I’m getting around to blogging more about my adventures here in New Zealand, but while you wait you can enjoy this awesome cover.
Easy way out? Yes.
We finished school this week! After 4 1/2 weeks of intensive(mostly) study my last semester of college is officially over! As my parents can attest, we honestly never thought this day would come! What a joy.
Since we had a half day on Thursday my friends and I decided to hit up the zoo in the afternoon. We hopped on the bus and jetted over to the Auckland zoo for an afternoon of fun. Even though I generally hate all animals and avoid them at all costs, I really enjoyed it.
This zoo had many of the same animals as zoos at home with the addition of….
Michael Scott would have loved it.
Kiwi Birds! whi
An adorable baboon family! I may or may not have busted out an awesome baboon impression that made about 6 baboons tear around the corner of their enclosure toward us. Success.
And a giant elephant sculpture,
It got pretty hot in the afternoon, but Kylie luckily had her trusty Asian-inspired sun shade. (Shh! It’s actually just an umbrella!)
We then bussed it over to K Mart to pick up some new shoes for Rachel and a new purse for me. The K Mart here is seriously the best thing. With our last bits of energy we walked to the mall to buy snacks for our weekend trip to Rotorua. We would have bought them at the grocery store by our house, but since we had day passes on the bus, why not just take them home on the bus, right? WRONG! The bus we needed didn’t come for an hour and half so we ended up just walking home from the mall. I have never needed a rage nap more, but we still had to pack for our weekend trip. It was an incredibly long day.
Even though it seems like it happened such a long time ago I feel like I still need to share our awesome hiking experience from last weekend. Partly because the scenery was beautiful, and partly because it was a cool experience, but mostly because it will show everyone how incredibly adventurous I’ve become in the last month!
Last Saturday our tour guide James took us on a hike. He claimed it was ‘easy enough’, and ‘wouldn’t be too hard for us.’ Awesome. We’ve trusted everything he’s told us so far, so we had no fears about his credibility in this case.
Here we are before the hike…so young. So naive.
The hike started on a downward decline, kind of like stairs built into the mountainside. Easy enough.
Then we came to the thicker, more overgrown part of the forest. I still have a few scrapes from these tree-type-beauties.
Luckily James brought snacks and kept passing them down the line. What a gem.
From there we started climbing all over boulders…and then the boulders started disappearing. And the river got higher. And higher. And I maybe fell in a couple times.
Before we knew it we came upon a beautiful series of waterfalls! And we jumped off some! It was awesome! The water was super cold and clear, but it was just what we needed after a morning of hiking.
We were hiking with a young men’s group and they taught us a super cool Maori game called !!!!!!!!!POKANO!!!!!!!!!! I type it that way because the whole game is played by yelling like you’re about to declare some type of tribal war. My throat felt silky smooth afterword.
After cliff jumping we kept hiking down the mountain- sometimes even rock climbing, which basically meant clinging to a tiny cliff with just your fingers and toes between you and a jagged death.
Once the terrifying part of the hike was over we saw the warning sign that said the hike was for “experienced trampers only.” Not us. But we did pretty well.
After about 6 hours of this we thought the hike was over. But no. We still had to hike over the black sand dunes. Sand dunes. Made of black sand. Black sand that was BURNING hot in the afternoon sun. Black sand that kept sneaking into my hiking sandals. (Yes, I wore Chacos. I hated it and loved it at the same time. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I own those shoes. Lezbi-honest…they’re not the cutest things in the world.)
We thought we saw the ocean a couple of times but we’re now convinced it was really a mirage. This Black Sand Hell lasted forever. When we finally got to the end I had blisters on my feet from the hot sand. It was super fun.
You may not think that this hike was a good experience, but it actually was. We are so hardcore! We went on an all day hike that was for experienced trampers only- a fact that we only learned at the END of the hike, but who cares!?! We are awesome!
While here in New Zealand I have made a lot of great new friends. They’re making the transition a lot easier. First and foremost, there’s Gwyneth. To get the idea of how cute Gwyneth is, just combine a timid puppy and Boo from Monster’s Inc. And multiply it by 100. And make her beautifully tan. While we were staying in Whangarei she was constantly spying on us around corners and running away whenever we got too close. She did, however, let me hold her for a brief time. Even if it was just so I could take her to her Grandpa who was mowing the lawn, I’ll take it. It is my dearest wish to be her best friend.
Obviously I’ve become friends with the other BYU girls in my program. We have a grand time together, and it seems like we’re always laughing about something. Usually it has to do with Kylie’s frightening appearance. (4th from the left.) She looks pretty good in this picture, but earlier in the week she really let herself go, which included doing headstands during a rain storm on a newly mowed lawn.
We’ve gotten pretty comfortable with each other.
Then there’s my host family. They adopted us on Saturday and we only bet them for a brief time before the left on holiday for the week. They are super friendly and welcoming, and I know we’re going to be great friends. I have gotten thrown off by what I am now calling ‘The John Stamos Factor’.
All the members of my host family are very beautiful, especially their 21 year old son who just got home from his mission on Friday. We haven’t gotten to know him very well yet, so we’re still in the awkward get-to-know-you phase. Luckily I’m super awkward around attractive people. I basically have hotness-induced-Asperger’s.
Hopefully I’ll get some type of medication in the mail and overcome this malady. Maybe I can find some at the local K Mart, which is apparently super awesome. Like an American Target.
Maybe we’ll also get some bug spray to ward off the many spider friends who are constantly wandering into our basement (read: dungeon) room.
This has been the craziest, most emotionally taxing week I can remember! My life has changed in every way possible. I moved to a new country in a new hemisphere of the world, with a new culture, a new language, and even a new day of the week- it’s always one day later than it is at home. Saying goodbye to my family was really hard, especially for Peter and I, since he will leave on his mission before I get home. I flew from Phoenix to LA and met up with the other girls from my program. We were on the same flight to Fiji, but we were separated on the plane. We flew on a 747, which has 10 seats in each row and an upstairs lounge! Talk about swank. I had a minor breakdown before the flight took off, so I just took two Tylenol PM and slept for 80% of the flight. Liz Lemon totally knew what she was doing when she did that same thing on 30 Rock.
After waiting in the Fiji airport for about 4 hours we boarded our last flight for New Zealand. Without my meds it seemed like this flight took longer than the whole trip combined, but we finally made it! We met our program director at the airport and headed right up to Whanarei, (pronounced fan-ga-ray) where we spent our first week in this super swanky tent-mansion.
It wasn’t easy to fit 8 girls, our luggage, and our beds in here, but we worked it out to be a pretty cozy home. Sure, showering in the hose on the lawn and waking up to an ambitious rooster got old after about 5 days, but I just thought of myself as a Jean-Ralphio type……”Technically I’m hoooommmmelessssss!!!!”
While we were up in Whangarei we went to the beach, went kayaking, (Me! Kayaking! And I didn’t even suck at it!) surfing, and got pretty good sun burns. What a way to start out the trip. We couldn’t set ourselves apart from the locals more if we wanted to.
We went into town to exchange our money and buy Jandals, which are exactly like flip-flops but way cooler.
We’ve become frequenters of the local McDonald’s since it offers our two favorite things, Diet Coke and free wifi.They also have a sweet thing called the Kiwiburger, which has beets on it. I have recently discovered my love for beets, so I was all over that.
We also picked avacados for a while. And oh, boy, let me tell you what…It was like taking candy from a baby! As soon as we figured out the tricks of the trade, I just climbed up the trees and shook all the avacados free. It was the tastiest rain I’ve ever seen! We picked about 5 buckets full. After our day of hard labor we hiked to this beautiful beach called Whale Bay. The water was warm(ish) and clear, and we found really great shells. We drove back to the city on Saturday morning and met up with our host families, but that’s a whole new post. For now, just take in this super beautiful scenery!
Can you believe it? I live here!!!
Mmmmm I love a good cover.