On Being Homesick and Strategies to Help Half a Globe Away From the Farm

New Zealand in Numbers:

9 months and 25 days here
309,486 km (192,306 miles) on Pippin’s (my car’s) odometer
12,397 photographs taken
11,486 km (7,137 miles) traveled with Pippin
28 places stayed in (hostels, hotels, bed and breakfasts, homes; includes 24 unique locations with one location stayed at three times)
27 blog posts published
11-hour train ride from Auckland to Wellington
9 videos made
8 flights taken (including one in which I was the pilot)
5 stuffed animals purchased
3 cameras used
2 natural disasters experienced (7.8 magnitude earthquake in November and Port Hills bush fire in February, both while in Christchurch)
1 kiwi found
Countless pamphlets and maps gathered

1 fantastic adventure in Middle Earth.
And 1 homesick farm girl. Continue reading “On Being Homesick and Strategies to Help Half a Globe Away From the Farm”

A Call for Americans to Use Turn Signals in Roundabouts

A Call for Americans to Use Turn Signals in Roundabouts

Four months in to my stay in New Zealand, I was astonished to learn that turn signals should be used in roundabouts.

I had been listening to a talk show on the radio in which callers discussed their greatest annoyances. One person said that she became annoyed “when people don’t use turn signals in roundabouts.”

My first thought was, “You’re supposed to do that? Oops.” Continue reading “A Call for Americans to Use Turn Signals in Roundabouts”

On Descriptions, Exclamation Marks and Some Favorite Photos from January

On Descriptions, Exclamation Marks and Some Favorite Photos from January

While writing in my journal yesterday, I tried to describe a measuring instrument I had used at work. I failed miserably, and the entry I had expected to be short turned into an exposition on my feelings about high school English and how it shaped my life.

That was not a good explanation. I really haven’t had the mental capacity to write good descriptions in my journals. I’ve found I like to rely on my photos for my descriptive pieces. 

And plus, when I was in junior high (or maybe it was freshman year), I discovered I really disliked writing descriptions, especially lengthy ones. I felt it was a waste of time and that the writing space could be better filled with something else. I don’t know that I identified what that something else was at that age, but perhaps today, I have identified it: a photograph. Continue reading “On Descriptions, Exclamation Marks and Some Favorite Photos from January”

“We’ll be birds flyin’ free.” (Unless you’re a weka or a kiwi or a penguin.)

“We’ll be birds flyin’ free.” (Unless you’re a weka or a kiwi or a penguin.)

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Look out for kiwis! The sign at the entrance to the Oban rugby field. I took a picture of it on New Year’s Eve just in case it was the only picture of a kiwi I would ever take….

I’m not sure how I became interested in hunting for kiwis. Before I came to New Zealand, I saw a really nice picture of the bird and watched some videos from wildlife refuges, and suddenly, I was intrigued by the nocturnal creatures. During my first few months here, I wanted to see one and didn’t care whether I saw it in the wild or at a zoo. But then we came so close to seeing one in Paihia that I knew I wanted to see my first kiwi in the bush and not behind a fence.

Through my travels, I heard about kiwis on Stewart Island. As there are 50 kiwis for every one person who lives there, I wrote a mental note that I needed to visit. Rakiura, as Stewart Island also is known, is located south of the South Island, and “Visit the southernmost point of New Zealand” was on the list of things I wanted to do. Plus, I wanted to be at the bottom of the world to start the New Year, so everything fell together for a trip to Stewart Island at the end of December. Continue reading ““We’ll be birds flyin’ free.” (Unless you’re a weka or a kiwi or a penguin.)”

I’m Just a Dish Washer: Three Weeks in Milford Sound

I’m Just a Dish Washer: Three Weeks in Milford Sound

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Welcome to Milford Sound!

Well, I cleaned bathrooms, made beds and vacuumed floors, as well, but this story happened in the kitchen.

For nearly the entire month of December, I worked in Milford Sound, part of Fiordland National Park. The type of farm work I was looking for had dried up, and I needed a good place to wait for the next assignment. Via an online job board for travelers in New Zealand, I read an advertisement from a lodge in Milford Sound. The lodge was seeking people for housekeeping, dish washing, and cleaning. I emailed the contact listed and was accepted for December. So after my kiwi and constellation adventure in Paihia on the North Island and an absolutely brilliant Coldplay concert in Auckland, I headed to Milford Sound. Continue reading “I’m Just a Dish Washer: Three Weeks in Milford Sound”

Constellations and Kiwis

Constellations and Kiwis

“That’s a kiwi blowing its nose.”

I grinned, quiet at first, but a couple of seconds later, I had to fight the urge to dissolve into laughter as the picture of a kiwi stretching out his wing to enfold the end of his long beak in a Kleenex danced in my head. The guys would never forgive me, I thought, if I scared away the shy nocturnal bird.

Regaining my composure, I listened for more clearing of snotty noses. I heard the sound twice more. We pointed as we heard rustling through the plants along the side of the trail. Then, we’d move in the direction of the sounds and point our lights into the understory of the bush.

There were four of us: D, an Englishman who had worked at a well-known botanical garden in London; M, a German whose specialty was physical geography; J, the plant specialist and bird enthusiast from Hawaii who could talk sheep and was close friends with someone I knew from Pennsylvania; and me.

All of us were intent on seeing a kiwi. Continue reading “Constellations and Kiwis”

Thankfulness: A Photo Essay

Thankfulness: A Photo Essay

While it is Wednesday, November 23 in the United States right now, it is Thursday, November 24, the date of Thanksgiving, in New Zealand. I am in Wanaka after an incredible time in Christchurch with wonderful people. I have felt homesick a lot lately. Those emotions need to be felt, but there are strategies that also help me be where I am.

One of those strategies is giving thanks. Today is a good time for me to pause and remember all that I’m thankful for. Not only is it Thanksgiving, it also marks exactly five months of being in New Zealand. That is a huge landmark. This is the longest amount of time I have ever been away from Indiana.

So without further ado, I am thankful for: Continue reading “Thankfulness: A Photo Essay”