Lockdown New Zealand…Again


Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

Locked out of my beloved Kerikeri…

We’ve just gone into lockdown level 4 in Auckland for 1 case of Covid. As I sit inside enduring another lockdown, I’m reflecting on what it feels like to live in New Zealand. Jacinda’s handling of Covid has made me proud to be here. After watching the feuds between Trump and Fauci, it’s refreshing to see the way Jacinda and Ashley Bloomfield work together. There appears to be great respect and teamwork between the two. The thing I may admire and respect the most about them is their willingness to say “I don’t know.” In this country, it’s ok to be up front when you don’t know the answer, and even acknowledge, in some cases, you should know and are working towards getting the answer. When I worked in corporate, I noticed “I don’t know” was often a phrase people talked around. I always had the most respect for leaders and managers that admitted the truth and didn’t make lack of knowledge a bad thing.

A Different Lockdown Experience Than Round One

I spent my first lockdown in the beautiful town of Kerikeri. Nature was literally at my doorstep and I found great refuge in the depths of the woods many days. This time, I’m in Auckland. I had planned to do a house sit, but that looks like it’s now out of the realm of possibility. There’s no deep woods nature nearby and I’m greatly missing it. However, I’ve ended up in one of those living situations that seems a blend of the life of a full-time traveler, and normal life in New Zealand.

While up in Kerikeri, I stayed at my beloved Wharepuke Accommodation, Restaurant, Garden And Art. While there, they had an artist in residence, Ioane Ioane, who created a moa. He’s from Samoa and only the second person I ever met from that country. I was delighted to finally make aquaintance with a moa. After over a year of hearing kiwis talk about their “moas” and being frustrated to learn they were actually talking about their “mowers” I finally saw an actual moa! Never mind it’s a sculpture, her name is Nova, and Ioane created a beautiful ceremony around her. As next-door neighbors for several weeks, we enjoyed drinks, dinners and great conversations. He offered to give me a lift to Auckland with his best friend and roommate, Ella and I graciously accepted.

Moa (“Nova”) created by artist Ioane Ioane on exhibit at Wharepuke Accommodation, Restaurant, Garden And Art.

I May Be In Auckland For A While…

Ioane also said I could stay till I sorted out my first house sit. So, I planned 5 nights with him and Ella and then to be off. All those plans were dashed when lockdown level 4 was announced. Now I’m in a house with two lovely roommates until they get sick of me or lockdown ends or some other plan is made. So it goes. I’ve just bumped back my flight to Australia for the fifth time, hoping, maybe, I can still get out there before leaving this region of the world.

A nice side effect of more time in Auckland is learning more about it. I knew it was huge but now I’m getting familiar with the neighborhoods. I’ve stayed with friends in Gulf Harbor and Botany. Now I’m in Westmere, not far from Point Chevalier. My housesit was to be in “pt Chev” and, entering lockdown, I was even invited to stay with the family I was supposed to houssit for. Ioane and Ella took me to Ponsonby my first night here.  I was looking forward to exploring it during the day as it seemed like the perfect place to find an endearing coffee shop and ecclectic shops. I’ve eaten in the food court there – I can tell you the Malaysian booth is excellent.

My favorite tree in Kerikeri. I miss being able to walk over to her.

A Reminder To Always Follow Your Heart…

One of the things I’ve learned, traveling full time, is to listen to the yearnings of my heart. Once again, I’m so glad I did. On Tuesday, I went into central Auckland and decided to see the Maritime Museum which I hadn’t done on previous visits. It was a wonderful visit. For whatever reason, I followed my heart and treated myself to a wonderful lunch. It’s been ages since I’ve gone out to a restaurant in a big city, and I was craving the experience. I ended up at Soul Bar and Bistro. I quickly sorted out a glass of Chardonnay and some oysters and enjoyed the view. I felt delightfully decadent, relaxed and warm. I eased into the chair. For lunch I had some of the most wonderful salt and pepper squid I ever tasted. I’d tell you it’s like calamari, but really, it was nothing like the tiny, fried rings I’m used to. These were huge pieces of fresh squid that melted in the mouth, accompanied by a hummous-like sauce that perfectly complimented the light bread coating. 

The gentleman at the table across from me kept looking at my lunch and I told him it was fabulous. On my way out, he had finished his, and I asked how he enjoyed them. This turned into a lovely conversation, and I learned that his name is Shaun. He, learning that I’m American and a “covid-refugee” offered me a room at his place. He introduced me to the man next to him, reassured me that he’s fully gay, and there was no danger if I stayed wtih him. LOL! This is the kind of hospitality I’ve received, over and over, from most Kiwis I meet. Now in lockdown, I’m reminded that if I put off my heart’s desire, I might never have gotten to that restaurant. Just like, if I hadn’t had the balls to quit my job when I did, I might have been stuck at home, unable to travel, instead of making it to 25 countries in 3 years.

waiheke island town center

Maritime Museum, Auckland.

I’ve already chatted up the next-door neighbors. The guys are outside most days making fishing spears of some nature. We’ve all been wagering how long lockdown will be. I think this is a national passtime now. I’ve won the first part of the wager; Auckland was given 7 days at level 4, and the rest of the country 3 days. My wager was that the entire country would stay in level 4 for a week. My next wager is that Auckland will be at level 4 for 3 – 4 weeks, while the rest of the country (barring Wellington, perhaps) will go into level 3 next week or a few days in.

My other amusement is a grey cat who comes round some days and enjoys a cuddle before stalking off on urgent business. Ioane and I did a long walk and some calisthenics yesterday and have made a master plan to repeat this. However, today is cloudy and chilly and we all slept in till 11am, so looks like that will await another day. Instead, I’ve begun filming a video about each day in lockdown to document our time. I’m actually looking forward to all the time to be able to focus on getting some work done, and catching up with friends. 

Most of what’s keeping you from what you want – full-time travel, a new business idea, a radical career shift – are your excuses. After one session with Heather, you’ll understand which excuses are holding you back the most, how to get them out of the way, and you’ll leave with an action plan that helps you set the foundation to pivot into the life you want.

You know you don’t like your job, but you can’t figure out how to survive without it. Designed for frustrated professionals the program focuses on teaching you the key steps to shifting your work and money mindsets, and giving you the money and work strategies to pursue, leaving you empowered to quit with confidence and see that it really is possible to live happily without a stable job.

Whether traveling full time was your dream before the pandemic, or after, this session will help you understand how to prepare, what you need to know, and how to get your finances in order to make it happen. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the “How To Afford The Travel Life” eBook. You’ll also get an understanding of both what’s great about full-time travel and some of the challenges. You can also discuss planning help, and how to get the most out of your experience.

It’s always been essential to understand your money, but if you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic, now it’s even more important that you create financial empowerment. In this session, Heather will work with you to first understand your gaps in managing your money, then she’ll help you with the framework on how to ensure you can afford the life you dream of. You’ll get tips to save and budget, and also discuss ways to earn money that will shift you out of feeling like a victim of the times, to seeing the opportunities in front of you to begin making money in a different way.

You want to quit and travel full time, but when can you go? This eBook gives you all the formulas you need to calculate when you can quit and afford the travel lifestyle you want, in under and hour.

Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve all had a chance to ask the question, “what now?” If you’ve decided it’s time to quit your 9-to-5 to travel full time (or take it with you while you live nomadically), this program will help you address the core mindset, money, and planning gaps you have. This is the program that will help you acknowledge and overcome your fears about what’s next, figure out how to afford and sustain your travels, and feel confident about planning your adventure. Book your free session to see if you’re a fit!

You’re finally serious about traveling full time, but you cannot figure out how you’ll afford it. Or, you’re just curious whether it’s really even possible to afford the lifestyle. Bootcamp is for you! We’ll go dive deep into savings strategies before you go, how to save on the road, and how to sustain your travels, as well as look at lots of work opportunities if you want to work while you travel! Includes a 3-day build your budget challenge to get you thinking about how to replace dreams with real logical steps to make it happen.

You’ve dreamed about traveling full time for as long as you can remember, and now you’ve learned that it’s a little more challenging than you thought. Get help getting through the initial shock and changes when you realize you’re not on vacation. Learn how to manage those experiences where you meet parts of yourself long forgotten, and create a plan to help you have the best experience with your journey.

If you want to see every post I’ve written, starting with the most recent, this is the place to start!

If you need some tips on getting started, traveling safe, and saving money while traveling full time, go here! 

I’ve been traveling the globe solo, and many of my posts share thoughts and resources specifically for other solo travelers. If you’re a fellow solo traveler, or you’re thinking about solo travel, this is a collection you will find of interest.

If you’re looking to read blog posts about specific destinations, click the country of your interest below to go to it’s blog page and get country-specific reviews and thoughts.







Costa Rica


New Zealand









Sometimes I write posts where I give insider information on certain cities I’ve visited, which may be more along the lines of places to go, how to save money, etc. If that’s your main interest, check out this compilation of posts.

In 2020, I was traveling in New Zealand as the coronavirus pandemic brewed, and, got stuck there. If you want to read about what this time was like and traveling during this time, check out this page.

At the heart of international travel is learning about the many different cultures and ways of being around the world. The posts compiled on this page speak, specifically, about the cultural observations I’ve had.

Many of my blog posts are about things I’ve discovered about myself or about being, while I’ve traveled. If you’d like to focus on posts that only have self-discovery themes, click the button below.