New Zealand, Travel, Video

Mundane Madness: A Travel Video

tauranga new zealand - words and wanderlust

Perhaps love.

There is a reason why unlike most, this blog will never survive penning travel guides from point A to point B. I have tried, but each time I do, I become less and less myself.

Perhaps love.

I love departures more than I’ll ever do arrivals. My travels aren’t necessarily aimed at reaching the destination. It thrives on the stories along the journeys and of the detours I take from time to time. Sometimes I bump into stop-overs so precious I decide not to leave any more. Sometimes, in the middle of everything that’s right, I get bored, stand up, and decide to do something else; go somewhere else.

Experience, New Zealand, Travel

Hello Stranger

Blog Carnival. There is something wonderful in all things short-lived: it does not last long enough for the magic to wear off.

Those fleeting moments become the memories we tuck in the pockets of remembrance. Those are the same stories we fish out on nostalgic drunken nights to share to a friend or two.

Hello Stranger

Once upon a time, I allowed myself some recklessness. Fully aware that I wasn’t to be forever young, I took advantage of a time where I was at my most palatable. hah.

Let us pretend I wrote this drunk.

New Zealand, Travel

Under The New Zealand Moon

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND. When I first got here in February of 2008, leaving home was easy. There was not much to hold on to except family. And in the same odd way, family was also my biggest reason for leaving.

New Zealand cradled my then burnt-out, uptight self with generosity, kindness and luck. By the end of my first year, melancholy has successfully been exhausted out my system. I have also unloaded the breadwinner’s yoke off my father’s back. My provisions afforded my parents much needed rest, recreation and peace of mind. It allowed my brothers to want as much; to be free and happy as if the world was theirs. As for myself, I was gifted the fortune of squeezing as much goddamn juice out of as many goddamn lemons thrown my way.

Life had been a bottomless well of blessings since. My career soared faster and higher than usual. Outside work, I have dabbled with writing, shooting and traveling. I have reached the point where money wasn’t anymore an issue as big as time was. There was so much to do; so many places to go to,  but so little time.

Love, as you may have already known, was the cherry on top. It came in the form of a bouquet of gerberas on my doorstep 2 Decembers ago, from a photographer-slash-engineer neighbor who apparently was on the prowl until I was without a boyfriend. “Will you be my girlfriend?” and “Will you be my wife?” happened in a span of time so short, some lines are blurred.

In a few hours, today, I will be leaving New Zealand. All the wonderful memories I have in the nearly half a decade I spent here are wrapped in 6 relocation boxes and a hundred kilogram worth of luggages. One beautiful life in one container van.

A boat house and a rewarding job awaits me across the ditch. There, the sun shines brighter; the moon, bigger. But truth be told, I find it very, very hard to leave. I have come to love this country as my own– more than it being a greener pasteur; more than what I came here for.

The sun rises here first for a reason. For landscapes and waterscapes that do not only charm the sight, but soothes the soul as well. For its citizens– the kindest, most trustworthy and most generous one could ever find. For nights that are silent, because then, one could hear the beating of his own heart. For days that are eternal– 9pm sunsets and the like.

It is when fate brings one to real life paradises like New Zealand that we come to prove that there is a God. He puts us where we can truly bloom and be happy. He put me here to heal. I guess now, the mending’s done and I’m off for a test run– there, where the greats are made greater; the beautiful is made more beautiful.

Experience, New Zealand, Travel

Bucket List | Bungy Jumping New Zealand

Bungy jumping in New Zealand had been in everybody’s bucket lists long before “bucket list” became a household term. Traveling to NZ isn’t complete without a bungee jump, may it be in Queenstown or in Taupo. NZ tourism sure knows how to couple extreme activities with paradise-like nature as backdrop.

[vimeo 44183688]

Just over a fortnight after I got married, the X and I drove over to the North Island’s adventure capital, Taupo, to jump off the edge. 47 meters high and no turning back, it was the single bravest thing I have done in all my 27 years. The X chickened the last minute and decided he couldn’t do it. But I, at only 5 feet 4 and 55 kgs, took on the challenge like it was no different to the age-old cliff jumping I used to do as a kid back in my mum’s hometown of Iloilo.

Water has always been my comfort zone. Nearly 50m below from where I stood, the mighty Waikato River, in all its almost-frozen glory, had its arms outstretched. It enticed, promising liberation.

In less than a month’s time, the X and I will be relocating to another country with hopes of good fortune. Until I make that jump, I could never really claim I have lived in New Zealand. In addition, If I really desire to travel the world like I say I do, it is only just to explore my backyard first and do the very things other travelers come here for.

As the Bungee crew gear me up for the plunge, my eyes trailed to the viewing deck. I saw the X, the in-laws, a bunch of other people who couldn’t make up their minds if they’d also jump or not and many others who knew in their hearts that they never can do such feat.

Then it happened. I was asked to stand on the edge, look up to the camera above for posterity, and savor the picturesque reality of New Zealand: whitewashed cliffs, a lake that was all shades of blue, lush forests and long white clouds. There was only one way for me to take all of it in: succumb to gravity.

It was so fast there was no time to entertain fear. The next thing I felt was the rope pulling my feet and for the first time ever, I saw the whole world upside down. It still was just as beautiful.

I grinned from ear to ear, knowing that I have conquered something that was far more than what it looked like it was. It wasn’t only a jump, it was a manifestation of how fiercely brave my heart is. I did myself a favor; I made the whole world hold their breaths.

~*~

Taupo Bungy
202 Spa Road, Taupo
New Zealand
0800 888 408

Solo Bungy: $149
(photos and videos excluded)

New Zealand, Travel

Northland | Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga, Northland.  idea of a country was just too huge in my imagination. It was hard to fathom how there were boundaries; edges that wrapped around a motherland’s entirety. Somehow, facts used to come to me bland, they were almost lies.

But at lunch time last April, after a short downhill walk from where the bus driver dropped us off, we found ourselves standing on the edge of the country. Maori legends spoke of the place as the leaping-off point for the spirits, where the turbulent union of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean pulls (or pushes, no one knows) the departed into the abyss of forevermore; of heaven.

The lighthouse in Cape Reinga was a fixture. It beaconed like an old friend. It was stout; not as tall as how it was in photographs. I wondered if it still lit up at night, if it still called fishermen home.

Beside the lighthouse where yellow arrows to everywhere. I liked how it conveyed of crossroads, though there weren’t any. The distant horizon was cloaked with clouds. But on a good day, they said, Australia can be seen from the cape.

Australia and Aoteroa. Sisters. Rivals.

“Do they say hello to each other in the morning?” I asked myself.

There were grasses, shrubs all over. There was no need for mowing, I reckoned. The wind in that part of the world was strange; so dense I could almost see limbs grooming the surrounding grassland. Indeed, nature was taking care of itself.

Not far below was the unforgiving waters of Tasman and the Pacific. The half court line came in the form of white froth from waves lapping to opposite directions. How did they mark territories, I never knew.

And of course, there I stood, on the rugged edges of Northland, my kingdom of rock and soil on a constantly losing battle with water. I counted how many more million years it could buy before finally conceding defeat. “More than what I could afford in a lifetime,” I guessed. (I actually managed to bring myself to entertain that particular detail without having to realize if I was ready; if I ever will be.)

By the time my musings trailed as far as wondering if the Pirate of the Caribbean sailed past there, too; if the end of his world was different from the end of mine, the driver coaxed everyone to go back to the bus at once as we still have to go sand boarding in a dune a short drive away from where we were.

I looked back one last time, to the frayed edges of my country– falling apart but holding itself together, still.

 

~*~

Cape Reinga, Aupouri Peninsula

The Far North

 

422 km from Auckland

5 hrs and 10 mins via SH 1

~*~

New Zealand, Travel

Blog Carnival | My Royal Rockness

Mothers Day - Words and Wanderlust

She was 26 when she had me. I remember us sporting the same hairstyle back in the day. She was my role model, I was her favorite accessory.

The bond that mommy and I share is more sisterly than it is mother-daughter. We share secrets, gossips, cosmetics, and for many, many years, hairbrushes. We share the same passion in writing too. When I wrote my first poem at 8, she gave me access to an old suitcase filled with diaries, with pages yellowed by years. Kept in each yellowed leaf were verses written for my father and those that she loved before him. I have not ceased writing since.

New Zealand, Travel

North Island, New Zealand: Notes from the Passenger Seat

The ten hour drive between the world’s coolest little capital of Wellington and the big little city of Auckland, is my single most travelled route in the country. today, let me drive you through the experience– must have’s, must do’s and must snaps.

1.) Camera

First and foremost, I am a traveler AND a photographer, not a travel photographer. Ergo, I cannot be bothered with manual settings and tripods when traveling. It helps that I have a photographer for a boyfriend, so he does all the photography engineering (which is stiff and boring, bazinga! :P)

I do, however, snap away with analog cameras. I dig the element of surprise in using film, the hopes for happy accidents. The art that I know is unrestrained and that is very well embodied with the analog loving.

GEARS: (Lomography) Fisheye 2, Diana F+, Colorsplash, Holga CFN, Sprocket Rocket | (Polaroid) 300, 600.

PROs: affordable, low-maintenance, can be put anywhere without having to worry about a broken lens, lightweight.

CONs: lomo: non-instant, poor depth of field | pola: expensive film

 

2.)  Sunglasses

An active lifestyle doesn’t leave so much room for accessories, so I invest in whatever I have left. A pair of sunnies isn’t only my favorite accessory, it is also an essential. I’m big on dramas, and sunglasses are my secret weapon for that. It conveys character, even on days that my eyebags are the size of Texas. I am particular though of what to wear where.

GEARS: Cheap aviators from Cotton On in blue glass/silver frame and black glass/gold frame, Calvin Klein bronze-framed aviators, Ralph Lauren Square framed oversized sunnies. The boyfriend, on the other hand, is loyal to Oakley’s Ducati.

 

3.) Signspotting

New Zealand is the most tourist-friendly country I’ve ever been to. You can go out of the airport, pick up a free map, rent a car and you can go to anywhere in the country without getting lost. And if you ever will, everywhere is a tourist spot, there is absolutely no need to worry.

 

4.) Detours

The problem with sign spotting is that, it can be suggestive. Tempting, even. A million times we have run short of time because we make unplanned turns because of interesting signs that were not really part of the itinerary. But as they say, it is the journey that counts, not the destination.

 

5.) Fruit Markets

One of my favorite things in road trips are short stops in roadside fruit markets. Fresh fruits, cheap prices.

 

6.) Music

For what fun is a road trip without an accompanying music trip? Aside from the iPad/iPhone playlists, I keep an album of CDs for road trips. And my favorite of all? OPM. (Parokya Ni Edgar, Eraserheads, Silent Sanctuary, Imago, Teeth, Yano, Kamikaze etc.)

 

7.) Beaches

A drive along the coast is an oasis in a road trip desert. There is always calming about the sight, feel and smell of water. New Zealand has freezing bodies of water though, even the sea. Especially the sea.

 

8.) Countryside

North Island boasts of a rich farming community. Driving from Wellington to Taupo, acres of farmlands wrap superhighways in seas of green. I particularly brood on this part of the trip, thinking of Heidi, a TV program from my childhood, which was set on a countryside like New Zealand but was dubbed in Filipino.

New Zealand is as big as the Philippines, but the population is only 4 million, 86 million of the total Philippine Population. Imagine how much free space this country has— that is the blinding expanse one can see from the road.

 

9.) Sheep

When my mom came out from the arrival lounge of the Auckland Airport on her first visit to the country, her first question was, “Where are the sheep?”

No, they don’t roam around the cities.  But on a road trip to Palmerston North aboard the Naked Bus, she finally saw herds and herds, much to her utter joy. She told me later that night that she didn’t really believe she was in NZ until the very moment she saw a sheep.

 

10.) Roadside Cafes

Over the years, I have learned to live with the misfortune of not having rice and <i>sabaw</i> in most NZ restaurants. But a life of chasing the sun and beating the weather has taught my palate to enjoy the quick fills on the road. Apart from fruits, I usually devour steak pies and fish and chips while on the road. For drinks, the ultimate Kiwi faves are Lemon and Paeroa and Bundaberg.

 

11.) Desert Road

Think Road to Vegas, that is exactly what State Highway 1’s Desert Road is. When on the Desert Road, one is actually, at least 3500 ft. above sea level, the highest in the country’s state highway networks.

 

12.) Mt. Ruapehu

Nature is  indeed ingenious. It is surprising to suddenly see a desert in the heart of a country with rich farmlands and abundant waterscapes. But once you’re there, you will understand. The Desert Road’s neutral brown is a necessary pathway that leads all eyes, all attention, to the grandeur of the snowcapped Mt. Ruapehu.

Unstoppable may be too strong as an adjective. But a freak head-on collision with another vehicle in a suburb near Huntersville two years ago confirmed just that. Still bearing the pain of spine contusion, I found myself embarking on another roadtrip to the Taranaki region a mere three days after the accident. I knew since, that I was more afraid of NOT living more than I’ll ever do with dying.

 

(all photographs, though without watermarks, are mine.)