Meet a Traveler: Kate

While working at the kiwifruit packhouse, I met a lot of cool people. Some of them I got to know really well - people like Jo & Logan - but also a rad trio of gals named Kate, Aleks, and Julia. Today I'd like to introduce you to one of those three; her name is Kate and she's one of the most fun, genuine, and charismatic people I've ever met. On literally her first day of work at the packhouse, she started talking to both Emmett & me without hesitation. Then, over the course of the next month, we all had various in depth conversations on all the major topics you can imagine - work, love, life, death, the afterlife, politics... you name it. Not only that, but I don't think that I ever enjoyed working at the factory until I had the opportunity to pick Kate's brain as we packed kiwifruit. Though we discussed many serious topics, I don't want to imply that Kate is a stoic or solemn individual. In fact, while she can be serious, she is also quite hilarious. She had me in stitches amongst those noisy conveyor belts more times than I can count. I was deeply sad when Kate left her packhouse job because I knew that from then on, the already cold factory floor would feel even more so without the warmth of her personality.

Without further ado, meet her for yourself!

Bio: Kate, 26, from Lincolnshire, England, UK.

What's something people might not know about your part of England?
I'm from a county called Lincolnshire in England, born and bred. It's really flat, lots of farmland, you can pretty much guarantee to get stuck behind 6 tractors when you're going into town. We're famous for our Lincolnshire sausages, potatoes as big as your head, and tulips. Nobody knows how to drive up a hill in a manual car because we just don't have any.

What's the best thing about living in England?
The best thing about living in England... It's a difficult question. I mean I love the food. We've got excellent food & great places to go and eat. Our meat is particularly good. Some really nice historical cities & landmarks. Christmas is always the absolute best. We go wild over Christmas time, just the best excuse to drink and eat yourself into a coma, and presents of course.

How did you meet Julia and Aleks?
I met Julia in Australia back in 2015 in a tiny outback town with a population of less than 400 people. Julia was starting work at the local pub where I also worked a few days a week. I was super excited that someone new was coming to town so the day she arrived I went straight to the pub after my shift at a cafe I also worked in. Julia had just sat down to eat her dinner, and I just sat and talked to her. I then invited her out to play bowls that night as our team at the café needed an extra player. We had such a laugh all night & I asked if she wanted to go on a road trip I was planning a few months later.
She ended up leaving the pub shortly after so I only actually hung out with her that 1 night but she did come on the road trip a few months later. Our trip lasted for just over 3 months & within that time we became great friends sharing so many amazing experiences. We've been friends ever since. I left Australia in August 2015, spent 6 months at home and headed to New Zealand in the new year. Julia joined me again this past August & we went on another road trip around the South Island and some of the North but it rained so much on the North we didn't get to see much. I headed back home for my sister's 30th in October and decided to stay home until Christmas to enjoy some time with family and friends.
During this time Julia was working at Hobbiton in Matamata as a tour guide. She lived in a house where her landlady would host WWOOFers which is where she met Aleksandra. When I returned to New Zealand in the new year [2017] with my friend Martin we decided to travel south again. Martin's car only had 2 seats and so with Julia's vehicle I suggested she bring a travel buddy or advertise on backpacker for someone. She remembered Aleks had wanted to head south so she messaged her. It was just sheer coincidence that Aleks was looking to leave her current WWOOFing position & head south. I met Aleks when we started our trip. The trip lasted about a month or so and it was such a fun road trip. We had such a laugh and did so much together.

How has it been traveling as a trio?
Well, before Aleks and I got together it was really easy. Just like a big holiday with your mates. Julia and I have done so much traveling together & done so many road trips nothing really phases us when things don't go to plan.
After Aleks and I got together it was a really big adjustment for all 3 of us. For me I had to balance my attention so that my friend didn't feel like she was getting left out and feel that I was stealing her friend away as she & Aleks were friends before, they had spent a lot of time together & Julia knew her on so many more levels then I did. However, I also needed to spend time with my new girlfriend & get to know her myself. And as a new couple we needed to have our own space together. It hasn't always been a walk in the park and we're all only human we've had our good and bad days & well, we're all girls after all & have lots of emotions, haha. But we made it work with communication and consideration for each other. Julia was awesome though, she was very supportive & considerate towards the development of mine & Aleks relationship & gave us the space we needed to grow as a couple. And in return we always tried to do as much as we could together to find the perfect rhythm.

 from left: Julia, Aleks, & Kate.

from left: Julia, Aleks, & Kate.

How long have you and Aleks been together? What was it like having to live together right after starting your relationship?
We met in February. During [the road trip], I got to know Aleks and realized I really liked her. It was difficult because I'm very open about my sexuality but a lot of people aren't so for a long time I didn't even think there was a chance with Aleks because there was no clear signs or signals. We'd been travelling for a few weeks before we went our separate ways, Aleks had found a WWOOFing position for a couple of weeks in Motueka. Julia and I headed to Christchurch and at that point I told her how I felt about Aleks. Being as Aleks was Julia's friend, Julia was really supportive and said go for it! I started messaging Aleks which seemed to go really well but again there wasn't a definitive answer as to whether she felt the same and I didn't have the bottle to be more direct. After nearly 2 weeks Julia and I reunited with Aleks in Motueka to search for work together. After seeing Aleks after this period apart my feelings only became more intense. Julia and I were still really unsure of how she felt towards me & it was really difficult for me not knowing. On our second night reunited, Aleks and I sat and talked pretty much all night. And finally, I plucked up the courage to tell her how I felt, after about 6 hours of talking. Finally it sunk in and to my surprise and immense relief she felt the same.
So yeah, we had gone from both being single to together in the space of an evening. It was really intense. For me it was a shock and a fantasy that Aleks would want to be more than friends and the fact that she wanted the same was a lot for me to handle. Suddenly our friendship dynamic had totally changed. In a normal relationship when you start dating someone you'd go out on dates, message each other when you're apart and have time & space separated when you can think about how you feel & get excited about the next time you see that person & get to know them gradually. For Aleks and I it was like entering into an arranged marriage. We were just together all of the time, living, eating, sleeping, working and socializing together. There wasn't really anytime for those natural nerves and being a little shy. Luckily we were already friends and we're both super relaxed and laid back people so it was very easy to find a natural rhythm. We both really enjoy our freedom and we totally respect each other when we need some space. We communicate perfectly and really understand each other so we learnt very quickly how to read each others emotions and reactions to things in day to day life.
We're both very different people but have a good balance of things in common and different interests to compliment each other which i think was a big factor of why it worked out so well. I think if a relationship can survive such intensity in the beginning it can withstand anything. Although we've only been together a couple of months, it already feels like we've been together for a year. It's funny. I don't really know why or how it worked out so well - but I'm certainly not complaining.

Any advice for other traveling couples?
I think communication is the biggest thing. Let each other know how you feel, if you need space ask for it, if you feel low it's okay to say "I need a cuddle" or, "I want to go off and do my own thing". In mine and Aleks case we were getting to know each other at break neck speed so it was really easy to spot if we had done something that had upset the other, we instantly fixed any little hiccup by talking & resolving it together & then went for a walk along the river or something to clear our minds & re-balance. It always made us feel closer as a couple & respect each other. Neither of us would want to let issues fester & build into an argument. Just respect each others decisions & opinions. Laugh and don't take life too seriously. Aleks and I laugh all the time & are always being goofy & silly, and when one of us laughs it sets the other one off. We just enjoy having fun together. And of course trust and support each other.

What was your job back home?
I've had more jobs than hot dinners but my longest employments were mainly media sales in local magazines, which also included face to face sales. I was an estate agent for quite a while and before I left for Australia I was running my own podiatry/chiropody business. I don't really mind what I'm doing.

What are some things that you miss most about home (other than family and friends)?
Good English pubs with a great beer gardens, roast dinners, really good tea, cakes and biscuits. We dominate on a good afternoon tea. Okay, so basically food and drink orientated but I also do miss our historical buildings. And I love the countryside & warm evening walks when it doesn't get dark until 9 PM.

What other countries have you been to?
Belgium, France, Italy (7 months as an au pair), USA (Chicago & Las Vegas), China, Australia (on a Working Holiday), and the Scilly Isles - a tiny group of islands off the south coast of the UK. Technically it's not another country but you have to get a helicopter across so it's still cool.

How long have you been in NZ?
1.5 years with some short visits home for special occasions

Why New Zealand?
I still have a second year to use in Australia. However, I didn't want to use it immediately after my first year because I loved Australia so much I want to save it for another time. It was between Canada or New Zealand next but the Canadian visa was difficult to get & I had friends already in New Zealand. I decided to visit them after struggling to settle back home and the rest is history.

What are your top 3 favorite things you've done here in NZ so far?
Such a hard question! I've had so many incredible moments. I went to Marlborough sounds last year for the weekend over the queens birthday with my housemates at the time, they had a friend with a boat who owned a mussel farm so we went fishing for blue cod, paua, mussels, crayfish and we caught a rig shark too. The weekend was stunning, the water was so calm we saw so many dolphins and beautiful birds. We dived, fished and ate sea food all weekend it was amazing.

Another great moment - I met a guy called John when I was on the plane over to NZ. We became great friends. He was visiting a friend called Arwen to go tubing down the Pollerus river for the day. He asked if I wanted to go. Luckily Arwen and her friends were all doctors as the river was pretty wild because of the rain and it was pretty dangerous. John and I shared a little inflatable boat and we all bobbed down the river. After that we stayed in a batch on the looking out over the Marlborough sounds and spent the rest of the weekend hiking through the mountains, visiting farewell spit and whairiki beach. It was such an unexpected and unplanned week for me but I just loved it.

I could give you a thousand things that were incredible experiences for me so many crazy adventures and awesome moments. There are just so many but on a more simplistic note this just stands out for me as sheer happiness... When Aleks, Julia and I needed to move to Motueka for work, we had nowhere to live. We had all tried really hard to source some accommodation but without any luck. In the end we put a notice on the WWOOFing website to say we could WWOOF for a week before our work began & perhaps could pay rent after that period or at least live somewhere WWOOFing for a week while we searched for accommodation in our free time. In the end a family contacted us, they live on the most beautiful little farm. They sell chestnuts, apples and handmade wind chimes. The farm is just so beautiful. They not only let us live with them for that first week WWOOFing but they agreed for us to rent our accommodation after we started work. It was the first time I got a real sense of home abroad and a different level of happiness. To be living with my best friend, and my girlfriend on this gorgeous little farm. Like everything we had wished for had come true. Our host family were just amazing, we all got on like a real family. And when we started work Jennifer, the mother, prepared us the most exquisite food for dinner each night after work - which I can't thank her enough for, not having to worry about it each day. We just had a real sense of home and happiness and I'll never forget it.

What's your favorite part of travel in general? What's your favorite thing about traveling in New Zealand?
I just love immersing myself into a different culture. And I love the natural challenge of problem solving your way through another country. Where to live, how to earn money, where to meet people and how to get about. You have ultimate freedom to do or go wherever you want, eat whatever you want and talk to whoever you want. Chances are people will be pleased to meet you and help you out. The scenery and nature is different, the towns are strange and new. The road signs, even the number plates on cars are unusual. Everything fascinates me. One of my most favourite things to do when I go somewhere new is to go to the biggest supermarket and just slowly walk through the aisles looking at everything. It sounds sad but I just love it, when I lived in Italy I think I visited every supermarket within a 10 mile radius.
For me, hands down, it's the people though. I'm a big extrovert and I just love meeting new people & learning from them. The people of New Zealand have definitely been some of the friendliest and kindest people I've ever met & they will do anything to help you. New Zealand is a beautiful country all round, the scenery is just stunning but definitely the people have been my biggest highlight here.

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What's the weirdest thing that's happened to you on this trip so far?
When I was travelling with Martin, we had been staying in Auckland and were fishing by a port. It was pretty busy but these 2 guys came up to us and started talking. They were asking weird questions but not really answering any of ours. They also had this dog which seemed like it was military trained he only had to raise a hand as a command. Eventually they just abruptly left and got into a car on the opposite side of the road, someone had been sitting in it the whole time. It began to get dark and people were slowly leaving. Martin suddenly stopped fishing and got in the car and started speeding off into the city. We had missed our turning to go to our campsite and I told him we'd missed our turning. He gave me a strange look and said "we're being followed". I was totally creeped out.
Martin had been watching another car behind us which had 2 people sitting in it windows open. It was far enough away not to see their faces but when we went to leave the lights came on and they started to follow us. Martin is a pretty quick driver and after a few laps around the city we felt safe enough to go to our site. We had only been parked up for 5 minutes before a car with 3 passengers entered the car park, the clocked us and went to the other side of the car park for about 5 minutes and left again. I was sure it was the 2 men who had been talking to us. It was enough to scare us away and we wasted no time in packing up and fleeing the city. As we left the park, the same car that was following us was driving towards the carpark. We drove for about an hour before we found somewhere else to settle for the night. We felt very unnerved. I was really worried.

Which item in your backpack would you be most sad to lose?
Definitely my drone. It's my latest toy and I just love it.

Where to next?
I'll definitely be booking my flights to Estonia to see Aleks next. I can't wait.

What are you most looking forward to about being back at home?
Cuddles with my dog, my mum's and Nan's cooking, cheap alcohol, summer! And seeing my friends and family of course.