Wanaka: a place of challenge and wonder.

I have never peaked a mountain by foot in my life.

Roys Peak in Wanaka was the first (real!) mountain that I ever peaked.

Now, for some people, reaching the top of some mountain may seem insignificant. Some people make it a goal to go hiking every week. Others just don’t see value in putting their own bodies through such torture. Despite being on ongoing goal of mine, I always made excuses for myself.

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Since we were overseas, and it was Ivan’s birthday, we agreed as a group that it would be worthwhile.

But I personally had one clear motivator: snow. From the foot of the mountain I could see the white tip and just knew that I needed to make it all the way. Yes, people from Australia squeal at the slightest sign of snow (or maybe it’s just me?).

Climbing the mountain was definitely tough in the moment. Even just taking the next step up sometimes felt like pure torture, and there were many times we all wanted to give up. One friend got injured, another got lost, and the rest of us were just hanging on to the thought of eating our tuna sandwiches at the top. The view felt monotonous, since the path only wrapped up one side of the mountain.

But boy, was it worth it.

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This is the only shot I was able to take at the very top. My feet were dangling over the cliff and I was absolutely terrified due to the strong winds.

There were some pretty narrow paths that we literally had to climb up on all fours since the wind was so strong and the ice was so slippery.

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Here’s a shot of the birthday boy pretending to be Elsa.

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There was a lower lookout that most people, including some of our group, chose to rest, take photos and turn back.

So stunning.

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You could see the whole town of Wanaka and the vast beauty of Lake Wanaka, all pinned against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

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And….surprise!!! I bumped into a friend at the peak! Such a mystery, but it must be fate.

 

This was definitely a day for the books.

I hope to never forget the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt that day, and never forget that if you keep taking one little step at a time, you’ll get to the peak someday.

-Naomi.

 

That time we went to New Zealand.

Sometimes, you just need to act spontaneously.

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For example, when there’s a flight sale about to finish up at 12am that night.

We somehow gathered a group of six close friends, all very adult and hence very busy, committed and ready within less than a day for a 10 day trip in January ’17 to the neighbouring country.

DSC_0037_InPixioMeet the crew. We also go by #NZsquad2k17. (yes, we were wearing winter clothes in their summer, that’s how cold it was!)

First stop was Christchurch! We landed, only to be (jokingly) informed that we had brought the rain with us all the way from Sydney, by both the random lady who directed us, and the rental bus driver. After picking up our rental and getting some food into our cold and tired bodies, we set out to explore the overcast town.

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This was a random dog park we discovered while driving around to find a lookout in the mountains.

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Out of focus, but still beautiful.

We had it all planned out. We were all going to take turns driving and try and reach as many destinations as possible in the South Island. Christchurch—Queenstown, with many cities in between!

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Being determined to hike as many trails and mountains as possible, we already sought to tackle one on the second day, despite the rainy weather.

Funny story, Christie decided to hop to and fro along the trail, jumping onto what she thought were safe, grassy landings away from the puddles and mud. Little did she know that one of them would suck her foot in ankle deep and take her shoe right off her! We were in absolute hysterics for a solid ten minutes, before setting off to face the rest of the muddy goodness.

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This was the lake at the first lookout on the trail. We made it all the way to the swing bridge but I was too terrified to take any photos. The bridge literally hung over a massive gorge of rushing water! It was definitely impressive, but a little overwhelming.

 

So that summed up the first two days. It felt like a great start to the many greater days to come.

Part II will be up soon!

-Naomi.

Mannaway birthday shenanigans.

Today marks the 23rd birthday of one of my most favourite people in the world.

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This is my little cheeky gremlin, aka mannaway, aka bbangeun, aka crazy old grandma.

We like to eat, a lot.

I decided to take my dear old friend out to a fancy brunch spot so we could practice expanding our bellies. With a beautiful, immersive water view (the place is literally floating alongside a wharf) and cosy atmosphere, Celsius Coffee Co was definitely the place to go!

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| The Benedict|

Braised lamb, Japanese Yuzu hollandaise, raw almond dukkah, poached eggs on sourdough.

This is what I had. It was absolutely heavenly. The lamb was cooked to perfection and everything just came together so well. Can’t recommend this enough!

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| Billy’s Eggs |

Chilli buttered eggs, sautéed cherry tomatoes, house made onion jam, greek yoghurt and burnt butter on sourdough.

Eunny’s choice of the day! At first I was tempted to call the dish plain until BAM, the onion jam came out of nowhere and changed everything. What a stunner. The little kick of spice really brought everything full circle.

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| Celsius waffles |

With berries, maple syrup, toasted nuts and peanut butter cream.

Because we can never go without dessert, right? This was unexpectedly amazing. Definitely heart warming and would be a peanut-butter-lover’s dream come true. Unfortunately we do not fall under that category, however we did enjoy the cream in every second bite.

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Not sure why this post turned into a food blog but I guess I couldn’t resist after reflecting on today’s feast while flicking through the photos.

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Something I’ve learnt over the past couple of years is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money, or travel somewhere extravagant, to celebrate and appreciate friendship.

 

When you spend time with those best and closest to you, everything and anything can be turned into an adventure.

Eunny and I have challenged ourselves to be better tourists of our own city. I wonder where we’ll go next?

 

Looking for my Prince Charming

Prague, a magical city full of castles and cobblestones cast with a touch of snow, scattered with crowds of confused and loud tourists.

Christmas right around the corner in Prague
early signs of Christmas in Prague
tourists galore
tourists galore
the signature yellow guides spotted around Old Town
the signature yellow guides spotted around Old Town
Astronomical Clock
Astronomical Clock
Charles Bridge | 散歩
散歩 on Charles Bridge 
our homely habitat
our homely habitat
Prague Castle
Prague Castle
revisited Prague Castle at night
revisited Prague Castle at night
St Vitus Cathedral
St Vitus Cathedral | slightly reminiscent of Harry Potter

A bit of Polska here and there.

Węgrów |

Mexican spice meets the ice
Węgrów | Mexican spice meets the ice outside our ‘humble’ abode
Węgrów | dirt roads
Węgrów | dirt roads
Węgrów | another breathtaking sunset
Węgrów | another breathtaking sunset
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Warszawa |

marshmallow clouds in the capital
marshmallow clouds in the capital
Łazienki Park
Łazienki Park
Łazienki Park | a gloomy day with not so gloomy company
Łazienki Park | a gloomy day with not so gloomy company
Bidding Warszawa farewell
Pałac Kultury i Nauki | Bidding Warszawa farewell