Summer is just around the corner but I’m just now editing photos from my first few days in Wanaka - right at the start of winter. I had no idea how the next few months would unfold and I’m so satisfied with how it all happened.
TLDR; I settled in Wanaka for the winter. Day 2, I got a job at a cafe, Day 4, I moved into a house with three other people. For three months my time was taken up by marathon training, snowboarding, yoga, and cafe work. It's been a good time.
When I got to New Zealand I was a little nervous how things would play out. I wanted to settle in Wanaka for the winter and when I told people, they responded with a mix of encouragement and warning. I was told it would be difficult to find a job and accommodation, and if I wanted something similar, Queenstown would be a better option simply because there was more opportunity there. I was starting to wonder if I was being silly by choosing Wanaka.
On my second day I had a job, and on my 4th day I moved into a rental house with three others I had met through a Facebook group for winter accommodation.
When I was leaving the hostel after just three nights, I was feeling a bit guilty. Many of the others were looking for the same things I was - work and a place to live. I can’t say if I was trying harder or if I was just lucky. Whatever it was, the universe was definitely working miracles..
Working to Live
It’s the least exciting part of my winter, but I feel really fortunate to have gotten that cafe job so quickly. The first couple months were busy, but I didn't mind it - I had free sushi for lunch each shift! Towards the end I did get a little bored of it though.
Snowboarding and Instructor Training
In Wanaka there are two local mountains to chose from and after a few conversations with my housemates and other people I decided to get a season pass and train for an instructors certification at Treble Cone. I understand how some might see it as silly to train to be an instructor, when really, I needed lessons myself. But that is exactly why I decided to do the training - I wanted to become a better rider, and I wanted to learn how to ride the correct way before forming bad habits.
For eight days I trained with Rookie Academy at Treble Cone. Everyday I learned new things and felt an improvement with each ride down. August 7th I passed the exam and I am now a SBINZ Level 1 certified snowboard instructor! :)
And the rest of the season was fun too!
Running and Marathon Training
For about a year now, I’ve been itching to train for a marathon… And I suppose I have been training all along, just not intensely. I’ve been running sorta-kinda every now and then since I was 12, I did two half-marathons last year, and running has been my main form of exercise and stress relief while traveling. But I’ve never put much discipline to my running, which is what I’d have to do if I was going to run a marathon - without getting injured.
Things I learned...
How to dress myself for running in the cold - two pairs of yoga pants, long socks, thermal top, wind breaker jacket, neck buff, and ski gloves (because normal running gloves don't work for runs longer than one hour.)
Running when its -5 C outside sucks. Any temperature above freezing calls for a smile.
I have confirmed with myself that I can indeed get over the I-don’t-feel-like-running-today thoughts if I really try.
Distance is a lot in the mindset.
I actually really like hills now. Yay for the Glendhu Bay Track!
On September 13th, I ran my first marathon in Dunedin, New Zealand. Finished in 4 hours and 29 minutes, and I’m keen to run another!
Yoga and Teaching
Before I arrived in Wanaka I had sent an email to the two yoga studios in town asking about possible trade work. After a couple weeks of being in town I finally pulled myself out of bed early enough to make it to a 6am class (only class I could make on the schedule), introduced myself to the studio owner, and after teaching an initial trial class I was given the opportunity to teach once a week!
Planning and teaching a weekly class challenged my creativity and was that extra push I’d been wanting. I became more confident in my sequencing and teaching abilities. Seeing familiar faces in my classes and practicing amongst them made me feel a part of the yoga community. Also, hanging out in an empty yoga room, before or after class, is awesome.
I'd like to say something wise and insightful... but I don't have anything really other than I had a great winter and Wanaka is beautiful. :)