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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Travelling with allergies part 13: New Zealand and the long trip home...

"Hi everyone!

It's been a while since I last wrote, so I have loads to tell you...

The final two months of the trip were spent in in the lovely green, hilly and sheep filled country of New Zealand. I spent a month in the south exploring using the kiwi experience bus which is set up for travellers allowing them to hop on and hop off around the island making travel really easy. With the language here being English there were no problems with reading ingredients or asking in shops about my allergies.

I took the bus around the southern island and with the climate here cooler I no longer needed my cooling pouch for my adrenaline. A high light of the trip was Franz Josef, where I completed a 3 hour glacial hike and helicopter ride onto the glacier. This was one of the trip highlights, with traditional techniques used for walking including pick axes and ropes.

I had a great time in the famous Queenstown, which was pretty good but is given so much 'hype' I was expecting something out of this world!

I visited my god father in Dunedin, he knew about my allergies of course so was a simple task of reminding him and checking ingredients once I arrived. Cooking and eating in this country is just like back home, however I still need to check everything as the Bounty chocolate bars still have peanut in over here! I'm now very much looking forward to a peanut free one in the UK...

Back to Christchurch, I had a few days here so stayed with some friends making a nice change to be in a house. Having studied geography for A level and will looking forward to studying Geography at university, I was given a fascinating tour of what remains of the city after the devastating earthquake that hit in 2011.

I explained my allergies to our friends in Christchurch before I arrived, however reminded them that I had no issues in China and Thailand which are much  riskier places for people with allergies to eat, so to be aware but not to be too on edge!

I flew to Auckland for the second month where I was met by three friends from my secondary school who are working as gap year students at a school here and it was so  fantastic to see familiar faces! Chris, one of my friends, had purchased a car while here so I planned to do a two week road trip exploring with him and other friends, which was fantastic.

Of course my friends knew all about my allergies having spent years with them at school and having my allergy meals at school. We were all on a budget so stayed in hostels of course. By doing our own cooking I was able to easily monitor what we cooked and the ingredients ensuring I had a great (and allergen free) time!

We visited Rotorua first. This volcanic area results in a strong eggy smell from the sulfur but we had a fantastic few days here. We swam in a hot river, heated from a underground spring the river really was hot and to hot in places - such a strange and lovely experience. We then headed north where it was lovely and sunny so the shorts were a must! We visited Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach which was also amazing. Here at low tide you dig holes in the sand and they fill from a underground spring but its hot water - too hot in places!

Paihia at the Bay of Islands was our next stop. We took the foot ferry to Russel and tried our hand at fishing but resorted to the supermarket for dinner unfortunately. Our second day we completed a 15km walk which was fantastic, making ham and cheese sand wedges for lunch to keep us going. We drove to the famous 90 mile beach, this state high way can be driven on at low tide so we took the car for a spin! The roads are very empty and winding but eventually we reached the northern point Cape Reinga just 18,000km from home.

I spent a week in the very windy Wellington in the south which was fantastic and loved it. I was staying with my sisters god mother and her family so was looking forward to staying in a house again. I've stayed with them before in the UK and they are well aware of my allergies so just a case of the odd reminder. It was great to enjoy home cooking and even a roast chicken at the weekend - what a treat! I was treated to lunch out a couple of times while there for a week and when ordering, just like I would at home, I checked there was no nuts, eggs or shellfish used and made sure I drilled it in to them just how severe my allergy is!

I was taken to a music show one evening while in Wellington which was fantastic, followed by a meal out in an Asian restaurant. I was very impressed with their allergy menu which I asked for as it stated the allergens used in every dish on the menu so I was able to order my dish knowing it would be nut, egg and shellfish free...hurrah! Great right? Well...Having praised them so highly, I was shocked when I received my food and on top i spotted a nut shaving of some sort...! I asked Lola to try is for me and she confirmed it was a nut so I let the staff know, unfortunately they said it must have come from a garnish being put on another dish as mine was nut free. So I received a fresh dish which was fine, but it just goes to show you can never be 100% sure and there is always a risk. Ironic that I had no issues in China and Thailand and get my closest shave yet in New Zealand! Its just part of the risk of eating out I guess, a calculated risk you take if you want to experience life to the full unfortunately. The meal was lovely once I received one without a nut on the top!!!

One of my final stops was in Taupo where i completed a 15,000ft skydive! With one week to go until my flight home, I FINALLY completed my very own sky dive! The plane lifted to 15,000 feet, which was scary high however after about 8,000 feet 15,000 doesn't look much different! We were given oxygen for the final part before the hatch opened. After just a few seconds I had reached terminal velocity traveling over 200kph! I felt strangely like I was floating! Free falling for just over 60 seconds went so quickly but as you can see in the pictures I had a fantastic time. The parachute was pulled at 5000ft and we slowly, peacefully descended to the ground. Smiling from ear to ear, I wanted to do it all over again! One of the best 60 seconds of my life, absolutely loved it!
Who says you can't live life to the full with allergies?!

Back to earth, I spent a final day with a friend from prep school who lives here in Hamilton. We had a great catch up and ate out for dinner at a pub. I enjoyed lovely nachos and a few beers while catching up and sharing my many stories.

Returning to Auckland I had just a few days before my flight HOME (!!!). It's all gone so quickly and I remain unsure as to whether I want to head back to 'reality' or continue. I've had such a fantastic time and can't wait to reflect on my trip as a whole when I'm back in the ol' UK...stay tuned for the final chapter!

Stephen :)"