TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE
Traveling New Zealand By House Sit
Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist
I’m not sure who has the most fun me, or them.
It’s no secret, New Zealand is expensive. An island nation at “the end of the world” it’s one of the most expensive places I’ve ever been. That’s why I planned 3 – 4 weeks, originally. Then Covid hit, and, well. I’ve been fortunate to pick up a lot of house sits. Not only have they allowed me to reduce accomodation costs to virtually zero, they’ve also allowed me to see many places and feel more of a local than I otherwise would have. Another advantage is feeling like I have a semblance of home, instead of a hotel or hostel, which can be comforting when on the road for long periods of time. The only problem is falling in love with pets that aren’t mine, and then having to leave.
Frank with one of his favorite toys
Christchurch With Frank
One of my first house sits was for Frank. He’s a labrador and lives in a lovely home in Christchurch. I was warned that when I arrived, he’d have a scary bark, but if I spoke nicely to him, he’d quickly accept me and let me open the house gate. Frank taught me a lot about boundaries and sticking to my guns. He has some of the most compelling puppy dog eyes I’ve ever experienced. He knew when I was leaving his house without him and looked like he would cry. I had to persevere. I was told he sleeps outside, but when I put him out, he ran to the front door and tried to come in the house. Gulp. When he came in the house by day, he wanted to play and cuddle, and one day stole my unripe avocado from my bag and ate it. I gave him a stern talking to, and he expressed remorse for a good two minutes. Frank also let me discover more of Christchurch with friends. I got to the International Antarctica Center which was a real highlight, discovered new neighborhoods via the tram and learned how earthquake-ready the new Christchurch is, and walked through the beautiful parks around the city. I saw a more residential side of the city than I had before, as well as getting to sites and activities I really enjoyed, including the Christchurch Adventure Park which displayed one of those crazy alien monoliths at the time!
“Traveling through the country, surrounded by love.”
New Plymouth With Meg And Wave
House sits are harder to come by in the rest of the South Island. I guess nobody leaves home. So, my next house sit was in New Plymouth. I had the pleasure of looking after Meg, an elderly cat, and Wave, an elderly dog whose gone senile. Despite their quirks, they were absolutely lovely. Meg is very chatty, and we’d spend a lot of time talking over a TV show and hanging out on the couch. She’s a very picky eater, so I followed her like a Jewish mama after each meal asking her to please eat some more. She obliged, a little. In between cuddles and meals, I discovered the town of New Plymouth. Perhaps even more important, I conquered a fear.
Meg the cat, and Wave the dog
Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2021