Here Safe and Sound in New Zealand

Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually here in New Zealand for the World Championships! As we were flying in I’ve never seen a more beautiful site. The mountains were so lush and green and the water as so turquoise. i doubt man has ever set foot on so many of the places. I doubt we will ever get to see any of it in person since it was so remote. When we got off the plane we had a tour around Wellington on the hotel shuttle bus. It was like a scary roller coaster ride. The streets are very narrow and curvy around the cliffs. We were also very happy that we didn’t rent a car since they drive on the left hand side of the road! The white houses were all built into the mountains. I was happy that we had that tour since the residential areas are completely different from where we are staying in the harbour down town.

My 10 first impressions of New Zealand:

  1. Extremely beautiful mountains and turquoise water from the view on the plane
  2. Extremely clean city– there isn’t any garbage anywhere on the street
  3. Extremely friendly people – love the accent!
  4. Extremely athletic community – runners, bikers, and rowers everywhere
  5. Extremely cool cars – Greg is in heaven checking them all out
  6. Extremely passionate about their rugby
  7. Extremely upset and concerned about the recent earthquake
  8. Extremely windy – the weather changes every hour – people are in shorts and winter coats
  9. Extremely relaxed attitude about everything – felt safe walking around even late at night
  10. Extremely proud of their country – very helpful to tourists

When we arrived there were a couple things that were really important to me. I’m a picky eater when I travel for competition. I try to keep my routine as normal as possible. I never realized how much my performance is affected by what I eat. We went exploring and found a grocery store and stocked up on cereal, milk, fruit, vegetables, juices, cheeses and meats. Our hotel room has a complete kitchen so it makes it so much easier to eat properly. I also found a place where I can have my daily smoothies. Once the rest of the Team Canada arrives on the 6th I will have to eat every meal with them but in the meantime I want to eat what I like.

We were tired and thrown off with all the time changes and traveling for two days but we weren’t ready for bed. We walked all around the harbour and checked out the boats, stores and entertainment.

We also saw the TSB arena where the competition is being held. I got excited seeing the big building and it was a real reality check. In my bedroom at home I’ve had a picture of this building as a motivator and now I’m standing right in front of it.

Greg and I slept right through it but my parents were awakened by an earthquake measuring 4.6 on the ricktor scale. They said their bed completely swayed and shook waking them up. My mom was scared to fall back asleep after that. The stuff on my bed was thrown to the floor but I was just too tired to notice. Nothing could have woken me up, mainly because I’m such a deep sleeper. I think I would have freaked out if I had been awake!

Today is ‘black and red day’ to help support all the families who were affected by the earthquake last week. Everyone wore red and black clothes and those who deal with the public were also wearing Red Cross pins on them. It’s really very sad and I have to admit a bit scary. There have been many aftershocks and I just hope that there aren’t any other big ones.

We saw some national team members from other countries at the Chigaco, Los Angelas and then the Sydney airports. More and more competitors are arriving here at the hotel. I have to admit I feel extremely proud wearing my Canadian Track suit everywhere and seeing other competitors gets me excited. I recognized some competitors by seeing their pictures on the ITF NZ website. I just love listening to all the different languages and accents. Some other Canadian athletes are also here which is kinda comforting. My training buddies don’t arrive for a few days.

Everyone handles the pre-competition jitters differently but I prefer to relax and not stress too much before the actual competition. The weather was raining and cold and super windy so we didn’t really know what to do tourist wise. My family walked all around Wellington, the harbour and visited the Te Pap Museum. It’s the largest nature museum I’ve ever seen. Greg loved it in there and I’m sure he’ll go back at some point. We walked for miles and it felt great to stretch out my legs. I even found a warehouse where there was a group of men playing recreational soccer. My soccer team would be pleased that I haven’t forgotten about my other passion 🙂

I love all the physical activities that goes on around the pier. Everywhere you look there are runners and if it wasn’t such bad weather you can tell that the rowing and kayaking sport is huge here.

The wind was so strong it was actually hard to walk sometimes and the ocean had big white caps. When we got back to the hotel our faces felt like they had a layer of sea salt on them from the strong winds. The best part was just spending the day as a family together. I’m having so much fun with Greg. Even though we both live at home he is always so busy with university, working two jobs and spending time with his friends. We get to have our own room together and its fun just to talk, laugh and hang out together. It’s a weird feeling since I’m here on vacation but I’m also here to do a job. I can`t turn it off but that`s not a bad thing. After all, that is why I`m here.

To make sure I stay in routine, I found a little conference room where I can stretch, do patterns and even kick the shield/paddles that I brought. There is also a stationary bike in the little gym here so I can stay on my game. Because I have been sick, and haven’t gotten to train as much as I would’ve liked. I am taking these few days to build my confidence back up and work out the little extra kinks because I am just starting to get my energy and strength back. I did some training today, and it felt really good!!! I’m still getting used to the humidity, but it will be ok. I can`t believe we have only been here 24 hours. I feel like I`ve been away for so long. I guess because everything is so different. There is a large group of competitors going for a run tomorrow morning at 6:30 and they asked me if I wanted to join them. They are all freaking out to try to cut weight so they aren’t disqualified for not staying in their weight division. I’m not going for a run with them since I don’t want to do anything out of my routine this close to competition. That is when I’m thankful that I’m a hyper-weight and never have to worry about gaining weight. I just have to worry that I don’t have to fight someone twice my weight 🙂 That is why I’m thankful for drug testing. I do think I’ve grown again. I feel so much larger than the other girls that I’ve competed against before but I haven’t changed my weight at all.

-I also wanted to say thank you to all the people that wrote the post cards, letters and cards. It took me about 2 hours just to read them all. All of the kind words are great for my confidence and they remind me just how lucky I am to have all of you as supporters and friends. Many of them were very motivational and an excellent thing for me to read before I compete. Others really made me laugh I will probably read them over again each day. Keep the emails and comments coming. I love hearing my from you!!!!!

Thanks again everyone!

So far, I am having such an awesome time. I have an excellent feeling and vibe about NZ. I am feeling great physically and mentally, and I have my whole family with me. What more can I ask for?!

I will try to keep this blog updated daily but sometimes it’s hard to get the internet. I have to go to an internet cafe to have access so it’s not that easy. If you don’t hear from me, don’t assume it’s bad news!!!! Only positive thoughts!!!!!

8 thoughts on “Here Safe and Sound in New Zealand”

  1. Yeah – you made it! Just read your update to the kids – you sound great. Earthquake part is a little scary. Love reading your blog…….hi to the family! xoxox

  2. Kayla,
    Glad to hear you guys made it there safe and sound!!! We are thinking of you everyday!!!!

  3. Hi Kayla,

    Great to hear from you! I just read your blog out loud to the girls and Brent. Gillian says she misses you, Catherine wishes you luck, Brent says he’s happy you made it safe and sound, and to say hello to your Mom and Dad. I’m happy you’re staying true to yourself, training a little, getting your strenght back, and spending time with your family. You are in our thoughts, and all are positive! One trick I’ve learned over my many years… at one point on this journey, stop what you’re doing… look around you and take a mental picture. A mental picture of what’s going on around you, where you’re at mentally, emotionnally, and physically. This is what you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I hope you have the time of your life,
    Loads of love,

    Julie, Brent, Gillian and Catherine xoxoxoxo

    • Don’t worry, I’m taking it all in and enjoying every second! It might get a little crazy once the rest of the team get here but in the mean time I’m calm and focused. Now I just have to stay that way 🙂

  4. Hi to everyone: Glad you arrived safe and sound. What a wonderful experience for you, your Mom,Dad and Greg. Make the most of it. The tournament is getting closer and I am sure more intense, you have a great attitude and commitment to your sport. You will do well for sure.

    Love to everyone


  5. Kayla
    Just have to tell you how impressed I was with your blog, news, appreciation and enjoyment of New Zealand. I recognized your grandmother throughout it all.
    I can see how the family genes as well as all the supportive training has brought you to representing Canada for a national sport.
    Your grandmother’s influence, your grandfather’s athletic genes, your dad’s web skills, the importance of familiy love and responsibility from your mom….and your special relationship with your brother have all come together to make you the person you are today. …and where you are at this moment….New Zealand and competing for Canada! We are so proud to be a friend of your exceptional family.
    We loved our own travelling experiences on both islands of New Zealand in 2005, and had never given a thought to a possible earthquake. We had been delighted to have had Christchurch as our home base when we were on the south island.
    Kayla….your “blog news” was actually a joy to read, and I appreciate how much time you take to take to pass on your experiences and thoughts. As you compete, we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Needless to say, we all know you will do your very best and will make each of us proud to be a small part of your life.
    Best wishes and good luck, and love to all your family.
    Marg & Colin

    • Hi, one of the things I loved most about Grandma was how she always kept great scape books and photo albums. I still look at them all the time so I guess that is why this blog is important to me. I know she is here in spirit with me too. I brought my favorite pictures of her and also of my other two grandparents that also died. I just wanted to have all the things that make me feel good on this trip. Thanks for checking in.

Comments are closed.