Return to the South Island and Exciting Plans for 2015

It's that time of year again... the sun is shining, the weather is warming up and I'm coming out of winter hibernation to travel once again! This time Joe and I will be accompanied by two new travel buddies, my cousin Ashley and her husband Jeff, and I am SO excited!

First stop: The South Island

FoxGlacier

Earlier this year Joe and I toured the west coast of New Zealand's South Island with my parents. We were absolutely captivated by its remoteness and beauty. We spent about a day or two at each stop. In many ways it was a 'taster' that left me wanting more, more, MORE!

This Friday we fly to the South Island to pick up where we left off. It will be the first time I'm seeing Ashley since I left Encinitas, CA where we'd been living together for three years! So here's the game plan...

Fly to Christchurch to meet Ashley and Jeff. Drive to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo where there's supposed to be some spectacular views and star gazing.

Continue on to Queenstown - the extreme sports capital of the world. Debate whether or not I'm going to jump off of something high.

Then we'll visit Milford Sound, which is probably at the tippy top of my New Zealand bucket list at the moment. Head down to Dunedin to see... PENGUINS!!! Hop a plane to Auckland and then fly from Auckland to...

Second Stop: Yasawa, Fiji

Finally! A REAL vacation. I know, I know... people think I'm on some kind of permanent holiday here in New Zealand, but I actually have a full time job, I still get stressed out, and I still need vacations. After 11 months, the newness has worn off, and New Zealand has really begun to feel like home (for the time being). Since I've been here, I've been itching to explore more of the South Pacific, but since we've had visitors (which we are so grateful for!) I haven't done nearly as much (or any) traveling outside of New Zealand as I'd planned. Some of the places I'd like to visit while on this side of the world are Fiji, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand. So let's start with Fiji.

We'll be staying on the island of Yasawa for what I'm told is meant to be incredible diving. Other than a bit of scuba diving and a massage, I haven't planned anything else but sitting on my butt and relaxing.

The past few weeks have been quite stressful and overwhelming - gathering paperwork, getting fingerprints taken and house hunting, which brings me to my big announcement....

We're moving to Wellington!

Wellington

My love affair with Wellington is no secret. Since my first visit, I fell in love with the city's gourmet cuisine and vibrant creative culture. Joe was offered a job at a hospital in Wellington, so in December we'll be leaving rural Hawke's Bay for the 'big city' life.

Cuba Street, Wellington

This move is so bitter sweet for me. Especially now that spring has sprung in Hawke's Bay, I am reminded of how beautiful this place really is. In the last 11 months, we've made some good friends here and have really settled into our little waterfront town. In many ways, I'd be content to continue on here in Napier, but another part of me says it's important to keep challenging myself and going out of my comfort zone while I'm here in New Zealand and while I have this level of freedom in my life.

Our first day in Hawke's Bay

Our first day in Hawke's Bay

fingerprints

I'm a bit of a control freak, so change is never easy for me. While I was jumping for joy when I first found out we would be moving, I'm slowly feeling a twinge of anxiety and nostalgia at the thought of leaving my comfortable little apartment with my ocean view. Even on my Saturday morning walk to the cafe, I thought, "Gosh, I'm really going to miss this lovely little walk and this cafe." Luckily Napier is only about a 3 1/2  hour drive from Wellington, so I can come visit Napier if I get a little homesick.

I'm also coming to grips with my unknown future. Yes, the future is always unknown, but I'm the kind of girl who likes to have a plan. And at this moment I am definitely deviating from the plan - this is not just a one-year fling with New Zealand. I'm in the process of extending my visa, hence the fingerprinting and paperwork, and might be here for another year. So at this moment I challenge myself to seize the day, embrace the unknown and welcome whatever new opportunities come my way, and I encourage you to do the same! Isn't that what life's about?

I'll be taking a brief little hiatus from blogging while I'm on the road, but in the meantime, you can follow along via facebook, twitter and instagram.