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Guys, I’m just going to put it out there. Italy is better in winter.

I know, controversial. But hear me out, ok?

Earlier this year I took a trip in the snowy season to the heart of the Dolomites, and I swear, it was the best. This part of Italy has charm in abundance, hidden away in the high mountains, it’s exactly the kind of place I love to visit and recharge. 

Nestled in the heart of the Dolomites (a mountain range in north east of Italy) is the tiny gingerbread town of Alleghe.

We’re talking chocolate-box levels of cute. 

Think wooden houses framed by balconies overflowing with flowers (or holly branches and pine in the winter). Quaint churches and cobbled streets, endless forest, soaring peaks and the clearest turquoise lake you ever did see. Except in winter, when it’s frozen over. 

Alleghe is home to one of the largest and most exhilarating ski and winter areas in the Dolomites.

Alleghe is really a gem, and still very much a secret spot in Italy. But first let me teach you how to pronounce it? “Ahhhhl” “lay” “gay”. Just move your hands in the air when you say it and you’ll be mistaken for a local!

In winter in the Dolomites, it snows! Like, alot. My first day in Alleghe was freezing cold but with no fresh snow, and then it started dumping! Last year they were truly buried in snow while this January it didn’t start snowing in earnest until the end of my trip. Typical. 

Everything’s better when it snows. Until you’re sick of it. You’ve heard me say it before, I’m sure. The light is nicer, the air is fresher, the world is suddenly magical.

And Alleghe in winter is no exception.

You can even go ice-skating at their locally popular rink, home to an awesome hockey team and killer figure skaters! I even got to go skating with some of the local kids at the Alleghe ice-skating rink, though I was very ungainly and wobbly. 

Head here if the weather outside is too frightful for skiing, it’s really a popular local activity and a must-do when in Alleghe.

It’s a full-size ice hockey arena and caters for the beginner skater to the advanced. I’m not going to go into how many times I almost fell over to the amusement of all the kids, but everyone was SO nice and sweet, I couldn’t help feel inspired.

Seriously though, it’s like living in a christmas movie. With really good pizza and a fondness for grappa. 

But even better than the pizza, is the skiing.

As I said, Alleghe is surrounded by mountains on all sides. A UNESCO world heritage site, the main ski resort is called Civetta – the largest in the Veneto region and it’s lorded over by the stunning Monte Civetta (3,220 meters). It’s pronounced “chi-vay-tah.”

A paradise of endless runs, powder barrels, groomed slopes and park. There’s gondolas and T-bars, double and quadruple chairs, everything you could want in a field with the additional bonus of breathtaking views and THE BEST pine scent. 

Civetta is part of the Dolomiti SuperSki, the largest ski area in the world with more than 1250 km of always piste and 450 ski lifts accessible with a single ski pass. New Zealand, take notes.

There’s just something about being out on the snow, in the heart of the mountains that is so very calming. And with 80 kms of trails and 22 lifts at Civetta, you can literally ski (or in my case, snowboard) all day and only see a handful of people at time.

I spent four days boarding here, and I could have easily done more. My hamstrings on the other hand, definitely couldn’t. 

Damn, I’m unfit. Once day my legs were so tired I had to stop early because I could no longer bend my knees. Oh the shame!

Dotted all over the mountain on and off piste on the Civetta you’ll see many a cute and charming wooden cabins.

These are called “baita” in Italian and are very local, privately owned rustic chalets or huts. Originally they were very rustic, I imagine used by shepherds though nowadays they are turned into second homes and holiday homes. From what I understand you can’t even really just buy them.

In Italy, things stay in the family.

Once a winter season they all open their doors on the same day and people can visit inside them. As a professional house-snooper, I’m all over that.

Oh, but the best part of skiing the Civetta in winter is when you get to defrost by fire afterwards in one of the many charming log-cabin-slash-restaurants dotted around the mountains.  With a large mug of mulled wine, of course.

And being in Italy, this means you are in for a real treat when it comes to lunch on the mountains or aprés-ski.

First things first, it’s acceptable to drink grappa any time of day, and all of these chalets will have homemade grappa of varying levels of flavors and strength on tap.

The food in the Dolomites can only be described as “mountain hardy food” so like traditional Austrian meets Italian. Lots of meat, and game meat like venison, gnocchi, polenta of course, and pasta pasta pasta. My favorite dish on the menu was spinach spaetzle, a rustic handmade noodle from the area. So satisfying when you’re cold.

But if skiing isn’t your thing, no worries, there is so much else to do in Alleghe in winter.

You can hike and walk around and explore too. So you’re still getting all the snow and the mountain feels, just on foot. There a literally hundreds of trails to explore, ranging from easy to pack-an-ice-pick-and-crampons hard.

Be sure to check before you go, as not all are open at this time of year. It’s really well managed and labeled and organized.

Definitely go at least for a walk around the lake, it’s stunning! It’s something all the locals do to and where they go to walk their dogs.

Skiing and walking don’t do it for you? Why not climb a frozen waterfall! Another point for winter. I mean where else can you do that? I can’t tell you how awesome it was, because on this trip the fire-and-wine-and-book combo won the day, but it looked awesome. Really.

Another excellent way to get a shot of adrenaline is night snowmobiling.

I actually did this one, and it was amazing! Equal parts thrilling and terrifying. Also, it was freezing and I’m not sure my toes have recovered.

It was so cool zooming around the piste at night and how fast you get to go. Max who runs the snowmobile training school in Alleghe is the Italian champion so you’re in safe hands.

I also spent a bit of time wandering the main streets around Alleghe, especially first thing in the morning when the snow was fresh and no one had woken up yet.

There are quaint artisan shops galore and you can lose track of several hours easily. Local handmade products are abundant, and it’s been a long time since I’ve visited anywhere that felt so grassroots and real. Honestly, it felt like I stepped a bit back in time to the 70’s, or maybe a Wes Anderson film. Most of the tourists in Alleghe are Italians so it feels really real.

 If you’re after unique and authentic travel experience Alleghe in winter is for you.

Have you been to the Dolomites? In winter? Is Alleghe in winter a place you could see yourself hanging out in? Spill!

Many thanks to Dolomites Maadness for hosting me in Italy – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me!

The post The undeniable charm of Alleghe in wintertime appeared first on Young Adventuress.

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It’s that time of year again in New Zealand.

As we slowly make our way through April, nighttime temperatures plummet, the frost begins, and the days become shorter. Winter is coming and so are the white walkers.

Wait, never mind. Autumn is here! My most favorite time of year!

Usually in sync with the first frosts, a row of trees near my house in Wanaka always turn red first and I know that fall is coming. Squee! Time to bring out the cozy sweaters, wooly socks and mugs of coffee and tea.

I don’t really know why I’m so obsessed with autumn, but I can speak to the fact that it evokes great nostalgia for me, and probably for many of you too.

It reminds my of my childhood growing up in Virginia, playing in leave piles meticulously raked by my dad. Going to pick pumpkins and for turkey roasts around Thanksgiving and maple pancakes on the weekend. Nothing beats an East Coast autumn.

In college I went to university in Massachusetts, where fall is quite perfect in every way.

But then I swapped hemispheres and moved to New Zealand, eventually arriving in Wanaka just before the beginning of autumn 5 years ago. I had to grow accustomed to seeing lambs in October and colorful leaves in April.

Mid to late April is usually the best time for autumn colors around Central Otago where I live. Of course, I am not a god (wish I was) so I can’t tell you EXACTLY when the leaves will change, but usually mid to late April is when they look the best!

One main difference here is that here I’m surrounded by vineyards as far as I can see, and I love when the harvest begins around autumn time and when the leaves on the vines change color. It makes me so happy!

I don’t believe New Zealand has any native deciduous trees (i.e. trees whose leaves change color), you can find them around many of the South Island regions and towns, especially where there are/were lots of farms.

And places like Christchurch also have lovely colorful trees. New Zealand autumn rocks.

Many farm driveways and roads are planted with poplar trees that turn the most beautiful golden yellow in autumn. I’m not sure why – wind blocking? Shade for the sheep? If anyone knows why, please update me.

For that reason, Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes District, like Wanaka, Arrowtown and Queenstown have beautiful autumn colors, though they come with tourists.

I tend to head deep into the heart of Central Otago for autumn, around places like Clyde, Alexandra and out towards Naseby and Ophir. Here is the heart of the gold rush history, and a place that makes me heart soar. I always make a point to be here this time of year and to take it all in.

April is also a great month to travel in New Zealand since it’s usually mild and windless, before the snows have arrived but after the summer crowds have gone home.

Here are some of my favorite shots of autumn in New Zealand over the years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, and be sure to subscribe to my blog for when I start sharing new adventures from this autumn.

Are you a fan of autumn too? Can you relate to my nostalgia? Have you been around New Zealand in April? Spill!

The post 20 photos of autumn in New Zealand that will delight you appeared first on Young Adventuress.

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Australia tops the bucket list of many, and as someone who has been down under many a time, I’ve yet to tick off some of the most iconic spots like the Sydney Opera House, the trendy city of Melbourne or Uluru.

Personally, I love to get off the beaten track, and when the chance came to explore Victoria’s High Country, I jumped as high as I could.

Victoria is one of the states in Australia, home to Melbourne, but once you get out of the big city, you’re in for a real treat.

A lovely mountain town set in the foothills of the Victorian Alps, Bright is the perfect base for exploring Mt. Buffalo and the surrounding Alpine national parks.

It is also the base for visiting Mt. Hotham in winter to ski. While I have yet to visit Victoria in the snowy season, I can heartily attest to the fact that this place is just

Wineries, good foodie spots, friendly locals galore, beautiful views and epic adventures, Bright and the surrounding area really does have it all!

1. Sunset at The Horn, Mount Buffalo

It seems fitting to begin with the first of several all-time favorite places in Bright (yes, I have more than one, I’m allowed!) The Horn, at Mount Buffalo.

This spectacular lookout is what dreams are made of. With truly breathtaking views you’ll feel (quite literally ) on top of the world. While you can drive most of the way, to reach the lookout you’ll have to don your hiking boots for a short steep hike from the final picnic area to get to the top.

If you had to pick a time of day, chose sunset!

Showcasing sweeping panoramas of Mt Hotham, Mt Buller, Mount Featherton and the valleys beyond, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Europe, or even the wilds of China!

At 1,723 meters elevation (or just over 500 ft) The Horn is the highest point in the Mount Buffalo National Park and a definite ‘must do’ when you’re in the area.

As the rolling mountains disappear into the distance, you really feel like you’re on top of the world here.

2. Dip your toes at Ladies Bath Falls

There’s just something about standing under a waterfall in the heat of the day, surrounded by birdsong and native forest. Am I right?

The ultimate bathing spot, Ladies Bath Falls are practically an institution round here.

As the story goes, in the late 1940’s the trains from Melbourne would stop so the ladies on board could ‘refresh’ themselves in the falls before the final leg of the journey to Mount Buffalo. I can heartily attest that that water is, indeed, fresh. It’s freaking cold!

Set just 400 meters back from the road up Mount Buffalo, these crystal clear springs trickle over smooth granite boulders and make for a tranquil detour.

Be warned though, the water is icy! Not shown in pic: My very numb feet. 

3. Get nice and cozy at the Kilnhouses

My accommodation near Bright was extraordinary. The Kilnhouses are a unique experience where contemporary luxury and design is combined with the stunning beauty of the high country landscape on a cattle farm.

And I’m not really a ‘cow’ kind of girl, usually preferring sheep farms, but after this – I think I’m converted.

I stayed in the Sorting Shed which was designed to mirror the old style of tobacco sorting sheds, with amazing views of the farms and mountains around it.

Let me ask you something. When I say ‘Australia’ you picture beaches and kangaroos right? Me too. Well, I used to.

Now, when I think of Australia, my mind often wanders back to The Kilnhouses.

Rolling green fields as far as the eye can see, edged with gumtree forests and snowy mountain peaks. Morning mists, and the sounds of a working farm right outside my seriously luxurious room. Can I hide here forever?

4. Be welcomed by the friendly locals

Down to earth, generous and some of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met, the locals in Bright are a huge part of what what make this place so special. From the baristas who made my daily coffees to the people I met on the trails, I left Bright with such a sense of joy for my fellow humans.

Here I felt safe and happy.

Which is actually saying a lot considering I’m the biggest introvert out there. 

5. Tuck in for a big feed at the Wandi pub

Now getting to one of the more important points – the food. Which, by the way, was exceptional. Topping my list is the Wandi Pub.

Yes, guys, a pub.

The perfect mix between down-to-earth watering hole and inner city gastro-chic, the Wandi delivers in every regard. The portions are big, the garden is delightful and the decor is en pointe (although seriously, what do I know about pub decor?)

I don’t know what I was expecting when I parked outside the Wandi pub, and I could see heaps of local utes and farm vehicles. Expecting a rural farm kind of pub like we have in New Zealand, you know, with antlers on the wall, a big pool table and a lot of men in plaid and short shorts.

I wasn’t disappointed, except I wasn’t prepared for the incredible beer on tap and the delicious and fresh menu inspired by owner’s Tim and Paddy’s travels.

If I could have ordered everything on the menu, I would. However, I’m unashamedly all about ordering food that looks good on camera (not a curry then) and I went with the Zaartar cauliflower and omg guys it was amazing.

6. Go for a wander at sunrise at the Mount Beauty Gorge Walk

If you’re after an easy hike that really delivers on epic terrain – this one’s for you. Roughly six kilometers of sheer granite cliffs, cool green canopy and clear waters, the Mount Beauty Gorge Walk takes you through the heart of a natural canyon.

Starting out you’ll traverse the Kiewa River via swingbridge, before the track descends into the belly of the gorge. Be sure to pack a pair of shoes you don’t mind get wet for wading – there are several river crossings on this hike. 

There’s also a fair bit of boulder hopping! And also it’s Australia, so snakes!

As you continue on, the sun is filtered through the trees, creating the most beautiful light. I’ve been on a lot of hikes, but I was really struck by how magical this place felt.

The further you go, the sides gradually get steeper, and you’ll come across a series of natural pools, perfect for taking a dip along the way! I recommend taking a picnic to enjoy on the rocks post-swim – Everything tastes better with the sun on your face!

7. Enjoy all the colors 

If there was ever a town to embody the essence of landscape diversity, it would be Bright. As happy as its name suggests, I can’t help but make my number seven point all about the color palette.

The soft pastels of dawn give way to a vibrant orange sunrise, which transforms the landscape into a patchwork of greens and browns.

The constant dust in the air mean that during sunset, the horizon is painted every shade of purple and yellow.

Everything is sharp here, bolder and brighter, pun intended.

The vineyards, mountains, red dirt roads, bare rock and lush undergrowth all meld seamlessly, creating a truly wonderful snapshot of Australia at its finest.

It’s also not unlike my hometown of Wanaka, so possibly that explains my affinity with the land.

I know that it’s probably glorious come autumn when the leaves begin to change.

8. Take in a sunrise at  Tawonga Gap

Ok, this one was a happy coincidence I stumbled upon while driving one day and knew it’d be a great spot for sunrise.

Halfway between the towns of Mt Beauty and Bright, on the Tawonga Gap Road is a secluded little lookout with the most sensational views over the surrounding mountains.

It’s extra special because most of the drive you’re shrouded in forest, so when you reach this tiny clearing it makes the panorama seem all the more remarkable.

Native bush turns to lush farmland, turns to mountains and endless skies. I managed to catch the sun as it first appeared, but whichever time of day you choose, the Tawonga Gap is an ideal spot to stretch your legs and get a dose of vitamin N. Plug in into maps on your phone and you’ll find it. 

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Four months ago my life was changed forever.

While hiking on a very remote part of Stewart Island, I stumbled upon a scene of horror at sunset, several pods of 150 pilot whales beaching themselves in the shallow surf. Far from help, we did all that we could, but they ultimately all died.

Their cries haunt my dreams and still wake me up at night. I have nightmares about their bodies left to the sands on that beach, all alone.

How could I not help them? Why couldn’t I save them?

Us humans have done so much harm to our oceans but also have created so many impossible things and built so many incredible machines.

We’ve sent men to the moon and taken photos of a black hole for the first time. We have magical underwater internet cables all around the world. How could we not save some whales? How could I not even call for help?

We should have been able to save them.

It makes me SO FUCKING MAD that we only prioritize science for profit. Why don’t we dedicate the billions of dollars that go into military funding like underwater naval mock battles or seismic blasting in our oceans instead of trying to figure out why whales keep beaching themselves and how we can prevent it?

WE STILL DON’T HAVE THE ANSWERS. ok, all caps, I’m pissed. Calm down, Liz.

But seriously, look at those four photos I just shared above. That was hell. Taking those photos was hell and killed part of my soul. The only reason I even took a few images of the stranding was because I knew deep down that this would become part of my story, and I would need them down the road.

Part of me died that day on the beach with those whales, and caused a wound so deep I’m only starting to recover from it.

I never want to experience that fear, helplessness, anger and grief again. The ghosts of 150 beautiful pilot whales walk with me everyday: mothers, babies, brothers, sisters, fathers, all gone but not forgotten, at least to me.

My experience with the whales was a catalyst for a massive breakdown for me, in which all my issues with control and being able to handle situations exploded, rendering me almost useless for months.

I spiraled into a deep depression, pushing everyone away from me, wallowing and unable to get the most basic tasks done. I stopped sleeping again and became the poster child for a millennial burnout.

My exhaustion consumed me. I realized I couldn’t do it all, and I had to ask for help when I needed it, which I did.

So what can I do now? What does that have to do with whales, Liz?

Last weekend I took the first step to becoming stronger by becoming a marine mammal medic in Kaikoura with Project Jonah, a New Zealand charity that’s been saving whales since 1974. Alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC), they are dedicated to protecting marine mammals here in New Zealand.

Half of the world’s whales and dolphins species are found in New Zealand, and there is a high rate of strandings here, averaging over 300 per year. They need our help.

New Zealand is a hotspot for whale strandings and has a handful of places where whales regularly strand, like on Stewart Island where I was and famously on Farewell Spit.

After my experience with the whales on Stewart Island, it was Project Jonah, DOC, and even the New Zealand police (!!) who looked after me, calling me and checking in on me when I was feeling blue. The support I received over those tough few weeks as I began to come to terms with my experience.

Once I began to feel better, I realized I had a difficult choice ahead of me: either ignore what I experienced with the whales and bury those horrible memories and move on with my life, or embrace the pain and use it as foundation to make a change in the world.

I am not one of those “airy-fairy” people who believes in fate or whatever *eye rolls* but honestly, I really think it was fate that put me on that beach with those whales. What are the chances someone was even there, let alone ME?!

Now I truly feel like it’s my duty now to share what I went through and do my part to make sure that no one is ever in my position again.

So I booked a flight to Christchurch, rented a car, and drove up to Kaikoura for the weekend, where I was able to attend one of Project Jonah’s marine mammal medic courses. Yes, it’s a thing.

With so many strandings happening every year, Project Jonah and DOC rely on trained volunteers (marine mammal medics) to help with the rescues and re-floating of stranded whales.

You spend the morning in the classroom learning about whales and dolphins and some of the reasons why they strand, along with the rescue techniques used at a stranding. In the afternoon, you’ll pull on a wetsuit and hit the beach for the practical part of the course, practicing what we’ve learned on life size inflatable whales and dolphins (filled with water to make them life-weight too) as well as using real rescue equipment on them.

By the end of Project Jonah Marine Mammal Medic course you’ll be trained to:

  • Assist in the rescue of stranded dolphins and whales
  • Act as a role model to untrained rescuers
  • After the course you’ll be issued with a marine mammal medic card and added to our national database for future stranding call-outs.

Be sure to subscribe to Project Jonah’s newsletter so you can sign up for the next course. I truly believe along with Project Jonah, that everyone person who lives in New Zealand should do this course and be better prepared for strandings.

It was so hard to relive those memories but now I feel one step closer to not being helpless and ignorant with strandings and I hope I can begin to do my part in saving and protecting these amazing creatures.

I realized that while I did a lot of things wrong when I stumbled across those whales on Stewart Island, like trying to grab them by their tails, I also realized I did the right thing by sending my partner at the time off running 20 kilometers to find DOC rangers.

I’m still coming to terms with the fact that there was nothing anyone could have done to save those whales I found, so many factors were not in their favor, mostly due to the sheer remoteness and access difficulty of where I found them, I feel a lot more secure in the knowledge I took away from this course that I can be of help in future strandings.

Which leads me to my next point – I need your help.

While I’ve always loved whales and marine mammals (I mean, what’s not to love? They are pretty incredible!) I now feel like whales are part of my story and I want to spend more time with them, and hopefully not just at whale strandings as a volunteer. I want to spend time with them in the water, learning about them and studying them.

Please if you know anyone who works with whales or dolphins or has experience in this area, scientists, biologists, rangers, or just fellow whale lovers, please let me know.

I’m really thinking about heading up to Tonga this winter to swim with the Humpback whales during their migration, but please let me know of other opportunities, places, books, movies, anything about whales where I can further my knowledge. And please connect me with fellow whale people!

Thank you and ngā mihi.

Liz xx

Report whale or dolphin strandings to the DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT or to Project Jonah 0800 4 WHALE

Do you spend time at the ocean and love whales and dolphins too? Is this something you’d be keen to learn more about? Share!

The post The whale story continues: becoming marine mammal medic in Kaikoura appeared first on Young Adventuress.

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There are many corners and pockets around the world where I have left bits of my heart.

Certain places resonate with us as travelers in many unique and mysterious ways. Whether I can envision myself setting up a home there or just falling in love with a particular area, I often find myself returning to these spots again and again.

One of them is right here in New Zealand, Lake Heron Station, smack dab in the center of the Southern Alps.

A high country merino sheep station full of charm and character, run by the incredible Todhunter family, Lake Heron has a hold on my heart unlike any other place. I can’t wait to go back again and again.

Tucked away in the beautiful Ashburton Lakes area, inland from Mt Somers, the station has been in the hands of the Todhunters for over a century.

Sheep farming has been the very backbone of the South Island for decades, and it’s pretty incredible to have such a magnificent piece of land open for visitors like me who are after a true kiwi experience and are keen to pull on their boots on a sheep farm.

No, you won’t be asked to shear anything or herd any lambs, though it sure is pretty funny watching foreigners try and catch a sheep. Spoiler alert: they are faster than they look.

An sheep farm (station) that covers 75 square miles of stunning wilderness, Lake Heron Station begins by a beautiful little lake in a tussock-covered valley surrounded by stunning mountains that leads up into the Alps and even onto glaciers.

Here merino sheep reign supreme in harsh conditions, growing the wool we love so much.

One valley over you’ll find what was Edoras in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Lake Heron Station remains quiet and in the hands of the sheep.

In fact, I love Lake Heron so much I celebrated my 30th birthday there last year with friends at the New Hut, a private backcountry hut that’s done up nice and cozy out on the farm.

I’ve also stayed in the Lake Heron Cottage with friends, a more modern and cozy choice for travelers looking for a farm experience in New Zealand. Built in 1900, it’s been lovingly restored and has three bedrooms (if needed) and it’s the perfect place to base yourself in the mountains for an authentic experience.

You won’t run into any tourists here, just sheep dogs and pure wilderness as far as the eye can see!

Philip and Anne Todhunter will welcome you with open arms and you’ll truly feel at home once you arrive, and trust me, you won’t want to leave.

Now, the best way to experience Lake Heron is by air, and guests can explore the massive station and surrounding wilderness through scenic flights and even heli-skiing in the winter.

Philip has been flying around New Zealand’s backcountry as a commercial pilot for over 35 years and knows the land like the back of his hand. Definitely partake in a tour of the farm from the air to experience the scale of it, cruising over herds of sheep and playful chamois in the mountains.

I never get tired of seeing the beautiful glacial rivers from above, snaking blue and shimmering in the sunlight in a way that you couldn’t imagine from the ground.

Lake Heron is surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most picturesque mountains, many of which are hard to access by foot and require very long hikes in and out of the valleys to even reach their foothills.

From the air you can take in the Upper Rakaia River and Rangitata Valley, including the glaciated peaks of the Arrowsmith Range. This is the true heart of the Southern Alps and the real backcountry experience here. With Philip you can also fly over the fabled ice fields of the Gardens of Eden and Allah, which is on the top of so many bucketlists but incredibly difficult to access.

A big scenic flight would also include checking out Aoraki/Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and the old stomping grounds of Anne, who was a mountain guide there.

Seriously, how cool is this family?

Depending on the weather and what you’re looking to see, you might even cross over to the West Coast.

Once the land turns lush and green, and often with a bit of cloud, you’ll know that you’ve crossed the famed Divide of the Southern Alps to the wetter and somewhat wilder West Coast, another favorite place I love to escape to.

From Philip’s Cessna 185, you can really get a feel for how small New Zealand is and how much the land packs a punch here.

People always ask me what is the best activity to splurge on in New Zealand, and my answer is always the same: a scenic flight. No matter how impressive the land is here from the ground, it’s even more profound from the skies.

I never get tired of flying around this incredible country. Perhaps one day I should get my pilot’s license too (sorry mom!).

Until then I’ll stick the more solid and experienced guys like Philip to shuffle me around. Now I just need to figure out when I can get back to my favorite haunt of Lake Heron, heaven on earth.

Would you love to stay on a merino farm like Lake Heron? Have you been on a scenic flight before? Spill!

Many thanks to the Todhunters for hosting me at Lake Heron. Like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

The post Soaring high over around Lake Heron Station appeared first on Young Adventuress.

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I’ve made it no secret, I love rural New Zealand.

Thriving pastoral scenes are abundant in this country, with little lambs frolicking on perfect green hills; idyllic farms disappearing into the distance. Honestly, is it surprising at all that Peter Jackson imagined the Hamilton Waikato region of New Zealand as the perfect place to film the Shire in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings?

With Hobbiton just up the road, perhaps the other most popular attraction in the area is Waitomo, home to the world famous glowworm caves.

For many, Waitomo is synonymous with glowworm caves.

Beneath the idyllic pastures and rolling green hills of rural Waikato, you’ll find a complex and elaborate system of caves, tunnels, sinkholes and underground rivers that have been drawing adventurers and explorers for more than a century to this part of the world.

A few hours from Auckland, this is the perfect area to escape to for a weekend getaway if you’re looking for a bit of relaxing fun in a beautiful setting. I could have stayed for a week!

While many tourists just pass through on a day trip, Waitomo is actually a great place to spend some time to get to know it better.

There are plenty of things to do in the area and it’s a great base for some epic North Island adventures. While it can be really touristy, it is definitely a very good taste of real rural New Zealand.

Waitomo is famous for their caves, especially their glowworm caves.

I’ve visited a few times over the years, though nothing quite so memorable as partaking in their amazing black water rafting trip way back when in 2013 on the Black Abyss tour.

Pulling on a wetsuit, blackwater rafting is classic kiwi experience.

You’ll explore the caves by swimming, crawling and climbing through tunnels and caverns, and even floating beneath the twinkling glowworms on an inner tube, tourism has really grown in the area, making for a unique getaway.

The first time I saw glowworms in New Zealand was over 5 years ago on an action packed trip with the Legendary Black Water Rafting Co in the Waitomo Caves. Gazing upwards, it felt like I was looking at a universe of blue stars, how divine, right?

As it turns out I was looking at a ceiling of bright shiny maggots! I love Mother Nature!

Māori call the glowworms here titiwai, which refers to lights reflected in water. Glowworms are carnivorous glowing larvae that drip down a long sticky thread in dark damp environments that entangle insects they attract with their glowing lights! Too cool!

This time around we skipped the wetsuits and opted to explore the stunning caves on the Waitomo Caves Tour first, the highlight is riding in a boat through a glowworm grotto, silently drifting in the dark beneath a sky teeming with blue starry-like glowworms.

The viewing in here is just epic, and definitely a must-do trip for anyone hoping for a taste of the Waitomo glowworm caves.

It’s such an incredible experience exploring the world beneath us in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves in New Zealand.

There are many ways to experience the glowworm caves, there are options for everyone.

If I had to chose a favorite cave, it would probably be the Ruakuri Cave, where you can do a long walking tour and photos are allowed. The Ruakuri Cave is New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour in a cave.

Here you get to marvel at enormous caverns and take in the twinkling blue glowworms.

As you meander along you can hear thundering underground waterfalls and the soft drop drip from the incredible stalactite formations. After a long day of adventures in another world beneath the ground, you feel a great sense of wonder emerging back into the sunlight.

I definitely recommend sticking around the area; this part of New Zealand has a lot to offer.

We decided to stay the night near Waitomo at the Free Range Farmstay, a super cute Airbnb on a local family farm.

Staying on a small farm like this really gives you a taste for what rural life in New Zealand is like. You’ll wake up to the sounds of birdcalls and sheep baah-ing in the distance, and you can even go for walks around the property. It’s so peaceful, and of course Megan and Logan give you a great welcome plus cookies!

For me, the best time to visit is spring when the little lambs are frolicking and are out and about being adorable (spring in New Zealand is around October and November FYI).

The Free Range Farmstay is truly delightful, and the perfect spot in between popular tourist attractions on the North Island.

Trust me, if you’re doing a big road trip around New Zealand, you need a few chill days to unwind and this is the spot.

About half an hours drive from the caves, the farmstay is the perfect place to retire to for the night.

I also highly recommend staying on a farm as a couple because you might learn things about your partner you never knew. For example, I was with my ex, and while we were strolling around the land in the morning, I learned he is actually terrified of cows and refused to walk by a few that had slipped out of their paddock!

It was hilarious! I’m sure he’ll murder me if he ever reads this, but I couldn’t resist sharing.

Book in for a hearty dinner at Huhu Cafe nearby to soothe your appetite after a big day of caving, and don’t skip the pumpkin and cheddar risotto balls as a starter. OMG so good!

This place is super cute and a popular spot, and their food is divine, and if you’re like me, you’ll definitely be over-ordering. It’s a great place to indulge in some popular kiwi dishes, like slow-cooked lamb, salmon, and of course, fish and chips.

Perched above the town, you have great views of the rolling Waitomo hills, and it’s the perfect spot to sit back, relax, and chat about all of your incredible adventures.

Near Waitomo and the Free Range Farmstay, is one of my favorite modern kiwi cafes – What The Food that Megan recommended. I’ve become obsessed with modern, Australian style healthy and minimalist eateries, where the food looks amazing on Instagram.

The brainchild of Jorja Tarrant, a 25-year-old anorexia survivor, is a dream world of the most incredible unprocessed sweets, all of which are all gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and vegan.

Presented beautifully and absolutely delicious (coming from someone who doesn’t love vegans all that much), what makes this space even more delightful is how the Te Awamutu community really rallied behind Jorja in making her dream come true. What a place! I definitely recommend getting at least one smoothie bowl here for breakfast.

Have you been to the Waitomo Caves? Is seeing glowworms on your bucketlist? Share!

Many thanks to Waitomo for hosting me in the Glowworm Caves, like always I’m keeping it real, all opinions are my own, like you can expect less from me!

The post A picture perfect getaway to Waitomo appeared first on Young Adventuress.

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Growing up in the South in rural Virginia, my childhood memories are full of school field trips to historic plantations, playing in the leaves from big oak trees and summer thunderstorms that shake the house.

The older I get, I often find my thoughts drifting back to when I was a child, remembering the smells and sounds of being outside, of family holidays to the beach, of playing in the park with my mom. I find myself even dreaming about the first house I grew up in.

Now that I live a world away in New Zealand, where the environment is decidedly different than Virginia, there is something primal within me that yearns for those memories.

When I found out that I would be speaking at SXSW this year in Austin with Condé Nast Traveler, I knew I wanted to make time to see my mom over on the East Coast. But I don’t know about you guys, whenever I go home now to my family’s house, sleeping in my childhood twin bed, I slip straight back into childish behavior.

I mean, I’m 30 for christ’s sake and I find myself yelling at my mom about my laundry!

If anything it’s stressful. Going home is hard.

This time around, instead of the regular old pattern of flying to Dulles (my least favorite airport on earth) and slipping into old habits and teenage routines, I convinced my mom and stepdad to join me on a little adventure in the South – a family getaway to Charleston, South Carolina!

I originally wanted to go to Savannah, but by the time we went to book it, everything was booked out and what was left was crazy expensive! Who knew?

So instead we decided to stay in Charleston, which ended up being perfect.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been down that way. Once of my first flights I ever took was to visit my dad when he was working in South Carolina, and we used to occasionally rent a beach house at the Outer Banks or Virginia Beach.

But for the most part, my travels in my youth was limited around Virginia.

By the time I got to high school, all I could do was dream about escaping the South, which I did fleeing to university up in New England and then overseas to Spain. Ever since I was little I dreamed about seeing the world.

And now, 70 countries later, I yearn for the summer hum of the South of my childhood. Ironic, I know.

My parents rarely travel, though I surprised them with a trip to Ireland a few years ago, but with the quick and easy flight down to Charleston made it much easier for them.

And let me say, March in South Carolina was just glorious. The perfect temperature every day, with the flowers blooming and the soft sea breeze blowing in the wind made for the ideal setting.

Now I just need to find Rhett Butler. Any tips?

Since this was a real and proper vacation, and I wasn’t working, I decided to travel light and fast with my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera (a mouthful, I know). A high-end mirrorless camera, it weighs significantly less than my old Canon kit, and is durable and compact.

Traveling with the Olympus completely changed how I photographed. Instead of becoming a chore of pulling out a massive camera, I found myself taking a lot more shots than I might have in the past, with the speed and ease that comes with carrying such a light kit.

I also love shooting with a live screen that’s also a touch screen, it really helps me frame and set up my shots with ease, and with an incredible scale of focal points, I’m hooked.

And honestly? It made it feel much more like a holiday than work, which it was!

So here is a random smattering of shots all taken with my Olympus of Charleston with my parents. We relaxed. We ate a lot. We went for walks. And we enjoyed being in a beautiful place together.

As my parents get older, I feel tremendously guilty about living so far away from them, and want to make the most of our time together when we can. This was a really special trip for me, and I feel so lucky to be able to travel with them.

Ok, I’m gonna stop now before I choke up. Here are my highlights from Charleston peppered in with some very random travel tips. Enjoy!

Have you been to Charleston before? Do you ever travel with your parents? Spill!

Go for a walk around South of Broad and pick out your future house

Ok, downtown Charleston is ridiculously charming. Full of old world grandeur and enormous mansions with carriage houses, colorful shutters and beautiful ivy galore, I quickly fell in love with this area.

South of Broad is located south of Broad Street, at the southernmost tip of the peninsula, and was my favorite spot to wander around with my mom.

We unashamedly peeked inside people’s gardens and marveled at the decadent houses. How I wish I could buy her one!

Pick your favorite porch or front door

The South does many things well, like manners and sweet tea, but something else they truly excel at are epic porches and beautiful front doors.

After all, there is nothing quite so southern like sitting out on a front porch swing late in the afternoon spinning yarns with old friends.

Eat all the seafood

Since Charleston is on the water, it’s no surprise that the seafood is to die for. Of course there are plenty of other dining options, but I made a point to eat as much seafood as possible while we were there.

The best shrimp and grits (a southern most do!) we had was at Fleet Landing, and we stumbled upon Mason’s Lobster for my New England lobster roll fix while wandering near the famous markets.

I tried twice to get a spot at 167 Raw for a meal, and both times the wait was over 2 hours long! What the fuck! I both hate it and love it in equal measure, I’ll be back for you.

But by far our best seafood meal was The Ordinary.

Actually, just eat everything

I was super surprised to hear that Charleston is a massive foodie scene, and amount of amazing foodie experiences there are to die for!

I was also equally annoyed to learn that for some of the best spots you have to make a reservation months in advance. We couldn’t even get in at some of the more well-known spots like Husk or Fig. Oh well, they missed out on us.

Luckily we stayed right next to a delightful cafe and lunch spot called Millers All Day which we frequented several times. Their fried chicken biscuit blew me away!

Prepare if you plan a trip to Charleston, book your dinners in advance!

Meander through White Point Garden

Right next to the water, this place is so cute. My mom and I loved it!

Take your mom for a walk in the French Quarter

More old charming houses and delightful cobblestone streets. And lots of cute shopping.

We didn’t ride in a horse and carriage because we all felt a bit sad for those horses.

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“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

If you’re like me, those words are truly iconic and perhaps have changed your life.

I can still remember picking up a well-worn used copy of the Hobbit when I was a pre-teen, and it wasn’t long before I was truly engrossed in Middle Earth. Without realizing it, Oxford Professor J.R.R. Tolkien ignited a passion around the world for his writing. Generations of readers like me hungered for his stories, his adventurous sagas of hobbits and elves, tales of good versus evil that have shaped many of us, and turned us all into great readers too.

Fanatics or superfans, us Tolkien nerds recognize each other and understand how much this writer meant to us. It’s no surprise his work has been sold over 150 million times. People love Middle Earth.

Before the age of iPhones and social media, I was thumbing through my copy of the Lord of the Rings every summer break, eagerly devouring Tolkien’s iconic tales of Middle Earth and immersing myself into his worlds.

Why is his work so enduring?

I think it’s because The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings carry themes that anyone can relate to. They are powerful stories of friendship, adventure, triumph over evil, of forgoing what’s comfortable and easy and doing what is right, that even the smallest person can change the future.

And Tolkien backs it up with decades worth of histories and legends he created, using his extensive knowledge of early history and linguistics to create a Middle Earth so real, it feels like our own past. A professor of Anglo-Saxon and British literature at Oxford, Tolkien often lamented that English history was so “Frenchified” and he longed for an English mythology.

He spent decades creating the histories and languages of Middle Earth, of which the Lord of the Rings is only a small glimpse. His canon is immense and so detailed, that it confuses even the most ardent of fans.

The depth of his writings is so real and profound that you can so easily get lost into his worlds and stories. It’s easy to read and accept the histories and narratives as facts. Tolkien doesn’t ask us to believe in these worlds, he tells us.

Being the massive Lord of the Rings fan that I am, I don’t often share that that’s the very reason I moved to New Zealand in the first place. In high school the films came out and I binged all of the making of previews and behind the scenes extras and learned that it was filmed in this mountainous tiny nation at the bottom of the world so magical and ethereal it didn’t seem real: one day I would go there.

Here I am six years later, a kiwi resident and living in the real Middle Earth, home of places like Edoras and Hobbiton.

But another little known fact about me is that I also studied medieval history in university, even spending a summer researching at the Bodleian Library in Oxford on a grant, once again familiar with Tolkien’s work as a scholar, and frequenting his favorite haunts and pubs around town.

So I was incredibly excited to learn that my favorite museum in New York, The Morgan Library and Museum, would be home to a once in a lifetime exhibit about Tolkien’s life and work this year, celebrating the man and his creations.

The exhibit was originally in Oxford before being switched up and moving to the Morgan, an incredibly unique and once in a lifetime opportunity to see the most extensive public display of Tolkien materials for several generations.

It runs until May 12th, 2019.

The Tolkien exhibit at the Morgan includes family photos, his original drawings and writings, draft manuscripts and maps, and all manner of personal memorabilia loaned to the Morgan from Tolkien collections around the world.

It’s an incredibly rare opportunity to see all of his work together in one space. We’ll likely never see it compiled together in one place again anytime soon, and the exhibit isn’t traveling anywhere else.

Organized by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford in collaboration with the Morgan Library & Museum, New York with the support of The Tolkien Trust, if you are a fan of this work, get yourself on the next plane, bus or car to NYC before May.

My best friend from university, Marika, who studied medieval history with me and a fellow Tolkien fan, now lives in Portland, Oregon with her one year old baby. Knowing that I would be in the States during the Tolkien exhibit, we decided to meet in New York for a few days, a place she had never been.

Her first trip away from her son, it was a great reunion in the Big Apple, made all the more wonderful by our morning spent at the Morgan Library.

The admission to the exhibit is first come first serve and is included in the museum entrance cost. So we got a little sneak peek early before it opened to the general public and where I was allowed to take a few photos and videos (normally no photos are allowed in the exhibit).

It’s difficult for me to articulate how special it was to see Tolkien’s work first hand, to lean in close and see his scribblings over old exam notebooks and how he drafted out his Elvish scripts.

It’s certainly one thing to read about this in a biography but it’s another matter entirely to see it firsthand.

The exhibit it beautifully curated, taking your through his life’s work, and you really leave with a fuller and deeper understanding of the man behind Middle Earth, the father who just loved a good story. For someone like me who is a creative and dreams of being a published author, it was outstanding.

I could (and did) spend hours pouring over the exhibit, and it was packed as soon as the doors opened. We weren’t the only Tolkien fans in Manhattan, it seems.

After finally emerging back into the sunlight of the atrium and immediately gorging on a massive lunch at the museum cafe, including the Tolkien-themed menu, we obviously jumped in-depth about how special that experience was for us.

And of course we couldn’t leave without picking up hefty copies of the exhibit catalogue (which you can also order here).

Fat and happy, us little hobbitses were ready to venture back out into the big city again, full of joy and euphoria for finally getting to see something so close to our hearts up close and personal.

Are you a fan of Tolkien and his work? Did you see his exhibit at Oxford or will you journey to the Morgan to see it in NYC? Spill!

Tolkien: the Maker of Middle Earth exhibition runs at the Morgan Library in NYC until May 12th, 2019 more info here

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth is made possible at the Morgan Library & Museum through the generosity of Fay and Geoffrey Elliott and with the support of The Tolkien Estate, The Tolkien Trust, and members of the Tolkien family. Thank you to the Morgan Library for hosting me at the Tolkien exhibit and for trusting me to share this story. Like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

The post Tolkien: the maker of Middle Earth at the Morgan Library appeared first on Young Adventuress.

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I don’t know why this keeps happening, but New Zealand has been left off a world map. Again.

This isn’t the first time either. In fact, it happens frequently. WTF guys?

There was even a #GetNZOnTheMap campaign to remind people that hey, we’re a tiny but awesome nation down here in the Pacific so please don’t forget about us.

I know, it’s hard to keep up with every country, especially the tiny ones that seem far, far away but I thought this blog had done a decent enough job of helping shed light on what New Zealand is all about for foreigners.

Apparently, there’s still work to do, so let’s get into it.

Is New Zealand Real?

No joke, this is the first auto-fill question that pops up in google after you type “Is New Zealand…”

Yes, it’s real. It’s an actual country with a functioning government and real humans with jobs and lives and hobbies. Population – under 5 million people.

Someone please tell that to Kazakhstan who once detained a Kiwi traveling there because they were skeptical that New Zealand was a real country. Jesus.

Where is it?

New Zealand is an island nation the South Pacific Ocean, about 2,000 km east of Australia across the Tasman Sea.

It’s made up two main islands (North and South Islands, yeah we know, creative) and a few off-shoot smaller islands.

Bottom of the world!

Is it the same as Australia?

No, they are completely separate countries. Please don’t ever ask this in New Zealand if you don’t want to get punched in the face.

Ok, but can you drive to Australia?

Also no. These two countries are separated by 2,000km of open ocean. Definitely not.

Are there any dangerous animals?

No, not really, unless you count humans.

We have no venomous snakes, spiders, scorpions or bitey insects unlike our neighbors across the Tasman.

We do have one species of venomous spiders, the katipō, which is super rare to see. They are quite shy and will probably only bite if being squished. There is no evidence of any deaths due to a katipō bite in the last 100 years so you’re probably safe.

There have been a few, rare spottings of red back and white tail spiders, likely brought over from Australia. Thanks a lot, guys. But again, nothing to worry about, you probably won’t even see them.

What side of the road do they drive on?

In New Zealand we drive on the left side of the road.

If you’re visiting and you have never driven on the left before, you’d do everyone a great favor if you looked up the road code and familiarized yourself with this driving style before coming over.

Roads are different here, they are mountainous, winding, and generally not that great. And dangerous tourist drivers are all too common here.

Is New Zealand a modernized country?

Yes. We have electricity and cars and even the coveted world wide web.

We don’t have central heating though, so I guess it depends on your definition of modernized. (Okay, okay we do have heating but old New Zealand houses are notoriously drafty and poorly insulated.)

Do you have kangaroos?

Negative. We’re happy to keep that drama over in Australia.

Do you have dolphins?

Yes! It’s common to see dolphins all along the coast.

Do you have sharks?

Yes, however, shark attacks are infrequent. Only 12 people have been killed in shark attacks since we began keeping records.

You tend to have sharks when you’re an island nation surrounded by open ocean.

Do you have owls?

I don’t know why this is a frequently search question, but apparently, it is. Yes, we have owls in case you were curious for some reason.

The native morepork or ruru is an owl and it is known for its haunting, melancholic call and is an important creature in Māori culture and it’s the only native owl species left in New Zealand.

Do you have penguins?

Do we ever!

New Zealand is home to more 7 species of penguins: Rockhopper Penguin, Tawaki or Fiordland Penguin, Snares Penguin, Erect-crested Penguin, Yellow-eyed Penguin, White-flippered Penguin and Blue Penguin.

They aren’t as big as the Emperor Penguins you’re probably picturing in your head right now but they are still cute and adorable, and many of them are endangered.

Do you have crocodiles?

Fuck no.

Are there really as many sheep as everyone says?

Yes, we have about 9 sheep to every 1 person in New Zealand. They are cute and adorable when you first get here but like most things, they quickly become commonplace and really not all that interesting.

Springtime here is amazing when all the little lambies are born.

Where is Old Zealand?

The name New Zealand comes from the Dutch word “Zeeland” and was dubbed New Zealand after being spotted by Dutch Explorer Abel Tasman from the Netherlands in 1642.

As you may have guessed Zeeland is a Dutch province in the Netherlands. The Māori name for New Zealand is “Aotearoa” which means land of the long white cloud.

A much cooler name if you ask me.

Do New Zealanders live in Hobbit Holes?

What the hell is this question? Sigh.

Although if you’re Lord of the Ring obsessed, you can visit the original set of Hobbiton and take a tour. Just keep in mind actual, real Kiwis live in actual, real houses.

No one lives in the hobbit holes in Hobbiton. I hate to spoil it, but there is nothing inside, and they’re empty.

Do they celebrate Australia day?

No. Australia celebrates Australia day, and even there it is controversial.

Do they celebrate the Fourth of July?

No. Think of why that holiday was created and then ask yourself why any other country in the world would celebrate that besides America.

Is New Zealand part of the EU?

No. We are not even apart of Europe.

We were once governed by Great Britain but slowly gained our independence and now remain as a colony of Great Britain. Technically, the queen of England is also our queen but we run our parliament completely separate from the Monarchy.

Is it really like what I saw in Lord of the Rings?

I mean I guess?

Scenery wise, it’s just as (if not more) impressive than the movies. Culture-wise? No. Please refer to my earlier answer on living in Hobbit Holes.

When are their seasons?

New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere so they have summer from December through February, autumn from March until May, winter from June until August, and spring occurs from September to November.

It’s basically opposite.

Does the toilet water flush the other way?

I literally have no idea. This is something I’ve never paid attention to. I wouldn’t even know which way the water flushes in the northern hemisphere. Y’all need to get a life.

It’s a small country, I should easily be able to get from the top to the bottom, right?

Technically, sure, depending on your definition of easy.

You can certainly drive the length of the entire country (albeit, you have to put your car on a ferry to get between islands), however, it’s going to take you a while.

By area, New Zealand is slightly larger in size than Great Britain and driving from tip to tip will take you well over 24 hours in a car. The roads are long and crazy, no modern straight highways here.

Does New Zealand have a president?

No, we have a Prime Minister and she’s a certified BOSS.

View this post on Instagram

Happy Lunar New Year!

A post shared by Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) on Feb 2, 2019 at 2:26am PST

Is New Zealand safe?

Yes, super safe.

In spite of the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, we have a few random spots of crime but compared to the rest of the world, we’re doing okay. Our murder rates have recently hit a 40 year low.

And our boss of a Prime Minister Jacinda has had our gun laws changed in six days to make it even safer.

Is New Zealand expensive?

It really depends on what you think expensive is. If you’re coming to visit and you’re expecting prices on par with SE Asia, yeah, you’ll be in for a shock.

Here are some price points to help give you an idea so you can make your own conclusions: a beer at the pub ($8-10), movie ticket ($18-20), a liter of gasoline ($2.30/liter, $8.50/gallon), an in-season avocado ($2), an out of season avocado ($6.50), a coffee from a coffee shop ($4.50-$5), monthly rent ($800 – $1200/month), a cheap lunch ($10).

Most people consider it fairly expensive, especially kiwis.

What language do they speak in New Zealand?

New Zealand has three official languages:Māori, New Zealand Sign Language, and English.

They tend to mumble when speaking English so even though, yes, technically it is English, it might leave you scratching your head for a hot minute before you figure out what they’re talking about. Kiwi slang is going strong here!

What continent does it belong to?

No continent. New Zealand belongs to Oceania which is a region of the world, not a continent.

A continent is a large land of mass so places in the world (like New Zealand and Hawaii) that do not belong to a continent but rather a region of the world that is dominated by water. Oceania is divided into sub-regions including Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia.

New Zealand falls into the subregion of Oceania, Polynesia (as does Hawaii in case you were wondering)

Is it really as magical as it seems?

Yes. But also no, of course not.

New Zealand is doing some amazing things and yeah, sure, it’s stupidly beautiful but at the end of the day, it’s a country, just like yours. We have our own issues and areas for improvement just like any other country. Sure we have postcards worthy landscapes around every corner. But we also have one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world and the runoff and mismanagement by the dairy industry is polluting the country at a rate that’s almost laughable.

Yes, we are planning the use of single-use plastic. But we also have one of the highest rates for family violence in the developed world. What I’m trying to say is, yes it’s a great country but just like any country, we still have a lot of work to do.

People to idealize it here, me included. It’s magical to many but it is imperfect too.

What did I miss? Have any burning questions about New Zealand that you were too afraid to ask? Spill and we’ll reply, though we can’t promise we won’t sass. 

The post Where is New Zealand? And other questions you’re too embarrassed to ask appeared first on Young Adventuress.

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