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Working Holiday Visas: What I’ve learnt about life, love and literature

I will be heading back to the UK for a visit in about a months time, the visit coincides with my 30th Birthday, which has got me thinking about everything I’ve learnt about myself and doing a working holiday these past 19 months, closing the door on my 20s.

When people talk about travelling they talk about the way it changes you and yes it does change you, but for me at least it’s given me the freedom to explore and become the person I want to be.  As you’re constantly meeting new people and they don’t know who you were before so you can be whatever version of yourself around them you want to be.

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Some of the lovely people I’ve met in Wellington

I think for most us doing the WHVs for most of the time, we’re static in one place living and working in a new city or town. I’ve lived and worked in 2 different cities Sydney and Wellington.  I’ve been different in both.

Sydney Harbour the side you don’t normally see

In Sydney I was pretending it seems to me now, I was acting and behaving in ways that I thought I should be whilst living ‘the dream’ in Sydney.  My reality was very different to the ‘dream’ life I thought I’d have.  Looking back now I feel like Sydney was just a big old learning curve for me, I felt overwhelmed in it. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great city and I had some great times there, it just wasn’t the right fit for me.

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Wellington harbour at sunset

Wellington on the other hand, feels like home.  I feel like here I’ve become a person I like and a person I’d like to stay.  I’ve become a gym bunny, a party girl, hostel long termer, HR Coordinator and friend to a lot of awesome people. I am content here, and yeah life isn’t perfect a lot of things could be better but I have good friends, I like my gym, I don’t hate my job life could and has been a hell of a lot worse.

 

This is what I’ve learnt these past 19 months:

  • I needed to grow up a lot.
  • Life is what you make of it.
  • Nothing can live up to big expectations.
  • Reality is when it’s payday and you’re moneys already gone.
  • The cheaper hostels have the best people in.
  • Be that annoying person who talks to everyone that walks in their dorm room.
  • A bit of distance makes things clearer.
  • I can sit at home watching Netflix feeling sorry for myself or go out there and do something about life.
  • People can make a place, but a place can make people.
  • Being content is a great thing to be.
  • Being a heavy sleeper is a god send in Hostels.
  • Hostels are the best way to meet people while travelling. Embrace it.
  • Each new place you move to you’ll figure things out a bit more and get a step closer to what you want.
  • Wellington is the coolest little capital in the world I love it with all my heart.

 

 

Mini South Island Adventure: Christchurch

Mini South Island Adventure: Christchurch

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Before I start this post, I want to say that this post tried to get away from the 2011 Earthquake and the impact it had on Christchurch, as much as possible as the city has a lot to offer still. However it was very difficult to get away with not mentioning it as the scars are still very very visible even 5 years on.  It is actually quite heartbreaking, you can see the pain the city has been through and is still going through, 185 people lost their lives in that earthquake.

One of my best friends from home Trudi aka the Lazy Green Girl, is on a round the world trip including a few days in Christchurch. We haven’t seen each other in about 20 months, so whilst we were both in the same country there was no way we couldn’t meet up.  It also provided me with the perfect opportunity to finally visit the South Island.

We had two and a half days together in Christchurch before Trudi headed off to the warmer climes of California.  Making the most of our limited time, we did the two main touristy things on the first day, the city tram ride.  Which is a hop on hop off tour the city, only instead of a bus you’re on a tram.  We got on at Cathedral Square, which is the heart of the city and home to the city’s name sake Christ Church Cathedral.

The Cathedral is currently in ruins and fenced off (picture above), it was the first significant earthquake damage I had seen so far.  We would see a lot more as we went around the city, but there is something particularly heart breaking about cathedral square. The majority of the tour was either new bits of the city, they have a very cool shopping area made up of shipping containers, building site which they were hoping would be finished in a few years and parts that survived the earthquake such as the Opera House and 1930s art deco inspired Regents street.

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After our tour we got on the shuttle bus from the city to the gondola, which serenely guide you up to the top of Port Hills, well that’s what the blurb says. However our experience wasn’t that serene our gondola was swaying a bit and then suddenly stopped for a couple of moments making us think we were stuck! Once we got to the top the views were so worth the ride up, you have an amazing views of snow capped mountains and lakes.  It’s what you picture when someone say the South Island to you.

On our tram tour, the art gallery was pointed our to us as it has this amazing sculpture n top of a sassy hand.  That was our first stop the next day, it actually had some really cool pieces of work in there, including a Tin Gnome not something you see everyday. The gallery itself had been affected by the earthquake and only reopened last year, it was good to see something refurbished, reopened and thriving post earthquake.  It probably helped that it was a rainy day but the gallery was pretty busy which was nice to see as Christchurch even by New Zealand standards is very very quiet.

After the gallery, we took little detour on our to get the bus out to  Lyttleton via the Cardboard Cathedral which is where the congregation of the original Cathedral now worships. It is actually an incredible site, you can see it from a long way off it almost looks like a space ship, once you get closer though and go inside, you realise what a feat of architecture it really is. The inside is light, airy and – I think most importantly for a church – warm.  It’s made from cardboard tubes, which draw your eyes upwards, it really difficult to describe see the picture below. It really made me think about what Christchurch might be like in another 5 years…

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Lyttleton, is a small town about half an hour from Christchurch and had been recommended to Trudi by a friend and is in one of the valleys you can see at the top of the gondola, from up there it looked beautiful.  Close up it didn’t disappoint, it’s such a cute little area of the city, and was the epicenter for the 2011 earthquake so had sustained damage as well.  We had a glass of wine in an quaint little bar overlooking the lake, if it hadn’t been such a miserable day the view would have been stunning (this being NZ it wasn’t too shabby even on a grey rainy day).

I said goodbye to Trudi the next day, and picked up a car to head off to Lake Tekapo to try and see the Southern Lights which will be the next blog.  Before I left Chirstchurch, I really wanted to see the empty chairs memorial to the 185 people who died in the February 2011 earthquake.  It was actually heartbreakingly sad, to see all those empty chairs and brought to mind a lyric from one of the songs in Les Mis that Marius sings after the barricades.

“Empty chairs at empty tables, Where my friends will sing no more”

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Last Night and Day in WA:

The next day was my last full day in Perth and was spent just sorting things out and packing as I had bought a 45 litre backpack I was desperately trying to get down to for New Zealand.

In the evening I met Becky, Stacy and Emily for dinner at this purely Vegetarian Indian restaurant called Annalakshmi which works purely on donations, you pay what you think the meal was worth.  It’s yummy a must when in Perth.  We got a table outside that looks over the Swan River where we saw the sun set over, we went out for a drink after that as well.

My flight was at 11:50pm the next day, so I had just enough time to meet up with the girls again at Cottesloe before going back to the hostel and grabbing my stuff before heading to the airport.  It was very emotional saying goodbye to the girls, we’d all been around in Perth for a long time which is rare when you travel so I got a bit more attached to them.

I was really very sad to be leaving Perth as I had the best 2 months in WA and made some amazing friends but so excited for New Zealand such mixed emotions.  

As if I’d have gone to WA first then I would have definitely done my 88 days regional work to get my second year visa, I suppose everything happens for a reason.

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New Years Day 2016:

New Year’s Day we didn’t really do much apart from recover from the night before and from Christmas, it was also very hot high 30s, you don’t really feel like doing much in that weather. 

Becky, Stacy and I met at Cottesloe one of the nicest beaches in Perth to watch the sunset and have fish and chips – for them I had a veggie burger- it must be the thing to do on New Year’s Day in Australia as the beach was absolutely packed!!

It was fairly cloudy but the sunset was so beautiful, I couldn’t capture the beauty of it on camera one of the best sunsets I think I’ve ever seen. It was like the sun was putting on its first show of 2016, the clouds lit up all pinks and oranges and yellows beautiful against the white sand and turquoise water. 

As soon as the sunset though everyone was off to the chippie for their dinner. All in all it was a great way to start 2016.

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New Years Eve 2015/2016:

New Year’s Eve was definitely an experience for me, it was very strange but so nice the fact that I literally just wore a dress out no Cardi or coat or anything. 

I went out with Stacy, Michelle, Becky and Emily friends I’d been fortunate enough to meet whilst in WA.  We headed to an area of Perth called north bridge which has a lot of bars and restaurants in, we milled around for a bit, the streets were packed! We had left the hostel around 11pm, so wanted to try and get in somewhere for midnight. We ended up in Universal Bar for the count down they had a live band on up until just after midnight who were awesome so we had a good dance in there. 

Then after the DJ came on we left and just literally wandered around on the streets there a lot going on people were playing the didgeridoo, flamenco dancing and fire breathing as well as a lot of people just milling about on the streets.

We talked to loads of random people, saw a few fights and people being arrested basically very similar in some respects to us Brits.  I had so much fun though just wandering around the streets and taking it all in, I’m not normally a fan of New Years Eve, but this was definitely one of the best I’ve ever had.  

Here’s to 2016, I hope all your dreams come true.

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West Coast Tour Day 6: Kalbarri

Was the start of our long drive back to Perth.  We hit the road at 7:00am and got to Kalbarri where we staying for the night around 6:30/7:00 just enough time to unload our bags and head down to the beach to watch the sunset over the water. 

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday evening.  After the sunset and before dinner four of us went for little walk around the town and played on the swings like the grown ups we are! 

It’s a really cute quaint little town very like our seaside towns at Home except it has caravan parks and hostels as well as rentals and hotels.