09
Dec-2016

NZ to Fiji: Year In Review + New Goals

 

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

 

Everyone always says “Wow what a year it’s been!” every year – but we think we’ve had a bloody awesome year. 

There are a few people saying 2016 has been an absolute shitter with events & many tragedies.

But for the couple behind Snorkels to Snow – we’ve personally had an outstanding 2016. It’s come with trials and tribulations, accidents and celerations, but overall it’s the most eventful year we’ve ever had as a couple.

Here’s how it unravelled.

JANUARY

 

We got married!

Photo: Levien & Lens Photography

Photo: Levien & Lens Photography

 

We kicked off the New Year with a wedding – our own!

We had our closest friends and family (which was still massive because we have large families) gather in Waiuku, about an hour south of Auckland, New Zealand, with our reception held overlooking the black sands and surf of Karioitahi Beach.

 

Levien & Lens Photography

Photo: Levien & Lens Photography

 

Our honeymoon took us to the very southern part of New Zealand, where many New Zealanders have not even visited themselves – Stewart Island. A haven for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers, Stewart Island is rugged, a bit chilly for a summer break but absolutely stunning.

A haven for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers, Stewart Island is rugged, a bit chilly for a summer break but absolutely stunning.

 

Horseshoe Bay, Stewart Island

Horseshoe Bay, Stewart Island, New Zealand

 

Oban, Stewart Island

Oban, Stewart Island

 

We went shark cage diving with Great Whites on our honeymoon!

READ: Diving With Great White Sharks in Stewart Island, NZ

 

Shark Cage Diving, Stewart Island, NZ

Shark Cage Diving with Great White Sharks, Stewart Island, NZ

 

We travelled to more of New Zealand’s incredible sites including The Catlins, Te Anau, the famous Milford Sound, Queenstown, Roxborogh and Dunedin.

 

Queenstown in Summertime, New Zealand

Queenstown in Summertime, New Zealand

 

We fell in love with Queenstown and decided one day, we will live there.

It was also in Queenstown where the inspiration for Snorkels to Snow began.

 

FEBRUARY/MARCH

 

We started thinking about Europe and doing our ‘OE’ like many of our other New Zealand friends.

But most of February to July was actually spent renovating the house. My life as a builder’s wife! My job in radio was going extremely well with plenty of new opportunities, although changes within the company were a little unsettling. Travel was on our minds – so was more scuba diving. 

 

APRIL

 

I became a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver!

Three dives were at Goat Island Marine Reserve, while my final two were at the famed Poor Knights Islands – the best dive spot in New Zealand.

READ: Becoming An Advanced Diver At Poor Knights Islands

Nudibranch, Poor Knights Islands

Nudibranch at Poor Knights Islands

 

After a few years of dedication to full-time work & study, John graduated with his Graduate Diploma in Construction Management. We were all so proud of him, knowing how hard he had worked for his qualifications. Studying while working full-time is never easy. 

 

MAY

 

We took our first trip to Fiji. We had a blast! The warmer climate, the pace of life, the friendly people – this was our first overseas holiday together.

Shangri La Fijian

Sunset at the Shangri La Fijian

 

We went shark diving (no cage!) with up to 50 bull sharks in Pacific Harbour!

 

Bull Sharks, Fiji

Shark Diving at Pacific Harbour, Fiji

 

By the end of our week’s holiday, John had made new contacts in his industry and was offered a job in Fiji. We returned to New Zealand with a big decision to make and a month later we had packed up our life in NZ to move to a tropical island.

 

JULY

 

The Big Move.

READ: We Packed Up Our NZ Life To Move To A Tropical Island

John came over to Fiji first, while I spent time with family in Christchurch & Diamond Harbour, getting in one last day of wintery goodness before our tropical island adventure – a day’s skiing at Mt Hutt.

READ: How To Plan An Epic Mt Hutt Ski Trip

 

Mt Hutt Summit

Mt Hutt Summit

Snow Selfie, Mt Hutt, NZ

Snow Selfie!

 

Once in Fiji, we launched Snorkels to Snow.

 

AUGUST

 

One month into blogging and we hit 4000 page views! We couldn’t believe it – we were thrilled.

READ: How We Reached 4k Page Views In Our First Month Of Blogging

I had my first piece published on the Huffington Post, based on our very first blog about moving to Fiji. 

And we celebrated with the rest of Fiji when they won gold in the Rugby Sevens at the Rio Olympics – what a celebration!

READ: GOLD! Fiji’s First Olympic Medal

The nation shut down for a big giant party, the Prime Minister called for a national public holiday and Fiji’s still selling t-shirts remembering the glory:

 

T-Shirts celebrating Fiji's first Olympic medal

T-Shirts celebrating Fiji’s first Olympic medal

 

I also had a significant birthday – the big 3-0!

READ: How To Birthday In Fiji

John pampered me with a morning of beauty spa treatments and treats.

 

A coconut milk foot bath to soak into relaxation

A coconut milk foot bath to soak into relaxation

 

Birthday Cocktail

My birthday cocktail consisting of rum, ouzo, blue curaçao & lemon squash!

 

 Then my darling husband gifted me flight tickets…to Vanua Levu! 

Unfortunately, I had wee accident and ended up on crutches with a damaged foot – but nothing a bit of rest and relaxation (and strong painkillers!) couldn’t fix.

 

SEPTEMBER

 

We travelled to Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second biggest island. We flew into Labasa and drove to Savusavu – possibly one of the most beautiful places you could find in Fiji.

READ: Fiji’s Hidden Paradise: The Ultimate Guide To Savusavu

Savusavu Sunset

Sunset over Savusavu Bay

 

We collaborated with Jean-Michel Cousteau Diving to check out the world-famous diving in the area. 

READ: Scuba Diving In Savusavu After Cyclone Winston

 

Savusavu Diving

A lionfish at one of our dive sites off Savusavu

 

We also collaborated with South Sea Cruises for a day trip and dive trip to South Sea Island in the Mamanucas!

READ: Scuba Diving at South Sea Island, Fiji

 

South Sea IslandScuba diving at South Sea Island

OCTOBER

 

We became Mr & Mrs Life Pass! Mt Ruapehu, in New Zealand, brought out life passes again for skiers and snowboarders – one pass FOR LIFE.

John already had one so we decided to fork out for one for myself as an investment in my skiing future – and our future family.

READ: Skiing On An Active Volcano In New Zealand

 

NOVEMBER

 

I began writing for The Adventure Junkies, an exciting freelance gig as a scuba and ski writer.

John’s parents visited from NZ and we took them for a drive all around Viti Levu from Rakiraki to Suva, to Sigatoka back to Nadi. Unfortunately, John fell ill to a bout of food poisoning, which put a bit of a dampener on his experience. 

My friend Louisa also flew from NZ to visit. We explored Nadi’s mud baths, relaxed in hammocks, went snorkelling and even went horse riding at sunset along Wailoaloa Beach. 

 

Horse riding at sunset along Wailoaloa Beach

Horse riding at sunset along Wailoaloa Beach

 

We took a day trip to Beachcomber Island and ticked jet skiing off our bucket list!

READ: Jet Skis & Snorkels at Beachcomber Island, Fiji

 

Jet Ski

 

For John and I, our absolute island highlight has to be Tivua Island. A beautiful island, but with one very awesome dive – our first wreck dive, the MV Raiyawa. 

READ: Wreck Diving Fiji: The MV Raiyawa, Tivua Island 

 

Diving the MV Raiyawa, Tivua Island

Diving the MV Raiyawa, Tivua Island

Tivua Island, Fiji

Tivua Island, Fiji

Tivua Island

Tivua Island

 

Sadly we heard new back home of the Kaikoura earthquake, at the same time my Dad was hospitalised. It’s hard being away from home when these sorts of things happen.

READ: How To Cope With Tragedy At Home While You’re Travelling

 

DECEMBER

 

We hit our goal of 6000 monthly page views by the end of 2016!

5 months’ blogging and the hard work is paying off. In the last 3-4 months, we’ve received about $2.5K worth of sponsored trips AND we made our first actual income from Snorkels to Snow – a sponsored post + first affiliate sales.

We’ll be back New Zealand shortly for John’s birthday and the Christmas break. We can’t wait to see our families and get a taste of Kiwi life once more. 

 

EDIT: Since publishing our year in review, we had another drama to get through before the end of the year. John had an accident, tumbling down a small cliff in Fiji while trying to escape a swarm of wasps! It required an emergency flight back to NZ and 5 days in Auckland Hospital. It will make a good story on the blog next week…

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: LESSONS FROM THE YEAR GONE BY

 

  1. Moving abroad is as scary or as easy as you make it
  1. You have to be open to new opportunities, even if they are not what you had planned. It may turn out better than anything you could have dreamed!
  1. The first year of marriage can be simultaneously challenging and magical but love conquers all.  
  1. Travel blogging takes a ridiculous amount of time. Promotion of your travel blog takes a ridiculous amount of time
  1. People still don’t think travel blogging is a “proper” job
  1. You won’t get rich quickly – but it is possible in your early days of travel blogging to get sponsored trips and cheaper travel with less than 10K views a month
  1. We are materially rich compared to many living in Fiji, but locals are rich in spirit.
  1. Being away from home when tragedy hits is really tough. The true test of character is how you deal with it
  1. The world can be a shit place at times. Good people die, bad people get power. But the key to success in your own life is a positive mindset. You can’t change the world – but you can change your own outlook.
  2.  There are too many places in the world we want to visit, but we have a lifetime to get there.

 

 

2017 TRAVEL + BLOGGING GOALS:

 

We have lots of exciting things in the pipeline for 2017!

*First up – Japan! We can’t wait for our trip to Tokyo and ski trip to Niseko.

READ: Essential Japanese Ski Phrases

The snow is looking great at Niseko! 

 

Getting deeper by the day #niseko #exploreniseko #chooseyouradventure #godeep #bigsnow #epicwinter #japow

A photo posted by Explore Niseko (@exploreniseko) on

 

*I’ve got some exciting new writing gigs coming up in 2017

*I have plans to become a PADI Rescue Diver, while John continues to be Chief Adventurer

*We need to find out where we are going to live in 2017 when our Fiji contract ends!

*I’m going to write a travel memoir – plans are well underway so stay tuned for updates! Anyone know a good agent?

*We’re also going to produce a Fiji travel guide available on Snorkels to Snow

*Plans to make the most of the southern hemisphere winter, given we missed the ski season in 2016!

*TBEX Ireland! This will be our first travel blogging conference and first time to Ireland! Surely if we’re travelling all the way over there, it’s not that much further for Iceland, Norway and the rest of Scandinavia? Right?

*A white Christmas? We’re yet to experience a festive winter wonderland so maybe 2017 will be our year for a white Christmas?

*Family: family is important. We’ve missed our families being away from NZ this year so we hope to get some decent time in with our families and friends at some point in 2017. There’ll soon be a new addition as my sister is due to have her first baby early next year so we have some serious auntie/uncle duties to fulfil, in addition to the existing 8 nieces & nephews!

 

Phew! That’s our Year in Review and just some of our plans for next year! Thank you so much for everyone’s support in our first few months of travel blogging – you are all wonderful. We’re not going anywhere, but we do want to say thank you to our readers. We appreciate it!

 

Thanks everyone for a great year!

Thanks everyone for a great year!

 


DISCUSS: What are your highlights/lowlights of the year and what plans do you have for 2017?

 

It's been a great year - getting married, moving to Fiji, start a travel blog & getting sponsored travel!

 

Weekend Wanderlust

Untold Morsels

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  • Wow what an amazing year! Congrats on your marriage! I also got married this year! High five to newly weds! #WeekendWanderlust

  • Outside The BubbleUK

    Wow you have had a fantastic year! Big congrats on your marriage! and well done on making some income on your blog. Can’t wait to find out what your up to in 2017.

  • Arzo Travels

    wow, so much was going on in 2016. Congrats on your wedding first of all. Also, great to see how much you have seen this year. May 2017 be as great as 20116.

  • Untold Morsels

    Loved reading all your highlights of 2016 which on balance looks like a bit of a cracker for you Juliette. Your wedding looked amazing and you have so many adventures under your belt. I am sure you are looking forward to getting back home to touch base with your family before the next phase of adventure begins. Cant wait to hear all about it! Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

    • Thanks so much – sure has been a cracker. Turns out I finished this post a bit too soon – more adventure/misadventure as poor John has landed himself in hospital after a wee accident & we had to fly back to NZ urgently for surgery! So home a little sooner than expected!

      • Untold Morsels

        oh goodness. Take care both of you and enjoy the home time

  • daisythebus

    Excellent stuff. I love your energy and positivity, and am looking forward to seeing what you get up to in 2017. #farawayfiles

  • Jennifer Morrow

    Busy year for you. Congrats on the Wedding, Happy Birthday and welcome to the thirties club. Best wishes for 2017!

  • JM

    First congratulations to you achievements. Too many to mention but i would like to highlight about your blog. I wish i could also get sponsored travels. I hope that you can accomplish all your plans for 2017. Good luck!!!!

    • Thank you! Appreciate your kind words – we’re been so happy with how our blog has kicked off and looking forward to another great year next year. With sponsored travel – you really have to hustle!

  • Editor-in-Style Good

    What a year you had! What a great compilation of achievements. Congrats also on your wedding! You guys are awesome together. I hope you have the best 2017 and achieve all your goals. xo

    • Thanks so much! It’s been a big year and plenty more exciting things in store for the future too. Thank you!

  • wow what a year you had had!! Sounds like an incredible adventure! Next year we are making the big move abroad and I am so excited that this time next year I could write my own year in review – probably won’t be as exiting as yours!

    • Yes it’s been huge – it’s had its challenges and certainly been eventful. When you start reflecting on your year you suddenly realise all the things that have been going on! I encourage you to write a year-in-review because it’s important to reflect on where you’ve come and where you want to go.

  • Emma Oxley

    You obviously packed a whole lot into this year! Congratulations on your wedding and for choosing such a romantic husband! Love the fact that he spoiled you so much on your bday and gifted you flight tickets! Best present ever!

    • We sure did! Ha ha I don’t think he considers himself much of a romantic but he has been known to pull out a bit of romance from time to time!

  • Young And Undecided

    Wow! You really have had an incredible year! Congrats on everything thing from your marriage to success with your blog! 2017 sounds like it will be equally exciting 🙂 good luck #farawayfiles

    • Indeed, it sure has been a big year. Starting a marriage, starting a business – quite similar in many ways ha ha! Thanks heaps.

  • Natalie Tanner

    You crammed a lot into one year!! Congratulations on making it amazing!! Best wishes for another fantastic c year in 17!

    • Thanks heaps! I’m a strong believer in getting out what you put in – so no doubt it will be another busy year next year.

  • What a way to kick off the year! Looks like you’ve had an amazing year, and wish you all the best for the next one – New challenges, new adventures, and lots of new activities.

    • Thanks! Super fun – certainly been some challenges along the way though. Exciting times ahead for next year. Seasons greetings to you!

  • Clare Thomson

    Such an exciting year, Juliette! Congratulations on the wedding and the wonderful first year of blogging. I shall be looking forward to following your adventures in 2017. Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles

    • Thanks Claire! It’s been a big year. And it’s not over yet – turns out we needed to add an emergency flight home to NZ and some surgery for John before we could close out the year…I guess that will make a good next blog post!

  • What up with sharks? I feel like you guys love them! I am kidding of course but I admire your bravery and determination. Your adventures related activities rock! It was such a pleasure to read your 2016 review. I love when people find joy in doing what they like. Wish you the best for 2017! #WeekendWanderlust

    • Ha ha yes we love sharks! They’re super awesome creatures – just incredible and magnificent to see up close! Thanks so much for stopping by, glad you enjoyed our review and hope you have exciting plans for 2017!

  • wow! you did tons of things this year! but the thing that I envy more is the Fiji trip!!! My gosh have to be amazing!!! Anyway congrats for your first year and for your blog is so cool I really like it!

    http://theitaliansmoothie.com/en/2016/12/15/from-the-beginning-to-now-whats-going-my-life/

    • Thanks – it sure was a big year! Fiji is quite incredible, we are very fortunate! Thanks heaps for the feedback, glad you like the blog!

  • Congrats on your wedding and PADI certification. Thats an awesome lot of stuff you did! Good luck for many more paid gigs! I loved all your photos, particular the multi-chromatic under water ones.

    • Thank you! We certainly did have a big year. Thanks for your comments regarding the underwater photos! We love capturing the underwater world. Some new equipment is arriving this year which is exciting!

  • 2travellingsisters

    2016 has definitely been an exciting year filled with celebrations and adventures for you guys! We hope in 2017 you have double the adventure and fun..:)

  • Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty

    What at great start to the year and what is even greater is all the adventures that followed with two of you in a tow. Those pictures of underwater life are stunning.

    Here’s wishing you even more of an eventful 2017!

    • Thanks! So many adventures – although they don’t always go to plan, as we just revealed in our latest blog post…not a great way to end the year! But onwards and upwards and back to an exciting 2017. Happy New Year!

  • TravelingWellForLess

    Holy moely! You definitely had an amazing year! Belated congratulations on your marriage and best of luck to you for many years. Dang, swimming with sharks, way too scary for me.

    • We sure did pack a lot into 12 months! Thank you very much for your comments. Swimming with sharks isn’t for everyone, but it sure is an amazing experience!

  • Pingback: 12 Ways to Recap Your Travels! * Ginger on the Go()

  • Krista Marie ↟

    Oh wow, you had an amazing year by the sounds of things! Congratulations on your marriage, the photos are so beautiful! I hope this year brings you more amazing adventures! Happy New Year!

    • Thans Krista! We ended the year on a bit of a bum note with John being in an accident (we finally updated the blog with the full story of what happened) but we are looking forward to another great year in 2017. Happy New Year to you too!

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