timtam

New Zealand’s Best and Worst Food

When we first booked our trip to New Zealand, I didn’t now what we were in for food wise, besides lamb of course. So I was taken by surprise by some of our favorites, and disgusted by others, but that’s what traveling is about. WWOOFing offered us a great insight into Kiwis homes and see what they eat and enjoy. So here we go the good and the bad.

Hokey Pokey

Lets start with my favorite Kiwi food, Hokey Pokey. I had never heard of hokey pokey, well besides the dance, which oddly enough Kiwi kids (that we knew) did not know about. Anyways  Hokey Pokey is a toffee candy, it is sponge like and light. You will often find in covered with chocolate (I just found some at the American grocery store Sprouts, labeled “chocolate covered honeycomb”) or by itself in ice cream. Cadbury’s version of it is the Crunchie Bar. My first taste of Hokey Pokey was a “Crunchie Bar” and I thought that it tasted and had a similar texture of an American “Butterfingers”. Through out our time in NZ Hokey Pokey was our go to sweet fix.

Fish and Chips

Now being a couple of islands in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean and a past British Colony, it is no surprise that Fish and Chip shops are everywhere. Fish and Chips are EVERYWHERE, a town that only has one gas station probably has two fish and chips shops, they are that popular. Fish and Chips no matter where you go, are going to be about the same (it is a cheap fried food after all), but you choose from a selection of fish ranging in prices. Make sure to purchase tartar and tomato (see below) sauce, because they do no come with.

fish&chips

Pavlova

Pavalova is a Kiwi dessert that is a meringue based and usually topped with fruit and whipped cream. We enjoyed this dish while wwoofing at the historic homestead on the North Island. Our host made it for the many events that they hosted and catered. How can you not love a giant meringue?!?! The only issue is that Kiwi whipped cream is just that, its whipped cream, no sugar, no sweeteners. It always felt like something was missing (and for all deserts with whipped cream as well). But other than that it was delicious and I just might have to whip one up state side!

Tim Tams

We tried every flavor of Tim Tams while in New Zealand. Tim Tams are chocolate covered biscuits with chocolate or other flavored filling. They are not necessarily kiwi, since they are from Australian, but we still had a love affair with them. We never went a road trip with out a package at the ready for the nights dessert. It’s no wonder I gained 10 pounds while in NZ…

timtam

Wine & Beer

I officially became a wine lover in New Zealand! Everywhere you go in New Zealand will be a different wine region (Napa Valleys everywhere! I swear!). We were fortunate enough to stay with a few families, that enjoyed a glass or two of New Zealand’s best wines every night. My two favorites were Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir.

Beer on the other hand we were a little disappointed with. We drank kiwi favorite such as Tui and Steinlager quite a bit, but they were no more than a crisp lager. We did visit a couple of breweries in our time and enjoyed some $9+ pints. Because of the high price tag (they have to tax something…I guess), we did not get to know beer as intimately as we like here in the states.

IMG_0319

Whitebait

Whitebait is a New Zealand’s delicacy. What is Whitebait you might be asking? Well its baby fish from the galaxiidae species, if that means anything to you. During our time in NZ we heard about whitebait off and on, mostly with people we knew going whitebaiting (catching the fist) or people telling us how delicious it was. We were fortunate enough to be served whitebait at one of our WWOOF hosts in the form of a fritter (the most common way it is eaten). I could not taste the fist, all that it tasted like to me was scrambled eggs…

Lamb

Let me just say Bryan and I never once went out to a fancy lamb dinner (is that a thing…) during our time in NZ. We did however eat a lot of lamb & mutton. One of the best things about WWOOFing was eating what the locals ate. One of my favorite days was butchering a lamb (we did not do the killing, just the cutting) later that day we ate a lamb roast, and later that week liquid lamb… or lamb stew so cooked down that it was liquid. The same sheep was literally the best meal and worst meal we had the entire trip. We did learn by the end of our NZ journey, that Kiwis referred to all sheep as lamb, even though a good portion we are was probably mutton.

lamb

Canned Spaghetti

Oh canned spaghetti, where to even begin with you?? I did not even know you were a thing in NZ for the first 4 months… That is until my Bryan walked in on our WWOOF host chowing down on a can for breakfast! From then on we saw it everywhere! In toasty sandwiches, our wwoof host cupboards, and grocery store displays. I spared myself one and didn’t try it out.

SP

Baked Beans

Baked beans in the States are often found to be a side for a bar-b-que dinner. In New Zealand baked beans are a breakfast item. But hey, I’m not complaining! I ate them on toast, I ate them with eggs, I found that I love baked beans no matter what the time.

Beet Root

One thing I found that I do not like is beet root (just beets for you Americans). Before New Zealand I think the last time I ate beets of any kind was when I was 10 months old, no joke. But Kiwis LOVE beet root! We ate it by itself, in salads, baked, in dishes, basically anyways you can think of. But to me beet roots taste like dirt…

Tomato Sauce

Before New Zealand tomato sauce never crossed my mind as a condiment, but rather just an ingredient. In New Zealand ketchup is almost non-existent. Everything we would eat ketchup with/on (french fries, burgers, hotdogs, ect.) tomato sauce is eaten, specifically Watties brand. By the end of our five months all I wanted was french fries and ketchup.

L&P

I love me some L&P! L&P is the local New Zealand soda flavor. Lemon of Peoria. I do drink soda regularly but I did enjoy L&P during our travels. It tastes different from Sprite, with more of a peppery flavor, if that makes any sense.

LP

Other Kiwi food not mentioned

Kiwi fruit, Paua, manuka honey, Vegemite/Marmite, lemonade fruit and Feijoa fruit.

If you have been to New Zealand, what was you favorite food?

Tips to Snag a Holiday Weekend Campsite

Who doesn’t love a weekend camping get away?!? It’s a nice break from reality, and getting back to nature is rejuvenating for the coming work week.

I have been loving getting away regularly the past couple of months.  Currently I am planning my next camping trip during the crazy Labor Day weekend. I would normally avoid going anywhere on a holiday weekend, but this one is different. Thats because, the weekend just so happens to land on my birthday. And I would rather not be alone moping around the house oh my birthday (downside of being in a LDR). So I’m planning a weekend of my all favorite things! Camping, hiking, craft beer, and cake (well, I’m bringing the beer, it is Utah after all).

29019_10100197874150479_4718524_n

Anyways, I made this decision pretty late (last week) and by than every campground in the large National Parks were booked solid… and have been for months. But being pretty familiar with the ins and outs of National Parks, I knew some tips to help me get out-of-town still. Maybe they can help you out too, if you are itcing to get out this weekend!

Be open to your destination

Some parks and places are crazy busy all the time and need weeks of planning, but others are pretty mellow, which makes them perfect for a spontaneous trip. Being open to where you go can open up a lot of potential options for you. To help narrow it down decide on how far you want to drive for the weekend. I gave myself a 3 hour or less drive time radius.

Check recreation.gov and check it often

Once you have an idea of the area you want to go, long on to recreation.gov and search around. Many parks offer entire campgrounds of portions of campgrounds that are reservable. Most of the time these reservations can be made on recreation.gov. One of the features I LOVE about the site is when you type in the location you want, it will also tell you the openings in the surrounding area campgrounds as well. But if you have your heart set on a specific campground that is booked, check back frequently. If there is a cancellation it will be put back on the site to be reserved again.

One time I was famous, and had my picture on recreation.gov
The one time I was famous. That’s the back of my head and my handsome husband.

Leave Early

While a lot of campgrounds are reservable now, many parks still have campgrounds that are on a first come first serve basis. To secure one of these sites leave early to arrive early. I can not say this enough with the highly popular campgrounds, such as the ones in Zion, Grand Teton, or any other high traffic park. There were times while working at Grand Teton when Jenny Lake Campground (the most popular CG) was full by 7am.

Utilize Forest Service and BLM Land

Many times National Parks are surrounded by other public lands. Know what your options are in the surrounding area, in case everything is full.  Forest Service and BLM lands have their own campgrounds and sometimes offer dispersed camping. A bonus to camping on these lands is that it is often free! Make sure to check the Forest Service and BLM websites before you head out to read the rules and regulations.

Little known fact: Forest Service land camping has the best views of the Tetons.
Little known fact: Forest Service land camping has the best views of the Tetons.

Backcountry

When front country campgrounds are full, sometimes backcountry camping is available. Each park has its own rules, regulations, and procendures on how to obtain a backcounry permit, so check the respective parks website  before you make any concrete plans. Two of the perks of backcountry camping are: One, A lot of time permits are free. And second you are skipping the crowds of the busy holiday weekend!

61046_10100303275570189_2522496_n

Do you have any tips to making an awesome last-minute trip?

 

Discovering Rainbow Bridge National Monument

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take the 50 mile boat trip to see the magnificent Rainbow Bridge. If you are not familiar with Rainbow Bridge (RB), it is a HUGE (209 feet tall) natural bridge. It is so huge that the Statue of Liberty can fit under it! And man, oh man, was it a sight to see.

While well-known to people familiar with the Colorado Plateau, not everyone may know why RB is so special. I’ll try to explain the best I can why you need to go see Rainbow Bridge!

DSCN7056

Where is Rainbow Bridge located?

Rainbow Bridge is isolated by today standards. Located in a remote section of Southern Utah, it is only accessible by a 50 mile (2 hours one way) boat ride via Lake Powell, or a 17 mile one way hike through the Navajo Nation.

DSCN7088
Speeding across Lake Powell

Lake Powell Resort offers a tours twice daily during the summer. You are able to take your own boat, the Park Service provides a courtesy dock for visitors (directions found here). If you would like to make the trek by foot, you will first need a permit from the Navajo Nation first.

What makes Rainbow Bridge so special?

Natural bridges are rare. Formed by a different process than what forms arches, that are formed by the freezing and expanding of water in the cracks of rock. The expanding of the frozen water loosens pieces of rock, gradually chipping away and eventually forming an arch.

Natural Bridges on the other hand are formed by flowing water. RB started out as a fin of sandstone jutting out of the canyon wall. The stream that flowed through the canyon, flowed in a tight curve around the sandstone fin. Eventually the stream (known as Bridge Creek today) cut a hole in the fin, and through time widened the hole, ultimately creating Rainbow Bridge.

rainbow
Illistration credit NPS

History…

I’ll make this brief because I know history is not the most exciting subject.

Native Americans have known about Rainbow Bridge for centuries, many of whom Rainbow Bridge is sacred. The outside world on the other hand, has only known about RB for little more than 100 years. Europeans have been in the area of the Colorado River (Lake Powell, now floods this area of the Colorado) since the mid 1800’s. John Wesley Powell floated down the Colorado 1869 and 1871, fur trappers traversed and explored the Colorado and its side canyons throughout the late 1800’s. But Rainbow Bridge was little more than a myth or legend until 1909, when two separate exploration parties guided by Paiute guides laid upon eyes it, after a grueling horseback trek. You can read more about RBs history here.

DSCN7077

Cool Facts!

-RB Spans 275 feet across Bridge Creek.

-The top of RB is 42 feet think and 33 feet wide.

-RB is 290 feet tall.

-The Statue of Liberty fits underneath it!

-Rainbow Bridge is very sacred to many of the Native Americans in the area today. When visiting you are asked to treat it with respect. A good what to think about it is, treat RB as if you were visiting a church.

-RB was made a National Monument in 1919 by President William Howard Taft.

-Teddy Roosevelt visited RB soon after it became known.

DSCN7078
I was lucky enough to be able to visit with work #perkofthejob

Visiting Rainbow Bridge was defiantly a highlight of my summer! I greatly encourage you, if you are in the area of Page, AZ or Lake Powell to take a trip out to see the impressive sight!

Have you ever visited Rainbow Bridge?

Adventuring To Do List: Southern Utah & Northern Arizona

I confess, I had one heck of a LAZY weekend! And it felt AWESOME! After being go go go for the past six weekends, it felt so good just to be around the house and get stuff done that I have been putting off.  I did head down to the beach yesterday and go swimming to make it feel like I did something. Lets be real, besides the walk down to the water,  all I did was float around and people watch, so relaxing and entertaining.

DSC00175

Anyways my current working season is about half way over and I still have so many things on my To Do list before I move in November. So to mostly get my Dad off my back here is my

Adventuring List:

Antelope Canyon

The famous slot canyons are so ridiculously close to where I live, its kind of embarrassing that I have yet to go. But right now it is crazy town hot, and the tourist are a plenty. This is going to have to wait until Sept/Oct to be checked off.

Navajo National Monument

To be completely honest, Navajo NM was not even on my radar until May. So what is at Navajo NM?? Cliff dwellings! I am pumped to head to NNM hopefully this upcoming weekend.

North Rim Grand Canyon

I have been to the South Rim and to Phantom Ranch (aka the bottom). But I have never been to the North Rim. The North Rim is supposed to be the best of the best, so I hear. I have a weekend planned and campsite reserved for September.

Monument Valley

Who doesn’t want to got to Monument Valley? I have always wanted to go to the photogenic area. I drove through on the highway a week ago and it was gorgeous! I am anxious to head back and really check it out.

Zion

I have been to Zion a couple of times and have done a couple touristy hikes including Angles Landing. Now I want to get away from the roads and crowds and really enjoy what this park has to offer.

Have you been to any of these places?

Any must sees that I missed, and need to add to the list?

Currently

Hi Everyone!

I have been absent for far too long! I am now ready to get back in the saddle and fill all of you in on what is happening in my life!

Living

I have been lucky enough to be living in one of Utah’s beautiful parks! The beauty of the red rocks is outstanding, but the heat can be relentless, luckily there is clear, blue water to cool down in.

BeFunky_DSCN7326.jpg
This is my favorite view (probably because I stare at it while working). Just ignore the parking lot, pretend it does not exist.

Playing

My first car ever crapped out on me about a month ago. Since then I have bought a new car and having been taking advantage of the new wheels, gallivanting all over Southern Utah and Northern Arizona’s National Parks! Which you will hear all about in the weeks to come!

Cedar Breaks NM, Sunset Crater NM, Wupatki NM, Zion NP. I swear these were on separate days despite the fact that I am wearing the same shirt.

Planning

Life planning never stops when you are a seasonal employee. Currently our winter plans are slowly coming together. In the mean time, I have been day dreaming of a Southeast Asia trip for next year!

What have you been up to this summer?

 

 

 

 

 

photo3

Sleeping at the Christchurch Airport

Hello!

Have you ever had a super early flight? Getting to the airport early (4-5 am) when you are at home is a pain. Getting to the airport early when away from home, especially if you are international is sometimes excruciating. It is awesome when hotels are near the airport to take some of the travel stress away, but when that is not the case, than what do you do?

This recently happened to Bryan and I when we were flying back to The States from Christchurch, New Zealand. One of the bummer things about the Christchurch Airport is that there is not a lot of accommodation relatively close by. The one hotel that is near by charges $150 per night.  But lets be real here, I am cheap. And that is way too much to pay for the maybe 5 hours of sleep I would be getting. So when all else failed what did we do? We slept in the airport the night before our flight.

photo3

This may sound crazy to some people, but it is actually quite popular. In fact the Christchurch Airport has strict rules about sleeping in the airport because it has become so popular. The two basic rules are:

-You may only spend the night, if your flight leaves before 8am (and you must show proof).

-You can not set up bedding or lie on the floor.

As intimidating as that sounds it can still be done relatively easy.

How it Works 

At around 9-10pm after the last departure as left, security officers make rounds asking if you are planning on sleeping at the airport. If you are in fact staying,  you simply show them your flight reservation to verify that you are leaving before 8am. After this the officer will give you a wristband and tell you the rules of sleeping at the airport.

Basically he/she will tell you the places you are aloud to sleep (none of them will sound appealing) and which places are closed to sleeping (all the places you might have scouted out earlier), and then he/she will tell you about this magical place call the Airport Lounge.

The sweet spot we thought we would be able to sleep
The sweet spot we thought we would be able to sleep

The Airport Lounge is nothing special, to be real with you. But it is secure, with an employee at all times in the room. So your baggage will be OK if you fall asleep. You are aloud to set up bedding and lay down, heck they even provide bean bags to use as padding to the first 20-25 people. And then they wake everyone up at I think 3:30 or 4am for check in (no over sleeping your alarm!). The only catch is it cost $5 dollars per person.

photo1

If you do decide on staying in the Lounge, I would highly suggest bringing  an eye mask since the lights stay on all night. And most importantly bring ear plugs (you never know when a German might be Skyping, yes this will happen even people are trying to sleep).

Overall sleeping in the Christchurch Airport was an OK experience. We did not get a whole lot of sleep, but I’m glad we save our $150 and most importantly made our flight home!

Have you ever slept in an airport? Any crazy experiences?

Paparoa National Park: More than Pancake Rocks

Hi all!

Way back in January while Bryan and I were on our South Island Road Trip, and had the opportunity to visit Paparoa National Park located on the West Coast of the South Island. Most people make a fast visit to see Pancake Rocks, and continuing on there journey further south to the glaciers. Bryan and I had intended to just see Pancake Rocks and continue on our way like most people, but we quickly realized Paparoa has much more to offer than just Pancake Rocks.

Pancake Rocks

I’ll start off with Pancake Rocks, so you all know what the heck I’m talking about. Pancake rocks are most famous for the blow holes where the sea comes crashing through the eroded rock primarily made of limestone that is layered with a softer, thinner mud-stone layer. erosion of these layers gives the rock a pancake stack look. The formation is primarily made of limestone that is layered with a softer, thinner mud-stone layer. Erosion of these layers gives the rock a pancake stack look (wow, I’m a geology nerd!). Pancake rocks are located in the town of Punakaiki, right across the street from the DOC visitor center. A big hint that you are in the right place is the 3-4 tour buses parked in the street.

pancake rocks

Hiking

Paparoa has more than 55 miles of trails to offer. On the drive to Pancake Rocks you will pass gorgeous coast line, spectacular limestone gorges, and wild rivers. The landscape is what made us adjust our plans it was that beautiful! We hiked the Pororari River Track which parallels Bullock Creek.

DSCN5968

We also hiked the short Truman Track, the trail takes you through sub-tropical forest and emerges on a rocky beach, with views of the stunning coastline and waterfalls. Read more about the trails here.

Caves

The geology of Pararoa is mostly made up of limestone which is easily eroded by water, this forms the gorgeous gorges within the park and also caves. I have an aversion to caves ever since working a winter season at a cave park, so we did not par take in caving. But there are several caves easily accessible some even just off the side of the road if you want to explore the underworld.

Palm Trees

When I first envisioned New Zealand vegetation I envisioned something resembling a tropical island. Lets just say my vision was nowhere near right. New Zealand is covered in the thickest forest you can imagine and instead of palm trees everywhere there are fern trees. Well that is until you arrive at Paparoa where there are native Nikau PALM trees! While these palms can be found in several areas in New Zealand, but Paparoa was the only place I remember them being in abundance and they really did give the whole area a more tropical feel.

DSCN6086

Beaches/ Coast

The West Coast of New Zealand where Pataroa National Park is located is known for being one of the more rainy places within New Zealand. But if you have great timing and are there on a bluebird day, you will feel like you are in a tropical paradise with pristine beaches and to the North and South, and gorgeous beaches to wonder on.

DSCN5985

 Have you ever adjusted a trip to enjoy another location more?

Living life on the move

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 295 other followers

%d bloggers like this: