One Ending and Another Beginning


I know it’s been a minute since I checked in with you all—constant travel over the last month has left little time for blogging, let alone sleeping. But I’m all caught up on the Z’s now and ready to rumble, so here come the updates:

  1. The major update is that Mary and I completed the entire Kiwi Experience circuit, consisting of 20 stops in 31 days. See the map below for a visual. Suffice to say I’m pretty ready to never see the inside of one of those big green buses ever again.

2. Yesterday Mary hopped on her return flight to Seattle, and with that our 42 day adventure came to a close. But, as Semisonic aptly notes in their 1998 classic banger Closing Time, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." And so begins my solo adventure!

3. Grandma, I got a job! Well, kind of. I’m working for accommodation for the next two weeks in Paihia, which means I work at a hostel from 10am to 12pm and in return I get to stay the night for free.

Paihia is a beachfront town, so my original plan was to hit the beach everyday at noon and swim in the ocean. I was on track for the first two days, but here I am on day three hiding from the rain in a café, so that plan is probably shot. As a native of Seattle, it feels almost comfortingly familiar to have to find alternative ways to spend a summer day when rain ruins plans. I decided to come back up to Paihia after finishing our “Grand Tour” of New Zealand for two reasons. One, the first time we stopped for a night here on the way up to Cape Reinga, it reminded me of the San Juan Islands in Washington, which is one of my favorite places on earth. And two, it’s located in the region known as “winterless northland” where it’s sunny most of the year; and I’m trying to get all the sun I can during the last month of summer left here in the Southern Hemisphere.

It also helps to start my solo travel in a town that I’ve at least visited before. As I said goodbye to Mary in Auckland, I realized that I haven’t actually done proper solo traveling before. Every time that I’ve been alone on a plane or bus, I was always meeting up with someone in my destination. The funny thing is, it wasn’t a particularly scary realization. I was actually surprised that I didn’t feel very nervous about traveling alone at all. When you start to do things outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis, less and less things scare you. Or perhaps more accurately, you become accustomed to a little bit of fear and know how to respond. Uh oh, my inner yoga teacher is showing.

Anyways, over the next few months I’ll be checking off the quintessential “solo traveler checklist.” To kick-off the list I went on my first solo hike yesterday, tramping from Paihia to Opua along the coast (don’t worry mom, it was only four hours and I told people when and where I was going.) A quick word of advice to fellow travelers who are planning coastal walks: please check the tide timetables prior to leaving and plan your hike accordingly. I made it back to Paihia safe and dry, but if I started an hour later I might be telling you a different story right now. Whoops. It was a nice day-hike, with a lot of environmental diversity and just enough elevation change to make the “mixed grade” category without becoming too difficult—certainly nowhere near the average elevation gain of the other New Zealand hikes I’ve done in the past month. It starts on the beach then winds through some coastal bush along clay cliffs, then ends at Opua, where the cute little vehicle ferry takes cars over to Russell.

That's all for now--I heard it snowed in Seattle yesterday, rough. Here's to February in the Southern Hemisphere!

On the way from Paihia to Opua.