A Week-In-The-Life of Jade and James: Our Oyster

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Jade and James of Our Oyster are a Canadian/English couple that met while Couchsurfing in New Zealand. They – and their travel blogs – became inseparable after that. They hope to show that budget travel is possible for any budget and inspire people to get out there and explore their world. They like to travel slowly and prefer overland travel to fast paced city hopping. Here’s a week-in-the-life of Jade and James in New Zealand!

This post was originally published in 2012. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

Day 1 – Wednesday

6:00 AM – Roll out of “bed” (which is the mattress on our friend’s living room floor) in Wellington, New Zealand. We packed all our bags last night, so all we need to do is get washed and changed before we are out the door. We have decided to walk to the ferry terminal in order to save money on the bus fare; it is a pretty short bus ride and we will be doing lots of walking with our packs in the next few weeks so it’s good practice.

8:00 AM – Check in at the ferry terminal and prepare for a three hour ferry crossing to New Zealand’s south island. I try to get some sleep as otherwise I would get motion sick.

12:00 PM – After lunch at a local bakery in Picton, New Zealand on the South Island we try to figure out what to do next. It turns out I had actually been living one day in the future, so we are a full day earlier than we thought we would be. We were supposed to stay with some relatives of James’ who he has not previously met, and feel a little awkward showing up early. We decide that the best way to avoid awkwardness is to walk the 24 km’s to Blenheim instead.

3:00 PM – A car pulls over for us even though we are not trying to hitchhike, and offers to drive us to Blenheim.

5:00 PM – The camping park wants to charge us $40 to pitch our tent and we decide that is outrageous. We instead walk to a local park and set up our tent behind some bushes. (Freedom camping is no longer legal in New Zealand, although at the time of our trip it was).

Day 2 – Thursday

James of Our Oyster in Kaikoura

8:00 AM – We wake up and pack up the tent and start heading to the highway. We still have some time to kill so we decide to hitchhike a few hours south to the seaside town of Kaikoura, which is famous for seals and whale watching.

1:00 PM – We arrive in Kaikoura and find a cheap motel which lets us pitch our tent in their backyard. We decide to go on the two-hour peninsula hike which will take us past a fur seal colony.

2:00 PM – The seals are AMAZING! We are able to get loads of great pictures!

Fur seal in Kaikoura

5:00 PM – This walk took us way more than two hours! Might have been due to that bottle of wine we took with us! Now it’s starting to get dark so we have to hurry back to town.

8:00 PM – We cook a freezer aisle pizza for dinner and edit our photos from the day on the laptop.

Day 3 – Friday

10:00 AM – We start hitchhiking back to Blenheim. We are soon picked up by a couple who was also camping at the same motel as us. They sing old fashioned Israeli songs as we drive down the winding highway. It’s nice to just chill out and listen.

1:00 PM – We arrive in Blenheim and meet James’ family, who are all very friendly. We enjoy some amazing home cooking.

Day 4 – Saturday

8:00 AM – Staying in a house with four kids means you wake up early. But its not too difficult since we are used to waking up early from the past few weeks of camping anyway.

1:00 PM – James’ second cousin Alistair takes us on a wine tour of the Marlborough region, for which Blenheim is famous. We of course, do not spit out the wine, and get progressively more and more tipsy. Most wine tastings in New Zealand are free, and the Marlborough region is famous for its Sauv Blancs.

Wine tasting in Belnheim

6:00 PM – We enjoy another great home meal, and also take up the internet opportunity to update the website as much as possible. Free public internet connections are rare in New Zealand, so we have to use our time with the internet wisely.

Day 5 – Sunday

8:00 AM – We head off to the local farmers market with Alistair and his youngest daughter to enjoy some great local food and see some local musicians perform. After that we are treated to a tour of Blenheim – including the park we had previously slept in a few days ago!

6:00 PM – We plan out our itineraries for the next few days. We love hiking and want to try to do as many hikes in New Zealand as possible. We decide to head west and do the four-day Abel Tasman great walk, and then head further west to the four-day Heaphy great Walk. Ange, Alistair’s wife arranges transport for us part of the way with her brother in law who luckily is heading in the same direction.

Day 6 – Monday

8:00 AM – We say goodbye to James’ relatives. It has been really lovely staying with them and they have gone out of their way to accommodate us even though we were previously complete strangers. Ange helps us find some cardboard to make a hitchhiking sign for the part of the journey where her brother in law won’t be going.

1:00 PM – We are almost in Marehau, the gateway to the Abel Tasman national park. We get as far at Motueka, where we decide we will probably need to catch the bus as traffic down the remaining part of the road is sparse to say the least. We head to the tourist information centre and suddenly bump into my friend Eva who I knew from Auckland. She is also travelling around the South Island, but I had no idea she would be here!

4:00 PM – We pile ourselves into Eva’s tiny car, which now has five passengers. We are so crammed in that we don’t even sway as the car struggles up and down the hills and along the winding road.

6:00 PM – We get dropped off in Marehau and say goodbye to Eva and her friends. They have booked to do the hike in the opposite direction, so we will inevitably see them again along the trail in a day or two. We find a great campsite with wandering chickens and cook ourselves up a big meal to give ourselves energy for the next few days.

Day 7 – Tuesday

Jade of Our Oyster on the abel tasman in New Zealand

8:00 AM – We rise early to get a good start on the hike. The day is beautiful and we hardly feel the weight of our overpacked bags. We hike past little hidden coves, long sandy beaches, and through dense rainforest. It is a spectacular hike, but has more ups and downs than my poor calves were anticipating.

12:00 PM – We stop for lunch on a beautiful sandy beach. It’s a great place to stop for lunch, we have peanut butter and jam wraps (wraps don’t get crushed in a backpack like bread does) and M&Ms. Great fuel for hiking!

James on the abel tasman

3:00 PM – We arrive at our first campsite for the night. We have to act quickly to secure our tent as it looks like there is a storm coming…..

12:00 AM – We abandon the tent! Our tarp has blown away letting the torrential rain come straight into the tent. We are flooded out! Luckily there is a cooking area which has a roof over it. We deposit our belongings in the safety of the shelter, and go to sleep on the floor with all the other flooded out campers……

Jade and James recently moved to Australia from New Zealand. Their next project is going to be an epic overland adventure seeing everything Australia has to offer – from swimming with whale sharks, to cuddling koalas, to even some outback exploration. Stay tuned to their site Our Oyster  for the latest, or tune into their Facebook Page!

And I sincerely hope that part of their overland trip through Oz includes experiencing some of their iconic rail journeys like The Ghan or the Indian Pacific – what a way to see the country!

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3 thoughts on “A Week-In-The-Life of Jade and James: Our Oyster”

  1. Wow, that’s a very busy week you had there! I hope the next part of your trip doesn’t have as much rain!

    P.s. The seal is super cute!

  2. @Gemma, as I read your comment, it is currently pouring rain down where I live in Brisbane! 😀 But I don’t mind because it helps with the humidity.

    @ Rachel The flooded tent situation doesn’t get better when you lose one of the tent poles and have to tie the top of it to a tree! haha! that happened to us when hiking the Abel Tasman!


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