Sunday, December 14, 2008

This is New Zealand-- vast, untouched pure and simplified crisp beauty!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Picture Tour

Haha; this is typical just about everywhere you look!!! This is a special bunch though b/c these are the cows my friend Sam milks twice a day!

That's a baby Kiwi bird! They are endangered and they are nocturnal so the chances of seeing one are pretty much slim to none. Got up close and personal @ a bird sanctuary.

Traditional Maori greeting and artwork.

Found in Dunedin, NZ. More 'bombing' done here then anywhere else in the country that I saw and I'm pretty sure it was approved by the city! I would approve of that kind of beauty.

Bus'n it...

Backpacker Bus New Zealand' i.e

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making it's mark

New Zealand surely made an impression and as most of you know, I set out with full intentions of coming home with a permanent representation of the land. With that, I have to attribute the following encounters to the law of attraction.

In the beginning, before I even loaded up on the bus and started making my rounds, I met a girl from Boston named Arielle. I got a glimpse of her artwork on her ribcage and was instantly intrigued. She gladly shared her story and the meaning to the piece and I knew then that I would most definitely have Maori work done. Through conversation she shared her artists name (Mike) and contact information with enthusiasm. As we talked I could feel that little spot in my belly signaling me to pay attention. As time passed, that little guy in there stayed persistent making sure I didn't procrastinate. So as soon as I had the travel loop figured out I crossed my fingers and hoped Mike's planner looked the same as mine. Surprised even to get him on the first ring and thrilled that after about 30 seconds of talking I knew for sure this was a guy that would understand the story surrounding my piece. Booked to sit the day before my departure and I am comfortable (as well as ecstatic (insert my 'skip')) for the rough draft vision we both created.

I arrive on Waiheke Island via ferry from Auckland and with all my bags (in their glory) hop on the local bus to his shop. First things first.... let's talk about YOU (that would be me) and draw! Well...we all know how much I like to talk about myself, but in Maori culture it is necessary to bring out ME & my story via the people past and present. We both took everything we had come up with into consideration and slept on the ideas.

I spent the next morning on the beach making sure I knew exactly what it was I wanted permanently etched into my body. When I showed up for our appointment I was sure I wanted to incorporate some of the people that make up my being; so I figured we could merge where I have been with where I am going. He too felt that was necessary and therefore we just could not imagine being restricted by any lines.
First, he looked at his 'canvas' professionally and drew out a piece that suited the lines of my body and the original artwork. Ah... the luxuries of an artist that is good at what he does. So maybe this is the way to get that 2 inch growth spirt I was hoping for...

Then, after much scrutiny and verbal agreements from me, we were set to start.
So, he continued by saying a prayer in his native tongue. He asked for the graces of safety and ended by extending an invitation to my ancestors to speak and to be present in the moment.
Needless to say, I was happy I followed that gut feeling.
An hour and a half later & I was done. No, it wasn't painless (not when there are 4 shading processes) but I was eerily content thinking about my great grandmother. Plus I have to say that having the history channel on while tattooing is certainly not what I'm used to encountering but it definitely distracted me enough to get the job done.
and this is what we've got....
(*Note that I am working on getting together all of the official maori names for this piece)
In short--
The big section in the middle looks something like a hammerhead shark and that stands for strength.
On the inside right of that section is the symbol for protection and in & around that section there are representations for my mother, father and brother.
On the left you'll notice the two spiral sections meeting. This is to represent Mark & I coming together at the head & nose which translates to mind & breath.
The spiral at the top right brings the original piece into the new addition and symbolizes two paths merging into one.
There is so much detail in and around the piece as well. There is a 'stream' moving from top to bottom using shapes in clusters of 3 which is significant to the maori's and usually is a representation of family (father, mother, child). He assured me that it can stand for any 3 people of importance so mine will represent Amber, Shannon and Larissa.
It's hard to see in the photo so you might have to wait till summertime, but there is also a lot of bird representation for my free bird attitude and spirit.
Also to note is the school of fish, also in the cluster of 3, that reminds me and the world that yes... i am a pisces:).
Well, that's sort of a start. I hope you can see the beauty in it as well even if tattooing isn't on your to-do list. I know that it is certainly a piece that I will continue to bond with and grow with (in more ways than one) for the absolute meaning is interchangable as life happens. I am glad that it is done and I look forward to the continued growth to come; for I know now what they mean when they say you'll never stop at one ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finishing touches

Via more bus time then I'd like to log, I finished up on the Coromandal peninsula in Hahei- a truly lovely white-sand beach I literally couldn't help but pace looking out onto the islands scattered out in the bay.
Picture to the left was taken here @ dawn. I'd say it does a good job of telling the story of why the Maori's know NZ as Aotearoa- land of the long white cloud.

Everything felt like it was coming together and I seemed to be digesting some of the happenings over the last 7 weeks. It was also becoming more and more apparent that springs was definitely in the air and the sun has gotten strong enough to color my skin and my hair. The beach bum in me wanted to turn and run for the nearest surf break.
Thanks to thermal waters just below the sand and strategically timed low-tide, that night we got to dig pits into the sand @ Hot Water Beach and enjoy our own natural spa pool :). Warnings for sure b/c although rather luxurious, it can be scorching no joke. None the less, this all just sealed the deal- I had to have water! So, as soon as I could say 'C'ya later, bye!' to the bus, I was off running with a smile for I was FREE! The very next day I was geared up w/ a board and a wetsuit to reunite with Raglan, Manu Bay's beginners break and it's black sand beaches.
Full circle.

Raglan is where Dave posted up and the the first spot to steal my heart in NZ. It is known to be one of those towns that you just can't seem to part with and true to it, I was welcomed by all the great folk I had met earlier in the game. Hanging out w/ Dave again solidified that I/We had gotten what I/We came to get; accomplished what I/We set out to do; and therefore, I/We were chilling with a happy heart. We did it! We talked the talk roughly a year ago and now I was hanging out with him on his back porch over looking a jungle and a bay of water. He had made a good life for himself & his bike in a surf town on an island at the bottom of the world. I had traveled extensively and uncovered a good bit of a beautiful slice of the world. We couldn't help but dance around and congratulate one another b/c although we took off with different visions, we definitely look out for each others best and what more could you ask for?!?!
For total understanding, stare @ picture of night sky featured above that was taken off his deck.
So yea, Raglan is definitely a North Island must and a one of a kind stop but consider yourself warned...there are certainly forces bigger than you are aware of that could be pulling you into Raglan time!!! Not to mention cool happenings that keep you quenched and satisfied like killer whale (x3) sightings @ the kite surfing beach. Yep, they are real and they are massive and word gets around town for things like that b/c everyone knows everyone. Seriously!!
So, at the end of 3 (or maybe 4) sunny beautiful chilled out days filled w/ amazing food cooked by chef Tim from Austria (who deserves mad props); long but oh so good walks to and from town (what I will surely miss most) and laughs + good real life stories from well rounded young nomads that made up the rest of the house, I was ready to be set loose. Dave could see that I was ready for HOME and that made just about everything official. I just had one more must on the to-do list--

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bay of Islands and NORTH

The winterless north is what they call this place but we have not been blessed with such weather. These are my last days though so instead of worrying I got out for a bit of adventure. One thing lead to the next and without much thought I booked myself on a scenic flight around the northern tip of the north island on a 12 seater plane. God was on our side and the weather broke to make for a beautiful day. I had a grin plastered on my face and I was sure as soon as I layed eyes on that plane that this could very well be the best thing I've done in NZ. Don't know what it is about being in the air but it works for me and add water to the mix and my soul is dancing with delight. Seated comfortably on big fat leather seats and equipped with headphones and microphones we were set to take off down the grass runway. Smooth take-off and we settled in @ 10,000ft.

Flying high, we got a bit of story to go along with the ride which is definitely the norm here. You see there is always the Maori legend and then the European story. The Maori's still own a great deal of the land here and are respected all over the country. The islands and streams are typically known to be God's or Goddesses with stories of love and war. If you were to ask me, I'd say it definitely looks to me to be a land that spirits would dwell upon.

From the air you could see the rolling hills scattered with kiwifruit bushes, vineyards, avocado orchards, citrus farms, dairy and beef cattle farms and pine forests. We started up the west coast to check out 90mile beach which is considered a State Highway and you could see cars getting on there way racing the coming tide. There are only 3 entry/exit points so there sort of is always a sense of adrenaline when you're using this route. Not much else to choose from though for this part of the world is certainly rugged and the local people still live by hunting and gathering. We made our way all the way to the northern most part to Cape Reigna where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. A spot that gets winds of around 90 knots on a typical day so we obviously landed prior and were on a bus for this section. Next came massive sand dunes and sand boarding (see video below) which was a riot and comes highly recommended by me:) To get there though we needed to take another State Highway which was actually by my perspective a stream. As we cruised down it at higher than normal speeds for our bus, we were told that it was actually considered to be quicksand!! Yea so if we were to actually park the van then it would disappear in 4-5 hours. Ha...I thought that was pretty cool.

Back to the plane and I made friends with just the right person b/c as we approached the pilot I overheard him ask if I could go ahead and be co-pilot. So my smile grew to astronomical proportion as I geared myself up sitting next to the pilot surrounded by all sorts of controls, levers, buttons and screens. A bazillion pictures were captured and I was surely ready to land the plane after 50 minutes of taking in the prompts.

No, not quite but I did enjoy a smooth landing and a content smile for the remainder of the day.

Thanks so much to all the great people that blessed me in my travels and financially supported me to enable such great things to come into my day.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Moving onwards and upwards

Rippon vineyard on Lake Wanaka. The pic depicts the start to something beautiful but look carefully in the background and you will see timeless beauty......

So I've said my goodbye's to the South Island and I have to admit that it was somewhat hard to do. I was mesmorized by the depths of the country and again, the lacking population to cover so much land. Made an express route from Wellington (the southern most capital in the world) back to Auckland and I will say that the North Island has a beauty of it's own. It has been about a month since I've been here and the season change is well on its way which makes the already green land just sparkle. There are texturized hills in these parts which compares to nothing I've ever seen before. Of course add sheep and lamb to them and you can really get excited b/c I tell you...those things sure are cute.

Along the way:

*Christchurch was the biggest city in the south no doubt. A refreshing spot to be with it's European influence. Nice to take in some architecture but it still held onto that NZ vibe. The kinda vibe that makes you think that although these stores look like holes in the wall, they could very well turn out to be a secret spot.

I met up with a friend I made on the ferry crossing from north to south and we have turned into great wine and dine friends. So, to be true to ourselves we found a great all natural joint w/ outdoor heated seating and lively music and treated ourselves to seafood and complimented it with Wild South Pino Noir. A beautiful walk around the city till we felt the need to come back to our reality of bunk beds made for a night that makes you forget about your backpack. :)

*Wellington sits on the south of the north island and it takes a 3 1/2 hour ferry ride from picton to get there. I tell you, it was so hard to board the boat knowing I was sitting in NZ's finest wine making region-- marlborough sounds. It was time though and I was excited to spend a bit of time in 'Welly'. We posted up on Cuba St. which is surely the alternative part of town and although it was halloween I got the impression you could dress to fit your fancy anytime of the week, month or year on this street. So yea, I liked it! We did important things like browse the art show featuring skateboards, fill up on information at the Tattoo museum (in which a swiss friend I'd found the day before decided to get tatted), drink flat white coffee's whenever the music of a cafe called us in, and move & shack around the town w/out our maps. It was a proper day!! The days to follow also consisted roaming and shopping b/c there were fancier sides of town and parts designated just for eating and even a district specific to theatre. I liked the vibe here a lot and there was plenty to suit anyone just as long as you could with stand the weather. 1 day we had crazy winds and rains that litterally swept you off the street. Watched a tree come down right in front of me and the people near by just lifted it off the roadway like it was any other day. Hmm.... I guess you can get used to anything.

*Auckland at the moment and I was not a fan when I initially flew in over a month ago. Then again, we played it safe and not smart and stayed in the middle of town. I'm in Parnell @ the moment and it has a bit of fanciness to it with it's cafe's tucked into side streets and gardens growing up the sides of buildings. The sun is shining too though and you know that can make everything look grand. I have to say I like it though but not enough to stick around. Bay of Plenty tomorrow for a 3 day trip around the north of the north island.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Abel Tasman National Park located on the northern west coast of the South Island. This is the view along the 4 hour hike and that is the waters I got to sail on:) Here is also were I spotted a penguin; He was having a grand time swimming around in the frigid waters while we all indulged in the warm air and sunshine.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wanaka/Queenstown n South

"The south of the south island is all about scenery. Mountains are covered in lush forest and snuggle up to one another like sleeping giants. Between them plunge undisturbed fiords that harbour treasure-troves of sea life. Windswept beaches stretch lazily across a coastline that snakes into countless bays." -Lonely Planet

My perspective:
The south of the south island is breathtaking. There are mounatins covered in luscious greenery & blooming foliage and filled with the smallest of birds with the biggest callings. Spring is in the air at eye level but let your eyes drift toward the sky and you still get freshly coated snow capped mountains! What lies at the foot of these mountains are prestine rivers and creeks that harbour the sea life but not so much of the traffic and activity we have grown accustomed too. It is a spectacular site to take in- untouched beaches and no sign of destruction to be had. This is a magnificent island that seems to have kept its secret. Although tourism is growing, the land is not changing. The local kiwi's are thrilled to share their home and believe every town, no matter if the population is 40 or 25,000, is 'sweet as'. I'd have to agree.....

So- Queenstown is truely NZ's adventure capital. One can choose to paraglide, sky dive, bungy jump, jet boat, fly a plane, take a helicopter ride, sledge (white water rafting on a boogy board), ski/snowboard, luge and/or swing in a canyon if their heart so desired. I opted to try the luging and what a riot!!!! Germany vs. the States is how I rolled and it was surely a close competition. When all was said in done though, I think my friend Laura and I did more laughing than keeping score. To safe a few bucks (b/c I'm in the mood for fine foods and samplings of lovely wine(which we make room for almost daily) I found much excitement in hiking up the top of the hill and doing some yoga in the woods all by myself (and I mean by myself----nothing but a bird for an hour). Oh how you can forget why we go on vacations in the first place......

Some time to myself and a little relaxation came with my loop around the south-south. 1st I started by gladly hoping off the bus in Wanaka. It is thought to be similar to Queenstown but without the boost. It stole my heart with it's crisp fresh mountain air, clean streets pumping with dub from all the local art boutiques, and vineyards that surrounded the lake. It was a place I will return to and recommend to anyone who will listen.

Too soon I was speding more time on the bus traveling through gorgeous streets you'd think were only in fancy car commercials. To Milford Sounds which provided a lovely boat cruise that took us through a fiord carved out by a glacier back in the day. Today it is filled with overflowing waterfalls and the scenery described above. The cool thing about this boat trip is that it let you get up close and personal with a couple of these beauties...... check out photo.

Next came a couple of towns that I couldn't really get a grip on. Places where the population truely was around 200 and you could walk the main street in about 2 minutes. On the plus side, the star viewing from the southern hemisphere..... breathtaking!! Shooting stars to be had on 5 minute intervals.
(although Laura (pictured above while luging in Queenstown) tried to photograph this spectical; the photo is unfortunatly not available.....ha; you can guess why)

Also to note was the weather. I definitely could tell that the next stop was Antartica!! The wind wipped through you and in the morning you would always find a fresh coating of snow on the mountains that rose above the city limits. The chill didn't keep me away from checking out some wicked surf and spotting sea lion along the way. Sadly, no piguins came to play. So yea, the weather was pretty cool to experience but it was a day for the park when we got back to Queenstown for 21 degree sunshine. Anyone know the conversion? Regardless, the sun was welcomed and the shorts were pulled from the bottom of my pack. Ahhh...nice to know that maybe, just maybe, I did pack appropriately. Moving north should help the situation.

So, I'm on my way back up via the east coast. I am sad to put the west coast behind me but I already have my return trip planned out. (For anyone planning, @ this point I recommend Wellington-Queenstown via the west coast but not to rush through the north of the south island. Time to be spent on the treks, beaches and caves along the way) It feels rather yummy in my tummy to be making the loop though b/c that brings me closer to home. I know, I know.... have you ever...... it is true though- my heart feels love in the States. The traveling and the adventures are not to seize but it's time to share them-- Mark my love, has a spot right by my side! He deserves mad props b/c he's been there and it is evident that he loves even the crazy lady that lives inside of me. He cares about my dreams and my days. He loves me and is teaching me LOVE along the way. So, all the way on the other side of the world and this is my lesson-- Distance does make the heart grow fonder. So much so that nothing else really seems as appealing!


Wow, I feel official- my first blog. Yeah, yeah I realize I'm a bit slow on things but typically I do get around to figuring it all out! I just hope it's all the things you are craving.... my thoughts (which can certainly keep one entertained and maybe even a little lost at times), some photos (to try and put things in perspective) and the daily findings and facts that I come to figure. We shall see....