Hi ! My name is Claire, I am a french girl traveling around New-Zealand since december 2019.
The first time I visited Kaikoura, I spent three days in this lovely town. In three days, two of my biggest dreams came true : I encountered the biggest toothed predator on earth, the spermwhale, and swam with the incredible creatures that the Dusky Dolphins are, in their natural environment.
When you get the chance to experience things that you are use to see only on TV or books, it kind of changes something in your mind. It is like « Oh those things are not reserve to other people, it is real, and I can do it. » That feeling gave Kaikoura a special place in my heart.
So a few months later, when I got the opportunity to volunteer for the Great Kaikoura Whale Count, I knew straight away I will do it.
The Great Kaikoura Whale Count is an annual count which purpose is to estimate the number of Humpback whales passing the Kaikoura Peninsula on their northward migration throughout the winter ; and at the same time, it is a way to unite the Kaikoura community in a positive, engaging connection to the local wildlife. Passionate about nature protection, this was an amazing opportunity for me.
So I came back from the North Island and spent a month counting whales, almost everyday up the peninsula, learning about those fascinating animals and seing Humpback whales for the first time in my life. What does all this have to do with Gecko Gearz ? It’s coming !
This is how I met Penny, she invited me to stay in her house while I was volunteering. One of the best thing about traveling is meeting new people, and spending time with Penny and her family was great. Penny is a strong independant woman, and it is really enriching to listen to her travel stories, her passion for yoga and helping others.
A few weeks passed and Penny gave me te opportunity to work with her, in her lovely clothes shop in town : Gecko Gearz
I have never worked in a clothing shop before, and in addition of learning new things, I was part of something bigger. Gecko Gearz is not just a clothing shop, it is a whole project, by which Penny has found a way to help people who need it.
By employing people in Nepal (where some of the products are made), and supporting small local businesses who in turn support a wider community of makers, Gecko Gearz helps sustain the suppliers and their families.
Gecko Gearz is also regularly running fundraisers for Nepal, and sending over funds, helping Nepalese in so many levels.
I love how the little things in life leads to bigger ones. I love how my passion about nature brought me in Kaikoura to meet Penny, who teached me a lot about how to run a business with passion, and about other countries which I didn’t know anything about.
All of this made me stay in this very special place, where I can observe whales and dolphins in the pacific ocean, surrounded by snowed capped mountains ; enjoy the seals company watching the sunset’s colours invade the lanscape ; and spending time with Kaikoura inhabitants who made me feel at home so quickly.
Thank you Penny, thank you Gecko Gearz, and thank you Kaikoura. I am very grateful for everything.