Our Year In Travel – 2011
The past year has been incredibly exciting, with Jade reaching one of her ultimate travel goals of living and working in New Zealand. Although this has been our 6th year of travel, it has been our 1st year travelling together and our first year travel blogging.
The year has had many ups and downs and learning opportunities, especially when it comes to travel blogging. We started out with basic blogs detailing what we were doing, but not aimed towards a larger audience. Half way through the year we decided to go for it, buy the domain name OurOyser.com and start marketing ourselves as travel writers. We have learned so much in the process, including the time when we almost lost the whole website, and we thank every one who visits us here for their support.
New Years In New Zealand – January
We rang in the New Years last year at the Rythem and Vines festival in Gisborne, New Zealand. On New Years day though, we had to get up super early so we could hitchhike back to Auckland in time for me to finish up my temp job there.
While based in Auckland, I took a brief trip up to the top of New Zealand and spent three days hiking along Cape Reinga. It is still one of my favourite hikes to this date, and one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. After the hike, James and I met up in the Bay of Islands where we spent the day sailing and swimming on a small yacht.
We returned to Auckland where we packed up my small flat and prepared to backpack around New Zealand. Right before we left, we made sure to take the ferry out to the volcanic Rangitoto Island where we spent the day hiking through the strange volcanic landscape. Soon we were homeless again, and living out of backpacks as we set out to see as much of New Zealand as possible.
Backpacking New Zealand – The North Island – February
Our first stop was at the kiwiburn festival where we met up with some of our friends were performing as fire poi spinners. From there we hitchhiked to the famous Waitomo caves where we saw glow worms and went black water rafting. We moved on pretty quickly, and started hitchiking down the North Islands west coast to New Plymouth and then inland to the tiny town of Reatihi where we met up with some friends and set up to spend three day canoeing the Wanganui river! It was all going well until on the last day the rapids got too much for us, and we somehow managed to flip the canoe! ( I did manage to keep me hair dry somehow though!)
Unfortunatly, I sprained my ankle very badly while doing a hiking side trip to see the bridge to nowhere, and we had to change our plans for the next few weeks. So instead of hiking around Lake Waikaremoana with our friends from Auckland, we kayaked instead and met up with them at the campsites. However, ther was no way we could continue with out plans to do the Tongariro Crossing, and had to postpone that until much later in the year.
HitchHiking The South Island – March
We took the ferry to the South island and decided to head south to the small little town of Kaikoura which is famous for dolphin and whale watching. We didn’t have the available funds for either of these activities, so we instead went on the two hour kaikoura peninsula hike which took us past a New Zealand fur seal colony. We then headed north again to Blenheim where we stayed with some of James’ relatives and spent a day touring the local wineries that produce some of New Zealand’s famous Sauvingon Blancs.
My ankle had finally healed enough for some more hiking, so we headed out to do the Abel Tasman Great Walk and the Heaphy Great Walk. These hikes took us 129 kilometres from Golden Bay all the way to the South Island’s west coast. From here we hitchhiked south to Westport and got to watch baby seals play on the rocks while their mothers were out hunting in the wild Tasman sea.
Due to the tragic and desctructive Christchurch earthquake, we had to cancel many of our travel plans in the region. Instead we decided to head to Queenstown which we used as our base to do the Routeburn Great Walk – which turned out to be one of our favourite hikes in New Zealand.
We were running out of money, and were worn out from so much hiking and hitchhiking and camping. We decided to head to the wild university town of Dunedin where we walked up the world’s steepest street and also found ourselves in a predicament – all the hostels were booked out! And it was much too cold to camp this south. The reason for all the activity in Dunedin was due to the annual Hyde street party. This was a blessing in disguise, as it didn’t take us long to find a bunch of drunk and friendly students who offered their couch to us on condition that we would party with them.
Settling in Wellington – April – September
We arrived back in Wellington with a grand total of 30 cents in our bank accounts. Luckily we had good friends who let us crash at their place, and it didn’t take too long for us to find jobs. We wintered in Wellington and spent our sunny days exploring the region, such as Somes Island. We were also lucky enough to be in Wellington during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and although I refused to work at the stadium, we still got involved with some of the festivities.
A Quick Trip To Asia – Malaysia – August
Our travel year was pretty jam packed, although we spent the whole time in pretty much one country! I did however, manage a quick trip to Malaysia with my good friend Mel from Australia and also spent some time with my family over there. I tried to squeeze as much activity as possible in to my time in Malaysia and managed to see most of the sights of KL, as well as experience the cuisine of Malaka and the beaches of the Perhentians. I even managed to join a cooking class in KL where I learnt to cook amazing Malaysian food!
Back To The South Island – October
Our visas were approaching expiration, so we decided we needed to make time to see all the things in New Zealand that we missed out on last time. We were lucky enough to be invited to participate in the Stray bus tours blogger outreach program (see our review of them here), and we travelled all over the South Island with them. Some highlights included spending a day on the Fox glacier, taking a Milford sound cruise, and spending some relaxing time in Te Anau. Lowlights of our time on the South Island were our time on Stewart Island. The ferry journey was intensely rough, making me extermely sick, and the hike that we did there was muddy, difficult, and rainy. Overall not fun!
We finished up our South Island trip in Dunedin. We love Dunedin! It’s a nice little place to relax after time spent in small towns. We were lucky enough to be offered spots on two wildlife tours in the region; Elm Wildlife tours, where we saw pengiuns and sea lions, and the Monarch wildlife cruise, where we saw albatross and dolphins. Both tours were amazing, and better yet – the companies work together, so you can do both in one day if you want.
The North Island And Beyond – October/ November
One New Zealand travel goal I had was to do as many great walks as possible, and I refused to leave the country until I had done a particular one as well. That hike was the Tongariro Crossing. We based ourselves in Taupo and waited, and waited, and waited. The weather was not on our side, but fortunatley on the last possible day we were able to do the crossing. With that goal completed we were able to leave New Zealand.
Australia – November – December
Now we are in Australia. We arrived into Melbourne where we discovered the city through a free public bus tour, and even managed to swing tickets to the Harvest Festival where I saw my musical idol Portishead. An early morning flight took us to Brisbane, where we are now working and saving for the next adventure.
Coming Up In 2012
Stay tuned here for some exciting news! We are planning an epic trip around Australia and hope to annouce those plans soon!