Hello lovely readers!
I’ve had quite a doozy of a day so far. Then again, any day will seem like a doozy if it’s preceded by the following during the night:
- Attacked by mosquitoes. Two flew in to my ear as I was sleeping. Have bite on my face.
- A noisy, middle-of-the-night duck fight (outside my window, no less)
- Loud neighbors (having a chat, outside my window)
- Upstairs neighbor strikes again. In heels.
So, forgive me if I’m a little out of sorts.
Let me preface this by saying that this will be the first installment of my little photo diary. I saw so many amazing things and had such lovely experiences, the thought of relegating it to one post is incredibly daunting. So, why not many? I also have to explain myself. Some of you know that my New Zealand adventures took place in January…so why wait this long? Well, dear reader, I can attribute it to one thing: the minute I start summarizing my trip and unpacking my bags- it’s over. And I’m somewhat inexplicably clinging to that “just back from vacation” feeling as long as possible.
Why New Zealand? I’ve been wanting to visit New Zealand for the last 10 years of my life, if not more. I’ve dreamt of its summers during our winters, and imagined its beaches and rolling hills. When I was 15, I decided the ultimate revenge for misbehaving parents would be to threaten going to college to New Zealand. I had the brochures in my little hand, and would brandish them about like a weapon (If you’re curious, my school of choice was University of Cantebury in Christchurch). My dream was to literally move as far away from home as possible. But, I digress. On January 1st of this year, I grabbed my little carry-on suitcase and headed to the airport.
(My lovely little Hawaiian Airlines plane all set to take me to Oahu on the first leg of my journey.)
I get asked a lot about the duration of the flight, and, having once spent 14 hours on a plane non-stop, my flight to New Zealand felt incredibly reasonable. I spent five hours flying to Hawaii, had a small layover, and then another eight from Oahu to Auckland. I was so excited and nervous when I arrived- having never traveled outside of the country on my own, I had concocted all sorts of worst-case scenarios that I might have to get myself out of. I’ve also heard that going through customs in New Zealand is quite the process. I walked through, almost completely alone, and somewhat confused as to where to go, because there were no crowds of people to follow. Possibly the oddest customs experience of my life. What was odder, however, was the fact that the plane was fumigated upon landing. While all the passengers sat there. Much like you would Febreeze a cabin, they sprayed us with pesticides. I don’t really want to think about the health repercussions, but if anything it was amusing. Once free of customs, I enjoyed the lovely humid night while I waited for my friends to meet me. I can’t really describe the feeling of seeing a good friend of yours skipping up to you half-way around the world. I was so utterly relieved she had found me, and we promptly bear-hugged. I would be staying with my good friend Maren, her boyfriend Aaron, and her parents on their sailboat for the next two days before we took off on our official adventures. But everything about this trip felt like an adventure to me: adventures to the bathroom, adventures to Countdown (the New Zealand grocery chain), adventures trying to find the boat among all the other boats in Half Moon Bay.
I was standing on the bow of the boat, Pacific Coast Highway, when I took this photo. I was also letting my hair air-dry, sipping some coffee and reading in the morning sun. Now it was a vacation.
The lovely Half Moon Bay in Auckland. I can now say I’ve been to two of them, in Auckland and in California!
I’m on a boat, ladies and gentlemen. And no, I did not get seasick!
After my arrival, we sailed through the Hauraki Gulf to drop anchor just outside of Rangitoto Island. Relatively undeveloped and uninhabited, you can access Rangitoto by ferry from Auckland, or, in our case, just take the dinghy in. I took a little video on my phone below of our view just outside the island. New Zealand weather is awfully temperamental, from searing hot, to overcast and cloudy; that particular day it was also incredibly windy. I apologize in advance for the shoddy camerawork, hopefully I don’t make any of you nauseous. I love that you can see all of our hiking boots all lined up post-hike, pre-beer. If you listen closely, you can also hear me contentedly humming in the background.
Tui- a local beer. Not only was it delicious, but if you looked under each bottle-cap, you would find a trivia question. We had quite a fun happy hour, to say the least. Maren’s parents make a fantastic team and were such amazing, generous hosts. Both obviously avid sailors, they are living the dream. Sailing around the world, they’re spending hurricane season in New Zealand before heading to their next location. Before New Zealand, they were in Tonga, and at one point, their rudder fell off five hours out to sea. They jerry-rigged a new steering system using plastic buckets. I still don’t know how that works. You can read more about their experience here. Crazy amazing.
Me at the top of Rangitoto! You can see the outskirts of Auckland in the background.
We hiked all the way to the top of the inactive volcano, and even stopped to explore some of the lava tubes along the way. I’ll admit that I was apprehensive crawling through narrow dark caves, but with both Maren and Aaron leading the way, I felt incredibly safe. Thanks to their bringing a headlamp, we even took some fellow tourists through the caves we explored. Now I can say that I’ve been cave spelunking! Amazing!
Well, that’s a quick recap of my first days in Auckland. I can say one thing for certain: if you get the opportunity to go to New Zealand, GO. It was the trip of a lifetime, and, even better, I made it happen along with one of my dearest friends.
That’s all for now. Off to enjoy the sunshine.