empanadillas! croquetas! patatas bravas! coca de trempó!), we took a bus on sunday to Northland again, well, actually just half an hour north of Auckland. In Albany, Tricia came to pick us up and to drive us to Lavender Hill, where we are going to stay for the whole week.

Lavender Hill is a luxury Bed & Breakfast, surrounded by lemon trees, lavender and beautiful gardens. Here Tricia, John and Splash the dog take care of us, treating us like part of the family. We (Marina, a german girl and I) live in their amazing house with a swimming pool and a jacuzzi in exchange of helping with the lavender and gardening.

On Monday it was raining, so instead of working hard, we did our best gardening and cooking.

I decided that it was time to learn how to make a proper pizza. So with the help of Marina, this is my first attempt to “the best pizza ever” (prize hold by Jai currently):

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Marina and Laura's pizza

 

And the german girl, Ellen, did an amazing chocolate cake:

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Chocolate cake

 

On Tuesday as it wasn’t raining anymore, we had to work with the lavender. So, as if we were in actual Farmville, we harvested the lavender field and distilled the lavender to get the valuable oil. It was quite a hard work, but everything is doable if you are with nice company and learning the whole process. And, of course, the idea of the jacuzzi afterwards kept us working! hahahaha! It was totally worth it! Believe me, now I really understand why the lavender oil is so expensive!

 

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Lavender

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Distilling machine

The jacuzzi was not the only reward though. Tricia is an awesome cook, and every dinner is just amazing. Yesterday, after the distilling, was just a feast:

 

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Roasted pork feast

Roasted pork, kumara, potatoes, pumpkin, apple sauce, delicious gravy, chickpeas with butter…. Oh my god! Between the jacuzzi, the swimming pool and the food we feel totally spoiled! Working is not hard at all if you get all of this!

As we worked a lot the last days, today we have a free day. I thought it was about time to write another post in the blog!

In the following days we’ll be here. Next weekend probably in another place working. The more money we save, the more things we’ll be able to do in the South Island and in Australia!

It’s quite weird to be working in this field here. Is the kind of thing that I wouldn’t do in Spain. It’s interesting to see how things have a different value when you’re so far from home. But I’m learning a lot, and that is totally priceless.

The most surrealistic day ever.

Friday 21st was the day of the Big Day Out Festival in Auckland. Unfortunately, Marina and I couldn’t afford paying for the tickets, so we decided to spend the day in the Auckland Zoo.

So we woke up in the morning and headed there, it was finally our chance to see a kiwi!

The zoo was much better than expected. We were like kids, looking at the lions, giraffes, zebras, different kinds of monkeys, kangaroos, turtles… Well, like in any zoo. It’s just that we haven’t been to one in ages!

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Australian Kangaroos in the New Zealand zoo

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Giant turtle

But of course, our main reason to go there was to see a Kiwi. And guys, WE SAW IT! Oh my god! Is the cutest animal ever!!

Kiwis are awake at night, so in the zoo they recreate the night-time so you can actually see them awake. Well, them… In the zoo they just have ONE single kiwi. Poor thing, all alone! I couldn’t take pictures of it, but I assure you that I saw him moving, walking, running and doing holes in the ground. Just so you can see how cute they are:

After that we decided to walk home. Without map, without any instructions. Oh yeah! suddenly I realized that I forgot my cellphone home. So we were without map, without instructions and without a cellphone to call anyone. Moreover: in New Zealand people don’t walk, just drive to places, so there was no one in the street to ask. And it happened what it had to happen: we got lost. It took us two hours to do something that is supposed to be just half an hour. At the end we were just starving, so we stopped in the first decent place that we found. Big mistake. This was our oily dinner, typical new Zealand style, all fried:

 

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oily food

After a really hard digestion, we found our way home, arround 4pm. And suddenly, surprise! We had tickets for the Big Day Out! (BDO) Jon and Phil from Shihad could manage to give us tickets for it! Awesome!!! It turned out that the guys were trying to call us the whole morning, but of course, I forgot the cellphone home, so they couldn’t reach us and they were already at the festival.

Marina and I did our best to leave the house in 10 minutes, took a taxi and in less than half an hour we were at the festival. Important note: BDO starts at noon, so arriving there at 5pm was pretty late! Keep in mind that the festival ends at 11’30pm!

In the festival the rain started soon, but we didn’t care. We were there! Incredible!

So we saw:

– Wolfmother: sounded good! I need to download their albums.

– Shihad: what can I say? We will never thank you enough for everything! We love you guys!

– Iggy Pop & The Stooges: Awesome. I definitely wanna be your dog.

– LCD Soundsystem: or how to keep us dancing for the whole concert.

– Rammstein: well, we just saw them 10 minutes, but enough to understand why they were one of the head bands of the festival. Impressive show live!

– Grinderman: my dear Nick Cave! After starting the show half hour late they had sound issues, so they re-started the first song three times in front of a completely wet crowd (it was raining the whole festival!). So it was impossible to stay there. Believe me, I tried, but it was impossible. Nick Cave, hope to see you soon anyway!

After the festival, we went home as fast as we could, totally soaked to the bones. And the guys were in the mood to keep doing music. So they started playing guitars, bass, keyboard and even a xylophone. One of those special things that I can’t explain with words.

So what started being a zoo day ended up as the most musical day since we started the trip.

We are incredibly lucky with the people that we meet. Definitely.

It was just a shame that Black Keys cancelled the show for the BDO. But hey, it was a perfect day without them anyway!