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!

Blue.

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.

Yellow.

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. 

Red.

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.  

Green.

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.  

White.

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:

xoxo
Sweet Dea

 
 
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. 
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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
xoxo

 
 
Prior to departing on our one-year adventure to New Zealand, many people asked Luke and I why we chose this as our destination. At the time it was all very vague; "The scenery looks beautiful", "Similar culture to Canada", "The people are apparently really friendly". But what we didn't know at the time was how true our words were!

The scenery IS beautiful, and we haven't even been to the South Island yet, which, according to locals and those who have traveled both islands, the South is at least ten times more naturally beautiful than the North... yay for our future travels!

The culture here is VERY similar to Canada. Many times I have found myself zoning out while walking down the road and genuinely forgetting that I am in a different country. There are minor differences of course, such as the words and slang they use, the accents, and the clothing and such, but in general the average persons' attitude is similar to what you would find in Canada. 

The people, especially those who's family goes back generations and generations in the South Pacific, are incredibly friendly, kind and inviting! They are so very proud of their culture that they cannot possibly pass up an opportunity to share it with a few friendly travelers just here to experience New Zealand! They must really trust their instincts as to whether to trust a complete stranger or not and invite them into their home. 

In the past four days I have experienced two different locals who have gone above and beyond the call of the "friendly stranger" and have taken time to get to know Luke and I. In the end, they have invited us for a cultural feast with their families! This is one characteristic of New Zealanders that I will definitely miss one day when I am back in Canada!

Thursday night we found ourselves at the local Irish Pub enjoying a few drinks and playing pool. The hotel I work at had a mid-year work party where we all enjoyed massive amounts of food at the Chinese Buffet and then wandered down the road to the Pub in order to let the food digest and continue the get-together. Two women were playing pool beside us and went out of their way to include us in their game. They were clearly having a good time, laughing and joking and they ended up playing a few games against Luke and one of my co-workers. Laughter erupted with every single shot.. it was a lot of fun to watch! One of the women, a very out-going and friendly woman, hit it off so well with us that she invited us for Christmas to "put down a hangi"! She didn't like that our travels so far consisted of traveling about and seeing sights, but no real focus on "culture". She wanted us to come and experience a true Maori Hangi with her family for Christmas. A Hangi is a "traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using  heated rocks buried in a pit oven still used for special occasions." 
This morning while I was down in my usually deserted and quite peaceful workout room, I encountered another very friendly and kind local. While I was sweating away, obnoxious gym music blarring, a very buff looking man walked in and began to use the room as well. (this really never happens, I was taken by surprise!) The first clue that he was friendly, he didn't mind my obnoxious LMFAO and Katy Perry workout tunes! After some time we had a brief conversation. I forgot I had been wearing my "Flight of the Concords" T-shirt with a massive Canadian Flag drawn on the back and was very impressed when he guessed that I was from Canada. We talked for awhile and I found out that he was only here for the weekend with his wife and kids and lives up north, near Auckland. With no hesitation, and with a kind remark of "if it's not too forward" he invited both Luke and I to his home to experience a traditional Samoan feast with his family! He said his wife is a fantastic cook and that they truly love the opportunity to share their culture with others. 

It is small moments like these, and kind guestures of this nature that make this trip one of a kind. I will always boost that Canadians are a generally friendly folk, but I cannot say that the average Canadian would invite a complete stranger to their home for a delicious feast! 
Thank you New Zealanders for continuing to impress us little Canadians with your kindness and culture! 
 
 
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! 
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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! 
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The fantastic scenery on our trek on Moturiki Island
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Having a spot of coffee at the tip of the island, a safe distance from the crashing waves
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Luke demonstrating the strength of the wind
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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!
 
 
As the four month mark passes by on the day that we first stepped foot in New Zealand, I thought it was time that Luke and I reflect on our trip a bit, share some of our favourite memories, and update everyone on what our lives are like now, living in Mount Maunganui. I'd say overall the homesickness has not been an issue for us, if anything, we simply wish we could bring everyone here to experience it with us!! There have been many dreams of "If I had the money, I would fly you here tomorrow". New Zealand is such a beautiful, friendly and exquisite place.. I almost feel guilty enjoying it all to myself instead of sharing it... almost!

  From the Unknown ........... To the Everyday

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March 2012 | Vancouver Airport
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July 2012 | Mount Maunganui Beach
What is your favourite city that you visited? Why?
Luke: Wellington. It just had such a nice welcoming feel to it, I felt like I was home. Probably had to do with the hippyish type people and that it is very similar to Victoria. 
Deanna:  Wellington. The streets were filled with funky, yet very friendly people. There were heaps of unique cafes and restaurants, a lot of "hole in the wall" type places. It was the kind of place I could see myself living and loving.
What is your favourite photo, where was it taken, and what makes it awesome?
This photo was taken up in the Coromandel Peninsula near New Chums beach. It's my favourite because this beach was amazing, me and Dea had such a great time here, and then this picture was taken and Dea looks like a monkey....and we almost cried laughing so hard.
This photo was taken at 7am on top of Mount Pukawhakataratara at Mana Retreat Centre on the Coromandel Peninsula. It was a challenge to get Luke out of bed to hike up a mountain for 45 minutes in the black of morning - but the beauty of the moment was worth it in the end! I was so worried about the amount of clouds that were present, but it turned into a beautiful, eerie, misty morning.  This photo reminds me of what my time at Mana represents to me - freedom and inspiration.
What is your favourite New Zealand experience story to tell?
Luke: I like sharing our wwoofing experiences at Mana Retreat Centre and Terri's because I think it is just a fantastic way to travel and meet people. 
Deanna: I really like sharing our stranded on 90 Mile Beach story. Its good for a laugh at our stupidity... and is a fun memory!!
Is there anything that you desperately wish you had brought with you and forgot?
My bro and sis
Bandit...
What would be your advice to anyone traveling to New Zealand?
Buy a car, it's just way easier to see everything, plus once getting here you realize you don't really have a home and having a car is just your own little home if you need it.
Keep your plans wide open so you can jump in with someone else's travels when the opportunity presents itself... and ask everyone everything.. the people are friendly!!
What individual, activity or place has impacted you the most in New Zealand?
Individual is tough because Mana retreat is just this amazing place away from the world, once there you forget about everything around you. You become more relaxed and just have more room in your head to think. Then there is Terri who really took care of us when we needed it the most, trying to find a home wasn't the easiest process for us, and to have someone to just let us come back not just once but on plenty of occasions is amazing. So I guess you could say wwoofing again.
Terri - she has such a warm, inviting and real way of living her life. Terri has fed us, taught us, laughed with us, laughed at us, fed us again, taught us about life in New Zealand, embraced us into her family, and even recently helped us find work! She loves her family above everything else in her life, which I respect so much and enjoy being able to be a part of. To allow so many random international travelers into your home on a constant rotating basis... you need to be a unique, open and wonderful type of person. Terri is all of these things!! <3
Would you say that you have changed at all in the past four months?
Yes definitely, I think being here has opened my eyes more on what's out there, I really want to see more of the world now, and meet more people.
I've become happier, more relaxed and laugh more freely. My life has much less drama! :)
Can you describe what its like living in Mount Maunganui?
So far like a dream - living on the beach, surfing, long boarding, and its only the winter, I can't imagine what summer is gonna be like.
Paradise! 4 blocks from the beach, sunshine almost every single day... perfection!
What are you doing now? For work, for fun? 
Well I was doing electrical work which was very interesting to see how different it is from our country, but now I'm just helping in construction which is still interesting meeting different people. As for fun like I said surfing, long boarding, just walking on the beach with dea, and going on little adventures.
Since moving to the Mount I have been working with my roommate at a hotel in downtown Mount Maunganui, cleaning toilets, making beds, scrubbing floors.. all the fun stuff. Also, thanks to Terri, I have had a few shifts with a catering company that I am really enjoying, and I had my first "trial" shift at a coffee shop... which I was ecstatic about!! For fun I've been really enjoying the gym in our apartment building - mainly because its free and always empty! I've been having a GREAT time with my blog (thank you to everyone who reads and comments! you keep me going!) and just writing in general. And of course, my fun day trips to the library or beach!! 
What is the biggest change from living in Victoria?
Not having those familiar faces and friends that we hung out with all the time. 
Agreed! Not being surrounded by a group of friends that are ready and willing to partake in fun adventures on a regular, almost daily basis.. its a big change. And there's no Auntie Sue here.
What is exactly the same?
Hahaha this is the toughest question for me, not very much is exactly the same....I mean even the coffee is different, playing guitar is different because I have more time and feel like I am actually getting better. Driving feels the same now but it's different seeing how I'm on the other side of the road. I would have to say although work is somewhat different, I guess the people are somewhat the same, they interact the same, make the same kind of sick jokes, and overall Kiwis are friendly like Canadians, while you still get the odd jackass, just like in Canada.
I find living in the Mount feels as though I could be living in a part of Canada. There are obvious differences - like tropical trees in every yard - but because there are many pieces that are similar, I often forget that there is a body of water separating me from my home. Many days I find I feel so comfortable here that I forget I'm in a different country. I think being here with Luke really helps.. makes it feel like home.
What is your favourite part about your new living situation?
Well instead of my roomies pretending to have a British accent they actually do, and it's hard not to mock them. Also our apartment is awesome with a pool and hot tub, and the best part: it's cheaper than what I was paying back home.
We live in a b-e-a-uuuutiful apartment!! I love it. I am able to walk to and from work - which I have always wanted! And I don't have any money... I enjoy seeing what I can do without. It feels a bit refreshing and grounding, although at times frustrating. 
Is there anything that you desperately miss from home?
Friends and family.....oh and timmys of course.
Bandit... and all of the above!
Is there anything that you thought you would miss desperately but you've been surprised that you don't?
Not really. I guess just Canada in general, I mean, I miss it but I guess I just know it will be there when I get back and being here makes me appreciate my country more.
Work. 
There you have it! A reflection of the past four months through the eyes of Dukey and Dea! Anything else you're curious about? Anything you'd like to share?
I hope you've enjoyed reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy sharing them!
Sincerely,
Sweet Dea & Dukey
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Papamoa Hills Summit - that mountain is the background is "the mount" - Mount Maunganui - our new town
 
 
Yesterday Luke and I enjoyed another day of constant sunshine with a different view of our favourite mountain. We drove out to  Papamoa to hike the hills. The hike up was a good steady climb in a beautiful foresty area that teases you with small glimpses of sunshine through the trees. It was ever winding so you never quite knew where you were headed or where the summit was. which is helpful to "trick" yourself into thinking the summit is "just around the corner"
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Luke and The Tall Trees
After our 45 minute hike up, and many many "hellos" "howsits" "howyougoings" and "g'days" from a friendly group hiking down, we saw our summit! A beautiful grassy top with 360 degree views of the Papamoa hills. 
PHOTO OP!
After our much quicker hike down to the carpark and toilets, we decided to head back to downtown Mount Maunganui for a delicious treat!! Anywhere at the base of the mount is a great place to get a delicious treat! From freshly made waffle cone engulfed ice cream, to lattes to fresh and hot fish and chips. And all treats can be consumed while looking at the beautiful ocean view or looking up at the monstrous Mount Mauao!  
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Main Beach, Downtown Mount Maungaui
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Main Beach, Downtown Mount Maunganui
Luke and I opted to enjoy the rest of the afternoon down on the beach, a few km's away from the busy and bustling Main Beach of Mount Maunganui. This activity is beautiful, comfortable and free! There is plenty of people and dog watching, wave watching, friendly conversations with passerby's and a chance to catch up on that book or some well-deserved snooze time!!
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The beaches best accessory: hunky man + guitar
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Bliss.
 
 

Mount Maunganui
My New City

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View from the top of Mount Maunganui
And I live about 4 blocks from the beach. 
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Our Backyard
New Zealand, you've outdone yourself! 
 
 

today I wwoofed...

The car came to a halt on a gravelled incline driveway as Luke and I climbed out. We stole a brief, confused, and a wee bit worried, glance at each other and then wandered around what we hoped to be the back of the house. The entire time I was really hoping that we were wandering on the "correct" proprety, in hopes to avoid an angry yell from a local unhappy farmer. I didn't even know if New Zealand farmers were in fact "yellers", but really, I had no need to find out now did I? Around the corner and across the grass we tentatively walked up to a beautiful setting. A stunning view of the rolling hills landscape, chickens, pigs and cows and a backyard bbq with the entire family! Terri, her kids, Terri's sister, her kids, all the kids' friends, the baby nicknamed "fatty" and of course, the roley poley dog named Pudge. Immediately we were welcomed to table just as everyone sat down. Child after child stared at us as though were were foreigners as we ate. Although, I suppose we were foreigners weren't we? Luke immediately became Luke Skywalker which all the boys took to very quickly! As we finished up dinner with this massive new family, Luke and I stole another look at each other as if to say, "Here we go! Our first wwoofing experience."

After the intial overwhelming moment of meeting the whole family and all their friends at once over dinner, wwoofing became a very enjoyable arrangement. To wwoof is to engage in world wide opportunities on organic farms. It is an online organization developed primarily to provide support to organic farmers by means of eager-to-work travellers in exchange for a clean, quiet bed and three meals a day. BINGO! All travellers are focused on food and looking for new and exciting experiences, so this is a fool-proof concept. Wwoof hosts give the wwoofers a list of duties or projects they hope to have completed in the 2+ weeks of their visit. Wwoofers aim to complete approximately four hours of good solid work per day, depending on the requirements of the wwoof host of course. Completeing physical labour while having the joy of being outside is very satisfying after weeks of simply "touring around".

I have learned things about animals, organic growth and natural eating habits that I had never thought were necessary before. The experience of milking a cow, eating freshly lain chicken eggs, picking out piglettes to raise and then eat, planting an entire vegetable garden and learning just how many food items can be created purely from ingredients found around the yard has been truly astonishing! And being welcomed into their home as a part of the family has taught me more about New Zealand culture than I ever would have learned in a museum. It also feels good to provide those helping hands in order to give mom a few more minutes each day to spend with her kids - essential in any and all cultures!

The kids warmed up to us very quickly, as they are used to new wwoofers entering their family every few weeks or so. The house, the cats, the kids and the dog all feel like home now. Terri has told us that she has hosted many different wwoofers from all over the world - Europe, Peru, Malaysia, Canada and the USA, ...What an amazing opportunity for her children to hear different accents and learn about other parts of the world from their own living room. They have a world map with pegs in the city and country that each wwoofer is from. Wwoofing is a fantastic way to save money and have richer experiences while travelling, and eat much better too! (no more beans & white rice for two whole weeks! woohoo!) It also is a great way for organic farmers to open their doors to willing helping hands who are usually eager to learn. The opportunity to experience different cultures without leaving your land; sounds like a win-win if you ask me.
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My first time milking a cow. This lady's name is "Licky"
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Luke's first time playing on a sit-down lawn mower. He enjoyed himself!
 
 

Wellington!!

Wellington - the capital city of New Zealand - also known as "Windy Welly" "Wellytown" and the New Zealand equivilent of Victoria!
Luke and I have found our way to the bottom of the North Island.. and couldn't be happier. Wellington is much more appealing to each of us than Auckland. It's an interesting feeling to drive into a brand new city, one you've never seen before and know very little about, and know that with this visit you will be contemplating whether or not you want to plant some roots there. Provided, our roots won't go too deep as they likely will be short-term.. but still.. even committing to 5 months or so in one city is a form of root-setting.

Wellington is funky, unique, cool, different, beautiful and comfortable. Cuba Street is their main strip for bars, clubs, funky shopping, etc. Then there are many other quarters for expensive shopping, fancy eateries, etc. The city is based around the harbour, and has beautiful hills surrounding it, filled with gorgeous homes and huge trees! Both during the day and at night simply walking around town is a pleasure! I've found that most shops (and there are a LOT of shops!!) and eateries are one-offs, not part of a chain. I didn't realize how much I like that. It's refreshing. (Sarah.. you'd really love all the boutique stores!) They have this massive underground market on Saturdays down by the waterfront, and an outdoor market on Sunday mornings in a large parking lot near the Te Papa Museum (which is free to enter, has 6 floors, is actually interesting AND has free wifi...woohoo!) Luke and I spent the entire day yesterday simply walking around in the sun, exploring all the many different quarters.
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Luke's glorious photography skills at work
We took a big cable car up to this beautiful lookout called Kelburn Lookout.. we then happily walked through a massive Botanic Garden. The trail had beautiful little painted flowers on the trail to guide you all the way through the garden and back into the city... what a great idea! New Zealanders definitely understand the benefits and necessity of green space in the city! It's beautiful here. It also helps that it has been sunny every day and not very windy (even though the city's nickname is Windy Welly... hmmm)

We have both fallen in love with Wellington and will likely end up back down there to start our 'working' portion of the trip in a few weeks.  
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Enjoying the view of Wellington City from Kelburn Lookout - the sun was so hot, but as Autumn is coming, it gets cool when the shade or wind hits!
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While walking down the road, exploring the city, we saw a sign "$3 beers @ 3:00pm" It was 3:00pm - done BOOM! **Terik - this was your Happy Birthday beer**
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Oriental Bay - a swimming beach within walking distance from downtown Wellington. Beautiful isn't it?
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Day Trip to the Wellington Zoo :-D Our favourite animal was the Chimpanzee's. They were so entertaining! AND, we saw a live Kiwi Bird

Deanna's Random Thoughts

It's interesting how easy it is to forget that you are halfway across the world, separated from everything you know by a massive body of water, when you sit in a movie theatre, munching away at popcorn and slurping pop. At that moment, it's all the same. Luke and I opted to have a date night in Wellington. I found a coupon for cheap movie tickets so we went to watch the Hunger Games at the Reading Cinema. At first I hated the movie, feeling almost sick from how much the camera moved around and the fact that I had read the first part of the book (up to the reaping) I could see all the details they had left out (as is the case with any book turned movie). But, as often happens with big screen movies, I got into it and overall it was a good film. I still think the story concept is disgusting (which is why I stopped reading the book) but I concluded that I may watch the 2nd movie... maybe. What were your thoughts?
My life has changed. I can admit that now. It has finally set in that my priorities are different, and will be for an extended period of time. I used to get so stressed out about work and the events and things that I was in charge of, when I'd sleep at night, I would constantly dream of things I needed to do the next day before a deadline, or people I needed to call. To be honest, I hated it. I always felt a bit jipped. Sleepy time was MY time.. not works'. Turns out, I do this with anything in my life. I have begun dreaming about my current priorities... which are quite different than they used to be. For example, I woke up this morning and realized that I had had a very vivid dream that Luke had our deck of cards in HIS backpack, instead of where they usually are in MY backpack. I had been quite startled by this change of events. ha ha ha... wouldn't you say my priorities have changed?? 
Some "Fun" music for you to enjoy :)
 
 

Short but Sweet
Raglan & Rotorua

Raglan was amazing. The moment we stepped off the bus and into the small downtown area... my entire body breathed a sigh of relief and relaxation! The air was still, the town was quiet, you could tell this was a place that didn't possess a lot of clocks! It was wonderful!

This little surf town on the west coast of the North Island prides itself on its ability to relax, let go and enjoy life! After a few days in the active downtown Auckland area, and a few hours and a few buses on our travel day, we were very pleased with just how relaxing Raglan felt already!

I have stories and stories to share about Raglan, but those will be saved for when I have more time on a computer.. and hopefully when my laptop decides to un-break itself... it happens right? hah. We spent five nights in Raglan and although we were ready to take the next step on our journey when the time came, we both decided that it is worth a re-visit within our year here in New Zealand! One thing I learned there, I really, really enjoy a relaxing morning sitting in the sunshine in an outdoor table and chair out front of a coffee shop in a not-too-busy downtown, sipping a delicious latte and just... being. It's wonderful. Exactly what I needed/wanted/dreamed of!! yay!

We tried to buy a car in Raglan.. a Toyota Camry Station Wagon... it was perfect for our needs! Not too old, big enough to sleep in if needed, cheap and within our price range, and being sold by a guy from Tofino... perfect? I'd say so. Sadly.. he sold it to some other guy before he even let us talk to him... in Luke's words "Where's the backpacker love?" Sooo, after many complaints between us about how much that tofino guy realllly screwed up our plans, we changed our plans. (haha, as per usual when backpacking right?) We figured out how to bus to Hamilton, then on to Rotorua. [row-toe-roo-ah]
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First night in Raglan
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Gorgeous!!
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Raglan Sunset Love
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Raglan Rain Forest

read about our bus mishap below...

We spent 4 hours in the bus depot in Hamilton, and after such a wonderful time,  we clearly wanted more.. so we missed our bus to Rotorua... by 3 minutes... due to an intense card game! True to style for both Luke and Deanna. We just laughed at each other. ridiculous! Soooo, we spent another 3 hours in the bus depot (Hamilton didn't seem to have too much to offer, and we had all of our gear too) avoiding playing cards again, until we finally gave in to setting an alarm so we couldn't miss the next bus.

Sue had warned me that Rotorua is really smelly. Really smelly is an understatement. It STINKS! Literally. It has to do with the geothermal activity across the entire city, and the smell is of sulphur, stinks like egg! bleh. But so far we've really enjoyed it. Lounged this morning in a natural hot spring while getting to know our new friends from France and Ireland.. who we now are going to be travelling with. They have this bright green campervan they've rented.. like NEON green!! All 5 of us are going to roadtrip together from Rotorua to Wellington (the bottom of the north island) with a few fun stops inbetween.
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sharing a beer in a natural-sourced outdoor hottub
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This is what I look like when I hike!!
I have oodles more to share but will do so at a later date! We're having a fantastic time and are very happy we're here! Today was the first time we brought up Tim Hortons!! The coffee here is expensive and it seems to be rare to find a cup of regular coffee, always espresso. So Luke hasn't been too impressed. We reminised about a big delicious cup of Timmies, two milk, one sugar for me - double double for him. It felt nice.

I have heaps of photos and videos to share.. will do down the road.

xoxoxo
Sweet Dea & Dukey

this song was on repeat while I wrote this so I thought I would share it ... probably for the younger audience only ;)