uni

20.9.19

NEW ZEALAND: NORTH ISLAND

15.9.19


We flew to New Zealand on the 9th of April after spending a week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After our bumpy night flight, New Zealand welcomed us warmly; the sun shining down on the city below. Our initial anxieties and stresses dispersed as we made our way through the airport; there was something quite homely about New Zealand already.

Our first hostel was dingy, the walls plastered with signs saying; "Be Wary Of Thieves!" Molly and I  both failed to remember whose idea it was to book it, and it's fair to say we spent minimal time in that hostel. We spent our first evening in a Maccies wrapped up in jumpers drinking mint tea, both feeling a little bit deflated about our living situation for the next few days. In order to shake the feeling, we woke up early the next morning to walk up Mt Eden, where we sat eating a picnic enjoying the view. We were met with a sudden downpour, and Molly and I spent the rest of the day drenched and hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop; sussing out a few op shops for winter clothes too.

Our few days exploring Auckland flew by and before we knew it we had started the Kiwi Experience. We stood outside, a pile of backpacks in front of us awaiting the infamous big green bus. It's funny reflecting on it now, and the first encounters we had with people who we went on to travel with further. We headed out of Auckland to Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. It was a longish journey and it felt sort of like a weird school trip. The Coromandel Peninsula and Cathedral Cove was one of my favourite (albeit touristy, but for a reason) spots in the North Island; they were so beautiful. That evening we played card games and drunk ginger cider, leaving the hostel kitchen only to watch the glorious sunset on Hot Water Beach. We just made it back before it was pitch black, all eating our pesto pasta from Coles.

left: Auckland
middle: cathedral cove on the walk down
right: a random gas station, thought it looked super retro and midwestern!! 
We set of early the next day to visit the Waitomo glow worm caves after doing a walk around an old gold mining area. Molly and I weren't keen on doing the full caving experience (which was expensive and involved abseiling) but a new friend of ours had found a cheaper boat tour so we opted for that and it was certainly worth it.

"It's Monday the 15th April, this day will never be repeated again." Our Kiwi driver, liked to remind us of this mantra early in the mornings and Monday 15th was definitely a full on day. Our next stop was Rotorua, a town famous for its hot springs and mud pools; but unfortunately the area had a pungent smell of rotten eggs thanks to the sulfur.
We headed to Rotorua via Hobbiton. For Molly and I, this was an exciting moment. I'm not a mega Lord of the Rings fan, I've only seen one film, but it was definitely a must when in New Zealand. It was so idyllic, a secret land surrounded by rolling hills and golden sunlight; we literally felt like we were in another world.

That afternoon I took a dip in the hostels geothermally heated pool, a luxury for sure, and we got ready to head to the Maori Village Experience. This was another highlight of our New Zealand trip, we found it so interesting learning about the Maori people and their culture. We also got to eat some amazing food and were introduced to Kumara, a sweet potato native to NZ which became a staple food later on in the trip.


The next morning we had more of a lie in and went to Lake Taupo. We started the day off with a beautiful walk to Huka Falls, an amazing waterfall with a really intense current. We did the walk, got some lovely snaps and checked into the Base hostel in Taupo. This was the biggest town we had visited for some time with a lot more shops and people around. The lake is huge, roughly the size of Singapore which I really struggled to get my head around.

The hostel bar was going to be closing permanently, and our first night in Taupo coincided with it's last night of business. This meant cheap drinks and a messy night. Not the best idea given we were due to do a 19.4km walk across an active volcano the next day.
That morning we got up at 4.30am to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We were all definitely still drunk and as we got our things together we suddenly realised the magnitude of what we were doing; its safe to say we were happy we prepared lunch. The fact we were hangover and drunk still, added an interesting dynamic to the hike. About 30 mins into the walk, after we had passed the point of no return, my trousers began to feel a bit weird. I swiftly realised I had forgotten to take my pajama bottoms off.  We did the hike in a total of 7.5 hours, which we were proud of given our delirious, sleep deprived state.

the point of no return, actually met someone so hungover he had to turn back.

River Valley is located in the North Island and was our last stop before Wellington. It's to the west of the Island in a valley (duh) by a river, in the middle of nowhere; with no service which was quite liberating. We arrived as the sun was setting so the drive was glorious. Rolling hills glowing in the golden autumnal light, we passed fields full of deer which was super cool. River Valley is a lodge in the woods, so it had a super cosy feel to it. We opted to sleep in the 30 person dorm, which was effectively two big bunk beds. It was an experience to say the least, but actually one of the best night sleeps we had, probably in part due to excessive amounts of wine.

The next day we had a slow morning and headed to Wellington quite late on in the day. We only had one night in Wellington, so didn't get to see much of the city at all regrettably. We ate dinner at the hostel and Molly and I drunk gin and tonics. Molly headed up for an early one with some of the girls, we were all coming down ill at this point, but I ended up staying out till 2am with some friends visiting bars in Wellington. I figured if it was all I would see of the city, I better make the most of it.

I'm finally getting round to writing about my travel experiences. I'm aware this is a super long post and might not be of interest to all but I wanted to type this up in short to reflect on in future. It might be of interest if your planning a trip to NZ or wanted to know where I went. I'm going to try and do a post like this on all the places we went. Enjoy!

home.

15.8.19


I've been sleeping in late a lot recently. Until the sun seeps through my curtain or most likely until the sound of rain against the window wakes me up.

Adjusting to life post travelling has been strange. I haven't quite been able to slot back into where I fitted before and I feel as though everything and nothing around me has changed. It all suddenly feels much smaller than when I left.
Don't get me wrong, it is good to be home. Good to see family and friends; to not be woken by someone coming in at 3am or losing things in the abyss of my backpack. But I do miss it.

I miss the friendly faces you meet, friendships made after five minutes talking, and eating new food every night.

I learnt a lot about myself whilst travelling. That I'm capable of more than I give myself credit for. I was scared coming back I would lose the confidence I had gained, that I wouldn't implement all the lessons learnt into my daily routines. But I think I'm learning to balance these nuances and to not fall back into lazy habits.

I found this in my notes page on my phone and wanted to share,

"I’m lying in a hostel bed in Da Lat, Vietnam.  The room is quiet apart from the patter of peoples feet in and out of the room and the sound of laughter coming from the kitchen downstairs. I’m exhausted and trying to catch up on sleep but my mind is somewhere else. Last night we caught a 15 hour sleeper bus from Hoi An; that contrary to the name didn’t involve much sleeping thanks to a crying baby and winding rural roads. I’ve pulled the blue curtain shut at the end of my bed; and for the first time in days I’m alone in my own space. When Molly and I look for hostels we always take into account a few details; one: is there a free breakfast? And two: are there curtains? I think privacy is a luxury that I certainly take for granted at home. It’s in these moments alone with my thoughts that all comes into fruition, and the thought of going home leaves me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. The past four months have been full of so many happy moments. In such a short period of time I feel as though I’ve experienced every high and every low: but it’s tainted in a happy haze. Undoubtedly, it’s been the best four months of my life; and as the journey home looms above us, I can go home happy knowing I've had so many incredible experiences. That the world is a much smaller place, you're only ever a flight or two away from home. But I think what scares me the most about heading home is knowing there is so much left to explore and so little time or money to do so. So for now I am content in my explorations, but I know the novelty of home will wear off fast, and I'll be ready to go again." 


I hope you all are well

lexie xo

late night conversations

6.8.19


Late night conversations with new friends in new places, people who you click with. People you were meant to meet. So many times passing familiar strangers, you greet them with a smile and for a moment there's a mutual realisation that you know each other. But where from? Chasing faces, you search your brain of recent memories. Tracing back to where your paths had crossed before. Glancing away you take a sip of a cold beer, your eyes never to meet again.

But it's such a funny feeling, you click with people and before long you move onto your own adventures. And you wonder will you ever really see them again?
You awkwardly say, "see you soon-it was nice to meet you."
Maybe you'll even shed a tear, in memory of those late night conversations. 

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Thoughts from a two year 'gap year'


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my tattoos

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2019

6.1.19

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