This past week was the week- long mid-semester break, a time to escape the classroom and reports. Wanting to take full advantage of our location, on the opposite side of the world, six of us decided to take a trip to the south island of New Zealand. Weeks of planning and preparation finally arrived and the trip didn’t disappoint. We accomplished so much in ten days that it would be hard to write it all in a short blog, so I will just highlight the major events.
We started by running through the airport trying to catch our flight to Christchurch, New Zealand. Luckily, we made it and were able to begin our trip on time. In Christchurch we picked up our homes for the next 10 days- camper vans. They resembled the hippie vans of the 60s, with graffiti artwork covering both sides. Inside was a makeshift bed of foam pads, a cooler, propane tank, dishes and a pump sink. It was here that we would, eat, sleep, and drive for the next 10 days (a life with no phones, internet, or facebook). We packed up all our belongings and headed north. Our first stop was to see the seal colony in Kaikoura. Standing along the coast, we overlooked rocks covered with seals, all shapes and sizes. Driving a little further we went to the Ohau waterfall. Here there were seal pups swimming and playing. It was amazing and the pups were absolutely adorable. I was able to venture out on a rock close to the shore and a seal pup came right up to where I was sitting. It looked up at me with its big eyes and touched my sweatpants with its nose. I was never so close to a seal in its natural habitat.
From there we traveled to Abel Tasman, where we spent a whole day kayaking in Tasman Bay. It was absolutely beautiful. The water was so blue and crystal clear and gorgeous sandy beaches lined the coastline. There were two islands that we were able to stop and explore. We stopped and had our picnic lunch on one of the islands. It was beautiful and sunny and I felt as though I was in a travel brochure. We continued around the island, but unfortunately our ride into shore was not as leisurely as the ride out. The wind began to pick up and white caps covered the bay. Waves were splashing into our faces and no matter how hard we paddled, it seemed as if we could not move. Luckily my kayaking partner and I had a sense of humor and eventually made it back to shore. It is safe to say that we all slept well that night.
Leaving Abel Tasman, we traveled down the west coast. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. Looking back at all the pictures taken, none of them did it justice. After two days of driving and stopping at other cities we arrived in Frans Joseph. It was here that we hiked the Frans Joseph glacier. Our guide led us onto and through the huge mound of white and blue ice with pickaxe in hand (to pick away ice to create a better walking path) We were adorned with spiked hiking boots, hats, gloves, and lots of layers of pants and jackets. The views were spectacular and it was truly a unique experience. After hiking on the ice all day we went to the Frans Joseph hot springs to help get warm.
We continued down the west coast to the city of Queensland and the surrounding area. We went horseback riding just outside the city in Glenorchy. Here we did a three-hour horseback ride. The scenery was spectacular as we rode in the valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We also learned that the surrounding area is where they filmed the Lord of the Rings movies. Unfortunately I have never seen them, but I will be sure to eventually to see if I can recognize any of the landscape. My horse, Oden, was a bit difficult to control, but it was a great time. We were even taught how to post while trotting, which was a bit nerve wracking but very fun.
The last major event of our trip was probably my most memorable. While driving we stopped at a popular attraction, the first bungy jumping sight in the world. We watched a few jumpers as they jumped from a bridge with a rushing river beneath them. The more I watched, the more I wanted to experience it for myself, so four of us decided to jump. I shuffled up to the edge of the bridge, posed for a few pictures, and immediately looked down; big mistake. But I decided to just do it. I would like to say that I jumped, but it was more or less fell off the edge. On the way down I tried to scream, but nothing came out. It was the most exhilarating thing I have done. I was so glad I did it and was the perfect way to end the trip.