First, a bit of housekeeping. I have been absent on here for over month and I must apologize to anyone who may be keeping up with our travels via this blog. The last day I fully dedicated to writing and really sat down to get work done was the beginning of a three week long saga of sickness. Once the illness passed, and then again when the immediate nausea coinciding with flashbacks of me sitting at my laptop at the very moment my love of ethnic cuisine turned on me also passed, I was capable of sitting down and writing. It was at that point that I found myself in a place seriously lacking in the internet connectivity department. C’est la vie. There will be posts covering all of the aforementioned, but for now, lets move on to my second piece of housekeeping…
We began this journey back in the middle of January. Starting mid-month has made monthly recaps a bit odd. To make it easier on myself and to make more sense chronologically, I will be covering the last half of June and the whole of July in this installment so that I can continue with succinct monthly installments. Easier to keep track of, I reckon. Furthermore, I am altering the series title a bit, from recap to check-in… I think it is a more appropriate moniker considering the contents. And with that, on to the topic at hand.
Where We’ve Been
2 nights Hawea Flat
2 nights Arrowtown
1 night Haast
1 night Hokitika
1 night in Picton
4 nights Wellington
1 night Taupo
3 nights in Auckland
27 nights Helensville
3 nights in Auckland
13 nights in AirBnBs
5 nights in Hotels
27 nights Housesitting
Kilometers: 1763 = 1095 miles.
Hours: 24 hours 50 minutes.
Obviously, based off our abbreviated schedule covering the last half of June, we were hightailing it back to the North Island to make it to our housesit. This is the most distance covered in any installment – probably because it is an extra 2 weeks longer than any other, but it must be mentioned that 80% of that driving happened in just the last 2 weeks of June. So, yeah, we covered a lot of ground, very quickly. We hit some new places, like Taupo and Haast, and revisited some ones we’d been to before. It was kind of a blur, but in a good way.
Housesitting. This was definitely a highlight. The house we stayed in was kind of incredible. Perfectly situated amongst hills and high up enough that we could see a harbour off in the distance. We were blessed with many a rainbow and had two lambs born on our watch… and third popped out immediately when the owners were driving down the driveway! We were able to get our full farmer on with a horse, a ram, a wether, six ewes, two lambs, 5 hens and two roosters. Not to forget the domestic fur babies… two dogs, a cat and some koi. Koi are great. Very low maintenance. For our first TrustedHousesitters official housesit, I’d say it was pretty good. Although we did have a few issues with the dogs… but I’ll save those for the next section.
Arrowtown. On our way out of Otago, we stopped for a couple of nights in Arrowtown and had a wonderful send off to the South. We woke up each morning surrounded by mountains covered in fresh snow and everything around us glittering in the morning light with frost. It was the perfect picture of Winter.
Wellington. Our only previous time spent in Wellington was aimlessly searching for something to eat late at night in the rain, landing on McDonald’s, then sleeping for a couple of hours in the ferry parking lot waiting to get in the queue to board at 2 in the morning. We absolutely loved our second time here, and, again, are dying to go back. Wellington has, by far, the best food anywhere in New Zealand. And if that is not enough reason to go back, it has a great vibe and culture scene.
Taupo. We only spent one night in this little lake town, but I am dying to go back, especially in Summer. We stayed at the cutest little AirBnB with the sweetest host and had a wonderful, albeit brief, stopover.
Instagram. This month I hit 1000 instagram followers! That may not seem like many, but it was a big milestone for me. Click here to follow me on insta where I post in real time – aka, what I’m currently up to.
Whatever the opposite of highlights are.
On to the negatives…
Can you hear me now? After about two hours into the drive on our first day heading Northbound, we noticed that we lost cell service. Now, this happens occasionally when driving around the New Zealand countryside, but usually within ten minutes or so, service is returned. After driving almost an hour with no service we stopped at a roadside cafe to grab a bite, then continued on our way another hour. Still no service. At this point we had come upon a town, and not knowing how far off the next would be, we opted to pull in for the night and book in at a holiday park. The town was Haast, and once we’d settled into our room and I was perusing the welcome folder, I read a fun little fact. Haast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is noted for its stunning, and remote, landscape. It is a sleepy little town forgotten by time. It wasn’t until 1965 that a road was built connecting Haast to the outside world, and to this day, there is absolutely no cellular service for a two hour radius of the little town. Mystery solved. At least we knew we couldn’t get lost as long as we kept going North on Highway 6.
Housesitting blunders. While we loved the house, area and most of the animals we were caring for… we had some serious issues with the pups. These were not disciplined dogs. In our care we had an older (but not old) Fox Terrier and a young (as in barely a year old) Huntaway. Now, if you are not from New Zealand, you may be unfamiliar with this breed. I certainly was. Huntaways were specifically bred to herd sheep in New Zealand. Because of this country’s unique landscape – lots of steep cliffs – imported herding dogs were inefficient. The sheer drop offs made rounding up the sheep by darting in a “U” shape behind them nearly impossible. Someone had the brilliant idea to breed a dog to herd sheep by barking. Insert the Huntaway. Our ward was a sweetheart, but very green and without purpose. She was a pet, not a working dog, but no one had told her that. She barked. ALL THE TIME. It didn’t bother me as much as it did the horse, who was a frequent object of her attention. She also had a tendency to tear up her doggy bed. We had to retire two in the month that we were there.
Beyond that we just had your average “pushing the boundaries” moments that any house/pet/babysitter encounters. They would run off to the next door neighbors to play with their dog – all in all not terrible, but a little alarming when you think you’ve lost someone else’s pet. When we would leave for the day, we would put them in a pen in the garage with a doggy door connecting to a run outside. The Terrier managed to learn two escape routes out of their pen. This led to a lot of chicken terrorizing. We have taken care of a lot of other people’s pets, but these two were by far the worst. It was still nice to snuggle with them in front of the fire, though.
Another moment from our Helensville housesit that gave us pause was the death of their ram. It was just one of those farm things. We noticed one morning when we went out for chores that he wasn’t around. We walked the paddock but didn’t see him. There was a potential weak spot in the fencing so we thought he may have gotten out, but he had a bad feet so we wondered why he would have gone anywhere. Let alone on a steep hill. We called the neighbor, who was out, but that afternoon walked the fence with us as well. She noticed in a patch of trees and brush what looked like the ram, and unfortunately it was. We’re not totally sure how it happened, she guessed that perhaps the horse kicked him and he went rolling down the hill. It was a sad day, made worse by the fact that we had to drag his carcass all the way down to the bottom of the hill so another neighbor could come pick him up with his tractor. Even though there was nothing we could have done about it, it was still disheartening to lose an animal under our care. [And now that I’ve written this, no one is going to want us to housesit for them.]
It’s raining, it’s pouring. This is a frequent topic on this blog, but it pretty much rained non-stop the entire time we were housesitting. We only had two days in a month without a single drop of rain. But, that is also probably why we had so many rainbows.
BALI! Yes, after a month in the cold rain, we decided to head somewhere tropical to wait out the rest of Winter. We spent August in a tropical paradise and it was wonderful… mostly. More on that to come… soon, I promise.