A Year In Travel

Our Year In Travel – 2011

The past year has been incredibly exciting, with Jade reaching one of her ultimate travel goals of living and working in New Zealand. Although this has been our 6th year of travel, it has been our 1st year travelling together and our first year travel blogging.

The year has had many ups and downs and learning opportunities, especially when it comes to travel blogging. We started out with basic blogs detailing what we were doing, but not aimed towards a larger audience. Half way through the year we decided to go for it, buy the domain name OurOyser.com and start marketing ourselves as travel writers. We have learned so much in the process, including the time when we almost lost the whole website, and we thank every one who visits us here for their support.

New Years In New Zealand – January

We rang in the New Years last year at the Rythem and Vines festival in Gisborne, New Zealand. On New Years day though, we had to get up super early so we could hitchhike back to Auckland in time for me to finish up my temp job there.

While based in Auckland, I took a brief trip up to the top of New Zealand and spent three days hiking along Cape Reinga. It is still one of my favourite hikes to this date, and one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. After the hike, James and I met up in the Bay of Islands where we spent the day sailing and swimming on a small yacht.

We returned to Auckland where we packed up my small flat and prepared to backpack around New Zealand. Right before we left, we made sure to take the ferry out to the volcanic Rangitoto Island where we spent the day hiking through the strange volcanic landscape. Soon we were homeless again, and living out of backpacks as we set out to see as much of New Zealand as possible.

Photo of Jade with her backpack
Jade’s backpack was almost bigger than she was!

 Backpacking New Zealand – The North Island – February

Our first stop was at the kiwiburn festival where we met up with some of our friends were performing as fire poi spinners. From there we hitchhiked to the famous Waitomo caves where we saw glow worms and went black water rafting. We moved on pretty quickly, and started hitchiking down the North Islands west coast to New Plymouth and then inland to the tiny town of Reatihi where we met up with some friends and set up to spend three day canoeing the Wanganui river! It was all going well until on the last day the rapids got too much for us, and we somehow managed to flip the canoe! ( I did manage to keep me hair dry somehow though!)

Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle very badly while doing a hiking side trip to see the bridge to nowhere, and we had to change our plans for the next few weeks. So instead of hiking around Lake Waikaremoana with our friends from Auckland, we ended up spending a lot of time staying at the rental room we got for ourselves. It’s a small room a bit separate from the main house, where the owners live. We still managed to have fun so it wasn’t a huge loss. The owners invited us to take part in their Team Murder Mystery Game because they had room for more members that they wanted to fill. We weren’t doing much so we said yes, and what a lovely time we had! I had never taken part in this type of game before and it was a lot of fun. We travel looking for new places and new experiences and I definitely count this one. Hopefully I get to take part in one of these again at some point!

HitchHiking The South Island – March

We took the ferry to the South island and decided to head south to the small little town of Kaikoura which is famous for dolphin and whale watching. We didn’t have the available funds for either of these activities, so we instead went on the two hour kaikoura peninsula hike which took us past a New Zealand fur seal colony. We then headed north again to Blenheim where we stayed with some of James’ relatives and spent a day touring the local wineries that produce some of  New Zealand’s famous Sauvingon Blancs.

My ankle had finally healed enough for some more hiking, so we headed out to do the Abel Tasman Great Walk and the Heaphy Great Walk. These hikes took us 129 kilometres from Golden Bay all the way to the South Island’s west coast. From here we hitchhiked south to Westport and got to watch baby seals play on the rocks while their mothers were out hunting in the wild Tasman sea.

Due to the tragic and desctructive Christchurch earthquake, we had to cancel many of our travel plans in the region. Instead we decided to head to Queenstown which we used as our base to do the Routeburn Great Walkwhich turned out to be one of our favourite hikes in New Zealand.

We were running out of money, and were worn out from so much hiking and hitchhiking and camping. We decided to head to the wild university town of Dunedin where we walked up the world’s steepest street and also found ourselves in a predicament – all the hostels were booked out! And it was much too cold to camp this south. The reason for all the activity in Dunedin was due to the annual Hyde street party. This was a blessing in disguise, as it didn’t take us long to find a bunch of drunk and friendly students who offered their couch to us on condition that we would party with them.

Photo of Wellington from Somes Island
The Wellington coast as seen from Sommes Island

Settling in Wellington – April – September

We arrived back in Wellington with a grand total of 30 cents in our bank accounts. Luckily we had good friends who let us crash at their place, and it didn’t take too long for us to find jobs. We wintered in Wellington and spent our sunny days exploring the region, such as Somes Island. We were also lucky enough to be in Wellington during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and although I refused to work at the stadium, we still got involved with some of the festivities.

A Quick Trip To Asia – Malaysia – August

Our travel year was pretty jam packed, although we spent the whole time in pretty much one country! I did however, manage a quick trip to Malaysia with my good friend Mel from Australia and also spent some time with my family over there. I tried to squeeze as much activity as possible in to my time in Malaysia and managed to see most of the sights of KL, as well as experience the cuisine of Malaka and the beaches of the Perhentians. I even managed to join a cooking class in KL where I learnt to cook amazing Malaysian food!

Photo of Steamboat in Malaysia
Enjoying some “steamboat” with Malaysia Couch Surfing friends

Back To The South Island – October

Our visas were approaching expiration, so we decided we needed to make time to see all the things in New Zealand that we missed out on last time. We were lucky enough to be invited to participate in the Stray bus tours blogger outreach program (see our review of them here), and we travelled all over the South Island with them. Some highlights included spending a day on the Fox glacier, taking a and spending some relaxing time in Te Anau. Lowlights of our time on the South Island were our time on Stewart Island. The ferry journey was intensely rough, making me extermely sick, and the hike that we did there was muddy, difficult, and rainy. Overall not fun!

We finished up our South Island trip in Dunedin. We love Dunedin! It’s a nice little place to relax after time spent in small towns. We were lucky enough to be offered spots on two wildlife tours in the region; Elm Wildlife tours, where we saw pengiuns and sea lions, and the Monarch wildlife cruise, where we saw albatross and dolphins. Both tours were amazing, and better yet – the companies work together, so you can do both in one day if you want.

Sea lion
This Sea Lion is soooo cute I could just die

The North Island And Beyond – October/ November

One New Zealand travel goal I had was to do as many great walks as possible, and I refused to leave the country until I had done a particular one as well. That hike was the Tongariro Crossing. We based ourselves in Taupo and waited, and waited, and waited. The weather was not on our side, but fortunatley on the last possible day we were able to do the crossing. With that goal completed we were able to leave New Zealand.

Australia – November – December

Now we are in Australia. We arrived into Melbourne where we discovered the city through a free public bus tour, and even managed to swing tickets to the Harvest Festival where I saw my musical idol Portishead. An early morning flight took us to Brisbane, where we are now working and saving for the next adventure.

Photo of a new zealand fur seal
A cute New Zealand Fur Seal

Coming Up In 2012

Stay tuned here for some exciting news! We are planning an epic trip around Australia and hope to annouce those plans soon!

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you in 2011, and what are you most looking forward to in 2012?

11 thoughts on “A Year In Travel

  1. excellant summary to describe so much so well.

    exciting things from 2011 was doors open winnipeg and seeing the St. James log Church and churchyard across from polo park, St. Vladimirs Catholic Church aand an excellant tour guide. and an mandoline orchestra and the Ukrainian labour hall.

    some enjoyable performances at the fringe festival in winnipeg

    my sister and i made it to folklorrama to the Greek pavilion and one of the Ukranian pavilions.

    maybe the main hghlight was a week tour to china that was not nearly long enough. and now i want to bafk for several month and see more.

    for 1012, i hope my daughter will travel with me to india, turkey,( jordan, isreal, and egypt),if safe ,greece, morroco, spain and portugal and Prague before i head badk to canada.maybe with some of jades leftovers stores there unless she finds a home in Britian.


    1. Portishead was amazing!!! They are one of my favourite bands…EVER… so it was amazing that they just happened to be playing Melbourne during the 4 days we were there!


  2. It’s crazy we haven’t met! Greg and I were in some of the same places you were this past year, and some were even at the same times! We started 2011 in the Auckland area, mostly based out of Helensville, then Feb took us to the South Island and Mt Aspiring National Park, we flew out of Dunedin (instead of Christchurch due to the earthquake 2 days prior…) to Melbourne, and have been traveling in AU since! We’ve had a blast exploring, although we have to leave at the end of Feb 😦

    Do you have work now? Are you interested in doing any remote pub work in QLD? We’ll be leaving our jobs in Karumba soon, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be looking for new people. Let me know!


    1. OMG we really have been in the same places!!! Right now Im working at Australia post (death please) and then Im off to the Pacific Islands, so I don’t think I will take you up on your offer… however tempting a steady income is! How did you like living in remote Oz? It would definitely be an experience!


      1. We’ve done the remote thing in a few different places since we’ve been in Oz. It’s fun for a while, but eventually you get tired of working and living with the same people all day every day… We’ve figured out that after 3 months we are more than ready to move on to the next thing…

        Which Pacific Island are you headed to? We’re off to Bali soon, our Work Holiday visas expire in late Feb 😦 I’m looking forward to it though because my sister will be coming to visit!


      2. I’m heading to Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga for 5 weeks in mid March – mid April… so excited! And soon after that my big trip around Australia starts…. which means I really gotta use the next few weeks to actually PLAN instead of party…. hard though! Yeah I think 3 months would be the max time I could also do the remote living situation, and I would have to be doing something there that really interested me.

        I hope you enjoy Bali! I havn’t been there yet, but I almost went there instead of the Pacific Islands cause there was a huge flight sale on a few weeks ago…. oh well… next time!


      3. We’ve been to Tonga, but not Fiji or Samoa. Tonga was really great, we had a fantastic time exploring the reefs and sea life in Vava’u up in the northern part of Tonga. We also spent a week or so in Tongatapu, but we liked Vava’u better. We got to swim with the humpback whales, which was amazing!

        We plan to be in SE Asia for about 4 months, so let us know if you’ll be headed that way!


      4. Ok mental note – read all your blog posts about Tonga!! I am really excited to go to Tonga because when I first moved to New Zealand, I lived in a homestay with a Tongan family. They are just such welcoming people!

        I think we might just miss each other in Asia as well! I am definitely staying in Australia until September (my friend is getting married here) and then I might head off. But who knows, I may take a short trip to Asia (my dad and brother live in KL Malaysia, so I have an excuse to go there). Ill keep you posted!


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