Posts Tagged With: kiwi

Heading down unda’

Good news, everyone!



So back in April, I was able to cross coming to New Zealand off my bucket list – something that’s been there since I first learned that the setting for the Lord of the Rings was here. While I haven’t seen the Shire yet, I’ll be doing so in the next little while as we’re moving to the North Island, where it’s situated (yeah, New Zealand is actually two islands. Who knew?).

Now, I’ll officially be able to cross visiting the land down under off that list, too. Kylie and I booked our flights yesterday – we’ll be in Australia from September 28 to October 8. Needless to say, I’m super psyched to get warm, visit some beaches, scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, surf on some waves, ride some kangaroos etc.

Back to the moving thing, I’ve given notice to my employer and landlady, so it’s really happening. On Thursday we head up for the weekend, then one more week of work and shitty 6:50 a.m. wakeups, and off to Auckland for eight weeks. Definitely pumped to be done with stacking wood.

In other news, I broke 60 pages into my attempt at a novel, hovering at about 19,000 words currently – I’m thinking I’m about 1/5th done, probably. So that’s cool – the goal is to be done by the end of November, currently.

The next update will be nice and long, as I’ll have a bunch of Auckland stuff to talk about!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes



Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Australia, Blog, Holiday, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Places to see in Christchurch: Re:START

Hey all! I’ve decided to explore Christchurch and write about interesting aspects of it. This is my first post in a series called Places to see in Christchurch. Enjoy!


Christchurch, New Zealand, is still very much a city in the rebuilding phase. On February 22, 2011, New Zealand’s second-largest city was hit by a powerful earthquake that killed 185 people and caused an estimated $40 billion cost to insurers. Some economists said it may take between 50 and 100 years for New Zealand’s economy to completely recover.

However, the Kiwis didn’t sit around and complain; they got to work to make things better. One innovation that sprung into being a scant eight months after the disaster is called Re:START – affectionately referred to as the Container Mall.


It’s not only innovative, but beautiful as well. The services there range from coffee, to clothing, to books, to Lululemon apparel, to temporary banks – in fact, since it opened in October 2011, the number of stores has gone from 27 to over 50.




As you can tell from the photos, the stores are set up in shipping containers. While it isn’t uncommon to see all kinds of containers being used for a variety of purposes around Christchurch now, when it was proposed in 2011 it was a unique idea.





The significance of this idea was huge; having shops open and accessible was paramount  for bringing tourism back to the Christchurch Central Business District. While approximately 80 per cent of the CBD was demolished in the earthquake, Re:START is a not only proof that stores can be rebuilt in the city’s heart, but it was also a means to get retailers open much more quickly than they could have been otherwise.



The Container Mall has been operating successfully since 2011, bringing tourism and hope back to Christchurch’s city core. It has everything you’d expect at a regular mall, but has the added benefit of being outdoors. Due to its success, preparations were able to get underway to create a more permanent structure called Cashel Square; you can see them preparing the area here.


From what I understand, the containers that are moved will be used elsewhere for an equally important purpose. Re:START was made possible by an interest free loan of over $3 million, as well as sponsorships – and it was definitely a worthwhile investment.



If you’re in the area, I’d recommend taking the time to see this gem, situated in the middle of the CBD. The juxtaposition of the orderly container stores against the ruins of buildings and rubble will really make you pause, think, and appreciate the enormity of what happened, and applaud those who did something about it. They remember what happened…


Bridge of Remembrance


…but they don’t let it hold them back.



Yesterday is history, ’tis so far away. Yesterday is poetry, ’tis philosophy. Yesterday is mystery, where it is today. While we shrewdly speculate, flutter both away.


Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes





Categories: Adventure, Blog, Christchurch, Holiday, New Zealand, Place to see in Christchurch, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our final day in Queenstown

Hi all! It’s been quite a few days since my last post – blame it on recovering from our Queenstown trip!

On our penultimate day there, if you recall, we went bungy jumping. Well, that kind of took all our energy, so on our last day, we took it nice and easy. We slept in until about ten, and then took the last morning shuttle into town for a nice Subway lunch. After that, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and head down to the waterfront.


It really is quite picturesque. I mean, in real life, too, not just in my photo. If you’ve been watching my Instagram feed (it’s on the right side over there) you’ll have seen a few photos relating to apparent sheep molestation jokes; this was all put to rest though, when I discovered proof that in New Zealand, sheep is man’s best friend.


Interesting. Well, sheep may be man’s best friend, but I know for a fact that Kylie’s best friend is whatever animal she happens to see. Today, it was ducks.


After about three hours of Kylie cooing at the ducks, we moved on, and found ourselves in the legendary Queenstown Gardens. It really was the perfect day for a nice several-kilometre hike around the water; I haven’t gone through all the photos, but here are a few nice ones from the gardens.

IMG_6700 IMG_6702

After you walk through the gardens, one of the paths you can take results in you emerging from the trees right along the waterfront. We walked along the pathway there for quite some time, and briefly considered stealing this boat.


In the end, though, we decided it was too much trouble to get wet and swim over to it, so we carried on. Eventually, we found a bench that Kylie sat down on and claimed for her own, forbidding anyone else from sharing it.


She sat there for a bit, and then we carried on. Right as we were approaching our starting point, we saw a cool sight, and something we’ll definitely have to do next time:


At last, we reached our starting point. By this time, it was almost five o’clock, so we headed back to the hotel to rest up. We decided to try dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, and weren’t surprised to find it mediocre, much like our accommodation. Oh well. After that, we packed, played some cards, and went to bed so we could be up for the long journey home.

The nine-hour bus ride is somewhat of a blur; I remember vague images of trying to sleep, getting off to go to the bathroom, and then repeating. Eventually we did arrive in Christchurch, though, and Susie picked us up, even though she was sick. Aw, what a nice Kiwi!

On Monday I get to be an extra in a commercial for some nice cash. After I see how that goes I may continue on with the company, and if I don’t, I’ll be starting the job hunt in earnest – I’ve already picked up a few freelancing jobs in my spare time, so things are good on that front.

And the best news – my IRD number arrived today, so I can officially work in Kiwi Land and not pay 30 per cent tax on it! Yay me!

Next post will be after the extra experience. Don’t miss it, or my photos!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes



Categories: Adventure, Blog, Holiday, New Zealand, Queenstown, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Milford Sound-bound

Kia ora! Yesterday we had a long-ass day that involved more than 600 km on a bus, as well as a two-hour cruise on a ship.

The day started before the sun was up. Buses weren’t running, and neither was the shuttle service from our hotel, so we cabbed to our bus stop. The wrong bus stop, as it turned out. And this is where I learned that not all transit systems are absolute garbage that don’t give a shit about their customers (cough LTC cough); we ran to a cab that was idling at the stop and showed him the receipt for our trip, which apparently had the stop printed right on it. We asked if it was where we currently were. He said no. So we asked him to take us there. Instead of taking our money – about fifteen dollars, probably – he took out his phone, and called the travel company. He then got them to contact the bus driver, who happily agreed to take a small detour to get us at the stop we were at, so we could save time and money. Wow.

Also, the sunrise was pretty okay:


After that, our bus picked us up and the five-hour journey began. Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t known how long the ride was, and brought nothing to do. Fortunately for me, I can sleep anywhere, any time, so I just leaned back and caught some Zs.

I was awoken several times, mostly because our bus driver was also doing a commentary of the scenery – which was beautiful – and it’s hard for even me to sleep when a voice is talking right above you. Lots of pictures on my camera, which I’ll upload when we have dependable internet.  One of our stops was called Mirror Lakes; I don’t know why.


With a few more stops, more commentary, and a voyage through a long tunnel and down a long, winding mountain road, we arrived at Milford Sound. Along the way, we learned lots of cool facts: the water there is between 98.9 and 100 per cent pure; Milford Sound was carved out by a glacier (meaning “Sound” is actually incorrect); and their tallest waterfall is nearly three times the height of Niagara Falls. Speaking of waterfalls, here’s a nice one, though not the tallest.


We cruised around the water looking at different points of interest, including bands of iron ore and quartz, some seals just chilling out, and a species of mussel that gathers where the tide line is. When we came to the aforementioned tallest waterfall in New Zealand, we went right into it. No pictures are available because we were literally a foot from the waterfall. We got drenched.

After that, it was back to the harbour and back on the bus. The ride home seemed shorter, and we also got to watch a movie called The World’s Fastest Indian, which was about a Kiwi named Burt Munro who set the land-speed record in the 1960’s on his Indian motorcycle.

Oh, and this happened:


When we finally arrived back at our hotel, we went into town briefly to grab some dinner, and then came back and relaxed. Three days left in Queenstown, and we still have lots to see and do. Follow along!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes



Categories: Blog, Holiday, Milford Sound, New Zealand, Queenstown, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The British are coming! The British are coming!

Alright, as promised, here is the post about the royals. I’ll try to keep the writing brief, and include lots of pictures.

I cabbed to Latimer Square, arriving at about 11 a.m., to this massive crowd.


If I was correct, the royals and their entourage would be coming from the south up the road in the following picture, and pass right by my spot.


Using my height and elbows in tandem, I made my way to a spot that would hopefully allow me a good view of the royal couple as they walked by. I tested it out on some security dudes that came by first.


Success! The people in front of me were short enough that they weren’t in the frame. A sudden hubbub from down the street caused everyone in my area to look that way. Our first glimpse of the lovely couple! You can see Kate in the red dress, and I think that’s William between the two poles to the left.


Before they came down our path, the couple et al stopped at the cathedral for a quick ceremony. While they did that, some more security came to ensure the way was safe.


Of course, wherever a royal couple goes, the media goes first.


Now, I had pictured it as Kate and Will walking side by side down the middle of the path. Not so; in fact, they both took one side of the path and strolled up, talking to and greeting people in the crowd. I was on the Will side.



Those are just two of about a hundred I snapped. Kate went up the other side so it was hard to get good photos of her, but this one isn’t too bad.


I have about 10,000 of the back of her head, but I didn’t think I’d include them here. The couple completed their walk down the path and met with some ladies who apparently had kids around the same time as Prince George (who was with his nanny in Wellington today).


And lastly they took part in a little cricket exercise – Kate struck out, but looked much better swinging than Will.


So, while I may never be a royal, at least I got to see some members of royalty. Yay for me!

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Categories: Blog, Holiday, New Zealand, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ten things new Kiwis need to know

When you’re traveling to a new country, there will inevitably be things that are done a different way than what you’re used to. I’ve been in Christchurch, New Zealand for almost exactly a week now, and I’ve compiled this list of things first-time visitors just have to know.

Note: some of these may not hold true for all countries, as they’re based on a Canadian moving to NZ.


Before you go

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t do all the much research about New Zealand before I embarked on my quest for kiwis. Part of this, though, was that I knew I had a place to stay until I found my own. In case you haven’t done enough research, here are some things you should know before you get to NZ.

1. The prices of things vary wildly here from what we’re used to.

If you have the room, make sure you bring your electronics with you. This means gaming systems, games, etc. Because let me tell you – they are expensive as shit over here.

Internet isn’t too terrible, especially if you’re splitting the cost with a bunch of people, but it’s definitely recommended to get a plan, otherwise you’re paying out the ass per GB. One thing that surprised me was how cheap cars are; however, if you’re planning on getting one, you should know that gas is outrageously expensive. Think 2+ dollars per litre. So yeah, keep that in mind. A bike or bus pass is looking pretty attractive now, isn’t it? For the record, a bus pass costs a mere ten dollars, although you need an address to get one. Bikes are about the same. Also, on the topic of an address…

2. Rent is charged by the week here.

This isn’t really a problem, once you do the calculation to figure out what you’re paying per month. It may be a little more stressful, as you have to come up with a sum of money every week, but what I’d recommend is just setting aside a chunk – I did the next three weeks – worth of cash to ensure you have it. There’s also a wide variety of rent options, so when you’re searching, make sure you remember it’s a weekly fee and not monthly. I’ve seen rents from $115 p/w right up to about $500 p/w. More than likely, you – like me – will get a little room in a house, which is really all you need – a place to drop your stuff and sleep at night.


Another good thing about this is you can find non-fixed term rooms, with a minimum of four weeks, and you only need to give two days’ notice of departure. This is good if you’re traveling around and don’t want to stay in an area for a long time.

3. Don’t call the Kiwis Aussies, for your own sake.

Once you’re here, you’ll quickly realize New Zealand is a lot like Canada, except the weather is typically better. The comparison also stands that Australia is a lot like the United States – and Kiwis hate being mistaken for Aussies. Whereas we, as Canadians, will only take offense on the inside and politely explain to the person calling us ‘Muricans that we are, in fact, from Canada, Kiwis spit out whatever drink they have in their mouth at the time, stare at you incredulously, and shout “WHAT?” (sounds more like ‘WOTE’ coming from them) before glaring daggers at you for about ten minutes. Yes, it’s okay to tease each other about how you pronounce words – they say “ear” and “air” the same, isn’t that cute? – as long as you don’t mind being told to fuck off multiple times per day (in an endearing way, of course), but call them Aussies, or even say they sound similar to their neighbours, and you’re in for a world of hurt.

Once you’re there

Now that you know a few things to keep in mind upon arrival, here are the things you should learn quickly if you want to a) survive, and b) enjoy New Zealand without making enemies.


Yes, for those unaware, Kiwis drive on the wrong side of the street, meaning the left. While regular street traffic looks relatively normal, I still get thrown off when a bus goes to turn right, stops in the intersection, and then goes to the far side. The most important note is to look to the right first. I mean, we all know to look both ways (right?) but my first instinct was always to glance left first, then take my first step into the road as I looked right. Do that here, you’re liable to become road kill. It also makes it much easier to catch the correct bus, as they will stop on the left side of the road, so make sure you figure that out. I haven’t driven here yet, but note that the steering wheel is on the right side of the car, as opposed to the left. So, good luck with that!

5. Different currency.

This is to be expected, but here’s a quick rundown of New Zealand currency: they have a ten-, twenty-, and fifty-cent, as well as a one- and two-dollar coin. That’s right; all their prices are rounded to the closest zero, which makes buying things easy. Also, tax is included in all the prices, so you don’t have to guess at what your total price will be.

The bills are the same denominations, and actually look fairly similar to our Canadian money; the coins vary, but the ten-cent one looks like a large penny, the twenty-cent one looks like a large nickel, the fifty-cent one like a quarter, and the two-dollar one looks exactly like a loonie. The only real different one is their one-dollar coin, which kind of looks like a token you’d use at the Palasad. And on the topic of money…

6. With few exceptions, don’t tip.

Yes, it’s shocking, especially for us Canadians, but there’s no need for tipping. It’s not impolite – in fact, sometimes people will get offended if you try to tip. I don’t know exactly why this is, but it sure makes figuring out prices easier. While I am assured most people will only be shocked and very appreciative, not offended, fight your Canadian self and save the money for something else. Like…

7. How to buy alcohol

…beer. Here, like many places that aren’t Canada, you can buy beer and some other alcoholic drinks in the super markets. However, something to note: you must have your passport with you to do so. Yes, some places will accept a driver’s license, but most won’t. Why, you ask? Well, do you have any idea what a New Zealand driver’s license looks like? Well, the Kiwis don’t know what an Ontario driver’s license is supposed to look like either, so it could easily be faked. The best way around that is to request your passport. This will be needed not only to buy alcohol, but to order alcoholic drinks at a restaurant.

8. Weather changes abruptly.

You think Canada’s weather is finicky? In the space of me writing this sentence, the weather outside went from cloudy and rainy, to sunny, back to overcast, and now seems to have settled on partially cloudy. It isn’t unreasonable to expect sun, clouds, and rain, on a simple walk to the grocery store. Also, I haven’t experienced these yet, but apparently there can be cyclones and earthquakes at the drop of the hat (don’t worry, you’ll hear about my first experience, I’m sure). I’ve found the best way to deal with this is the Canadian way – layer, layer, layer. Oh, and always have an umbrella.

9. Pay attention on the bus.

Okay, this one may be specific to London, Ontario – I haven’t tested that many transit systems. However, the LTC, while falling under fire all the time for being crap, does at least announce the stops. Not so here. This makes it especially difficult for a newcomer, as you have to really pay attention and watch street signs, particularly if you’re going to a new place for the first time. Another different thing is that, even if you’re standing at the bus stop, buses will not stop unless you flag down the driver, so make sure you do that. One perk of NZ transit? They have little cash registers, and will give change if you’re paying by cash. And last on the list, but certainly not least…

10. They do coffee weird, you guys.

First and foremost, there is no Tim Hortons in New Zealand. Yes, I know, there there. You can still make coffee at home! However, the way to do so is a bit strange…I’ve yet to see a coffee brewer. Instead, they have this.


It’s a coffee plunger. Basically, you boil water in a kettle, and then let it cool a bit. Poor your coffee into the plunger, then fill it with the water. Stir it, and then let it sit for however long you want. When you’re satisfied, you push the plunger down – I like to do this three times – to separate the coffee goodness from the grounds. It’s actually delicious. Different, but delicious.

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Categories: Blog, Holiday, List, New Zealand, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saturday morning musings: a new adventure

There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of “if you love something, set it free; if it comes back to you, it’s yours.”


I think that saying, while perhaps “deep” or whatever, would better read “if you love something, set it free; then follow it to the ends of the earth, if that’s what it takes.”

I am living up to that fake quote I just made up. One month from today, I leave myFM – not because I don’t like my job, because I do; but I’ve been presented with the opportunity of a lifetime.

I am going to work, and live, in New Zealand.

Obviously a big plus about this move is that I’ll get to be reunited with Kylie. I’m also getting to recognize my dream of one day exploring Kiwi Island, as well as potentially Australia.

I’m going to be freelance writing while I’m there, to start anyways, and may pursue other interests like voice acting.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime, dream-come-true opportunity, and I’m happy to grab it by the horns and take it full on. Is it a big change? Uh, heck yes. Will I be able to handle it? Uh, even MORE heck yes.

I head out there April 2, and will be there until December or January 2015. I’m sure I’ll be posting updates and stuff in the meantime, so feel free to read them – at the very least, it will give you something to talk about, right?

If you want to hang out or whatevs prior to then, that’d be cool too.

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