A Travellerspoint blog

Lochiel Estates

As a northbound bus sped us away from Auckland’s busy streets, we soon found ourselves surrounded on either side by the scenery which we had expected to encounter in New Zealand: green, rolling hills, acres of trees, vast amounts of sheep. After a two hour journey on increasingly windy roads, we dismounted in the small town of Kaiwaka, where were apprehensively shouldered our heavy backpacks and waited for a ride from an acquaintance recently made over the phone: Liz Cameron, longtime friend of my uncle Ken’s and co-owner of the Lochiel Estates winery in Whangarai. It soon transpired that Liz was a perfectly lovely woman and, upon hearing that we really had no direction in life, offered for us to stay a few nights at the Estate while we attempted to figure something out. The offer was greatly appreciated by these two freshly nomadic travelers, and upon our arrival to the house we knew that we were extremely lucky; it sat upon the top of a hill amongst rows and rows of vines and a beautiful view of the surrounding farmland. We were introduced to the other two inhabitants of Lochiel Estates: Gary, Liz’s husband, who welcomed us into his home as if we were old friends, not strangers from another country, and Lucky, the little dog with the big personality. The hospitality of the Camerons was endless, and we greatly enjoyed the company of them and their friends that we met while we stayed there. During our few days in Whangarai we learned about some New Zealand history at the Kauri museum, participated in the weekly town market and were shown what is meant by the expression “Kiwi hospitality”. After an internet job search proved successful and it was decided we would be relocating to the Te Anau on the South Island for work, we re-packed our backpacks and sadly said goodbye to the two people that had quickly become like family to us in a place so far away from home. Gary and Liz Cameron, we cannot thank you enough for your generous hospitality, your willing acceptance of us into your beautiful home, and your truly fabulous wine. I seriously doubt I’ll find a Pinot Gris that good anywhere else (but I don’t mind trying).
One last stay at the Base hostel in Auckland, followed by a flight and a night in Queenstown, and it was time to arrive at our new home: Te Anau, a small, tourist town with a population just under 2000, where we would be working in a hotel set amongst a beautiful backdrop of mountains and lakes.

Posted by bgriffs 18:03 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Auckland

From the moment I stepped foot in Auckland I was a little unsure how I felt about the place. The weather was certainly pleasant, a soft breeze wafting as the sun beat down on our backpack-laden bodies. While I have been properly educated in the ways of city life and have visited many other large cities similar to it, I found that Auckland is really like no other city I have visited. In some ways it is like any other, what with the people bustling about in their day to day endeavors, but in other ways it is completely unusual. A coastal city, it possesses a large amount of boat owners and seaside restaurants. Some of the buildings look like they belong in Old Montreal, while some would look at home in Manhattan. People seem to have no qualms walking the impeccably clean streets barefoot and there are a high amount of sushi restaurants, convenience stores, and donair shops. The residents of Auckland also seem keen to encourage people to jump from high places: both the Auckland Bridge and the Skytower offer bungee-jumping experiences. The citizens were friendly enough and the local beers as good as any others we had sampled; I suppose my main issue with Auckland was the total lack of New Zealand-ness about it. When you picture New Zealand, you picture rolling green hills, vast amounts of sheep and cattle, beaches that stretch miles long and ocean as far as you can see. While it’s true that Auckland is on the ocean and yes, there is a dormant, grown-over volcano in the midst of downtown, it just doesn’t perpetrate the image that New Zealand, as a country, does. I hope that it does not seem that I disliked my time in Auckland: on the contrary, I found the people amicable, the hostel situation more than acceptable and the views enjoyable. I just felt that New Zealand had more to offer, and this idea made travel to outside the city and down to the South Island a favorable option. Our stay in Auckland ended when we headed up to Whangarai, a small beach town about 80 minutes north of Auckland, where my uncle’s friends owned a vineyard and bed & breakfast called Lochiel Estates.

Posted by bgriffs 03:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Why Do We Travel?

sunny

Why do we travel? Kerouac once said, “The road is life.” But what is it about the prospect of foreign lands that prompts us to leave the comforts of home and head off into the unknown and unfamiliar? Why do so many people spend days on buses, planes or trains, only to reach a destination that they must eventually return from? I suppose that many people simply want to experience something different, whether significantly or only slightly; they know that there is more to the world than they are aware of, and they want to see what it has to offer. Some people travel because they have to for work, and they probably do not see the same joy in it that those who travel for leisure do. Some people surely travel for the adventure and the stories that it will produce: countless party and water-cooler anecdotes that might be slightly exaggerated for the enjoyment of those listening…but I think that many people travel for the same reason I do: there was never a question that my life would be incomplete without it.

People will say that they were “bitten by the travel bug”…in my case, it bit me, laid eggs in my brain, and with every egg that hatches, a new case of wanderlust courses through my veins. I am possessed with this internal desire to learn, to seek, to understand…and nothing will stop me from achieving every single thing I want to. St. Augustine quoted the oft-heard travel truism: “The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page” – I want to destroy the book I’ve known so far and write a new one. A book with a chapter about scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, a chapter about wildlife sanctuaries in Africa, a chapter about teaching English in Thailand. Who knows what exactly my travels will teach me and where they will take me? The book of my life will be pages and pages of people, places, and experiences, unique to the countries and cities which they take part in. Travel will change me, change my life, and change my outlook on life.

A map following my travel progress thus far would show a smattering of dots across Canada, including Montreal, Vancouver, and Edmonton (my hometown); a modest selection of American cities (Orlando, Florida; Maui, Hawaii; Palm Springs, California); London, England; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and my current location: New Zealand. I have never kept a travel diary before although traveling and writing are two of my biggest passions. This foray into the Southern Hemisphere seemed like a good place to start. The internet is the best way to reach several people at once (especially when they are literally continents away), and voila! The travel blog was born. This particular blog you are reading is aptly titled “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost” – a poetic little reminder from J.R.R. Tolkien that those of us who are compelled to travel the world are by no means lost in our lives; we are merely searching for something we have not yet seen.

I will be updating this whenever I feel I have something interesting to say, and frequently with pictures (my photographer father passed down a love of capturing experience on film) so that you can live vicariously through me. New Zealand is only the beginning: I hope to one day have separate sections including Africa, South America, Australia, Central America, Europe, Asia, and everywhere in between. I hope you enjoy it.

Posted by bgriffs 21:21 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

(Entries 36 - 38 of 38) « Page .. 3 4 5 6 7 [8]