Christmas away from home can be tough for a traveller. Being away from family and friends can often leave you feeling deflated about the holidays, however we have found that house and pet sitting eases the pain.
When leaving the UK at the beginning of our journey we resolved to find alternative accommodation options for the holidays.
Staying in a hotel or hostel was never our idea of festive fun, and fortunately house sitting has provided us with the opportunity to enjoy Christmas in style over the past two years.
Image | Spencer the Acrobat Dog
Arriving in West Auckland we pulled into the drive and knew instantly that being away from home for Christmas wouldn’t be so bad, not when we had beach views and the world’s smartest dog to entertain us.
The owners of the house, also British, would be flying back to the UK to visit friends and family for six weeks and we would be charged with looking after Spencer a border collie, ridgeback cross.
When applying for house sitting assignments we always favour those with animal care, for us it is often the animals that make the experience so memorable and make us feel at home while looking after the property.
Spencer the dog is shaping up to be quite a character, he is incredibly switched on and very well trained. Rolling over and barking on command are just two of his repertoire of tricks. A favourite with the locals down at the beach he has been given the nick names ‘Acrobat or Frisbee Dog’ because of his insane Frisbee catching skills.
Varsity Ultimate Frisbee teams take note if you can find a way to enrol him on a course at your University he would be an excellent addition to your crew.
Image | Spencer Chasing His Frisbee
The house itself is full of character of a different style, known for its bohemianism the area has played host to a wealth of artists, musicians, actors, writers, poets and potters over the years and is known for its quirky architecture.
Built in the 1970’s the house, like most of the others in the area, is set back into the native bush of the surrounding Waitakere Ranges and raised up on stilts.
Boasting three levels it has a roof akin to that of the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel, and a raised terraced deck from which you can gaze down over the ocean or up into the surrounding rainforest. Combined with the excitement of daily walks along the coast and frisbee sessions on the beach we are relishing our first Kiwi house sitting experience.
We have enjoyed visiting Phia and the surrounding Watakiere Ranges Regional Parkland which holds a wealth of natural beauty, Spencer is particularly fond of the Kitakita Falls and loves a good splash about it the pool below the waterfall.
Our daily hikes through the surrounding bush land have enabled us to explore the diverse eco system of the rainforest that covers much of the Northland.
I was relieved to hear that New Zealand has no snakes and so am happy to tramp fearlessly through the undergrowth!
Bush walking is a popular past time for both young and old and with a diverse mix of routes to cater for all abilities it is one of the best ways to get out an explore New Zealand’s spectacular countryside.
Once again house sitting has provided us with an unforgettable experience and catered to our desire for a home over the holidays.
Our time in West Auckland has given us the freedom to plan our twelve month adventure in New Zealand, while relaxing in a gorgeous setting in one of the city’s leafy suburbs.
Image | Spencer Shaking a Rainbow of Water Droplets
Having looked after ten homes in six different countries over the past two years house sitting has helped us to save 90% of our accommodation costs. Read our Wanderlust Guides and learn about the financial benefits of house sitting.
If our festive house sit has inspired you to give house sitting a try why not read more about our previous house sitting assignments to learn more about the merits of the budget travel hack.