To wrap up our incredible adventure, we decided to spend three weeks on another workaway experience followed by a motor home trip throughout both the islands of New Zealand. This had been on the bucket list for a while.
Our new home landed us on the Historical Gunyah Bed and Breakfast – located in the small town of Glentunnel, New Zealand. Over the next three weeks we spent our 5 hours a day of volunteer work gardening, painting, helping with livestock, and general cleaning around the property to keep the bed and breakfast in order.
The property was stunning – and the hosts were generous enough to give us our own entire guest house for our stay. Equipped with a full kitchen and deck, it was the perfect place to call home for the three weeks we were there.
Our first day we were thrown into the fire, cleaning the shear shed of piles of wool before the next 27 sheep on the farm were due for their yearly shear.
These little fluffy sweethearts we filed in one by one, pulled onto their backs and shaved down to the skin to remove their coats of wool. It was an amazing experience to witness and definitely takes the art of a true professional. This sheep shearer has had the family business of shearing sheep for generations and had it down to a science – sheering a full sheep in about 2 minutes.
The aftermath of the sheering – ready for another year!
Day two, they had us herding cattle from one “Paddock” to another for new grazing. This too was an experience unlike any other we’d had before. It was incredible how obedient these cows were and how easy they followed us like a dog from one paddock to the next.
The remaining days were mostly spent chopping firewood, painting, weeding and making beds. We were very happy to do so and it provided great time for deep thinking and catching up on audio books.
Every Day for lunch we’d come into the workers quarters for a sandwich or some fresh scones if we were lucky.
On our days off, we liked to explore the surrounding areas to get a feel for the land. Our first trip was to Lake Tekapo – a glacial lake surrounding Mt. Cook National park. Stunning icy blue waters made this a breathtaking view.
Our next day trip took us to the beautiful waterfalls of the Devil’s punchbowl.
“See that waterfall there? I want you to imagine all of life’s greatest gifts, opportunities and abundance in health, money, growth and love pouring and flowing onto you and through you.” – Spencer
Since telling Teal this over 6 months ago in Croatia we have experienced nothing but all of the above. Now, as we stand in front of this beauty Teal reminds him – and we will think about it for every waterfall we ever visit from here on out.
Before ending our workaway experience, we took one final day trip out to Akaroa, New Zealand – a beautiful bay that felt very much like the North Bay of San Francisco (Sausalito). This region was known for its wine country with gorgeous surrounding inlets and lakes.
We stopped to picnic and enjoy wine at a local vintner’s personal home winery and soaked up the incredible atmosphere. Picnicking here was such a refreshing experience compared with the hard manual labor of our day to day on the farm for the last few weeks.
After saying goodbye to our wonderful homestay hosts at the sheep farm, we headed out for our last 10 day final stint of the journey before heading home: renting a 4 Berth Camper Motor home (complete with a stick shift and driven from the other side of the car than we’re used to). It was an exciting, nerve wracking new experience to try out, and we were excited to get on the road.
Spence is ready to hit the road!
After getting used to switching gears, holding back all the items sloshing around the van, and driving on the wrong side of the road, we were on our way 🙂
We stopped for the first night at the edge of a beach on the side of the road on our way to Dunedin – waking up to this magical sunrise at dawn. Good morning New Zealand!
The next day, we started our 6 hour drive into the deep terrains of mountainous and famous Queenstown – also known as the adventure capital of the world. This is THE spot for all things, boating, flying, bungee jumping, sky diving, mountaineering… you name it. We saw the touristy town for a moment, but then headed on north to find our own little private beach oasis on the sandy shores of one of the coves. It was the best campsite we’d ever had.
After enjoying a relaxed camper evening in Queenstown, we continued deeper into the mountains on to the world known – Milford Sound. We had seen fjords from our time in Norway a year back when we first started our journey, but this was like fjords on another level. The dimension, color, waterfalls and slight mist gave this area a uniquely majestic feel to it.
We did some short walks around the area to soak in the beauty, then headed back for another yummy home cooked meal. Dinner’s ready! Lovin our #Camperlife!
From Milford Sound, it was another 5 hour drive to Wanaka – another famously beautiful place to experience epic mountain ranges and deep lake gorges. And… the most epic skydiving in the world. Teal had never done this before and had longed to for years, so we decided this was the time and place to cross this off the bucket list!
Surprisingly, neither of us felt scared or hesitant in going skydiving. It felt so safe (both of our guides had already completed over 4000 jumps) that it really was just about releasing the fear and enjoying the (short-lived) moment and incredible views. We were so happy to have gotten this experience in such a beautiful spot!
From Wanaka, we headed north on our way to the tip of the South Island. And this begins the start of our engagement story 🙂
After discussing the topic of marriage for a few years, it had been quite the debate in the past- does it feel right to get married and follow tradition, or live outside the box? The topic started coming up again toward the end of our trip and we both came to the conclusion that it really did feel right. But when and how? We were in the middle of cow towns and massive mountain ranges! Where were we going to find a jewelry store?
On one of our final nights of the trip, we pulled up after 6 hours of driving into the beautiful little town of Nelson, New Zealand. We took a walk for the evening to explore the town and stumbled upon the most beautiful hand crafted boot shop.
Now this is an important side note because Spencer has been talking about wanting to replace his boots with a new pair since we were in Portugal – over 11 months ago! And every city we’ve stopped into since PORTUGAL we’ve looked for boots for him, but nothing seemed right. For 6 months he’s had nothing but a pair of white sneakers and flip flops… and for such a stylish gentleman, he really desired a new pair of stylish boots. And this store had THE ones.
Coincidentally (or not, you decide) next door to the boot shop – was a jewellery store.
After going to get Spencer’s boots, we decided to go into the this tiny jewellery store just to see if we could get some ideas and ended up finding the rings we loved.
It couldn’t have flowed more beautifully. We thanked the store manager and walked out of the shop, still kind bewildered about what had just happened. The next question was when do we actually do the whole “engagement thing”?
Spence, being the amazing man that he is – said that if we were going to do this, he was going to do it right – and he would hold on to the rings until the time was right. But unfortunately, we had to push forward because we had a ferry to catch at 7pm and a long drive ahead of us to make it in time… So I relaxed into it and knew that when the time approached it would be right. But also feeling like we had just made a huge step forward, but I still had to wait! Even though we’d had the conversations, we’d gotten the rings, we’d told the store lady we were engaged… we still hadn’t ACTUALLY done the action of it yet. Patience Teal, Patience.
So now we have 36 hours to get from the South Island, across Queen Charlotte Sound, and all the way across the North Island up to Aukland to return our motor home and catch our flight home – and we’re stuck in the boonies – with two rings burning a hole in Spence’s pocket.
So we’re feeling on cloud nine, soaking up this incredible moment that just happened, reveling in just how easy and effortless it had all gone down. We started again up the crazy windy mountainous road out of Nelson and on to Picton to catch the ferry, and after about 45 minutes I break the clutch on an uphill in the middle of nowhere. With no phone service. The plot continues to thicken.
LUCKILY we were still able to drive the car in first gear, but all other gears were broken – so we decided there was nothing else we could do but continue on the 80 mile drive through the mountains in first gear until we found someone to help us. We prayed to the universe that our motor wouldn’t overheat from pushing it so hard in first gear up steep inclines and revving it on the downhill, but I had faith that it would all work out. After driving for about 10 miles in first gear, I told him – “you know what Spence, this is all going to work out, we’re going to find a mechanic and they’ll be able to fix this for us.”
I went within and connected to my heart and asked the universe, “PLEASE – what will it take for us to let this flow with ease? What will it take for us to be able to find a mechanic out there in the mountains who can help us?”
And no joke, as we passed the next curve, we saw it. A big huge barn and repair shop for large trucks and farm equipment. We both couldn’t believe our eyes.
You’ve got to be kidding me…. We pull into the drive and I tell Spence – “Don’t worry, I’ve got this. We’re going to find someone who will know exactly what happened and be able to fix us for this in no time.”
Spence was skeptical (rightfully so, since this was more of a farm shed than a true auto body shop) but he let me do my thing.
That’s when we met Sam. Sam the Kiwi mechanic in his bright orange jumpsuit was our angel in this moment. And I told him that as he was working. You could tell Sam LOVED what he did – he was a car surgeon (I told him that too) and within minutes, he was pulling apart our full dashboard, un screwing every bit of the front of our car to see what the problem was – without knowing who we were or even if we had insurance. Every now and then he would throw up a big laugh or cuss loudly as he dug into his project to inspect the damage. This was looking like a very expensive job….\
We called the car ferry and pushed our boat departure to the next day and let our rental car company know what happened. But as if once again – we had magic flowing through us, Sam figured it out – and not only that, told us that this was not our fault. Someone before us had jimmy rigged a past problem to hack it together before giving us the motor home and we had simply been the ones that had finally broke something that was never fixed before hand. It wasn’t our fault and we weren’t liable. THANK GOD! NO LIABILITY – NO MONEY we were responsible for paying.
And not only that, he said he’d be able to fix it well enough to get us up to Aukland before it needed to be fully repaired. Unbelievable.
Within 2 hours, and lots of “Shit YEAH!” Exclamations from Sam as he worked his magic; he had configured his own (stronger) jimmy rig of the pieces to hold it together for a few more hundred miles. He sent us on our way with a huge smile and trusted that he’d get paid through our rental company. We both couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Within no time, we were on our way to Picton. Because we had pushed back the ferry, we stopped in New Zealand wine country for the night, grabbed a bottle of wine and headed to a campground beautifully situated by the ocean and the vineyards. We made a beautifully romantic dinner by candlelight in our camper and let ourselves (once again) catch our breath over what had all just gone down.
The next morning we awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the ocean, had some coffee, and continued our way on to Picton to catch the ferry.
Since the changed ferry time, we arrived in Picton with two extra hours… Spencer drove me up into the beautiful majestic mountains of Queen Charlotte Sound overlooking the entire harbor and surrounding sounds and found a beautiful little grassy patch overlooking the water with a park bench.
And just like that, we stopped, went over to the park bench – and he got down on one knee.
It was honestly perfect. I had released as many expectations as I could and just let things flow as they needed to, and it had all been SO perfect. It couldn’t have been planned better. If we hadn’t broken down where we did, we would have grabbed the ferry and then been driving all night with no where to stop for this engagement.
We wouldn’t have had a beautiful romantic dinner camping by the beach.
We wouldn’t have been able to visit the wine country.
We would have left the South Island and all of the beautiful scenery. (As Spence put it) the South Island was where all of our memories were.
Plus, we probably would have broken down somewhere else and would have been truly stranded, since there aren’t any other car mechanics on the North island except in Aukland.
It couldn’t have been more romantic – and it felt so right. And it happened to fall on March 15, 2019 – exactly 1 year since we left to begin this incredible life-changing world trip together.
We soaked up the moment and the views, then headed on to the ferry over to the North Island to catch our flight home to the USA.
Our view from the ferry to North New Zealand:
On our last night we spent our stop over along the banks of a beautiful river leading into a northern lake so Spencer could do some fishing.
Although we didn’t catch anything, it was such a beautiful, peaceful way to end this incredible, once in a lifetime trip that we’ve been on.
A happy man 😀
And with that – we call it a wrap! This blog has been our way of trying to put into words the memories, feelings and experiences we’ve had throughout this last year of our life but some things are never able to be expressed in just words or pictures to the fullest.
We are so grateful to each of you for following our journey and sharing your enthusiasm and support of our travel experiences! It has been the best decision we’ve ever had – and we don’t regret a single moment. We only hope to continue to bring the love, magic and expansive opportunities forward to create new, equally exciting chapters for our future together.
And with that, we’re on our way back home to the USA!