Dayuuum, it’s been how long?
Within a matter of days the activities I have done is astounding. After a well fed and entertaining 13 hour trip to the wonderful city of Brisbane, Australia, I flew a couple more hours to Auckland. On that flight from Brisbane to New Zealand, I broke bread with some fantastic people, Cara and Valter. After 10 min of some frustrating Sudoku and Word searches on my own, I struck up a conversation with them and we proceeded to laughing and eating the tasty Lebanese delicacies of my mother for the remainder of the flight.
With more energy than the Energizer Bunny himself could fathom, I entered Auckland. I was luckily able to keep all the food my mother sent with me when going through customs. Score! However after, I found myself searching for my ride, my friend’s sister’s friend who I hadn’t met before. She finally spotted me with my new friends Valter and Cara. The adventures were just about to begin. We toured beautiful bays, ate delicious fusion foods in the renovated Victoria Market, had cups of melted chocolate, and drove the streets of Auckland on the left side of the road.
Bright and early the next morning, I was back at the airport for the orientation. Hours later, I was in the beautiful scenic peninsula of Whangaparaoa with my IFSA-Butler group, who would become my close friends. Scenic mountaintops filled with sheep and adventures awaited us. Each day seemed like two with the amount of activities we had. Nearly, an hour after arriving we were hopping into kayaks and going out to sea. It didn’t stop there. In two days we Mountain biked, swam, rock climbed, played rugby, did ROGAINE (Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance), went to hot springs, water slides, and bonded with a group of 40 people under the stars and on the tops of mountains. Only halfway through the first orientation, there was still much to do and the next step was a true Maori welcome.
The Maori house and cultural center, the Marae, was an incredible experience filled with cultural learning and great food. We experienced a traditional welcome, chose chiefs, watched a Haka, and learned a Maori introduction. After travelling through Auckland again, we were finally on our way to Dunedin and the South Island.
Our first couple days in Dunedin were similarly filled with active undertakings. I roamed the city, university, and flats I would call my home. Much of the week included an acclimating period as I settled into my first house style living. With grocery shopping, banking, bedding, writing, and exploring the time flew by. I managed to see the most beautiful scenery and realize the extent to which Kiwis (New Zealanders) were spoiled when on the peninsula here. Also on the peninsula, I came a foot away from a sea lion, saw the mighty albatross and their ten-foot wingspan, and fell in love with the landscape and country. That was just Monday through Wednesday.
On Thursday, I went to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. The center for adrenaline junkies everywhere was one of the prime spots for me to hit. Staying in a hostel, climbing trees that hang over the ocean, and eating a famous Ferg Burger before street luging filled only half a day in Queenstown. The local bar was brimming with travelers from around the world who were looking to get their adventure on. The night was comprised of new experiences, including a horizontal bungee, billiards tournament, and acrobatic stunts that required fingers to be relocated. Oh, and on the way back, I went bungee jumping.
With so much of the trip left to go, the adventures that await me are endless.