To Sum Things Up – Denver, Texas, New Zealand

Before that last Costa Rica part 2 I promised, just wanted to update on my current whereabouts…in New Zealand! The three weeks prior to coming here I travelled around the States, which was a great experience. On January 11th I set off to Austin, Texas and spent the next three weeks with Joel, a friend I made in Costa Rica, road tripping from Austin to Lubbock to Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs to Salida to Denver, in a very full 1989 Jeep Wagoneer. One of the best road trips I’ve been on, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Joels’ friends who took me in their beautiful homes and were such fun and generous hosts! Big shout out to Kary & Amber and their four pups and Debi and her cat Boo, thank you so much for everything, I had an amazing time. An even bigger thank you to Joel for driving over 1000 miles in a car which has between 10-15 mpg, and taking me to some amazing sites in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, and of course for lots of laughs. In Denver I stayed with my brother Patrick and my future sister Julia. We had great Mediterranean food, a whole plater of Chic Fila, went to the Denver Aquarium (did anyone know they have tigers there??), a huge REI, and the best burger and shake joint! I love you both so much and can’t wait to visit again.

Alright just a side note, I’m on a schedule now for writing blog posts and there is very limited wifi connection for me, but I promise no more wondering where wanderingmaureen is:) I am currently in Wellington, New Zealand, which is the capital and at the very bottom of the North Island. It’s right on the water, renown for being quite windy, and big enough to have fun but small enough to have a heart. It’s gorgeous here, and so are the people! I’ve hardly seen anyone overweight, the age median is much younger than I’m used to, and because of the hole in the ozone layer above New Zealand most folks have a nice glow, but they do have the highest rate of skin cancer here as well. And of course I could listen to anyone here talk all day with their accents. I currently live in a very spacious lofted apartment at the end of one of the most famous and busy streets in central Wellington, Cuba Street, with my roommate Amanda and housemate Constantino. It’s a 15 minute walk to Oriental Bay and Te Papa museum and right near all the shops, restaurants, and bars that are popular in the city. University students are all coming back to school this week so it’s been very lively! This is the windiest city in the world, no exaggeration. Definitely not an easy task walking through the windiest city at rush hour with a surfboard, but I almost recommend trying it just because of the ridiculous looks you will receive.

Geographically, Wellington sits on a strange part of New Zealand. It has water all around it but it is almost entirely harbors or bays, and there is only one decent surf beach, Lyall Bay, an hour from my apartment. A swell hit this week and I’ve been walking everyday to Lyall, which requires me to bring my surfboard and wetsuit on a pretty serious hike up Mount Victoria or through Hataitai park, the only way to get to the other side of the city. I figure if I have the time and energy, why take a bus when I could catch some gorgeous lookouts and go for a hike through New Zealand woods for free.

One morning I was late to meet a friend at the beach and decided maybe I will give the bus a try for the first time. I just missed it and chased after the thing for almost a mile in the middle of the city, 6’3” surfboard flying everywhere and disturbing locals on their morning walk to work, and when I finally caught up to it completely out of breath and knocking on the door, I was completely ignored. Frustrated, of course, I continued knocking louder and asking if I could get on. The driver would not look at me but just stared straight ahead, shaking his head and mouthing the words “no”. I’m still dumbfounded by the whole situation, New Zealanders are almost always SO friendly, and can’t figure out if it was because of my surfboard or not. Apparently that was a rare situation and most bus drivers would let you on, with the exception of it being too crowded for a board. There is some surfer segregation around this town! People look at me like they’ve never seen a surfboard in their life when I walk down the street.

I have been here almost a month in the city doing a pretty laid back photography internship at a gallery. I would have written more but I’ve only been here the whole time and haven’t seen much quite yet, I wanted to update when things got more interesting and they definitely are! My lease is up for the month this weekend and I decided to start my travels around the country now, instead of the end of my internship. It is the very end of summer (like early September back in the States) and I wanted to travel when it was still warm, especially to the South Island which gets cold quickly, and especially the water. Even with a wetsuit, I don’t have a hood, gloves or booties and it’s going to be freezing!

So I’m hopping on a famous chain of the very popular “hop-on, hop-off buses” of New Zealand called the Kiwi Experience bus, and head out on Wednesday, March 5th, and I’m also 18 hours ahead of East coast US time, so it will be Tuesday afternoon over there. I’m more than excited to get moving again, definitely find myself getting anxious staying in one place for too long and knowing how much there is to see. I’m flying home early June, so I have three more months here and doing as much as I can while I can. The next month or more I’ll be constantly moving, the trip is a very minimum of 27 days and I’ll likely stay some places longer than average. If you want to see the route I’m taking around the country check out the map! I’m starting in Wellington and going down to the South Island first then back up north to Auckland and Bay of Islands, and likely hitch a ride or grab a car with some buddies and surf at Raglan, a famous left wave, hopefully see New Plymouth (far west of North Island) and Gisborne (far East) somehow since the bus won’t roll through there.Image

Can’t wait to get wandering, make new friends, have more experiences and see new things!

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