There’s really no way to catch up on the whole story so far, but this is what I can tell you:
A year ago, I quit my job, secured a working holiday visa and took a one way flight to New Zealand with one of my best friends. You probably already knew that.
I bought a 1993 Toyota Estima Emina, which had been converted into a certified self-contained campervan with a homemade paint job, and Lauren and I proceeded to travel, wwoof, and work for the next 11 months. We’ve gone from the northernmost point of the North Island at Cape Reinga, to the southernmost tip of the South Island at Slope Point, and just about everywhere in between.
We traveled – we climbed mountains, took airplane rides, went deep sea fishing and boating, went caving and spelunking, swam in crystal clear oceans and lakes and murky, steamy natural hot pools. We weathered two cyclones, and slept under the Milky Way, blazing and unblemished by light pollution. We lived out of our van, in cramped parking lots and against beaches and among mountains and in paddocks; it was exactly as glamorous and inglamorous as it sounds.
We wwoofed – everything from becoming macadamia nut harvesters on an old-school organic farm, beating the nuts out of the trees with bamboo poles, raking the nuts from the ground and sorting out sheep poop by hand and wheeling heavy canvas sacks bulging with nuts in wheelbarrows – to serving as personal cleaners and cooks for an art director at Weta, spending our days painting murals on the walls of his art nouveau Wellington mansion in between chores.
We worked – Lauren worked as an au pair for a lovely family in Queenstown, becoming friends with their three adventurous, precocious boys. I sold cherries in a roadside fruit stall (created out of our van), and worked as a barista and cook at a rural salmon farm and cafe.
Now we’re near Queenstown; we’ve gone from having all the time in the world to racing the clock, watching the bright ribbon of this past year wrap up and unfurl into something new, frightening, exciting.
There’s really no way to catch up on the whole story so far. I’m too backlogged to backblog. And that’s okay.
Let’s just start with the most recent story – the one about climbing to Mueller Hut above Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak – and move on to the next, which is when everything changes.