As I am leaving New Zealand in two weeks time (!!) I thought it would be good to review my last 48 weeks in this beautiful country. I’ll share the best and worst decisions I made, how successful my packing was and general tips for if I was to do this again.
My “plan” for when I left England was to ride horses at as many WWOOFing places as I could during the summer and when winter came get a job to save up for travelling to Australia and SEA. And that’s pretty much what I did, give or take an internship at the Science Media Centre, a broken collar bone and a sprained ankle which weren’t in the original plan.
I ended up staying at my first horse trekking placement in Queenstown for 5 months. From here I went to another horse trekking and training farm in Canterbury for 4 weeks. I had planned to stay longer but I broke my collarbone training a young horse and it sucked living in the middle of nowhere when you’re not allowed to do anything. So I left and bought a car and traveled solo for about 4 weeks around the South Island. From here I went to Wellington for an internship at the Science Media Centre for 8 weeks. After that finished I got a full time job at the Ministry of Education still in Wellington.
Buying my car Sylvia was probably the best and worst decision I made. The freedom of travelling is great but did it outweigh the stress and money worries of owning one? For me, probably yes. It was really good timing as I’d just broke my collar bone so having the freedom to explore and enjoy the beautiful country by myself was awesome. I had a lot of mishaps and still haven’t learnt about the whole turning the lights off otherwise you’ll get a flat battery thing… but the views of driving down the West Coast are unparalleled. However, now I have the stress of trying to sell my car for the amount of money I deem it worthy considering how much money I had to spend on fixing it too.
I think on the whole I packed pretty well. I didn’t bring my leggings. And I didn’t pack my ‘nicest’ tops and jumpers. Why why why? My theory was that I’m going to be traveling and living in these clothes so I’ll probably throw them away therefore I don’t want to bring my favourite clothes. However, in reality I wore the same blimmin’ clothes week on week and I am sick to death of them! Firstly, because I didn’t like them much anyway. Secondly, I have been wearing them for nearly a year. Thirdly, because they weren’t my favourite they were probably cheap and so have lost their colour, shape and style. So, tip for past Amy: Pack your favourite clothes that you won’t mind wearing again and again and again and again!
Shoes wise as well I should of just brought my hiking boots instead of buying riding boots which initially I thought could double as hiking boots. What’s the first rule of good riding shoes, no grip!! And what do hiking boots have lots of? Grip! So wearing my riding boots when hiking did not work. So I bought a pair of second hand hiking boots instead, which was annoying when I had a good pair already sitting at home. And the trekking centres I worked at catered for non-riders so they all had safety stirrups which meant it didn’t matter what shoe you were wearing (as long as they weren’t high heels, I’m looking at you rich, glamorous Chinese women). The joys of foresight.
I don’t want to say I regret my choices here as it has all added to the experience. But I think I wish I had more time to work at a bigger variety of WWOOFing establishments. My two experiences though were chalk and cheese. In Queenstown I was living in a house with 8+ wwoofers at one time, walking distance to town with restaurants, bars and the best icecream. The house was always busy and there were people to talk to and do stuff with all the time. The owners trusted me a lot so I had responsibility of guiding long 5 hour treks by myself. Then in Canterbury I was living on a farm in the middle of nowhere with a 65 year old couple and one paid staff member who trained the horses. It was a 20 minute drive to the nearest pub. It was so quiet. Safe to say it was a bit of a shock for me. I did learn a hell of a lot about handling young horses though which was really interesting.
There’s just too much to do in New Zelaand. I could of done a ski season down in Wanaka and learnt to snowboard. I could of done apple picking in Nelson. I could of learnt more about organic and self sustainable farming. I could of gone whale watching. I could of but I didn’t. I did what I did which was a crazy awesome experience and I don’t think I would of changed any of it. I still haven’t seen any of the North Island apart from Wellington and Auckland. And I haven’t done any of the Great Walks. So I guess they’re good enough reasons to come back. Because I will be back New Zealand, you can count on that much.