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


"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?
Everyone believes that the life of a traveler is ideal right? A long, extended vacation, usually with no specific end in sight, all doors are open, all possibilities are to be considered and all beers to be consumed. While these may be true, its not all fun, games, excitement and thrills. Well, at least not for this traveler. 

When deciding to go on a big journey across the ocean to the little island of New Zealand, I clearly had put some money aside in order to make the trip possible. However, one thing you learn when backpacking is that money, if one is not careful, can slip between the fingertips faster than you can even imagine. When at home and in the daily grind of working to live, it may always feel that there is not enough money in your account, or that, as much as you work, you still don't ever feel any richer. But one beautiful thing you have in those moments is the reassurance than in one week, two weeks, or one months time (depending on where home is for you) you will receive more money. When you're travelling, that luxury is abolished. The funds in your account is all that is guaranteed... and with each beer you guzzle down and each thrilling activity you do, that account continues to dwindle right before your little backpacker eyes. 

So, what does any cash-seeking backpacker do... find a job!! This is where the complex arises. 

When a person is working on a daily basis, their mindset changes. Suddenly they have a bit more of a schedule and more responsibility. They are required to show up somewhere at a certain time, they have committed to staying there for a determined amount of time. This is the first change from the easy-breezy backpacker lifestyle. 

Then when the money begins to be deposited into the bank account, suddenly it's exciting.. by spending just those few hours last week doing whatever it was that was required, there is the reward of cold, hard cash! BINGO! And suddenly life becomes all about retrieving more of this money. More work now means more money now which means more free-spirited, easy-living travelling down the road. 
Our first New Zealand paycheques!!!
Now some travellers have mastered the art of faith and trust that they will be able to find little odds and ends of work here and there, supplying them with small amounts of money to tide them over until they run out again. I, personally, cannot even come CLOSE to wrapping my head around this concept. The prospect of running out of money and not knowing where the next inflow is coming from and when... BAH... terrifies me and stresses me out to an extreme! Therefore... I focus on a few months of good, hard, solid time put into working in order to come out with a hopefully hefty bank account. 

But then comes the hard part... where do you draw the line between saving all your money so you can travel to new and exciting places later on and fully embracing and enjoying the time you are spending in a foreign country now!? 

I don't know the answer, but I am doing what I can to find the right balance for me, and that's all that I can do! 

Sweet Dea

When the usually sunny and warm Mount Maunganui gets hit with a blustery, windy, cold and very rainy day, what do the two kids from Victoria, Canada do to entertain themselves? Go for a rainy, windy trek to the point closest to the massive rolling waves of course! 

Moturiki Island has been a point of interest for Luke and I since we moved here two months ago, and yet, we had yet to adventure out to it. It is the beautiful"island" just down from Mount Maunganui main beach, a very popular spot for travelers and tourists to explore. I guess we figured since we're now locals, we'd wait for the perfect opportunity to trek out and see what Moturiki has to offer. Clearly we waited until the rainiest and windiest of all days to explore it! 
Moturiki Island from the Mount Maunganui Summit (on a sunny day)
The trek out was lovely, a very easy stroll along a well-kept path with beautiful natural scenery. We were lucky that parts of it were sheltered from the wind, as once we got out to the tip, closest to the big waves, we had to stay low and step very carefully to avoid being blown into the ocean! 
The fantastic scenery on our trek on Moturiki Island
Having a spot of coffee at the tip of the island, a safe distance from the crashing waves
Luke demonstrating the strength of the wind
Mount Maunganui from the tip of Moturiki Island
The best part of the entire trek was, it made us appreciate the weather instead of complain about it! Sometimes the only thing you need when the wind is blowing and the rain is pelting down is to step outside, geared up in appropriate attire, and just experience the weather. You'd be surprised by how much you can laugh while being blown around, laugh while trying to see through a torrential downpour and become awestruck by the colossal power of the waves!
While browsing around on the internet in an attempt to avoid spending money I came across an interesting article. It's focus is the reasons that most people are unhappy. The best part about the article is that under each reason is a "quick fix" - tips and tricks to counteract each reason and hopefully pull yourself out of the slump. I thought I would broadcast my favourite "quick fixes" for your contemplation.

To read the whole article, please click here
There is no benefit whatsoever to worrying. If there is no solution, worrying about it won’t help you. If there is a solution, you should be using your energy to implement it. 
Empower yourself by taking responsibility for everything that is happening in your life. You always have the choice for the decisions in your life
Anytime you hold a grudge, the only person that is affected is YOU. Your target usually has no idea what hateful thoughts you’re throwing at him or what horrible fate awaits him/her in your imagination. Meanwhile, in the real world, you’re unhappy, angry and frustrated and it’s affecting every aspect of your life in a negative way. What are you really gaining
Understand that your set of rules is just that, your rules. No one else has to live by them. Accept that your standards are not other people’s standards and you’ll notice many things that used to bother you won’t anymore. 
If you must compare, compare with yourself. Were you better than you were yesterday.  
Happiness and success is what you make it.  Life is too short to be spending time on activities you don’t enjoy. 
It’s really tough to be happy when you’re only aware of negative things happening to you. Look on the bright side. Be optimistic and always look for a silver lining. 
Happiness Matters!