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.
We got married!
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.
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.
We went shark cage diving with Great Whites on our honeymoon!
We travelled to more of New Zealand’s incredible sites including The Catlins, Te Anau, the famous Milford Sound, Queenstown, Roxborogh and Dunedin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We went shark diving (no cage!) with up to 50 bull sharks in Pacific Harbour!
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.
The Big Move.
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.
Once in Fiji, we launched Snorkels to Snow.
One month into blogging and we hit 4000 page views! We couldn’t believe it – we were thrilled.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
We collaborated with Jean-Michel Cousteau Diving to check out the world-famous diving in the area.
We also collaborated with South Sea Cruises for a day trip and dive trip to South Sea Island in the Mamanucas!
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.
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.
We took a day trip to Beachcomber Island and ticked jet skiing off our bucket list!
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.
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.
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
- Moving abroad is as scary or as easy as you make it
- 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!
- The first year of marriage can be simultaneously challenging and magical but love conquers all.
- Travel blogging takes a ridiculous amount of time. Promotion of your travel blog takes a ridiculous amount of time
- People still don’t think travel blogging is a “proper” job
- 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
- We are materially rich compared to many living in Fiji, but locals are rich in spirit.
- Being away from home when tragedy hits is really tough. The true test of character is how you deal with it
- 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.
- 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.
The snow is looking great at Niseko!
*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!
DISCUSS: What are your highlights/lowlights of the year and what plans do you have for 2017?