2 days until we leave New Zealand!!! 
Wow. I can hardly believe that we are actually here. There is such a short time remaining before Luke and I leave this wonderful country we've called home for nearly a year now. I remember in the winter, about 6 months ago, making little plans of things we wanted to do before we left, of the dates and times we'd leave, booking our flight, etc... hard to believe those moments are actually here. We've had our visitors come and go. Our South Island trip is complete. Luke has truly driven across the entire country!! Our car has been wonderful through the whole trip - accepting us as silly travelers when we got it stuck on 90 Mile Beach, allowing both of us to work multiple jobs and providing to be a very hot and sticky, but fun-filled vehicle for road trips. It is now sold and moving on to a new traveler  a lovely American girl we met at Mana Retreat Centre. 
I wanted to share a few of the ways that we wrapped up this wonderful journey,
 with a smile :o)


I spent as much time as I could walking, swimming, napping and just appreciating how beautiful our neighbourhood beach was. It's hard to believe that for 8 months, Luke and I literally lived a few minutes walk from a beautiful sandy beach. 


The best part about making new friends is learning about how ridiculously fun they can be. I have met some really great people over here  and will miss them dearly! Especially their ridiculousness!
yup... its on its side for a reason - ridiculousness
dead possums and us


One Sunday morning, at an early 5:30am, I joined two other beautiful ladies at the beach to watch the  sun rise while sipping on strawberry bubbles and nibbling croissants. I am obsessed with the sunrise and sunset and to experience such a beautiful natural awakening of the beach - blissful!!

Family Time

Luke and I spent three wonderful days wwoofing at Terri's farm with her amazing family -  soaking up as much love, cuddles and happiness as we could. Terri has truly been our family here. Her door has always been open, her fridge always stocked, her arms always wide for a cuddle and her ears always open to listen. She is my Kiwi sister and I will miss her dearly. She even gave us a beautiful send-off bbq that consisted of $10 Salvation Army outfits for everyone.

Horse Races

I have spent so many fun days of this trip working at the Horse Races as the catering staff. It is so much fun to watch everyone come in dressed up to the nines, betting their money on horses for the most bizarre reasons and forever telling me their stories of when they visited Canada. I took the day off and headed to the races myself, equipped with an entourage of friends, and spent the day sipping bubbles, wearing a pretty dress and fancy hat and betting on #2 because I liked how his mane was braided.

The Mount

As a farewell to the beautiful city of Mount Maunganui, we obviously had to have a wonderful mid-day hike up to the summit!

Mana Retreat Centre

Luke and I have spent our final week in New Zealand at Mana Retreat Centre, the amazing place we wwoofed at months ago on the Coromandel Peninsula. It is a beautiful piece of land, with amazing views of the Coromandel. We have been kayaking, hiking, living in a caravan, doing yoga while looking at the beautiful view and even spent an evening dancing in the moonlight! Mana is filled with caring, generous and open people that we could not have left New Zealand without seeing again. It has been such a perfect way to complete this leg of our journey.

Our next adventure is to Australia. We are heading over there for a few months to explore how the Kiwi's neighbours live. Wish us luck for surviving their many killers:

killer sunstroke

killer jellyfish

killer sharks

killer spiders

killer crocodiles

killer kangaroos??

Sweet Dea & Dukey

Luke and I are excited to be experiencing our first holiday season in the Southern Hemisphere. Our holiday attire: shorts, bikinis, sunblock and of course a beer in hand! Summer has fully arrived and although each day hasn't been incredibly sunny in the Mount, it is still very warm at all hours of the day. We have moved into a new apartment which we absolutely love. We can see an amazing view of the Mount from our bedroom, we have a wonderfully large deck that gets sunshine all day long, our flatmates do nothing but laugh with us and we could not be happier. As we moved in, we realized that one of our flatmates is a Christmas fanatic and as she unpacked and placed her many red, white, gold and green trinkets around, we knew our beautiful new home would be a nice place to spend the holiday season. 
Although it seems a wee bit backwards to be sweating it out on Christmas day, I am ecstatic to be sharing this time of year with my New Zealand family, on the farm, and that Luke and I get to work on our Christmas suntans while participating in the family BBQ and clinking our refreshing glasses of home-brew beer.  

Sweet Dea & Dukey

With my sister in from Canada and a month of adventures ahead of us, Luke, Jenn and I loaded up our little Camry and headed out to explore the South Island. We began with a very rough idea of where we were headed, a tent, sleeping bags and Jenn's massive suitcase in the trunk, grabbed a few maps and set out exploring. 

Photo Diary & Highlights Thus Far...

North Island to South Island Ferry from Wellington to Picton
Taking in the beautiful South Island scenery from the 3.5 hour ferry journey
Throughout Jenn's journey, she has come across many interesting ways that her life has been/could be threatened in New Zealand. She has begun to compile a list, cleverly named: "Ways to die in New Zealand". Among the first few are: 
being attacked and run over by a baby bull
3rd degree sunburns from the hole in the ozone layer
falling off a cliff while trying to walk uphill like a sheep
Camping in Nelson
There was a beautiful creek beside our campsite and we spent an entire day basking in sun with our feet in the water!
Jenn has learned that her idea of camping and our idea of camping are just a wee bit different... her main issue, not having protection from the bugs that attack her every night. Her current bug bite count is far too high to share. Way #4 to die in New Zealand: 
excessive bug bites, perhaps contaminating her with Malaria
Caving in Takaka
We make caving helmets look good... right?
Jenn learning about marble stone and sink holes
It was here that Jenn learned that there are Moa (extinct NZ bird) bones found deep beneath the ground floor in dark caves. These Moa's were believed to fall into large holes in the ground, tumbling to their death in the deep, dark caves. Once out of the cave, the many "sink holes" were pointed out to us across the land, each one with the threat of death by falling into it and disappearing forever. Way #5 to die in New Zealand:
Death by falling into a sink hole
Beaching in Kaiteriteri
Having a little jumping photo fun to showcase the beautiful golden sand beaches of Kaiteriteri. This beach was literally across the street from our cabin.
Way #6 to die in New Zealand:
deciding to be brave and do a bungy jump, only to have the rope break and end up in a pit of crocodiles. 
Tramping in Abel Tasman National Park
The tramping in Abel Tasman was just beautiful! A well-groomed trail that can take up to 3-5 days to complete, or a few hours to walk out and walk back. There were hills and valleys and beautiful views of bays like this one.
Jenn showcasing the 3hour50minute walk we had ahead of us... she was in flipflops and Luke was barefoot... needless to say, we did not make it to Anchorage!!
Way #7 to die in New Zealand:
Attempting to do a 3hour50minute hike along the Abel Tasman National Park with no food, no water, sunset fast approaching and wearing only flipflops
Swing Bridging in Buller Gorge
Walking across the massive swing bridge in Buller Gorge - Jenn was surprisingly terrified...Luke and I had fun with that one.
Jenn showcasing the intense chill in the air as we walked through the faultline rupture from an earthquake in 1929. The earth was thrust 4.5 metres into the air along the faultline.
Way #8 & #9 to die in New Zealand:
falling into the river when the swing bridge collapses
getting stuck in the ruptured fault line
... to be continued
I have been absolutely awe-struck by the natural beauty in New Zealand. One of my favourite scenes is either the sunrise or the sunset. Both are just miraculous. Amazing that it happens every single day, and that each day it is breathtaking! The sunrise is the hardest to see as it requires being out of bed and out of the house before 6am. However, I was feeling very ambitious and somehow that rubbed off on Luke and yesterday we set our alarms for 5am! It's helpful that in our current home we are simply steps away from the beach, so we took advantage of that. With our beach blanket in hand and sleepy, groggy faces on, we flippy floppied over to the beach and settled in. Wow... was it ever worth it! I was simply flabbergasted! (that one's for you Dad, heehee). Enjoy the photos Luke took!
Walking to the beach
The amazing sky
Just unbelievable
Here comes the sunshine! Look at that reflection!
The most amazing golden yellow
A truly blissful moment
I wanted to play!
Just a sunrise beach walk...how romantic

Sweet Dea

This evening I decided to venture outside to enjoy the setting sun near the ocean's waves and soft sand. It reminded me of how beautiful, majestic and powerful the ocean is. Without any intentions, it brought my thoughts deeper and allowed me to relax into them.  Always a pleasure. I wanted to share some of the beauty I experienced and was able to catch on film.

A good tune for photo viewing. I was listening to this song while I uploaded these pictures. :o) Enjoy!
The sun was just beginning to set - note the beautiful pink sky and the couple walking their dog
the sun was setting just behind the mount
I decided to have some word-play in the sand
a little tree posing
stunning light reflecting on the wet sand :)

Sweet Dea

I have been living in the mount for over four months now, and since the very beginning I have been saying, constantly, that I want to hike up the mountain to see the sunrise. I asked friends to join me... but that involves coordinating schedules and everyone waking up to their alarms... so that one never prevailed. I asked Luke if he would go with me, and being the loving and supportive man that he is, of course he said, "mayyyyyybe", but it would be up to me to push us to actually do it, and somehow, that task seemed too challenging. I considered just going on my own, but... that takes a bit of self-motivation, discipline, and well... sounded a little lonely. And thus, over four months passed with no early morning sunrise hikes to speak of. 

Finally I decided that enough was enough. Everyone knows how annoying it is to hear someone talk about something over and over and oooover again, without actually taking any action. I realized that I was doing this, and I was beginning to annoy myself. So... I did it! Alone! Go me!

Last night I did as I always do when preparing for an early morning, I set out my "morning hike" clothes in a little accessible pile, I put my necessary items in a pack - cellphone, camera, keys, flashlight, tiny piece of candy :o) - and I set my alarm for a bright and early morning. Well, I guess dark and early for me! 

When my alarm went off this morning, I was awake and ready for my solo adventure. Bring on the brilliant photos and self-reflecting moments! I got dressed, grabbed my pack, made a thermos of green tea and honey and was on my way. It is Spring time here, not yet summer, so when I felt a few rain drops lightly dropping down on me as I began to ascend, I wasn't too bothered. Especially when I looked up and genuinely could not see any clouds that the drops were coming from. Hmm...
The dark morning sky as I began my hike up the mount
I began my hike up, feeling the burn in my thighs and feeling proud of myself for getting up early, being active, and doing it all with my own solo motivation! As I wandered my way up, slowly taking off layer after layer, letting my thoughts float around wherever they wanted to go, I considered the thought that the rain drops seemed to be getting just the tiniest bit heavier... but I pushed the thought of my mind. 
part way up the mount - the sky is getting lighter
As I huffed and puffed and pushed myself further and further up the climb, rounding the corner closest to the top, feeling very triumphant as I was al...most...there... 
Thunder. Lightening. Downpour of rain. Oh...My...God...
The thunder really shocked me to my core, as I was really not expecting it at all. And the lightening - terrified me! Being up on a mountain, it just seemed so much closer. I genuinely squealed, jumped, turned around and just RAN! 
As I was running, a little common sense popped into my head and reasoned that maybe running down a slippery, wet mountain side was not the best use of my time, and I slowed down to a quick walk. I passed a few people heading up as I was heading down and noticed that they were all clearly prepared for this storm. They were wearing hats and rain jackets and all looked quite happy and content as they huffed and puffed. Me, I was wearing a fleecy sweater, not so water-proof vest and a headband. Woohoo not being prepared! As I continued with my quick-paced descent, leaving the slightly protected and covered tree area of the trail and entering the clearing part, the skies simply emptied. It felt as though a massive bucket of water was being dropped directly onto my head. There was so much rain that I could barely see as it was flooding my eyelashes and dripping down my entire face. 

With many of the steps on the trail, they are gravel as well as a bit of wood. Well... wood sure gets slippery when its wet. Just as I was going down a particularly long and steep set of steps, I glanced up to see a couple of hikers coming my way. Just as I glanced up, I slipped on the wet wood and BAM - CRASH down I go. Onto my butt. On the wet steps. In front of lovely strangers. *sigh* I was convinced they knew how scared I was and how I desperately wanted to be running down, but clearly I do not possess the graceful footing required for that sort of feat. 
resembling a drowned rat while I looked down on the storm-filled beach
Then, as luck would have it, just as I got down to the very lowest part of the mountain, into a big open clearing, the rain began to dissipate. Optimistically, I glanced back up the mountain and for a split second thought "should I..." then quickly brought my awareness back to the slish-slosh of my wet socks in shoes and how my headband was pasted to my head, turned around and carried on down.  My home is only a few minutes walk from the base of mount, but of course, as soon as I stepped off the hill and onto pavement, the skies unleashed their worst yet! Again I couldn't see as the rain was so heavy and dripping into my eyes. When I glanced down I could see the rain bouncing off the pavement, jumping back up to the sky. If I attempted a look ahead, I could see the wind sweeping the rain all the way down the road before it even hit the ground, somewhat resembling ghosts flying through the semi-dark streets. The wind was whipping my stringy, wet pony tail into my face, a very unpleasant feeling.  And all I could hear apart from the hiss of the wind was the slish-slosh-slish-slosh of my soaking wet feet, reminding me of many rainy soccer practices I had as a kid.
All in all, after I arrived home, warmed up in the shower and had a nice think about the situation I was just in, I had a wonderful morning. Perhaps it was not the morning I had planned for myself, but it made me laugh and feel good just the same! And now I am enjoying my thermos of tea and honey while cozy on the couch, looking out my window and noticing that the sun has finally made its way out. 

Sweet Dea


"They discovered that it was easy - easier than it should have been - for life to swallow up the extraordinaory and weave it into normality."  

"Scissors Paper Stone" written by Elizabeth Day
It seems that it is human nature to develop some sort of routine. Even if the routine seems chaotic and spastic, everyone has a method of routine in their lives. It is what gives us structure and awareness of what is expected of us. Whether those expectations were developed by society or by ourselves. This is how I found myself feeling recently, that this "extraordinary" trip I am on had become "normal", ordinary and regular. Nothing unique or riveting or inspiring about it. What an easy trap to fall into. Isn't it a bizarre fact that a person can take a situation that they truly enjoy, that truly makes them feel good and, over time, begin to view it as simply just a situation...no longer one that brings great joy or good feelings. It just becomes something that must be done... something on the day's checklist of activities to be completed. Life began to feel this way in New Zealand. And... as is the way of the intricate and mysterious ways in which life tends to work... a solution was produced even before the problem was fully realized. :o)

And here begins the story of finding our third home in the Mount (the first being the terrible disaster of a place we called home for only a few hours - click here to read about it)

Luke and I had been living in Mount Maunganui for four months... in a wonderful home with two wonderful roommates. We were content and happy. Nothing to complain about. And yet, we weren't ecstatic about life. Even living in a beautiful, comfortable 'posh' apartment became a bit dull, simply just a part of everyday life. And then our roommates asked us to move out. They simply wanted the chance to live on their own. At first we were shocked and saddned by the news. As I said, life was good. Nothing to complain about. And this news brought on a dilemma - the stress of finding a new place to live

Will it be affordable? What's affordable? What if we don't like our new roommates. 
What if we can't find a place that we like. 

The questions went on and on. It didn't help that at this time I was exhausted and frustrated as I had just begun taking antibiotics to kick the strep throat that set up camp in my tonsils. Yippee! If there's one way to ensure that you will not react well to negative information... its to already be exhausted and frustrated. Anyways... Luke took a much appreciated leadership role in our search for a new home and diligently called and texted as many places available as he could find. We, - him, excited at the prospect of a new home, and me, wanting to drop down to the ground, curl up in a ball and cry out for mommie's comforting touch, - viewed a few potential new homes, only to groan and sigh as soon as we got back into the car, exhausted by the disgustingness of the flats. It seems that it is common for landlords in the mount to cram as many foreigners into one little dirty, dingy, dark and moldy apartment as possible. I found the entire process extremely tiresome and depressing. The only thing keeping me engaged was Luke's relentless positive attitude, re-enforcing that we needed the change and that it was likely to end up being a really good thing for us. 

Finally we found our new home... equipped with a wonderfully friendly new roommate from the Czech Republic, literally in the heart of downtown and a few steps from the beach. It has a real bed fit for two whole people, an actual wardrobe meaning our clothes are not folded on the floor of our closet and best of all... a big sliding glass door from bedroom to sunny patio. YAHOOO! And so, here we are, beginning a new chapter of our adventure of living in Mount Maunganui,  with excited anticipation for what the summer months will bring our way!! Suddenly.. the "normal" once again is viewed as extraordinary !!
Our new bedroom - photo taken with my blackberry
enjoying a glass of wine in our new living room
Our view of the Mount from our patio

"Do What You Love...Love What You Do"

Where in that quote does it explain how to pay your rent? Buy food? Develop a sense of financial security? Hmm, that piece may have been left out, no?
When do you know and how do you decipher between the things you need to do and the things you need to let go of? When is giving up on something an active, progressive and positive choice, and when is it simply wimping out? How much negative is one to endure before it is socially acceptable to LET GO!?
I recently spent three months working at a job that at first, it was okay. It was a means to an end, it supplied some funds, it allowed me to meet some locals... it was okay. Then as time went on and it became a part of my daily life, I noticed it was soaking up every ounce of my positive energy and hiding it far far away from me. Within five minutes of arriving at work I would feel desperate to just "get out".  Even sometimes simply walking to work, the act of moving my body closer to such a negative place, would take my chipper, happy, sunny, on-holiday mood and absolutely butcher it. I became irritated, moody, negative, complainy... you know, and all around joy!! :-S 

But... it paid the bills.  And there were hours for me.  I had truly tried hard to find something, anything else as a means of income, but being the wrong season in a small summer surfer town, I was constantly rewarded with a big fat "nothing now". 

I began to lose sight of why I am here, in New Zealand. I am here for a working holiday. Yes there is the word "working" in there... but I know that there are many forms of making money that do not need to be considered "work", as long as you find what you enjoy doing! 

So...how long is the "right" amount of time to endure such horrendous conditions? Was I being a baby, a wimp, for wanting to leave? The past five months have been a true holiday for me, minimal "work" involved.. so was this me having to "pay my dues" for all the freedom I previously enjoyed? Or was I being an idiot to stay somewhere that made me so incredibly unhappy?
I don't know the answers to my questions. 
I don't know that anyone does. 
But, this is my story:

After many many many squabbles in my head about what was the right thing to do, I made the decision to quit. No activity in my life should generate such unhappiness. Yes it brought me some money (it was basically my only income) but there is NO way that money is THAT important in my life. I would much rather have no money and feel happy and grateful for my life than to be rich and feel hollow. 
Anyways, back to my quitting. I strategically planned my exit in my head, I wrote the letter, I told my friends, I prepared Luke for a fun-employed and broke-as Deanna, I made it real. It felt great. It felt amazing. It felt...free. 

My heart-rate raced, my cheeks flushed, I began to perspire and I could feel my pulse in my ears. I placed my letter on the desk. FEWF! It's done!

And then... interesting things began to happen to me. The catering company that I had worked for very casually began calling me for more shifts. I found a fun weekend promotions job online and they fit me in. I was called for an interview at a coffee shop. I got the name of someone at a call centre who was looking for staff. So many positive things, especially concerning making money, began to fall into place. All because I had let go of that negative tumor and opened myself up to accepting new positive beginnings in my life. 
it's in your hands!
It's scary to let go of anything. It really, truly is. But how do you know that letting go of one negative thing isn't going to bring you five more awesome things? You never know until you take the leap and just trust that you can make it work!
Capture The Colour is a travel blogging contest hosted by Travel Supermarket encouraging travel bloggers to showcase their beautiful photos in five colour categories; Blue, Yellow, Red, Green and White. I love this idea! Thank you to Bobbi at Heels and Wheels for nominating me for this competition. Enjoy the photos!


If there is one thing that my eyes have been absolutely enthralled with since stepping foot on New Zealand soil, it is the sky! The way the clouds dance around the sun and each other, creating so many beautiful and colourful scenes is amazing! When those jaw-dropping skies are combined with sun rays sparkling down and glistening on the ocean water... absolutely inspiring! 
This moment brings back such blissful memories of being relaxed, rested and revelling in the beginning leg of our trip. Sitting by the ocean in the tiny laid-back surfer town of Raglan, feeling absolutely blessed to be able to witness such natural beauty and capture it on film...perfection.


Witnessing a sunrise is a beautiful experience at any time... but after hiking up to the summit of a mountain in the pitch black early morning and listening to the birds awake the world before the sun graces you with its presence...that feels like a miracle made only for you. This photo represents the struggle I faced to get my partner out of bed in the wee dark hours of the morning, throw on some runners, grab the camera and hike 45 minutes to the top of Mount Pukawhakataratara on the Coromandel Peninsula in the dark. As we reached the summit I could only think to myself "he's going to hate me" as there were so many clouds I didn't think it was possible that we would see anything rising, let alone the sun. As the world does, it surprised me! As the sun rose above the mountains and shone its golden glow on the valley below, we learned that a misty, cloud-filled valley is the perfect canvas for a morning worthy of gold. 


Love For Daniel. A year ago a wonderful young man with a zest for adventure and an ear for beautifully played music was brutally killed in Victoria, Canada. Daniel was a good friend of ours. He was 20 years old. Many individuals sport this bracelet that says "Love For Daniel" to show ongoing support for what an incredible young man Daniel was. Luke and I brought him along with us on our New Zealand trip. This photo was taken during a blissful hike in the Coromandel Peninsula. It had rained all morning and this was the first glimpse of sun we saw all day. We like to think it was Daniel showing his appreciation for the hike.  


Our number one concern in Taupo was finding a free place to sleep...what we didn't account for was this miraculous scenery being our backyard. Reids Farm Free Campsite is home to this technicolour of natural visions. With my jaw-dropped, I continuously asked myself, "how can one river look so refreshing, so clean, so peaceful and so multi-toned?". I chose this photo as it amazes me that so much natural green can be found in the usually so crystal clear blue water.  


As a true west-coast Canadian, when the weather turns rainy, windy and stormy, the Canadians turn to their rain jackets, hot coffee in a thermos and the closest point to the massive, crashing waves. We ventured out to Moturiki Island in Mount Maunganui and hiked all the way out to the closest point to the waves. The raging white caps and white foam flowing all the way in to our toes was breath-taking and exhilarating. A beautiful moment during a so-called bad weather storm. :o)

I would like to thank Bobbi from Heels and Wheels for the nomination. I myself nominate the following travel bloggers:

Sweet Dea

I read something recently that dove deep into my subconscious and has been resurfacing at interesting times. The concept is wonderful and I am very happy that my subconscious found it important enough to register. It is:
the power of daydreaming
There are so many distractions and entertainment devices at my fingertips at any given time that the concept of daydreaming, apart from when actually going to sleep, seems to have taken a back-seat role in my life. However, when looking back at my first post in "Ramblings" I clearly am a fan of the ideas that my imagination develops during this time: "It would appear, that late at night, my brain transforms into a genius. I swear to you the ideas I come up with at these random hours are not far from some of the most intricate, impressive, awesome ideas I have ever thought of myself." Hmmm, correlation? I think so. Perhaps this is what my subconscious was triggered by. 

Anywho, lately I have been feeling down. Work has been frustating me (its true.. I am not a complete toilet bowl cleaning lover), there isn't a lot of money kicking around, the weather has been very Spring-esq (aka rainy) and all in all, I've just been a bit off. So yesterday, after the morning rain period passed, I had finished all toilet bowl cleaning for the day and the sun was high in the sky, I went for a stroll around the base of the Mount with the intention of "daydreaming". The first thing I did when I began my walk, found a nice sandy sheltered piece of beach, lied down and simply rested for 40 minutes in the sun! Ahhhhhh. There was some great daydreaming happening here I'll tell ya! 

Then, when I felt rested and ready to continue on, I walked. I walked with the intention of stopping at any point that I felt the desire to. That's a fun way to walk! There was no pressue to walk fast or "get it over with". There are many benches along the trail, inviting me to test them out, and so I did. I was at first sad that I didn't have my camera with me as the scenes I saw were breath-taking. Beautiful sunshine glistening on the calm ocean. A few fluffy white clouds playing hide and seek with the sunshine. Waves gently rolling into large black rocks covered in shells. But then I realized that I appreciated having to work a little harder to remember the scene in my brain and to really, truly be present. That felt good! 

After strolling along, stopping frequently and saying hello to every passerby, I was feeling blissful, calm and present. It felt amazing! I couldn't help but think about the healing powers that I continuously experience when I immerse myself in nature. You don't need anything else other than to be present to experience the beauty that comes with it. It's a peaceful blessing. And, along with that, it often comes with physical activity, which is great for your body. So, the end result of my wonderful journey along the base of the Mount is an attempt to take myself back there, whenever I am in need of some inspiration, some alone time, some daydreaming. 

Sweet Dea

The morning sunrise from my apartment balcony
Do you have any beautiful natural location near you 
that affects you this way?  

Do you take time out of your day to allow yourself to daydream?