A Travellerspoint blog

Hello New Zealand!

New town, new people, new job, new house!

So I guess it’s about time I let you all know where I am and what I’ve been up to! It’s my birthday today (hooray!) and I’m currently sitting in starbucks stealing the wifi, enjoying the heat, a muffin (lemon not bran thanks steph), and an amazing coffee (thank god I’ve escaped that canadian drip coffee rubbish!).

Ok let’s start from the top. So I finished up in Canada, jumped on a flew planes and then landed in Queenstown on May 8th exhausted, jet lagged and ready for bed. Little did I know, Queenstown is not a place of rest.

For those of you that haven’t yet made it to Queenstown, add it to the list! I think one of the reasons I’ve never bothered with New Zealand until now is that it’s so close to home that you sort of think to yourself, “how different can it be?”. Although it’s true Queenstown has most of the same stores as home, the same chain restaurants, Maccas, KFC and all that jazz, the scenery here is on another level. Massive green peaks surround a vast lake with Queenstown balanced perfectly on it’s edge. Most days see a thin whisp of cloud wrapped halfway up the peaks of the hills, or rising up over the lake, made even more picturesque by the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of the trees in their autumn attire. It really is awe inspiring particularly coming from somewhere as flat as Melbourne.

I had enrolled myself in a three day advanced first aid course which was scheduled to start the day after I landed. Somehow, despite my best efforts to spend the remaining hours of each day resting up and overcoming my jet lag, I repeatedly found myself, drink in hand, at a bar. By the end of the weekend I felt more exhausted than I had when I initially got off my plane from Canada. But at least I had some great stories and new friends.

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On the Tuesday when I was due to leave Queenstown, I woke up hungover and missed my morning bus to Wanaka. After rescheduling I finally made it onto the arvo bus. I soon arrived in Wanaka, checked into the deserted hostel and got started on all the fun stuff; updating my resume, bank accounts, tax numbers, blah blah blah (shoot me). Setting up in a new town is always a huge drag, and proved even harder than usual in Wanaka. Having wanted to arrive in time to get a head start over all the other seasonal workers that would flood into town in June, I had arrived mid May. Unfortunately Wanaka is a bit of a ghost town at this time and every venue I handed my resume into told me that they wouldn’t even be looking at resumes until mid June.

the first item I checked off my lists was a car. As there wasn’t much happening around town yet it was the perfect opportunity for me to grab a great deal on a car. Unfortunately for me, having only a limited supply of new friends in NZ, of which most were girls, and none boasted any car expertise, I was on my own as far as selecting the perfect ride. Luckily for me, boredom, lots of time, and a tight budget turned out to be the perfect recipe for a one week speed course on becoming a car expert. I managed to impress more than one car seller, and myself, with my detailed questions on service history, oil colour and cam belts, even managing to demonstrate to a guy in his late 20’s where the engine of his car was located (under the front passenger seat), and how to access it, as he was stumped. In the end I scored myself what I’m still convinced (and hope not to be proven otherwise) has been my best bargain buy so far! I invested $1,600 in a ’96 Holden Odyssey, negotiated down from $2,000. The Millage was at 210 but the cam belt had been changed at 205, there was a great service history and the transmission cables were still in excellent nick too (a common issue with this model vehicle). My new 7-seater soccer mum van also came equipped with some trendy home-made roof racks, a bike rack, and a custom made wooden bed frame that lays flat over the folded down back seats for my road-trip adventures come summertime. All in all, a productive and successful first week in Wanaka!

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Things also picked up for my second week. I finally got myself a job, bartending at a trendy little hipster bar called lalaland, as well as the potential to work as a sports massage therapist two nights a week, and mobile on my own aside from that. I actually did get accepted for an on mountain position working in the cafe, but in the end decided that bar work would allow me more time for skiing and boarding, and of course to hang out with my wonderful friends and family visiting throughout the season! Lifestyle over luxury right?

Work is extremely slow at the moment and despite trying my hardest not to spend money(as i’m earning nothing to replace it), there’s really nothing else to do. On the plus side I’ve joined the gym again and have plenty of time to excerise. I have made some amazing new friends that all share my love for the outdoors, skiing, rock climbing, and even hitting the gym for some good old fashioned Les Mills classes.

Another unwelcome surprise in Wanaka was the real estate rentals market. In this town it seems that most houses are deserted for most of the year until peak seasons hit (summer for about three weeks over xmas and new years, or winter for one month through july). Over these periods landlords can charge upwards of $200 a night per room which means fewer properties are available to rent as seasonal properties. After being here for a month with countless unsuccessful applications I had almost given up hope on ever finding myself a home for the season. Until finally last week my luck changed. I am now living in a lovely retro-style house that reminds me of our beach house at home. It has a glorious log burner that has provided hours of entertainment already, and I even managed to win myself the master bedroom (yay for me!). I’ve got myself some wonderful housemates, a 26 year old english guy who’s also a skier (win), Justin, and a couple around my age that are yet to move in (not sure if they ski but Justin and I are confident in our powers of conversion if not).

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Sadly the snow situation is still lacking over here as well. With two weeks until Cardrona is meant to open, and Treble Cone the week after that, I think it’s time to pull out the old snow dance. There’s been quite a bit of rain today already so hopefully it’s falling as snow up the hill and we’ve got a solid season on its way!

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Well that’s enough typing for me today. I’m off for some birthday trampoline fun here in Queenstown!

Once again thinking of all my amazing friends and family back home and around the world. Thank you for all your messages, Facebook posts and Skype chats, I couldn’t ask for a more caring and perfect group of people in my life!

Lots of love,
Kristina xxx

Posted by kmklu1 18:50 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Season enders and too many benders

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The season at Revy ended in what I can only describe as a huge drunken blur. We had "Gnar Day", a day where everyone smuggles copious amounts of alcohol up the hill and dresses in the most ridiculous outfits they can find. A terrain park was set up at the midway lodge as well as a couple of jumps. After some messy stoke chair laps skiing/boarding we drunk the afternoon away watching some awesome tricks off the jumps, and some even better bails. Highlights for the day was a naked female skier doing a very gutsy spread-eagle star jump trick in front of the stunned/thrilled/horrified onlookers!

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Gnar Day at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

With so many people leaving, it was pretty much impossible not to go out every night in the last week. When I made the decision to hitch straight to Big White post our season close (they were open an extra week), there were definitely a few moments when I seriously doubted I'd survive another week of drinking. Somehow, I did. In the end I managed to drag myself back to Revy and, feeling seriously polluted, joined my remaining friends in a very necessary detox/health kick.

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Big White Season Ender T-bar Party

Spring in Revelstoke was beautiful. I said goodbye to my friends at Emo's Restaurant and eagerly returned to holiday-mode. As town heated up a myriad of new and exciting activities became available to us. Days were spent hiking in the woods, discovering waterfalls, mountain biking, jogging, BBQ'ing and even attempting to learn to skateboard. There are also a heap of natural hot springs scattered around Revelstoke that I would highly recommend seeing!

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The hot springs we chose to visit took a little getting to, we drove about 30min out of Revelstoke where we then caught the free ferry across the lake, driving a further 20min or so down to the start of the track. In summer you can drive almost the whole way to the springs, however as we were only barely out of winter there was still snow everywhere and we had to hike the remainder on foot. We were well prepared in our hiking gear and with plenty of snacks and the four of us made the 1 hour hike through the woods easily, finally arriving at the "Hippie Hot Springs". Upon reaching our destination we were eagerly greeted by five very friendly nude hippies that had been camping out at the springs for a few days. Though we opted for swim suits, our new hippie friends were more than welcoming. So we pulled out our beers and snacks and spent the next 5 or more hours relaxing, telling stories and drinking. By 6 o'clock it was obvious that we needed to make a move if we wanted to get back to the ferry in time, however whilst Matt and I got ready quickly enough, both Alex and Alec were thoroughly loaded on beers and were having none of it. Despite our best efforts of persuasion, neither would budge. So we abandoned them in the woods with only the clothes they wore in, fresh out of food or beers, no car as we were taking it home, and their fingers and toes crossed that the hippies would share a tent. Needless to say when they finally made it home at about 5pm the next afternoon, they admitted regretting their decision on more than one occasion. Regardless, Matt and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing their survival stories including sleeping situations, and the long journey home. Alex definitely came off better of the pair, managing to secure himself a warm spot in the middle of what he described as a sort of overnight "stacks on" hippie team huddle, whilst poor Alec was less forward and found himself shivering on the edge of the tent in the foetal position for most of the night. Alex also learnt that he had in fact met one of the hippies in a previous lifetime, whilst Alec enjoyed the rare privilege of watching how two hippies are able to aline their heartbeats through meditation. As far as the walk home, it turns out people are less than accommodating when it comes to picking up two unshaven, unwashed, unfed, mountain-men turned hippie hitchhikers from the side of the highway. In the end we worked out that both boys had walked at least 10km by the time anyone was kind enough to rescue them.

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Easter weekend was not quite as wild as the hippie hot springs adventures. I put on an easter egg hunt for the boys. I have a feeling that I actually had more fun hiding and watching the boys hunt for the eggs, than they did madly racing around to uncover them! We also attended a free pancake breakfast put on by the church, barely managing to sneak out before the sermon started. The weekend ended with team Shred & Bed's orphan easter potluck BBQ at the boys house. Here we were fortunate enough to sample the best ham I have EVER eaten in my ENTIRE life - props on your cooking Alex I don't know if this one will ever be beaten! The fact that it took about six hours to perfect this ham also ensured that everyone was thoroughly polluted by the time it was ready to eat, making for an eventful afternoon and evening.

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Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. On May 6th I packed my bags (it took me about a week if i'm being honest), and made my way to Kelowna airport. It was a long three hour drive on minimal sleep due to my rowdy goodbye drinks the night before and I have to say a huge thank you to Sam for driving me the whole way there, and then himself back home, all whilst hungover!

I flew Kelowna - LA - Auckland - Queenstown and am now happily beginning to settle into my new home in New Zealand. It's absolutely stunning and I keep kicking myself for not having come here sooner, especially with how close it is to Melbourne! I can hardly wait until everyone starts flooding in for the ski season and am looking forward to starting the hunt for a job, car, house and some new friends! So I'll finish up with that for now and give you all an update once i've got my bearings here.

Once again love and miss you all at home. I'm only a hop skip and a jump away now so if any of you guys back home are in need of a holiday then feel free to head over for a visit!

Lots of love,
Kristina
xoxoxoxoxo

Posted by kmklu1 20:40 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

First Chair, Last Call

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I can't believe it's almost the end of March already! This last month and a half has absolutely flown by and so so much has happened since my last blog entry! The weather has started to warm up as we move out of winter and into spring. Luckily for all of us snow enthusiasts we've still been getting plenty of the white stuff up the hill, and whilst the town of Revelstoke has transformed into a giant mud puddle, it's still been cold enough to keep the snow from melting up top. We've had a few glorious bluebird days the last week and even managed to strip down to tshirts/hoodies on a couple of days (I love spring riding!). I'm constantly finding new and amazing runs to explore up here and realising the value of mixing up your riding crew every now and again. It's great to be able to change it up and everyone has different hidden spots or powder stash's that you would never find otherwise. Big props to the boys from Montana for showing me Tiki-bom-bom out the back of south bowl, easily the best run of the season despite the hike!

Aside from skiing/boarding, there's been plenty to do around town as well. I discovered Monday night dodgeball which is held at a local school in their gym. The turn out is actually pretty impressive and it seems to be getting more popular every week. I also tried my hand at the very Canadian sport of "curling". You might be familiar with it from the olympics, it's kind of similar to lawn bowls except that instead of bowling a ball down a grass field you are pushing a heavy concrete stone down a super slippery ice lane. You get two sweepers to help guide the stone into the circle at the other end. The olympic curling team definitely make it look a lot easier than it is and I don't think i'll be taking it up any time soon!

My first attempt at a GoPro video... Curling

Wednesday is another big night here in town. Grizzly sports bar puts on a 35cent wings night which we follow up with The Cabin's Wednesday night $3 bowling and basics deal. Undoubtedly, it always ends up getting pretty messy and i've wound up a little worse for wear on a few occasions as a result. The list goes on and on as far as other activities so I won't list them all, here are some photos to save me dribbling on for too long...

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It's pretty easy to get caught up in everything going on in town and just never leave (eg. last year in Banff), especially as I don't have a car. However I'm glad to say that this season I have actually managed to get off my bum and jump on board a couple of road trips! The first one I did was a day trip down to Silverstar ski resort. Silverstar is a small resort about 2.5hours south west of Revy, it's main attractive feature for us definitely being it's terrain park. Whilst Revelstoke is rated as one of the top ski resorts in terms of powder and boasts the most vertical in North America, one thing it is lacking in is any sort of park. So as you can imagine we were all absolutely hanging to hit some proper jumps and park features for a change. Unfortunately this meant we came in a little over ambitious and within our first two hours at the resort our group had sustained a concussion, a whiplash, an injured tailbone and a fractured collarbone. Despite our record high injury tally we all had an absolute blast.

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Our next road trip was much tamer in terms of injuries. This time we travelled 3.5 hours south west to Big White Ski Resort. There were only six of us this time so we all managed to pile into the one van - the ideal road trip set-up with the seats removed in the back, mattress and blankets ready to go. Unfortunately for us the Kelowna police officers thought differently. We were chased down and pulled over 45min from our destination after stopping for snacks as Denko had forgotten to switch the headlights back on. It turns out that we violated numerous laws, exceeding the speed limit, swerving, passengers in the back without seat belts, and even driving without shoes (what??). After unloading everyone from the van and taking details the officers made our month when to our surprise they told us that they were going to get back int their car and do a u-turn and drive the other way. The whole experience was topped off when they went to drive off and had forgotten their breathalizer was on the roof of the cop car. As they hit the accelerator it fell onto the highway and was promptly smashed into a million pieces by a passing truck. One officer exclaimed "well that's embarrassing", got out, collected the pieces, got back in, then they drove off.

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So in the end we did actually make it to Big White. We lucked out with about 10cm of fresh powder which made for an absolutely primo couple of days. It was super exciting to catch up with one of my best mates from home, Mitch (thanks for letting me crash!!), as well as Axel and Jess. Although Revelstoke makes Biggie seem flat in comparison, they still have some super fun terrain to explore with stacks of fun hits off the groomers, a decent terrain park and plenty to explore through the trees and over the far side of the hill. It was great to experience life on a ski in ski out hill for a change (you can literally ski home from the pub), and the level of nightlife compared to Revy was something else!

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Well we've just gotten another 12cm fresh so the hill is calling!

Love and miss you all back home! Happy 22nd Tay, 23rd Tam and 24th Sarah! Sorry I couldn't be there to celebrate with you all!

Kristina xoxo.

Posted by kmklu1 11:49 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Getting Settled

My First Weeks in Revelstoke

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I'm almost two weeks into my Canadian adventures and thought it might be about time to update all you folks back home on what's been happening here.

I've been pretty lucky once again with work and housing. I managed to secure a room in a five bedroom house here in Revelstoke before even leaving Melbourne which made life a lot easier from the beginning. I even managed to score a lift into town from the airport when I landed courtesy of my awesome landlord Matt. He actually lived in the house with myself and a couple of my housemates for the first week of my trip until our last two housemates filtered in. The house is pretty ancient and definitely still a work in progress so the aim was to make sure any major issues could be ironed out before he left town. It was great having him around to give me a bit of a run of the town whilst I was settling in, and to introduced me to a few people too, though I can't say a heap got done around the house - going out drinking and socialising always seemed to win out in the end. Nonetheless and despite the odd issue with downstairs heating, a cliff drop at the back door and a dead cat in the basement, we have power and light and water so the house is still liveable.

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My House
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My Bedroom
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The Kitchen (and Laundry)
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Mr Mean, our frozen cat in the basement.

I should fill you in on my housemates too. There are five of us living here now. This was a bit of a concern on one hand due to the fact that we are sharing one bathroom. Thankfully it hasn't been an issue so far due to pretty different work schedules and none of us are ever home for long so touch wood it continues to work alright. There are two guys and three girls including myself. The other girls (Theresa and Chantelle) are both Canadian - Chantelle is French-Canadian and they're both nice enough, though I hardly see them. The guys are Alec (Australian- though you wouldn't guess it as he has the most Canadian looking beard i've ever seen), and Grayson (who is actually Canadian but no beard). Alec and I get on really well, he's been here since I moved in and the two of us seem to be home more than the others so it's always good to have a chat after a big day on the hill. Grayson only moved in last night so we're still sussing him out, he's got some sick back country touring gear that i've been drilling him on already, by the sounds of it he's just getting into it as well so I'm hoping i'll be able to pick up some hints from him!

And then there's work. I was feeling pretty optimistic when I got here about my chances of slipping back into a cruisey bartending job, unfortunately the town is a lot smaller than Banff and before I had even attempted to hand resumes out I had already been told by every man and his dog that no one was hiring for bar staff and it would be pointless to try. So after handing out two resumes to different bars I noticed an add up for a local restaurant needing servers (waitresses) and thought I might as well go for the next best thing. To my horror, the manager took one look at my resume and hired me on the spot, so I had to give up my ski bum lifestyle after only five days and get back to earning some money. It turns out I'm actually not too bad at serving, I haven't dropped any ones food on them yet and although the tips aren't as good as I'd get bartending, the hours are pretty perfect (usually 5pm-10pm about 5 days a week) so I never miss a day on the hill, or a night out!

The first week here I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even make it up the hill skiing. I want to say that I was busy organising my house and a job etc but in all honesty it hadn't snowed in about three weeks, everyone just kept saying how icy and sketchy it was, plus it was pretty dam cold (-30 odd degrees with windchill) and I just didn't want to start me season that way. So my first week here mostly entailed sleeping in until midday, going out for lunches with matt and his friends, coming home for another nap (jet lag had me beat for a while there), and then going out drinking every night. On the plus side it turned out that this was a great way to make a few friends and I've met a heap of cool people already. Revelstoke has the same cool ski town vibe that Banff had, only smaller, so it's always easy to make new friends, at the end of the day we've all got skiing/boarding in common anyway.

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Finally on Monday our snow dance proved successful and we lucked out with a massive storm that brought in 43cm of amazing fresh powder in the first 24hours alone! The roads were blocked off in and out of Revel(stuck) by tuesday morning and didn't re-open again until tuesday night. So basically we've been enjoying amazing powder runs all week and the snow hasn't stopped yet so our fingers and toes are crossed that it'll keep on snowing as long as possible!

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Here are a few shots of the footpath up to my front door after we shovelled it, just to give you an idea of how much snow we had! A lot of people were stuck in their houses or couldn't get there cars out of the drive, there's a picture of my neighbours house too (un-shovelled) so you can see how people might struggle to get in/out.

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I'm going to sign off there for now, that turned into a bit of an essay so great job if you got through it!

I hope everyone's going well at home and soaking up the winter olympics!

Love you all!
Kristina xxxxx

Posted by kmklu1 20:10 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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