6 epic hikes in Mt Aspiring National Park that will blow your mind


Ok, everyone, I know we’ve had a bit of a horrible spring and a somewhat lackluster start to the summer down here in New Zealand. The copious amounts of rain and flooding we had last month made us question if summer was ever going to arrive.

But finally, it’s official; summer is here in Wanaka!

Hot days, lake swims, summer tramping. It’s all go here on the South Island, and there’s nowhere better to be.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Wanaka is fantastic for a lot of reasons, but one of the best parts of this location is its proximity to Mt. Aspiring National Park. Technically, Mt. Aspiring National Park is pretty big and can be accessed from as far north as Makarora as well as over by Glenorchy. Still, there’s no denying that the Mt. Aspiring Road from Wanaka will take you to some unbelievably beautiful places that will quite literally make your jaw drop.

If you’re heading to the south, here are my top recommendations for hikes in Mt Aspiring National Park hikes near and around Wanaka – enjoy!

9 ways hiking in New Zealand will change your life

hikes in Mt Aspiring

1. Cascade Saddle

Cascade Saddle is one of many terrific hikes in Mt Aspiring, but don’t underestimate it.

This expert hike routinely claims lives every season, so if you’re thinking of giving it a shot, it’s non-negotiable you check in with the local Wanaka DOC office before venturing out to make sure the conditions are right. Also, make sure to plan with the Mountain Safety Council before venturing into the kiwi backcountry.

No rain, no snow, no ice. You want to do this one dry and safe.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

The track starts from the Raspberry Creek Car Park (an hour from town down a gravel sometimes impassable road) and leads up you the valley towards Aspiring Hut.

Once at the hut (which usually takes a few hours to reach), you’ll see the sign for the Cascade Saddle. You can kiss that sweet flat trail behind because the track gets steep fast.

The trail climbs up over 1,000 meters, so make sure you have allocated enough time, water, and snacks for the ascent.

10 of the most iconic backcountry huts on the South Island

hikes in Mt Aspiring

This track is dangerous because it’s steep and covered in snow grass, which is mostly like hiking on slippery ice when it’s wet, which is why you want to make sure your weather window is dry as a bone before you start the Cascade Saddle Route.

Take care with your footing, and you should be alright, along with having a head for heights. You can head up to the pylon, which will give you incredible views across the valley floor, or you can continue to the true Cascade Saddle itself.

There is actually a campsite up here, so if you’re keen, you can spend the night but beware of the keas, naughty alpine parrots who notoriously will tear your tent to shreds without giving one single fuck about you or your restful night of sleep.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

For the extra keen, you can connect this track over into the Dart River Valley below. It’s not recommended to walk the Cascade Saddle in the opposite direction down to Wanaka as ascending is much safer.

This will be a multiple-day trip, so if you haven’t planned for being out for multiple days, don’t go trying this track all willy nilly once you’ve reached the saddle. It’s long and will drop you off in Glenorchy, which, FYI, is nowhere close to Wanaka unless you have a car.

Also, depending on the time of the year, you may need crampons and ice axes (and experience!) We did this hike the week before Christmas, and it was still snowy.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

2. East Matukituki Valley

The East Matukituki Valley tracks are such a hidden gem I’m almost afraid to share it publicly even though it’s public on the DOC site for all find. Hikes in Mt Aspiring like these will blow you away.

When you’re driving up the Mt. Aspiring Road, most visitors will head straight to the dead-end, which is where most of the tracks start. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see a sign for Cameron Flat, a few kilometers before the Raspberry Creek Car Park.

You can park by the sign and cross the river (which, full disclosure, can be very sketchy or even completely impassable), or you can park at the swing bridge further up and walk across adding some kilometers to your tramp.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Once you’ve crossed the river, you’ve got a long boring walk through farmlands where you’ll fill your time hiding from the sun and dodging cow pies.

You will most certainly come across some cattle as well, so ignore them and give them a wide berth.

Once you’ve spent an hour or so walking through farmlands, you’ll head into the glorious bush of the East Matukituki.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

You’ll follow an undulating track through fairytale-like forests. The route will most likely be wet in some places, so don’t be afraid to get your shoes wet. This track can take you all over, depending on your fitness levels and how much time you have.

You can head up the Kitchener Track to get a glimpse of Aspiring Flats and the Turnbull Thomson Falls, which are stunning. You can keep going and head up and around the Bledisloe Gorge landing at Ruth Flat, which is an excellent place to camp.

If you’re confident in your navigation, you can even go off-trail to explore Dragonfly Peak and Mt. Eostre. The options are limitless, and you won’t be sorry you chose this track as long as you’re prepared.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

3. Rabbit Pass

Perhaps one of my most favorite multiday missions of all time, Rabbit Pass is not to be missed if you have 3-4 days and the right weather window. Also, you need a solid hiking experience and a head for heights.

Rabbit Pass is one of the many hikes in Mt Aspiring known for taking lives and needs to be taken seriously.

This tramp can be a little difficult when it comes to logistics as it starts near Makarora and ends at Cameron Flat. You will need to have two cars and do a car drop the night before or organize some transportation options at the local iSite but trust me. This hike is worth the hassle.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

You start the Rabbit Pass track by getting across the mighty Makarora River. This river can be a real pain in the ass because it is deep as hell and mighty swift.

I’ve had friends cross this river by wading through water nearly chest high, so if river crossings are not your specialty, perhaps be like me and book the Wilkin jet boat to cross and knock some time off of it.

Not only will you get a fun 15-minute ride on New Zealand’s favorite watercraft, but you’ll also save nearly 20km of boring valley bashing. At over $100 per person, it’s steep but very much worth it.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Once you leave the jet boat, head up the valley to Top Forks Hut. You can spend the night here. If you have extra time, leave your bags at the hut the next day and explore Jumboland (or take your tent and camp up near the lakes!)

Having not much time, we only stayed one night before heading to the crux of the hike the next morning, the infamous Waterfall Face of Rabbit Pass.

Again, not to scare you, but this can be a sketchy as hell climb, which has also claimed multiple lives. Fatalities are common on this part of the Pass, so listen up.

I personally found the climb to be more comfortable than I expected, but it does take confidence, climbing skills, and nearly perfect weather. If the waterfall face is wet at all, you should not attempt to get to the top. Slippery grass, damp rock, and severe exposure can make this a deadly climb. With that said, with the right conditions and skill, it’s manageable.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Once you’ve topped out at the waterfall, get ready to enjoy some of the best scenery in the entire national park. You’ll follow the hanging valley up to Pearson Valley, where you’ll begin to make your way back to the valley floor. The descent can be a bit dodgy at times, so being a confident down climber will be a massive advantage for you. There are also bolts up here in case you bring ropes and decide to rappel down.

We camped at Ruth Flat that night, but you could camp anywhere along the valley. One word of advice, though, the last day of Rabbit Pass is deceivingly grueling, so if you can get as far as possible on the second night, you’ll be thanking yourself in the morning.

The next day, you’ll climb up and around the Bledisloe Gorge and connect up with the East Matukituki Track, which will drop you off at the Mt. Aspiring Road back to Wanaka. It is possible to hitch, but be mindful you may not finish the hike until quite late in the day/evening.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

4. French Ridge Hut

Ahh, French Ridge Hut. One of my first huts and certainly one I love to return to time and time again. This track starts at the Raspberry Creek Car Park and takes you along the flat-ish valley for several hours before crossing the river (via a bridge) and steeply climbing up for a few hours.

This track, while grueling at times, is immensely fun.

You’ll get a full-body workout, pulling yourself up and over the tree root track. It feels like a jungle gym for adults but with a heavy pack. Fun! This one of my favorite hikes in Mt Aspiring, and you can probably see why.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Once out of the bush, you still have a way to climb before getting a view of the beautiful French Ridge Hut.

This classic red hut is perched precariously on the ledge of the mountain, looking over the valley below.

It’s a stunning view and a beautiful alpine hut!

hikes in Mt Aspiring

You can see the neighboring and smaller Liverpool Hut across the valley. There are stunning views of Rob Roy Peak, Glengyle Peak, Plunket Dome, Mt. Liverpool, and Mt. Barff.

You cannot see Mt. Aspiring from here, though.

If you want those views, you’ll need to try out Liverpool Hut, which as equally grueling but at a slightly lower elevation.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

5. Upper West Matukituki

Perhaps the best-kept secret in all of the Matukituki Valley. Most people head into the valley and seek out Liverpool, French Ridge, Rob Roy, or Cascade Saddle, but if solitude is what you’re looking for, head to the Upper West Matukituki. These are some of my favorite hikes in Mt Aspiring.

To access this track, park at the Raspberry Creek Car Park. Follow the signs for Mt. Aspiring Hut and then on to Pearl Flat. You’ll take the same route you would go for French Ridge, but instead of heading up the hill once you’ve crossed the river, follow signs to the Upper West Matukituki.

Overgrown but well-marked tracks lead to an isolated and quiet valley with amazing views. This route is often used for those heading up Bevan Col en route to Mt. Aspiring. Even if you’re not a fancy pants mountaineer, you’ll still find beauty and joy in this hike up the valley.

The valley floor is densely vegetated early on, so you may not find a great camping spot until you reach the absolute head of the valley near the waterfall. There is a rock bivvy, but in my opinion, it’s a little damp to be comfortable, but it certainly could do in a pinch.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

6. Gillespie Pass Circuit

If circuit tramps are your thing, you have to check out Gillespie Pass Circuit. This tramp can be done in either direction, but I did it heading up the Wilkin Valley first.

Again, I opted for an expensive jet bot up the Wilkin instead of testing my shaking river crossing skills. Now there is a new track and swingbridge the Blue-Young Link Track, which can provide access to the start of the Gillespie Pass when the river is too high to cross safely.

From the jet boat drop off, you have a pleasant few hours walking to Siberia Hut, which is reasonably straightforward. Be warned, this hut is busy and requires booking from December to April.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

If you get to the hut early enough, you’ll have enough time to hike over to Lake Crucible on a side trip.

In my opinion, this side trip is best in the morning when it sees the full sun. Maybe it’s best to wait until the next day, but if you do, you’ll have a double climb: one up the Lake Crucible and the second up the Gillespie Pass, which is steep and long.

Either way, you do it, you won’t regret seeing Lake Crucible. If you do it closer to spring, you may even see icebergs floating in this alpine lake.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

The hike up to Gillespie Pass is steep and challenging. Snowgrass covers the track, thus requires extra careful footing when wet.

The views from the top are seriously top-notch, so plan to spend your lunch at the top gazing at Mt. Awful. Despite its name, it’s genuinely a thing of beauty to look upon.

The track down is steep but manageable. After a few more hours, you’ll arrive at Young Hut, where you can stay the night.

The rest of the track is through the valley, and you can also add in the famous Blue Pools if you haven’t seen them yet. If you’re brave, you may even attempt to cool off by jumping off the bridge into the icy water.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

So there you go, here are some of my favorite hikes in Mt Aspiring near Wanaka, New Zealand.

These multi-day adventures are not for the faint of heart. Remember that tramping in New Zealand requires an advanced skill set and experience. The backcountry here is beautiful but unforgivable.

Where are your favorite hikes in Mt Aspiring? Have you tackled any of these tramps? Spill!

hikes in Mt Aspiring

The post 6 epic hikes in Mt Aspiring National Park that will blow your mind appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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Your friendly guide to freedom camping in New Zealand


Summer is in full swing here in New Zealand, which means two things: 1) unpredictable weather and 2) unpredictable tourists.

It’s no secret that New Zealand has become a hot spot destination for nature lovers around the world. While Kiwis are generally happy to share their little slice of heaven with the rest of the world. They only ask one small thing: don’t take the piss.

Need a translation? No worries, I gotcha.

Take the piss is a British/NZ/Australian term that does NOT mean go pee on something.

When someone in New Zealand is taking the piss, it means that the person has taken certain liberties at the expense of others — still confused? Let me put it in layman’s terms: If you visit New Zealand, please stop treating it like your own personal garbage can.

freedom camping

For a while, New Zealand was known as a dream destination for “freedom camping.”

In short, freedom camping is a poorly-named activity that allows travelers setting up camp anywhere, even places with no facilities or designated campsites. A classic kiwi pastime, it was all well and good when it was mostly just kiwis out freedom camping around their own country.

But what do you think happened when New Zealand exploded into tourism stardom, and millions of people flocked to this little island for a holiday?

If you guessed heaps of people saw it as a chance to travel for free, then you are correct. If you guessed that freedom camping pisses off a lot of locals and is a massive part of the overtourism conversation today? You are also right.

freedom camping
Image by RON ECKMAN

To be clear, New Zealand does still allow freedom camping but under strict guidelines (which many ignore). However, it’s often misunderstood, and it DEFINITELY does not mean you can pull up your wildly offensive Wicked Campervan and park at the most Instagram-able site you can find.

Don’t worry fam, if you’ve dreamed of renting out an outrageously expensive old VW Combi and camping by a wild, vacant turquoise lake filled with blossoming flowers; you’re not out of luck. I’m going to tell you exactly how you can have your cake and eat it too.

Here’s precisely how you can freedom camp responsibly in New Zealand, be respectful and not take the piss. Read on, dear ones.

freedom camping

1. Go self-contained, do it

There was once a time when freedom camping wasn’t as popular, and local councils didn’t view it as a threat to New Zealand’s pristine environment.

That all changed in 2011 when the Rugby World Cup resulted in entire fleets of campervans being rented out. The public 420 designated free campsites were trashed. People pooped everywhere. It was a mess.

In 2018, regulations got tighter. Now, the national standard says that all camper vans must be self-contained. Self-contained is the word to remember around freedom camping.

This means you need to be able to live in your vehicle for three days without requiring more water or dumping your wast.

freedom camping
No self-contained sticker

Let me put it differently.

This means you need to be able to shit in your van for three days without getting rid of your poo. So don’t come at me with your Toyota Estima telling me it’s self-contained unless you’ve got three days of poo stored up there to prove it, ok?

The regulations also require the vehicle to have freshwater storage, wastewater storage, a lidded bin for your rubbish, and a toilet that can be used inside the car, even when the bed is in place.

Let’s make it clear for the people in the back. If your van does not have a toilet, it isn’t self-contained.

Poo in a loo – and be prepared for when there isn’t one

freedom campingThis is what a self-contained van looks like. Does it look like something your grandparents would travel in? Yes, but that’s just how it works. It’s big enough to live in for days.

2. That little blue sticker doesn’t mean shit

If you’ve been in New Zealand, you’ve probably seen the much-coveted blue sticker that is supposed to prove your van is the self-contained meaning you can camp anywhere you damn well, please. Not true.

It’s usually stuck on the back windshield or bumper of a campervan – or shitty converted hatchback or mini-van used by long-term backpackers to bum around in.

If you’re shopping around for a camper van to use during your year-long working holiday, don’t let some slimy salesperson trick you into believing that blue sticker has any meaning whatsoever.

The magical blue sticker means nothing any more!


If you’re confused, refer to the requirements in point #1.

If you can’t poop in the van for three days straight according to the specifications, it’s not self-contained.

Even the van it has 10 of those blue stickers on the back, it’s not self-contained. I could get some of those stickers on the black market and pop them on my Subaru Outback. That doesn’t make it self-contained.

Don’t pay an extra $1,000 for that van you found on Trade Me just for the sticker! The sticker doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s the actual set up inside the camper. This is what they check for.

freedom camping
Do you think they’ve got a toilet and three days of poo in here? NO.

3. Where can you park your self-contained camper van?

Now that you know what your self contained camper van is and is not, you can start looking for designated freedom camping spots.

Just because you have a self-contained vehicle does not mean you can pull up on any quiet road you feel like and conk out for the night.

Chances are people probably live down that road and don’t want to see your ugly ass van when they wake up in the morning. Please respect the people and the land here. New Zealand is the home of many, and it’s not Disney Land. Would you park your car outside someone’s house and live out of it wherever you’re from? Then why would you do it here?

freedom camping

This also means you can’t drive up to the shores of Lake Wanaka for a peaceful night of sleep.

Try it, and you’ll be met with a $400 fine when you wake up in the morning. Trust me, it’s easier to pay for a campsite at that point.

But, if you’re dead set on finding free camp spots, you’re not out of luck.

There are plenty of spots for responsible freedom camping, but the rules and regulations change depending on the region your in, and the specific DOC land around said region. The best bet is to go to the local iSite Visitor Information Center, DOC visitor Center or check with the local council.

Rankers are also an excellent resource for those looking to find a proper freedom camping location.

freedom campingWhile it makes a beautiful photo, it’s unrealistic to think you can pull up to any old beach and park up for the night. Most likely, your free campsite will be an old gravel parking lot in the middle of nowhere.

4. How to be an excellent little freedom camper

Okay, you’ve got the right vehicle, you’ve found the right spot to park up for the night, now what?

Just like any camper, there are a few things you can do to be a responsible visitor. Remember, each location will have it’s own specific rules and regulations. These hot tips will be universal no matter where you are.

  • Generally, No Fires: Fires can be a serious threat to New Zealand’s ecosystem, especially in dry regions such as Central Otago. There are year-round fire restrictions on public conservation lands, and no open fires are permitted during the fire season. You should only light a fire at designated DOC campsites with fire pit amenities. If you’re hoping to roast some s’mores by the fire, you’re probably out of luck. Be prepared to cook all of your food on your gas stovetop.

freedom camping

  • Pack it in Pack it out: It seems ridiculous to have to say this in 2020, but here we go. You must take whatever littler you accumulate while camping out of the campsite with you and dispose of it in the rubbish bins or recycling bins. Chocolate bar wrappers, toilet paper, tea bags, we’ve seen it all. Don’t try to tell me it accidentally fell out of your pocket; we don’t care. When you’re getting ready to leave a site, do a thorough once over to make sure your site is clean.
  • Don’t bathe in the lake: As tempting as it may be to score a free shower in crystal clear lakes, resist all temptation and pay for an actual shower elsewhere. You can find cold and sometimes hot showers at campsites as well as paid showers at gas stations or hostels. Similarly, don’t wash your manky-ass clothes in the lakes or rivers either. Soaps and detergents are harmful to water life, so if you’re going to wash your clothes in a buck, dump the water in the soil to let the dirt filter it before entering the water systems.

freedom camping

  • Dispose of your wastewater at designated areas: Now that you know how to be a responsible freedom camper with a vehicle that can hold wastewater (greywater) for three days, what the hell do you do with it when it’s full? You don’t dump your shit anywhere other than designated waste disposal dump stations. Most official campsites will have dump stations
  • Boil your water for at least 3 minutes: In general, water in New Zealand is much cleaner than a lot of other countries, and often drinking from rivers and streams will be harmless, but it’s best not to gamble if you’re worried about the water quality. Give the water a quick three-minute boil to get rid of any harmful bacteria that may be lurking.

freedom camping

  • Lock your shit up: While it’s rare to find violent crime in New Zealand, theft is relatively common when it comes to visitors and camper vans. Be sure to lock up your camper van when you’re out or when you’re sleeping for the night. There have been a few sporadic cases of violent crime against camper vans; While you generally don’t have to worry about that, it’s always good to think twice before camping in a super remote and isolated area.
  • Lastly, pay for a freaking campsite once in a while: Look, I get it, traveling is expensive, and even $20 campsites can add up over a few weeks. But tough shit. That’s life. That’s traveling. Not everything can come for free. By all means, do your best to seek out one of the 500 open designated freedom camping areas. If you can’t find one close by, bite the bullet and find a local campsite.

freedom camping

5. Just stay in campsites or holiday parks

You can find holiday parks in nearly every town, and DOC campsites dotted all down the country.

New Zealand has an incredible network of cheap campsites and holiday parks galore where you can park up with heaps of facilities. When I am traveling around in a campervan, I often split my nights between holiday park campsites, freedom camping, and DOC campsites. After all, hot showers are fantastic.

If you end up at an unattended DOC campsite, don’t take the piss and try to pay for free. Don’t arrive late at night and leave before dawn all to avoid the $10 fee.

The money you pay for DOC campsites is much needed to maintain our beautiful ecosystems. It provides facilities to visitors so everyone can enjoy this country. Seek out freedom camping if you must, but don’t forget that there’s nothing wrong with a good old fashion DOC campsite once in a while.

freedom camping

Now, go forth and be free, you wild ‘lil freedom campers.

Get that shot that will win you at least 20 likes on the gram. Twirl in the field of lupins, New Zealand’s most beautiful weed.

Do what you need to do but do it responsibly. Thanks for visiting this beautiful part of the world. And an even bigger thanks for leaving it better than you found it.

Have any tips for freedom camping responsibly? Have you ever traveled this way before? Spill!

freedom camping

The post Your friendly guide to freedom camping in New Zealand appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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Surprise! I’m moving to Christchurch!


I have some exciting personal news to share with you guys. I’m moving to Christchurch!

More specifically, I’m moving to Lyttelton, Christchurch’s quirky harbor town. And even more specifically, I’m moving out to one of the stunning bays on the Banks Peninsula near Lyttelton.

My current mood is a beautiful combination of giddy excitement that meets unsettled panic. What am I doing? If you asked me a year ago if I would ever move to Christchurch for a guy, I would have laughed so hard!

Not only could I have ever imagined moving to the big smoke, but I could also have never believed I would fall so hard in love that I was willing to open up my very private and reclusive life to share with another person moving to Christchurch.

Just when you think you have life figured out, it flips you on your head!

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

After six years in my beloved Wanaka, I’m about to embark on an entirely new chapter in my life moving to Christchurch. A chapter that I will admit I dreamed of deep down but never thought would actually happen. Love.

No, I’m not pregnant (mom), but I did fall in love with an old friend, Giulio Sturla. Swoon! Vomit!

Our story is a serendipitous one that I can’t wait to tell you in full one day, but for now, I’ll keep it short and straightforward.

moving to christchurch
The first photo I took of Giulio years ago at Roots
moving to christchurch
Eating at Roots for the first time

Giulio is an Italian – Chilean chef who has been living in New Zealand for over a decade and trained at Mugaritz in Spain, one of the best restaurants on the planet. And Giulio is not just any chef, and he was named New Zealand’s best chef last year, as well as running Roots, one of the best restaurants in the country. No big deal, eh? For a girl who loves to eat, I’ve died and gone to heaven!

We’ve been friends for years after he fed me on a trip to Canterbury before it blossomed into something more.

But the best part isn’t that he is a superbly talented chef, creative or that we have so much in common. Giulio is, in fact, the kindest, most patient person I’ve ever met, and he’s my match. He’s my person, my other half. It’s so crazy; I still can’t quite believe it!

After so many failed, wrong relationships, who would have thought you could so easily recognize the right person when they come along? It’s magic!

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

After a lifetime of self-doubt and an inherent belief that my travel lifestyle was incompatible with true love, I gave up on meeting someone. I quietly accepted my fate as a cat lady meets librarian, which I would still happily embrace (just so we’re clear).

At the beginning of 2019, I walked away from a relationship that just wasn’t right, that I clung to for too long because I didn’t think I deserved any better. Resigned, I finally came to terms with the belief that I would rather be alone than with the wrong person, a rather adult realization that surprised even myself.

As a solitary person, I don’t mind being alone, but deep down, I felt a quiet, profound sadness for my lot in life.

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

But we all know that fate loves a good laugh, and before I knew what was happening to me, a blissful, storybook love came out of nowhere and knocked me on my ass! Moving to Christchurch was something I could have never imagined when I first translocated to New Zealand.

All those cliche rom-com phrases describe my relationship with Giulio perfectly, and my deeply cynical frosty heart has softened considerably over this past year.

It’s so funny because everyone has told me that that is how it always happens – you give up on love, and then you find it. Eyeroll.

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

But in some ways, I can really see how I had a hand in manifesting this love too. Since my story with the whales on Stewart Island a year ago, I’ve been forced to confront a lot of deep emotional issues and complex inner stories I’ve told myself.

Through therapy and a lot of life coaching with Kait Rich, I’ve been able to grow and do a lot of work on myself to be able to communicate better and really understand what I want and how to get there.

This hard work has pulled me up from rock bottom (again), and I know for a fact I wouldn’t have been able to have such a beautiful relationship if I hadn’t been able to grow the way I have. And what makes it even more amazing is that in many ways, Giulio has done the same thing.

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

With love comes change.

As the perpetual third wheel to all my friends, no one hates hearing more about love than me, but here we are. As I am beginning this new era of sharing and partnership, as an only child who’s never lived with a partner before or had roommates in 6 years, have any life advice for me because I’m freaking the fuck out over here.

I’m so incredibly excited about this new era of my life to begin, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared too.

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

My go-to situation has always been to be alone. I’ve learned to look after myself, and as a profoundly introverted human, my comfortable place is quiet and lonely. How do I navigate that as I now begin to share my life with someone else?

Our house is large and comes with a puppy (OMG) as well as two beautiful kids (aged 5 and 8), and is a massive change from what I’m used to. Any advice for someone like me stepping into a new role?

How do I continue to be myself and preserve my independent identity but also navigate a partnership in a new place? I don’t even know how to compromise, haha!

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

While I’m still keeping close ties to Wanaka (including keeping my magical flat which I rent out to friends and visitors), I’m now starting fresh in Christchurch, where I have approximately two friends. So, who here lives in Canterbury?

And of course, where can I start exploring here?

Have any tips for a newbie like me? Does anyone want to be my friend? Please send any advice or leave a comment for me below. 

moving to christchurch

The post Surprise! I’m moving to Christchurch! appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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6 epic hikes in Mt Aspiring National Park that will blow your mind


Ok, everyone, I know we’ve had a bit of a horrible spring and a somewhat lackluster start to the summer down here in New Zealand. The copious amounts of rain and flooding we had last month made us question if summer was ever going to arrive.

But finally, it’s official; summer is here in Wanaka!

Hot days, lake swims, summer tramping. It’s all go here on the South Island, and there’s nowhere better to be.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Wanaka is fantastic for a lot of reasons, but one of the best parts of this location is its proximity to Mt. Aspiring National Park. Technically, Mt. Aspiring National Park is pretty big and can be accessed from as far north as Makarora as well as over by Glenorchy. Still, there’s no denying that the Mt. Aspiring Road from Wanaka will take you to some unbelievably beautiful places that will quite literally make your jaw drop.

If you’re heading to the south, here are my top recommendations for hikes in Mt Aspiring National Park hikes near and around Wanaka – enjoy!

9 ways hiking in New Zealand will change your life

hikes in Mt Aspiring

1. Cascade Saddle

Cascade Saddle is one of many terrific hikes in Mt Aspiring, but don’t underestimate it.

This expert hike routinely claims lives every season, so if you’re thinking of giving it a shot, it’s non-negotiable you check in with the local Wanaka DOC office before venturing out to make sure the conditions are right. Also, make sure to plan with the Mountain Safety Council before venturing into the kiwi backcountry.

No rain, no snow, no ice. You want to do this one dry and safe.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

The track starts from the Raspberry Creek Car Park (an hour from town down a gravel sometimes impassable road) and leads up you the valley towards Aspiring Hut.

Once at the hut (which usually takes a few hours to reach), you’ll see the sign for the Cascade Saddle. You can kiss that sweet flat trail behind because the track gets steep fast.

The trail climbs up over 1,000 meters, so make sure you have allocated enough time, water, and snacks for the ascent.

10 of the most iconic backcountry huts on the South Island

hikes in Mt Aspiring

This track is dangerous because it’s steep and covered in snow grass, which is mostly like hiking on slippery ice when it’s wet, which is why you want to make sure your weather window is dry as a bone before you start the Cascade Saddle Route.

Take care with your footing, and you should be alright, along with having a head for heights. You can head up to the pylon, which will give you incredible views across the valley floor, or you can continue to the true Cascade Saddle itself.

There is actually a campsite up here, so if you’re keen, you can spend the night but beware of the keas, naughty alpine parrots who notoriously will tear your tent to shreds without giving one single fuck about you or your restful night of sleep.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

For the extra keen, you can connect this track over into the Dart River Valley below. It’s not recommended to walk the Cascade Saddle in the opposite direction down to Wanaka as ascending is much safer.

This will be a multiple-day trip, so if you haven’t planned for being out for multiple days, don’t go trying this track all willy nilly once you’ve reached the saddle. It’s long and will drop you off in Glenorchy, which, FYI, is nowhere close to Wanaka unless you have a car.

Also, depending on the time of the year, you may need crampons and ice axes (and experience!) We did this hike the week before Christmas, and it was still snowy.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

2. East Matukituki Valley

The East Matukituki Valley tracks are such a hidden gem I’m almost afraid to share it publicly even though it’s public on the DOC site for all find. Hikes in Mt Aspiring like these will blow you away.

When you’re driving up the Mt. Aspiring Road, most visitors will head straight to the dead-end, which is where most of the tracks start. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see a sign for Cameron Flat, a few kilometers before the Raspberry Creek Car Park.

You can park by the sign and cross the river (which, full disclosure, can be very sketchy or even completely impassable), or you can park at the swing bridge further up and walk across adding some kilometers to your tramp.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Once you’ve crossed the river, you’ve got a long boring walk through farmlands where you’ll fill your time hiding from the sun and dodging cow pies.

You will most certainly come across some cattle as well, so ignore them and give them a wide berth.

Once you’ve spent an hour or so walking through farmlands, you’ll head into the glorious bush of the East Matukituki.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

You’ll follow an undulating track through fairytale-like forests. The route will most likely be wet in some places, so don’t be afraid to get your shoes wet. This track can take you all over, depending on your fitness levels and how much time you have.

You can head up the Kitchener Track to get a glimpse of Aspiring Flats and the Turnbull Thomson Falls, which are stunning. You can keep going and head up and around the Bledisloe Gorge landing at Ruth Flat, which is an excellent place to camp.

If you’re confident in your navigation, you can even go off-trail to explore Dragonfly Peak and Mt. Eostre. The options are limitless, and you won’t be sorry you chose this track as long as you’re prepared.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

3. Rabbit Pass

Perhaps one of my most favorite multiday missions of all time, Rabbit Pass is not to be missed if you have 3-4 days and the right weather window. Also, you need a solid hiking experience and a head for heights.

Rabbit Pass is one of the many hikes in Mt Aspiring known for taking lives and needs to be taken seriously.

This tramp can be a little difficult when it comes to logistics as it starts near Makarora and ends at Cameron Flat. You will need to have two cars and do a car drop the night before or organize some transportation options at the local iSite but trust me. This hike is worth the hassle.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

You start the Rabbit Pass track by getting across the mighty Makarora River. This river can be a real pain in the ass because it is deep as hell and mighty swift.

I’ve had friends cross this river by wading through water nearly chest high, so if river crossings are not your specialty, perhaps be like me and book the Wilkin jet boat to cross and knock some time off of it.

Not only will you get a fun 15-minute ride on New Zealand’s favorite watercraft, but you’ll also save nearly 20km of boring valley bashing. At over $100 per person, it’s steep but very much worth it.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Once you leave the jet boat, head up the valley to Top Forks Hut. You can spend the night here. If you have extra time, leave your bags at the hut the next day and explore Jumboland (or take your tent and camp up near the lakes!)

Having not much time, we only stayed one night before heading to the crux of the hike the next morning, the infamous Waterfall Face of Rabbit Pass.

Again, not to scare you, but this can be a sketchy as hell climb, which has also claimed multiple lives. Fatalities are common on this part of the Pass, so listen up.

I personally found the climb to be more comfortable than I expected, but it does take confidence, climbing skills, and nearly perfect weather. If the waterfall face is wet at all, you should not attempt to get to the top. Slippery grass, damp rock, and severe exposure can make this a deadly climb. With that said, with the right conditions and skill, it’s manageable.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Once you’ve topped out at the waterfall, get ready to enjoy some of the best scenery in the entire national park. You’ll follow the hanging valley up to Pearson Valley, where you’ll begin to make your way back to the valley floor. The descent can be a bit dodgy at times, so being a confident down climber will be a massive advantage for you. There are also bolts up here in case you bring ropes and decide to rappel down.

We camped at Ruth Flat that night, but you could camp anywhere along the valley. One word of advice, though, the last day of Rabbit Pass is deceivingly grueling, so if you can get as far as possible on the second night, you’ll be thanking yourself in the morning.

The next day, you’ll climb up and around the Bledisloe Gorge and connect up with the East Matukituki Track, which will drop you off at the Mt. Aspiring Road back to Wanaka. It is possible to hitch, but be mindful you may not finish the hike until quite late in the day/evening.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

4. French Ridge Hut

Ahh, French Ridge Hut. One of my first huts and certainly one I love to return to time and time again. This track starts at the Raspberry Creek Car Park and takes you along the flat-ish valley for several hours before crossing the river (via a bridge) and steeply climbing up for a few hours.

This track, while grueling at times, is immensely fun.

You’ll get a full-body workout, pulling yourself up and over the tree root track. It feels like a jungle gym for adults but with a heavy pack. Fun! This one of my favorite hikes in Mt Aspiring, and you can probably see why.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

Once out of the bush, you still have a way to climb before getting a view of the beautiful French Ridge Hut.

This classic red hut is perched precariously on the ledge of the mountain, looking over the valley below.

It’s a stunning view and a beautiful alpine hut!

hikes in Mt Aspiring

You can see the neighboring and smaller Liverpool Hut across the valley. There are stunning views of Rob Roy Peak, Glengyle Peak, Plunket Dome, Mt. Liverpool, and Mt. Barff.

You cannot see Mt. Aspiring from here, though.

If you want those views, you’ll need to try out Liverpool Hut, which as equally grueling but at a slightly lower elevation.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

5. Upper West Matukituki

Perhaps the best-kept secret in all of the Matukituki Valley. Most people head into the valley and seek out Liverpool, French Ridge, Rob Roy, or Cascade Saddle, but if solitude is what you’re looking for, head to the Upper West Matukituki. These are some of my favorite hikes in Mt Aspiring.

To access this track, park at the Raspberry Creek Car Park. Follow the signs for Mt. Aspiring Hut and then on to Pearl Flat. You’ll take the same route you would go for French Ridge, but instead of heading up the hill once you’ve crossed the river, follow signs to the Upper West Matukituki.

Overgrown but well-marked tracks lead to an isolated and quiet valley with amazing views. This route is often used for those heading up Bevan Col en route to Mt. Aspiring. Even if you’re not a fancy pants mountaineer, you’ll still find beauty and joy in this hike up the valley.

The valley floor is densely vegetated early on, so you may not find a great camping spot until you reach the absolute head of the valley near the waterfall. There is a rock bivvy, but in my opinion, it’s a little damp to be comfortable, but it certainly could do in a pinch.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

6. Gillespie Pass Circuit

If circuit tramps are your thing, you have to check out Gillespie Pass Circuit. This tramp can be done in either direction, but I did it heading up the Wilkin Valley first.

Again, I opted for an expensive jet bot up the Wilkin instead of testing my shaking river crossing skills. Now there is a new track and swingbridge the Blue-Young Link Track, which can provide access to the start of the Gillespie Pass when the river is too high to cross safely.

From the jet boat drop off, you have a pleasant few hours walking to Siberia Hut, which is reasonably straightforward. Be warned, this hut is busy and requires booking from December to April.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

If you get to the hut early enough, you’ll have enough time to hike over to Lake Crucible on a side trip.

In my opinion, this side trip is best in the morning when it sees the full sun. Maybe it’s best to wait until the next day, but if you do, you’ll have a double climb: one up the Lake Crucible and the second up the Gillespie Pass, which is steep and long.

Either way, you do it, you won’t regret seeing Lake Crucible. If you do it closer to spring, you may even see icebergs floating in this alpine lake.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

The hike up to Gillespie Pass is steep and challenging. Snowgrass covers the track, thus requires extra careful footing when wet.

The views from the top are seriously top-notch, so plan to spend your lunch at the top gazing at Mt. Awful. Despite its name, it’s genuinely a thing of beauty to look upon.

The track down is steep but manageable. After a few more hours, you’ll arrive at Young Hut, where you can stay the night.

The rest of the track is through the valley, and you can also add in the famous Blue Pools if you haven’t seen them yet. If you’re brave, you may even attempt to cool off by jumping off the bridge into the icy water.

hikes in Mt Aspiring

So there you go, here are some of my favorite hikes in Mt Aspiring near Wanaka, New Zealand.

These multi-day adventures are not for the faint of heart. Remember that tramping in New Zealand requires an advanced skill set and experience. The backcountry here is beautiful but unforgivable.

Where are your favorite hikes in Mt Aspiring? Have you tackled any of these tramps? Spill!

hikes in Mt Aspiring

The post 6 epic hikes in Mt Aspiring National Park that will blow your mind appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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An expat’s guide to fitting in with New Zealand locals


Let’s be clear; there’s usually nothing easy about picking up your life and moving to a new foreign country and fitting in with New Zealand locals? There’s a lot to learn.

The food is different, and the language is (often) changed, the culture is different. It takes some serious guts to pick up and become an expat, but with a bit of perseverance, it can be one of the most rewarding moves of your life.

When I first decided to move to New Zealand, I stupidly assumed that because it was a westernized country where English was spoken, I’d have no trouble fitting it. But, as it turns out, life and culture in Chicago are vastly different than life on an Island Nation.

There are some things I wish I knew before moving that would have made my transition a little easier. Here are my best tips for fitting in with New Zealand locals

How to move to New Zealand as an American

fitting in with new zealand locals

1. Keep it casual

Kiwis live a relaxed lifestyle from the clothes they wear to how they address their superiors.

Dressing up for Kiwis often means donning their fanciest pair of jandals and their cleanest pair of stubbies. If that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, it will eventually. Even in the workplace, the dress is usually reasonably casual. Unless you’re in a bank, you probably won’t see suits and ties.

When addressing superiors and colleagues, Kiwis prefer to use first names and often even nicknames. They like to treat everyone the same and often see their bosses and superiors as friends, doctors too.

fitting in with new zealand locals

2. Keep that work-life balance in check

Kiwis are famous for maintaining an excellent work-life balance.

They believe in putting in some hard hours at work but also respect their free time. Hell, the best coffee spot in town is famous for closing their doors over the Christmas break, the busiest two weeks of the year. Could they be making lots of money over that time? Sure, but is it worth the stress? Nah.

Kiwis know when to draw the line and make sure they have time to relax, and best of all, they don’t feel guilty for it. If you want to fit in with the locals, make sure you take some holiday time and respect others when they’re doing the same.

fitting in with new zealand locals

3. Sarcasm reigns supreme

Keen on fitting in with New Zealand? Learn to speak sarcasm.

If English and Māori share the title for the common language in New Zealand, sarcasm would undoubtedly be the second.

Kiwi humor is often described and dark and utterly dry, but if you can pick up on it, you’ll soon find yourself laughing along. A shortcut to understanding Kiwi humor is to assume the opposite for everything they say immediately.

For example, if someone calls you a winner, you’re most certainly not.

fitting in with new zealand locals

4. Stay humble

A quick way to get an eye roll out of a kiwi is to start talking about your most recent accomplishments. Start yarning on about all the things you’ve done, and you’ll be met with silence or a quick change of subject.

This is because Kiwis embrace the tall poppy syndrome, where people who brag about how great they are are resented and criticized. If you’re going to talk about your success, do so carefully and try to elevate those who helped you reach that success.

10 times I realized I’d gone totally Kiwi

fitting in with new zealand locals

5. Nix the small chat

Love it or hate it, Kiwis are genuine.

They don’t mince words, and if they ask you how you’re going, they genuinely want to know.

A quick way to piss off a Kiwi is to say, “Hey mate, how are ya” and then immediately move onto the next sentence without giving them a chance to answer. It may seem like a common language to you, but to Kiwis, they find it rude and insincere.

If you’re going to ask them questions, they’re going to want to answer. Kiwis don’t mind a bit of awkward silence, so they’d much rather sit in silence then fill the air with a frivolous chat about the weather.

fitting in with new zealand locals

6. But don’t get too personal

Here’s another goodie for fitting in with New Zealand locals  – don’t also get up in their business.

When you’re asking them questions, be sure not to cross the line by asking them super personal questions. Don’t ask them how much money they make, how much their house costs, or who they’re voting for in the next elections.

In my experience, I’ve found that Kiwis generally tend to keep their personal business to themselves and a select few friends, so when integrating into a Kiwi friend group, tread carefully with the deep questions.

fitting in with new zealand locals

7. Adopt the can-do attitude

Kiwis are famous for the #8 wire attitude. The old saying goes that on remote farms, Kiwis would often have long rolls of number 8 wire, which they would use to fix practically any mechanical or structural problem. The wire became synonymous with the ingenuity and resourcefulness of New Zealanders and is a common cultural characteristic still to this day.

Perhaps part of it is because they are an island nation that has historically had to be self-reliant for a long time. If something is broken, New Zealanders will always give it a crack to try and fix it before buying new.

They’ll go to great lengths to solve the issue on their own, and if you’re trying to fit in, you should too. Kiwis wear their old duct-taped puffer jackets with pride here.

fitting in with new zealand locals

8. Respect the environment

Speaking of not buying new, most Kiwis hold the state of the environment near and dear to their hearts.

Perhaps because they live in a literal paradise, when you get to see pure beauty every day and the risks that beauty faces, you appreciate it, maybe it’s because they have a small population. Here it’s easier to enact change on a large scale.

Whatever it is, Kiwis give a hoot about the rivers and mountains and air. If you want to fit in, ditch your single-use plastic. You’ll quickly be ostracized for getting a plastic fork with your takeaway or forgetting your reusable coffee cup. Recycle when you can, but more than anything, if you want to fit in with the Kiwis, start with reducing the amount you consume, to begin with.

What do you think? Any tips for fitting in with New Zealand locals? Share!

fitting in with new zealand locals

The post An expat’s guide to fitting in with New Zealand locals appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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Surprise! I’m moving to Christchurch!


I have some exciting personal news to share with you guys. I’m moving to Christchurch!

More specifically, I’m moving to Lyttelton, Christchurch’s quirky harbor town. And even more specifically, I’m moving out to one of the stunning bays on the Banks Peninsula near Lyttelton.

My current mood is a beautiful combination of giddy excitement that meets unsettled panic. What am I doing? If you asked me a year ago if I would ever move to Christchurch for a guy, I would have laughed so hard!

Not only could I have ever imagined moving to the big smoke, but I could also have never believed I would fall so hard in love that I was willing to open up my very private and reclusive life to share with another person moving to Christchurch.

Just when you think you have life figured out, it flips you on your head!

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

After six years in my beloved Wanaka, I’m about to embark on an entirely new chapter in my life moving to Christchurch. A chapter that I will admit I dreamed of deep down but never thought would actually happen. Love.

No, I’m not pregnant (mom), but I did fall in love with an old friend, Giulio Sturla. Swoon! Vomit!

Our story is a serendipitous one that I can’t wait to tell you in full one day, but for now, I’ll keep it short and straightforward.

moving to christchurch
The first photo I took of Giulio years ago at Roots
moving to christchurch
Eating at Roots for the first time

Giulio is an Italian – Chilean chef who has been living in New Zealand for over a decade and trained at Mugaritz in Spain, one of the best restaurants on the planet. And Giulio is not just any chef, and he was named New Zealand’s best chef last year, as well as running Roots, one of the best restaurants in the country. No big deal, eh? For a girl who loves to eat, I’ve died and gone to heaven!

We’ve been friends for years after he fed me on a trip to Canterbury before it blossomed into something more.

But the best part isn’t that he is a superbly talented chef, creative or that we have so much in common. Giulio is, in fact, the kindest, most patient person I’ve ever met, and he’s my match. He’s my person, my other half. It’s so crazy; I still can’t quite believe it!

After so many failed, wrong relationships, who would have thought you could so easily recognize the right person when they come along? It’s magic!

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

After a lifetime of self-doubt and an inherent belief that my travel lifestyle was incompatible with true love, I gave up on meeting someone. I quietly accepted my fate as a cat lady meets librarian, which I would still happily embrace (just so we’re clear).

At the beginning of 2019, I walked away from a relationship that just wasn’t right, that I clung to for too long because I didn’t think I deserved any better. Resigned, I finally came to terms with the belief that I would rather be alone than with the wrong person, a rather adult realization that surprised even myself.

As a solitary person, I don’t mind being alone, but deep down, I felt a quiet, profound sadness for my lot in life.

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

But we all know that fate loves a good laugh, and before I knew what was happening to me, a blissful, storybook love came out of nowhere and knocked me on my ass! Moving to Christchurch was something I could have never imagined when I first translocated to New Zealand.

All those cliche rom-com phrases describe my relationship with Giulio perfectly, and my deeply cynical frosty heart has softened considerably over this past year.

It’s so funny because everyone has told me that that is how it always happens – you give up on love, and then you find it. Eyeroll.

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

But in some ways, I can really see how I had a hand in manifesting this love too. Since my story with the whales on Stewart Island a year ago, I’ve been forced to confront a lot of deep emotional issues and complex inner stories I’ve told myself.

Through therapy and a lot of life coaching with Kait Rich, I’ve been able to grow and do a lot of work on myself to be able to communicate better and really understand what I want and how to get there.

This hard work has pulled me up from rock bottom (again), and I know for a fact I wouldn’t have been able to have such a beautiful relationship if I hadn’t been able to grow the way I have. And what makes it even more amazing is that in many ways, Giulio has done the same thing.

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

With love comes change.

As the perpetual third wheel to all my friends, no one hates hearing more about love than me, but here we are. As I am beginning this new era of sharing and partnership, as an only child who’s never lived with a partner before or had roommates in 6 years, have any life advice for me because I’m freaking the fuck out over here.

I’m so incredibly excited about this new era of my life to begin, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared too.

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

My go-to situation has always been to be alone. I’ve learned to look after myself, and as a profoundly introverted human, my comfortable place is quiet and lonely. How do I navigate that as I now begin to share my life with someone else?

Our house is large and comes with a puppy (OMG) as well as two beautiful kids (aged 5 and 8), and is a massive change from what I’m used to. Any advice for someone like me stepping into a new role?

How do I continue to be myself and preserve my independent identity but also navigate a partnership in a new place? I don’t even know how to compromise, haha!

moving to christchurch

moving to christchurch

While I’m still keeping close ties to Wanaka (including keeping my magical flat which I rent out to friends and visitors), I’m now starting fresh in Christchurch, where I have approximately two friends. So, who here lives in Canterbury?

And of course, where can I start exploring here?

Have any tips for a newbie like me? Does anyone want to be my friend? Please send any advice or leave a comment for me below. 

moving to christchurch

The post Surprise! I’m moving to Christchurch! appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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An expat’s guide to fitting in with New Zealand locals


Let’s be clear; there’s usually nothing easy about picking up your life and moving to a new foreign country and fitting in with New Zealand locals? There’s a lot to learn.

The food is different, and the language is (often) changed, the culture is different. It takes some serious guts to pick up and become an expat, but with a bit of perseverance, it can be one of the most rewarding moves of your life.

When I first decided to move to New Zealand, I stupidly assumed that because it was a westernized country where English was spoken, I’d have no trouble fitting it. But, as it turns out, life and culture in Chicago are vastly different than life on an Island Nation.

There are some things I wish I knew before moving that would have made my transition a little easier. Here are my best tips for fitting in with New Zealand locals

How to move to New Zealand as an American

fitting in with new zealand locals

1. Keep it casual

Kiwis live a relaxed lifestyle from the clothes they wear to how they address their superiors.

Dressing up for Kiwis often means donning their fanciest pair of jandals and their cleanest pair of stubbies. If that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, it will eventually. Even in the workplace, the dress is usually reasonably casual. Unless you’re in a bank, you probably won’t see suits and ties.

When addressing superiors and colleagues, Kiwis prefer to use first names and often even nicknames. They like to treat everyone the same and often see their bosses and superiors as friends, doctors too.

fitting in with new zealand locals

2. Keep that work-life balance in check

Kiwis are famous for maintaining an excellent work-life balance.

They believe in putting in some hard hours at work but also respect their free time. Hell, the best coffee spot in town is famous for closing their doors over the Christmas break, the busiest two weeks of the year. Could they be making lots of money over that time? Sure, but is it worth the stress? Nah.

Kiwis know when to draw the line and make sure they have time to relax, and best of all, they don’t feel guilty for it. If you want to fit in with the locals, make sure you take some holiday time and respect others when they’re doing the same.

fitting in with new zealand locals

3. Sarcasm reigns supreme

Keen on fitting in with New Zealand? Learn to speak sarcasm.

If English and Māori share the title for the common language in New Zealand, sarcasm would undoubtedly be the second.

Kiwi humor is often described and dark and utterly dry, but if you can pick up on it, you’ll soon find yourself laughing along. A shortcut to understanding Kiwi humor is to assume the opposite for everything they say immediately.

For example, if someone calls you a winner, you’re most certainly not.

fitting in with new zealand locals

4. Stay humble

A quick way to get an eye roll out of a kiwi is to start talking about your most recent accomplishments. Start yarning on about all the things you’ve done, and you’ll be met with silence or a quick change of subject.

This is because Kiwis embrace the tall poppy syndrome, where people who brag about how great they are are resented and criticized. If you’re going to talk about your success, do so carefully and try to elevate those who helped you reach that success.

10 times I realized I’d gone totally Kiwi

fitting in with new zealand locals

5. Nix the small chat

Love it or hate it, Kiwis are genuine.

They don’t mince words, and if they ask you how you’re going, they genuinely want to know.

A quick way to piss off a Kiwi is to say, “Hey mate, how are ya” and then immediately move onto the next sentence without giving them a chance to answer. It may seem like a common language to you, but to Kiwis, they find it rude and insincere.

If you’re going to ask them questions, they’re going to want to answer. Kiwis don’t mind a bit of awkward silence, so they’d much rather sit in silence then fill the air with a frivolous chat about the weather.

fitting in with new zealand locals

6. But don’t get too personal

Here’s another goodie for fitting in with New Zealand locals  – don’t also get up in their business.

When you’re asking them questions, be sure not to cross the line by asking them super personal questions. Don’t ask them how much money they make, how much their house costs, or who they’re voting for in the next elections.

In my experience, I’ve found that Kiwis generally tend to keep their personal business to themselves and a select few friends, so when integrating into a Kiwi friend group, tread carefully with the deep questions.

fitting in with new zealand locals

7. Adopt the can-do attitude

Kiwis are famous for the #8 wire attitude. The old saying goes that on remote farms, Kiwis would often have long rolls of number 8 wire, which they would use to fix practically any mechanical or structural problem. The wire became synonymous with the ingenuity and resourcefulness of New Zealanders and is a common cultural characteristic still to this day.

Perhaps part of it is because they are an island nation that has historically had to be self-reliant for a long time. If something is broken, New Zealanders will always give it a crack to try and fix it before buying new.

They’ll go to great lengths to solve the issue on their own, and if you’re trying to fit in, you should too. Kiwis wear their old duct-taped puffer jackets with pride here.

fitting in with new zealand locals

8. Respect the environment

Speaking of not buying new, most Kiwis hold the state of the environment near and dear to their hearts.

Perhaps because they live in a literal paradise, when you get to see pure beauty every day and the risks that beauty faces, you appreciate it, maybe it’s because they have a small population. Here it’s easier to enact change on a large scale.

Whatever it is, Kiwis give a hoot about the rivers and mountains and air. If you want to fit in, ditch your single-use plastic. You’ll quickly be ostracized for getting a plastic fork with your takeaway or forgetting your reusable coffee cup. Recycle when you can, but more than anything, if you want to fit in with the Kiwis, start with reducing the amount you consume, to begin with.

What do you think? Any tips for fitting in with New Zealand locals? Share!

fitting in with new zealand locals

The post An expat’s guide to fitting in with New Zealand locals appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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The conscious New Zealand gift guide


As an American expat in New Zealand, whenever I travel to see family, I’m always thinking of clever, thoughtful gifts to bring home. Thus, the New Zealand gift guide is born.

In my first couple of years, I would always bring back beautiful bottles of Central Otago Pinot Noir and precious manuka honey, two classic kiwi staples. I would bring baby bibs with cheesy sheep quotes on them, bags of pineapple lumps, and possum wool socks.

While I’m still a solid fan of possum wool and pineapple lumps, I now try to use my gift-giving as a chance to showcase some pretty fantastic kiwi brands doing pretty amazing things. I’ve been asked regularly over the years to put together a New Zealand gift guide, and here we are.

I am not sure if it’s because I’ve evolved as a consumer, I’ve become more “woke” to cheaply made things or I’ve finally found some semblance of taste after 31 years on the earth, but the kitschy Kiwiana gifts I see these days make me cringe a little.

New Zealand is so much more than these stereotypes.

new zealand gift guide

Whether you are living in New Zealand and want to send gifts home that showcases this kickass part of the world, you’re a tourist coming to New Zealand, and you’re looking for an authentic souvenir, or you’re a kiwi, and you want to support NZ brands, this list is for you!

Even if you just plain love New Zealand (hell, I get it), I’ve spent the past couple of years carefully following and cultivating a love for all these guys below and decided now’s the time to put it all in one place for you all too.

I’ll also take a moment to say none of this is sponsored at all – these are all brands I buy and love.

So here you go, a comprehensive and conscious New Zealand gift guide made by yours truly that showcases the best of the kiwi brands I use and love, and can’t heartily recommend enough – enjoy!

new zealand gift guide

Allbirds

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve given a pair of Allbirds as gifts to people I love.

Too many, according to my accountant.

And while I have worked on campaigns promoting Allbirds in the past, I have bought even more pairs on my own for both myself and my friends and family. I’m truly part of the cult. My mom just got another pair for Christmas from me this year.

Allbirds was started by kiwis and is now based in the US, around merino wool shoes. Simple and perfect, an ethical and responsible company using natural materials. Here in the land of the long white sheep, merino wool is life.

The perfect travel shoe, they’ve also expanded and make bamboo tree shoes too, my mom’s favorite. I live in my wool loungers, wool runners, and tree skippers. A New Zealand gift guide would be incomplete without my beloved Allbirds.

new zealand gift guide

Honeywraps

Honeywraps are organic reusable beeswax food wraps, and they are my new favorite thing in the kitchen – non-edible thing, I’ll clarify.

Inspired to cut back on the millions of plastic waste we generate on this planet, Honeywraps was founded by a group of passionate local women in New Zealand, hoping to make a difference. Each beeswax wrap is made right in NZ from GOTS certified organic cotton -and natural ingredients.

I don’t know about you, but once I became aware of my plastic waste, I couldn’t bring myself to use plastic wrap or clingfilm ever again. It’s so pointless! With the wraps, you can pop on bowls to cover and press down to seal or wrap your veggies in them and then wash when you’re done.

Honeywraps also collaborate with charities and kiwi artists to decorate the wraps and tell a story of nature and conservation here.

View this post on Instagram

Back for 10 days only … the 10 Wrap Pack! 🧡 10 of your fave organic Honeywraps individually packaged so perfect to gift to friends, family, teachers, staff 🎄🎁 On the website now.

A post shared by Honeywrap (@honeywrap) on Nov 11, 2019 at 12:18am PST

Wellington Chocolate Factory

Who doesn’t love local artisanal chocolate as a gift? And with carefully hand-wrapped packaging designed by local artists, does it get any better than that?

Wellington Chocolate Factory is by far still one of my favorite chocolate brands of all time, and I often find myself following my nose towards their setup whenever I’m in Wellington – you know, for research purposes.

Made from the finest ethically traded cocoa in the world, the chocolate is made with love right here in New Zealand, with each bar carefully wrapped in the most delightful package, decorated by local Wellington artists.

The salted caramel bar is my favorite, but the Peru single origin bar is a close second.

new zealand gift guide

Ethique

I first discovered Ethique on my electric campervan road trip around New Zealand with Britz, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

On a mission to rid the planet of plastic waste, Ethique started in a kiwi kitchen by a powerhouse female scientist making plastic-free beauty bars. You know, bars of shampoo.

Yes it works, yes it smells good, and yes it’s fantastic. It’s the perfect plastic-free starter gift for conscious travelers. And they make everything.

View this post on Instagram

When it comes to gift wrapping, how are you lowering your impact but still retaining the element of surprise 💚🎁? Don’t know where to start? We have some earth-loving ideas up on our latest blog on our website. Pictured: Reusing old wrapping & fabric offcuts #ethiqueworld #giveupthebottle #zerowaste #wastefree

A post shared by Ethique (@ethiqueworld) on Nov 19, 2019 at 12:00pm PST

Annabel Langbein Cookbook

Annabel Langbein is a celebrated Kiwi chef and cookbook author, and a bit of a household name here. She’s also my neighbor in Wanaka.

My mom loves her – apparently, she shows air in the US too – and her recipes are classics here.

Her cookbooks make for great, thoughtful gifts, especially for those who love a good garden and a good meal.

View this post on Instagram

Now for the great reveal… this is the beautiful cover of our latest project, 'Together' co-authored with my daughter Rose. We are feeling very proud and excited for it to hit the shelves next Monday 15th. SIGNED PRE ORDERS are available now via my website – link in bio (they will be sent out on Friday 12th so make sure you get your order in before then!) *normal delivery times apply #together #family #freerangelife

A post shared by Annabel Langbein (@annabellangbein) on Oct 7, 2018 at 11:01am PDT

Queenstown Soap

I have this tradition where I always buy my mom locally made rose soap when I travel anywhere – it’s her favorite.

And my friends over at the Queenstown Soap Co. make one of the best!

The perfect gift, these soaps are handmade in Queenstown by good people from organic and naturally-sourced ingredients. Cinnamon is my favorite.

View this post on Instagram

These beautiful three bars will soon be available in liquid form! We would love to know if there any other Queenstown Soap Co. flavours you would like to be available in liquid form? Our liquid soaps will be packaged in glass dispenser bottles with larger refill bottles also available ☀️

A post shared by Queenstown Soap Co. (@queenstownsoapco) on Jan 14, 2019 at 9:58pm PST

Nevé Candles

I only just discovered Nevé candles while on holiday in Waiheke, and it turns out they are made right over the hill from me in Queenstown.

Named for the mountains, nevé is the word for the snow that forms the surface of the tops of glaciers.

Stocked around New Zealand, my all-time favorite smell is French Pear and Brown Sugar though Kowhai Blossom and Lime is a close second.

View this post on Instagram

NEW CHARITY OF CHOICE 🌱🌊 we are proud to announce our latest Charity of Choice – @sustainablecoastlines ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁣⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁣⠀ It’s important to us to support local charities that really make a difference here in New Zealand, so we raise awareness for different charities throughout the year and the fantastic work they do. We also donate 5% from every online order placed through our store. ⁣⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁣⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁣⠀ Right now we’re proud to support Sustainable Coastlines, a multiaward winning New Zealand charity run by a team of hard-working staff and a network of passionate volunteers and collaborators. They coordinate and support large-scale coastal clean-up events, educational programs, public awareness campaigns and riparian planting projects.

A post shared by N E V É C A N D L E S (@nevecandles) on Apr 8, 2019 at 2:12am PDT

Goodnature trap

This one might cost me a few readers, but c’est la vie! Also, this is probably only for folks living here in New Zealand.

You’ve heard me go on and on about how much I care about native New Zealand birds and creatures, and how passionate I am about conservation. Well, the reason they need help is that the majority of our birds here have been hunted to extinction or close to it by introduced pests, like stoats, possums, and rats.

One way kiwis are fighting to protect these birds is by setting traps around their houses and gardens. Goodnature makes excellent traps that are automatic, easy to set up, humane, and safe. It’s the perfect gift for a family or for someone who loves native New Zealand birds.

View this post on Instagram

Recording your trap strikes with your local predator-free group can really help give your group a sense for where rat activity is high and how you're going with getting rid of them! Using a digital strike counter helps give you more accurate trapping data. #nocookieshere #trapping #technology #pestcontrol #goodnature #PF2050 #predatorfreenz

A post shared by Goodnature Ltd (@goodnaturenz) on Jul 1, 2019 at 7:56pm PDT

Mons Royale

I’ve accidentally been a Mons Royale ambassador for years, a Wanaka-based merino wool company that makes outdoor clothes and base layers. I’ve been quietly (or not so quietly) stocking up on their stuff for years and years, and pretty much every photo you see of me hiking, that’s what I’m wearing.

And they make my favorite underwear and sports bras.

Merino wool is a magical fiber; a light itch-free wool that doesn’t smell; it’s the perfect fabric for people like me who are always outdoors. I only hike in merino these days, and it’s what I wear underneath my snow pants and jacket when I’m snowboarding.

And Mons (Snow spelled backward) is relaxed and trendy, probably way too cool and stylish for me, but I still want to be part of the club! It isn’t cheap, but it’s worth investing in, as you only need a few essential staples. I often give it as gifts and start small with a beanie, buff, or socks.

new zealand gift guide

Zoe & Morgan

Zoe & Morgan make the coolest jewelry. Sibling expats that ended up in New Zealand, they split their shop between here and London, and their designs are modern, creative, and ethereal.

Their jewelry speaks to their individuality and travels; it’s very evocative for travelers like me.

I’m always wearing their Golden Hour Ring until I can afford their diamonds.

View this post on Instagram

What do you love? ​scroll through, dream big. ​​ #7chakranecklace #fourthchakraring #heartchakra #araceliring #astridearrings #basechakramala #firstchakranecklace

A post shared by Zoe & Morgan (@zoeandmorgan) on Nov 20, 2019 at 10:35pm PST

Wilson and Dorset sheepskins

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that my house is chocked full of the most luxurious fabulous sheepskins and wooly trinkets. I’m obsessed. And they all come from my favorite local Wanaka shop – Wilson and Dorset. Any New Zealand gift guide must include wool IMO.

Living in the mountains of New Zealand, wool is vital, and it’s my favorite fabric.

The first “nice” thing I ever bought for my house was a Wilson and Dorset sheepskin rug, and it’s divine. I think it might be the only thing I’ve ever loved until I bought one of their iconic shaggy bags – a sheepskin beanbag. And the best part is that you can’t stain it – wool naturally repels liquids!

Depending on who you’re shopping for, I recommend a pure sheepskin in one of the natural tones. And sheepskins are perfect for babies to sleep on!

new zealand gift guide

Wine club membership at Two Paddocks

Serious wine aficionado in the family? Well, have I got the perfect gift for them.

A wine club membership at Two Paddocks, my favorite vineyard. Just down the road from me in rural Central Otago, Two Paddocks is the brainchild of actor Sam Neill. Quirky, charming, and beautiful with my all-time favorite Pinot Noir, it’s a winery for people who love wine and who love a good time.

The cellar door and events are open to wine club members, and it’s the kind of place you want to visit on a trip to New Zealand. Again, this heartily endorsed by my mom, for various reasons.

new zealand gift guide

Give the gift that helps others

If you’re in favor of giving a donation or supporting a good old kiwi cause, here are three of my faves.

Life Flight

All eyes have been on New Zealand this week with the tragic volcanic eruption at White Island, killing and injuring many tourists and locals. Luckily our government and systems look after emergencies even for foreign visitors for free.

What many might not know is that New Zealand has an incredible system of rescue services, including Life Flight, which provides emergency air ambulance services. They run the Westpac rescue choppers from Wellington but fly all over New Zealand, saving lives.

And they run a great deal off of charitable donations. Whether you need to be lifted off the side of a cliff or medevaced to a hospital on the other side of the country, Life Flight looks after kiwis and visitors alike for free.

Consider giving Life Flight a donation as a gift for someone who loves New Zealand.

new zealand gift guide

Project Jonah

A year ago, my life was turned upside down when I accidentally stumbled across 150 beaching pilot whales on a remote corner of Stewart Island.

I had no idea what to do, far from reception or help, and I spent two days with them as they died. It was the most traumatic experience of my life, a memory that still haunts me.

Whales are beautiful, intelligent animals, and unfortunately, New Zealand has one of the highest marine mammal strandings in the world. In partnership with DOC, Project Jonah is a small but mighty charity that helps facilitate rescues of whales and dolphins around New Zealand.

I give to them every month, and anyone who was impacted by my story and who loves whales too should consider supporting Project Jonah. You can also give the gift of becoming a Marine Mammal Medic, a trained whale rescue volunteer to help out at future strandings.

new zealand gift guide

Kākāpō Recovery – adopt a kākāpō

It wouldn’t be a complete conscious New Zealand gift guide if I were to neglect my favorite rare bird – the kākāpō.

Nocturnal, flightless parrots brought back from the brink of extinction by some of the most passionate kiwis from the Kākāpō Recovery team over the past couple of decades, the future of the kākāpō is far from secure. With only 211 birds left, they desperately need our help.

While you can donate to help the kākāpō, I recommend adopting a kākāpō – the perfect thoughtful gift!

new zealand gift guide

Phew, that turned into a much bigger New Zealand gift guide than I anticipated.

And apologies to any friends or family reading this, and I’ve potentially spoiled your Christmas gift and upcoming birthdays in this blog. Forgive me.

How did I do? Do you have any kiwi brands to add? Any unusual New Zealand gifts you’ve received? Spill!

new zealand gift guide

The post The conscious New Zealand gift guide appeared first on Young Adventuress.





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20 wild photos from the Wanaka flood in New Zealand


This spring in New Zealand has been a wild one, bringing on a flood in Wanaka.

Here in Wanaka, where I call home, in the heart of the Southern Alps, it’s been raining, raining and raining some more.

Considering it’s usually hot and dry and cold and dry as a general rule, this is rather unusual. Spring is generally windy but warm, teasing us for a beautiful summer ahead.

For all my fellow northern hemisphere inhabitants, spring in New Zealand runs from September to November.

With the snowmelt that feeds into the rivers, the lake level was already high.

Two weeks ago, the typically white beaches that outline our stunning Lake Wanaka were completely submerged beneath shimmering blue water, with the iconic Clutha River running high and fast.

Our mountains were bright green, lush and verdant, an unusual sight, but one that I love. Usually, a dry part of the country, come springtime our hills and valleys generally turn green with the snowmelt.

And then a week ago it began to rain properly. And I mean torrential rain for days, the likes of which we don’t usually see.

Cue the latest Wanaka flood.

Lake Wanaka has a history of flooding since the town was founded. Everyone was wondering if this year’s flood would top the 1999 flood when the lake came up so far that the New World was a meter underwater.

wanaka flood

Lucky for us, the rain has stopped just in time, as the water was spilling across the main road and lapping at the quickly stacked sandbags across the lakefront shops. Phew!

While the vibe of Wanaka is changing fast as the world catches on to how cool this wee mountain town of New Zealand is, the pride of the locals still runs deep. With everyone rallying together to protect the downtown and prep for the flood, it raised my spirits to see the community passion still alive and kicking.

Anyone who has ever visited Wanaka knows it’s unique.

wanaka flood

As the rain briefly stopped on Wednesday, December 4th, I made my way to the lakefront to have a good look at the state of affairs. The water was lapping over park benches, the jetties were gone, and the lakefront parking lot was covered in driftwood.

The clouds momentarily lifted, revealing snowcapped mountains and thundering waterfalls.

And our iconic Wanaka Tree, the infamous willow tree in the lake, looked like it needed a snorkel.

wanaka flood

Not only were all our beaches gone, but the lake was ever so slowly creeping across the grass towards the town in Wanaka.

Curious, I drove out to Treble Cone towards the Matukituki Valley, and I wasn’t disappointed.

By Glendhu Bay, the water was already spilling over onto the road. The waterfalls were thundering, much bigger than usual. The small wooden bridge in West Wanaka, which straddles the Matukituki River was shaking; brown water rushed down from the mountains into the lake.

It was terrifying, and I quickly returned home. A few hours later, the road was closed off from flooding.

wanaka flood

With the South Island doused in the rain, washing away roads and bridges this spring, it’s put it into a stark reminder that we are at the mercy of mother nature down here, especially in the mountains.

New Zealand is still a wild place, with big mountains, glacial rivers, and waterfalls galore. Hello, that’s why we all want to visit here. But it comes with a price. Mountain weather can be intense, and when it comes knocking, we have to listen.

It’s not all that uncommon for big storms to close roads and impact travel on the South Island. It’s happened a handful of times around Wanaka since I moved here six years ago.

If you’re planning to travel around New Zealand, I recommend checking NZTA’s (New Zealand Transport Agency) website for the most up-to-date maps on road closures.

wanaka flood

Australia’s wildfires are turning New Zealand’s glaciers red

Usually, I’m not the kind of person who goes out to photograph something like this. When I’m home, I am not always inclined to pick up my camera. For the past few years, camera = work.

But I’m hoping to feel more inspired this year. I’m looking to challenge myself to take photos of things I might normally would otherwise. So it was time to drag my lazy bum off the sofa and have a little look at what our lake was up to. Camera in hand and with no agenda, I headed to the lake

Here are some photos from the Wanaka flood this year.

Have you ever experienced a flood on your travels? Have you seen anything like this? Any stories from the Wanaka flood to spill? Share!

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wanaka flood

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wanaka flood

wanaka flood

wanaka flood

wanaka flood

wanaka flood

wanaka flood

wanaka flood

The post 20 wild photos from the Wanaka flood in New Zealand appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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The conscious New Zealand gift guide


As an American expat in New Zealand, whenever I travel to see family, I’m always thinking of clever, thoughtful gifts to bring home. Thus, the New Zealand gift guide is born.

In my first couple of years, I would always bring back beautiful bottles of Central Otago Pinot Noir and precious manuka honey, two classic kiwi staples. I would bring baby bibs with cheesy sheep quotes on them, bags of pineapple lumps, and possum wool socks.

While I’m still a solid fan of possum wool and pineapple lumps, I now try to use my gift-giving as a chance to showcase some pretty fantastic kiwi brands doing pretty amazing things. I’ve been asked regularly over the years to put together a New Zealand gift guide, and here we are.

I am not sure if it’s because I’ve evolved as a consumer, I’ve become more “woke” to cheaply made things or I’ve finally found some semblance of taste after 31 years on the earth, but the kitschy Kiwiana gifts I see these days make me cringe a little.

New Zealand is so much more than these stereotypes.

new zealand gift guide

Whether you are living in New Zealand and want to send gifts home that showcases this kickass part of the world, you’re a tourist coming to New Zealand, and you’re looking for an authentic souvenir, or you’re a kiwi, and you want to support NZ brands, this list is for you!

Even if you just plain love New Zealand (hell, I get it), I’ve spent the past couple of years carefully following and cultivating a love for all these guys below and decided now’s the time to put it all in one place for you all too.

I’ll also take a moment to say none of this is sponsored at all – these are all brands I buy and love.

So here you go, a comprehensive and conscious New Zealand gift guide made by yours truly that showcases the best of the kiwi brands I use and love, and can’t heartily recommend enough – enjoy!

new zealand gift guide

Allbirds

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve given a pair of Allbirds as gifts to people I love.

Too many, according to my accountant.

And while I have worked on campaigns promoting Allbirds in the past, I have bought even more pairs on my own for both myself and my friends and family. I’m truly part of the cult. My mom just got another pair for Christmas from me this year.

Allbirds was started by kiwis and is now based in the US, around merino wool shoes. Simple and perfect, an ethical and responsible company using natural materials. Here in the land of the long white sheep, merino wool is life.

The perfect travel shoe, they’ve also expanded and make bamboo tree shoes too, my mom’s favorite. I live in my wool loungers, wool runners, and tree skippers. A New Zealand gift guide would be incomplete without my beloved Allbirds.

new zealand gift guide

Honeywraps

Honeywraps are organic reusable beeswax food wraps, and they are my new favorite thing in the kitchen – non-edible thing, I’ll clarify.

Inspired to cut back on the millions of plastic waste we generate on this planet, Honeywraps was founded by a group of passionate local women in New Zealand, hoping to make a difference. Each beeswax wrap is made right in NZ from GOTS certified organic cotton -and natural ingredients.

I don’t know about you, but once I became aware of my plastic waste, I couldn’t bring myself to use plastic wrap or clingfilm ever again. It’s so pointless! With the wraps, you can pop on bowls to cover and press down to seal or wrap your veggies in them and then wash when you’re done.

Honeywraps also collaborate with charities and kiwi artists to decorate the wraps and tell a story of nature and conservation here.

View this post on Instagram

Back for 10 days only … the 10 Wrap Pack! 🧡 10 of your fave organic Honeywraps individually packaged so perfect to gift to friends, family, teachers, staff 🎄🎁 On the website now.

A post shared by Honeywrap (@honeywrap) on Nov 11, 2019 at 12:18am PST

Wellington Chocolate Factory

Who doesn’t love local artisanal chocolate as a gift? And with carefully hand-wrapped packaging designed by local artists, does it get any better than that?

Wellington Chocolate Factory is by far still one of my favorite chocolate brands of all time, and I often find myself following my nose towards their setup whenever I’m in Wellington – you know, for research purposes.

Made from the finest ethically traded cocoa in the world, the chocolate is made with love right here in New Zealand, with each bar carefully wrapped in the most delightful package, decorated by local Wellington artists.

The salted caramel bar is my favorite, but the Peru single origin bar is a close second.

new zealand gift guide

Ethique

I first discovered Ethique on my electric campervan road trip around New Zealand with Britz, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

On a mission to rid the planet of plastic waste, Ethique started in a kiwi kitchen by a powerhouse female scientist making plastic-free beauty bars. You know, bars of shampoo.

Yes it works, yes it smells good, and yes it’s fantastic. It’s the perfect plastic-free starter gift for conscious travelers. And they make everything.

View this post on Instagram

When it comes to gift wrapping, how are you lowering your impact but still retaining the element of surprise 💚🎁? Don’t know where to start? We have some earth-loving ideas up on our latest blog on our website. Pictured: Reusing old wrapping & fabric offcuts #ethiqueworld #giveupthebottle #zerowaste #wastefree

A post shared by Ethique (@ethiqueworld) on Nov 19, 2019 at 12:00pm PST

Annabel Langbein Cookbook

Annabel Langbein is a celebrated Kiwi chef and cookbook author, and a bit of a household name here. She’s also my neighbor in Wanaka.

My mom loves her – apparently, she shows air in the US too – and her recipes are classics here.

Her cookbooks make for great, thoughtful gifts, especially for those who love a good garden and a good meal.

View this post on Instagram

Now for the great reveal… this is the beautiful cover of our latest project, 'Together' co-authored with my daughter Rose. We are feeling very proud and excited for it to hit the shelves next Monday 15th. SIGNED PRE ORDERS are available now via my website – link in bio (they will be sent out on Friday 12th so make sure you get your order in before then!) *normal delivery times apply #together #family #freerangelife

A post shared by Annabel Langbein (@annabellangbein) on Oct 7, 2018 at 11:01am PDT

Queenstown Soap

I have this tradition where I always buy my mom locally made rose soap when I travel anywhere – it’s her favorite.

And my friends over at the Queenstown Soap Co. make one of the best!

The perfect gift, these soaps are handmade in Queenstown by good people from organic and naturally-sourced ingredients. Cinnamon is my favorite.

View this post on Instagram

These beautiful three bars will soon be available in liquid form! We would love to know if there any other Queenstown Soap Co. flavours you would like to be available in liquid form? Our liquid soaps will be packaged in glass dispenser bottles with larger refill bottles also available ☀️

A post shared by Queenstown Soap Co. (@queenstownsoapco) on Jan 14, 2019 at 9:58pm PST

Nevé Candles

I only just discovered Nevé candles while on holiday in Waiheke, and it turns out they are made right over the hill from me in Queenstown.

Named for the mountains, nevé is the word for the snow that forms the surface of the tops of glaciers.

Stocked around New Zealand, my all-time favorite smell is French Pear and Brown Sugar though Kowhai Blossom and Lime is a close second.

View this post on Instagram

NEW CHARITY OF CHOICE 🌱🌊 we are proud to announce our latest Charity of Choice – @sustainablecoastlines ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁣⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁣⠀ It’s important to us to support local charities that really make a difference here in New Zealand, so we raise awareness for different charities throughout the year and the fantastic work they do. We also donate 5% from every online order placed through our store. ⁣⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁣⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⁣⠀ Right now we’re proud to support Sustainable Coastlines, a multiaward winning New Zealand charity run by a team of hard-working staff and a network of passionate volunteers and collaborators. They coordinate and support large-scale coastal clean-up events, educational programs, public awareness campaigns and riparian planting projects.

A post shared by N E V É C A N D L E S (@nevecandles) on Apr 8, 2019 at 2:12am PDT

Goodnature trap

This one might cost me a few readers, but c’est la vie! Also, this is probably only for folks living here in New Zealand.

You’ve heard me go on and on about how much I care about native New Zealand birds and creatures, and how passionate I am about conservation. Well, the reason they need help is that the majority of our birds here have been hunted to extinction or close to it by introduced pests, like stoats, possums, and rats.

One way kiwis are fighting to protect these birds is by setting traps around their houses and gardens. Goodnature makes excellent traps that are automatic, easy to set up, humane, and safe. It’s the perfect gift for a family or for someone who loves native New Zealand birds.

View this post on Instagram

Recording your trap strikes with your local predator-free group can really help give your group a sense for where rat activity is high and how you're going with getting rid of them! Using a digital strike counter helps give you more accurate trapping data. #nocookieshere #trapping #technology #pestcontrol #goodnature #PF2050 #predatorfreenz

A post shared by Goodnature Ltd (@goodnaturenz) on Jul 1, 2019 at 7:56pm PDT

Mons Royale

I’ve accidentally been a Mons Royale ambassador for years, a Wanaka-based merino wool company that makes outdoor clothes and base layers. I’ve been quietly (or not so quietly) stocking up on their stuff for years and years, and pretty much every photo you see of me hiking, that’s what I’m wearing.

And they make my favorite underwear and sports bras.

Merino wool is a magical fiber; a light itch-free wool that doesn’t smell; it’s the perfect fabric for people like me who are always outdoors. I only hike in merino these days, and it’s what I wear underneath my snow pants and jacket when I’m snowboarding.

And Mons (Snow spelled backward) is relaxed and trendy, probably way too cool and stylish for me, but I still want to be part of the club! It isn’t cheap, but it’s worth investing in, as you only need a few essential staples. I often give it as gifts and start small with a beanie, buff, or socks.

new zealand gift guide

Zoe & Morgan

Zoe & Morgan make the coolest jewelry. Sibling expats that ended up in New Zealand, they split their shop between here and London, and their designs are modern, creative, and ethereal.

Their jewelry speaks to their individuality and travels; it’s very evocative for travelers like me.

I’m always wearing their Golden Hour Ring until I can afford their diamonds.

View this post on Instagram

What do you love? ​scroll through, dream big. ​​ #7chakranecklace #fourthchakraring #heartchakra #araceliring #astridearrings #basechakramala #firstchakranecklace

A post shared by Zoe & Morgan (@zoeandmorgan) on Nov 20, 2019 at 10:35pm PST

Wilson and Dorset sheepskins

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that my house is chocked full of the most luxurious fabulous sheepskins and wooly trinkets. I’m obsessed. And they all come from my favorite local Wanaka shop – Wilson and Dorset. Any New Zealand gift guide must include wool IMO.

Living in the mountains of New Zealand, wool is vital, and it’s my favorite fabric.

The first “nice” thing I ever bought for my house was a Wilson and Dorset sheepskin rug, and it’s divine. I think it might be the only thing I’ve ever loved until I bought one of their iconic shaggy bags – a sheepskin beanbag. And the best part is that you can’t stain it – wool naturally repels liquids!

Depending on who you’re shopping for, I recommend a pure sheepskin in one of the natural tones. And sheepskins are perfect for babies to sleep on!

new zealand gift guide

Wine club membership at Two Paddocks

Serious wine aficionado in the family? Well, have I got the perfect gift for them.

A wine club membership at Two Paddocks, my favorite vineyard. Just down the road from me in rural Central Otago, Two Paddocks is the brainchild of actor Sam Neill. Quirky, charming, and beautiful with my all-time favorite Pinot Noir, it’s a winery for people who love wine and who love a good time.

The cellar door and events are open to wine club members, and it’s the kind of place you want to visit on a trip to New Zealand. Again, this heartily endorsed by my mom, for various reasons.

new zealand gift guide

Give the gift that helps others

If you’re in favor of giving a donation or supporting a good old kiwi cause, here are three of my faves.

Life Flight

All eyes have been on New Zealand this week with the tragic volcanic eruption at White Island, killing and injuring many tourists and locals. Luckily our government and systems look after emergencies even for foreign visitors for free.

What many might not know is that New Zealand has an incredible system of rescue services, including Life Flight, which provides emergency air ambulance services. They run the Westpac rescue choppers from Wellington but fly all over New Zealand, saving lives.

And they run a great deal off of charitable donations. Whether you need to be lifted off the side of a cliff or medevaced to a hospital on the other side of the country, Life Flight looks after kiwis and visitors alike for free.

Consider giving Life Flight a donation as a gift for someone who loves New Zealand.

new zealand gift guide

Project Jonah

A year ago, my life was turned upside down when I accidentally stumbled across 150 beaching pilot whales on a remote corner of Stewart Island.

I had no idea what to do, far from reception or help, and I spent two days with them as they died. It was the most traumatic experience of my life, a memory that still haunts me.

Whales are beautiful, intelligent animals, and unfortunately, New Zealand has one of the highest marine mammal strandings in the world. In partnership with DOC, Project Jonah is a small but mighty charity that helps facilitate rescues of whales and dolphins around New Zealand.

I give to them every month, and anyone who was impacted by my story and who loves whales too should consider supporting Project Jonah. You can also give the gift of becoming a Marine Mammal Medic, a trained whale rescue volunteer to help out at future strandings.

new zealand gift guide

Kākāpō Recovery – adopt a kākāpō

It wouldn’t be a complete conscious New Zealand gift guide if I were to neglect my favorite rare bird – the kākāpō.

Nocturnal, flightless parrots brought back from the brink of extinction by some of the most passionate kiwis from the Kākāpō Recovery team over the past couple of decades, the future of the kākāpō is far from secure. With only 211 birds left, they desperately need our help.

While you can donate to help the kākāpō, I recommend adopting a kākāpō – the perfect thoughtful gift!

new zealand gift guide

Phew, that turned into a much bigger New Zealand gift guide than I anticipated.

And apologies to any friends or family reading this, and I’ve potentially spoiled your Christmas gift and upcoming birthdays in this blog. Forgive me.

How did I do? Do you have any kiwi brands to add? Any unusual New Zealand gifts you’ve received? Spill!

new zealand gift guide

The post The conscious New Zealand gift guide appeared first on Young Adventuress.





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