Feilding: Live like the Locals

While planning your Round the World trip of a lifetime, you will often have people say ‘I have a friend who lives in Auckland, or an Auntie near Wellington, or a father in Dunedin! Some people would say ‘That’s nice’, where we say ‘Do you think they would host us?’ Staying with locals is in our opinion the best way to imagine living in another part of the world. Learning about everyday life is a lovely change from visiting tourist attractions and sleeping in hostels. In hostels you will meet like minded travellers, swap ideas and share stories. Living with a local, you will learn more than you could ever think about your destination and how everyday life takes shape for them. I recommend being bold, ask the question and take opportunities as they pop up to live like the locals do.


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A good friend and work colleague, Annabel, put us in touch with her Auntie who was from the UK but set up a new life in New Zealand, 7 years after meeting the love of her life. Our host, Helen lived just outside of Feilding (above Wellington). ‘Friendly Feilding’ as it is known, has won the New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Town award 16 times! It is surrounded by farming districts and we had the pleasure of spending a long weekend there.

Although we were both brought up in Yorkshire, farm experience had never made it onto our resumes. With upcoming regional work in Australia, we were keen to get our hands dirty and learn something new! The task for the day was to move the sheep and newly born lambs from one paddock to another, for a taste of fresh grass. As much as we looked at the hand drawn map, planned the route and how we were going to position ourselves, we were completely confused. Helen reassured us that there was no rush and that it would all become clear. It was hilarious! It was all going so well until a couple of rebel sheep made a run for it! As we were herding them back to the gate, the majority of the sheep ran back into the field. ‘Lets start again’ we said. The second round, we had a lamb do a great escape through the fence, meaning its Mum went into flight mode, determined to get her new born back. Once quickly reunited, we managed to ‘hip-hop’ them the right way to their new change of scenery. We were rubbish but we got there in the end and it was lovely to see the sheep and lambs from the house.

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It felt good to help out around the property for the weekend with raking dead leaves and the Mister, mowing the lawn and as a team moving garden furniture around. It was all going well until Duncan thought he had broke the ride on lawnmower! After panicking, troubleshooting every option he could think of and even trying to tow it back to shelter… he then realised the cutting blade was down so of course the engine wouldn’t start!

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Since we arrived in New Zealand, we had been determined to see the rather unusual native Kiwi bird. This flightless bird is under threat of extinction as well as only appearing at night time. So in an effort to see the infamous Kiwi, we headed to the Wildbase Recovery National Wildlife Recovery Centre in Palmerston North. We were fortunate to have a tour with local farmers of the new facility prior to it opening. Although no animals (and no Kiwis!) had arrived yet, we saw the incredible potential for the recovery of animals through veterinary care and rehabilitations programmes. The Massey University Wildlife Specialists now provide world class care for native wildlife and release back into their natural environments. For me, Zoo’s haven’t got the same appeal as they once did. As we become more sensitive to wildlife and question confining animals to cages for our amusement, I feel wildlife conservations are a much better option. A happy medium between the two!


Helen was on a mission to get our eyes in front of a Kiwi, which we were extremely grateful for. Our next stop was the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre in Masterton. For $20 entry, we had the pleasure of visiting an array of native animals and birds. We were so pleased to see a White Kiwi in it’s nocturnal house. Once we laid eyes on the rare native bird, we noticed how active she was in the day (which was her night). We were in time for the feeding of the Long Fin Eels, which the Mister bravely jumped at the chance to participate in! I thought the guide was joking at first, but when Duncan began to put overalls and wellies on, I soon realised he was going in! I watched from the viewing bridge over the stream as Duncan fed them from a giant spoon and even stroked them!


There was a fantastic loop walk around the park that reached a summit with serene views. It was then we noticed the sheer amount of possum traps. I didn’t realise that they were considered pests and are such a threat to their natural environment. They eat 20,000 tonnes of vegetation a night, and are multiplying by the second. The native birds, like the Kiwi, are competing for their food and they even eat their eggs.


A great way to end the day, especially for the Mister, was to head to a local Brewery! In the little village of Mangatainoka, just outside of Palmerston North is the legendary Tui Brewery. The quirky HisTui Museum is worth a nosey before sitting in front of the fire with a beer, or in my case cider. You will find Tui beer everywhere in New Zealand so worth stopping by on your road through North Island.

I cannot end this blog without mentioning the absolute feasts we were gifted with every evening at Helens! In ultimate Mum mode, she made sure we were well fed with delicious meals. We truly felt at home and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and appreciated your reassurance on the next part of our travels, with regional work in Australia. Inviting us back into your home on the way back meant a lot to us and I will never forget the mattress you cut up for us to fit in our campervan! We hope to see you and Ross in Australia, New Zealand or the UK in the future and we can return the favour with a big Sunday Roast!

Go the Distance on the Farm,



Rotorua: Why Visit the Smelliest Town in New Zealand

Kia Ora! You may have heard that Rotorua is a smelly town but don’t let this put you off. I remember getting off the coach journey and thinking ‘Duncan was that you!!’ but no the eggy smell is only due to the geothermal pools that give off sulphur.


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Rotorua, named after the towns lake, has so much to offer! After the 4 hour bus journey, we thought it would be a great idea to spend the afternoon relaxing in the Polynesian Spa. This is the best option for a spa experience on a budget. For only $40 NZ (£20) we spent our time in one of the four areas with 9 thermal pools with picturesque views across Lake Rotorua. The reflexology walk was not as relaxing as I had hoped. Although the picture here looks rather graceful, the experience was a lot of ‘Oooo’ ‘Ahhh’ and falling with no style! There are many options available from tacking a dip in the geothermal waters, enjoying mineral enriched muds or even a Maori massage with prices ranges from $20-$340. We left feeling completely revitalised and refreshed and ready to explore.

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Since arriving in Auckland (8 Things to Do in Auckland Blog) and learning a little about the Maori culture on the free walking tour, as well as seeing the march for the Maori Language Week, we were keen to visit a Maori village. With a name like Whakarewarewa, I knew this would be the right place to visit. This is a living and working village that has been open and at a cost of $45 NZ you can have a guided tour, see a cultural performance and explore any of the 3 nature trails. You will see the Maori meeting house, cemeteries, geysers, mud pools, hot springs and steam boxes used for cooking (‘hangi’). As you walk around this wonder of mother nature, you will get a free steam facial from the geysers (great for asthma too!). A particular highlight for me was the cultural performance that included a Haka dance. I have seen the warrior dance before in Rugby matches, but seeing this close up (and I mean close up!) was spine-tingling. Also, the cemeteries are above ground with people resting in tombs above land. This is because they cannot dig 6 feet down, in fact they could only go 3 feet before reaching geothermal activity. My cemetery obsession continues!


It can be difficult to find free activities to do in New Zealand and you will find that the majority of Maori cultural experiences have a price tag. However, in Rotorua we found that the Redwood Forest nature trails can be accessed for free. We were tempted to do the canopy tour that was luminated by lanterns in the dark but due to time restrictions with the bus we opted for the free option. The Redwood trees are native to California and are extremely tall majestic towering trees. We didn’t go as far north to see the Redwoods on our Road Trip in California (blog coming soon), so this was a great experience for us. Of course, we misjudged how long the walk would take us so we literally ran for the bus! Duncan took a tumble and we had a ‘man-down’ with a scrapped knee! He handled it like a pro, but I think I over-reacted more when I realised how much blood there was after the mud was scraped away!


You can also go for a pleasant wonder around Kuirau Park. You will find fenced areas within the park that are blowing off steam from the hot pools and geothermal land. Plus, there are free pools to safely dip your feet and legs in. Duncan was content with this version of a ‘spa experience’ as the actual Polynesian spa was too hot for him, bless! You can also take a walk along Lake Rotorua and see many black swans, but be sure not to feed them.


I recommend spending two-three days in Rotorua to really appreciate all it has to offer. We stayed at Rock Solid Backpackers and treated ourselves to a private room as it was within our budget. The room are newly renovated clean and spacious with spacious communal areas. We took full advantage of the movie night and the free popcorn and hot chocolate was a bonus!

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Go the Distance in Rotorua,


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8 Things to Do in Auckland

We flew into Auckland from Los Angeles, in mid-September (2018) and instantly noticed the fresh air of what seemed like home. Our flight times worked out that we were able to have a good nights sleep with minimal chance of jet lag. All we had to manage was staying awake from 6am (which was 10am LA time) to as late as possible… we made it to 9pm!

We dropped our bags at the Queen Street Backpackers Hostel and headed straight towards the water! This hostel was a perfect location in the Central Business District of Auckland, with clean rooms, large communal areas at cheap prices!

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Coast to Coast
So our first day was spent sleepily bumbling around Auckland City, beginning with the bay. We stumbled across the Coast to Coast walkway and eagerly began this route backwards from the ferry terminal (where you head over to Waiheke and Devonport). Admittedly, we didn’t get very far before finding a bench in the Lovers Park by the Duck Pond. We ended up having a snooze in the sun! For less tired travellers this is an epic 16km walk that is signposted with yellow Coast to Coast signs on lampposts along the route. Let us know in the comments how good the full walk is!

Sky Tower
In New Zealand we were fortunate to have friends, friends of friends and friends family members dotted throughout the country. Auckland was our first chance to meet up with our old school friend, Tom and his friend Shane. It was great having a local (Shane) to show you around as you really get to know the places you visit much better and often get to see the hidden spots. Our first stop was the world renowned Sky Tower. Our budgets and nerves only stretched to going in the elevator up 186 metres to the viewing platform. Of all the viewing platforms we have been on this was the most impressive with 360 views of Auckland as well as looking down through the glass floor. If your lucky you may see someone do a free fall down the side of the tower and there are options to do a sky walk.

Mount Eden
Our local tour guide Shane, took us on a walk up to the top of Mount Eden for sunset. This is known as Maori sacred land and you can walk around a crater formed on the top of the mountain. We wondered why there were so many people sitting facing away from the sunset, it seemed a little daft to us. So we sat in the ‘best’ position for the sunset but then realised it was most properly the windiest place to sit… but so worth it. The sky lit up with orange, yellow and purple tones, a great way to end the day.


Island Hop
Waiheke Island is a ‘must-do’ in my humble opinion. It allows you to escape the city life on a remote island full of vineyards and nature walks. We woke up early to catch the ferry across to complete a hike before our friends arrived. Note: The ferry takes between 20-40mins and costs $38 for a return fare. The ferry website highlights all the walking trails but be sure to check which ones are open at the tourist information on arrival. We obviously didn’t do this and had a few mishaps. The walk was meant to cover Church Bay, Omerau Beach and Little Omerau in 2h30. However, we only got as far as Church Bay! Due to earthquake damage and minor flooding the walkway was flooded meaning to continue to walk the track we had to get rather wet! With my wet jeans and feet we crossed the bay to find that the rest of the track was closed due to the cliff faces being too dangerous from earthquake damage. So we got wet again and retraced our steps to meet our friends at the winery. I’m sure you will agree that the views are incredible, especially at Church Bay so we were happy with our efforts.

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The wineries on Waiheke Island are top-notch and surrounded by pure beauty. You can sip your wine in the gardens, sit on a picnic blanket and enjoy stunning food. To remain in budget we shared a vegetarian pizza! We visited Cable Bay and experienced the wine tasting at Mud Rock winery too. The standard wine tasting included 4 tastings of white and rose wine for only $10 NZ (£5). At Mud Rock, we had incredible views for sunset that definitely ended the day on a high.


Food Markets
One way to nurse a wine hangover is to visit one of the many food markets in Auckland. In our short time there we visited the Night Food Festival that moves around Auckland and the French Market. At the markets you will find food from all around the world, handmade crafts and tasty smoothies!

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Local Parks
While exploring Auckland city, take advantage of there many green spaces. Albert Park was our favourite place to relax and it felt rather British with a statue of Queen Victoria in the centre. I also loved the typing error on this statue – can you spot it?


Hint Hint: Bottom Line… ^

Free Walking Tour
I often mention the free walking tours, mainly because they are so awesome! If a city or town has a FWT we will be there as it is a great way to orientate yourself, learn some history and best use of your time. The tour in Auckland with Louise is in our Top 10 walking tours, and we have done a lot! Join her or her colleagues at the Ferry terminal at 10am for a 2hr cultural tour.


Go the Distance in Auckland,