Sadly, we are back from our 2-week trip to New Zealand. This is my fourth time there (my mum is from there and her huge family), and Chris’ first time. Every time I think about how we aren’t there anymore, I feel like I’m going to cry…and I don’t really cry. There are going to be loads of posts about New Zealand coming up, about food, fitness, guides to cities and so forth. Lots of good stuff. I wanted to keep this returning post to the point. Here are a few things I learned on this trip to New Zealand:
1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. The people of New Zealand (the Kiwis) are incredibly down-to-earth. They don’t take themselves too seriously, for the most part, and are there simply to live and do what makes them happy. I think loads of people in the States and elsewhere could take a page from their book in this lesson.
my aunt Raewyn and uncle Michael at Huka Falls (they’re twins believe it or not)
2. Family first. I already knew this one, but this trip hit it home once again. My mum is one of eight siblings which means I have a huge family over there. As I visit more and more as I am an adult, my relationships and bonds with them grow deeper. Chris, my brother and his girlfriend, and I toured the South Island together for the first time and it was wonderful. But sometimes I found myself wishing that we were back at Nana’s, sitting around, roaring with laughter. I miss them so much now. Seeing them once every few years is just not enough!
From left to right, top to bottom: Aunt Raewyn and I, Kai and Sophie, Aunt Carolyn and I
3. Live simple. This goes for many people of New Zealand, not all, but many. They may own huge pieces of land, but a lot of it is just that–land. The beauty of New Zealand speaks for itself and you would be a fool to miss it. It was always my end goal to end up in New Zealand (as I am a citizen there), but I find myself wanting to move there sooner and sooner to live that kind of life! I remember this place on Akaroa (beautiful spot on the South Island) of this fish stand on the wharf where the guy would go out fishing, bring in the catch of the day several times of the day, and either sell the fish raw or cook some fish and chips up. That life sounds awesome to me.
Off the wharf in Akaroa
4. Don’t be afraid to spend money. This one is tough because we obviously aren’t all made of money. This certainly goes for Chris and I. We spent quite a bit of money down there and wanted to do even more! If you want to do something that you know you’ll regret later if you don’t, just cough it up and do it. You can always work more when you get home (as we are doing now).
Food is expensive there!
5. Don’t judge others and just let go. So that side of the family…when everyone gets together we are incredibly loud and almost always make a scene wherever we go because of how ridiculous everyone is. That being said, we got looks from people everywhere we went! But not angry looks, more of amusement. Just realizing that should make people second-guess judging people just because they are a little loud and…different.
Chris found a big stick…
Just because I don’t have the entirety of my mum’s thousands of pictures yet, I have to show you a daily thing between my family (this is last trip in 2011)
A constant reaction from me and imagine that multiplied by about 10
6.Just sit down and look outside. This is huge!! If you don’t sit down and look outside in New Zealand, I have to call you an idiot. But this goes for wherever you are. Find beauty in everything. Find a moment just to sit down outside, look at the sky, mountains, plains, whatever you have. I did this lots of times by myself and with company to just enjoy mother nature.
Just before a sunset at Lake Taupo, North Island
7. There’s always a reason to smile. Even if someone is going through a rough patch in my family, they always find a way to smile or laugh. And I mean always. Whether it’s through pranks, family love, or just having a conversation, you will never ever ever see a lack of smiles on my kiwi family’s faces. And I honestly believe that it’s good for you. People don’t laugh as much here!
Us on the ferry to the South Island
8. Do what makes you happy. This connects with a few other points. There are so many ways that we complicate life nowadays and strive for things that we think can somehow create happiness. Or sometimes happiness isn’t the goal anymore. That makes me crazy! I need to bring it to my own life as well. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, don’t make an excuse to go do something that will bring joy to you. That real happiness that is deep within. Get it!
Picking cherries with Sophie for instance…
9. Fresh fish is the only way to go. I didn’t have to worry about whether fish was farmed or not to the places we went to eat at, it was all caught that day pretty much with a few exceptions! I can’t even describe how good the fish is there. Probably the best fish and chips I had was some that my Aunt Pam and Uncle/Godfather John cooked. Absolutely amazing. Don’t know how much fish and chips I ate there. Go fresh or go home.
10. Switch off. I didn’t use my phone much over there (except for pictures) because I hadn’t unlocked it so I would get a billion roaming and international charges. On the South Island, there was rarely any internet. For Americans, it’s sadly tough to go without these things. But I found it to be liberating and really nice for most of the time. Sure we all swarmed the internet when we got it, but otherwise we forgot about it. We just drove through the windy hills, steep cliffs, and by the ocean and just looked out and enjoyed each other. I am personally going to try to avoid being on my phone all the time, and just enjoy what’s around me.
Not even accurate description of our sleep last night…brutal, jet-lag made us not fall asleep for a while!
I can’t wait to get all the other pictures from mum, Chris, Sophie, and so forth. I hope you’ve enjoyed a little sample of pictures and what I learned while I was there. I could go on and on, but it’s time for me to go to bed. To all my family reading this, I miss you!! Can’t wait to head on back to my future home. And as always…stay hungry and fit!
BONUS KITTY PIC
Although I am super bummed not to be in NZ anymore, there are two cats that make it a little better