April 20, 2017

Last night was a little cold, but thankfully I had bought a duvet inner and cover just in case I got too cold, so I stayed warm enough. It’s weird that it’s fall here but going into summer in Texas. I set my alarm this morning so I could see the sunrise at the beach (and so I could get going and see everything I wanted to see today.) 🙂 This is what the campground looked like in the morning.

and as I pulled out of the campsite I saw a few big military vehicles camped on the other side of the campground. Which was kinda cool. 🙂

I pulled the car around to the beach but it was cloudy, so the sunrise wasn’t super visible. It was still pretty though!

but the wind was pretty cold and I needed to get going so I didn’t stay for a super long time. From there I went to the place nearby that has the longest place name in the world. 🙂

From there I headed toward Taupo and stopped at a few places along the way to break up the time. First I stopped at this incredible lookout point: https://youtu.be/GEQUhfoW9G0

and then I stopped to see this giant “gum boot” lol. So New Zealand

From there I went to Taupo and enjoyed the view for a few minutes and gathered some more volcanic rocks. It still blows my mind that this place was the top of a volcano!


The lake is 237.8 square miles!

I didn’t stay very long because I needed to keep moving to get to the next place in time for the sunset. On the drive I saw these cool rock formations, I wish I could have gotten a better picture of them!

Got to Ngarunui Beach in Raglan about an hour before sunset and I think that the view when you come over the hill and see the ocean is one of the most beautiful views that I have seen. It really is breathtaking.

I spent the rest of the daylight hours of today hanging out on the beach

people watching

and enjoying the views.

And taking tons of pictures. Obviously. lol.

After the sun went down I headed back up the hill to the car and drove about an hour to Te Kauwhata where there was another place where I could free camp. It wasn’t all that late and I wasn’t tired yet so, after I made sure that I knew where I was going to sleep, I drove to the nearby library and got online for a little while (until they turned the wifi off, dang it.)

I had a little trouble getting comfortable tonight, probably because I wasn’t as tired as last night. Plus there were more people around. But I finally fell asleep and got some pretty good rest.

April 19, 2017

This morning I woke up fairly early and took an Uber to the Apex rental car place to pick up the car. It really is nice to have the freedom of being able to drive wherever I want! If only gas wasn’t so expensive! (It’s around $2 per liter.) This is the car that I rented

I really really enjoy hatchbacks, hopefully that is what my next car will be. 🙂

Once I got the car and got out of Wellington, I stopped at The Warehouse and Pak’n’Save to get food and other supplies for my road trip. From there I headed toward Cape Palliser and enjoyed the scenery (and very curvy roads) on the way.

Also, while I was driving down the road I came up a herd of cows being moved down the road. I asked the person in front of the cows what I should do since I needed to get through and he said that I could go through them, just to go slowly. So that was fun, lol. I was laughing while I did it but they are also kinda intimidating. Here is the video of the cows. 😀    https://youtu.be/MBrqM8foj5g

Parts of the road to Cape Palliser were super rough so in some places I was going 20 kph and I went over a bridge with water running over it (but only after I saw other cars go over it safely first!) Finally made it though! And then I saw the stairs. yikes!

Oh yeah, and the reason that I went to Cape Palliser was because it is the southernmost point on the North Island. 🙂 So now I have been to the northern and southernmost points on both islands. 🙂

The view from the top was pretty awesome!

and the lighthouse was cool looking too 🙂

On the drive back out I stopped and took a few more pictures (oh and yes, I had to go back out the same way that I drove in)

and this part of the road was intimidating, there was a sign that basically said “warning, active slip” yikes.

From there I went by Stonehenge Aotearoa, which was ok, apparently the stars are really cool here.

After that I headed out to Castlepoint. I didn’t purposefully do it this way but today was kinda a lighthouse day. 🙂

From there I headed to my last stop, which was Te Paerahi Beach, where they have a location specifically set aside for people who want to park their camper vans or sleep in their cars. It’s called free camping. If I ever come back to New Zealand, I definitely want to do more of that. 🙂 I got there around 8 and it was dark, so I just did a little reading and then went to sleep.

April 18, 2017

This morning I woke up around 7 (which means that I slept for about 12 hours! apparently I was tired) and headed out fairly soon to see more of Wellington. First I headed to the Space Place, which is a planetarium and space museum. On my way there I stopped and got a berries & banana muffin.

Which was good, but over priced since I bought it from a cafe. I decided to sit nearby and enjoy the view while I ate

and I made some friends in the process. 🙂

Once I got to the Space Place I realized that it wouldn’t open for about 30 more minutes, so I wandered around a little and saw this cool sundial

and then I found a park bench and enjoyed the view and the sunshine while I waited

Once the museum opened I wandered through and also watched a show in the planetarium. Planetarium theaters are just so cool! 🙂

I also saw this while I was reading through the museum, it made me smile

Sometimes it’s nice for scientists to admit that they just don’t know something, especially because certain people seem to think that science is the answer to everything. It’s really great to trust in a God who is bigger than all of it, who knows the answers, and who we can trust to handle the things we don’t understand. 🙂

From there I headed to the Reserve Bank Museum of New Zealand. That was pretty interesting, they had tons of information to read and a lot of old money on display. Plus, apparently this is what one million New Zealand dollars looks like

Once I left there I found a wrap at a small convenience store and then I headed to Bohemein Fresh Chocolates, where I had been when I came to Wellington before. Their chocolates are great! 🙂

I bought a caramel chocolate and a mint chocolate, which were both delicious. 🙂

From there I headed to the library to use the wifi for a little while and do a little planning/preparation for my road trip that I am starting tomorrow. 🙂 Once I finished there it was pretty dark so I got an Uber to get back to the house. Have I mentioned how conveniently wonderful Uber is? 🙂

Once I got back to the house I met two of Kathryn’s housemates and hung out and talked with them for most of the rest of the evening. Actually, I technically met one of them last night when he knocked on my door around 9 to see if I was there. But I was half asleep so it didn’t really count as meeting, lol. It was neat to get to hang out with them and then we prayed for each other and shared communion, which was pretty awesome. 🙂

Tomorrow I start my 3 day road trip back up to Auckland, which should be fun. 🙂

April 17, 2017

Last night on the bus was actually a lot better than I expected it to be, which was a huge blessing! I think I got about 6 or so hours of good sleep. I chose the two seats behind another seat that was broken so it was leaned back all of the way. So no one wanted to sit behind that one. Which meant I could lay down on that seat. 😀 There are definite perks to being short when it comes to travel! 🙂 I was able to curl up on the two seats and lay flat and cover up with my jacket and it was fairly comfortable. We arrived in Wellington at about 7AM and nothing was open at that hour, so I hung out at the train station for a few hours while I waited. I did some reading and journaling and did a few things online until around 9, when I headed out to find the place where I am staying tonight and tomorrow night. I was following the Google maps directions to get there but it was trying to take me up quite a few stairs so I just went ahead and called an Uber to take me the rest of the way. Definitely $5 well spent, especially considering how hilly Wellington is.

The place where I am staying belongs to a girl that I met at church a few months ago when I stayed in Wellington for the first time. She is actually in Australia at the moment and said that I could stay in her room, which is super sweet of her! 🙂 It is such a blessing not to have to pay for a hostel for a few nights.

Once I got to her place I dropped off my things in her room and napped a little while I charged up my phone. By then it was around noon and I headed out to do some exploring. First I headed toward the World War 1 memorials and museum. On my way I saw this artwork

Wellington is so interesting and has so many random things like that everywhere.

Once I found the memorials, I looked around and read the information at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

and the National War Memorial

After that I headed into the The Great War Exhibition museum

I was just going to pay $15 to do the self guided tour but the guy selling the tickets convinced me to do the guided tour for $25. Which I am actually really glad I did, because it was close to an hour long tour and I was the only one on that particular tour, so it was very personalized and the girl who showed me around did a great job and was very sweet. 🙂 It was really nice to get the overview of the war from her explanation instead of having to read everything. I didn’t take any pictures while she was showing me around because I just wanted to listen, but I was able to go back through a second time after the tour and get pictures. 🙂

The first part is really neat and they have it set up like a real street in Europe (can’t remember where) and apparently it actually looks like that now!

They also had quite a few uniforms on display and my guide showed me how at first they had more bright colors and unique features but they changed them later on because they were easy to target. She also said that WW1 is considered by some to be the first modern war, because that is when they started using airplanes, tanks, and submarines for war.

The English also used some of their double decker buses for transport during the war, that struck me as a pretty big vehicle for that time period!

Each of the areas were based around one year of the war and they each had an entrance like this that looked like a headstone and had the year on it with a phrase that summarized the year’s conflict

This was one exhibit that showed what a trench looked like (but it wouldn’t have been so clean)

This display was very powerful, it shows what an area looked like before the war

and then after

There was also a tank on display, which was very interesting. My guide said that they were developed in secret, so they were a huge surprise to the Germans when they arrived on the battlefield. I can’t imagine suddenly seeing one for the first time!

This was also the first war where chemicals were used as weapons. My guide talked about how the government controlled what was released to the public about the war (including in letters written by soldiers), so people at home (and volunteering) had no idea how bad it really was. The top part of this artwork was used to recruit for the war. The part below that was done by an artist after the war, showing soldiers coming back after being hit by mustard gas. 😦

These numbers are mind blowing and so sad!

Country                     Total men mobilised during the war   Total military deaths
(Allied Nations)

Russian Empire       12,000,000                                                                       1,811,000

Great Britain             8,689,467                                                                           887,711

France                        8,410,000                                                                        1,400,217

Italy                            5,615,000                                                                            651,000

USA                             4,355,000                                                                           117,145

India                           1,440,437                                                                             73,895

Japan                             800,000                                                                                4,850

Romania                       750,000                                                                            335,706

Serbia                            707,343                                                                           365,164

Canada                          628,964                                                                              64,997

Australia                       412,953                                                                             62,123

China                             350,000

Belgium                         267,000                                                                             58,637

Greece                           230,000                                                                                5,000

South Africa                 136,070                                                                                9,592

New Zealand                128,525                                                                             18,166

Portugal                         100,000                                                                               7,222

Brazil                                54,000

Montenegro                    50,000                                                                             13,325

Cuba                                 25,000

Siam                                   1,284                                                                                     19

Newfoundland                 1,000

Liberia                                  400

(Central Powers)

German Empire      11,000,000                                                                       2,036,897

Austria-Hungary       7,800,000                                                                       1,494,200

Ottoman Empire        2,850,000                                                                         771,884

Bulgaria                       1,200,000                                                                            87,500
(the places where I left blanks were left out of the information in the museum, maybe those countries didn’t lose any soldiers?)

My guide told me that because of the percentage of New Zealanders that went to war (there were only about a million people in New Zealand at that point) and because units were grouped by where they were from, it was extremely devastating. So if a unit was killed, it wasn’t uncommon for that to mean that nearly all of that town’s young men were killed. Knowing that, it makes a lot more sense why New Zealand puts so much emphasis on remembering that war.

This museum was very well done and I am glad that I took the time and money to see it. 🙂

After I left the museum it was about 3PM and I was very hungry by now since all I had eaten today was a muffin and two meringues. So I headed to Cuba Street to get something from Fidel’s since I had read great reviews of it. Although I almost changed my mind and went here instead because it looked really good, smelled amazing, and I have a weakness for food trucks. 🙂

But I decided to go on to Fidel’s and I got a Cubano sandwich to go.

It had pickles, mustard, sandwich meat ham, and shredded pork on it, and maybe something I am forgetting. It kinda sounds like an odd combination but it was amazing. 🙂

I took it down the steet a little way and sat along Cuba Street and listened to a busker and people watched while I ate. After that I wandered down the rest of Cuba Street and then went by the library to see if it was open (it wasn’t) and then went by another museum to check it’s hours for tomorrow. After that I headed back to where I was staying because I didn’t want to be out after dark. On my way back I saw a few interesting things…

Wellington trash cans are odd, I wonder why they make them like this…

Tuis are probably my favorite New Zealand bird. 🙂 I saw one fairly close up but I couldn’t get a good picture unfortunately.

I saw this beautiful cat, who was staring at something intently but I couldn’t figure out what it was

and the sun starting to set on Wellington made for a nice view. 🙂

Once I got back to the place for the night, I got ready for bed, blogged, and read for the rest of the night and went to sleep around 7 because I was pretty tired.

April 16, 2017

Today I woke up early to see the sunrise, partly because it was my last chance to see the Leigh sunrise and partly because it seemed like an appropriate start to Easter morning. 🙂 It was amazing once again!

It was such a great reminder of the joy that Christ’s resurrection brings and the song “In Christ Alone” came to mind. So awesome. 🙂 Diti came out to see it after a while and then we walked back to the house and had breakfast. Leigh school apparently has an annual fair at Easter to raise money, so we went to that around 9. It was mostly booths of games and activities for the kids, but there were also food stalls, a silent auction, and a garage sale area. I found a warm queen sized duvet cover and decided to buy it since it was only $2. 🙂 We walked back to the house once we finished and then Diti dropped me off at the church and she went to a friend’s house for a coffee.

Church this week was the Anglican service, so that was a little different than I am used to. It was also completely full since it was Easter. After church I stayed around for a little while and visited with a lady who is from the Leigh area but she and her family are currently missionaries in Thailand. From church I went back to the fair and bought a snapper fish burger, which was delicious. I met Diti there and we hung around there until 1 so she could keep an eye on the things that she bid on in the silent auction and then pay for the one that she won. Oh and I bought some meringues

Once we got back to the house we did our own thing and I finished up packing and getting ready to go and enjoyed my last bit of good wifi for the next week or so. 🙂

Around 3:40 we headed out so Diti could drop me off at the bus stop. Thankfully we left that early because there was a lot of traffic so it took quite a while to get there. But actually it ended up that the bus hit a lot of traffic too because it was about 30 minutes late. Once I got to Auckland I waited for about an hour and a half for the next bus and did some reading and blogging while I waited for my overnight bus to Wellington. The bus left Auckland around 7:30 and we are supposed to get to Wellington around 5:30 AM. That’s where I am now, on the overnight bus. 

It’s a different bus then normal because it is a double decker bus and the first level is all Gold class seats. I actually tried to upgrade to one of those but they were sold out unfortunately. It would definitely have been worth the extra $30. Oh well. I chose a seat row with a broken seat in front of it (that seat won’t go up) so hopefully I will get these two seats to myself and I can sleep better by leaning against the window and having my feet on the other seat. 🙂 I don’t think I will get much sleep tonight but oh well. I wanted to get to Wellington sooner, plus then I didn’t have to worry about a place to sleep tonight. 🙂

April 14 & 15, 2017

April 14

This morning I got up and got everything packed up and just packed my backpack to take with me on my two day trip. After breakfast I hung around the house for a few hours waiting for Diti because we had some miscommunication about when she would get there. I watched TV until Diti got there around 9 or so. While I was watching TV a program was on where they were showing a New Zealand event that shows just how country a lot of the people are here! Which is great because it’s hard to explain otherwise. lol. Gum boot throwing, olive pit spitting, sheep sheering, and wine barrel rolling are just a few of the competitions. 😛


Once Diti got there I gave her a few updates about what had been going on (and she apologized for having me do the few things that I did…lol!) and I asked about her trip. Pretty soon she shooed me out the door so I would have enough time to get where I wanted to go today. I drove to Matapouri and went to the beach and wandered around there for a little while. 

My plan was to go to some pools near there called the Mermaid Pools but I needed to wait for low tide. Unfortunately by the time it was low tide, it started raining. I waited a little longer but finally gave up. From there I went to a nearby fish and chips shop for lunch. Which was pretty delicious. I don’t think I have mentioned how they generally serve fish and chips here, it’s wrapped in massive amounts of newspaper. It’s rather excessive, lol.

From there I drove to Rick and Lindy’s place but I took my time and enjoyed the scenery on my way. This part of New Zealand is so pretty with all of it’s hills and grass. 🙂

Also, it still throws me off that they call gravel roads “metal” roads here. So, there was a construction sign on my drive that said “loose metal ahead.” That just sounds awful!

Once I got to Rick and Lindy’s it was only around 4. They were my second hosts and it was weird driving out there because I remember driving out there with them in August and all of those memories came flooding back and it feels like it was only a few weeks ago or something. So strange. When I got to their house Rick’s son, wife, and their two kids were there, and we visited for a while until they left a few hours later. After that Rick and Lindy took me up to the house to show me all of the progress they have made. It looks awesome! They are planning to move in in about 2 weeks, which is so exciting because they have been working on the house for a very long time.

We visited and watched TV for the rest of the night and it was nice to catch up with them. 🙂 Around 10 I was getting pretty tired so I headed to bed. The caravan is still super adorable. 🙂

April 15

This morning I woke up around 7:15 and packed up and had breakfast with Rick and Lindy. Apparently hot cross buns are an Easter tradition type food so Lindy and I had some and Rick had cereal. It rained quite a bit of the night and off and on this morning too. I helped them some with various things around the farm until I had to leave. I helped brush down one of their calves that they are delivering to it’s new owner today. It was so cute, I really love the look of the Scottish Highland cows, and especially the calves. 🙂 We moved their outdoor grill from their current house to their new house and did a few other random things until around 10. After morning “tea” and visiting a little more with Rick and Lindy and they recommended a few places on my way back then I headed out around 11. On my way out I took better pictures of their neighbor’s strange mailboxes…

yes, that is a refrigerator and a microwave being used as mailboxes. lol!

During this short two day trip I really tried to give myself tons of extra time so that I could enjoy the drive and not rush, and stop in random towns if I wanted to. That made a huge difference and I really enjoyed it. 🙂 One of the places that I decided to stop was Omapere, where there were these amazing views. 🙂

They were also having a market so I went there but it was mostly just a big garage sale so I didn’t think it was too interesting. I did go into a 4 Square (basically a big convenience store) and bought some giant muffins (for whatever reason, the label called them Texas muffins, lol) to snack on during the drive.

Once I left there I headed out of town but saw a sign that said there was a lookout point so I took a detour. The views were pretty great. 🙂

From there I drove to my actual planned stop, Tane Mahuta, in the Waipoua Forest. Tane Mahuta is the largest tree in New Zealand and the 4th largest in the world! They estimate that it is about 2000 years old! It was pretty amazing to get to see it in person, the kauri trees are just massive.

There was a lady who worked there and she was answering questions and giving interesting information about it, which was neat. 🙂 She also took my picture with it. I don’t particularly care for the picture of me but it definitely shows pretty well how massive the tree really is!

The trunk is 17.7 meters tall, the entire tree is 51.5 meters tall, the girth is 13.8 meters, and the trunk volume is 244.5 meters.

From there I pretty much just headed back to Diti’s because it was raining quite a bit, which was unfortunate, but oh well. I am just glad that I got to see the tree. 🙂

Once I got back to Diti’s around 5 we visited for a little while and had dinner (she made slow cooked lamb stew, which was amazing!) and then we both went to bed early because we were both tired.

April 12 & 13, 2017

April 12

Today I hung around the house and cleaned the windows and the glass railing outside

After that it started raining harder so I spent most of the rest of the day reading and I watched the news and a little bit of TV. Oh and one of Diti’s friends dropped off her box from a food co-op that Diti is part of and I managed to fit them in the refrigerator. I think I’d like to join something like that in the future, it forces you to try fruits and vegetables that I might not buy or try on my own. And I’d be more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables if I have already paid for them and they are in my house. Anyway, I didn’t do much else today other than a lot of planning for the next few weeks of traveling. It’s been nice to stay here for a month (it really doesn’t feel like it has been a month, it’s pretty crazy!) but I am ready to keep exploring and traveling! 🙂

April 13

Today I did a bunch of cleaning to make sure that everything looks extra nice for Diti when she gets home tonight. After that I took care of a few loose ends, packed up my things, did a little more planning, and kept an eye on the weather. The remnants of another hurricane was passing by this part of New Zealand today and it was supposed to produce a lot of rain and wind but it missed this area thankfully.

I watched WALL-E and Ratatouille while I cooked, cleaned, and did laundry and didn’t do much else for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow morning Diti is letting me borrow her car to go further north to see a couple of places and I will be staying with Rick and Lindy (previous hosts) tomorrow night. I will leave their house the next morning and stop at one place on the way back and stay at Diti’s place one more night and then head south on Sunday. So it should be busy and lots of driving but fun. 🙂

April 10 & 11, 2017

April 10

Today I woke up early to go see the sunrise and it was amazing! I definitely shouldn’t have waited this long to go see it since it’s only a 5 minute walk from the house to get an amazing view of the ocean. Here are just a few of the pictures that I was able to get. It was breathtaking and these pictures can’t even really capture it.

Here is a video of what it looked like 🙂 https://youtu.be/-zg0S5tCKfs

After I came back to the house I did some work around the house and talked to different people in my family on the phone for a lot of the day.

Other than that I pretty much just cooked up some fish while watching a movie (The BFG) and did a little bit of planning for what I’m going to do after Diti gets back.

April 11

Today was fairly lazy. I watched a couple of movies (Incredibles & Walk the Line), did some things around the house, did some reading, and did a lot of detailed planning for the next few weeks. 

April 9, 2017

This morning I went to church at 11 and the service was a little better and was the Methodist service. The people were much more friendly at that service and I stayed for morning tea and visited with people for a while, which was very nice. 🙂 I really love that aspect of church, even if you’ve never met the people before, you’re part of the same family. 🙂

After that I walked over to where there was a market being held in Leigh. It was fairly small, but actually pretty big considering that it was in Leigh.

There was also a band playing music and more stalls inside a building. I bought a bracelet

and some small handmade soaps to give as gifts to a few of my hosts. 🙂

From there I went to Leigh Eats and bought a milkshake (which had been recommended to me by someone) and then walked back to the house.

Once I got back to the house I did some reading and watched a movie and blogged and that was about it for the rest of the day.

Oh and thankfully my neck and shoulder has been a lot better today. 🙂