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New Zealand ~ The North Island

First Impressions 

I find myself among kindred spirits at every turn. My unkept, frizzy and wavy hair with my odd sense of style feel totally and completely at home. I have never felt this free and accepted in any place that I have had the pleasure of exploring before. No competition, no makeup, simple everyday ease. Doesn’t get better than that. Kiwis pronounce English words differently too and make their own rules for just about anything, sound familiar? 😉

Where the mountains meet the sea.

Our first campsite right on the water

You’re never too far from the mountains or the sea, which creates this incredible sense of balance. You get the youthfulness and easy goingness from the sea and mindfulness and wisdom from the mountains, creating an inventive and adventurous spirit. Kiwis begin their day quite early too, 12pm seems to be a common time establishments close and there is no real hurry or want or need here. Kiwis already have it all, don’t we all? The difference here is, I sense, a collective understanding of intrinsic worth and enoughness that is interwove into the day to day fabric of life. No need or want to escape reality. No worry about education, health care, fees for museums or even camping, it’s all accessible to all. The animals; sheep, cows, and alpacas all seem sooo happy too. 

Happy sheep

New Zealand was the first country to grant women their vote. And no one sues anyone here, it’s illegal, like you literally can’t do it…hence all the cool amazing shit you can do here of your own volition and if you did some how managed to sustain an injury well there’s monetary support for you while you are healing. Just blows my mind…

Mt. Vic ~ Panoramic view of Wellington

In other words…

New Zealand is like the perfect mocha with a sweet treat or marshmallows on top, like that natural bug spray that actually works and repels unwanted mosquitos, like chocolate ice cream on a hot day, warm tomato basil soup with a grilled cheese on a cool day, a cool breeze as you take a walk on the beach, moments after a float, when you leave your chiropractors office, your first kiss, like climbing a waterfall deep in the earth, a cold one after a long drive, minutes after a deep tissue massage, a soak in hot springs after a long hike, a smile from a stranger, morning kisses from a lover, like morning dew inside of your tent, the sound of ocean waves, that hot cup of tea, yea New Zealand is just like that. Life’s simple pleasures abound for all.  

Cacao Beans

North Island adventures 

After our connecting flight from Nadi, Fiji (where we met up with our besties from Southern California, Mako and Pete) we landed in Auckland a short 3 hours later. Picked up our camper van, just in time, actually it was after hours, we quickly learned Kiwis like to start their day at 12pm.  But after a few emails with intermittent wifi, we managed to secure someone after promising to throw them a bone or two for sticking around for us.

Wicked Camper sleeps five ~ um where? Haha Surprised how low key it is
We managed to fit comfortably. The first person to sleep got the best space/spot, which means Brian, night owl, spent most of his nights on his side crammed in a corner.
After  a marvelous first night on the open water we headed to the geysers in Rotorua. North Island is kind of a show off with its geothermic terrain. 

Filmed some yogi stuff here, super stoked

The crew

Camped close to the glow worm caves for the follow day’s expedition, at this co-op Roseland’s, after being redirected from trying to camp on private property in the middle of the night, kiwis man…they are just so hospitable and kind.

Pen Cafe. 30 years to collect them all and display them in alphabetical order.

The caves (which were wicked by the way, I mean straight up climbed a waterfall deep in the earth, jumped off of one too, and went tubing in this massive cave, so wild. As I floated it looked and felt as if I was tubing in the grand canyon looking at the night sky above me (the glow worms, more accurately maggot shit, resembled stars). Wicked. Afterwards we headed to Hobbiton Movie Set, which was, yep you guessed it, wicked, for so many different reasons. It’s quite a treat to visit a movie set, whether or not you enjoyed the movies.  Although the location is the same this is the second time the hobbit homes were put in, as they were taken down after the Lord of the Rings. 

Frodo’s Home

Great grub at Lakehouse Restaurant on Lake Taupo just before retiring near Tongariro National Park night before our big hike. 

Lake Taupo ~ in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano

The Alpine Crossing is nearly never clear and almost always hazy, to put it mildly
On top

We hit up the thermal pools in the area after this beautiful and long hike. It was glorious and well deserved. 

New Zealand breakfast with milk? Yes please!

The following morning, without a rush, we took the drive on highway one all the way down south to Wellington.


Nicole + John + Jos + Dylan’s home sweet home

Chicago – Kiwi Cubs Family

We parked the camper van on their front lawn, doesn’t look as odd as it would anywhere else as they are a short walk from the beach, as well as an extensive community garden with chickens and ducks, and Jos’s school, how rad, I mean wicked.

Our first sunset in Wellington

Mako & I on the cliffs

Next morning Pete and Mako left for the South Island and we settled into our new home for the next few days.  

Our stay in Wellington deserves an entire journal entry of its own as we did so much around town. Cuba street (where I found an ‘Ilona’ staple ~ mustard yellow dress and pendant), Te Papa (NZ national museum), beach babylon (coffee shop on the beach) Wairarapa wine country (Martinborough), Mt. Vic aka Mt. Victoria (panoramic view of Wellington), sampled the night life with a Motown band, went to a different coffee shop, checked out two local galleries, grabbed some more coffee and on Sunday we filled up on produce and coffee from a local farmers market before heading to the southeast side of the island. 

Wellington has more cafes and bars per capital than New York!

At the market

We borrowed Nicole and John’s tent and car and headed to the south most point on North Island, Cape Pallisner.

Found a remote beach, Ngawi, to camp on and had two nights to pause and reflect and of course explore.

 It’s difficult to decide on a highlight. Seeing our old friends and how they do this thing called life with two little ones now was such a treat. I love how real and honest folks seem to be. ‘How’s being a parent of two now?’ I asked, ‘Fucking hard’ was the resounding reply. No buts or explanations or justifications, simply fucking hard. And although domesticated life definitely has its appeal it is fucking hard. But Jos and Dylan are such a delight to hang out with and one smile melts your heart to the point that it makes me look at Brian with a sparkle in my eyes. What a honor and an unique experience of growth that parenthood can usher in. Needless to say we both had the itch but at different times and because we choose to lead an unconventional life, timing always seems tricky, because again we hope to raise our kids differently, mainly side by side, but one adventure at a time ey?

Brian & Ilona


Moon Yoga
Mindfulness 1:1

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