Apparently I missed the memo that life happens at WARP SPEED when you’re 26.
As cliche as it sounds, I can’t believe that another year has come and gone so quickly. Days can seem to drag on sometimes, but when I stop to think about it, I’m often left wondering BUT WHERE THE HECK HAS IT GONE?
There were ups and downs, tears and laughs; it wasn’t perfect but it was simply amazing. I did a lot of things that made me happy, helped me grow and while I know I haven’t written about each and every one of them yet (even though they may’ve happened months ago and I fully intended on it) I thought I ought to share my favourite memories from the year. Being an expat and working as a teacher, I haven’t ventured too far afield out of the country – but don’t let that fool you into thinking that meant my life was lacking in adventure!
Looking back at 2012, this is my year in photo collages made on my iPhone with photos from my iPhone (turns out that’s the camera that truly documents my life).
Here we go!
The first summer month of 2012 boasted of plenty of good times, good food and good friends. There were adventures on horseback, pizza oven parties, and a camping trip to Spirit’s Bay to keep me occupied when I wasn’t busily preparing for my new students who’d be soon returning to school.
But the memory that tops all of the others? Lunch in Paihia, a boat amongst the 144 islands over to Urupukapuka Island, a few drinks, live music to dance on the grass with some amazing friends… what more could a girl ask for?
School had started back and I was kept busy sorting out my new class of 5 and 6 year olds. There was still time for some local exploration. One Far North feature I was yet to experience was the Broadwood A & P Show and I set out to change that.
I’d heard heaps about how all the locals come together to showcase their various talents that have been honed to perfection in rural living. This was my year to get amongst it and I did!
The chainsaw carvings are mind-blowingly amazing to watch, as well as the ax competitions! Children’s artwork is on display, there were some sheering competitions, and lunch was none other than a perfectly cooked hangi.
I had to think long and hard about my highlight of March. Sure, I added another bib to my collection of New Zealand road races; I attended the wedding reception of some very dear friends; ans there was St Patrick’s Day, involving green pizza dough and some streaking at the party I went to (it wasn’t me getting naked, I assure you)… but none of those really stuck out to be what March was all about.
All of my photos indicate that I was completely in awe with the life that I was living. I have a copious collection of photos of caterpillars evolving into butterflies and cascading pastel sunsets taken from my own front door step. Looking back at my blog, The Many Shades of Ahipara, was pretty much the only written post I’d published that month.
I was completely surrounded by such natural beauty, in retrospect I appreciate this immensely now, even if I didn’t as much at the time.
The first 10 week term quickly wrapped itself up and as teacher, I was graced with two weeks of (necessary) school holidays. Melissa from none other than The Mellyboo Project herself, had been flatting with me at my house, and was due to escort her parents on a classic kiwi roadtrip before departing for her upcoming African adventures.
You may notice a recurring theme here, but again, I couldn’t believe that her time living with me had already come to an end. To see my bestie off in style, I planned a Mystery Roadtrip for us to spend the day together. You can read about our adventures to Kohukohu, Ngawha Springs and Horeke if you haven’t already, they’re amazing little spots tucked away in the Far North.
Spending real quality time with my girl, doing what we do best (adventuring and exploring, of course) was hands down the highlight of the month.
I had a student teacher in my class for 5 weeks, from mid-May onwards, so this was quite a busy month work wise for me at school. I had only just gotten my full registration as a full fledged teacher with two years guided experience at the end of last year, so this was quite a huge compliment. I’d done one term all on my own, and was now teaching a student – what the!? But it was cool. Busy, but cool.
Weekends were jam-packed with action even more so than usual, hiking and abseiling at Lane Cove on the Duke’s Nose overlooking the Whangaroa Habour, beginning our PADI course in Whangarei… but the event that topped the list was definitely the Booze Cruise Pub Crawl I organised around the Hokianga Harbour!
We’d done this previously the year before dressed as pirates, and everyone in the 3 tiny communities we visited via the party boat certainly remembered us. When we turned up this year dressed in our “alter egos” with one ice-breaking challenge randomly assigned, we gave each pub something to talk about till we come back next year.
There’s just something truly magical about docking at a wharf to get to the pub; especially when rocking pink tights as the female version of Richard Simmons…
Queen’s birthday weekend was no exception to the full on action packed weekends which continued to line up. I had managed to find the Open Water certification on Grab One for a steal of $350 each, which included all of our gear hire as well. In New Zealand, this was the best I’d ever seen and had to have it!
The first weekend was obviously all the classroom theory and pool practice, whereas Queen’s Birthday was the real deal! We were off to Urquhart’s Bay in the Whangarei Heads to dive among the scallop beds and silt.
Okay, so it was no Poor Knights Islands, as they usually offer for the full price but with the limited visibility if you touched the bottom, it made for sorting out your buoyancy pretty quick. Otherwise you were left barely able to see your own hand in front of you and that freaks me right out.
I didn’t get any photos of us in our gear, but I take a couple of the beautiful spot we spent our almost winter days playing around in the ocean.
Hands down by far the most exciting highlight of the year, as Thom and I busted out of the shackles of New Zealand and were guided around to explore with Teacher Xpress. I wouldn’t normally opt to do a tour group, but this company is something different. It started with a simple dream of teachers being able to travel during the school holidays without the over-inflated costs associated with it; with the hard work of one really awesome man and the power in numbers of ALL the various teachers and people who work in every aspect of schools in New Zealand – this is one (of many) reasons I will definitely make every effort to return to New Zealand forever!
The trip itself was such an amazing 10 days. I loved walking around exploring Bangkok, visiting the War Memorials and Hellfire Pass in Kanchanaburri, crossing the Bridge on the River Kwai and taking the train, taking an authentic Thai cooking class, and making our own mission to Dream World on our to be children again for a day.
More details to come as I plan to start a “Take me back to Thailand” series reliving all of our highlights, to reminisce until I can go back again.
All of those good experiences definitely out-weighed the bad that we encountered on the way home. But food poisoning the day before you leave the country makes for a great story after the fact…
A 7 hour drive. Myself in a truck with 3 boys (okay perhaps it may be fair to say ‘men’ even). Multiple stops for entertainment purposes including getting coffee; purchasing beers to be consumed along the way; fueling up on sushi; hitting golf balls at the driving range as well as baseballs and hitting targets with an air rifle; and stopping at numerous pubs along the way as well.
All this was only a part of getting down to Rotorua – the REAL fun wasn’t even until the next day!
I’d signed us up for a 6km run across farm terrain with mud intentionally place to slip you up and obstacles that just got in the way rather than be difficult. No, it was no TOUGH MUDDER, but the Tough Guy/Gal Run in Rotorua was certainly the highlight of the month for me! It was a great personal challenge and awesome to spend time with a former work mate and enjoy a different part of the country.
I’ve been to Roto-Vegas many a times now over the years, but still love it despite its rotten egg aroma.
A quiet month can be appreciated once in a while and September had seemed to slow down just a bit. Perhaps it was simply because I was still limited by my lack of wheels at that point, but I didn’t mind. A simple getaway with staff from school for a night was exactly what this girl needed at the end of yet another busy term.
Thai food, drinks and dancing in the lounge with the girls and getting to have a nosey around a spot I hadn’t yet discovered made Hihi the memory of the month.
It was also a pleasure to have Ed of RexyEdventures visit and come to school with Mel to speak to my kids about travelling and blogging! When asked, that was a memorable highlight of the year for my little ones.
Three school terms down and one to go, another Grab One deal was spotted and snapped up. Before we knew it, Mel and I were capturing Sophie, and headed down the line to the recently reopened Kingdom of Zion in Kamo, just outside Whangarei. I will definitely be writing more on the experience soon, but spending time with the girls and being around the big cats was certainly the most exciting and fulfilling.
Dressing up as a pirate and doing a 12k Fun Run, learning to weave at the marae and meeting Simon from Man Versus World for a beer in Mangonui were all contenders for the title though.
Yet another busy month, this time with us jet-setting away on weekends.
One quick weekend trip down to Christchurch for Thom’s Nana’s 80th birthday and meeting his Mum’s extended family. The next weekend running the Kerikeri Half Marathon and then making the 3 hour drive south down to Auckland for a friend’s Hen’s Party; followed by visiting Thom’s other Nana to climb Mount Manaia in the Whangarei Heads and celebrate an early Christmas with his Dad’s extended family.
Then all of the sudden it was time celebrate my own 27th birthday and farewell Melissa back to Canada!
The best part of all that definitely has to be doing the Kerikeri Half Marathon IN A DRESS – because my family and friends completely blew me out of the water with their generosity and kindness in making donations towards ONE Girl. Deciding only 5 days before the race to register to do it in a dress, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to raise the necessary $240 that it took to send a girl in Sierra Leone to school. Not only did I make that goal, but my friends and family doubled it!
To top off my simply amazing year, Thom and I took a weekend in Dunedin to see our lovely friends get married.
Thom, the kiwi boy, had never been south of Christchurch and I was returning to my very first New Zealand home. We spent a lot of time in the ‘scarfie’ area of town, North Dunedin and my heart just felt like it was actually home.
Only a small fraction of the people I knew during my year of study were still there, but even that didn’t bother me. I visited the Botantic Gardens, had pizza at Filidelphios, drove up Baldwin Street and just wandered around the university campus and downtown letting my mind wander in awe of the architecture.
It was just what I needed at Christmas time to keep me going.
Thanks for looking back at 2012 with me!
Now, I am truly excited to launch CanuckiwiKate BEYOND anything I had ever planned as far as blogging goes! I have lots of adventures already in the works for 2013, with my grandmother due to arrive in a few days and our big Canadian Roadtrip less than 4 months away! I’ve also accepted another term teaching my darlings at school, so I’ll be working full time almost right up until we leave. But I am aiming for a life of BALANCE in 2013, and will be focusing more of my energy on things that make me happy.