2012, without a doubt, was one of the best years of my life. I forged new and wonderful friendships with amazing people from all over the world, and solidified longstanding ones. I lived on my own for the majority of the year in my own little slice of paradise, on the beautiful beaches of New Zealand. I even had the opportunity to travel to a new continent – Africa – a place that my soul fell in love with. Since posting my 2011 recap, last December 31st, I’ve decided to start a little tradition, and spend the last day of the year reminiscing on the good times (and probably bad times too) that were had during the past twelve months. This is 2012 in review!
January- Summer holidays, Kiwi style
I rang in 2012 in the company of some new and old friends on a farm in New Zealand. It was kind of perfect – not over the top, and just nice to be surrounded by good friends. January saw me buying my car – a little 1997 Mazda Familia – whom I fondly called Amelia. I also took the opportunity to enjoy the company of my friends – many of whom are schoolteachers and had their summer holidays during this month. I enjoyed girl time out in the Bay of Islands and a few of us even had a fun few days of camping at Spirit’s Bay, close to Cape Reinga – the very top of New Zealand.
February- Unemployed and living at the beach
With my friends and flatmates returning back to their day jobs working in various schools in the area, I decided it was time to put on my job-hunting shoes and pound the pavement with my CV in hand. My efforts were fruitless and I ended up unemployed and frustrated with the lack of job opportunities – even though I was well aware of the fact that it was a small town, one riddled with a high level of unemployment among it’s own people, so I did understand why business owners were less willing to take me – a foreigner on a working holiday visa. This time did allow me to focus on my blog, and I managed to move it over to my own self-hosted domain. I also spent this time taking mini day trips around the area and exploring the beauty of the Far North. I combined my love for sharing my experiences as well as going out and exploring the Far North in a series called Far North Adventures – where I show off some of the fun things that can be done while visiting New Zealand’s Far North.
The tiki tours started when Kate (of Canuckiwikate – also my best friend and flatmate) had a friend from her hometown of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia came for a visit. Since Kate was still teaching, I played tourguide with Tiffany and we saw some of the best things that the Far North had to offer and even went skydiving together! The following week, my soul sister, Stephanie – a girl I had met when I traveled from Perth to Exmouth in Western Australia in 2011 – came to visit. We met in Whangarei and spent the following ten days traveling around Northland, Auckland and Waikato- specifically the Coromandel Peninsula. It was nice to just get away from the day-to-day of unemployed life and enjoy the company of someone new, someone who I share a lot of my own personal beliefs and someone who challenges my thinking. It was a big giant breath of fresh air.
April- Fun for (part of) the Whole Family
The middle of the month had me making the 5hr drive down to Auckland and giving my mom and dad a warm Kiwi welcome. Neither one of my parents had ever been to New Zealand before, so I took the opportunity to show them some of it’s beauty. We had two weeks in New Zealand and explored Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua, the Bay of Islands before making our way back up to my home in Ahipara. After our two-week stint in New Zealand was done, we took a hop across the ditch –as the Aussies and Kiwis like to say – and I introduced my parents to the city that I refer to as ‘home in my heart’ – Sydney. We spent a wonderful day at Taronga Zoo, and many days just wandering the city, and I got to show them exactly why I love it so much – and I think it’s safe to say they felt the same way at the end of their weeklong trip to Australia’s largest city.
May- Cause this is AFRICA!
I made the 42-hour journey from Sydney, Australia to Cape Town, South Africa (via Singapore and Johannesburg) at the beginning of the month to commence my 21-day overlanding camping tour with Nomad Adventure Tours. Over the next 21-days I, as well as 15 others, from all over the world made our way from Cape Town to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. During that time, we explored the beauty of Fish River Canyon, climbed Dune 45 at sunrise, went on game drives in Etosha National Park and Chobe National Park and even went bush camping in the Okavango Delta. It was an experience of a lifetime.
June- I have no fear, I walk with lions
After finishing up the tour in Victoria Falls, I took a bus 8hours into the middle of Zimbabwe to the city of Gweru where I can confidently say, I had the best two and a half weeks of my life. I volunteered with lions with the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust. Every day I would get to work with the king of the jungle, fighting to help save their species. It was such an eye opening experience. At the end of the month I made the journey back to New Zealand with no plans on what was to happen next. I didn’t even know where I was going to be living. I did know that I was unsure about moving down to the South Island, knowing that it was going to be the middle of winter. I had experienced very cold nights and mornings in Africa, but and wasn’t too keen on having to live through anything colder than that. Snow was not an option.
July- Return to the Land of the Long White Cloud
Upon returning, Kate had offered me the opportunity to live in the bottom unit of the new house she was going to be moving into after her trip to Thailand. Keen on staying in the so-called ‘winterless North’ and with my amazing friend, Mike, helping me get a job at a local horse stables – the decision was made: I would stay. Since we didn’t have possession on the new house until Kate and her boyfriend, Thom, came back from their Thailand trip, it meant I was homeless. Thankfully, my good friend, Gray, took me in and let me stay at his family’s cattle farm outside of town. I was welcomed with open arms and found myself getting into a nice routine of going to work, helping with the horses, coming back to the farm and helping with the cattle – I even made a new friend with the girl that I worked with, Kaye.
August- Unemployed and living at the beach, take 2!
Set in my routine, I was dreading the middle of the month. Since I only had my position working as a stablehand due to one of the full-time staff being on vacation, I knew that once she returned, I would likely be out of work. Sure enough, upon the other girl’s return, I was out of a job – although I would make weekly visits to go see the horses that I fell in love with – I focused a lot of my time on my blog and producing content. The Mellyboo Project had a record month for traffic nearly tripling in numbers with me sharing my experiences about being in Africa. I made the most of having a bit of extra time on my hands, but did eventually land a job at the end of the month – waitressing at one of the two restaurants in Kaitaia; the Beachcomber.
September- Work, work, work, work
Now settling into my new job, doing the one job that has afforded me the opportunity to live this lifestyle – waitressing- I found myself getting comfortable again in a routine. I also had the opportunity of meeting Ed from RexyEdventures, when he came to stay with me for a few days on the New Zealand leg of his round-the-world trip. We explored some beaches and I showed him exactly why Northland is a place that no tourist should miss – it’s a thing of beauty. The remainder of the month was mostly spent working and blogging.
October- Best month ever
When I had returned home from Africa I wrote down a few goals in terms of where I would like my blog and online presence to go. In October, I achieved every single one of these goals, so it was a personal best for me. Not only was I sharing my experiences with the world wide web, but people were reading, my stuff was getting out there and I started gaining more and more followers. I received many messages from people all over the world – it really makes a girl feel awesome about herself to know that my stories are inspiring others to breakaway from the 9-5 type life and live their dreams. This month I was still in the same work, work, work type routine. When I wasn’t working, I was blogging. The weather was starting to get nicer so I tried to take advantage of it as much as possible. During October, I also found myself really starting to miss the lions and Antelope Park, so when a deal popped up on a Kiwi deal website for entrance to a big cat park here in Northland, it was a no-brainer. Kate and I, along with our friend Sophie, made the 2-hour drive to Kamo and got to experience the Kingdom of Zion. While it wasn’t the same as being at Antelope Park, it did give me my ‘fill.’
November- The slow end to Kiwi life
November was about the time that I knew that things needed to start coming to an end. I finished up working at my job at the Beachcomber, I sold my car for nearly all of the money I had bought it for, and I started giving stuff away and mailing packages home. I packed up my house and consolidated everything into 20kgs. I also celebrated my 26th birthday. It was a very quiet day – unlike my 25th, that saw me going out and partying it up in Sydney. Rather, I spent it surrounded by my friends and enjoyed quality time with those who had become my on-the-road family. November was a stressful month, and as a result my writing took the back seat to organizing myself and my house and tying up loose ends of my Kiwi life.
December- Aloha North America – The return home
The first day of the month commenced my long journey home starting with the forty-five minute flight down to Auckland where I stayed with Beverley from Pack Your Passport – we had an incredible weekend, which was made complete by getting to see Bear Grylls do an interview with Rhys Darby -live! On December 3rd I flew from Auckland to Sydney and then Sydney to Honolulu and spent 2 glorious weeks in beautiful Hawai’i with Steph – the same soul sister that I had road tripped around New Zealand with only 9-months prior. I was a busy bee – cage diving with sharks with Brooke from Brooke vs. the World, snorkeled with manta rays at night, learned how to surf on the beaches of Waikiki, spent many hours wandering around the Honolulu Zoo, and took a little trip to the Big Island where I got to see volcanoes and participate in a beach cleanup with the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund. I then made what I thought was going to be a good transition back into Canadian winters (and boy how I was wrong) by visiting my university friend Gillie and her sister, Stephanie in Vancouver. Known for it’s mild, often-snowless winters, I was eager to see what I could of this often raved about city. As my luck would have it, Vancouver was hit with the biggest snowstorm it had seen in a few years – thus making my flight back home to Toronto delayed by nearly 5 hours. I have since returned back to my hometown and my family is extremely happy to have me back, even if it’s just for a few months.
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So that’s it! My best year ever. 2012 in review is now complete. I hope this was a good stepping off point for any new readers. Again I would love to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you who take the time out of your busy lives to read what I have to write. I hope you enjoy my experiences and insights and I hope that in some small way I am inspiring you to go out there and do some traveling and exploring of your own. The world is a big beautiful place, and anything can happen. Be open to every possibility. Happy New Years, folks!