So basically the semester is winding down and my final assignments are both happening/approaching and I’m starting to realize that the time I have left in this place is winding down. To be honest, it makes me really sad! I absolutely love Sydney and my college and the people I’ve met here. It’s going to be extremely difficult to leave. I don’t even like to think about it.
A few weeks ago was Easter break and my 2 friends and I ventured off to New Zealand for a week. We packed our bags and departed for Auckland. We arrived, sleepy, and went to the hostel. We woke up the next day and boarded a small bus that held about 21 people or so. For the entire week we were on the trip with the same set of people and they were all, for the most part, lovely. We had people from all over the world traveling in New Zealand with us! The countries represented ranged from Poland, Belgium, England, Germany, the Netherlands, and so on. It was interesting to meet people from all over the world in such a situation.
I’ll give you a breakdown of what I did that week.
Day 1: We went from Auckland to Hahei and we saw beautiful views of Waikato farmland on the way there. Once we arrived in the Coromandel region we took a hike ½ way to Cathedral Cove (the weather the first few days was poor and the conditions were slippery, so we didn’t make it all the way to Cathedral Cove, but we saw stunning scenery nonetheless). Then the girls and I headed back to the cabins. These cabins were probably the worst the entire trip because immediately we were put into close confines with people we didn’t know so it was a little awkward but we managed. We had a BBQ dinner, probably one of the better meals I ate on the trip, we went to a hot water beach (where you can dig your feet into the sand and the water is really hot!), we drank some champagne to celebrate being in NZ, and went to sleep.
Day 2: We woke up extremely early the next day so that we could watch the sun rise on the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous and tranquil and quiet. Then we got ready to head back to the campsite and have breakfast before departing for Rotorura. Rotorura was probably one of my favorite stops on the trip because it is a place so rich in culture and tradition. The Maori people in Whakarewarewa were fantastic. They put on a show for us that enabled us to get a look at what their culture is all about and we had a hangi lunch, which is a lunch cooked from the steam of the natural hot pools that exist there. In Rotorura, there is a lot of geothermal activity, which means that there are natural hot springs that exist all over! The Maori people are very environmentally sound and in touch with nature. They use the hot pools for cooking, bathing, etc. There are also bubbling hot mudpools which would, and I quote “kill you,” if you went into one. Good to know! Unfortuanately, due to poor weather, we couldn’t do some things that we had planned on this day – white water rafting and skydiving. Overall though, Rotorura was phenomenal. We ended the night by eating at a tiny little Mexican restaurant and then heading back to the hostel where we talked, laughed, and passed out.
Day 3: We hopped back on the bus and went from Rotorura to Whakahoro. We stopped at a natural hot river and saw Huka Falls. We then traveled far into the country side to Blue Duck Lodge, which is an environmental award-winning place nestled in between mountains scattered with goats, cows, and horses. It was green and lush and unlike anything I had ever seen before. When people talk about New Zealand, they often describe it as being “magical” and this is when I started to realize what they meant. Here, we went on these quad cars up to the peak of a mountain and we saw gorgeous views of the forest. The quad actually went very fast and it was a blast riding in one! We also got to kayak in a little lagoon with a waterfall. We then went back to the lodge and had goat curry which was made for us by the people who worked at the lodge. What they do there, though, is essentially try to balance the ecosystem. They hunt certain rodents so that more birds can exist in the wild (to be honest I don’t really remember the relationship between rodent and bird but basically they are fixing it – haha). You know what? I change my mind, this had to be one of the best times on the trip. Split between here and Rotorura – definitely. Wait, now I’m thinking about what I am going to tell you next, and that was pretty fantastic too… I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that there isn’t a favorite part of this trip. I sorta loved everything… Oh yeah and we saw Lake Taupo, a humongous lake, on this day. It was beautiful.
Day 4: On this day we did something crazy. We did a 7 hour hike up a mountain! We traveled to Tongariro National park and we hiked the Tangariro Crossing which is rated as New Zealand’s best one day walk. It was a difficult process but my 2 friends, Meghan and Katie, made it up to the top of the mountain which overlooked volcanoes. It was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. There was also a turquoise lake at the bottom of one of the mountains, which I believe was formed in the crater of one of the volcanoes. There was also a little hot spring at the bottom of one of the mountain. The amount of different scenery on this walk was gorgeous. From walking in the bush, to a snow covered mountain, to a muddy crater – it was just quite the experience to say the least. My friends and I stopped occasionally (okay, we stopped often – ha!) and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, and cheese to keep our stamina up. We had a great time but when we finally reached the car park (parking lot) we were more than delighted to sit on the bus and make our way back to The Park, our lodge. Needless to say, we had a few celebratory WE DID IT drinks that night and went to sleep.
Day 5: On the fifth day we headed off to Wellington, which is a quaint little city set on the shore. It has a reputation for being windy, just like Chicago. There, we went to the Te Papa museum, the museum of New Zealand, and went to our first real Rugby Union game to see the Wellington Hurricanes beat Queensland 28 to 26. It was a fantastic last minute win – very exciting. Then we went to the only Welsh bar in the Southern Hemisphere, the Welsh Dragon Bar, which was pretty neat. After that, we headed off to bed.
Day 6: Went up to Auckland and chased a wild chicken at one of the stops. Said goodbye to our travel buddies and our tour guide who went by the name Gollum. We slept in the airport to save money because we had a ridiculously early flight. Back to Sydney!
I’ll post pictures asap!