Probably, I was an explorer before even realizing it – born in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), I later lived in Belgium, Russia and United States. I was always very curious, so before all the travels we jumped into with my super-supportive husband, I was simply reading books all the time (seriously, even the switched off light never was a problem. And that’s before the iPhone torch era!) After completing my Degree in Journalism, I was working as an editor at Cosmopolitan and later – Marie Claire in Russia. There are no words to describe how cool is the atmosphere at the offices of women’s lifestyle magazines – no matter how long you work there, no two days are the same! They say ‘do what you love and you won’t work a single day of your life’ – well, that’s about me and journalism.
What made you decide to set up a travel blog?
As a journalist, I was always travelling a lot. But being tied up with editorial guidelines and word limits, struggled to express all the wonderful emotions each new destination was offering. How can one describe a thrill of catching the first lobster of the season in Sweden, breathtaking views of the brick-red Israel desert or the excitement of spending the night outdoor in search for Aurora Borealis above the Article Circle in several paragraphs? I needed more words, more photos and even videos. I decided to play it my way and created a space where I could share memorable moments I’ve experienced, authentic food or activities I have tried.
You’ve settled in New Zealand for now. Why is that?
I love this country! It’s endless exploring opportunities – from world’s most beautiful beaches to snowy mountains with glaciers. It’s kindest people, who always find time for a friendly chat with a cuppa. We came here in search for a different lifestyle, willing to ‘live like locals’ somewhere outside our home country. But once we’ve arrived, we never wanted to leave!
What are some of the more popular lifestyle trends in the country?
That’s a tricky one! When you live that lifestyle, you stop noticing whether it’s ‘a trend’ or something really common to do.
I would say, Kiwis are really into outdoors. No matter the season, they go hiking, biking, exploring hidden gems of the region or would simply grab fish’n’chips for a quick beach picnic.
I’m very happy to see how quickly New Zealand is turning into a sustainable, caring country. Banning plastic and single-use waste, turning vegetarian or vegan to save animals and battle climate change. Definitely a trend to watch!
When it comes to travelling have you ever considered showing people around yourself, maybe as a tour guide?
A couple of our relatives and friends have already visited us in New Zealand and we couldn’t be happier to show them around our favourite corners of this country. I tend to memorize easily some random facts I read or hear somewhere, like ‘Mount Maunganui is one of the 10 most photographed views’ or ‘Water of Abel Tasman is the cleanest in the world’, so sometimes I’m probably a bit too pushy guide, though no one complained. 🙂
Your favourite place & why?
Hands down, Tauranga – the town we live in. Surrounded by blue water and stunning beaches, warm and blossoming, this little city boasts with interesting activities, delicious restaurants and talented people. I’m proud to be a part of this supportive and always smiley community! It is also the fastest growing city in the country at the moment and we have already witnessed a lot of changes in the past two years. So curious to see what’s next!
What is the best “off the beaten path” attraction?
We always enjoy walking the trails of Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway. People mostly pass the Gorge by cars on their way to Auckland or Coromandel, so the walking tracks are empty and quiet. Besides extraordinary views, there is also a lot to learn about the gold mining history of this region there. You can even walk through the long old tunnels with a torch – like a real gold digger!
What would you say is the best way to get around?
Definitely by car! New Zealand is not too big, so you can get from point A to point B by car easily. The flexibility of traveling by car – when you can stop and soak in the moment or a beautiful view you’ve just bumped into – is really priceless here. Many people rent (or own) campervan, that is also a very interesting and authentically ‘kiwi’ option.
Have you done any adrenaline activities or walked the lord of the rings trail? If so, how was it?
Not yet! We have been to Tasman Glacier and it was beyond any expectations. Though a risk of falling into an ice-cold water is certainly quite extreme, but to be honest it wasn’t scary at all! Only fascinating and truly-truly unique. I mean, how many places are there on Earth, where you can taste a piece of a glacier that is several hundreds years old?
What’s next for theStyleJungle?
We’re looking forward to explore Australia and neighbourhood islands. New Zealand might be tucked at the very edge of the world, but what a beautiful edge it is! No need to go anywhere else, there is so much more to see and do here!
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