North America, Australia and Oceania · 72 Days · 19 Moments · February 2017

A Semester in New Zealand

15 April 2017

Update for the first time in a while because I am once again off from classes and this time traveling Australia!! Difference of this trip is I am traveling alone (for an extended) for the first time ever!!! I think it's cool but also makes me a little nervous. So far so good except that the bus I am waiting for right now is late. The main thing I learned/decided today in my travels (which started in Auckland at 4am!!!) is that when you travel by yourself selfies are totally acceptable!! 1) because no one is there to take your photo and 2) because no one is there to make fun of you for doing it

9 April 2017

#latergrams Piha Beach would recommend Norwegian surf school because what they do in Norway is always right

1 April 2017

#latergrams coromandel peninsula A wonderful place to get a flat tire & have a huge sun roof

18 March 2017

#latergram cool things within +/- an hour of Auckland although don't be fooled by the rest of New Zealand, Auckland can have some pretty bad traffic and things can take way longer than they're supposed to

5 March 2017

Auckland has a lot of parks. Nice and big ones! I visited two of them today; one to read (but really did more bird & people watching) and one on a run. My first ever run in Auckland!!! Did my best to avoid the hills, was pretty successful all in all. I ran to and thru the Domain which is a huge beautiful park with a museum and gardens and lots of open fields. Because it's NZ, there of course were multiple games of cricket going on!! Also today was my first Sunday in Auckland, so I tried my first church! Went to a very contemporary church (yay trying new things!) in the town hall building in the center of the city. Worship was really good (much needed!!) and the church was really diverse, which was awesome. Today I also had my RA meeting and found out that only 5 of the 47 people living in my "block" are kiwis... so that made me more excited for classes to start tomorrow (although I don't have Monday classes), so I can meet more non-international students and join some clubs!!!

3 March 2017

Dorm life: what everyone dreams about when they plan a trip to New Zealand. Not really, not at all. But it's a thing when you're studying there for a semester! I will say my dorm is very nice; I have a handicap accessible room, so it is quite big. I'm on the first floor so I get a great view of the building next door... I love looking at basically street level when living in a 15 floor building that has great views of the harbor and sky tower!!! No but it is actually okay! To get the grocery store, I have a very hilly 10-15 minute walk. The way back is always worse. But that's why all the convenience stores (called "dairies") all sell milk and produce! Sometimes more! A nice thing about city life is everything is a walk (often a long one) away. It was very helpful in my three day quest to find reasonably priced sneakers. Today was the day I found them!!! Going to use them in all the free workout classes I get at the gym! And then maybe also to explore the city and all of NZ, we'll see

26 February 2017

Abel Tasman National Park is NZ's smallest, but busiest park - or so they say. It was pretty busy. Didn't feel that small. It was full of really cool plants and forest right along amazing limestone sand beaches. Seemed to be a popular place for clams and friends, as their little bubble holes in the sand were everywhere at low tide. Last stop on the South Island was a good one!

23 February 2017

Funny as it is, in the past two days I've gone from the South Island to the North Island to now back to the South Island. But there's a reason: to ride the well known ferry through the Cook Straight to Marlborough Sound! And it was worth it: 1) because then I got to see Gandalf flying on an eagle in Wellington airport and 2) because the Sound was breathtaking (literally since there was a lot of wind). What was really cool was on the ferry boat, over the sound of the motors, I could hear the cicadas in the trees humming. So loud! There was a little stress getting off the ferry late, but my mom and I were rescued by our hero of an airbnb host Fred and were off to our wine tour on time. We did full tastings at 4 different beautiful wineries. But let me tell you by the end I was over wine. A little too much. Marlborough is NZ's top wine region, so the wine was very good though! They specialize in Sauvignon Blanc since those grapes grow best in the microclimate & lucky for me that's my fave

21 February 2017

Dunedin (pronounced "duh-need-in") is a pretty unique city in NZ. It used to be the biggest city because it was the closest port to where they struck gold, but since has stopped growing. While there was a lot of wealth though, they built large buildings and churches with their local limestone so there is a lot of great architecture around. All Scottish inspired too! But also what is unique is it leads to the Otago peninsula!! We took a tour out there and saw so much wildlife. First, a royal albatross which lives at sea most of its life but comes to NZ to mate. And casually has a 3m wingspan!!! Also saw fur seals and sea lions (so cute!), but the truly unique animal (only found in NZ) was the yellow-eyed penguin. The second rarest penguin in the world and how cool to just watch it waddle up the beach from the ocean and THEN climb a sizable grassy hill. Penguins seem to be of the mindset "slow and steady wins the race" but I was still impressed by their ability to waddle uphill and jump!

20 February 2017

Didn't get enough of Mt. Cook yesterday, so this morning we did a hike called"Sealy Tarns" about halfway up a neighboring mountain for a better view. Halfway sounds lame, but just getting that far required 2,200 stairs. I felt a little bad because I ditched my mom on this one til we got to the top, but it was nice because along the way I made some other buddies, of all ages, as we bonded over how the stairs seemed endless. But the view at the top was well worth it!!! Even on a blazing hot sunny day! The view included perfectly triangular Mt. Cook with another up close and personal look at Mueller Glacier. On his good side! But all good things must come to an end and after hiking down, we were off to our next destination: Dunedin. Along the way, we passed more very blue water, more farmland, and a lot of the east coast of NZ. Going to miss the mountains, but am happy to be among the sea once more!

19 February 2017

Today when I woke up, I thought water couldn't get any bluer and mountains in summer couldn't get any snowier. I was wrong. Lake Pukaki, which you have to drive all along on the way to Mt. Cook, is about the brightest aqua blue I have ever seen. Nearly a natural neon. Really incredible!! Then Mt. Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand, is a wonder in itself. Perfectly pointy and snowy and beautiful!! And clearly very popular seeing as it has a bunch of mountain and glacier friends around it. But no temperate rainforests like the other side of the mountain range. Plenty of cold glacial water with ice bergs in it though! And when the sun goes down, stars!!!

18 February 2017

After speed walking down the street at seven in the morning to get to our pick up stop on time, my mom and I sit patiently on a curb and wait for the BBQ bus. The BBQ bus is what took my mom and me, along with 14 other people from 6 different countries, on a 5 hour drive to Milford Sound. And man was it a journey! Nigel, the bus driver was a wealth of knowledge, a chef, and a good driver (thank goodness!!). The way to the Sound was remarkable and near the end we actually drove through an 800m tunnel THROUGH the mountains. An incredible feat in civil engineering I would have to say. We eventually did arrive to Milford Sound, a part of Fiordland National Park. The Sound was huge and beautiful and surrounded by mountains. It was actually formed by a glacier, but it leads out to the Tasman sea - then the ocean!! Crazy to just turn a corner (around a mountain) and see the ocean! To get home, we took a 6 person plane back (bye BBQ bus) and literally flew OVER the mountains. Unreal!!!

17 February 2017

New Zealand roads are a marvel. A potential death trap as they are very windy & fast with little visibility, but a marvel. I suppose driving on the left (which I can now say I have done!!) is no help. But you can really get many places, see many sights, and travel many kilometers on them. And there is no such thing as traffic - although sometimes there is road work and you're stuck looking at a mountain for 15 minutes. Otherwise, they are reliable. Just as NZ is always reliable to have a great scone, crystal clear COLD rivers, beautiful mountains, and very few bugs!

15 February 2017

Today I saw two glaciers. Considering before today I had seen zero glaciers in my whole life, it was pretty incredible!! They were huge and especially unique since they are surrounded by a temperate rain forest (and because I got to enjoy them with tea and a cookie). This whole area of the west coast of NZ is generally really rainy, but it makes for a beautiful temperate rain forest in the mountains that doesn't require soil to grow (cool!!!). I also dragged my mom into an abandoned tunnel (barefoot in cold water!) to see some cave glow worms & I got to see a ten/ten sunset... so it's been a day! Oh and I also learned today there are no snakes in NZ - convenient!

13 February 2017

Spent the morning in the Botanic Gardens of Christchurch - the perfect setting for Valentine's Day eve. Also took the bus out to the town of Sumner for a hike up a hill & a walk on the beach. Surfing appeared to be the thing to do, if only I had some balance... I just watched instead & also got to enjoy some fish & chips (ate fish for the first time in a long time!!!). While enjoying the beach, I also found a pup that looks just like my pup!!! NZ is one of the dog friendliest places I have ever been; they run around everywhere off leash and are even allowed inside a lot of places! Life is not ruff

11 February 2017

2 days later and have done and seen so much more! I've now ridden the ferry four times - to the quaint seaside town of Devonport (with great beaches and muesli) and to the beautiful island of wineries and beaches of Waiheke. I have also now climbed two different dormant volcanoes for sweeping views of water encircled Auckland. And in all this I have acquired my first NZ sunburn, woo!! Thanks mom for forgetting the sunscreen. The hole in the ozone is right above New Zealand, so the sun is very strong and we fully realize that now. Currently saying "see ya later" to Auckland now and heading to the South Island for two weeks. Fingers crossed the airplane gives me a snack!

10 February 2017

I did it!!! I officially made it to New Zealand! Many many many plane hours later. But I could not be happier to be here. What a greeting Auckland gave me with blue skies, crisp air, and some of the most magnificent trees I've ever seen! It is so strange to show up to a place for the first time and know you are gonna live there for five months. Speaking of, today I got my room for my new dorm. It's a handicap accessible room so it's extra big - problem is I have minimal items to fill it with. But I'm quite good at acquiring things so we'll see how long that lasts. I'm just overall quite happy to be here and exploring my new home, which has already blown my expectations away

3 February 2017

With this second batch of clothes packed, I've finished most all of my packing. And everything fits! Although I still need to pack underwear (a true necessity), but I'm not too worried about that. Also, yesterday I went out and bought a journal. Gonna give journaling my travels (as regularly as possible) a try. We'll see how it goes. Finally, the third picture shows a map of New Zealand with the travel outlined that my mom and I will be doing on our 3 week trip. For reference, the purple push pin at the top is Auckland, which is where I'll be living and learning for most of my time abroad!

2 February 2017

The beginning of the end of packing for 5 months in New Zealand. The plan: be a minimalist and have everything fit in one suitcase and a carry-on backpack. So far so good. 6 days until departure!!