2 Years On… expat back in New Zealand

At the Equator stop, just out of Quito

At the Equator stop, just out of Quito, Ecuador

2 Years ago I landed back in New Zealand. Almost 3 years since I left my life in the UK to travel my way back to my home country.

And what a whirlwind it has been. The year moved fast, but then the amount that happens is a year can be mind-blowing.

After re-reading my post from this time last year about ‘Is the grass really greener on the other side: 1 year on in NZ’ I feel a mix of emotions. I had such a positive attitude despite feeling so unsettled and not really knowing where my life was going…

I’ll be honest I’ve written this post a few times (okay more than a few times) and I really can’t decide which is the best to share. So I’m just going with my gut at this point at time.


Reflecting on year of travel that was…

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura, New Zealand

My travels have taken me further in New Zealand – seeing the Canterbury region prior to the Kaikoura earthquakes. There is such beauty in the nature around Kaikoura and Akaroa with the waters, scenic drives, walks and quaint townships. Christchurch was a mix of emotions, seeing the destruction that the earthquakes have done to the city, yet inspired by the art and pop up shops showing people are making an effort to keep going. I loved the Botanic Gardens down there — so much colour and beauty in nature.

Chalice, next to the Cathedral

Chalice, next to the Cathedral

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

View towards Akaroa

View towards Akaroa

I also managed to get down to New Zealand’s capital – Wellington for the WOW show (World of Wearable Art) and check out Crankworx in Rotorua for my nephew’s birthday.

World of Wearable Art Show

World of Wearable Art Show

In the lead up to my 30th birthday I shared an array of posts each week or so describing my ‘Top 30 Greatest Travel Experiences’ which was neat being able to reflect on just how much travel I’ve done in the last 10 years. I hope it inspired some people.

That leads me to my 30th birthday…

When I think back over this last 6 months in New Zealand the overarching feelings are pain, sadness and hurt. I lost my father while I was away in Sydney for my 30th birthday… and while that may have been a time for celebrations with one of my sisters, it’s a time I can’t help but feel unhappy about.

After not having any desire to travel for quite awhile, I eventually booked a trip to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. I love to travel and I wanted to test the waters to see how I felt about it again.

Flight over the Great Barrier Reef

Flight over the Great Barrier Reef

Coral on the Upolu Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Coral on the Upolu Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Me with the plane

Me with the plane on my scenic flight

It was a different style of travelling for me. I stayed in cheap hotels/apartments and booked day tours. I spent a lot of time relaxing and trying to de-stress.

I’m not sure if this is a signal of what my travels will be like moving forward, but it is what I needed at the time. Stay tuned over the next month as I share my blog posts about my Queensland travels and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns and Port Douglas.

The Day to Day life…

It’s still based in Auckland, but I’m finally living on my own now. It’s nice having my own space.

Downside is that 1 hour commute I mentioned last year, has grown to 1.5 to 2 hours now. I had my London commute down to 30-45mins, so this is something that I definitely need to look into in the coming months, because it’s becoming ridiculous. I’m starting to leave home earlier which is starting to reduce time spent in traffic, so that’s progress already.

While I have concentrated a great deal on my health and wellbeing in the last year, these last 6 months have resulted in various minor injuries and most recently a cold. What I’m learning is as much as I can try to improve myself in these areas, I’m now having to work a lot deeper. I’m reading, doing courses, meeting people, doing yoga, pilates, meditation and still looking for ways to support myself more.

Grief has been like waves. Sometimes they can be small and frequent, other times they can be large and more spaced out. I’ve learnt that the waves aren’t a bad thing. I move through them and each time it gets a little bit easier. I think.

I’ve lost a lot of passion for my freelancing work as my day job has become more and more stressful and combined with my commute I don’t have a lot of spare time. I’m going to start addressing that in the coming months, somehow, so if you know someone that needs a bit of design, web development or design consultation then let me know.

Keeping in touch with friends and family… well that aspect has been pretty difficult. I’ve made less effort on my part in the last year than previously and that has meant I haven’t kept in touch with people as much as I would have liked. It’s been pretty lonely when I don’t reach out to people. If I’m honest I’ve realised people don’t like to be around someone mourning, everyone wants everyone to be happy, so grief isn’t something talked about and it’s not something people want to be around.

Sounds smashing right?

I won’t lie, it’s been a pretty shit year.

The Future…

Kohimarama Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

Kohimarama Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

So here we go. This is the positive spin on the post, because we all like to end on a high right?

I’m going to hold onto those small pleasures and moments that I’m grateful for each day.

I’m going to get my goals and dreams back in vision.

I’m going to work on my communication and empathy.

I’m going to reduce my commute.

I’m going to try to find a balance of communication with friends and family.

I’m going to get my travel mojo back and try to make a concerted effort to see something new or at least get back into nature once a month. New Zealand has such lovely nature, I want to return to my ‘happy places’ as often as possible. I want to try get to Canada and/or Japan for a visit and Melbourne is on the cards too.

I’m going to keep going through the waves when they come and hope that the happier memories can be found inside them, while not being hard on myself when I get down.

So here’s to Year 3 ahead. It was about this time that I started to really feel comfortable in London and loving it, so I’m hoping those feelings will start coming back to me in this next part of my life in New Zealand.