A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Reflecting on Three Months in New Zealand


So somehow three months have passed and I've been on the other side of the world for a quarter of a year. While I've been writing up lots of travel diary posts of what we've been up to, I realised I haven't really reflected on how it's been. Considering that this is the longest I've ever been away from home and that I'm a pretty sentimental person, I'd say it's worth checking in and writing down how I've really found this time and what I'm thinking about the next few months.

Overall, it's been just amazing. Firstly spending time with my family out here has been such a joy and it's felt like a real treat as proper time with them is sadly a rarity since my sister moved out here. But aside from that I've explored an entire country (/the South Island of it, but we all know that the South Island has the best bits of New Zealand in it!) and had the best time in the process.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a little bit of a princess so I have to say travelling round in a campervan and sometimes only having one shower a week is definitely 'roughing it' for me (South East Asia is going to be a shock to the system for sure, in a good way). And actually, shockingly, I've taken it in my stride most of the time I think. Apart from one morning when we woke up in Wanaka absolutely boiling, not having slept well, and not having showered for a week when I felt disgusting and was very done with living in a van, I've really enjoyed travelling around in a campervan. It's definitely the best way to see New Zealand on a budget without properly camping in a tent which is where I draw the line! And we've had some really lovely evenings in the van, making dinner and then, when we were lucky, looking up at some of the most amazing stars I've ever seen. It seriously puts into perspective how much air pollution there is in the UK compared to here looking up at such clear and beautiful skies at night.

I'm not usually someone to jump at the chance of trying completely new things - foods, always but not really when it comes to physical activities. But travelling over the past few months has definitely opened my mind to that a lot more (that and the fact that Liam has been really encouraging in that area). I've tried my hand at kayaking which I never thought I'd do and found that I actually loved it, although I did spend almost every other minute worrying that we were going to capsize! And, it may not seem like much, but some of the hikes we've done I've found quite testing because I'm not the type of person who motivates myself very well when it comes to physical activity. It's funny because, when it comes to academia I'm resilient as anything but I think some part of me has always thought that I'm crap at any kind of physical activity and so I tend to want to give up far more easily than I would for most things. But I've been hugely rewarded for carrying on with hikes and not giving up with some of the most beautiful views that are honestly indescribable. And I like to think that from now on I'll be more up for challenges like this (although try me again when Liam suggests going for a hike in the tropical heat of South East Asia and we'll see how that actually pans out).

I've also learnt, however, when it's right to turn back and to not be hard on myself for stopping. For example, when we did the Ben Lomond hike, I stopped and turned back at the saddle of the mountain while Liam carried on to the summit. And I don't regret that at all. I still had the most amazing views of Queenstown and I knew that day that climbing all the way wouldn't be for me. It's important to know your mind and definitely to push yourself, but to know your limits as well.

Part of the reason also why it was so nice during that hike to head back and meet Liam at a cafe later halfway down the hike, brings me on to the other big thing that I've been learning during my few months in New Zealand. And that is about being in a relationship and how to spend so much time with one person. As you'll know if you've been reading this blog over the last year, Liam and I haven't been together all that long at all and, having had three months apart before I managed to get out here, it was funny going from that to spending every single hour together and living in a very confined space. I think it's been going really well and it's made me so happy to see us getting on so well and (for the most part) making each other happy too. But it is a unique situation to spend this much time with only one person and it's really taught me not only a lot about him but also about myself. Communication is so so important in any relationship but definitely one where you rarely spend a second apart from each other. And we're also trying to make sure we both get the time that we need to do our own thing - like during Ben Lomond when I spent a few hours on my own in a cafe, joyfully writing in my diary and catching up with my favourite people via voice notes. No couple should spend every single second together as much as you may love each other, it's just not healthy. And I've been really loving getting to know Liam so much better and challenging myself to be as understanding and loving as I can be, which isn't always easy if I'm hangry and being a control freak (which I'm afraid I can be prone to be), but I'm working on it!

So three months in New Zealand have taught me a lot and have been truly amazing. It's cliche to say it I know but they've just flown by and I'm a bit gutted that this marks the halfway point for my travels. But there's so much more to come and I can't wait to see what Brisbane and SE Asia have in store!

When you read this I should be in Brisbane and from then it's on to Asia. I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to blog after this so hopefully I'll be checking in at some point soon but it's going to be a bit more difficult so if I'm not here anytime soon, have a look at my Instagram if you want to see what I'm up to!
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