Sunday, 22 September 2013

KIWI GEM: Tongariro National Park



 In New Zealand, Tongariro was the first national park to be established and the the fourth in the world. The main entrance to the park is through Whakapapa village. Tongariro National Park is located four hours south of Auckland, but is very much worth the drive. It offers a taste of the North islands wild and scenic landscape.

Even though spring is upon us, there were still loads of people skiing in Whakapapa Ski Field. So if you want to experience high quality skiing combined with an amazing view, this is your place. This national park offers a wide vairty of acitvities.

The Maori tale
Going back to 1887, the chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Heuheu IV (Horonuku), gifted the sacred peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and parts of Ruapehu to the people of New Zealand. By doing so, he prevented the land from being divided up and preserved the prestige of his people (Tuwharetoa).

Originally, the deed was made up of a 2640 ha area containing three small circles around each of the main peaks. Over the following years, the Crown bought large pieces of land, gradually increasing the size of the area. In 1894 the Tongariro National Park act was passed and the area had then increased to about 25,000 ha. After a report and survey, it was recommended that the area should be doubled. Today the park include an area of over 79,000 ha.

 

The Whakapapa
For tangata whenua (people of the land), the mountains are a vital part of their history.  Their whakapapa (genealogy) and legends are venerated accordingly.
Ko Tongariro te maunga Tongariro is the mountain
Ko Taupo te moana Taupo is the lake
Ko Ngati Tuwharetoa te tangata  Ngati Tuwharetoa are the people
Ko Te Heuheu te tangata Te Heuheu is the man

Maori culture is rooted into all aspect of Kiwi life, almost at least. Wherever you go, you can see some part of Maori culture. During our weekend trip with Au Pair link, we made our own Whakapapa, which is a way of presenting your family, . Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact one we did, but I pieced together an example:

Ko Geilo te maunga (My mountain is Geilo)
Ko Oslofjorden te moana (My sea is Oslofjorden)
Ko Laugerud te iwi (My tribe is Laugerud)
Ko Tom-Daniel ahau (I am Tom-Daniel)


Not all of us wanted to go skiing, so many of us opted for a hike. Because of the limitation of our time, we couldn't do more than a 8K hike up to one of the waterfall here.
 


 


Next year we plan on going back to do one of New Zealand's Great Walks, The Northern Circuit. It's just over 43km long and normally takes about 3-4 days to hike. Along the way is huts we can stay in, which is owned and maintained by the Department of Conservation.

For those of you that are Lord of the Rings fans, we'll basically be going through the mountain pass of Mount Doom (real name: Mount Ngauruhoe).

Thursday, 12 September 2013

First Kiwi week

So how's the first week in New Zealand been?

I arrived in NZ last Wednesday at noon, local time. When you're travelling long distances, you normally have to go through one or several transit airports. In my case three, London, Dubai and Melbourne. And when do travel like that, your luggage is meant to follow. Though most luggage do appear as planned, some don't. I've heard of people who arrived in southern France and their suitcase in Thailand.




Luckily I didn't have THAT bad luck. Because our flight was delayed leaving Dubai, we had to rush a bit when we arrived in Melbourne to the next flight to Auckland. As we were waiting for our luggage on conveyor 1, my mate got his and headed for the car. Me on the other hand, had to go to the luggage claim services. They were most helpful and told me my luggage would be arriving on the flight after me, five hours later. They would transport it free of charge to the hotel and got heaps (Kiwi expression for loads) of freebies.

TIP! Label your luggage and know exactly what's in it! Because it has to be scanned and if you haven't told Customs exactly what's in it, you will most likely be fined.


Passing through border control and customs was actually perfectly fine. I remember seeig a show on TV when I was younger, Border Security Australia. They were so strict on there, so I expected almost the same in NZ. When I walked up to the border control officer, he asked a few simple questions, but all of a sudden smiled and said "Ha, a Norwegian with a Welsh accent! Now that's a first".

TIP! On your landing card/passenger arrival card, your customs declaration, DO NOT lie! If you don't declare an item, you might get fined. So if you've got some chocolate, medicines and large amounts of cash, don't lie.


All of us arrived on the Wednesday and started our two day orientation. We basically covered everything from nutrition and psychology to first aid and driving on the wrong...I mean left side of the road. There's heaps of au pairs arriving every week now apparently.



The beach

After two days of orientation I arrived in Mount Maunganui and met the family I'm now working for. The boys have been great so far and the rest of the family too! I've got my own room and a double bed! And the beach... 70-80 meters behind my headboard is the beach! It's amazing. Can't wait for summer to really kick in.
 
NZ ID was one the first things I sorted out when I went into town on Monday. The only valid ID that we from overseas hold, is our passports. That's it. Drivers licence, even my UK one, is not accepted as ID. I didn't know that before I came here either. If it's one piece of document I would NEVER take with me on a night out etc., it's my passport. The is the single most important document I own.
 
So filled in a form to get a NZ ID, which will arrive within 10 days (hopefully). Anyhoodle, to get that form sent off I had to get it proved by a solicitor, judge, member of Parliament or others authorized by the state. So I had to go to the Ministry of Justice, raise my right hand and say an oath. Nothing fancy, just I had to swear in front of the staff member that the information provided on that form was, to the best of my abilities, correct.
 
How Kiwi's park their bikes

Then at the same time as I was sorting out my ID, bank account and IRD number (social security number), one of my friends and fellow au pairs had been in an accident and had been hospitalized in the local hospital. So I got to see a NZ hospital as well.

In addition to all of this, I've started to have a social life again. I've met some fellow au pairs in my area and getting to know others outside the family.

So my first week have indeed been very eventful!
This weekend is my first proper outing. We're going to Tongariro national park, so should be great.

Today's song is one of my favourites. It's one of those songs you can listen to when you're really down and your mood will always improve. Enjoy!

Today's song: Owl City - Shooting Star

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

How to avoid jet lag

Kia ora people!

Sorry I haven't posted anything before now, just been settling in. First days have been great so far, but I'll be telling you all about my first week in a couple of days so stay tuned for some amazing pics. Right now, I'm going to let you in on my secret on how to avoid jet lag.

Jet lag, medically referred to as desynchronosis, is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body's circadian rhythms resulting from rapid long-distance transmeridian (east–west or west–east) travel on a (typically jet) aircraft.
Source: Wikipedia

When you cross many time-zones, you are are in danger of getting jet lag. Drowsiness, headache and uneven sleep rhythm is three of the most common things if you suffer from jet lag. There are people that are "jet-lagged" for days and days and that can ruin your holiday. A two week trip to Australia or L.A. might turn into a ten holiday, because the first days are wasted on this.


New Zealand is currently 11 hours ahead of UK time, so the difference is pretty. Before I left Norway, I read several articles on how to avoid jet lag. Many said that you should start adjusting to your new local time two hours per day, so that means I would have had to started about five days in advance adjusting to local time. Now that's just unpractical. 
Another article claimed that the best way was to stay away from the time you leave until when it's bedtime at your destination. That would mean that if you were taking an evening flight from Europe, you'd have to be awake 40 hours, 24 of those sitting down. In a dark cabin. Good luck. 

Both of those two are impractical and either makes you miss time with family/friends at home or you arrive to your destination feeling (and looking like a train wreck). So I took note of a few things from every article and came up with my own strategy. I arrived in New Zealand well rested and hydrated, good to go. Read on and try it yourself.

Here's what really worked for me
A couple of days before I left I tried to avoid THREE things:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Big meals/full stomach
Coffee gets you hyped up and alcohol and full stomach makes it hard for you to get a good quality sleep. So by avoiding it two days in advance you ensure that your system is "clean".

When you've started your travels you should focus on three things, in addition to the three things above.
  • Sleep to destination time
  • Try to get as much light as possible
  • Water, water and water
The minute you get on your first flight you should try your best to sleep to the time of your destination. So let's say it's 23:45 in New Zealand, then you try to go to sleep or at least relax your muscle. You probably won't be able to get a full 7-8 hour sleep, but you'll get some.

Our bodies are regulated, amongst other things, greatly by light. Our internal clock adjusts itself to the light around you. So pop you reading light on, open the window blinds.

Water is one of the most important things we humans need. By ensuring you drink water during your flight, you minimize the chance of dehydration and headaches. TIP. try to as much as possible DURING your flight, because when you're in transit you got loads of other things to think about, especially if you're flying with children.


Let's recap
  • Two days before departure: avoid caffeine, alcohol and big meals
  • During your travel: sleep to destination time, find a light source and drink water

Good luck and safe travel!

Don't forget to sign up to my newsletter, just to the right of this article.

I just love this song!

Today's song: Life is a highway - Rascal Flatts

Monday, 2 September 2013

HELLO KIWI LIFE

For the past year or so I've been posting inspirational quotes on Facebook, Instagram and on this blog. I've preached about following your dreams no matter what. Well I can finally say I'm about to live up to my teachings.


First year in school, 6 years old.
For the past 16 years I've been in full-time education. I've gone through primary, secondary and college in Norway and then university in the UK. For 16 years my life have been set and decided for me.
So I decided many months back I wanted to try something different, something completely crazy. Over the past year I've reading book in and book out about travelling. I've messaged several travel bloggers asking for tips and tricks. And I've managed to save up every singly penny I had left over. When I was a young boy I used to watch Travel Channel at my grandparents place, cause they had cable TV. The things I saw... I remember sitting thinking that must amazing.




HOW
It was one morning that changed my future. It was 07:30 on a chilly April morning and I was at home having breakfast before my physiotherapy. I sat there, sleepy as a sloth, eating oat porridge and probably halfway asleep. Then I stumbled over this post from a Facebook page I've LIKED:



I read it. I liked it. It was for Au Pair positions in New Zealand. Then two hours later, whilst in the gym, I ended up having a 20 minute phone assessment with their UK representative.

After this, the process of getting a medical examination, police certificate and visa started. In the beginning I wasn't sure if I wanted to travel that far away, but every single person I spoke to said do it.

HOST FAMILY/EMPLOYER
Four days ago I had an email of the Bartle family. She really liked my profile and my introduction video and wondered if we could set up a Skype chat. Half an hour later, we were on Skype. I got to talk to both her and her boys and we immediately clicked. We spoke for about 40 minutes, really about everything. The place, New Zealand, the kids, the job and about rugby and sports (with the boys that is).
She said that she love for me to be their Au Pair, so I said I wanted to consider it for a bit. Within 24 hours I had accepted.

GOING
I've now got a 6 month contract for a job in New Zealand and I'm leaving Norway and Europe today. I CAN'T WAIT. And this is where I'm going to live. Mt Maunganui, Tauranga.



WHERE
Mt Maunganui is about 2,5 hours away from Auckland. The boys dad lives in Auckland and they go up there every other weekend, so I can get a free ride every other weekend.


View Larger Map

Why now? Well, like I've told others who've asked that; I haven't got a mortgage/apartment contract. I haven't got kids. No one in my immediate family is dying. And Europe is a sinking ship... Why shouldn't I go?

Why New Zealand? Have you seen the place? Many say it's one of the most beautiful countries in the world and I actually believe them.
Also I've got a couple of friends down in that region, mainly Australia, whom I haven't seen for years and would very much like to visit.

So what is my plan?
- Leave in September
- Work as Au Pair for six months
- Travel round New Zealand for 1-2 months
- Jump over to Australia and travel and work for 3 months

I'll be gone for almost one year. I'm definitely back by August 2014, because then one of my closest friends in the UK is getting married and I wouldn't miss that for anything in the world. I told her that even if I have to crawl back from Antarctica, I will be there.

Why this blog? I hope that by writing and showing pictures from my adventures, I inspire you to travel. My dream is to combine media and travel as my job. In that way my two passions can merge. There's a saying Love the life you live, so you can live the life you love.



It must be something in my blood, seeing as so much of my family members have traveled the world either in the air, sea or on land. The notion of settling down, getting a house simply does not appeal to me, at least not yet. I'm young. I'm wild. I'm going travelling.

Let this inspire you. Never let anyone tell you what you can't do, because it only means they're scared to try it themselves. Dream big and do it. Regrets are for people who are afraid to follow their dreams.