We have been in Gore for about a month now, and I’m finally getting around to sitting my butt down and writing about everything we’ve been up to, along with going back and editing tons of pictures. The sitting down and concentrating part is harder than it sounds when there is so much happening! But I’ll do my best to get you up to date since we left Wellington.
Sidenote: I ended up not getting my DSLR camera sensor professionally cleaned in Wellington since it was going to cost me $80. Once we reached Gore, I bought a cleaning kit and did it myself (Youtube tutorials are the best!). Now I have a clean camera sensor and don’t have to waste my life editing out little black specks of dust from my photos.
Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand and is a growing city with an artsy-creative-fresh vibe goin’ on. Honestly, maybe even a bit hipster since they are really into their micro breweries. The Te Papa Museum was huge and I’m so glad we were able to check it out. No pictures of the inside, but if you are ever in Wellington definitely spend a day here. Plus it’s free admission! Another stop while we were in Wellington was to check out the Weta Workshop. This is a special effects company that made their name known with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit, but have actually worked on tons of films since then. Weta Cave is the gift shop attached to Weta Workshop and they offer a 30 minute video on everything that goes on in the workshop, plus lots of cool souvenirs, movie prop replicas, and figurines for sale. This is what we decided to do since the Behind-the-Scenes Workshop tour was $25 per person and we had a tight budget…ya know, with no jobs and all. Perhaps my biggest disappointment was not getting to see the 3 giant trolls (Bert, Tom, and Will) that hang out in front of Weta Cave. They were GONE! Actually, they were put in storage a few days before our visit since there were renovations being done to the building…but still, I was quite sad that we literally missed them by a few days.
We successfully made it onto the enormous Interislander Ferry with Samson the Subaru packed with all of our stuff and enjoyed the 3hr ride from Wellington to Picton. Once the ferry reached Picton, we drove a little ways to our campsite which was peaceful, scenic, and home to lots of bunnies!
Since we wanted to be in Gore before Nov 30th, we decided to cut out some stops along our way down the West coast. Milford Sound and Fjordland National Park were cut out temporarily because honestly the weather was not the best for camping and being outside. We do plan on checking out those places sometime in February or March when it will be warmest. Abel Tasman National Park was unfortunately cut out completely because of weather. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier thankfully were on the way down the west coast and we were going to see them no matter the weather! It was totally worth it despite the rain because there were plenty of waterfalls all around us. The downside to the weather was that we could not walk the full length of the trail at Fox Glacier that brings you right up to the face of the glacier. On our way back to the car at Fox Glacier, the weather quickly went from dreary rain to “run-for-your-life!” Hail was starting to fall as we made it into the car and for the next 10 minutes we waited for it to let up, all while thinking about the poor people we walked past who were definitely not prepared for ice balls falling from the sky. Hopefully they were fast runners! New Zealand weather can change from one extreme to the other in a matter of minutes. No. Joke.
Queenstown was another must-see stop on our drive through the South Island. Queenstown is tucked away in a mountain range called The Remarkables. Yep, they were definitely remarkable! The tourist season in Queenstown can get pretty crazy which is the only downside we could see to prevent us from moving there right away! While checking out the town, Michael and I did a very challenging hike up a trail called Queenstown Hill Walking Track. This “hill” was steeper than Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee which we hiked back in September. We like to think we are in pretty good shape, but this was a toughie just due to the sheer grade of the path. Despite all that, the view at the top was worth every grueling step.
After we left Queenstown we camped in a tiny town called Lumsden. The great part was that we could pick up free wifi from the library right next door and no camp fees. The not-so-great part was that it was incredibly cold with high winds, so we decided not to pitch the tent and instead slept in our car. Yeah, not such a good idea since we aren’t exactly young anymore. Thankfully, since we had wifi we emailed our host family, Doug and Robyn Waters, about possibly arriving in Gore sooner than expected and they said come on over! So our camping adventure across the country was over and we could settle in for the next few months. Staying with the Waters family has been a blessing in so many ways. Instead of trying to find a small place to rent within our very tight budget, we worked out a rental agreement with them. Not only do we have a cozy place to stay but we have a wonderful family to spend time and share spiritual encouragement with!
The town of Gore is similar to Brooksville, Florida in that it is small town surrounded by farm land. But the farm land is beautiful rolling green hills with sheep. Gore is not as populated as Brooksville and is a quiet and “old-fashioned” town. What I mean by that is most shops are closed up by 5 or 6pm and not much is open on Sundays. And Gore is known for their trout fishing, so there is the giant trout statue we drive past all the time.
One of the things keeping us so busy has been our new jobs! I’m working at a busy café in town called The Green Room Café. I found the job posting online, but ended up walking in and handing my résumé to the owner. The coffee is amazing and the food is freshly made, so it’s no wonder why it is popular with the locals. A big plus is that I can walk to work, which takes me about 10 minutes, and helps us save on gas (suuuuuper expensive here). It’s over $2 per litre and there are 3.78 litres in a gallon. Back home gas was about $2.50 per gallon when we left, so even with the exchange rate we are still paying over $6 a gallon!!! Ouch. Anyways, I have been working close to full time hours during the crazy holiday season, but now my schedule is easing back to 20-25 hours a week to make room for other things.
Michael is working on a Dairy Farm about 10 min outside of town. He didn’t grow up on a farm, but he is a fast learner and hard worker, plus loves animals. The best part is that he will be working alongside a family from the Gore congregation. Jason and Lisa are the main hands on this dairy farm of about 425 cows. Many of the dairy farms that were hiring wanted workers with prior milking experience, which we didn’t have. Thankfully, Lisa and Jason were able to secure a spot for Michael and will show him the ropes! It will be a learning experience for the both of us, but we are thankful to Jehovah and our friends in the congregation for all their support!
Another activity that has kept us on the go is the ministry work helping the Gore congregation. Jesus said the harvest is great and the workers would be few, and it has been a blessing to get a taste of what he meant! What a wonderful place to meet the locals, see the countryside, and assist the local congregation in sharing the Bible with others. We are still trying to get used to how NICE people are. Seriously, we have been invited inside by complete strangers to chat, even if they aren’t super interested in the Bible. Most are willing to listen to what we have to say and even accept our free Bible literature. It’s quite a contrast to some of the experiences we have had back home (doors slamming in your face, people screaming at you, attack dogs, etc.). Even the roadblocks here are different…as most of the time its a sheep herd on the move! So our ministry has been very rewarding in this first month and we are excited to see what the next few months will bring!
The vastness of certain places, the intensity of specific experiences, the grandeur of landscapes so beautiful it doesn’t seem possible for them to be real puts into perspective our own self, our priorities, and our lack of understanding when compared to the one who created all of it. He truly deserves all the credit and praise!