The Adventures of Housesitting in New Zealand

An old barn in Masterton, New Zealand. When Daniel told me we received an e-mail from a family asking us to housesit for five weeks, I didn’t need much convincing to say yes. What was even better was the fact it wasn’t just any old house (well, it was old). This was a farmhouse. And you know what that means? Farm animals. Daniel said there would be cows, sheep, chickens, a horse, dog, and cat.

“But wait, we don’t have any experience with farm animals,” I whined. [Read more…]

The One Where we Say Goodbye to The Bloody Legend

Girl sitting on a car in Wellington, New Zealand.

didn’t think much of the Mazda Familia when I first saw it. It was mostly white, except for that dark green patch on the right side of the hood. There were dings and scratches—surely the norm for a 22-year-old car. The interior complemented the exterior—faded and worn, the radio broken (naturally). You’d never catch me driving such a thing back home in the States, but I was in New Zealand and on a budget. It’d only have to last a year.

Besides, no one I knew would see me in it.

[Read more…]

The Things I Forgot to Bring to South Korea

There are plenty of forums on the Internet discussing the things one must bring to Korea as an expat. Surprisingly most people never seem to mention the following to others: a passport, an open mind, and a Korean phrasebook.

Instead, they usually mention things like peanut butter or spices or shoes, especially if you have a big feet. I initially scoffed at these people. You’re in a new country! Why not experience the products, food, and other (possibly weird) customs the country has to offer?

[Read more…]

Buying a Used Car in New Zealand

A 1993 Mazda Familia in New Zealand.
Since Daniel and I have a working holiday visa for one year, we made the choice to buy a car. It would be more cost-effective and allow us to see the country at our own speed. (Ha! Get it?) If you’re a backpacker traveling the country for less than two months, it’d probably be better to rent a car. According to  (a helpful travel review site dedicated to all things NZ) at the time of writing, the highest rated rental agency in the north island is and in the south island it’s .

The great thing about buying a used car in New Zealand is that they are cheap and plentiful. The majority of them come from Japan, so you will see many Mazdas, Nissans, and Hondas on the road, which will make replacing parts easy.

[Read more…]

Why do People like Camping?

Camping out of a car in New Zealand.

So, you want to pack up all of our stuff? Nods head.
Sleep in a tent outside, even when we already have a perfectly comfortable bed inside?Nods head.
And be disconnected from our laptops for a whole five days? Nods head.

Camping. It has always been such a foreign concept to me. The idea doesn’t seem like the most tempting thing to do.

So why is it considered a vacation?
[Read more…]

The things I missed (and didn’t) about America while in Korea


Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, South Korea.

It seems like just yesterday I was counting down the days until we could leave South Korea. (Surprisingly it has already been nine months!) With the controlling head teacher, the disruptive kindergarten kids, and the very few breaks we had away from those aforementioned kids, I couldn’t wait to leave. I don’t know how I did it, but I somehow survived a year in the Land of the Morning Calm. Of course it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, there are things I have started to miss about my time in Korea.

And some, well, that are long forgotten about.

[Read more…]

Wellington Walks: Somes Island

The East to West ferry docked at Queens Wharf in Wellington, New Zealand.

When I saw a for round-trip ferry tickets to Somes Island, I immediately bought it for Daniel and me. It has been on our list of places to visit since moving to Wellington.

Somes Island, also known as Matiu Island, sits in the Wellington Harbor. In fact, it’s so close to the city that I still had 3G on my phone. (This wasn’t the case for Kapiti Island.) But still far enough away to escape the sounds of the city.

somes island from mount kaukau wellington

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Spending the Holidays Abroad Without Family

A tourist in Thailand.

I realize how lucky we are to be traveling and living abroad. But there are times when traveling gets hard, when you start to feel lonely. That, of course, is during the holidays. You’re meant to celebrate holidays with your family, but how do we cope when we’re living a life abroad?

[Read more…]

Wellington Walks: Whitireia Park

Another weekend, another walk. This time we decided to check out Whitireia Park located in Porirua, a 30 minute drive from Wellington city. Daniel must have picked this walk with me in mind because it was pretty damn short and easy. There were hardly any hills to walk up.

The beginning of the walk at Whitireia Park.

Although you would hardly notice, the path is shared with cyclists, pedestrians, and four-legged friends. One thing I love is that the trails in Wellington never seem to be filled with people. There is the occasional mountain biker zooming around the corner, but that’s usually it. Nice and quiet.

[Read more…]

The Best Road Trip Songs (According to Jamie)

Road in the desert.

Daniel and I took a few road trips together while we were back in the States. The most impressive was probably driving from Portland, Oregon to Tampa, Florida in a week with two cats in the backseat. [Read: Driving Cross Country with a Pet] As we took more road trips together, a tradition started: we’d buy a box of doughnuts and create an ultimate road trip playlist, which would then be burnt to a CD (yes, old school). 

Bloody Legend (our car) unfortunately doesn’t have a radio and there are very few (proper) doughnut shops making most of our trips in New Zealand quiet and sugar free. Okay, I lied about the latter. There are plenty of sweets. 

Driving through New Zealand has been amazing, but every great road trip needs music. There’s nothing better than singing loudly (and out of tune) to the radio while driving. It has got me thinking about those times when we’d create an ultimate playlist. What songs stuck out to me? What songs did I always request? What songs remind me of driving along the Oregon coast and across America? I’ve thought long and hard, and have chosen five songs that I believe are the best road trip songs.

[Read more…]