I'm working on things behind the scenes, so stay tuned!
Before I touched down in New Zealand, I had a plan of what I was going to do for the year. When I actually landed, I changed completely to a let’s-see-how-it-pans-out-organically approach. I’ll never know if I’ve completely screwed up with my decision-making until I leave the country, look back and think, “How the hell did it work out like that?”
Forget the whole “hindsight is 20/20” concept; I’m having a lot of fun as things have gone “wrong” or strayed from the "plan."
It’s turning out to be far more interesting.
I spent my first two weeks in New Zealand exploring the nooks & crannies of Wellington to decide if it was going to be my first landing spot of the year. With it’s irresistible charm, creative flare, kick ass coffee, killer craft beers, and unique street performers, it’s close to impossible for Wellington not to lure in everyone who encounters it.
There’s something spectacular about the city that I find parallel to the quirkiness of Melbourne, Australia, but with an obvious kiwi overlay and slightly more intrigue.
Signs are displayed both in English and in Māori, the Te Papa museum is stuffed with incredible exhibits about New Zealand’s history (so packed to the point that it would take you at least a week to walk through all the displays), and the local beers include names of some of the country’s famous birds & reptiles.
Needless to say, my two weeks packed with delicious brews, great music, and fascinating factoids was completely unbearable.
I decided to leave.
Jussssst kidding. The truth is, I wanted something different. A place that felt wilder. Somewhere that would allow me to explore nature and really get some space from the high energy of cities.
Wellington is my favorite metropolis in New Zealand, hands down, but leaving turned out to be one of the most satisfying things for this New Yorker's inner jungle woman, wilderness quota that was overdue to be filled.
Before I divulge details about my hippie chick chapter, I want to share some of my favorite things about Wellington…
Oh, Wellington, I love you.
Till we meet again...
New Year’s Eve in Sydney
I’m pretty sure my New Year’s Eve this year channeled all things Amy Schumer. Counting down to midnight on a boat under the Sydney Harbour Bridge sounds pretty magical, right? If your definition of magical includes urinating in a bucket next to two of your guy friends peeing off the side of the boat adjacent to your other friend passed out in her seat as everyone rings in the New Year around you, then yes! It was magical. I’ll paint you a picture here…we’re not all degenerates, I promise.
For months I had been planning to spend my 2016 New Year’s evening on a boat in the Sydney Harbour under the bridge while the fireworks light up the sky. One of those things you dream about and finally stick to your guns and make it happen. A few friends joined in on the plan, the excitement escalated and our itinerary evolved into a dance-in-your-cubicle-at-work-when-no-one-is-looking level.
Thirty hours of flying time, an airport shuttle, and long ferry ride later, I was greeted with tequila shots at Manly Beach on the morning of New Year’s Eve. Suddenly I went from a mid-winter New York mentality to floating in a pool in the suburbs of Sydney drinking Australian beer fresh out of the “esky.” Things could definitely be worse. We had incredible hosts who ensured we were well fed and properly buzzed before the night began. Once we were all dressed up and photos were taken, we headed to the Harbour ready for a night of epic proportions.
We arrived at the dock excited for our BYO night cruise. After checking in, we boarded a boat – much smaller than anyone anticipated –converted from a water taxi for the evening. “Who cares?!” we thought, “It will get us closer to the fireworks! Plus, we’re in Sydney on NYE and we look awesome!” With little hesitation and lots of champagne, we boarded the water taxi. Music was on point, the 10 other guests on the boat were friendly, and the driver was funny and welcoming.
Here’s where things started taking a turn for the worst…
About an hour into the ride, someone in the group chirped, “Wait, I have to go to the bathroom.” We all looked at each other, took a glance at the back of the boat, and realized there was no immediate solution to this problem. You would think the driver would have a plan for this type of problem, but NOPE, he had no idea what to do. Realizing we had less than an hour before the fireworks set off, we started scrambling around the Harbour like a fox in a chicken coop. We asked large yachts if we could use their restroom trying to bribe them with champagne (as if they didn’t have their own personal butler serving them Dom Pérignon). We stopped at a pier asking some guards to use the very obviously vacant port-o-potty. They basically treated us like a group of terrorists yelling, “PLEASE DO NOT EXIT YOUR VESSEL. YOU MUST HAVE THE PROPER PERMIT TO PARK HERE.”
It’s approximately 11:40pm at this point and our bladders are screaming for attention. The originally small problem turned into group mayhem aboard our toilet-less water taxi. The poor driver is calling headquarters over the radio, basically ready to abandon ship and everyone is desperately trying to figure out a solution. There’s no better way to make strangers (of all ages) immediate friends than to have a basic human need at the forefront of everyone’s problems.
Suddenly, the driver had an idea. Basically…a bottom of the barrel, please don't tell my boss, I’m so sorry this is your NYE experience type of suggestion. Homeboy finds a bucket full of rope, dumps it on the deck and we all just look at him like, “Oh no he didn’t.” Immediately, it was a free-for-all urination celebration. Our standards and polite etiquette went right out the window – or over the side of the boat for that matter. The women took turns hovering over the bucket and the guys stood along the side of the boat showering gold onto the fish. A nearby yacht decided it would be hilarious to shine their high beam right at us earning a loud, boisterous uproar at the sight of an entire boatload of people peeing together.
When it finally became time for me to utilize the bathroom of champions, the boat sang out in chorus, “10-9-8…” I just kept on peeing while half crying/half laughing at what the night turned out to be. Another comical element, as I briefly mentioned earlier, was our friend, Britney, who had been passed out the entire duration of this bathroom fiasco (apparently pacing herself while drinking isn’t in her line of expertise). We were beside ourselves just cracking up at the fact that Britney literally slept through the ENTIRE evening of fireworks. Best $360 nap of her life.
Of course my GoPro had died (along with the entire boat’s dignity), but my friend, Ross, managed to get some decent photos of the fireworks. I've also included some other photos from the weekend in Sydney and Wollongong. Enjoy!