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
 
 

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 :)