Real Life Friends

I feel kind of silly using ‘real life friends’ as my post title, as it’s kind of a new term within our generation. We are so connected through social media and the internet, strangers we’ve never met can become our ‘cyber friends.’ However, we all know you can’t live on ‘cyber friends’ alone, and real human interaction and friendship is needed to live a normal life.

Everyone wants friends right?

The first problem is this: When you live a life of travel, those  ‘real life friends’ you’ve had your whole life get further and further away as you leave for destinations you only dreamed of.  Sure you can call, iMessage, and FaceTime your friends, but it’s not long before that ‘real life friend’ relationship fades into a ‘cyber friend’ relationship.

The second problem? As we get older, it becomes harder and harder to make friends. Could be because we get stuck in our ways and would rather live comfortably than go out and meet new people. I wish it wasn’t so.

I’ve been talking to Derik a lot about this lately, as I have felt that unsettling feeling of loneliness that creeps in to my soul as we begin our lives in a new country. Friends will come, I know that. It took me well over a year in Korea to find a good quality friend after being burnt twice by people that were more than willing use my friendship for personal gain. I was a bit leery to give the third girl a shot and really open up to her, but she turned out to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had. We still stay in contact, it’s just difficult living so far apart…as it is with all friendships.

I’m not really sure what the point of this post is, except to say that:

making friends while traveling is pretty darn difficult.

 It’s not like I can just waltz into a coffee shop and come out with a friend. Most adults after college make their friends in the workplace, but since I work at home that has proven rather tough as well! Derik and I love to go out and enjoy the local pubs, go to movies, workout at the gym 4 times a week, and shop in the farmer’s markets. Unfortunately we live in a university town, and everyone already has their circle of friends.
I want a ‘real life friend’ here in New Zealand, but the problem is how exactly to get one?
Stay tuned. I’ll keep you updated on how the friend hunting goes.

What’s your secret to making new friends while traveling? 

Moeraki Boulders

It’s always cool when you come across a natural phenomenon, and the Morekai Boulders located in Northern Otago are exactly what I’m talking about. How they came to be? No one actually knows, but rumors and tall tales fly rampant around this area as to how they were created. Maori (indigenous people of New Zealand) legend tells the tale that they were old eel baskets that washed ashore by the legendary canoe, the Araiteuru. Other people say the boulders are alien eggs which is completely absurd in my book.

Moeraki Boulders

Derik and I had quite the discussion as to why and how we think they got there…and we both agree that they had to have been man-made, and thus not a natural phenomenon. Everyone has their own assumptions though, and I think visiting the Morekai Boulders yourself will help shed light in your mind as to why/how they’re there.

The boulders are massive in size, and almost all completely spherical. Some have cracked open over time, revealing a gorgeous hollow-ish interior filled with quartz and some sort of orange mineral. The boulders range anywhere from 3ft-7ft in diameter, and weigh several tons.

I first saw the Moeraki Boulders while browsing ‘New Zealand Attractions’ on Pinterest some time ago, and I just knew we had to get there. The boulders are conveniently located on Highway 1 between Dunedin and Christchurch, and we were on the way up to Christchurch to bring our campervan back, so making this pit-stop worked perfectly!

Luckily they’re only about 40 minutes from Dunedin, so I’ll be revisiting sometime in the near future to get a few epic sunrise shots.

We decided to head up the night before, and stayed overnight in Moeraki Village Holiday Park. The park ended up being a lot further away from the boulders than we had originally anticipated, and we almost missed the sunrise the next day because of it. That being said, the park was clean, the owner was more than friendly, and there are two amazing restaurants nearby. Unfortunately the restaurant most notorious in Moeraki was closed for the day, so we settled for the Pub down the street. I had the most amazing fish and chips I’ve ever eaten there, and sitting by the fire was super cozy and warm on the cold day!

The next morning was overcast, and my ‘super awesome sunrise’ picture idea kind of went down the drain. Oh well, the boulders were still beautiful! Also a sea lion (pictured below) scared the pants off of me as I almost backed straight into him while I was taking a picture. I seriously was almost a foot from him before Derik yelled at me to turn around. I’ve never jumped so high and ran so fast out of there in my life!

Travel Tips: Go early in the morning. You may get some gorgeous sunrise shots, and not many people will be down by the beach. Also it’s low tide in the morning, so the boulders further out will be accessible to take pictures of and climb on. Make sure you grab a cup of coffee on your way down or you way back-the cinnamon latte is divine!

Cost: Free (suggested donation upon arriving and parking in the Moeraki Boulders Cafe and Gift shop center-be nice and donate something!)

Moeraki Boulders-4 Moeraki Boulders-6 Moeraki Boulders-7… [Read More]

A Journey Through Middle Earth: Hobbiton

One of the coolest things about living in New Zealand is the fact that you’re always seemingly stepping onto a movie set location or two. You wouldn’t even know it if there weren’t for the tiniest posted signs declaring so, or learning via Google Search about it. However, Hobbiton is a completely different story. Although this movie set location does happen to be in the middle of a sheep field just like all the others, it’s the most well known Lord Of The Rings/The Hobbit landmark in New Zealand. Can I dare say most well known movie landmark in NZ?

You can’t just waltz in to Hobbiton, you have to book a tour. Don’t get too upset, the tour made the experience 99% cooler than it would have been if we strolled through ourselves. Why? We learned so many random facts about Peter Jackson, the set, the filming of,  and more that I can now pretty much say I’m somewhat of a self-proclaimed Hobbiton expert.

Hobbiton is the only remaining full set locations from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. Initial movie contracts stated that after a set has been used, it had to be torn down to bring New Zealand back to it’s natural, beautiful habitat. Believe it or not, Hobbiton was almost all but destroyed. Because of bad weather, the few remaining hobbit holes could not be torn down until the area dried up for heavy machinery to get back into the sheep field. During that waiting period, the family that owned the farm had curious neighbors and friends drop in to view what remained of the Shire. Word spread quickly, and before you could blink an eye, contract revisions were made and Hobbiton was restored to be a permanent tour location for those who wished to come visit Middle Earth.

The Hobbit holes are mostly just shells with less than 4 feet of standing room in the interior (some don’t even open up). I was super disappointed to find this out, but I guess that just means I’ll have to visit ol’ WETA workshop to see what the interior looks like. Or maybe Peter Jackson can give us a tour of his own private Bilbo Baggins replica Hobbit hole he had special made for his guests?

My favorite part during the tour was visiting the Green Dragon: a fully functioning tavern that brews it’s own Southfarthing beer (free beer for visiting). The scones, meat pies, and cheese platters they serve were also to die for, probably some of the best I’ve ever had. Could have just been because of the experience of visiting the Shire, but I doubt it. 

If you have a chance to go, be sure to stop by the gift shop! Not only can you get Tolkien’s entire written collection on Middle Earth, but you can buy elven robes, rings, Hobbiton beer,  Gandalf’s staff and more. Even if you don’t get anything I mean, some of us are dirt poor, it’s still fun to have a look around!

TRAVEL TIPS: Try to go in the fall/winter. We only had 4 other people on our tour, and were able to spend a lot more time talking to the tour guide! In the summer each guide can have over 30+ people per tour.
Tour ticket price: $60+
Tour hours starting at: 9:50am-5:00pm

Check out http://www.hobbitontours.com for more details!

The Shire, Matamata, New Zealand Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand… [Read More]