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Driving through New Zealand in 9 Days (Part 1)

Driving through New Zealand in 9 Days (Part 1)

In October of last year while I was busy studying for final exams, Tra had an opportunity for an adventure. A few other Americans invited him on a road trip through New Zealand. All the way from Dunedin to Mount Maunganui and back. They packed five people (with all their luggage) in a tiny Fiat. 

Tra took amazing photos on his trip and I just had to share them with you. I loved editing this crazy New Zealand landscape that I hadn’t seen in person for myself. Even though I was born in New Zealand and hold a NZ passport, I’ve really only seen a fraction of the country. Although after looking through these photos with Tra I feel like I was on the roadtrip myself.

This is part one of the trip from Tra’s perspective:

The first stop on the adventure wasn’t a particularly tourist heavy location. Mount Sunday sits in Central Canterbury and is most well known for being the filming location for Edoras, the capital of Rohan, in The Lord of the Rings. Mount Sunday is only accessible through a gravel road which guides you down into a valley. In the middle of the valley lies a giant rock, seemingly placed there intentionally. The walk to the summit is not long or difficult, but the view at the top is gorgeous. Because it is situated in the middle of the valley, you have a spectacular view of the whole valley all while being blanketed by the much larger mountains surrounding you. 

While driving to the west coast of the South Island the group made a quick stop near the beginning of Arthurs Pass to visit Castle Hill. When I looked at the hill he imagined that a Titan carrying a bucket of gravel tripped and spilled the vehicle-sized boulders all over the hill and didn’t have the patience to clean up the mess. The landscape is littered with giant rocks just waiting to be climbed and explored. Climbers could visit Castle Hill every weekend for a lifetime and not climb the same route twice. 

Before we made camp at Abel Tasman we wanted to visit Paparoa National Park and the Pancake Rocks. This was my first opportunity to see a Weka up close, which is a flightless bird that kind of looks like a cross between a chicken and a kiwi. While the locals view Wekas as pests, to someone who had never left the Pacific Northwest they were fascinating. The landscape of the park itself reminded me of Jurassic Park. The entire Northwest coast of the South Island felt like an entirely different island to someone who hadn’t spent much time out of Dunedin. It almost felt like a tropical island.

music pick

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music please email me.

This week I’ve chosen a song from a Portland-based artist, Esmé Patterson. Give it a listen and maybe consider following her on Soundcloud.

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Morning Rituals + Pancakes

Morning Rituals + Pancakes

Breakfast is the perfect meal for people who love routine. For some reason natural social conventions dictate you cannot eat the same foods for dinner every night. If you eat spaghetti seven nights a week, you’re crazy. That rule doesn’t apply to breakfast however. I...

A Spring Afternoon in the Gardens

A Spring Afternoon in the Gardens

I’ve experienced so much winter that I think I’m starting to develop Stockholm syndrome. I find myself justifying the value of winter whenever friends ask if I miss spring and summer. Why would I want summer? You can’t cuddle up on the couch with your boyfriend, a...

48 Hours in Wellington

48 Hours in Wellington

The events of my life are almost always determined by routine. As our time in Dunedin was winding down I felt a need to shake that routine up a bit. I felt like I was growing tired of looking at the same buildings and walking the same route to school. I just wanted to see something I’ve never seen before. So, I booked two roundtrip, Jetstar tickets on a one-hour flight to Wellington.

Exploring a brand new place is just kind of magic. We drank great coffee on Cuba Street, walked along the waterfront and met up with a couple of friends. This was the first time I’d stayed in an Airbnb and it went way above my expectations. Our hosts supplied us with a cozy studio below their Mt. Victoria home, along with a bottle of wine, fresh bread and an occasional visit from their sweet cat.

For me, the highlight of our trip was certainly the Te Papa Museum. We were able to see Gallipoli, a war exhibit created by Peter Jackson. It was made a bit more meaningful to me when I learned recently that a relative of mine died at Gallipoli.

Wellington is a beautiful (and incredibly windy) city that was quirky like Portland but in a Kiwi sort of way.

Although it was a short trip it was refreshing to break our normal routine to enjoy a new city and check some things off our NZ bucket list. Flying to Wellington meant that we were able to make new memories together in a new city. In a way, it marked the beginning of the end of our time in New Zealand. That weekend will always stand out to me as I remember our short, sweet time in Wellington.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music please email me.

This week I’ve chosen a song from the Copenhagen-based group, My Bubba. Give it a listen and maybe consider listening to them on Soundcloud or giving them a like on facebook.

A Spring Afternoon in the Gardens

A Spring Afternoon in the Gardens

I’ve experienced so much winter that I think I’m starting to develop Stockholm syndrome. I find myself justifying the value of winter whenever friends ask if I miss spring and summer. Why would I want summer? You can’t cuddle up on the couch with your boyfriend, a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate when it’s 80 degrees out. I don’t miss needlessly sweating. I don’t miss being sunburnt. I enjoy scarves, sweatshirts and hot water jugs. I think I love winter… I never want to leave. And then spring begins, and it all comes back to me.

September marks the beginning of spring in New Zealand and it wasted no time in letting us know it had arrived. The weather in Dunedin has been gorgeous, and it’s amazing to see how it affects people. The thing I forget about the sun is that it lifts your spirits just by being there. The people you run into on the street just seem happier. For one thing, there’s more people out walking around. It hadn’t hit me until I was walking to the Botanic Gardens with Tra that I missed the feeling of spring. The weather gave us energy and we had the drive to explore new parts of the garden and even ventured out of the gardens onto a street that led us to the Dunedin Northern Cemetery. We strolled through the cemetery appreciating the old headstones while keeping an eye out for any names we vaguely recognized. As our stomachs cautioned against wondering any further we made our way back home making sure to admire the blooming university trees and toppless students (not joking) swimming in the Leith.

I heard it can take many years for prisoners suffering from Stockholm syndrome to fully recover. Luckily thanks to a happy accident we have two giant tins of hot chocolate to go through in the next 3 months. After that, we return to American winter.

MUSIC PICK OF THE WEEK

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music, email me: hello@emmafletch.net

This week I’ve chosen the introduction track to iiiso’s new album True Colors: Collection. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving him a follow on Soundcloud or Instagram. Also his album is available to stream on Spotify or Apple Music. It’s definitely worth a listen.

Exploring Portobello

Exploring Portobello

Hungry people are less fun to hang out with than not-hungry people. It’s funny how that works. It’s such a simple idea and yet it can have a dramatic affect on your happiness. I get grumpy when I’m hungry; Tra gets grumpy when he’s hungry. We still love each other, but I fell in love with a well-fed Tra and the latter is an annoying friend tagging along in our relationship. I’m sure he feels the same sometimes. Even though I know this, sometimes I overlook it’s importance.

Tra and I haven’t been outside of Dunedin since February. Because of this we have been planning to visit Portobello, a tiny little village on the Otago Peninsula. The weather sabotaged  our plans for one weekend and ever since we’ve been keeping our eyes open for a relatively dry weekend to visit. Portobello is only a 40 minute bus ride away from our flat we really have no excuse for not visiting more often. When my dad was helping me move to New Zealand we visited Portobello and had a great time at the small pub and cafe. Tra had never visited Portobello. So, when Tra got home from work at 3 p.m. on a Friday I suggested we visit. He asked if he could eat before we left, I reminded him that the sun was quickly setting and that we could eat at the pub. He agreed.

When you don’t have a car sometimes long bus rides can be kind of exciting. For Tra it was his first time seeing the Otago Peninsula in person and not from afar. The roads are narrow and right on the edge of the water. They feel like the roads on HWY 101 at home where you feel like you could tip over and fall into the water after every twist and turn. The closer we got to Portobello the less sunlight we had to work with. I was worried that our photos wouldn’t turn out. When we arrived Tra was excited to explore someplace new, but he was hangry and I could tell. He asked if we could eat but I pleaded that we needed to take advantage of the light while we had it. Unfortunately our lack of foresight reared it’s ugly head when we realized that the cute cafe we were excited to visit was already closed. No bother, the pub was still available.

We walked up to the water and then to the local cemetery to snap some photos and get to know the town a little better. It really is such a cool little place. Tra was hungry and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Sometimes unexpected forces can shape events even though they shouldn’t. I’m usually a planner. The usual Emma would have thought “before we visit Portobello we need to check the weather forecast, the opening and closing times of all the places we want to visit, the bus schedule and make sure we are well fed.” But I wanted to be spontaneous.

When we entered the pub we were slightly confused by the layout and found our way into the restaurant section of the pub and eagerly looked over the menu. After 10 minutes of browsing the waitress approached us and asked us if we were interested in dinner. Yes was an understatement.

“I am going to need to see some identification from both of you. If you look under 25 we need identification.”

Crap. In our rush to leave I had forgotten my my passport. The waitress politely told us that she would be unable to serve us and asked us to leave. It was embarrassing and irritating and I felt bad for Tra who had not forgotten his passport and had now been waiting over two hours since before we left our flat to eat. Every other restaurant was closed and our only option was the convenience store.

So there we were, Tra and I, eating Tim Tams, Mentos and microwaved mince pies on a bench overlooking the bay laughing about how dumb we were. We jokingly directed our anger at Portobello itself, calling it the worst place in all of New Zealand. It isn’t; at least I think. It was a nice little town and I hope to visit it again soon, but next time with an ID and a belly full of food.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music please email me.

This week I’ve chosen a wicked beat from the Vancouver beatmaker Karmaeiic. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving him a follow on soundcloud.

Exploring Dunedin (Part 2)

Exploring Dunedin (Part 2)

It’s impossible to escape conversations about Lord of the Rings when talking about New Zealand. Although the mention of the series can cause kiwi’s to roll their eyes, the movie franchise is by far the best look the vast majority of people have been given into the country. Because of this it’s easy to think of New Zealand as a mountainous and rocky landscape with giant snowy peaks and sparkling lakes. This is true, but not for all of the country. Dunedin is a city on a hill overlooking a beautiful bay and peninsula. Take a quick drive outside of Dunedin and you’ll find grassy hills covered in sheep for miles. This is the New Zealand that I know best.

This week I was stuck finishing schoolwork and Tra took a short trip with our Dutch friend Luuk to visit Ross Creek Reservoir. Before he left I made sure he grabbed the camera so he could snap some photos along the way. The park is 30 minute walk from our flat but for some reason we’ve never visited it.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me.

This week I’ve chosen this dreamy track from the singer sosi. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving her a follow on soundcloud or twitter.