A move, a journey, and a little surprise (or two)

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moving to wanaka new zealand

So the award for most random blog post of all time will likely go to this one.

I’ve realized it’s been ages since I’ve actually written an update of what’s been on my mind – the decisions weighing on me, plans in the works, exciting and not-so-exciting things that have been going on.

You know, diary things. Because sometimes we just need to get all those jumbled, crazy thoughts swirling around inside our heads out on paper, or in this case, on WordPress.

Forgive me, but this one time I need be very self-serving and use my blog to word vomit everything that’s been going on, and if you have the time, please chime in because I’m stuck on what to do about a lot of things. HELP!

moving to wanaka new zealand

Even though I tend to write about my adventures on here, I don’t actually spend all my time galavanting around New Zealand from one waterfall to the next. Lately I’ve slipped into a nice routine which has made me really happy.

I’m not really one for permanently traveling around and sleeping in new places every night. I’d much rather spend my time in one place for longer and get to know it really well, which is what I’ve been up to in Wellington.

Sadly, that’s all about to change. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Where to begin?

Let’s start with the good news…

moving to wanaka new zealand

1. I’m going to be on House Hunters International!!

If you’re from North America you’ve probably heard of this popular reality TV series on HGTV. For everyone else, just know this is a BFD – big fucking deal, at least for me.

I’ve been harassing the producers for years, since I lived in Córdoba, Spain to be on the show, and finally FINALLY my dreams came true, and I get to show the world my move to New Zealand.

I wasn’t allowed to say anything for the longest time but I’ve been given permission to announce my breakout into stardom (watch out Hollywood) and share my story! Wahoo!

moving to wanaka new zealand

Of course I was absolutely petrified the first day of shooting, but in 2014 I’ve been determined to conquer my camera-phobia, which after several days of intense filming around Wellington, I’ve firmly gotten over that. Though dealing with having microphones stuffed down your shirts and tucked in the back of your pants I can live without. Maybe I’m not cut out for Hollywood after all.

But what I’m most excited about is getting to show the world (ok,  America and Canada-land) JUST how awesome Wellington is! I still don’t know the air date, don’t think it’ll be for a few months, but once I know when it’ll be on, I’ll be sure to announce it. So stay tuned.

Oh, and don’t worry, I said plenty of spectacularly stupid things on camera. Get excited.

moving to wanaka new zealand

2. A 6.3 earthquake

So last week I was sitting in my awesome, proudly-won IKEA chair minding my own business and blogging away when my room started to shake, shake and shake some more.

Convinced the world was ending as I realized it was an earthquake, I picked up my coffee mug (seriously, what is wrong with me?!) stood up and walked to the center of my room, uncertain of what to do.

Under the desk or in the doorframe? I teetered back and forth trying to decide what to do as everything shook around me.

Can you tell I’m from the east coast where the only time the earth rumbles is when a tractor trailer truck drives by?

Wellington sits on a giant fault line which means earthquakes are pretty common here, leaving the locals unfazed. In July, right before I arrived there were two huge ones that shattered glass and caused noticeable damage around town. I feel obligated to point out that if I were to be in a huge one like that, I would most definitely lose my shit.

Yikes. Have any earthquake tips for me besides grabbing my coffee cup?

moving to wanaka new zealand
The only earthquake victim – Weta’s eagles from the Hobbit

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3. Move to Wanaka

So perhaps what’s been weighing on me the most is where I should move to in New Zealand now that my lease is ending.

I’ve been living in a great house in Wellington with magnificent views of the city, and I’m really really happy here. I finally have found routine, have made good friends and feel like I’m a part of the city now. I was so uncertain of where to move in New Zealand when I got here, and after listening to a lot of your tips I settled on Wellington.

And Wellington stole my heart. I never want to leave here, and I think if I end up settling long-term in New Zealand, which has also been on my mind a lot lately, it would be here.

moving to wanaka new zealand

But at the same time, when I decided to come all the way to this part of the world, I knew I wanted to live and spend some time on the South Island, specifically in a place with great scenery and even greater views.

I could easily find another apartment to lease in Wellington after leaving this one, but at the same time, I think I would regret not trying to move down to the South Island, especially when I have an opportunity like this staring me in the face.

After 2 weeks exploring the South Island with Haka Tours, I definitely got a taste for the raw, untamed beauty down there, and I realized I wanted more. But where to go?

Queenstown. Christchurch. Dunedin. Nelson. 

moving to wanaka new zealand

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Too many options! When I announced I was moving to New Zealand way back when I got tons of valuable feedback from Kiwis, travelers who’d been to NZ before, and pretty much from anyone with an opinion, which is what I wanted.

While I spent Christmas in Queenstown and thought it was a pretty nifty place (a must-do for anyone coming to New Zealand) I can’t really imagine myself living there. It was way too touristy and to be perfectly honest, it didn’t even feel like New Zealand. I loved the views and the convenience of having all the shops and stuff in town, but I think I would have a hard time fitting in and finding a group of friends. It felt too transitory for me, if that makes since.


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Instead I found myself really enjoying Wanaka, another stunning lake town nearby. Tiny but beautiful, I think I could see myself settling in Wanaka for a little while.

After all, part of me just wants to squirrel myself away somewhere pretty and quiet so I can finally start writing a book, among other things.

What do you think?

moving to wanaka new zealand

4. North Island solo road trip

And finally, before I head to the South Island and after I clear out of my apartment in Wellington, I want to take advantage of these nice summer days to explore a bit more of the North Island. I’ve invested in trekking and camping gear here and I want to go full-on Kiwi and rekindle my outdoorsy side, taking in some of the magnificent landscapes around me.

New Zealand’s love and respect for nature is something I both admire and want to know more about. It inspires me. Growing up I used to do so many more things outside than I do now. Somehow in my adulthood I’ve drifted away from “nature” if you will, and it’s important for me to reconnect with that side while I’m in New Zealand. Another reason why I think I need to escape “urban” Wellington for a while.

And in my usual fashion, I’ve not planned anything yet, but so far I’m looking at doing a 2 week road trip around the North Island leaving Wellington around February 12.

moving to wanaka new zealand
Favorite John Muir quote

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While there are lots of little places I’m hoping to hit around the north, the three main sites I don’t want to miss are Taranaki on the west coast, Tongariro in the center, and the Coromandel Peninsula up in the north east.

Taranaki is a stunning conical volcano in a part of New Zealand not frequented by tourists. While I’m looking into doing a summit bid while I’m there, I’m also pretty happy to just hike around the park and take in the wild west coast, including some significant Māori sites, like Parihaka. Maybe even drive the Forgotten Highway – doesn’t that sound intriguing?

moving to wanaka new zealand

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Kiwis often refer to Coromandel as New Zealand’s best-kept secret, so don’t kill me for mentioning it, but I have been DYING to go here ever since I recognized it as one of the major filming locations on Chronicles of Narnia. Nerd alert!

Beautiful rocky coastline meets with clear blue water, hot water beaches and plenty of fabulous weather. While it may technically be summer in New Zealand, I have yet to see any sign of it in Wellington. I just want to swim, kayak, tan and hang out on a beach. Is that asking too much?

moving to wanaka new zealand

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Finally I want to get the famous Tongariro Crossing hike under my belt, New Zealand’s most famous day-hike in National Park around the active volcanoes Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, also known as Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings.

In addition to acting out various scenes from LOTR, I am hoping to spend some time hiking around the park and taking part in some of the fun outdoor activities in the area.

But as usual, I haven’t planned anything and I really want to wing it. I want to be flexible in case the weather is bad, and I want to be able to tailor my trip around YOUR suggestions.

That’s right, help me out. Have any tips of where I should go? What should I do? Do you live around these areas? Want to meet up for coffee at some point? Help!

moving to wanaka new zealand

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89 Comments on “A move, a journey, and a little surprise (or two)

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  1. Ok some earthquake tips from a Southern California girl; keep hard soled shoes by your bed at night in case you need to get out in a hurry and there is glass on the floor, doorways that have a good solid frame are good because you will then also have easy access out of the room/hall if you need it, grabbing your coffee was not a horrible idea because no one wants spilled coffee, do not hang stuff above your bed lest it fall on you in your sleep, in your car make sure you have water and proper walking shoes in case you get stuck somewhere (this my mom always made me do and I felt a bit silly but really you never know).

  2. If you’re looking for a hostel in Tongariro, I would definitely recommend the A Plus Lodge! I stayed there for a couple nights when I hiked the Crossing and it’s nothing fancy at all but the owner and other hikers staying there were so fun and friendly that it completely made my visit. Plus, they have a free shuttle to and from the hike starting/ending points. Have fun!!!

  3. Hey Liz,

    I have been reading your Blog eversince I found your summary about the Kiwi accent (nailed it!!!). I came to New Zealand as an Au Pair in August 2013 and I am still living here in Wellington (although I quit my Job as an Au Pair – but thats a whole different story! Right now I am working at the Chocolate Fish Café which moved to Shelly Bay!).
    I have already been to Mt Taranaki (beautiful!) and I tried to challenge the Tongario Crossing a couple of moths ago – but we had to turn around because of really bad weather conditions… but I am sure it won’t be a problem at this time of the year!

    I’d love to meet you in one of Wellingtons amazing Cafés if you are interested to hear storys from a girl from Germany who has travelled herself quite a bit! 🙂

  4. Coromandel is such a nice place. Make sure you visit hot water beach (check the tides first) and do the walk down to Cathedral Cove which is simply stunning. The water is so crystal clear it us unbelievable.

    Would also highly recommend, if you have time, heading north up past Auckland. The Bay of Islands is really pretty, Waipoua Forest to see the massive Kaori trees and we really loved the Hokianga region with the massive sand hills and small (really really small) towns.

    Enjoy!

    1. Hey youngadventuress!loved reading your post and the fact that you wanna go to wanaka since it’s the place I have my dearest memories from in new Zealand…skydiving…egg pizza (what is it about kiwis that they believe putting egg on everything is the grandest idea in the history of. mankind?) and this incredibly cute place altogether…aah…:-)
      Anyway,I think you should think about doing wwoofing!it’s the best thing to get to know kiwi culture and connect with nature.if you want I can recommend some fabulous places for you, like Kimi ora wellness hotel in Kerikeri. Love from cold and snowy Berlin 🙂

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