March 2015

First day of March we bought our lovely van, Dorothy. She was equipped with intimidating sheep skulls, a full size bed and a stovetop burner inside. Bought it off of two german guys at the Auckland car fair. Since we bought their van, they had to find another car to buy at the car fair. About 15 minutes later they found one. We all got in, drove to the post shop and registered our cars. No DMV bullshit. 10 minutes and we were done. First adventure in Dorothy was to the Sundaise music festival. The feeling of driving your house around is incredible, everything you own is inside that moving box. We decided to drive out to Waihi for the festival a day early. Along the way at an old gold mining site, we thought to only stop for 5 minutes, ended up hiking around for a couple hours. Encountered our first glow worm, which we thought was light peeking through a crack in the rock. Found some stick insects along the trails as well. Got to the festival site and met our neighbors, Libbby and Lucy, a Brit and an Australian. Everyone was down to earth and really friendly. We were celebrating the beginning of our New Zealand journey. Little did we know, we were just scratching the surface.

Since we were already in the Coromandel Peninsula, we decided to make the most of it. The first stop was at hot water beach. If the tide is right, you can dig your own hot pool, which is exactly what we did. Along with about 50 other people, but the more the merrier. The pools are heated by a natural hot spring under the sand and the ocean water fills your pools, it also destroys them. When we were walking back to our car, we noticed a couple taking photos of Dorothy and we thought it was a bit strange. Turns out this couple owned Dorothy a few years back and built most of the inside. Thats how we found out Dorothy has been around the block a few times. The next stop was Cathedral Cove, a nice beach thats only about a 30 minute walking distance from the car park. Beautiful blue waters, towering pillars and sea caves you can swim to.

Our last stop in the Coromandel was at a place called the waterworks. Its about a 40 minute drive through the hairy 309 highway. We only planned on checking the place out, it was like an adult playground. Flying foxes, hamster wheels, dangerous swings. Its a great place to break your neck, plus everything was made out of recycled material by the owner, Jeff. Deaf Jeff. We met Jeff when we had lunch in the cafe. He offered us work in exchange for accommodation and food, we thought it sounded like a deal and it was. After three minutes of training on the tractor, we were moving gravel or in kiwi terms, metal. Only about three hours of work and we went home with Jeff and his wife Monet, who was from California. They cooked us a nice meal and we chatted about the United States and its strange economy. The next morning, Jeff took us to go fishing on his boat. I (Ben) have never been fishing before and I ended up catching about 10 fish. 9 of them we couldn’t keep because they were too small. We only stayed with Jeff and Monet for a couple days and then headed back to Rosa’s farm in Helensville.

When St. Patricks day rolled around, we hopped on a bus  to Auckland CBD with people who were a few generations older than us but still young at heart. Drinking Guiness at an irish bar, irish dancing with the golden girls (they were the over 90s at the RSA) made for a great morning. We met two lovely girls, Lotty and Tamara, a Brit and a German, who were also celebrating St. Pattys day. It was nice to be with our own generation. After a long day of consuming alcohol with our new friends, we had to book a bed at a hostel because we missed the bus back home. The next morning we went for a coffee and saw a sign for the Hare Krishna festival of colours. After few days of helping out on Rosa and Nigel’s farm, we headed to the Hare Krishna festival in Kumue. We began the festival with plain white t-shirts and ended the festival soaked in corn starch colours. We weren’t exactly sure what Hare Krishna was but surely we enjoyed the festival.

Finally, we decided it was time to leave Rosa and Nigel’s farm. The first stop was in Auckland to pick up these useless RTA travel cards we had already paid for. We met up with Lotty a couple more times and hung out around the city. This was where we had our first experience with sleeping in Dorothy on the streets. Realizing that Auckland was just like every other city on the planet, we left. Our plan was to reach the South Island as soon as possible before it got too cold to explore. One stop on the way down was at the Waitomo Caves. Junior’s cousin had a friend working there that we wanted to meet. We explored some of the caves and witnessed the magnificent glow worms. Absolutely breathtaking. Its like looking into the stars of the night sky, you forget its just a bunch of larvae trying to catch a meal. We found Junior’s cousins friend and they invited us out to party, so of course we obliged. The next morning we left for Wellington. Five hours of driving and we made it, booked the ferry to the South Island for the next day. Found a nice free camp site with lots of other vans right by the beach. Watched a majestic sunset and enjoyed a nice devils cabbage salad.

March 2016

 

See You Later New Zealand! Shoots Melbourne, Australia!

With work finished, we woke up early and had to remove all our stuff quickly out Dorothy, we had to drop off our home to a new owner, an Australian working the vintage. He dropped us back off at Copper Beech on the way to his first day. It was then we realized its our last full day in New Zealand, our home for the past 13 months. Had a quick breakfast and tried to organize our stuff, figuring out what we need and what we don’t. A bottle of Whiskey and herbal medicine to finish, was the number one task of the day.

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Finally, after somewhat packing our Estonian family/friends Egle and Hanna, took us one last time to Cloudy Bay to enjoy the final free glasses of the tasty Mustang, Pinot Noir and Te Wahi wines. Enjoyed the beautiful scenery with some more hostel family who joined us there. Took a stroll through the winery one last time, went on a mission to find some awesome people we got to meet; Mark the Gardener who gave us the freedom to eat so many different fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, the wine makers Tim and Dan Cowabunga people who are in charge of turning grapes into amazing wine, Marion she was responsible for deliveries and the museum which stocked six cases sometimes more of every wine ever made in the Cloudy Bay history, and finally our Cellar Door team Nikki, Wendy, Alison, Audrey and our cousin Sebastian who lived with us. After a quick stop to visit Mattew at Cloe Henri, there we tasted more amazing wine at an old church, amazing views and history.

 

Made it back to the hostel drunk, tried to organize our food space and cooking lunch at the same time. This made me (Junior) forget my laptop and GoPro, without knowing it. Took the last tour of the place we called home and the amazing family we made, our stuff packed in Egle and Hanna’s car along with the homie Carolina, they drove us to the Picton Ferry, shared smiles and hugs, left knowing we will all see each other soon some where on this beautiful world. Walking on the ship it was the first time with just our backpacks since we left California, on the ship I learned from Egle I left my GoPro and laptop at the hostel, which took us on a journey a week later. One last view of the beautiful New Zealand sunset. As we arrived in Wellington and a crazy taxi drive later we made it to the airport, still with Whiskey and medicine. Munched on cereal at the airport, learned they lock doors at 2 am. This lead to several trips outside to finish our task, which we failed, left the Whiskey near a country club and the same jar I found herbs in, for someone to find and Be Happy.

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Finally, we arrived in Melbourne a lot earlier than we thought, ate breakfast at the airport wondering what to do. Audrey from Franz Josef responded and gave us directions to meet her in city, a bus ride gave us our first look of Australia, which was quite similar to the US. She along with her friend Juliet and a wild trip to our hostel took us to the Wilson Promontory National Park. Got our first view of The Bush, beautiful sunset, parrots and wombats, the park was the highlight of the day as we made it to the hostel at 11 pm and checked in. The room and place was interesting but it was a bed. The morning showed how disgusting it was, similar to a drug house, a place you don’t want to stay. We learned checking reviews is useful. (So do it) We left to town to open a bank account and get phones, after several circles and bullshit we eventually got them.

 

After a mission to find Audrey we got lunch then explored the city along with a new friend Hugo. Later at night we made it to the Queen Victoria Night Market. The night was very warm. As Melbourne becomes more and more Urbanized it still has amazing birds like some parrots, cockatoos and much more. Trams now were our source of transportation, off to Formula One, the reason of landing in Melbourne. Got to ride in a Land Rover up a 62° angle, along with changing tires on a F1 car. St. Patrick’s Day no one else was celebrating besides us two in the whole city, what ashamed. Our goal was to meet up with Ben’s cousin Kane who works on the Mercedes team, it wasn’t until the night before the big race we got to see him and go in the pits. The second day of F1 was rainy and so we sat in a display car for an hour, met some cool people. Our fourth day in Melbourne we were given a gift by the hostel as it was overbooked and could no longer stay at the crack den we had to move. So we eventually found an expensive hostel with no choice, several trams later we made it to the hostel. This place was a lot better, at night we had our friends come over and then their friends, a few drinks later climbed to the top of the National Institute of Circus Arts building. Eventually it was six of us in our two person room not bad for the first day. The morning was also the first time we cooked our own meal in Australia after many meals of bread sandwiches. Drank so much that I lost my passport for the first time, luckily someone in the hostel found it in the living room and returned it to me, I’m an idiot.

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A week of being in Melbourne met Kertu and Sigrid from Estonia, Sigrid did me the best favor ever in bringing my laptop and GoPro from New Zealand that I forgot. She is friends with Egle and Hanna the Estonian Mafia. Spent the day with them and carried our newly bought tent with us. They invited us to go eat dinner so we joined, led to my first Uber ride. Strange, but the driver was cool, it was a new Mini Cooper as well. Lentils As Anything is where we went to eat, a pay as you feel vegetarian place. The concept is amazing and has a community feel to it. You can even volunteer for your meal.

After a few days in that Back of Chapel hostel and a few hundred dollars later, we moved to a third hostel in which was a hotel/dorm system. Weird place, 5 stories and workers always cleaning, strange. Started job searching along the Warf, went on a trial and got the job at an Italian Restaurant. Later cruised the city,  checked out some street graffiti, interesting things. New graffiti art is painted constantly, two days later passed the same alley and it had a new mural. With constant searching, we found an apartment that was not too far from the city. It was now a waiting game to move in.

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A trip to the Queen Victoria Market got us a big bag full of vegetables and fruit with $20, it was amazing. A trip back to the hostel, got our backpacks and now to our new apartment. All packed in, made a trip to the supermarket and just before going in passed the rubbish bin, noticed good capsicums thrown away. So we grabbed a few and a lady came, she was a PRO, gave us a box and then filled it with everything. Another lady joined, soon a worker popped out, quickly and discretely we walked away. Hid our box down the street and went back in to shop.

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The more time in the city, it reassured we are not made for the city life; fast, busy, technology, screens, traffic, smelly, dirty, wasteful. To get out of this environment, we hired a car to check out The Great Ocean Road. It was a big Toyota Camry, took us a few hours to get to the beginning of the road, faster than we thought. The Ocean and beaches with these crazy Limestone cliffs, were spectacular from the beginning until the end. Although, the Pacific Coast Highway from home Oxnard to Los Angeles is just as special. Many stops along the way to my(Junior), dream destination 12 Apostles. Our goal was to see it at Sunset, eventually we made it there, to a crowd full of people. The place was incredible, these giant cliff rocks just chilling in the beach. A drive down the road took us to a campsite, it was dark and after a meal of chip sandwiches, we were too lazy to setup our tent. So we put the back seats down and slept in the car. Not too bad. The next day we went to a National Park where koalas roam free. Along the drive you can see cars pulled over taking photos of the sleeping ones chilling in the tree.

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We did a track that led to nothing, no good view, no animals but on the way back I heard weird sounds, it was a koala on the ground. Walked through the bush which was hard and got to see them close up in the wild, they are very cool animals. Also got to see a small forest of California Red Wood Trees, they grew so well there, the power of Cali. Made it to our campsite early this day and able to walk a track. Part of it went through the backyard of someone and had a few kangaroos. At the end of the track, where there’s suppose to be a waterfall was just dry rocks. But on the way back those kangaroo’s we thought were the owners were actually wild. There must have been 30 or so kangaroos at that moment, they walk/bounce so strangely. The tail also seems to help their balance. At night spent time with some Australian cousin’s who were camping to get away from the family, they were nice and gave us some knowledge and places to see. Next morning capped off the Great Ocean Road which did not disappoint, it reassured we had to get out of Melbourne. The trip also gave us a chance to see our first view of koalas and kangaroos also more beautiful birds. This led to giving our two week notice off moving after living in the apartment for less than a week . Great choice.

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Adventure Of A Lifetime

February 10th 2015 started off as any other day, went to Dennys for breakfast with the cousins. It still didn’t hit me that we (Ben and Junior) were leaving later in the evening and had yet to finish packing. Unsure what I needed and what I didn’t for the most part, a year later I think I packed the right stuff. Ate dinner, chilled at home all day with family then it was time. Time to pick up Ben as we said our See You Later to Jess (Ben’s sister and niece) and Marleigh. Got back home and determined what pair of shoes to bring, made a wise choice they are still going strong. Said See You Later to my family some were sad, some were happy others thought we were crazy. Jessie and Chango Mango drove us up the 101 freeway to the 405 and to LAX. We got dropped off the the international section which I’ve never been to, it was new and a bit scary. They just pulled up to the side as we got our stuff said our thank you and See Ya to them, I had no clue when I’ll see any of our family again. There was no fear just excitement and making sure we got checked in soon. That was the last oxygen of California we would for some time. Now in the terminal at our gate waiting, we bought some pricey food but had no choice we were hungry. Ate some magic cookies and now wait time to hear our Gate number over the intercom to start boarding.  BAM! It was our turn taking the jump, the jump of traveling everyone talks about but never does. One nice gentleman changed seats with us in order to sit together. Last phone call made to my mum, sent our last messages with our Californian numbers.  Munched hard on our food.

Plane has lifted off, we had no idea whatsoever in when we will be back nor what we were going to do in New Zealand. Two years ago I had only an idea where New Zealand might be and that’s it. Half an hour in to the plane ride dinner was being served with two cans of Fiji beer to go along with the airlines, Fiji Airways. Ate the dinner, wasn’t bad wasn’t the best. Shortly thereafter after we PASS OUT. As we woke up from a nap, “WHOA”. It was no nap we slept for about 9 hours. We turn on a movie each and by the end of the movie, “Everyone buckle up we will be landing shortly”, the captain says. A quick stop for 10 hours in Fiji, came with a warm welcome figuratively and literally. There were natives dancing for the incoming passengers, us amazed at what was going on as we slowly start sweating. It was February 12 we lost a day while flying. Us not knowing what to do, traded some cash and started asking what can we do. Soon we hopped in a taxi and took us to a port that wasn’t open yet and nothing there to do. As we sat we were wondering what the fuck are we doing. We got into another taxi in which he convinced us to pay a bit more and would take us on a bit of a tour and he did. It was amazing, learned McDonald’s is jokingly called the American Embassy in regards that USA people rather eat there than local food. We went to a beach resort, spectacular view and cloudy which would follow us on our trip to this day. Next a local market we went, tried some local drink kava. Still not sure what’s the purposes, but numbs your mouth a bit and taste chalky. Try every thing once. Went to a temple, fishing port, passed by sugar factories then back towards the airport to a hotel which we had lunch at. The sun was beaming hot.

We stayed at this resort for an hour as we time to kill. Shortly after made our way to the airport a 10 minute walk. We checked back into the airport and realized its hotter in the airport than outside. The plane was a bit delayed and we could not board on yet so we played a card game but only one because it was too hot to concentrate. As we boarded we met a (Finish) who we later ran into at a park in downtown Auckland. The sky was grey and rain coming down, on our way out of Fiji. Weather that would and still is following us. I (Junior) passed out once again as the plane took off. Finally, I woke up to a BEAUTIFUL Red Colour sky, it was the beginning of many AMAZING sunsets and sunrises here in New Zealand.


We finally made it to our destination Auckland, New Zealand, with a new friend waiting for us, Rosa. She with her family, who is related to Ben through marriage, took us in and let us stay in the cottage. The cottage was nice, small and had everything we needed. We drove an hour from the airport to our new home town Helensville, a small town northwest of Auckland. There they farmed a bit of cows, also had chickens, sheep, horses, birds, a cat and dog.  It was Rosa and Nigel with their daughter Haley and husband Byron, their two kids Caleb and Charlie. They were the first of the friendly Kiwi’s in this beautiful country. The first weekend they took us to the beach, clear, warm, blue water. With the neighbors help we worked a few times at a Joinery Factory, cooking at the local RSA pub, and picking weeds for three days at what seemed like a mansion to us. Picking weeds showed us again how nice Kiwi’s are, the family let us stay with them and fed us. So generous and giving.


As I found out it takes time for a blog and sometimes the wind blows us another way. We’ll do our best to catch up to present time as we want to make a post for every month we’ve been gone . Its more work than expected and when traveling you never know when you can work on it . More to come.