Saturday, November 28, 2009

This past week...

Started off the week with a trip to Karamea (the northernmost settlement on the west coast of the south island). This is where the Heaphy Track begins... a beautiful 4 day tramp.  We did some rock climbing, trail running, grilling, cave exploring and boshing.  It was nice but I did forget my bug spray and my legs got dominated by the sand flies.  The rest of the week has consisted of bone carving (carved a bone into a really cool necklace), cooking for guests, landscaping the gardens out back, shoveling gravel for new paths, and teaching people about Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving, "Number 2" (the manager), hosted a Hangi in honor of this holiday.  A Hangi (pronounced Hungy) is a traditional Maori meal that is cooked in the ground.  The following is a description: We dug a knee deep pit 4 ft X 4 ft. the day before.  Then yesterday we put in chunks of iron and metal, then a fire on top and got it real hot for several hours...Usually you use rocks instead of metal but the rocks here will explode so we used metal. Then Number 2 and I prepped the chickens...pork butt...potatoes...kumara (like a sweet potato). Next we dug everything out of the pit...ash, rocks, metal... it was really hot and we had to do it quick (20 minute window to keep the heat).  We put the metal back down, draped a wet duvet cover on the rocks...placed our food that was in crates on the metal...draped 3 more wets blankets on top of that...then recovered with tons of dirt and sand and packed it down. The food gets steamed for about 5 hours and no steam can leak out or it wont cook.  Pretty intensive but fun!  About 8pm we uncovered it and pulled everything was DELICIOUS!  So moist!  We had about 35 locals show up and everyone enjoyed it.  Number 2 made a little anouncement about the Hungi in honor of my Thanksgiving holiday!  Choice!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I sit here over 8,000 miles away from home, the day before Thanksgiving, it makes me appreciate all those times and meals and laughs that I have been fortunate to have with a loving and enjoyable family.  Family is extremely important to me and I am one of those lucky few to have one...and not just have one, but have a GREAT one!  To my fam back home, wish I was there to spend some good Q.T. with you!  It is refreshing to know, though, that I will be celebrating T-giving with my West coast 'family' and several locals here tomorrow night.  We are doing a Hangi feast... which is a traditional Maori meal cooked in the ground.  Several people are all pitching in and we will be roasting duck, bull, chook and other dishes like my Mac 'n' chee.  And of course everyone will be drawing hand turkeys like back in kindergarten and getting a history lesson on the original Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the Indians.  So enjoy yourselves and your families... eat up and soak up the moment!  Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Daily Circuit

Each morning I help lead a circuit with whomever wants to join... backpackers, fellow staffers (including the manager who is an Ironman and Triathlete).  We usually jog down to the beach for some exercises using our body weight and various sized rocks!  Rock relays, boulder tossing, piggybacking, pushups, situps, water-running, etc.  Great workouts in a beautiful setting!  Keep it rolling!

The Baz Special

This is the delicious brekkie (breakfast) special that I make for many of our guests: 
2 eggs, 2 pieces of toast, 2 sausages, 2 tomatoes, hash browns and beans...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

People Make the Difference

There are beautiful places and unique scenery everywhere...all over the world.  From the rugged West coast of New Zealand’s South island the Royal Mile at Edinburgh the gob-smacking Mediterranean views in Cinque Terra, Sydney’s Opera House the clear caribbean waters of Staniel Cay the awe inspiring Grand Canyon... All of these places that I have been fortunate to visit have a common thread of being gorgeous destinations.  But the underlying theme of a location reaching that “Awesome” label is of course your interaction with the people there and sharing it with someone.  

Individuals can make or break the experience.  Being in good company enhances the aura of a place ten-fold.  For example, I am often reminded of my experience at Camp Cherokee.  Facility-wise, it is very rustic with no fancy “bells and whistles”’s the people there that make the experience memorable.  The same goes with many of these fantastic destinations...the people that you encounter along the journey make it the difference of being just another beautiful location or being an unbelievable experience!

Europe was better because of my fellow backpackers, Catfish and Patches.  Australia was an outstanding experience because of my mates Emily, Ron and Tish.  Well so far, my kiwi adventures have been killer due to my new friends in Auckland and now here in Barrytown.  Just think about it yourself, a sunset is much more vibrant and vivid when sharing it with someone.  Sweet as!

Beauty of a day

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Barrytown....aka Baz Vegas Baby!

Welcome to Baz Vegas Health and Drinks Club!  Currently I am working at a spot in Barrytown on the West coast of the South Island.  Basically doing quite a bit of everything...bartending, cooking dinner for the travelers, landscaping, painting murals, leading games for the guests and reorganizing this place.  Stray just took over the little hostel and they want it to be a FUN destination spot when the Stray buses stop here.  So basically, there are buses in 4 times per week...and it is like Halloween!  Each night hosts a different theme night complete with dress-up costumes, games and good times until late into the night.  It's great meeting all these backpackers from all over the world and helping them to have a great time!  
Stay tuned for some great pictures and stories!  Cheers!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pancake Rocks-West Coast of South Island

Red Denim

Red Denim??  Are you serious?  Oh yes...But I blog about red denim not because of the garment itself, but because of what hidden gem was wearing them.  We walked into the only pub in Marahau in Abel Tasman...and while observing the scene and doing my favorite hobby, people watching, I noticed a gentleman in red denim pants. He was an older lean man with a relaxed look about him... relaxed as if kind of clueless yet comfortable.  In addition to his red denim, he was also wearing a red button down shirt and I quietly thought to myself, “That gentleman sure does like red.”  Moving on around to other parts of the pub, there was another man with a straw hat, full thick beard, weathered visage, and looking as if he had many stories to tell.  The scene that unfolded was awesome and reminded me of the great values of being non-judgmental because you never know about people.   It was open mic night and "Red Denim" went up on stage with "The Bearded Storyteller" and they proceeded to JAM OUT on the harmonica, ukulele, guitar and electric fiddle!  LEGIT!  It was such a fun vibe and I was in awe at these individuals and their talents!  

This happens quite often in everyday life, and we should be conscious of our labeling and strive to not judge.  Lets use our energy on other nice things.  Don't take it from me... take it from Red Denim!  Cheers!

Sunny Days

Alrighty, currently I have ventured down to the South Island via Wellington and Abel Tasman National Park. Allen Schapiro has joined me for this trek and is staying a week in between his travels back to the East coast after 5 months in Singapore.  We hopped on the Stray Bus in Picton and are traveling with other adventurers from Germany, Switzerland, England, Holland, Italy, Canada, Romania, Russia, New Zealand and the States. Yesterday, he and I and a few more bros did the Coastal Track in Abel Tasman.  Its a 12 kilometer tramp all along the coast line beaming with gorgeous views of vivid greenish-turquoise waters and plush rainforest vegetation.  Stunning!  It was the best sunny day here in NZ so far and you can tell that summer is right around the corner!  

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Alrighty... Great things happening as of lately.  First off, I will be working for Stray Travel, an adventure bus company that takes backpackers and other travelers around the country to some great spots.  Their motto is "Off the beaten path" which means they like to go to some awesome places that the other tours dont.  Check them out at  Anyhoo, I will spend the next month in Barrytown, a small place on the West coast of the South island.    Stray just bought the ole wild west type lodge (an old miner's lodge).  Myself and another guy, Kevin, were recommended by IEP to help them get this destination ready.  We are headed that way this week via Wellington and 2 days in Marahau (Abel Tasman Ntl. Park).  Should be fun as there will be Stray buses coming in every other night...bone carving, kayaking, tramping, knife making and other activities on the rugged coastline.  We will be working with 2 experienced Stray guys in doing all kinds of odd jobs and prep work to make it a Cool Destination spot.  Word on the street is the pub gets rockin in Barrytown!  Cheers, Bird