Why intern at Drifting Sands, Hokitia? Why work on holiday? This answer to this question is as simple as making bread. Do you travel to take good pictures for Instagram, or do you travel to meet people from around the globe, learn new skills, and make lifelong connections? For me, I like to travel with purpose. At the end of the day, it’s the people I meet who make the experience great, not the magnificent shots of nature and culture (although those are an added bonus to travel, for sure!)
During my time in New Zealand, I worked at a B&B on the West Coast of the South Island in the “cool little town” of Hokitika. During my time at Drifting Sands (the B&B), I felt I’d found home abroad. I made friends from around the globe. These are life long connections that span from connections and relations with guests who now reside in Australia, UAE, France and Thailand, to name a few. One can’t neglect to mention the friendships developed with the adoring Kiwis as well. I met neighbors, locals, hunters, Jade carvers, and of course, the infamous Claire. If you look at Drifting Sands reviews online, you will find that not only did the guests enjoy a wonderland of a home away from home, listening to the waves crash from their warm beds at night, but the hospitality and local knowledge of their host, Claire. Claire welcomes everyone into her wonderland with open arms, an open mind and an open heart. Her generosity is as well crafted as her sense of design, both of which are noticeable upon entering Drifting Sands. If Claire happens to have put together a family dinner or a beach bonfire that night, you’re in luck! There’s already a seat for you at the table or a spot for you on the beach by the fire. If there is an All Blacks game on your arrival night, Claire will drive you to Stumpers, the local bar, to enjoy the game surrounded by Kiwis. If you come into town not knowing what to do, Claire will go over a map of town and suggest the best spots to take in the magnificent beauty of the West Coast. If you walk into Drifting Sands weary from travel and the long road, Claire will guide you to her cozy living room, where you can curl up by the historic coal burning fireplace and feel like you’ve stepped back into the gold rush era while playing any of the board games she has available with your family or new friends. Warning: you won’t want to leave this wonderland once you’ve spent one night.
Working with Claire is a priceless experience that allows you to study under her magic wing of hospitality, all the while learning new skills. While watching Wonderland, I learned to make home made bread and jam that we served to guests in the morning. I learned the art of flax tieing, as we helped her build a fence around her charming outside bath. I am now a master of fire, ranging from keeping the coal fireplace alive to building a beach bonfire for the guests at night. This skill has come in handy so many times throughout my world travels since I’ve left Hokitika. At Drifting Sands, I learned the art of hospitality management ranging from welcoming guests and making them feel at home, keeping an inventory of house supplies, to keeping the books. Running a B&B is not something I ever thought of as a possible profession before, however after spending a month at Drifting Sands, I was hooked. (To be honest, I was hooked after only day.)
I feel so blessed to have experienced B&B management. It was a match made in heaven. One can only hope to have these experiences while traveling when one steps out the door for a grand world tour. I have to pinch myself when I look back fondly on my days in Hoki, thinking it’s not good-bye, it’s “see you soon!” After all, Hokitika means “the place of return.” Claire and everyone who passes through the doors at Drifting Sands and resides in Hokitika really bring that meaning to life.