About The Truth About Paradise

🇺🇸 ✈️ 🌅


My trip is coming to an end as I prepare myself for dreaded finals…

I’m at the point where I’m reflecting back on my trip and most importantly, thinking about the things I want to take home with me. Because even though I’m leaving the country, there are parts of New Zealand that will never leave me. And I’m sure some of you will give me heaps of shit for it (Yup, I used heaps. Say something!!!). And because I’m so fond of lists, and finals are coming up which stresses me out and drastically increases the number of lists produced per day, I figured it just made sense.  

1. Keen. I love keen. Make fun of me if you want, but it’s coming home with me. 

2. Craft beers. This is a huge one, because since I’ve been here I’ve managed to write two essays on craft beer for my food and eating class which has given me so much inspiration…to drink.  Hehe. Not to mention, I got to go to the pub with my classmates and professor for our last day of class. I’ve gotten to try so many amazing beers since I’ve been here, and am sad that I won’t be able to try them all before I leave. Although I’m certainly bringing some home. Some of my favorites: 


Local Craft Beers

3. My love for sheep. 

4. And cows. Especially cows. 🐄

5. An appreciation for hiking and exploring. While there are amazing sights you can see just by driving up to them, there is nothing more rewarding than having to work to see them. Especially if you almost died in the process (OK a bit of an exaggeration, but being stuck underwater is FREAKY). 

Rangitikei River

6. An appreciation for how amazing the stars really are. Because really, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so incredible. 

7. Cooking! And baking! I’m hooked. Turns out I’m not as bad as I thought, either.  

8. A love/hate relationship with owning a car.

It also tasted great

9. My love for ginger beer.

10.The ability to relax and take a day off without feeling guilty.

11. An understanding of what other countries consider proper portions.  


A Portion of Pancakes…

12. A fat, crooked pinky. 

13. A better understanding and appreciation for Maori culture. And proper pronunciation… 

14. So many amazing photos and stories.


Tongario Crossing

15. My fear of birds. And yet I’m torn because I had great plans of being a crazy ole bird watching lady. 

16. The knowledge that America has a rugby team…and they’re apparently not half bad…. Who knew! 

17. Chocolate…. Ugh. I will never eat Hershey’s again. 


Whittakers Artisan Collection

18. My wanderlust soul. Because I’m already planning out my next big adventure.  




Since it is my birthday (🎉🎈🎂) a couple of friends and I decided to take a road trip through the South Island. We’ve been driving at least four hours a day, so I’ve gotten to catch up on a ton of old music I haven’t listened to in ages. My favorite old album so far is The Adicts, Songs of Praise.

Top Left: Chard Farm Vineyard Bottom Left: Along Hwy 94 Top Right: Marian Falls Bottom Right: Random Hike on Hwy 94

We flew into Christchurch, after missing our first flight and catching a later one. Daylight was burning so we headed to Willowbrook Wildlife Reserve to seem some native birds

Wildlife Reserve

I’ve been loving the birds since I’ve gotten here; my walk to class every morning is through a wooded path and there are always birds out singing.  Sometimes I hang out on my dreaded two hundred steps for a bit just to listen to the birds. My favorite thus far is the Tui. They have about four thousand vocal boxes or something which makes it so they have about two billion different sounds (very rough estimate).

Tui Bird


However, there are a ton of birds in New Zealand that I haven’t been able to see yet, including the kiwi. So we thought the wildlife reserve would be our best shot at seeing some of these rare birds.


Well, we definitely did see them. Not only did I see them, but I also was nearly undressed by one of them. There was a section in the reserve where you have to go into a caged area so the birds can roam free. It was exciting because the birds would walk right up to you. The problem was that this bird was not shy. I sat down next to him thinking he would check me out then fly away. Nope. He sure didn’t. I turned my head away for a second and he snuck up behind me and sat on my shoulder. I was so excited for a second, until he started grabbing my necklace, biting my fingers and trying to take off my shirt. Blood was shed and fear engulfed me. I stood up to get him off and he wouldn’t stop following me. 

Kea Bird

It was a bit traumatizing. But I eventually got over it, at least I thought. We continued driving to Milford sound and went through a pretty long tunnel. When we came out the other side there was the most amazing scenery. So naturally, we stopped.

Milford Sound

We got out of the car and turned around to find this bird on the roof of our car… He was pecking away at the rubber, chewing on the antenna and trying to come inside. Meanwhile, we were cracking up. And I was courageously hiding behind a street sign yelling to get him off because he was wrecking out rental car… And trying not to pee myself from laughing so hard.

Eventully we got him off the car and drove away. And of course, on the way back we ran into the little guy again. Except this time he brought his friends. I think they’re out to get me…


And, yes! I did see a kiwi!  

They are nocturnal, hence bad lighting

One Sheep Two Sheep Red Sheep Blue Sheep

There I was, innocently hanging out in a paddock alone. When out of the blue, a herd of wild sheep went rampant and started running after me. I did my best to fight them off, but it was one on one million and I was severely outnumbered. Punches were thrown, torches were lit and just when I felt I might make it out unscathed, a sheep started charging at me, knocking me to the group where I landed on my pinky and completely dislocated it… 

Before & After

But really, I was playing netball. A sport I had never heard of, either.  It’s sort of like basketball except you can’t travel with the ball, and there are no backboards. It seems to be primarily a women’s sport.  Without even knowing what it was, I signed up for the social league. Turns out, it’s a ton of fun. And after having a couple lessons on how to properly shoot the ball I’ve actually ended up scoring a few points for our team. 

Including right after I broke my finger, I might add. My teammate passed me the ball and I clearly caught it wrong. Immediately I knew something was amuck, but figured it was just jammed so I turned and shot the ball and scored, of course. Then, I looked down and realized I actually had eleven fingers instead of ten. It was pretty nasty looking. 

Before & After

I hurried off the court and went to the front desk where they offered to call me an ambulance.  That alone was pretty shocking.  If you called an ambulance for a broken finger in America I feel like you would get laughed at. Not to mention, my mind immediately went to “no way, they’re so expensive and my insurance is definitely not going to cover that.” 

I was trying to get out of going to the hospital all together, because I was afraid of how much it was going to cost. Turns out, it didn’t cost me a penny. Six x-rays, laughing gas, a local anesthetic and a doctor to pop my dislocated pinky back into place seems like it should cost upwards of a few grand.  And no, I didn’t have to wait a million hours to see a doctor because of universal health care. I actually waited less.  That could have also been because the doctor saw my X-ray and thought my pinky was hanging off so he rushed to get me back so we could amputate it. 


The doctors and nurses were so friendly. He actually laughed at my finger because of how distorted it looked. I thought that was a nice touch. Thanks, doc. Eventually we got around to jamming a few fat needles into my swollen finger, getting me all giggly on laughing gas I think just for fun because it totally wasn’t necessary, and popped that sucker back into place. And yes, I heard it pop. Overall, my evaluation of New Zealand health care? I’m quite fond. 

To end things on a happier note, here’s a picture of some cows.  


I Saw The Sign! 

And now I have Ace of Base stuck in my head. Maybe you will too! 😂

A few days ago I caused a car crash… And as much as I’d like to blame it on my merciless beauty which distracted the driver, that would only be half the truth.  In fact, I was getting ready to cross the street completely legally when a car decided to slam on their brakes (probably because they were dumbfounded by such a stunning young lady heh hem) causing the car behind them to slam into their rear end. Everyone was fine, so I decided to do the logical thing and walk quickly in the opposite direction… 

There’s been quite an uproar in the country about allowing foreigners to drive. And by uproar, I mean some slight groaning under their breath…  Because people don’t really cause uproars here. But it seems that driving on the left side of the road is pretty dangerous if you’ve never done it… Who’d a thunk it.  Fortunately, I don’t think me crossing the street (and being so captivating) is part of the problem.  But it got me thinking how easy it is to mess things up when you’ve got street signs like this…. 

Not that driving on the opposite side of the road isn’t difficult enough, but when you have street signs that you have no clue what they mean, it might not be such a bad idea to have foreigners take a basic safety course.  Especially with these cars that have wheels that come off when you’re driving on a curvy road and somehow reattach themselves on the opposite side. 


As you can imagine, giving way in a roundabout is a pretty scary thing the first time you do it. Not only do you have to look right instead of left, go around the circle to the left and exit on the left side (because that’s not complicated enough) you also have to use your blinkers, which are on the opposite side, to indicate when you are  passing an exit as well as when you are taking an exit.  And it’s not as if you can avoid roundabouts, because they are everywhere. 



Then there’s this really helpful road sign to indicate… Well, I’m not really sure what it means. 


And as if driving weren’t stressful enough, there are even strange rules while chilling out.  I mean, since when do you have to bring your own woman to a bar? What an inconvenince. 


Fisticuffs? Acting the goat? I decided to find another bar…. 

Planes, Trains and… More Planes

“We are now boarding New Zealand flight 8522 to Palmerston North. Please make your way to the boarding area now, or at your convenience.” So you know…Finish up your leisurely stroll in the outside courtyard. Maybe have another beer. But whenever you’re ready, no pressure… Hop on the plane.  Take your time though, we don’t want to rush you. 

Being in the New Zealand airport made me realize how extremely paranoid, unforgiving, and untrusting Americans are of… well, everyone. 

We got into the airport in Nelson, New Zealand after a few days of traveling around the South Island about an hour and a half before our plane took off. Really, we could have showed up twenty minutes before our plane took off and made it without having to rush.  We didn’t have to go through security. At all.  No one asked us what was in our bag, no one wanted to look at us naked through a screen, we didn’t even get asked for identification. We checked in online earlier that day, walked up to the gate and got on the plane. No hassle. Nothing. 

Fortunately, the exhausting airport security paid off when we got in the air. 


We were nervous about carrying a box of matches on the plane, so we disposed of them before we showed up to the airport. But that definitely wasn’t necessary. We could have carried an entire bottle of shampoo and not been harassed. It’s really quite revolutionary. In fact, I did carry a full water bottle.  And I didn’t even fill it in the airport… GASP! It’s blasphemous, I know. I was feeling rebellious. 

We didn’t only get to fly over the islands,  but we had the opportunity to kayak through them.



Everything about the South Island was as beautiful as I’ve been told. Even the long bus rides were enjoyable. They say the grass is always greener on the other side… 


Everything really blew my mind. The house we stayed in we booked through Airbnb.  Initially, I was a little nervous about staying in a random stranger’s home. But when we met Jamie and she fed us homemade scones, honey from her bees and jam from her fruit trees… I knew I was in heaven.  


Everything about Nelson drew me in. I’m awaiting the day I get to go back. 

Travel Culture 

My favorite album to listen to when I’m traveling is Swidden by Blackbird Raum. 

A huge benefit of living in such a small country is that it encourages you to travel.  Not just within the country, but to far away places (which is really everything in my book).  Any town you visit that has a grocery store also has a travel agency.  In most towns, you will have multiple shops advertising the world.  Even on campus, we have a travel agency constantly advertising to students to get out of paradise. Im pretty sure it’s a ploy to get everyone to understand how good they have it here. 

The one thing I’ve done here more than anything is travel.  Out of the nine or ten weekends I’ve been here, I’ve left Palmerston North at least eight of them.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Palmy.  But one of the reasons I love it so much is because it’s the perfect place to travel elsewhere.  It’s pretty central. And since its a small town it can get repetitive to go see the same bars, the same shops and the same scenery (even though it’s incredibly beautiful). 


With all this traveling, I’ve picked up some traveler traits I’ve come to live by and love.  Sort of a travel culture. 

1. I’ve never appreciated public restrooms more.  Even the gross nasty ones where strangers request your presence to partake in unspeakable activities. Not just for peeing though. Also for brushing your teeth, washing your hands or face aka makeshift showers, changing your clothes, etc. 


Thanks Adeena for sacrificing your dignity for my blog.

2. Restaurants that fill up your waterbottle are godsends. 

3.  Free wifi is like gold.   Use those 100mb wisely… 

4.  Hostels are really hit or miss.  Just set low expectations and you’ll never be disappointed… Right? 

5. Public bean bag chairs.  For your convenience.  

Sydney being adorable.

6. McDonalds is a home base because they supply many of the essentials stated above including public bathrooms, water, free wifi and a bench to sit on while I snack on my kale chips. 

7.Soreness is a daily struggle.  Sleeping on busses=cramped necks, plus those backpacks that are bigger than you are… 

8. Sleeping on busses is a skill. Especially because they smell. Those cloth seats may be comfortable but your nose is paying the price.  


At our finest


9. Petrol.  You think it’s expensive in the states?  Try NZD $1.85/ liter or roughly US $5.29/ gallon. 

10. Forgetting things is a part of life.  Let’s talk about some of the things I’ve forgotten: headphones, deodorant (I’m the reason the busses smell), credit card, passport, adaptor for phone charger, clean underwear (cause I’m freeeeeeee, freeee balllliinnn) 

Most importantly, one of the most valuable lessons you can learn is to take home with you wherever you go.  Because there is no other feeling like going home, taking a hot shower and curling up in bed.  I’m happy to report I can do that almost anywhere. 

Keen to Get Knackered In a Paddock? 

It’s cooling off a little in Palmy.  I actually didn’t open my window until around three p.m.  Don’t worry, it’s open now and I’m able to comfortably sit in my room and listen to the self titled album by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.  If you do turn it on, end before the last song… it’s obnoxious.  

So this weekend I had my first tramping experience.  What’s this, you say? Are you really that low on money?  No, in fact I’m not.  I am however quite keen on hiking.  We managed to scale the tallest mountain in the North Island: Mount Ruapehu.  For those of us who are Lord of the Rings fans, you may know it as Morodor.  

Mount Ngauruhoe AKA Mount Doom

Did I mention it’s also an active volcano?  The 2,797 meter tall (9,177 feet) stratovolcano remains one of the most active in the world.  The tramp was not an easy one.  



The climb down


After about four hours of hiking practically vertical, I felt like I was going to chunder. I was so grateful to have brought my jersey, because it was quite chilly.  We stopped and had lunch at the top looking out over the crater lake.  

The summit, steaming!


It was like a barbie at the top, because everyone brought a plate.  We hung out and were taking the piss enjoying some lollies before our tramp back down.  


The fog rolling in


The view from the hut we stayed in was just as gorgeous as the view from the summit.  We were able to get knackered, spin a yarn and watch the sunset over huge paddocks. My feet did get cold wearing my jandals, though.  So I put on some socks.  


Courtesy of Joey Reutman Photography


We set up our mattresses outside and slept under the stars. 


Courtesy of Joey Reuteman


In the middle of the night I got up to actually take a piss and accidentally got some on my sock.  I spent the next day walking around in one sock.  I didn’t want both of my feet to be cold.  Explaining that one to the gang was a riot.  Overall the weekend was sweet as.

 Sweet as?

 Sweet as WHAT?!? That’s pretty much how I reacted, too.  Actually, I reckon I was more flabbergasted that so many people were checking out and commenting on my rear end…  Until I realized this is just another way to say ‘cool.’

Just in case you didn’t catch all that:

Tramping- hiking               Keen- interested                

Chunder- throw up            Jersey- Sweatshirt 

Barbie- BBQ                       Bring a plate- bring food   

Taking the piss- joking     Lollies- candy 

Knackered- drunk             Spin a yarn- chatter          

Paddock- field                     Jandals- flip-flops