Friday, 4 April 2014

Planning the Big OE (also known as The Gap Year)


I first dreamed of doing my OE when I was 19. The OE, or overseas experience, is seen as a rite of passage for Kiwis, something that you normally do in your late teens or early 20s. I've decided to do mine at 30.

It's official. I am a late bloomer.

Even though I won't be leaving until next year, I've already started looking at travel tips. Yes, I am THAT excited! I'm so excited, I may have even bought my backpack a little too early... Anyway, the more I'm reading up on travel tips, the more I'm thinking, "Holy hell!" My to-do list is steadily growing, and there's not a lot I can do until a few months before I leave and some I can only do once I get to the UK. But at least I have a rough idea of what I need to take care of, and hopefully this will save me from running around in blind panic a week before I go.

Here are some of the practical, common sense questions and points I came up with so far.

1. How am I going to pay for all this? It's good to come up with a ballpark figure by estimating how much everything will cost, from flights, travel insurance, down to groceries when you get there. Don't forget to actually take into account your current realistic expenses. For the sake of your health, I would not recommend trying to live off 2-minute noodles for the rest of the year.

2. Banking. It might be a good idea to start looking up which bank to choose before you get there. Try and find who is offering no fees for everyday banking, and work out what their criteria is for opening an account. The best one I've seen so far for the UK is Lloyds. At the time of writing, they offer a no fees every day account, and if you have a New Zealand passport, that's all you need to bring with you to open an account with them. Fingers crossed it's still the case when I get there!

3. Still on the topic of money... some other things to consider: how much should you bring in local currency? Most websites I've seen recommend taxi fare from airport, including 1-2 night's accommodation. Just in case your credit card declines, etc. Also think of how to access your money while you're waiting for your bank account to be opened. I've come across comments that it could take a few weeks for an account to be opened!

4. Suitcase or the big backpack? I've seen this one in a lot of travel forums.  I came across one comment that it's down to your destination. If you're going to a lot of remote places and doing a heck of a lot of hiking/tramping, the common sense thing to use is the backpack. Mostly cities? Save your back and get some luggage with sturdy wheels. At the end of the day, I guess it all comes down to personal preference.

5. Keeping in touch, the old school way. I love snail mail. Nothing beats getting a letter from someone on the other side of the world. But how to get mail when you've got no permanent address yet? There's this beautiful little FREE (in the UK) post office feature you can apply for called POST RESTANTE. Save yourself the hassle and expense of trying to open a P.O. Box (they're only for residents anyway). You're welcome.

6. Insurance! It's not enough to just get it and not read the ridiculously tiny fine print. You need to ask if you're covered for things like flight/train cancellations, which may affect your pre-booked accommodation. Also find out if you're meant to pay up and then get reimbursed, or if they'll do all the payments for you.

7. Of course, the visa. Probably the most important bit. Before applying for the visa though, find out if there's anything you need to do. I read that for the UK, you need to do a biometric scan before applying for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. So if you don't live in either Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, a trip out of town is in order. I've always been looking for an excuse to go back to Wellington! Yes!!!

I'll probably do a part two, or update this list as I do more research. Please do share your travel tips, I'd love to hear them! 

take care,



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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Uh Oh. Where'd My Motivation Go?


It crept up on me pretty slowly. It started off with my blog. At first, I chalked it up to getting a bit burnt out from the New Year Project in January. Blogging for an entire month was a little more full on that I'd expected. After that, the rest of February just got busier for me, socially and at work. I thought it'll be okay, I'll kick off again in March.

In the first week of March though, I seemed to keep finding other more important things to do. Blogging kept going further down my to-do list. Then at the end of last week, I realised with horror that I didn't even have a to-do list anymore. I couldn't even be bothered to go exercise every week day, something I'd been enjoying for the past 3 months.

Without me realising it, I was slowly turning back into my old, complacent self - the one that I'd vowed to kick off the couch and get running. I wonder why so many of us start off gung-ho about our goals at the start of the year, and then start to lose steam after a week weeks? So much for the belief that it takes 21 days to create a habit.

So, here are some of the things I'm going to do to hunt down that motivation that I lost:

1. Re-evaluate my goals. Maybe I wasn't specific enough. Maybe they weren't realistic?

2. Find out where I went wrong. What was going through my mind when I started stopping? Did I feel overwhelmed? Why? What can I do the next time this happens again?

3. Remember why I started in the first place. Why did I want to change? What will I get out of it? What will happen if I go back to my old ways?


4. Shift my focus. Maybe I should be focusing more on the day-to-day goals that will get me towards my main goal. Maybe keeping my eyes on the main goal is making me feel like I'm not making any progress?


5. Ask for help. Maybe I need more support than I thought? Who can I turn to for help? Who are the people in my life that would like to see me succeed?

6. Prioritise. Maybe I'm trying to do too many things at once?

7. Keep trying, dammit!

take care,



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Monday, 3 March 2014

Another Bite of Northland: Cape Reinga and Te Paki Sand Dunes

Hi everyone!

The first day of autumn officially kicked in on Saturday, and it feels like someone's flicked on the switch to bring in winter. I actually had to drag out my winter duvet from storage on Sunday. Boo! But at least I managed to say goodbye to summer with a bang. I'm still on a happy high from going away with friends nearly two weeks ago.

On our last day, we went over to Cape Reinga. One of the main attractions of the northernmost part of New Zealand, it is also a sacred place to the indigenous Maori people. They believe that it is the leaping point of souls as they depart the land. It's a pretty breath taking view. Definitely worth the 5 hour drive if you're coming from Auckland.

The view on the left side as you walk towards the end of the cape.
The lighthouse.

See the white waves in the middle of the picture? That's where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide. If by chance you come to the cape on a particularly windy day, you can see the waves smashing against each other like crazy.




I haven't had a chance to fix it, but here's a panoramic shot of the lot.


After our eyes have feasted on the beauty of the cape, it was time for a different sort of feast. Lunch! So we decided to head over to the Te Paki Sand Dunes for some food and sand boarding.



See that tiny dot near the foot of the high dune? That's one of my friends.

So... I suggest you guys pack your bags and get on the next plane to Aotearoa. ;)

take care,



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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A Taste of Northland

I'm baaaaaack! Sorry for the absence, I had a fair bit of catching up to do even though I got back from my trip up north about a week ago. How have you been?

As much as I would love to write about and share photos of the fabulous wedding I attended, we've been asked not to post anything on any social mediums until the official wedding photos have been put up. So for now, I'll share some of the sights I saw before and after the wedding.

The wedding was up in the Northland area, which is the top most part of New Zealand. To be precise, the wedding was at Mahinepua Bay in Kaeo. It's about 4.5 hours away from Auckland by car. If you ever decide to drive there, stock up on supplies in the main town of Kaeo, because there's nowhere else to buy groceries from.






There was also a pre-wedding barbecue at Whangaihe Bay, which was a great opportunity for the wedding guests to mingle and meet each other the day before the wedding. I only managed to get one photo - was too busy stuffing myself and socialising! I met a damn cute guy too.



His name is Issy. Isn't he adorable?

If you're ever in the area, make sure to detour into the town of Mangonui, less than 30 minutes away from Tauranga Bay. The Mangonui Fish Shop & Takeaway have really yummy fish and chips!

Next up, I'll show you Cape Reinga and the Te Paki sand dunes. I hope you guys are having a great week so far!

take care,



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