From Cali to New Zealand to NC

A lot has changed for me lately- I moved from Cali to North Carolina, I left my job in skilled nursing in search of a hospital career, and I took a 20-day trip to New Zealand.  The months of January and February have gone by in a blur, but luckily for me (and possibly, you), I took a few photos.

Now.  I should explain myself before I begin.  I decided against taking my camera and lenses with me to NZ, because it wasn’t a trip for photography, but for experiences.  I stayed in hostels, and I didn’t want to worry about my equipment getting stolen- anyways, I won’t make any more excuses, I’ll just tell you that you ought to expect the quality of the iPhone 6s lens.  In hindsight, I probably should have gotten a GoPro.  Lesson learned for my next overseas holiday!

To begin, the roadtrip from Cali to NC.

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When in Vegas… take a picture of your hotel.

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Welcome to the Hoover Dam, the least photogenic architectural wonder of the west.

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On the way to the Grand Canyon, there’s the kind of January winter weather I grew up on. 

And speaking of the Grand Canyon…

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The rest of the trip was 75mph, billboard-strewn wilderness.  A quick stopover in Albuquerque, New Mexico to do the most american thing, look at bombs

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…and then on to rest of the journey, all the way to the east coast.

I took a few weeks’ rest in between the move and my trip to NZ, which was perfect, because anticipation is the best preamble to a holiday.

But here we are at last, New Zealand.

—- W E L L I N G T O N  —-

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There was a diving platform in the middle of town in between the docks.  A large crowd would usually congregate and watch the kids and daring adults jump off.  From the top, I think it was about 8 meters down to the water, or about 26 feet.

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Their coffee is incredible.  I still haven’t found a flat white in the States that I enjoy as much as the ones I had in NZ.

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A trip in Wellington isn’t true unless you’ve seen a very competitive intramural rowing match in the harbor.

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According to everyone everywhere, if you’re going to have steak, you had better cook it yourself on a volcanic stone at the table.

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The beautiful Zealandia bird sanctuary with the hospitable Carol and Ryan.

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Drink like the locals, drink with the locals.

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Or, drink with the other travelers.  At my hostel, I met Kelly and Anthony, a brilliant British couple who dedicated a year of their lives to refreshing themselves with travel.

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At the Te Papa Museum, I was impressed with the variety of exhibits, and THE MUSEUM WAS FREE.  Actually, I noticed that all museums seemed to be free in NZ.  It felt right.

Also, at the Gallipoli exhibit from WWI, I cried.  Kiwis, it would seem, have fought so few wars that they have not become desensitized to what war can mean for so many people- the exhibit didn’t only highlight the heroes of the war, but first-time privates, men who fell asleep on duty, and the nurses who cared for the wounded.  This likely was because there was more info available on these particular individuals because they kept a journal, but still, the idea was brilliant, and there was a very human edge to the exhibit.

 

—- H A M I L T O N —-

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Air New Zealand, you had me at kia ora.  I loved walking out on the tarmac.  Made me feel like a celebrity, or the president, or a person on a very small, short flight… all of which work for me.

Hamilton wasn’t the top pick for a lot of travelers, but I found it charming, nonetheless.  The botanical gardens were the best I’d ever seen, and the Waitomo glowworm caves were an hour’s drive away.  And the beautiful countryside!  And the riverwalk!  My taxi driver, Manjit, was delightful- he gave me recommendations for the best Indian dinner in town, which I took advantage of, and told me that when I came to town again, he would have me over for dinner and his wife would make me traditional Indian cuisine.  How could I be unhappy with that kind of hospitality?

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To get the caves, which had been my original purpose in coming to Hamilton, I needed to master a new skill: driving on the opposite of the road.

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Sheep, everywhere.

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200 meters, straight down, into the Lost World cave.

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Glowworms.

From adventure to opulence, to see the magnificent Hamilton Gardens.

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So many different garden styles represented, and if you had an aerial view of the gardens, you would see them all pressed up against each other, in what felt like a maze on the inside.

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I have found my castle.

—- C H R I S T C H U R C H —–

In Christchurch, my I stayed with my friend Julia, a roommate from college.  Julia and her fiancé Greg showed me around town, giving me a tour of local beaches and cool places to eat and drink.

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There’s nothing quite like a familiar face in a foreign place.

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Christchurch also had a beautiful botanic garden, nearly the only thing in the middle of town that hadn’t been wrecked by the earthquake of 2011.

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Beaches and body boarding forever.

—- Q U E E N S T O W N —-

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A haven in the middle of the south island alps, Queenstown was the tourist destination of New Zealand.

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Straight-up LOTR scenery.

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Well, what’s a trip to Queenstown without a little touristy shit?

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Cheers to the best hostel I’ve found yet.

—- W E L L I N G T O N (II) —-

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I returned to Wellington for the last leg of my trip, and spent a few days enjoying the sights that had welcomed me to the country two and half weeks ago.  I was so tired at this point, and having totally lost my voice and coming down that nonspecific sickness, it was good to be in a place that felt comfortable.

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Not one to be accused of staying indoors on a beautiful day, I went to the Wellington Botanic Gardens.

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Steph, one of my roommates from the hostel, tripped about with me in roller blades on the busy wharf and rock-climbed what Wellington claimed was the tallest indoor rock-climbing wall in the whole country.  I was so thankful to have someone so chill to spend the rest of my NZ days with, nevertheless someone who tolerated my raspy non-voice.

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Wellington has THE BEST food and drink scene.

And finally… I did the thing that I needed to do before leaving NZ.

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And just in case you missed it…

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I cannot possibly hold you here any longer, this post has been insufferably long.  But I will add that now that I’m in North Carolina, about to start my new hospital job (success! victory! make your dreams come true!), I miss NZ, but am looking forward to all my new east coast home has to offer me.

Next up, expect mountains, and the beach.  North Carolina style.

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