WWOOFing in New Zealand: What It’s Really Like

WWOOFing in New Zealand | Confused Julia

One thing we really wanted to achieve during our time in New Zealand was finding some volunteering work on a vineyard. At the time, before I’d set foot in the country, I wasn’t much of a wine lover. Sure, I enjoyed the odd glass or two *cough cough*, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Scott, on the other hand, having worked in hospitality for years, knew a lot more about brands, grapes and types of wine than I did. This quickly rubbed off on me and I realised I wanted to know more about how wine goes from grape to bottle, as well as discovering my favourite flavour of grapes.

We signed up for the WWOOF New Zealand website and scanned all of the listings, but only one really stood out to us. Many of the assignments were on farms, not vineyards, which narrowed down our choices somewhat. We applied, but never heard anything back. So, we did what any normal people would do and stalked the owners of the vineyard until they accepted us. (I joke, of course, but we did follow up our application with a personal email stating why we wanted to work there.)

A Gruesome Day at the Amsterdam Dungeons

Amsterdam Dungeon

It was cold and rainy on Scott’s birthday last week, which seemed like the perfect time to do something fun indoors. We had been offered the chance to visit the Amsterdam Dungeon and experience its current new sideshows and attractions with a Carnivale theme, which runs throughout the summer. So we set off on our bikes, umbrellas in hand, to see what all the fuss what about.

Now, I’ve only ever visited the dungeons in the UK before (the ones in York and London) and I’ve always enjoyed the fact that they have live actors instead of “haunted house” type attractions with mechanical moving figures. Having said that, I always seemed to get singled out as the “volunteer” to participate in the fun, so I’m always wary to stand too close to the front!

The tour is run in English at the Amsterdam Dungeon, which seemed to prove a little difficult for those from some foreign countries, but as long as you’re aware of it ahead of time and can understand English (including sarcasm and jokes – that’s important!) then you should be fine.

12 Things I’ve Learned About Living In Amsterdam

12 Things Learned About Living in Amsterdam

You have to stop caring what your hair and makeup looks like. By the time you’ve cycled anywhere, particularly through humidity or rain, it’s all going to look pretty disheveled anyway.

Bicycle locks are an annoying and yet necessary part of life. If you really want to protect your set of wheels, you need a heavy duty lock. And that means struggling to lock/unlock and store it every time you’re on the move.

Many foreigners will complain about Dutch service. I can’t say I find it that much worse than other parts of Europe, with the odd exception. On the whole, Dutch people are lovely, if not brutally honest. But if you don’t like it, don’t live here.

Ponsonby – My Favourite Neighbourhood in Auckland

Ponsonby New Zealand | Confused Julia

Auckland was our first stop on our epic adventure around New Zealand. Despite being warned beforehand that I would hate Auckland, because a lot of people seem to despise how built up it is, I loved it. I think part of its appeal was the neighbourhood we stayed in: Ponsonby.

This happened by chance after booking ourselves into a highly rated hostel there, not knowing the benefit of one neighbourhood over another. But it turned out to be a great decision. Here’s why.

The Accommodation

We stayed in Ponsonby Backpackers which is housed in a pretty, old building, situated on a quiet leafy street. It always seemed to be full of backpackers and there was a nice communal yard at the back where you could enjoy drinks with other travellers. We were also lucky as our room was bigger than some and we had French doors that opened up to offer a (albeit limited) view over the neighbouring rooftops. The staff on the front desk were also very friendly and happy to offer advice and suggestions on places to eat, etc. The only downside of this place was the almost ridiculously small showers, but I won’t hold that against them.

Auckland was the pick-up and drop-off point for our campervan and so we found ourselves back there for another night a little later in our trip, but this time Ponsonby Backpackers was full. We ended up staying in another one, Uenuku Lodge, which was also in Ponsonby (this was no coincidence on our part). This one was pretty similar, although the bathrooms were much bigger, but the residents were noisier and the rooms were a bit cramped.