Tag Archives: Traveling

New Zealand Photo Journal

We separated our New Zealand experience into three different categories to make navigation a little easier. We look forward to any comments you have about our photos or travels!

Click on any of the thumbnails below to go to a full gallery.

WWOOFing and Working in New Zealand

Walking down to catch the water taxi back to Punga. Possibly my favorite picture of Lindsay and I
Walking down to catch the water taxi back to Punga. Possibly my favorite picture of Lindsay and I


North Island Adventuring

We met some cops at the put-in point. I promise they were cool with the whole thing and we weren't getting arrested.
We met some cops at the put-in point. I promise they were cool with the whole thing and we weren’t getting arrested.

South Island Adventuring

Sunset at the Morekai Rocks
Sunset at the Morekai Rocks

Back on the road after Punga Cove

With our work experience officially over, we went back to the world of backpackers! If you’re trying to follow our travel plans, they went something like this;

Feb 1st – Leave Punga Cove, travel North Island
Feb 8th – Fly from Auckland to Calgary for Breanna’s (Lindsay’s sister) wedding
Feb 21st – Leave Canada and return to Christchurch and the South Island to see the South Island as tourists
Mar 20th – Leave New Zealand for good, head to Maine and start prepping for Appalachian Trail
(Yes, we are still posting stories about 6 weeks behind where we currently are. Over the next couple weeks we will be putting up posts regarding our South Island tourist experience and AT preparations.

Continue reading Back on the road after Punga Cove

Closing Thoughts on Punga Cove

When we decided that employment would be needed to help us through our New Zealand trip we didn’t think that we would find a resort in the Queen Charlotte Sounds to work at. When Punga Cove decided to pay us for driving the tractor, hanging out at the cafe and eating their food we didn’t think it would be nearly as life altering as it ended up being, either. Continue reading Closing Thoughts on Punga Cove

Wellington, NZ – Coffee Shops, Gay Bars and Lonely Russian Women

The call it Windy Welly for a reason – since it’s the third windiest city in the world and the big city Art and Culture capital of New Zealand. We drove down to Wellington after leaving the bakery with two goals in mind; drink some good coffee while people watching and find our friend Emilie from the green submarine. Attempting to knock out two birds with one stone and not having the most reliable communication between three people living as cell phone-less gypsies, we planned to meet up at either the National Museum or a coffee shop downtown later that night. After missing each other by ten minutes at the museum Lindsay and I spotted her walking down the culturally eccentric Cuba Street, it just took three cups of coffee in as many hours sitting on the front window stools! (Rough life, I know.)

After meeting up with each other we decided to spend the rest of the evening enjoying all that the Cuba Street culture had to offer. After joking around for the afternoon about going to one of the many gay bars on the street, the girls talked me into it and lets just say it became an “eye opening” experience. I’ve never gone to a gay bar, first because of being close minded prior to going to Alaska and then as a result of my position in the Army it became one of those culturally/professionally off-limits areas. Since neither of those two limiting factors existed anymore I figured what the hell, why not! Regardless of being the poorest dressed male in there (hey, in my own defense, we’re living out of a backpack and a station wagon!) there were plenty of boys dressed as girls, girls dressed as boys and everything in between. Even a very tall Marie Antoinette with a very defined Adam’s Apple.

After my cultural experience completed itself, we took off for a salsa bar on the other end of the strip and a pitcher of beer later, the two girls took off to dance and left me to watch their coats and bags and such. Well, seizing the opportunity of a lifetime, a solidly drunk Russian woman saddled up right next to me striking up a conversation that sadly I had not drank enough to follow. Expecting Lindsay to come save me at any moment I kept the conversation going as my lady friend attempted to seal the deal. At that point I had to break it to her that the beautiful red beard in front of her had already been spoken for by the blonde out on the dance floor… who watched the train wreck all along and couldn’t stop laughing at me.


We spent the rest of our time in Welly away from the bars and enjoying the free museums and numerous cafes along the waterfront. The highlight of which would have to be the Te Papa Museum, which besides being the official national museum and probably the best guest experience museum we had ever been to, in any country, it was also 100% free. We planned on spending 3 hours there and ended up taking our time and using the better part of our day. Our last day in Wellington finished up by walking the updated waterfront that still paid homage to the industrial history of the city, leaving the 50 and 100 year old cranes next to the water.


Sadly, after just three days our time in Welly came to an end at it was time to jump on the ferry to head to the South Island to face our next adventure!

The Watermill Bakery – Our Swiss/Kiwi Baking Experience

So for those of you following at home, in the last 8 weeks we’ve made compost and weeded gardens, hitched our way to “Surftown” NZ, had a years-worth of (free) hangovers, and managed to create an engineering feet with a submersible canoe. Where could we end up next? Well… what goes better with beer than PIZZA?!

Our run of good luck and good karma continued when we received an e-mail from Gerlinde and Boly from the Watermill Bakery and Pizzeria, located on the Southeastern corner of the North Island, telling us to come hang out and eat their pizza for a week or two. Boly, who besides being possibly the most upbeat and energetic man I have ever worked with, is also a Master Miller by trade, having spent about two decades working as a flour miller in his native Switzerland and then as far as Africa and finally New Zealand. In the early 90’s he bought a plot of cleared farmland with a small stream running through it and almost immediately started planting trees and built a log house (which will become his flour mill). How can best you describe this guy? Even before he had a building, he purchased and shipped two containers worth of milling equipment – including massive grindstones – to New Zealand because he knew that someday he would build his own mill.

Incredible building, live music and probably the best pizza I’ve ever had… life is rough!

It took ten years to finish the first building project and he still didn’t have a mill set up, but he did have a traditional wood fired baking oven and the bread started coming. When we showed up, 20 years after buying the property, he had turned 40 of the 60 acres into a purpose-made forest with specific trees planted in groves which he can now harvest to make firewood and log building components. There is a booming bread/pizza business coming out of his original log structure and a house for the family just a quick walk up the hill that is powered exclusively by solar and a mini-hydro. Though he still hasn’t unpacked his millstones yet.

Boly; the man, the myth, the legend, taking a pizza out of the oven.
Gerlinde slaving away at the pizza topings

So how did we fit in? …Besides eating some of the best pizza we had ever had you mean? We spent 10 days working and learning as much as we could: Lindsay made some of the sweets the bakery sells, Clay finished hand-made hardwood cutting boards, we picked raspberries for desert pizzas, and we prepped cut logs for future building projects by peeling and sealing them.

The most memorable experiences we had though were working the pizza nights and the farmers markets. The bakery would make pizza every Friday night and it definitely embodied the phrase “if you build it, they will come”. The place was at best 20 minutes from any population center, stuck out in them middle of nowhere, and yet we would turn 120 pizzas on a Friday night. I cut and Lindsay served them one after another. We participated in two farmers markets, and we luckily had the ‘big monthly market’ while we were there. We sold bread and sweets and about 150lbs of a traditional Swiss breakfast hash brown called Rosti. I flipped, cut and served frying pan after frying pan of Rosti on our little assembly line while Lindsay happily took their money and sold them the Lindstorten that she made the day prior.

Lindsay bringing pizza to the hungry masses
The monkey cuts the pizza…

…All of that and then the board game Carrom. This one is worth learning in person – come visit us and be prepared to drink beer and play lots of our new favorite table game!

Stripping bark off a newly cut cedar pole

Before I end the post I’m not sure how I could forget our Swiss logging experience. I (Clay) have more experience with tree harvesting than the average bloke and, while not a professional logger, I know how it’s done as I did it for much of my time through high school and university. With that being said, we learned a unique and highly inefficient way to bring logs to a processing area. Boly had a few cedar trees high up on a hill that were missed by the excavator when it came to do some dirt work and the truck couldn’t make it there to drag them down. So what did we do? (This is almost as ridiculous as Hunter and the Buffalo so I’ll try to paint the picture):

We started with a 30 year-old rusted trolley (hand cart… think of the two wheeled cart that the UPS guy uses to move boxes) that in a past life held the gas tanks for a cutting torch. We rolled one log onto the long part of the trolley (which was lying on the ground, handles digging into the dirt) and attempted to secure it with two worn-out ratchet straps. This gave the butt end of the log “wheels”. Then, by taking a second trolley and levering the other end of the log, we raised it up on four “wheels” with the top end completely unsafe and unsecured but able to pivot and steer the log-on-wheels. At that point we were forced to let gravity and health insurance do the rest of the work: the lucky two held extended ratchet straps on the uphill side of the log, while the other poor bastard held onto the unsecured trolley on the downhill side. The guy on the bottom tried to steer down a narrow and winding 200m hill while he hoped like hell the two people on the top half would slow the log down enough that it didn’t run him over. When I write a book this might have to be a whole chapter, as we performed this exercise four times with 1000lbs (+) logs and I honestly still don’t know how it worked… I just know I’m never ever inviting a European baker to help me cut logs.

Our living quarters for these 10 days