New WordPress Blog

Hi all,

My time WWOOFing and travelling in New Zealand is over and wow, what a year it has been. I am ready to start a new adventure in the beautiful country of Spain. If you would like to follow me and enjoy my new blog the link is https://kiwiinspain.wordpress.com/ and if I don’t see you there, thanks for ready and I hope you enjoyed it!

 

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Categories: Uncategorized

The last house sitting in NZ and preparations for moving countries.

We have taken the opportunity to do a last house sitting in Hawkes Bay, in order to do the final preparations to move overseas and tonight is our last night here. For those of you who don’t know, Diego (my partner) and I will be moving to Spain – Diego’s home country, to live and work. It will be a big move for us both as we have been established in New Zealand for nearly five years together. We have sorted out our things that we have left and donated more than half, as we only have 30 kilos each to take on the plane. We also have one month left of travelling NZ with two extra people and their luggage in the car – another reason to create some extra space! I can’t believe how fast this year of WWOOFing and house sitting has gone. On October the 31st (as I write this) it has officially been one year since we left our home in Dunedin and started this crazy adventure. It has been a year of memories created and experiences lived that will be with us forever.

The past week has been another time of trying to be realistic on the things to keep or throw away, it took us both right back to when we were trying to fit everything into the car at the start of the year. Not as stressful, thanks to donating things as we went and many things wearing out over the year. I have put an October 31st, 2014 and 2015 photo of the car next to each other below, for comparison. We have managed to clear the back seat completely, as well as leaving space in the boot, which I thought was impossible!

This year has been unforgettable and unrepeatable, there is nothing I would change (good or bad) if I could go back and do it all again. Grab any opportunity to give up a life in the comfort zone to take life as it comes, (whatever your age), you wont regret it. I must give thanks and acknowledgement to Diego as without him this journey wouldn’t have been the same. Together we have learnt and grown, we have both had our challenges to overcome in which we were able to support each other and fully enjoy the adventure.

This will be my last post about house sitting and WWOOFing but there will be one more summing up our last NZ travelling adventure for 2015. For those of you interested I will be starting a new blog about life for a kiwi in a non-english speaking country, without knowing the language or how things work. I will post a link to my new blog in my last wwoofinglyfree blog post. Thank you all for reading my blog this year and I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing and living it!

November, 2014. Trying to fit everything in the car!

November, 2014. Trying to fit everything in the car!

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Categories: North Island House Sitting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Fijian birthday holiday

We have just finished 11 days in Fiji, a country that we both love and is very special. There were many surprises, changes and plenty of thinking about the year of wwoofing that is almost completed!

We started of in Wailoaloa (just south of Nadi) where we were instantly in holiday mode with the beautiful sunshine and lovely Fijian people. We spent two days just walking along the beach, talking with old friends and having a look around Nadi. We them transferred to our accommodation on the Coral Coast where we stayed for seven nights. This was our second time there (first one was four years ago) and it was great to see our old Fijian friends, though many things had changed. One great friend of ours had passed away and so we went to the village to pay our respects to his family.

The last day on the coral coast was spent on an island trip with some other guests that we met in Mango Bay. We left early in the morning on a boat and did some game fishing during which I managed to pull in a Skipjack Tuna. We then headed to a local school for a visit and small concert from the kids. It was lovely to see the village kids able to receive an education even in a remote place. Afterwards we walked across the island for lunch and snorkelling before heading back to Mango Bay. That night an old friend of ours (from a different village) invited us for a traditional lovo (underground oven) feast to celebrate my partners birthday. Our last night on the coral coast was spent with the village drinking kava (the Fijian traditional drink) and trading stories. It was a wonderful end to our stay on the coral coast.

The next evening we went back to Wailoaloa for two nights where we enjoyed all the things we love about Fiji – the people, beer, sunshine and swimming in the beautiful warm ocean.

It was great for us to take a while to think of all the things we have accomplished this year and let our minds catch up. We still have many things coming up in the next few months including moving to the opposite side of the world but now we are refreshed and ready to go!

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Categories: Overseas adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What to do when it is raining while WWOOFing

We have just finished a week in Carterton where it rained for more than half of the time. The majority of WWOOF hosts take WWOOFers to complete outside tasks in the garden, lawns, with the animals, ect. However when it is raining neither host not WWOOFer knows exactly how to proceed as it is not really acceptable to make your WWOOFer work in the rain but you also can’t expect to stay with your host for free. The WWOOF website doesn’t mention any rules concerning this so it usually falls on the host and WWOOFer to come up with an agreement they are both satisfied with. There are a few solutions that we have come across, though I am sure there are many other ways to deal with wet WWOOFing.

The first option we have come across is to have the rainy day off and make up the hours another day, i.e. working a full day. This is OK as it fulfills the requirements on both sides but it can get quite touring for the WWOOFer. The next option is to work inside the house or garage clearing, clearing and organising for the normal amount of hours. The problem with this option is that the WWOOFer has to do ‘non-organic’ jobs during a time when they are supposed to be learning organic processes. A good host will have food processing, cooking or storing their organic produce that has been pre-picked. This isn’t always possible as the hosts may have completed all these tasks or do not have enough produce from their garden to fill in all the hours that need to be completed! In the end as long as both the host and WWOOFer are happy with the agreement that is what should happen.

Make sure you (as a WWOOFer) make it clear with the host what will work for you and them. If this doesn’t happen the best idea/solution would be to leave. You also have to expect rain at some stage as New Zealand is not all sunshine and rainbows!

After one week in Carterton we left to go camping in the Taranaki region of New Zealand. The day we left was beautiful hot sunshine and it continued for the six days we were camping, it felt like summer had arrived. We thought it was time for one of our breaks from WWOOFing to keep us fresh and excited about new WWOOFing places. We have just arrived to our last ever WWOOFing place for this New Zealand tour and it is raining again! Luckily most of the work here is inside so we don’t mind. After this WWOOFing place we are off to Fiji for two weeks for a special birthday then travelling around New Zealand for one month with friends from overseas.

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Categories: North Island WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New life experience with the no poo movement

This WWOOFing year for me is all about new life experiences and trying things I have never done before. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to experiment with getting rid of the everyday chemicals I use in my life. After researching and reading about the ‘no poo movement’ I decide the first thing to go would be shampoo, which was mainly due to me being allergic to many of its constituents. For as long as I can remember I have always complained about my scalp itching and burning while washing my hair, sometimes it got to the point of bleeding. I went to a number of specialists that advised me to stop using shampoo with apple, pear and citrus derivatives. While this helped lessen the symptoms for a while, these other shampoos started to have the same effect. I switched to making my own shampoos which turned out to be a very messy disaster! I must mention that my hair is approximately two and a half inches (6cm) above my waist so it is a lot of hair to keep clean. My next step was to use a store bought shampoo that was labeled ‘organic’ and ‘chemical-free’, however my symptoms continued. I got to the point of painfully washing my hair once a week and wanting a solution, hence my trial of the no poo movement!

I stopped using shampoo on the 31st of January 2015 so it has been nine and a half months of only using hot water and once using a rinse of cider vinegar mixed with cold chamomile tea. It has been a huge change for me as I have saved money, have less bulk to travel with and my hair is healthier and shinier than before. It is such an easy thing to try. The first month your hair is not the nicest as it is getting rid of all the chemicals and trying to find its natural balance between oily and dry. I dealt with this by washing my hair everyday and tying it up or braiding it so the oiliness wasn’t so noticeable. My hair then went through a very dry period for about a week before finding the right balance. Now I am able to wash my hair every third day and it is never horribly oily or dry. It has also decreased the amount of nasty chemicals I am exposed to everyday. Before you just thinking that I am just a stereotypical ‘crazy hippy’ I would like to say that I still use soap and shave my legs.

The ‘no poo movement’ is getting bigger and bigger around the world due to the higher number of chemicals being used in shampoo, conditioner and other everyday products. Once my WWOOFing journey is over I will continue without using shampoo and be happier for it. While the catalyst for me to cut out shampoo was due to painful allergies there are many great reasons to try it, as I have stated above. Now I challenge you, wherever you are in the world to give it a go!

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During transition from shampoo to no poo

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Categories: North Island WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Seeing the results of WWOOFing labour

After a small, much needed break of a week house sitting in Kerikeri, Northland we made our way down to Cambridge, Waikato. We WWOOFed for this couple exactly three months ago, preparing their garden for surviving winter and pruning in preparation for fruiting. It has been great coming back to see the fruits of our labour and to continue with the same garden. The thing with WWOOFing is that you complete many tasks in many different places but rarely do you manage to see the results. Since arriving in Cambridge we have dug in the green crops, which we planted three months ago, added and turned in horse manure to each vegetable bed, weeded and planted peas and covered the beds with weed mat to be planted in another few months time. In most of New Zealand there is a big problem with rabbits eating the new spring growth so we covered the beds that have been planted with a chicken wire tunnel, which ends are blocked by old ice cream lids. This precaution will allow the peas to grow and start producing without the rabbits eating all the tender new growth. We have also arrived just in time for the new lambs and calves, so it sounds like a barnyard!

Our WWOOFing journey has been a total of ten months so far and we have learned countless new things and different ways of doing the same thing. When we build our own garden we will have no excuses to fail. It has been a great opportunity to be able to have practical experience with plants, animals and many different people from many different walks of life.

We have a few more days here WWOOFing before moving on to Havelock North for a week of house sitting with a friend from Japan, who we met and WWOOFed with on Great Barrier Island.

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Categories: North Island WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WWOOFing in the Far North

We just finished four weeks WWOOFing around the far north and it has been a very mixed experience. We first wwoofed for a semi-retired couple (Glenn and Sheryl) in Kerikeri who have an orange orchard. We have had a very enriching time here learning many things about wood turning, life and the importance of having nice people in your life. After a week of WWOOFing in Kerikeri we went to house sit for a lady near Kaikohe an had our first real negative experience in nine months. The owner was a lady who was angry with life, which turned her into a very mean-spirited and intentionally nasty person. She was so negative that I decided to leave and continue my WWOOFing journey in a more positive atmosphere. We were warmly welcomed back by the couple in Kerikeri. The whole experience of meeting someone like that reminded me that living life with negative thoughts makes you unhappy and unable to enjoy life. It has also helped me appreciate the great times we have had and will continue to have. We decided when starting this journey that it would be a year to remember, learn and live the way we would like to.

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Afterwards we were WWOOFing for 10 days in a place 25kms north of Kaitaia for a couple who have a mandarin/orange orchard. The main job there was pruning the fruit trees which is a great skill to learn. While staying with them my ideas around using natural sprays and organics have solidified. The owners have been spraying nasty chemicals every two weeks for 35 years without any kind of masks or safety equipment. As a result the husband is very sick with heart and respiratory problems which the doctors are unsure how to deal with. In this place we had our own little house for which to eat breakfasts and lunches, sleep, shower and relax. When we first arrived we thought the space to ourselves was great however as the days went on we realised that the experience of WWOOFing lost some of the feeling. Part of WWOOFing is meeting new people and learning about their experiences but when you don’t have any time with the hosts that part of it is lost. I am starting to feel like the journey is almost over for me and for the next two months we are mostly going back to hosts that we already know. At the end of August it will have been ten months from the beginning of this whole experience and it is amazing how much I have seen, heard, learnt and changed.

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We are now back in Kerikeri with Glenn and Sheryl for a week of WWOOFing followed by a week of house sitting before driving down to Cambridge to continue WWOOFing. During our stay in the far north we have done lots of exploring and seen all there is to see. Part of our aim while WWOOFing is to explore New Zealand properly before moving overseas.

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Categories: North Island WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WWOOFing Great Barrier Island

During a journey where the next stop is unknown, it is hard to know when there will be reliable internet, which is why I haven’t posted any new blog posts for a while. In the last two months I have done and learned many things which I will attempt to update now.

We got the once in a lifetime oppourtunity to go WWOOFing on the beautiful Great Barrier Island, the fourth biggest island of New Zealand. We took a five and a half hour ferry from Auckland – New Zealand’s biggest city and arrived to a place that looked like it was directly out of the jurrasic period. The ferry wound its way through a small cluster of islands before arriving into a small port called Port Fitzroy. There was a small wharf bustling with activing from the locals as the ferry comes in only once a week and brings in supplies for the island. Our WWOOF host met us at the wharf in an old van and we started winding our way down the only road, which was steep, narrow and quite perilous in many places due to periodic flooding.

The hosts are owners of an organic co-op that supplies residents on the island with organic products all year round. They grow much of fresh produce themselves and everything else is shipped in from around the country and distributed by them to all the members. Their property consisted of different blocks of land, differing in sizes, providing a natural shelter belt from the wind and increasing the temperatures around and full of different vegetables all year round. Other than the typical produce like garlic, onions, carrots, lettuce, ect, they also grow atypical crops such as colvo nero, jeresulum artichokes, wild raspberries and cherimoyas. This abundance of fruit and vegetables encourage many native birds like kea, banded rails and moreporks to hang around. There are also chickens that produce organic eggs, compost and scratch out any deep rooted weeds from the ground they are on, fresh fish and wild rabbits. We were able to see the whole process of how produce makes it on to plates. We helped planting, mulching, harvesting, preparing new vegetable beds, cooking and eating different types of produce. Any new vegetable or fruit they hear of they try to grow, allowing the locals to try different things.

Life and living on the island is very simple, with very limited internet, hot water and electricity. Everything is run on generators so power is saved wherever possible, with the generator running for an house each night. Most of the cooking we did was on a wood stove, but there was also a gas stove for when the fire isn’t lit. There were no restaurants, shops or supermarkets in close proximity so sometimes you don’t see another person for a week at a time. It was a great oppourtunity for us and one of the best and hardest WWOOFing places we have been to so far. We were there for a total of two weeks and had an unforgettable time. We went tramping, fishing and visited the local market during the weekends.

It is exactly four months today until we move to Spain to start our life on the other side of the world. I am ready to live in a new language, have new challenges and learn in depth about the country I have already come to love.

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Categories: Uncategorized

WWOOFing so far – the halfway point

I wrote this article for the Green Compass magazine (http://www.greencompassmag.com) and I thought you would all enjoy it. It is overall what I have learned during my WWOOFing journey so far. We are now halfway but still enjoying the experience!

“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My WWOOFing journey started because the life of commitments, routine and ‘normal’ became dreary and uninteresting. After four years of working, paying rent, bills and trying ways to have a fulfilling weekend, my partner I got rid of anything that wouldn’t fit into our Toyota-corolla station wagon and left our ‘normal’ life. In the six months I have been WWOOFing I have learned many important lessons but the most important is to not wait for tomorrow but do it today, whatever IT may be.

The important things in life: over the course of this journey I have learned to value the important things in life. There are very few things that you need to lead a happy, healthy life and  as time moves on more we are getting down to the real life basics. We quickly learned to be ruthless, especially travelling with two people in a car. We have learned to live by this mantra and over the past six months have reduce our load by at least half and still going! Items that are broken, lost or deemed unneeded are given away or not replaced. It is a great life lesson to get rid of things that are unnecessary and it makes you feel great. It is hard to imagine in the beginning that we couldn’t fit everything in. I often wonder what was deemed so important to have in our life, which is now gone from memory. My theory is that human nature is to hoard, even though it rarely makes our lives better. Decluttering has been an important part of this journey so far and when the time comes to go back to a ‘normal’ life, I will certainly be much more mindful of the things that I ‘need’. These lessons I have learned have given me the courage to always seek the life I want to lead and to do things away from the normal. Life is too short to be bowing to social norms and doing what is expected of you. “If we all start to invest in our futures more than our sneakers, our lives will be more beautiful than anything money could buy.” – Chris Riotta, ELITE DAILY. Since starting WWOOFing I have been able to live life instead of watch it fly by. I no longer worry about things that aren’t important to me such as where I am going next, the important thing is WHY I am going there.

The importance of fresh water and appreciation for comfort: learning to appreciate fresh water again has made me realise how much is wasted in everyday living. When we were house sitting in a drought stricken area, in the middle of summer with no running water, a composting toilet and a ration of 30L of rainwater you learn very quickly to use only the absolutely necessary water. A composting toilet is essentially a bucket filled with earth and wood chips so that alone saves a few litres of water every use. I was very impressed at how the toilet didn’t smell at all. The house had electricity, however all the cooking was done on the BBQ outside (as the stove wasn’t connected), boiling potatoes or pasta was much harder than necessary! The biggest worry was the dependence of the animals on the little water that we had. It all turned out fine and I have learned to appreciate things that I take for granted, such as near-instant hot water or a sink to wash the dishes.

Karma and changing plans: in this life you should always try to give without expectation of receiving. We always try to share what we have and now that we live very basically and need a bit of help sometimes it is all coming back to us in some form or other. I find it amazing that what you do in life, whether positive or negative, it always comes back. Through living a simple lifestyle the results of this have become more pronounced and obvious. This lifestyle can change in an instant and it took a while to learn there is not much point planning where we will be a month or a week from now. There are things that haven’t gone according to plan, so many decisions are taken on the spur of the moment. It is the ultimate freeing experience when the future is undecided and it has taught me that when a plan is made, it can be changed. One of the reasons we started this journey was so we could make our own decisions and dictate our life without any obstructions – people or otherwise. It is important to be flexible in life and remember in times of change when one door shuts, two more open.

Foraging, growing and cooking your own food: this is a skill that many people in this crazy world have forgotten or never learned. I think it is a very sad thing when children don’t know where meat really comes from or how to make a basic meal. This isn’t a lesson I learned on this WWOOFing journey but one that has been reinforced. We have done a lot of vegetable, fruit and berry harvesting and protecting food from various animals. It is amazing to see just how much food you can produce yourself when you make an effort and the home grown produce taste and look so much better than the commercial. Many of the people we have met feed themselves most of the year from their gardens by eating seasonally and growing produce to the maximum capacity of their space. Four acres can support many animals, vegetables and fruits if you are smart about how to use the space. Harvesting wild produce is a great way to feed yourself while travelling and on a budget, there is so much out there that is freely available and abundant.

WWOOFing has been the best decision of my life, I have not had one second in this whole crazy journey that I have regretted leaving my old life behind. I have discovered and learned many lessons that I hope I can carry through life. People we have met have said we are crazy not having a fixed abode or not knowing where we are going next but living this way we have met some amazing people whom we wouldn’t have met otherwise. This opportunity could have easily passed us by, had we continued in our normal life and stuck to our routine. It is amazing how a change of routine and a different outlook on life can allow you to be more relaxed, happy and most importantly, free.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Green crops, Jasmine and Wasps

We are at the end of a wonderful nine days with WWOOFing hosts in the beautiful region of Cambridge. We have had a great nine days here hanging out with three unique dogs, a few other animals and working in the garden. We have completely redone a garden from overgrown, out of control weeds to beautiful beds, rich with compost/manure and sown with a green crop. For those of you who don’t know, a green crop is a plant, in this case mustard seed that is grown between vegetable crops to keep the soil rich in nutrients for the next growing season. Before the green crop seeds or flowers, you cut it down, dig it into the soil and let it mulch down before planting your desired crop. It is a great way of putting nutrients back into your soil without using a commercial fertilizer. Generally a green crop is a plant that is hardy, easy to grow and sow, and quite fast growing.

We chipped a lot of wood from branches and logs we picked up from animal paddocks. I learned how to prune and train a climbing jasmine plant to grow around pillars of the porch. It was an interesting thing to learn but jasmine vines, when cut, release a very sticky substance, a type of latex, which is impossible to remove from clothing and needs to be washed off from skin with soapy water every ten minutes. I also was able to exercise my tractor driving skills, it is interesting which type of skills are never forgotten, this is one of them.

Here it is the time of year for harvesting, processing and preserving produce so we have been learning many different techniques throughout WWOOFing. In Cambridge we collected, peeled, cored and cooked the apples for preserving. The apple production was not very good because in New Zealand this year we have had a terrible wasp problem and they love eating apples. The reason for the increase in wasp population is due to an increase in population of insects called ‘willow aphids’, which grow on willow trees and are a food source for wasps. Willows have been used in New Zealand as a form of riverbank erosion control for over a century so they are highly abundant throughout the country.

We are now continuing our WWOOFing journey on a sheep farm in the Hunua Ranges, a green forest/farming area on the outskirts of Auckland.

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A cat that didn't like pats!

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Horse and companion jereselum donkey

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Brother and sister!

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Weed free vegetable garden

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The farm with fog

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Driving a tractor

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With the dogs

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Categories: North Island WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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