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

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

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”

Driving the Milk Truck and Other Adventures as a Calf Rearer

Driving the Milk Truck and Other Adventures as a Calf Rearer

My journey as a calf rearer in New Zealand has come to a close. I’ve been wanting to write about my job for a while now, but the hectic pace of calving season lent to only a small window of time for writing and illustrating a descriptive post. So here is a bit of a taste of what I did for the last two-and-a-half months.

As part of my job, I drove a truck around the dairy farm.

Here it is:


Known as the milk truck, it’s a stick shift with the gear shaft on the driver’s left side. The first time I hopped in, I felt extremely lucky to have been taught at a young age how to drive a manual transmission. Soon, I learned that a manual transmission is standard in Europe because of their mountains and hills, so my fellow calf rearers were already pros at driving a manual transmission. In the U.S., automatic transmissions and cruise control reign, so I had some work to do to become proficient at driving the milk truck.

This was the vehicle for delivering nutrition to the calves under our care. They received milk that stayed on the farm rather than being transported for sale. Our happy customers gladly consumed it for us.

The view from the milk truck was pretty fantastic: Continue reading “Driving the Milk Truck and Other Adventures as a Calf Rearer”

Birds in the Airport and Star Wars Over Breakfast: Traveling and the First Day in New Zealand (Part One)

Birds in the Airport and Star Wars Over Breakfast: Traveling and the First Day in New Zealand (Part One)

It’s rainy, and looks to be that all day, so I’m spending the time organizing pictures and my living space. I will eventually need to go out in the rain (it’s good I brought my umbrella), but for now, I’m just cozy in my Auckland hobbit hole.

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About to go through security. Photo source: me mum.

At the Indianapolis International Airport, my suitcase weighed in at 42.5 pounds, and my backpack weighed somewhere around 15 pounds. These two pieces of luggage are my life for this year.

As I finalized my packing the morning I left, I went every which way, trying to figure out where to start. I kept saying, “This is insane. I am crazy,” and variations of that. The whole thing didn’t seem real. (I ended up pinching myself about three hours into the Indy to L.A. plane ride. I was awake.) Continue reading “Birds in the Airport and Star Wars Over Breakfast: Traveling and the First Day in New Zealand (Part One)”

I’m Headed to New Zealand

new_zealand_sheep_farm from ien-edu
Source: International Education Network

In less than a month, I will be on a plane from Indianapolis to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, for a year on a working holiday visa.

The story of how I got here still amazes me. I had international travel plans before I took the job teaching, and two days after those plans crashed, I woke up and looked in the mirror, and the thought came seemingly from nowhere: What about New Zealand?

New Zealand was a country I had once been interested in visiting, but if I didn’t make it there, I would have been okay. So I said to my reflection, “Nah, that’s too crazy.” And I left it at that.  Continue reading “I’m Headed to New Zealand”