Kaiwaka, New Zealand

Miscellaneous news on a rainy New Zealand afternoon:

– the chickens that I have been diligently feeding every morning before breakfast have finally laid their first egg since I arrived here, yippee!

– I have been planting a forest of tiny trees that will hopefully be really tall in around 70 years’ time – that’s if they survive being attacked by a howling wind and torrential rainshowers about an hour after I planted them . . .

– plans for the next few days – more tree-planting, picking mandarins and macademia nuts, a bring-and-share eco-village dinner and a bit of baking.

Kaiwaka, New Zealand

I’m now in New Zealand, staying on the North Island and WWOOFing at Otamatea Eco-Village.

View from the farm

Life here is rather wonderful – lots of fun jobs to do on the farm during the day (herding cows, feeding chickens, planting, weeding) and a wood-burning stove to curl up in front of in the evening.

I am spending all day in scruffy clothes and wellies, my make-up is lost somewhere at the bottom of my rucksack, there is a horse in the garden who eats jam sandwiches and I am loving every minute of it!

Auckland, New Zealand

I got an awesome haircut from a very sweet Korean lady in Auckland!  Here’s a picture I took of myself shortly afterwards (because it never looks the same after you’ve washed it, does it?)  How vain am I . . .

Self-portrait with awesome haircut

 

 

Trekking, Fiji

For my final adventure in Fiji, I went on a cross-island walk with The Rucksack Club.

We set off from Suva last Saturday laden with drinking water, sleeping bags, roll mats and lots of waterproof clothing – very heavy backpack!

Waiting to set off

After driving north into the interior of Viti Levu, we then walked for two days, staying overnight at Nagatagata and Nabutautau villages.  The walking and the landscapes were absolutely glorious: green, lush hillsides, beautiful valleys and mandarins and turmeric growing around the paths that we took.  Luckily the weather was good and we even got to have a lunchtime river swim in the sunshine on one day.

Day 3 was particularly exciting – we followed the river through a valley, wading knee-deep in the water at points where there weren’t any helpful stepping stones.

On the way to Nagatagata

Outside Nabutautau

Wading through the river

It was also really interesting to stay in the two villages and to spend time with the people who lived there.  At each village, we began our stay by meeting the chief of the village and completing the “sevusevu” ceremony (asking permission to stay in the village, thanking the chief for his hospitality and handing over gifts to say thank you).  After that, everyone shared a few cups of kava, a drink made from the roots of a pepper plant which is meant to be relaxing and to make your tongue and lips go numb (although I think you have to drink quite a lot of it before that happens).

On the first evening we joined in with board games with the children, and on the second evening the stereo was cranked up and we all danced the night away in the bure to Fijian pop tunes!

Games in the village

We slept on the floor of large bures in each village and ate . . . a lot.  The villagers put on massive spreads for us for breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea – for example, on Day 3 my breakfast consisted of lemon tea, coconut cake, samosas, papaya, banana, rice, lentils and noodles, yum!  I also ate bananas cooked in coconut milk in Nabutautau, which was hands down one of the most delicious things that I have ever eaten.

Bure

It was a fantastic adventure if completely exhausting – my muscles have only just stopped aching, almost a week later . . .

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

I got back last night from a lovely trip to the Yasawa Islands, which are north-west of the largest island in Fiji (Viti Levu).

Lizzy & I hopped on and off the bright yellow “Yasawa Flyer” catamaran and ended up exploring three islands: Barefoot, Bounty and Wayaleilei.

They were all absolutely beautiful with perfect golden beaches, palm trees everywhere and clear, warm (ish) water to swim in.

View through the doorway of our bure, Barefoot Island

Palm tree

Bounty Island

We had a gorgeous and very relaxing time lying on hammocks, eating coconuts, snorkelling (saw four more sharks!) and watching sunsets and sunrises.

Hammock, Barefoot Island

Sunset on the beach, Barefoot Island

More energetic activities included kayaking, jewellery making and very occasionally climbing up small hills to get better views of the surrounding islands.

And most importantly of all, I have finally got a tan!