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Thirty Before Thirty…

So it’s a new year and although we are entering the roaring twenties I will, unbelievably, be leaving my twenties behind and turning thirty, and I have no idea how that happened or where the years raced away to. So in lieu of a new year’s resolution I have decided to do the clichéd thing, and simultaneously indulge my love of lists, with a list of thirty things I want to do before I turn thirty. And without further ado here we go….

See Hamilton… I mean have you heard the soundtrack?! Enough said.

Learn to French plait my hair… let’s face it I really am too old now to keep asking people to do it for me and I just really like having my hair out of my face in plaits, so it’s time to be an adult and finally learn how to do it myself.

Reconnect with old friends… being back home for a couple of months gives me the perfect opportunity to see friends who I haven’t seen for ages. I have some amazing friends who I sadly don’t see or speak to all that much, mainly because I’m off gallivanting around the world, but now I have a little time at home I want to squeeze as many reunions in as possible.

Be better at keeping in touch with people… This is a follow on from the last point. I am rubbish at keeping in touch. I have some wonderful age old friendships that when we reunite after a long separation we slip straight back into how we’ve always been but I really need to make a better effort to stay in touch in between meet ups.

See some live music… I haven’t been to a gig for ages and I really love going to see live music, so this year I’m going to try and get to some. Preferably Dean Lewis as I am a little obsessed and he did one solitary gig in New Zealand, in the one month I wasn’t there. But honestly any live music would be good.

Skydive… Ok yes I have already done this, just before my 29th birthday I flung myself out of a plane and it was indescribable. The courage I had to summon to even get into the plane was unbelievable, but the experience like no other. And I cannot recommend this enough, people, PUT IT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST!

Visit my 30th country…. So far I have visited 29 countries on my extensive travel and it would be pretty nice to round of the number to 30 by 30. Plus it gives me the excuse to go and discover a whole new exciting place.

Go somewhere in the UK I’ve never been… As per the previous point I have been lucky enough to travel to many amazing places around the world but I’ve not seen that much of my own country. Especially not as an adult, with no parents to drag me off to some random youth hostel I’ve picked jumping on a plane every time as a holiday instead. So before I hit this grand old age I’m going to discover some more of my own country.

Run a 5K… A couple of years back when I was training for Kilimanjaro I started running and I actually, very surprisingly, quite liked it and would really like to get back into it with the goal of completing a 5k.

Cook something new… I love cooking and I really love baking however having lived in hostels or cars or vans for the last however long means I’ve not really done very much. So whilst I’m back in a fully stocked kitchen (courtesy of the grandparents) I’m going to flex my baking skills and try something I haven’t done before. What though is yet to be determined.

De clutter… I have a whole heap of clothes and belongings sat in storage and considering I can’t even remember what half of them are I think it might be time to donate some stuff. Also I have managed to just live out of a backpack for almost two years and it turns out I’m ok with that.

Get that 4th tattoo… I love my other tattoos a whole lot and I’ve been meaning to add to the collection for a couple of years now, so now is the time.

Go skiing on my birthday… Another one I’ve already done because I did start writing this list before I turned 29 with this in mind for my birthday, I spent a gorgeous bluebird day on the ski slopes with my friends and absolutely loved it.

Fall in love again… Not necessarily with a person maybe with a place or an activity or even a whole bunch of people. I’ve fallen in love with many places and maybe too many people for my own mental well-being but I intend to keep on doing it for ever, because, honestly is there really any greater feeling than falling in love?

Try to improve my Spanish skills… Despite my determination to attempt to learn Spanish over the years my skills are still pretty rusty and limited to what I can remember from my GCSE Spanish classes and of course “uno cerveza por favour”! And as I am determined to go to South America at some point in my lifetime I’d quite like to be able to speak the language. Whilst I think it’s unlikely I’ll be able to be fluent within a year I’m going to try and improve my Spanish at least a little.

Finally watch Narcos… I mean self-explanatory really. I keep meaning to watch it and then just keep putting it off and watching Love Island or some other crap instead, so next binge watch… Narcos (although I’m probably going to watch the newest series of Love Island as well).

Eat at Dishoom… A pretty basic one but something I keep meaning to do and yet never quite get there.

Tick some books of the ‘To Be Read’ list… I read a lot, a lot, a lot but I have a very bad habit of re reading books repeatedly and a stack of unread books as well as a very long kindle wish list. Time to get reading some of them.

Go to the Dentist… As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am an adult now, and as such need to do things like go to the dentist, even if I don’t want to, because it’s good to take care of yourself, or so I have been told.

Dye my hair… The second of my take better care of myself promises is to sort out my hair. My hair is a complete mess I bleached the ends and dyed them green and now there’s a weird greenish tinge lingering, it turns a lighter colour mid-way down where the sun and sea lightened it last summer and there’s the odd (gulp) grey hair appearing. So time to treat myself and get it sorted.

Try to cut back on Dairy… Another promise to take better care of myself. I don’t react very well to dairy, never have really, milk and milk based products make me sick, but never the less I eat it, and I eat quite a lot of it in the form of cheese, which I am obsessed with. But as loathe as I am to, I’m going to try and eat a little less in an attempt to hopefully help my body feel a little better.

Get up and see at least five sunrises… I am not a morning person, but there is something wonderful about being awake before most of the world and seeing the sun come up. We only get so many sunrises in our lifetime and so far I’ve missed a fair few of them, so figured it would be nice to catch some this year, and hopefully in some beautiful places.

Try and date someone nice… I mean I always think I do at the start and then I get invested and catch feelings and then it turns out they are not so very nice and somehow it takes me a long time and a lot of friends pulling their hair out in frustration for me to see that. Maybe it should be listen to my friends dating advice more, but either way, it would be quite a lovely change to actually spend my time with a nice guy for once.

Keep laughing… I firmly believe laughter is the best cure for just about anything and life would be a complete waste without a little laughter in every day.

Do my bit to look after the planet… The planet is burning guys and we’ve somehow got to fix this mess we’ve made. I’ve been trying to be more and more conscious of my environmental impact, and whilst I’m nowhere near perfect I am going to try and do my utmost best.

See the Southern Lights… I have always longed to see either the northern or southern lights and am very much hoping that during my winter in Australia I’ll finally get the chance.

Be more consistent with this blog… I love writing, getting my jumbled thoughts out on paper and having other people read it makes me feel a little less alone in my crazy, crazy thoughts and feelings and hopefully provides mild entertainment for whoever happens to read it. So if you are reading, thank you and I promise to write more often.

Write something… be it a screenplay, short story, novel (although that may be a bit of a stretch) or even another blog. I have ideas that I have been mulling over for years now and let’s face it I am not getting any younger, therefore it is time to actually stop procrastinating and get on and write something for God’s sake!

Live somewhere new… I’ve no secret I’ve got the travel bug, badly, and although it’s only been a few weeks that I’ve been home, I already want to go find somewhere new to make my home for a little while. I’m kind of already working on this with a visa and flight for Australia acquired. So I’ll be seeing ya soon Melbourne.

Be goddamn happy… Simple really. Looking back at this list it’s going to be a busy year, and hopefully I’ll be able to do all this and so much more. Here’s to a fan-fucking-tastic year of travels, laughter and happiness.

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The adventure one year on…

Last Thursday made it exactly one year since I headed off on my travels and I think I may have mentioned just a couple of times before but I could never have imagined this trip turning out the way it did, I could never have imagined being where I am today (sat in a coffee shop in a sweltering Hanoi) or being who I am today.

A year ago when I jetted off I thought I would be out in New Zealand for the ski season then spend a few months travelling before heading back home and that would be it adventure over. But that bubbled in to this great big adventure which leads me over to Asia for a few weeks before back to New Zealand for a second ski season and then who knows. The travel bug really got me good and for the first time I have no need or desire to return home or to stop travelling. I have a visa that means I can make money to support my continued travels and when that runs out then I can get a visa for another country and essentially just keep on going until I want to go home.

And the thing is I really don’t want to. I have fallen so in love on this journey, with this place, with people, with the person I can feel myself becoming.

I am infinitely happier. I’ve always, I like to think, been a pretty positive person, I always try to see the best of things and enjoy all the little moments of life. But here I’ve found myself enjoying all the little moments without having to try. I’ve laughed so much more. I have become less self conscious and more open and comfortable in my own skin.

I truly believe (brace yourselves it’s about to get deep) travelling heals the soul. I felt this on my first big trip inter railing around Europe five years ago. I had been miserable that year following my mums death, and as happy as I tried to be and as good as the good moments were, honestly the bad ones were horrific and dark and consuming. Post university, living back in my childhood home on my own, working in a cafe and drifting I made the decision to tick one of those big items of my bucket list and make one of my dreams a reality, and so I booked flights and inter rail tickets and ordered a backpack and planned a whole trip. A trip that I genuinely believe saved me. I had always enjoyed travelling but here I stepped into a whirlwind of different cities and cultures, I met the most interesting people, did things I’d only dreamed of, ate delicious food and drank dangerously strong drinks and was just so completely happy. And that was the start of the travel addiction for me. I hadn’t even finished the trip before I was planning the next one, South America, a trip actually still to be taken. I came back a happier person ready for the amazing moments I now believed were still to be had. I also came back more confident ready to follow another dream and move to London.

Following trips came at different stages in my life but were always always life changing. When I returned from Australia I came back with the guts to ask for a promotion. When I returned from five weeks in South East Asia it had not just given me the distance and perspective to see that I’d gotten stuck in a not great situation with work but also helped me to get over a pretty intense yet one sided summer romance. And this trip, well I don’t know what I’ll be or do when I go back, I still don’t know where this trip will end up taking me. But I do know it seems to have removed the last of the darkness that was hanging over me from my mums death.

To some extent I will always be the person I was, I will always love theatre and film, I will always have at least 3 books on the go at once, I will always sing badly and loudly to musical soundtracks in the car and I will always take my Roo toy with me on all my travels. I will probably always desperately want people to like me, I will fall in love far too easily and then not be able to actually speak any real feelings out loud and I will always offer a cup of tea when I cannot find the words to comfort someone. I will always have this urge to create something lasting and probably this amazing ability to keep on procrastinating.

But I do care less what people think, I am me and if they don’t like me well there’s not too much I can do about that. But I’m Kate fucking Farmer and that’s their loss.

I am also more comfortable on a physical level. I will always be in the immortal words of Bridget Jones “just a little bit fat” don’t get me wrong I do my exercise and eat my fruits and veg but I love food and alcohol and sleep too damn much, and that coupled with a slow metabolism doesn’t a skinny person make. But you know what I kinda like my curves, and I love my nose and it’s freckles and my weird colour changing eyes and my crazy curly hair. It came from my mum and my dad and my grandparents and all those I love, it’s me and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

And yes I am happier. I know what I love, I know what makes me happy, I may not know exactly what I want to do with my life but I know what I could do and for now that’s enough.

And above all I know how insanely lucky I am. Yes there may have been a rough patch or two, I may have lost my best friend and I may have floundered around a lot, but I am really living a pretty damn good life.

It shocks people when I tell them now how long I’ve been away, they always ask me if I miss home if I want to go back tell me they couldn’t do it. I will always tell people to travel, for me it is an indescribable joy and will change you completely. But everyone has a different story finds their happiness in different ways so if it’s travelling for you then go for it! If not then that’s fine too, just enjoy the one life you have and squeeze every drop of happiness from it.

Travelling saved me and it made me. So yes I may miss my home comforts sometimes but I’m going to keep enjoying this crazy ride cause there ain’t no life like it.

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The final South Island Stops… Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo

The final items on my South Island bucket list were Mount Cook National Park and Lake Tekapo, both of which I missed out on when I was here three years ago and both of which I was desperate to see. So with a flight booked out of Auckland and a car full of crap to be deposited back in National Park ready for the ski season, I finished work a few days earlier than planned to fit these final stops in on my long journey north.

Despite it being icy cold overnight camping in the shadows of the snow capped mountains, and despite the Hooker Valley track being closed to storm damage, The two days I spend in this area were magical. Everything from the drive, to the stars, to the frosty morning to the over swarmed tourist spots just took my breath away. I can’t really put into words the beauty of these mountains and lakes, so I think for once I’ll just shut up and let the pictures do the talking.

Let me just say this though, New Zealand completely and utterly stole my heart. From the first drive to this long last one in the six months of road tripping around the islands, it has been a truly magical and extraordinary adventure!

(Mount Cook from Kea point)

(White Horse Campground at sun down nestled amongst the mountains)

(Looking across towards Mount Sefton from Mueller Lake lookout)

(Looking across Lake Pukaki towards Mount Cook)

(The Church of the Good Shepherd on the edge of Lake Tekapo)

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Two Days in Dunedin…

To my surprise Dunedin turned out to be the place in the South Island I felt most at home, a university city that despite its size feels surprisingly small and inviting. The centre is full of gorgeous old buildings, dangerously pretty vintage shops, my favourite of all buildings theatres and so many cute coffee shops I was shaking from all the caffeine by the time I left. It only took 24 hours but I fell in love.

My visit was a flying one on my two days off, and I debated whether to go or not several times over with myself, but in the end I woke up early on my first day off to gorgeous weather and decided to get on the road and pack as much into the two days as I could. And boy am I glad I did.

My first stop were the beaches, and there are some damn good ones here. Although the wind made it far too cold for swimming St Clair’s beach was still a great place for a wander along the golden sand and a risky dip of my toes in the icy water. St Clair’s is the classic long stretch of gold sand and blue blue sea and skies that are all you ever want from a beach.

(Pretty, pretty, pretty!)

Tunnel beach is a little further out of the city and is about a 20 minute walk down (and a gruelling climb back up) to the large tunnel rock formation that gives the beach its name. When the tide is out there’s a set of stairs down through a tunnel carved into the cliff side that brings you out onto the beach. A sheltered little cove full of large boulders, not quite so classic, but definitely the coolest beach.

(And of course perfect for a photo opportunity in my new hat!)

With the sun starting to set I headed to my camp for the night, a car park next to the railway station, not very glamorous but hey free and within easy walking distance of the city centre. The Octagon is in the middle of the city, as it’s name suggests, a pretty octagonal plaza surrounded by old buildings and bars, all of which, despite being Monday, were gently buzzing.

Wandering down a few more streets I found the buildings and walls covered with some awesome graffiti. You can apparently follow a street art trail and discover all the works, some of which are done by famous street artists, I wouldn’t know about that but they did look cool, pretty much like the vibe of this whole city!

(The closest I got to penguins this trip.)

I also discovered a whole heap of vintage and coffee shops which I eagerly returned to the next morning, and whilst I almost completely managed to restrain myself in the vintage shops I can’t say the same about the coffee shops and I may have sampled a fair few over the course of the morning. Believe me I was buzzing!

Finally dragging myself away from the city centre I made my way to one of Dunedin’s most popular attractions, Baldwin Street, or as it’s more commonly known the world’s steepest street. And after a brisk walk up I can confirm that yep it’s bloody steep! And of course it is swarmed with tourists trying to take the best Instagram picture of the seemingly sinking houses or their climbing attempts, me of course being one of them!

(Just has to have a quick sit down in the road once I managed to reach the top!)

With the sun still beaming down I headed out to the Otago Peninsula, yet another of this country’s beautiful drives and towards Lanarch Castle. Of course it’s not really a castle, not by British standards more of a stately home and gardens perched up on the hillside. But it is pretty.

(Umm yep I’ll move in!)

And when New Zealand does castles it apparently fills the grounds with (slightly creepy) Alice in Wonderland statues, allegedly including a Cheshire Cat which I could not for the life of me find!

(I’m sorry but that Alice has got some issues!)

Right out on the tip of the peninsula is the Royal Albatross Centre. Here there is a penguin colony on one of the beaches but you do have to book a tour and go at dusk to catch a sight of them, neither of which I did. There are also, surprise surprise, Albatross. The centre has a pretty interesting little exhibition about the birds and does also offer tours, however there is really no need to join them. If you walk down to the cliff side viewing area you are more than likely to see them gliding on the wind around the cliff top, and bloody hell are they massive! It really made for the perfect end to this whirlwind trip stood on the cliff side in the gorgeous sunshine watching these majestic birds soaring overhead, plus it had the added bonus of making my sister extremely jealous, she has a long held obsession with albatross, and has yet to see one herself (haaaa)!

Dunedin really surprised me with how much I loved it, and I really wish I’d been able to spend more time there, as it completely captured my heart, and there are way too many things I didn’t get the chance to see. Although a little further south than most people venture, I’d definitely recommend to try and take the time to pay this city a visit, you may just fall in love.

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Queenstown, Queen of Towns…

I fell in love with this town the minute I stepped foot in it three years ago and it is a love, that like my love for Prince Harry has lasted. So it was with a excited hysteria that I finally arrived back into the town on a sunny Sunday evening. Flying high from having successfully scaled Roy’s peak, overexcited about not sleeping in a car for a couple of nights and giddy from the first wine had in ages I was ecstatic to be back. And through a few twists of fate those few days turned into eight glorious weeks of calling this place my home.

Yes, as you’ve probably been told, it is touristy and man is it expensive but it is also awesome. So as I haven’t done a list for a little while and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms here’s one for ya, all the reasons you can fall in love with Queenstown.

1. The Views. Sitting on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by seriously dramatic mountains Queenstown is beautiful. I’ve been living and working on the edges in Frankton and when I get to wake up and come home to this view everyday you really can’t complain, even if I am still sleeping in the car!

(Never getting over this view right on my doorstop)

2. It is adrenaline headquarters. People come here for the thrills and they get them. You have your pick of the bungee jumps here and if you’re not quite as up for it then the canyon swings are also pretty terrifying. For me I absolutely hate the whole upside down thing, it’s really a chore to get me on a rollercoaster. So we opted for the Nevis Swing, although the morning of it I was seriously questioning why. Just the drive up the dusty road on the edge of a cliff got me sweating let alone the bridge across the canyon out to the jump point or the swing itself. But the heart stopping fear of dangling over a canyon and suddenly being dropped down into it is what makes it all the more exhilarating.

(That’s us just freefalling in to the canyon and not screaming at all!)

3. The lake. As mentioned in point number one it is stunning but it’s also great to get out on to. A lake cruise makes for a pretty gorgeous afternoon, especially if the weather is good, because as I also mentioned in point one the views!!! Or for a little more adrenaline the jet boats down the Shotover river are the most fun way to see the scenery, whizzing down the river at 80km an hour, doing 360 spins and getting so many knots in my hair it took me a whole 45 minutes in the shower to get them all out, is my new favourite way to sightsee.

(Fun fact I won this K Jet trip in a pub quiz way back when I first arrived in Auckland and drank solidly for several days straight, worth it though!)

4. It is a great base for day trips. Although it makes for a very long day with an eight hour round drive, Queenstown is the perfect place for a trip to the beautiful Milford Sound. Top of my list as last time I was in the country I was done in by travel sickness and couldn’t face yet another long coach journey, a decision I regretted so badly afterwards, BUT it turned out great, because the day we went it was magical. With my aunt and cousin in town for a couple of days the beautiful sunny weather gave in and torrential rain hit the south, turns out though when it rains Milford is at its best with hundreds of waterfalls pouring down the mountain sides. Driving in was without doubt the most spectacular drive of the South Island (which trust me is saying something). Ok so the rain did almost threaten the boat ride with cancellation and turned the normally blue waters dark and choppy as anything, but I can’t even begin to describe quite how spectacular it was.

(Milford is a seriously, seriously magical place)

5. Arrowtown. This little town is only 30 minutes down the road and it is so so pretty. It is a little trip into the past with the remnants of an early Chinese gold miners settlement and super quaint high street. And a sunny day wandering around the town is a perfect day off.

(How could you not get a crush looking at this cute little high street?)

6. The food! Namely Fergburger, incredibly hyped and always always with a queue but man is it a good burger. And don’t just go for the classic, the cock a doodle oink is an insanely good chicken burger and for breakfast (or any time of the day really) the morning glory gives breakfast burgers world over a run for their money. Aside from Fergburger the town is teeming with restaurants, most of which my broke ass tried not to sample, but Red Rock with it’s $10 full breakfast and Fat Badger with its supersized pizzas needed to be sampled, and I have no regrets!

(Yes baby a beautiful dinner with a beautiful view!)

7. The Luge. Another top Queenstown activity is to take the gondala up the hill and go for a few runs on the stupidly fun luge track. Racing down the hillside on little carts was a great way to indulge my inner kid, although my ten year old cousin kicked my ass good and proper. And it goes without saying really but the views are spectacular.

8. The nightlife. Queenstown is a good party. There are a whole heap of bars and clubs, some of which are surprisingly cheap, like 1876 with the cheapest beer in town. And as we were there for my friends birthday we definitely indulged. I’m not going to go into details but safe to say there were a lot of regrets the next day, and a complete refusal to move from our beds except to fetch a McDonald’s!

(Cowboys bar has beers as big as your face for $15 as well as a mechanical bull you can attempt to ride very very badly!)

So yes this place is going to sap you of money and probably energy, but it’s also exciting as hell and every day here I thanked all the stars that I got to live and play in this queen of towns!

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Let’s talk about homesickness…

Do you ever get that slightly off kilter feeling? That feeling that everything’s not quite right. It’s the kind of Sunday night feeling that you just don’t want to be in this place and time?

Don’t get me wrong I completely and utterly adore New Zealand. Every corner you turn there’s yet another beautiful sight. I have had some of the best belly ache laughs in the best company and seen spectacular sights, and believe me, I know how insanely lucky I am to be having this non stop adventure, but very occasionally, I want to go home.

Inevitably homesickness is a part of travelling. Going off to explore new places and meet new people means leaving the familiar places and people behind and that’s sad, there’s no point pretending it isn’t. Yet in this day of internet and data and WiFi I can talk to my family every week, I can message my sister and my friends almost everyday, I can constantly see updates of what’s happening at home and if I’m really lucky I can get a care package of twiglets and Yorkshire teabags sent out to me. Life on the other side of the world isn’t so far away as it once was.

Homesickness is a weird and complicated one for me, I don’t particularly have a home. After my mummy died and we sold our childhood home, going home for me is either staying with a friend for a few days in Yorkshire or staying at my grandparents house. And the homesickness that hits is for a home that doesn’t exist and that can pack a pretty powerful punch, even when surrounded by great new friends in a place I love. I found myself mid ski season ridiculously ill, and I mean running a high fever, ill enough to call into work for only the fifth time in my fourteen years of working, howling on the floor of my room at the lodge and very much miserably home sick. And then one of those great new friends rocked up and with a drive to town for lemsip supplies and McDonald’s and some good company, I was reminded how much I’d rather be there with him, sick as I was, than back in England because for that moment in time that was my home. For me I suppose, until I decide to put down roots, travelling is my home and I may need a little reminding sometimes and a little help being picked back up of the floor, but I freaking love it.

So I can take a few wobbly moments and the occasional tearful outburst and the overwhelming longing for my gran’s spaghetti bolagnaise if it means I get to live this adventure. If I get to meet these people. If I get to have these experiences. If I get to make temporary homes all over the globe. There will always always be rough patches, that’s life generally I guess. As amazing as it may seem on Instagram travelling ain’t always that rosey but it is fucking fantastic.

So my friends however hard it hits you and in whichever way shape or form it comes, ride that homesickness through because as quick as it comes it will go, and then just fucking enjoy the adventure!

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A whole lot of National Parks and Hikes…

The South of New Zealand is one glorious National Park after another and if you’re on a backpacker budget the best way to see all the beautiful NZ scenery is by hiking, lots and lots of hiking!

I should, having climbed Kilimanjaro (did I ever mention that before?!) be able to take on a hike or two reasonably easily but apparently I cannot and whilst every walk we did was worth it, I still seem to be the same unfit person I have always been. After the cruisey coastal walks in Abel Tasman and Kaikoura and a day or two wandering around Christchurch we headed off cross country to Arthur’s Pass and the hiking commenced.

The drive cross country through the pass is another of New Zealand’s idyllic routes (she just keeps chucking them at us)! And from here on it out it really got wild, showers of any kind were a thing of the past, my painted nails abandoned and for most of the west coast, phone signal is not a thing and WiFi hard to find. We were truly disconnected and at some points quite literally in the wilderness. Our first campsite at Arthur’s Pass was 6km down a gravel track in the middle of nowhere, there were perhaps 4 other campers there and a toilet shack that looked like something from a horror film. For a night there, I really thought we might be murdered!

(Creepy as hell but you can’t beat a bed with a sunset view)

But who cares about being murdered (!) because Arthur’s Pass is beautiful and full of hikes of all lengths. Whilst we didn’t take on the hardest we spent the day (after spending our first day in the car hiding from the rain) trekking our way through the pass to see great waterfalls and of course stunning views!

(And to be those cliche instagramming travellers who take this bloody travel photo!)

Once we hit the west coast Franz Josef was our first stop. And if you can’t quite splash out on the helicopter rides up onto the glacier you can take a 45 minute walk up to the face, or if you fancy a five hour hike up to Roberts Point for an even closer view. The sign heading into the hike warns that it is for experienced hikers only (which I’m not so sure I can be classed as) and I ended up taking this one on solo.

(This sign’s not daunting at all)

It was without a doubt the most fun of all the hikes. Crossing huge swing bridges and rivers, scrambling up rocks and taking on a narrow wooden staircase hanging on the side of a cliff is all part of the fun. And yes I was a little terrified that I was going to slip and smash all my bones but did I love every second of it? Hell yes I did! The walk ends at a platform which gives you a fantastic view of the glacier and you can eat lunch watching all the helicopters landing and taking off from the glacier as the slightly richer tourists go play on it. Absolutely killer and my legs paid the price, but absolutely recommend!

(So many fun swing bridges and rickety stairways)

As we made our way down the West Coast there were so many places to stop and take on a little hike. First up was Lake Matheson where you can walk around the lake and if you’re lucky get a perfect mirrored reflection of Mount Cook (we were not) but we did get some pretty good views of the mountain and the Fox Glacier. From there we made our way down the coast stopping at a few stunning beach walks along the way.

(I definitely recommend Ship Creek, just look how pretty it is)

Then we were heading through the Haast Pass which is waterfall paradise. Every few minutes we were stopping and making our way along little trails to view waterfalls and probably the bluest river I have ever seen!

(Seriously the most insanely blue, although a little freezing, water ever seen)

We took a little detour further down to Cromwell for a couple of days and found ourselves some more hills to climb, and a particular favourite stop of mine Bendigo ghost town. An abandoned gold mining town up the hairiest steep, winding dust track of a road that gave me a minor heart attack, but nearly deserted by all but us and a group of nudists we stumbled upon (New Zealand is just one fun story after another)! There are heaps of walking tracks up here and walking around this ghostly town was a great afternoon adventure not to mention the of course great views.

(Just hanging around on top of a hill as per usual)

Then we hit up Wanaka and with it Roy’s Peak which was the big one. It is at the top of the list of hikes to hit in New Zealand and you can see why. The highest peak in the area you can literally see for miles and miles, but it is HARD. A constant uphill slog and it was hot hot hot! Too in love with our sleep to try and a climb for sunrise and miss the heat of the day we started climbing mid morning and boy did we sweat! We took four litres of water each along with a speaker pounding out the motivational tunes, and I am so very glad we did, because we needed it. Reaching the top though I probably felt the most accomplished I had in the whole time I’d been in New Zealand! And that combined with the very welcome breeze and the killer views put it at the top of my list of recommendations.

(New Zealand just chucking them stunner views at us)

And thus ended our weeks of walking as we headed for Queenstown and all the thrills, food and alcohol it offers (seriously we deserve it)!

(Our happy hands atop Roy’s Peak for no more hikes)

Till next time xxx