New Zealand Manuka Honey – A Transformative Experience

NEW ZEALAND

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

Discovering a whole new level of food, one of the joys of international travel…

Honey used to be a sticky, gooey substance that other people used in their tea. I only used it to mix with lemon juice if I felt a cold coming on. Otherwise, it would crystallize in its jar, hidden behind more utilized foods on some shelf, unattended, until it was thrown out, months past its expiration date.

After a few months in New Zealand, my perspective of honey has shifted to new dimensions I never imagined. Much like Neo in the movie “The Matrix” – once you’ve been reborn into the world of New Zealand honey, you can’t go back to ignorance any longer. In fact, I’m embarassed at just how ignorant I’ve been for most of my life! I can proudly say I’ve shifted from honey ignorance, to honey confusion to amateur honey connoisseur. At least in my own mind.

What’s So Special About New Zealand Honey?

Don’t know what the big deal is? I didn’t either! Here’s where it starts – have you ever hear of Manuka? Back in the US, I heard some honey with this manuka stuff is supposed to be good for coughs and chest infections. Great marketing, I thought.  I had no idea what a manuka bee was as opposed to a good old-fashioned bee. I wondered if manuka bees might have super powers or something. Now that I’m in New Zealand, it’s more like, “Manuka? Raw manuka? Which kind of manuka?…” It turns out, manuka isn’t a bee, it’s the flower the bees pollonate. Yes, sounds much more logical. However, manuka isn’t a flower like I’m used to – it grows on trees. Somehow, I think of bees pollinating flowers that shoot up straight from the ground. In New Zealand, they use flowers on the manuka tree. Just when I thought I was getting the swing of all things manuka, I learned it can be white or shades of pink. Manuka is the Maori name for this flowering tree.

The manuka tree. Sometimes it’s white….Photography by Heather Markel. Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved.

What’s The Big Deal With Manuka Honey Anyway?

In New Zealand, they use manuka honey in everything. And I do mean everything. I had no idea before coming here that manuka honey for the skin was a thing. Did you know it can help with eczema? Now you do. My favorite cosmetics here have been from Living Nature. They use honey in most of their skincare products, and, bonus, if you’re ever in Kerikeri, you get about 15% off everything just for shopping in the store. And, if you hit one of the sales, yowza! Bees are everywhere which is lovely to see. And honey stores are as prolific as Starbucks in New York. Throughout the country, I’ve come across honey hand cream, honey lipgloss, and bee venom serum (love it by the way!) There’s honey glazed ham, beeswax covered cloth to wrap your food, honey lozenges…sorry, I digress.

The big deal about manuka is its alleged antibiotic properties. However, from a practical perspective, I’ll just say the honey in New Zealand not only tastes AMAY-zing, but it’s consistency is also smoother and richer flavored, without all the sweetness, than anything I’ve ever tasted in America. And I’ve bought honey from local farm stores back home, so I’ve tried the non-supermarket brands. It doesn’t seem to crystallize here, and it’s the perfect consistency no matter what temperature.

The manuka tree. Sometimes it’s pink….Photography by Heather Markel. Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved.

If that’s not enough to make your mouth water, let’s move on to the FLAVORS of honey. I can’t even pronounce a bunch of them, but suffice to say there are probably almost as many kinds of honey as there are wines in the world. I mean, that could be a slight exaggeration, but there are a lot. So you’ve got honey mixed with different flowers which brings you in one direction. You’ve got manuka honey, and then, you’ve got kanuka honey. I had never heard of it, but, yep, it’s the newest thing to hit the market, though has a lot less science behind it, for now. If that’s not enough flavor for you, then you’re sure to delight in honey mixed with ginger, one of my favorites, or, how about bee pollen, or blackcurrant! I would never have imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would one day breakfast on toast mixed with peanut butter and blackcurrant honey, and yet, it really happened, repeatedly, since discovering it.

OK, But Say More About The Antibiotic Properties

If you’re not yet convinced of my honey expertise, let me guide you into the most confusing part about honey – the grading system. As a consumer, let me be point blank honest – this part of honey confuses the shit out of me. It turns out there are two grading systems, one based on science, the other based on marketing.  One is UMF (Unique Manuka Factor), the other is MGO. MGO stands for the antibacterial compound naturally found in honey, apparently called MethylGlyoxal. The UMF grading system goes from about 5 to 25, whereas MGO can go into the hundreds or even thousands. Though they measure completely different things, which is why it’s so damn confusing, there is a correlation between the two. MGO, however, is easier for the consumer, generally speaking, and lets you know the function of the honey. What the hell do I mean? (I’ve asked that question of a lot of expert bee-keepers I’ve met here.) Thanks to The Bay Of Islands Honey Shop, I got a nice diagram to help you understand:

“Can’t they make this grading system easier?”

As you can see, New Zealand manuka honey can be ingested, or used on the skin. It’s the latter part that’s new for me! Using a manuka honey with an MGO grade over 200, you can use manuka honey for eczema, even pimples, mouth sores, and more. Pretty amazing for a natural substance!

Buying Manuka Honey

Something strange happened during my time in New Zealand – I’m no longer allowed to ship honey outside of New Zealand. I’m not clear why, but honey manufacturers do seem to be able to ship internationally, so let’s hope that remains in effect! However, the price of postage just increased. 🙁

My favorite place to buy honey and fresh beeswax has become The Bay Of Islands Honey Shop.  The first time I went, I learned one of the owners speaks French and has had a very interesting life around designing and bees.  Every time I buy a jar of honey, I think, “there’s no way I will ever finish this,” and yet, I do, and I go back for more. With the warmer weather came the treat of finally seeing the bee colony at the back of the store, complete with a guided tour! Bees are fascinating, and we learned about all the different jobs, the lazy males, and how the girls get shit done! Female power! I did have quite a chuckle at how the hive works. I also learned that the bee-comb perfect hexagon shapes are made by the bees. Pretty magical. On a side note, if you’re at all a fan of Roald Dahl, like “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,” you should read his short story, “Royal Jelly.” It’s disturbing, yet, well, he has quite an imagination!

bee hive colony

An inside look at a bee hive colony.

Photos by Heather Markel. Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved.

If You Are What You Eat, Then I’m Pretty Sweet!

I now have honey on my breakfast yogurt, honey in my evening tea with water and fresh lemon (which I have almost every night, as opposed to just when I’m feeling a bit under the weather) and honey on my toast. I haven’t tried honey on my face yet, but I intend to. I sometimes eat a spoonful of honey. I’ve even discovered honey with turmeric! (Delicious mixed with warm coconut milk, just suggesting you try it. Go on, you can do it!)

I certainly didn’t expect to develop such a deep relationship with honey, but that’s travel for you. Always connecting you to unexpected flavors and making your life sweeter and richer.

Learn about Heather and what set her on her world journey. She also explains why this life is not just for Millenials, it's for anyone that wants to create a life around what they love most in life. 

Listen to an episode of the video interview series that will inspire you to follow your heart. Whether you want to travel full time or have another calling, this series is for you.

See the amazing people I've been meeting on my travels and the fun stories that go along with the meetings.

Check out my travel photos from around the world to see the world from wherever you are.

If you've been thinking that there's got to be  more to life than work, or, you've lost your job, and wonder whether now is the time to do something you're more excited about, this quiz will help you. Answer a few questions and get a free guide to help you know the areas you need to work on, followed up with inspirational and helpful tips to put your dreams into action.

Traveling the world full-time may sound glamorous and exhilirating. (In many ways, it is!) But, it's not full-time fun. Before you decide to go, take this quiz to make sure you're ready, and, if not, find out how to bridge the gaps.

This fun quiz helps you understand what your travel personality is, and how to make sure you indulge it when planning your next trip to maximize your enjoyment!

This one is pure fun - test your transcontinental travel trivia knowledge. Hit the button below if you dare take the quiz and see your score! 

If you enjoyed the first quiz, see how you do on the second one! More fun, more tricks, Click the button below to test your knowledge!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Africa

Argentina

Brazil

Cambodia

Chile

Costa Rica

France

New Zealand

Peru

Portugal

Scotland

Thailand

Uruguay

Vietnam

 

12 + 4 =

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.

%d bloggers like this: