Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway: Seals & Cliffs

Spent two nights in Kaikoura before moving on to Christchurch. The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is a great way to watch the abundance of marine life and take in the coastal views. I don't remember the exact route we took but I know we must have walked a long way because we passed the Fyffe House towards the end. The walkway is well sign-posted and there are informative signboards at key locations.

Parts of the walkway cross private land. We hit a very muddy stretch at the beginning but soon forgot about our wet feet.


Limestone Bay

Black-billed gulls are found only in NZ and are the most threatened gull species in the world.

Fishing in a canoe - one of the three pouwhenua (wooden post) at South Bay

The rainbow we saw earlier appeared again at the intersection of Scarborough St and South Bay track

It was still visible in the far distance when we stopped for a bite at South Bay viewpoint

Free as a bird~

No idea how did we veer off the main track we went ahead anyway and it led us to a colony of wild seals.


Seals spend most of their time resting on the rocky shores in the winter.

They weren't moving or making noise it was best to keep a distance and leave them alone.

Army of seals

We had enough of seals for the day and decided it was time to head back but didn't know how. There were no signs so we just continued walking until we saw this track up a hill.

This was way more difficult than I thought. It was a very sharp ascent and turned out to be a spiderman climb on all fours.

I was struggling because my beanie kept slipping over my eyes, I couldn't see what's ahead and couldn't look down either. I couldn't hold my beanie in my hand because my hands were grabbing the grass at the sides. Ended up stuffing the beanie in my coat even though I was already so hot and sweating inside. I was a clumsy spiderman in the wrong attire!

It was only after I made it to the top that I realised how freaking long and steep the cliff was. (Jaw drop)

Kaikoura means eat crayfish in Maori. We were quite looking forward to this especially after walking 5 hours. It was quite expensive so we shared a half lobster meal that comes with bread, rice, fish fillet and salad.

In Kaikoura, hostels are named after marine life. There's Dolphin Lodge, Fish Tank, Bad Jelly, Lazy Shag (a bird). We chose Albatross because it was the highest rated BBH hostel in Kaikoura at that time. They had many woofers even during winter but they don’t seem to change bedsheets…?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

End of Season Lunch at Chokdee

To celebrate the end of the apple season, Inwood treated the crew to a farewell lunch at Chokdee (means good luck in Thai). This was the same place where we had our first meal in Motueka, sharing a stingy portion of tom yum soup. If not for this treat, we would not patronise again because the portion size was rather small even for one person. Oh well not complaining further considering we didn't have enough food at the previous end of season party in Martinborough. The crew was already closely bonded when we joined; it was more difficult for them to say goodbye to each other. We managed to stay till the end for a photo with the owners as we were really grateful they gave us a job at such short notice. I was happy that the end of this job completes three months of horticulture work (yay no more) and the next thing to do was to head to the nearest immigration branch to apply for a visa extension. But wait we can't leave Motueka as yet cos our landlord refused to pro-rate the weekly rent so we were stuck with her for another three nights. Took off early in the morning without saying a word. Good riddance!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

跳飞机Abel Tasman

On our 104th day in New Zealand, we jumped off a plane 13,000ft from the sky. There were four pairs tandem diving and I was the first to go. At 5,000ft or something, a female staff opened the door and dropped out of the plane without any hesitation. My hands were getting sweaty. Chris opened the door and I swung my legs out as instructed. I closed my eyes and we dropped. I screamed till I couldn't breathe. My stomach felt abit sick. He tapped me to stretch out my hands but I was still scared and continued to hold onto the harness with one hand. Parachute opened and we shot back up in the air again. It felt amazing floating in the sky with my feet dangling in the air, taking in the breathtaking views of the Kaikoura Ranges and Abel Tasman. Chris pointed out to me where rs was, spiralling down in a blue parachute. (He said he asked his tandem master for stunts and he got giddy afterwards lol) I'm not spending shit loads of money for photos and videos so I secretly kept my camera in my jacket pocket and it jumped down with me... just for this one photo with my tandem master after landing. Awesome deal from GrabOne only $189 with Skydive Abel Tasman~! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Red with Envy

Envy apples are considered branded, like the LV of bags. They are a hybrid of Royal Gala and Braeburn; the flesh doesn't brown after being cut. It is crunchier and sweeter than other breeds. This was the last batch of apples we packed. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why We Love McDonalds in NZ

没有它会抓狂 有了它会疯狂!

Stayed with a Thai lady (a calculative one) from work for a month and her house did not have wifi. We didn't have any mobile data (can't remember why probably because 2degrees didn't have any attractive plans at that time) and the nearest legitimate use of wifi was McDonalds or the library in town. Library would have closed by the time we ended work so we could only go to McDonalds. We would walk about 25mins one way to McDonalds in the cold nights just to use wifi. Needed internet access not for leisure web surfing but to find our next job and accommodation. Back then he was using a half smart HTC Windows phone and I didn't have one and relied on my broken iPod. Sometimes he would carry his laptop (I couldn't take mine because I left my battery at home - worst decision ever) in case we run out of internet as each device has only up to 100mb. Me being me, I sneaked onto Facebook once and used up all the quota on his laptop and he was SO MAD at me. When desperate times call for illegitimate measures, we stood outside or sneaked into the hostels we previously stayed in with the unused internet vouchers we had saved up for rainy days. Those four weeks were inconvenient enough to make me remember that I have taken wifi for granted. On some nights where we didn't go out for wifi, we entertained ourselves by watching videos of our younger days or singing to the songs on his phone. After Motueka, we hardly visit the golden arches and when we did it was for the food and not internet anymore because we finally had mobile data and internet access in subsequent accommodations.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Sunday routine begins with washing clothes in the morning and walking to the market to buy groceries.

We arranged to meet the girls in town that afternoon. Since Riwaka was on the way to Kaiteriteri, we dropped by their accommodation to have a look.

They stayed in this big house jam packed with backpackers. It was so crowded some of them were contemplating moving elsewhere.

It was situated high on top of the hill with a view.

A 10mins drive brought us to Kaiteriteri Beach, a popular holiday destination known for its golden sand and blue water. It was quiet when we visited in autumn.

You can choose to cross the tidal estuary or detour over the hill to get over to the other side of the beach.

What's down there?

Watching passengers disembark the boat

Calm waters

On the other side of the hill is Little Kaiteriteri.

Rocks full of clams were a peculiar sight. We met the packers from Inwood helping themselves to fresh seafood.

Me, Piyamas, Adeline and Jacklyn

Last jump before the sun sets

Sunday, May 5, 2013

KFC Reunion Lunch


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mini Fruits Collection

Apples of varying sizes appear at the grading table. Can't bear to throw the baby ones away so I brought them back. Lined them up on the window sill and roommate who is working in a kiwi packhouse started a new line forming our mini fruits collection in Laughing Kiwi XD

Friday, May 3, 2013

Apple "Packing" in Motueka

Third job in New Zealand was finally indoors in an apple packhouse along Ching Road in Upper Moutere, about 10-15mins drive from Motueka. We were damn lucky to get in considering it was nearing the end of the season. One was suddenly quite sick and the other was skipping work too frequently they decided to replace him. The roles we filled were part of the packing process; we didn't do the actual packing into boxes. I was a grader and he was a stacker. 

Inwood Orchards is a small family business run by Mark and Heather. Good employers who pay workers on time and even offered to be referees for our next job after we left.

Me the lazy grader with endless supply of apples hee

The line starts moving at 8am sharp with apples rolling onto the grading table. Four graders look out for any bruises, black spots, sunburns, finger nail cuts - these are discarded down the chute. At the same time, graders also remove any leaves from the stem. I was so busy rejecting defects and throwing out the leaves all at the same time the Thai graders behind me said the leaves hit their faces lol.

Rotten ones are consolidated separately in buckets that go into the juice bin

Still dare to drink apple juice?

The good ones bob down the line for packaging

The machine churns out apples continuously, packers have to be quick or they'll overflow. Responsible packers also take one last look for any defects the graders have missed earlier.

Notice how they are arranged on their sides

Packers help out any tables that are about to overflow

Besides eating apple during smoko we occasionally get these delicious treats made by the packers for all to share~

The small pantry where we had our breaks. Tea, coffee and milk are provided by the packhouse. According to the owners, the good apples are exported overseas and rejected ones are sold in local supermarkets.

Rainbow over orchard

Two fit boys stack trays weighing 15-25kg each

to as high as 25 trays

While he hated this physically demanding job, the lifting did him good as it helped him to achieve a flat tummy and bigger biceps haha.

Work ends on time at 4.30pm. Most workers stay in sleepouts located on or near the orchard. The rent is slightly cheaper (about $95 pw or less) compared to living in town not a bad idea for workers with their own transport. Heard it can get quite cold at night though.

The whole packhouse crew on the last day of work