Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jan 5th - The Poop Incident

The next morning I made a quick run to the bathroom before getting in the van and driving it out of the campsite. We wanted to get out of there before we had to deal with anymore bugs. John then came upfront and got in the drivers seat and asked me to pass him his flipflops which were down by my feet. So I picked one up, felt something slimy! and threw it back down on the floor. It turns out that I had stepped in poop during my trip to the bathroom and had tracked it into the van and onto Johns flip flops and now had gotten on my hands. Disgusting. John instantly gave up on his sandals while I scrubbed mine off at the nearest petrol station. Yuck.

We drove the winding road through the forrest to the Motueka and stayed there for the night.

Jan 4th - Fox Glacier

After breakfast we headed out for our guided tour of Fox Glacier. They supplied us with hiking boots and crampons and drove us to the base of the glacier. It took us about an hour to get to the actual glacier when we put on our crampons and spent about an hour on the ice before heading back down.

Apparently NZ has some of the only glaciers that are so easily reached that you can drive right up to them. Our guide told us that mostly you have to travel for days off road or fly in to get to a glacier. So we were very happy to have taken the tour.

Afterwards we drove to Franz Josef glacier which was in the next town. We checked out the glacier and then went to the Glacier Hot Pools to soak which was the perfect thing to do after walking on a giant block of ice.

We drove to Hokitika feeling rejuvenated and relaxed and ate lunch on the beach where we first saw black sand.

We then heading to a campsite we found in our camping guide which was a little off the main road. We immediately knew that it was an insect infested area so we stayed in the van and barely opened the doors to go to the bathroom. But unfortunately we had left a back window open and the van was soon full of mosquitos. We stayed up late in the night doused in insect repellent listening to the hum of the mosquitos and waiting for them to show themselves. We probably killed around 20 of them before hiding under the covers in the hot van for the rest of the night.

Jan 3rd - Day of Rest

We had arrived in the area a day early so we spent the day doing laundry, emptying the van to rid it of any stray black flies and repacking it, using the internet and watching movies in the holiday park lounge.

Jan 2nd - The West Coast

We drove back to Wanaka the next day and on the way we stopped at a shooting range called “Have a Shot” where I shot a 22 cal and John shot some clay pigeons with a shotgun.

We ate at Amigos in Wanaka, one of the only Mexican restaurants we’ve seen in NZ, and continued to drive West through the ever winding Haast Pass. Finally we decided to set up camp at Lake Hawea where we paid the registration fee found a spot by the water and got ready to make dinner. Very soon we noticed a hoard of black flies swarm into the back of the van and we couldn’t get them to go away. We tried to reposition the van so he wind could help, we tried lighting our citronella candles, but when the flies started biting us and getting in our food so we decided to bail. We were squishing every fly in sight and driving with the doors open and by the time we got to Fox Glacier we could sleep in peace.

Jan 1st - New Years

In the morning we went for a quick dip in the lake to wash up then headed towards Wanaka. We didn’t like how busy Wanaka was when we got there so we got some groceries and continued towards Mount Cook.

On the way we stopped at Lake Ohau and decided to stay there for the night. Right by a beautiful lake with white capped mountains in the distance and bathrooms nearby. Score! But unfortunately we soon found out that the bathrooms were disgusting and the mens room was full of giant flies.

After breakfast we drove the rest of the way to Mount Cook and on the way we came to a body of water that was a beautiful blue color running off the mountain.

We were worried that it was too cloudy and we wouldn’t be able to see the mountains but as we drove closer the sky was clearing and by the time we had gotten to the end of our three hour tramp we could see everything. What a beautiful walk that was, with a view of a glacier in the distance at the base of the mountain.

Stayed in Twizle for the night.

Dec 31st - New Years Eve

We drove into Queenstown early to get a parking spot since we knew it was going to get really busy. We found a spot along the lake and walked into town to join the chaos. We didn’t stay too long since it was so busy and everything was extremely expensive so we spent most of the day by the van and on the beach.

We didn’t realize how lucky we were until we met some guys in another camper van who had driven down from Nelson because there was rain forecasted for basically everywhere in NZ north of Queenstown.

Throughout the day we went back into town, went to a few different pubs, met a couple of young drunk guys from Oamaru who asked us for a piece of our pizza (which we had gotten for free so we gave it to them) and sat in a park watching a little kid do round offs.

John and I both agreed that even if Christmas in the summer was strange New Years in the summer was kind of great.

We watched to fireworks which were good but short from the center of Queenstown madness where we saw girls dressed in barely any clothes, a fight broke out right next to us and there was barely enough room to stand. It took us almost 2 hours to get back to Moke Lack and were so happy when we could finally close our eyes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Zealand Road Trip

As you may know John and I left Dunedin on the 27th of December to travel New Zealand in our camper van until our outgoing flights from Auckland on the 7th of February. During this time I (Katie) kept a journal, mostly just to remember exactly where we were and when and also our thoughts of some of our experiences.

Here is a revised version of my entries...Read from the bottom entry up

Dec 29th - Moke Lake

We spent the morning in Te Anau in the park by the lake tossing the nerf ball around before packing up the van and leaving for Kingston. We ate lunch there by a lake, there wasn't much else to see so we drove the rest of the way to Queenstown where we had planned to be for New Years. On the way we passed a couple traveling NZ on a tandem bicycle! So awesome.

Once in Queenstown we took the gondola up to the luge. We waited 40 minutes in line since we had paid for the luge already. But it turned out to be worth the wait and did it again. (shorter wait the second time around)

We had supper at a spot called Searle Lane & Social and it was SO GOOD. We recommend the ribeye steak and mashed potatoes if you're in the area!

The best part of our day though was Moke Lake. We bought a book of places to camp in NZ and this was one of the recommended camp sites in the Queenstown area. It was spectacular! It was a bit of a drive down a gravel road but so worth it. We stayed in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains while camping by a beautiful lake. This was probably the most breathtaking spot we camped in in all of NZ. Go there.

Dec 28th - Milford Sound

The drive from the camp site was a beautiful two hours long. The tunnel which opened up to a drive through mountains covered in waterfalls was particularly awesome. We pulled over and got out but didn't know where to point our cameras since everywhere we looked was so beautiful!

We took the Southern Discovery Cruise through Milford Sound which lasted about 3 hours. We helped ourselves to their buffet and hot drinks straight away. We didn't want to get stuck inside when outside was so cool. We bought ponchos when it stated to rain which turned out to be a really good idea since we spent most of the cruise out on the deck where we saw dolphins (my first dolphin sighting ever!), lots of seals, waterfalls and just really great views of the sounds. Even with the ponchos we got really drenched but it was worth it for the view.

We topped off the day with some tennis in the heat when we got back to Te Anau.

Dec 27th - Bluff

It is sad to be leaving Dunedin. We've really grown to love this place and the people here. The last few weeks have been especially great with the constant sunshine, having great times with friends, and just being surrounded by Kiwi kindnesses everywhere we went. We have also heard that when we get to Australia it may be a very different story...
Goodbye Dunedin! I will miss you!

Our first stop, after saying our goodbyes to Struan, Visiting Yoobee one last time and leaving Dunedin, was in Bluff which is the southern most point of New Zealand. It wasn't overly exciting to be honest but it was still cool to know that the next thing south (other then Stuart Island) was Antarctica!

We then took a nice route along the coast to Te Anau where we had a camp site reserved. The closer we got to Te Anau the more spectacular the views became with rolling valleys and hills.

It was our first time trying out our kitchen set up and we were very pleased!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Proposal Pictures!

Thank you Struan for taking pictures!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Engagement Story

John and I are engaged!!!! And here's the story of how it happened...

John and I booked tickets to go to Sydney, Australia about 3 months ago. I knew the plan was to stay with John's friend Struan and see the Sydney sights while we stayed there for a week but I had no idea how much more planning was going into this trip, a trip that I will never forget...

On our last night we took a trip to downtown Sydney heading to the hotel where we (John) had booked a room for the night. I believe he used the words "Backpacker" and "shared" while describing the place to me. But to my absolute surprise we stopped at a very fancy Sir Stamford Hotel. There we swam in the outdoor heated pool on their roof for an hour or so and ran back to our suite in our cosy white robes to get ready to find a place to go for dinner. While we were getting ready to go John called me over to the couch and showed me a video that he had made for me. It was a message of love that John had written for me and he got my parents, my sister Holly, my friends Sarah and Peter, John's parents and his sister Jenny and our friend Ben all to read his words. Thank you to everyone who was in the video, it means so much and was an important part of our special day. I watched it with tears of happiness and love but as overwhelmed as I was with the sweetness and thoughtfulness of my boyfriend...I had no idea what was in store...

For dinner we were (I was) thinking of getting some Italian food but again I was led into another surprise. John led me to a restaurant, Aria, which overlooks the Sydney harbor, the Opera House and the bridge. It was very fancy and everyone was so polite, we had an amazing view while we ate our delicious food which was to die for.

*I should mention that John did a spectacular job at looking normal, calm and relaxed. I suspected nothing out of the ordinary. We had talked about it being a year since we met in Ireland last summer and so I was expecting that all this was a celebration of us and our year together.*

After our amazing dinner John and I walked down to the Opera House for one last view before leaving the next morning. It was a beautiful night with clear skies and a little breeze and we strolled slowly down the walkway that wraps around the opera house. We came to a stop where not many people were around, just a small group of people leaning on the railing. John and I stopped to take it all in once more. We kissed and cuddled while talking about how much we truly love each other and how happy we are.

*My one clue was as we were cuddling I could feel John's heart pounding and I began to suspect...*

John then lead me a little closer to the opera house when John called to Struan! who was sneakily hiding in the shadows waiting for us. He strolled over with a small book in his hand which was given to me. "A Love Story". It was a short story about us that John had written and put together with pictures. As I began to read the story I noticed that the group of people by the railing were walking towards us and...they started to sing! They were an a Capella group and they sang a beautiful arrangement of a song that John and I love to sing along to on the radio; "Marry You" by Bruno Mars (here's a link to the song if you don't know it: )

The last page of the book was a picture of John down on one knee with a ring in his hand which is when John took a knee and asked me to marry him. HOW COULD I SAY NO????!!!!

John had bought the ring in December! And had it when we got to New Zealand and I'm sure was stressed about it after the earthquake in Christchurch. I just can't imagine how hard it was to make sure that I didn't find out about any of this.

I am the luckiest girl in the world. The man I love more than anything asked me to marry him!
John had mentioned that when he proposed it would be a big romantic thing... I really had no idea.

So happy.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Just some pictures of my work space at Cadbury's (and the chocolate bowl I have to stare at all day) and also some pictures of the outside of our flat (and the neighbors cat).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Queenstown/Wanaka Trip

So lots of things have happened since the last post...

John and I found out that we needed a new vehicle because our Nissan Maxima (Jerry) has been acting up. Turns out we need to basically replace the transmission which would cost about triple the amount we actually paid for the car. So we've been keeping our eyes out for vehicles for sale.
We quickly found a white Toyota Previa van selling for the right price. Apparently the owner was leaving town and was in a hurry to sell so we got it and have fixed it but while staying under our budget.
This weekend John and I both had 3 days off for Easter so we decided to set up the new van like a camper van and take a trip to Queenstown and Wanaka.
The trip was awesome, the van worked great and we were blessed with some amazing weather while we were there.
We didn't go too crazy in Queenstown, which is the place to go for the extreme activities (bungy jumping, sky diving, zip lining, etc.), since we'll be going back again probably once summer comes around. We had a great time playing frisbee in the park while enjoying the sight of the misty mountains (LOTR) and going for a bit of a hike by the lake.

We did see some people go bungy jumping which looked terrifying and made me want to do it even less then I already did.
We left Queenstown and took the mountain pass which goes through Cardrona to get to Wanaka. Cardrona was a beautiful climb up a mountain where we had a sweet view of Queenstown and beyond.

We drove through Cardrona which was a very small place but with an enormous view. We were pleasantly surprised to find a spigot to refill out water bottles by the old one room school house.
When we got to Wanaka the sun was shining and there was very little breeze. We made a beeline for the lake and found a giant open park with a perfect view of the water and mountains while we played frisbee.

We had lunch on the beach...

...and then made our way to the Mount Iron Track which is a hiking trail just outside of Wanaka which takes about an hour and a half to do. We took our time and got to the top just in time for sunset.

It was spectacular and we're so glad that we got to see it from such a great view point.

On the way back home we stopped in the Roxburgh Orchard Valley for some fresh Golden Delicious apples. And also enjoyed the rest of our time in the sun at a rest stop off the highway.

Awesome trip all around.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cadbury Factory

I just heard that I got a job that I interviewed for this morning at the Cadbury Factory. I'm going to be working mornings (8:00-1:00pm) at reception and it's supposed to go until December. This is really great news. Knowing that I'm done desperately looking for a job is a great feeling. So glad that I got in with Select Recruitment who got me the interview.

Also John and I went to Aramoana Beach again. We played frisbee and laid on our blanket in the sun. We ate some sandwiches that we brought with us and enjoyed the huge flat beach almost all to ourselves. We saw an awesome seal today and got to see it rolling in the sand on it's back rubbing it's belly with it's fins and watched it hop around the beach. So awesome.