Well how fortuitous is this? It’s time for the Plus 40 Fabulous post, and the theme is Holiday Memories, and I’m just back from a mega holiday! I’ve missed a few months of Plus 40 Fabulous, both because I was away and also because I was sick and in the middle of big work projects before I went on holidays. It’s good to get back into the swing of things now that I’m home.
The theme for this month is “holiday memories”. I don’t really have any good holiday memories from my childhood, so I decided I’m going to write about the clothes I wore on my recent holiday to New Zealand, and share some of the tips and tricks I learned about packing and travelling as a very fat woman.
When I was packing for New Zealand, I really didn’t know what to take, for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s cold in New Zealand, a lot colder than I experience here in Brisbane, so I had to think about clothes that were going to keep me warm, which I don’t have many of! Then I found that packing up warm clothes for almost a month in a cold climate is no easy feat. Plus-size clothes, particularly winter plus-size clothes, are big and bulky and take up a lot of room. But after asking around some fellow fat travellers, I was able to put together a travel wardrobe that was both going to keep me warm and comfortable, and be convenient to carry around for weeks on end in a suitcase. It helped a lot that my friend Kerri and I were travelling around by hire car so we didn’t have to lug stuff on and off buses, trains and planes any more than to and from the country.
When we first got to Wellington, we found it was quite a bit warmer there than we expected – fairly comparable to Brisbane. Our first morning, all I did was added a warm cardigan to an outfit I would wear at home. Bright coloured leggings, a block coloured tunic top, my much loved (and comfortable) Mary-Janes and a cuddly cardigan did it for me.
I lived in leggings while I was over there. They roll up small in a suitcase, and can be mixed and matched with various tops and dresses. They’re also good and warm.
I did have a couple of days where I got to get into some fatshion, which was of course at the New Zealand Fat Studies: Identity, Agency and Embodiment conference. I wanted to wear something that was both cute and expressed my style, but also that said “Unapologetic Fat Woman Here!”
Day One I went with my Candy Strike bug dress:
I thought I was going to need to get really warm, and had a black fuzzy bolero and black scarf to wear with it, but the venue turned out to be REALLY warm, so I was able to pare down to just a mesh top underneath the dress and some black leggings, and those trusty Mary-Janes again.
I was presenting on the second day, and I had been saving a new dress for AGES for it to be finally cold enough to wear, so I thought that this might be the day to wear it.
Now you see why I describe my style as “obnoxious toddler”. I love this outfit, Little Orphan Annie dress, white tights, saddle shoes and my red and white striped McDonald’s socks (yes, I did get them from McDonald’s!) I was also wearing Divine earrings. Literally, my earrings were Divine. They’re cutouts of this photo…
My paper was called “Hey, Fat Bitch!” so I figured what better occasion to wear the patron saint of fat bitches hanging from my ears. Divine should always be present at powerful moments in fat history.
Unfortunately, that evening as we were leaving to go to the launch of Substantia Jones’ exhibition at Te Manawa, I slipped on the path at the front of the house we were staying, and rather spectacularly sprained my ankle. So I missed the launch, and missed saying goodbye to all of the people from the conference. Luckily the lovely Gabrielle, our host while we were in Palmerston North, plied me with hot water bottles, and naughty cats (she has the naughtiest cats) that night, so I could get some healing in before we left for Rotorua the next day.
Having a sprained ankle certainly slowed me down, but it didn’t stop me. We went up to Rotorua and the first thing on our list was a trip to Hobbiton to do the movie set tour (it’s out at Matamata, which is about an hour and a bit out of Rotorua). Luckily I could get my hiking boots over my swollen ankle, and was able to slowly walk the hilly but stunning landscape that is the Hobbiton movie set.
It was much colder that day, so I had several layers on. Layers are the key for travelling in colder climes I find. Leggings, dress, long sleeve t-shirt, light cardigan, hoodie, scarf and beanie! You can shed bits if you need to, but otherwise it keeps you toasty warm.
If you are going to New Zealand, take your swimsuit. Especially if you are going to Rotorua. Recommended by several fab fats who had already been travelling in New Zealand before the conference, and the lovely Cat Pausé who is now a local, we went to the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, and I credit my relatively speedy ankle recovery to the Priest Pool – a hot thermal pool that is full of minerals. All of the thermal pools were amazing and felt fantastic on my poor ankle, not to mention all the other aches and pains from the fall, but the Priest Pool, I have no words for how healing that was. The very second I got into it I felt fantastic and did not want to get out.
But I found there were hot spas all over the country – we also went to one in Franz Josef that was heated glacier water, and I’m so glad I took a swimsuit with me – not something I can easily source while travelling.
A couple of days later, while we were on the road travelling down the west coast of the North Island, we stopped off at a diner in New Plymouth that the owner of the motel we had stayed at recommended, called Deluxe Diner. Now this diner was awesome. Fabulous US retro in style, with the most adorable waitresses in 50’s style uniforms, and food to die for, we loved it on sight. But the morning we were there, we were lucky enough to encounter some Nuns Having Fun – the cast of Sister Act for the New Plymouth Operatic Society.
My choice of outfit for days where we were on the road a lot was soft pants (with pockets!), comfortable top and trusty cardigan. Chuck a big ass flower on the head and those infernal hiking boots on, and we’re off.
On our way down the west coast of the South Island, we stopped off at a little town called Hokitika, also recommended by fab fats who went before me. What a gorgeous little town! I found this sculpture down by the sea, and had to have my photo taken chilling in it.
Still in my trusty cardigan, and the hiking boots that I grew to loathe (my other shoes wouldn’t fit on my bung ankle!) with a long tunic and Lumpy Space Princess leggings.
When we were in Dunedin, I called up a local bus tour company to book a half day tour out to Larnach Castle. The lovely woman who answered the phone said “I can’t get you on a bus, but for the same price I can send you a limo for a private tour.” Ummm… HELL YES!! So Kerri and I had a half day private tour of Dunedin and Larnach Castle, with our fabulous tour guide and driver Ron, in a 7.2m white stretch limousine!!
It was a bit nippy out, so I went for soft pants and a tunic top, and my trusty hoodie. My grey cardigan and red hoodie sure got a workout on this trip!
On our way up to Christchurch from Dunedin, we were invited by an international YouTube celebrity, Scooterman, to stop in Timaru and have cameo roles in his next video. Meeting John was an absolute delight, and I enjoyed spending a couple of hours with him.
Again, you can’t go wrong with leggings and a tunic top, and chuck a cardie over the top. And look, finally I could fit back into my Mary-Janes, the swelling had gone down!
We only had one night in Christchurch, so the next morning I booked us a 3 hour tour of the city and surrounds on a London double decker bus. Christchurch is an amazing city, so resilient after the devastation of the Feb 2011 earthquake. I urge you to go there and do some touring, either on your own or with an organised tour.
Back in purple again – tunic top, leggings and my trusty hoodie. But I added some rainbow socks to my Mary-Janes and an infinity scarf.
Finally, a couple of people asked me before I left if I was going to shop while in New Zealand for clothes. Unfortunately I didn’t have the budget, and size 26-28AU clothes are scarce in New Zealand, so there was no shopping for me. But one thing I did pick up was an amazing infinity scarf from Global Culture, a company based in Christchurch that make all of their products locally, which I was SO happy to support. I wore the HELL out of that thing!
This was on the ferry from Picton to Wellington, where it was super windy and cold. I just wrapped it around my head, looped it around my neck a couple of times and Bob’s your uncle! Warm ears, head and neck. I loved this scarf so much I went to a Global Culture shop in Wellington the next day and bought another one, and one of their neck socks too, which can be worn as a head band or hair wrap or scarf or anything else your imagination comes up with.
So there you have it. My holiday fatshion memories of my trip to New Zealand.