Summing up my New Zealand experience in one post is near impossible, it was quite simply incredible, but I’m going to try with my favourite of all things, a list. And where better to start than with how I spent far too many of my days…
Partied like I’d never partied before. Seriously I drank myself stupid several times over. I had some pretty crazy nights at uni, some epic house parties in Canada, my family knows how to throw a damn good shindig, and I’ve lived in London where the clubs are world class. But trust me there aint no party like a Slalom party.
Had some of the worst hangovers of all time and amazingly realised quite how well I’m able to function on very little sleep a killer headaches and a constant feeling of needing to vomit. Thank god for the wonderful chefs I worked with who provided me with an insane amount of hangover curing food which got me through many a bad hangover day, just about!
Realised I love running a bar. On the days when I wasn’t suffering the mother of all hangovers then I really loved my job. Stationed at the Schuss Haus, or as it’s fondly known the Corona Bar, halfway up the mountain we never knew what was going to hit us but even the packed days when we ran out of everything were fun as fuck. We ramped the music up, popped open corona after corona at lightning speed, called on all the other departments for help and when it was all done collapsed in the cupboard and stuffed ourselves with leftover tacos. And I loved every hair tearing, problem solving, manic minute. There might be a high possibility I’ve answered the what the fuck are you going to do with your life question!
Became a better skier. I was an ok skier before I arrived but Mount Ruapehu gave my skiing a new lease of life, especially the first season. I took every opportunity to get myself out on the snow and attempt to throw myself down trickier runs, and I will forever be grateful to my wonderful ski instructor friend who took me out for a lesson and within just a couple of hours improved my skiing infinitely.
Got a whole new confidence level. I felt so comfortable in this country, I was completely myself and I made a heap of friends and had a ton of fun, and realised that I don’t need to be someone else because whilst yes there are always things I could do better, being me is pretty damn great.
Dyed my hair green, because post boy breaking my heart and with a Coachella themed party to attend, this seemed like the logical thing to do, and you know what it looked damn good.
Learnt how to change a tyre, and jump start a car. I loved my little red car a whole heap and it showed me all the sights but boy was it a bit shit. I’ve never jump started a car before in my life and whilst in New Zealand I’ve done it more times than I can count to varying degrees of effect. Add to that a few tyre disasters, and I’ll always be grateful to my shitty red car for teaching me some important life skills.
Lived in a car and loved it. Speaking of my shitty car it was also my home for about six months and it was incredible. Yes it was cramped for two of us and a pain in the arse to shift the bags to the front each night and back the next day whenever we wanted to drive somewhere. And yes when it rained it was pretty shitty trying to cook under a makeshift tarpaulin cover. But waking up in the middle of nowhere, cooking dinner on the beach and having the freedom to take off wherever we fancied was THE best way to travel the country no question.
Swam with dolphins. Way up near the top of my bucket list for many a year and this beautiful country finally gave me the chance to and it was insane. Fully qualified as a Best Day Ever!
Jumped out of a mother freaking aeroplane. Something I have ummed and aaahed about for years but despite my sheer terror was firmly on my New Zealand bucket list and I finally got the guts up to do it and it was unlike any feeling ever. Yes it was incredible and no I will not stop going on about it and yes you all should do it.
Ate the very best fries I’ve ever eaten in my life. The blind finch in Ohakune serves up the most delicious selection of fries and burgers and the Cesar fries will be in my dreams for a long time to come. If there’s no other reason to come back to New Zealand I’ll come back just to eat those again.
Fell head over heels for an Australian boy. He had a dry sarcastic sense of humour and complained about being miserable most of the time. But he was the person I wanted to spend my time with, he was nice and he made me giddy happy and he made me laugh and he also made me cry, a lot. It was a love story full of maybe not broken but pretty damn cracked hearts. And even though I currently want to kick him in the balls and scream bitch you broke my heart at him, I wouldn’t trade a second of all the chaos, because when it was good it was really good and my trip would have been a little less full if I hadn’t met him.
Had an actual adult conversation about feelings. Ok yes I had to have a little dutch courage first, but I told someone how I felt about them. I told them when I liked them and I told them when they hurt me. I am about as British as they get and talking about my feelings absolutely terrifies me, in my past romances my complete inability to tell anyone how I felt or what I wanted is probably my biggest regret, and at least this time I got to say my part, even if it didn’t turn out that great for me, there’s a lot less regret than usual.
Thought I was dying. Legitimately thought I was dying. Not to go into details but if you’ve ever woken up surrounded by an insane amount of blood, then you’ll know the fear and panic it induces. If not trust me it’s pretty fucking terrifying and was more than enough to get me over my fear of doctors. Although it didn’t give me any life altering world views it did give me a kick up the ass to take better care of myself. Seriously guys, health is important.
Found a home from home. Slalom Lodge and all its inhabitants both seasons I lived there became a secondary home and family to me. And now that I’m back in England it is that run down, ever messy lodge and the bunch of crazy people who I’m desperately homesick for.
Saw places that took my breath away. Driving through New Zealand, every corner you turn there’s another beautiful sight to see, I’ve been lucky enough to do a couple of roadies around both islands and I never failed to be impressed by the stunning beauty day after day.
Lost my skinny dipping virginity. My first night away from the mountain after my first ski season and silly drunk on a campsite in Raglan with some of the best friends I’ll ever make it seemed like the time to tick this off my bucket list. It was absolutely freezing and we comically got ourselves locked out of the campsite and had to scramble back over the fence but it was the perfect start to an epic summer road trip.
Saw the stars like never before. The stars in the southern hemisphere are so different from the ones I grew up with, and the lack of light pollution in New Zealand, especially where I lived made the stars shine like I’ve never seen.
Made the best of friends. One of the most wonderful things about travelling is getting to meet amazing people from all over the world and I’ve been lucky enough I believe to meet some of the best. Whilst it’s inevitable living this lifestyle that friends come and go I am so so grateful for being able to have all these people in my life even for a little while. And yes I may never see some again, but you best believe there’s a few that I am not letting go of and intend to be friends with for life whether they want it or not.
Experienced complete blissful happiness. Playing in the carrot park in Ohakune with my first slalom family, riding the chairlift up first thing with gorgeous sunshine and empty slopes below, staring at the unbelievable stars drunk on beer, waking up to the sound of the waves and running into the sea for a “bath”, dancing on the arm of a sofa dressed in a toga surrounded by giddy party people… these are just a handful of the moments where I remember thinking I fucking love my life. This adventure threw me so many incredible life moments and I am so eternally grateful that I lost my head for a minute followed by heart and booked a one way flight to New Zealand.