Thursday: Lazy in Stratford, Farming in Te Kuiti, and Kittens in Hamilton.

LONG TIME NO SEE, READERS.

So, to no one’s surprise, I’m sure, this blog’s been on a bit of a hiatus. However, this time it hasn’t been out of laziness. The exact opposite! I’ve made my way back up to Paihia, and life’s gotten pretty busy! Making lots of friends and doing a bit of adventuring! I’ll talk more about it in the next entry.

This entry, however, is gonna focus on everything that happened between leaving Tongariro and getting to Paihia. Not a ton has happened, but still enough to warrant sharing.

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STRATFORD

Some of you might remember the wonderful Alison and Phil that Kathleen and myself stayed with last September. I knew that I wanted to see them again, so I made a stop in Stratford to visit. It was so nice to return to Stratford.

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It was equally nice to see Alison and Phil again, the lovely people that they are.

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Didn’t get any pictures of Alison this time. Boo.

As before, the two of them were super sweet. They made me feel right at home instantly.

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So the reason I kind of put off writing about Stratford for this long? I stayed there for ten days and… well… didn’t really do anything.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still a wonderful stay and I did some things. I did a 1,000 piece puzzle. I skyped and caught up with friends. I went back into Stratford’s city center twice. I started and completed two books. I got hooked on Master Chef New Zealand. And… yeah, okay, that’s about it. It was a really relaxing stay, just not really worth writing about for all of you, y’know?

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I did tag along with Phil a couple times on work related errands, which was a nice way to see more of the beautiful Taranaki countryside.

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Did I mention how relaxing my stay was? Seriously, it was so wonderful. After so many months of working in Wellington and a full week of work/hiking in the National Park, it was just nice to sit around, catch up on my shows, and not worry about anything, especially in such a gorgeous place.

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TE KUITI

I’ve only been to Te Kuiti once before, when Beckah and I were killing time before I got picked up by my bus to take me back to Wellington. It seemed like a nice, quaint place, so I sent out WWOOFing inquiries. I heard back from a woman named Pip shortly, and took off for the Waikato region next.

I didn’t really get to go into Te Kuiti’s city center during my stay there… and by “didn’t really” I mean “not at all”, but you know what? That ended up being a’okay. Why’s that, you ask? Well, dear readers, it’s because I finally got to do my dream WWOOF stint, ie. working on a ginormous farm. Whenever I imagined WWOOFing before I came to New Zealand, I figured I was just gonna be staying on a ton of farms and working amongst animals and that hadn’t really happened yet. Not to say that I haven’t loved all my WWOOFing gigs, cause I absolutely have, but the fact that I finally got to work on a farm was awesome. When Rog picked me up from where Phil picked me up, he told “We own a bit of land.” Yeah, well, if by a “bit of land” he meant legions of acres, then yes, yes they did.

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To be fair, most of my WWOOF work with Pip and Rog involved me doing housework. I did a lot of cleaning, predominantly in the kitchen. My major job was cleaning out their food pantry, which was infested with weevils, a mouse, and food several years expired.

But I did get to do quite a bit of work around the farm as well, which was the best! I rode around on the four-wheelre in the morning with Rog and moved cows to different paddocks and got them their feed. I also helped feed the pigs, and I collected eggs and fed chickens every day.

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Being surrounded by dozens and dozens of hungry chickens is horrifying, just FYI.

I also learned how to drive this:

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Bad ass!

…and this:

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Badder ass!

I also made friends with this little guy as well.

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I nicknamed him Bambino.

Best of all, this family owned thirteen horses. Thirteen horses. It was like my ten year old self’s dream reality.

Pip and Rog’s daughters, Jenny and Sarah, are obsessed with riding horses and entering in competitions. The family probably thought I was even more shy than I normally am, cause I rarely spoke at the dinner table or when we were all together, but that’s only because they talked about horses 150% of the time and, as it turns out, I know absolutely nothing about horses except that they’re pretty and fun to ride. So it was definitely a learning experience. It also meant I got to freestyle ride my first horse since I came to New Zealand (this does not count the horse I rode in the Ride of The Rings tour down in Queenstown, cause I mean, all I did was sit on the horse and it just followed the lead and that does not count goddammit). It was nice to remember how much I love horses.

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Jenny and Sarah had a riding lesson in a town an hour away and I got the chance to tag along. We got there fairly late, and I watched their lesson that night and then in the morning recorded them riding on their video camera. Since we stayed the night we slept in the horse trailer, which was not something I ever thought I’d do but ended up being pretty rad.

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WWOOFing in Te Kuiti was quite the shift from staying in Stratford. I went from sitting on my butt all day reading to working all hours of the day, but it wasn’t too difficult of a transition. It was a pretty grand time, and I’m sort of bummed I only stayed in Te Kuiti for five days.

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HAMILTON

Next I WWOOFed in Hamilton, which was equally as excellent as Te Kuiti. I originally planned on staying there for three or four days, but I ended up staying for ten days. I find this is kinda turning into a trend. I plan on staying somewhere for a very short time (Tongariro, Stratford, Hamilton, etc. etc.) and then I end up staying for far longer. Huh.

Anyway, this time I stayed with Lydia and her sons in Hamilton. Yet again I got to stay on some beautiful property!

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Most of my work this time around was gardening, weeding, and peeling apples. Oh geez, apples, man. I peeled so many apples. Four buckets of apples to be exact. Oof.

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I also got to do a little bit of cooking this time around. I helped Lydia when I could with food, and I got to make my famous cheesecake to share with the family. Best of all, I learned how to make homemade sushi!

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If this doesn’t scream “I am an adult” then what does?

I got to go into Hamilton central a couple of times, which I really haven’t gotten to re-explore since Kathleen and I were there last September. I revisited a few shops, bought myself a James Joyce novel, promptly learned that James Joyce is not an author I like, and grabbed a couple drinks. Also, Riff Raff statue!

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But, if we’re being completely honest, what did I really do with my majority of time in Hamilton?

I hung out with animals.

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Hamilton was sort of a combination of Stratford and Te Kuiti. I worked hard in the mornings and felt like I accomplished quite a bit for Lydia and her family, but for the most part the rest of the days were quite laid back. A beautiful balance, if you ask me.

After ten days, I decided it was time to move on to my next adventure.

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Okay, so this is where I, ahem, point you in the direction of the newest feature of my blog. It’s that little button at the top that says “Donate!” Basically, if you are in a generous mood and would like to help me out, you have the option of throwing me some money. I’m not completely broke, but it’s kind of getting to that point. I’d like to not resume working for the rest of my stay in New Zealand, so getting help would be awesome. So if you’re feeling generous and wanna throw me $5 or whatever, it’d be very much appreciated!

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Who could say no to this face?

Anyway, I’m in Paihia now, and will be for one more week. After that I’ll be visiting a couple peeps in Wellington for two or three days, and then I’ll be spending the rest of my stay on the South Island.

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I’ve begun to realize that my time is slowly coming to a close here in New Zealand. Just two more months to go. I’m gonna be coming home a couple weeks early for a family reunion – so the beginning of July instead of the end – which I think is gonna be just fine.

Honestly, at this point, I’m just trying to enjoy every second that I have left.

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