Last day in NZ

I can’t believe we’re already here, but the day has come.

There isn’t much to Auckland so we spent our last day at Waiheke Island.

We took the 10:00am ferry ride to the island and got a mini tour of the beaches before stopping at a winery for breakfast wine.

We continued to olive oil tasting and another vineyard for tastings. The second vineyard did a good pairing with the wine. We had a curry soup, salmon mousse, a meat roll, and this phenomenal chocolate brownie. I loved the brownie so much I bought two on the way out.

We had a long lunch break so we could explore the town on the beach, but we happened to be there the coldest day of the year. It was only around 50 degrees (which is still warm for winter), but we weren’t prepared for it so it still felt frigid.

That night was out farewell dinner. I didn’t make any significant, life-long friendships on the trip so I didn’t find it all that sad like I have in the past. I had Mac and cheese balls, followed by fish and chips, and then a brownie for dessert. The food was alright. Sydney’s farewell meal was significantly better.

I’ve had a blast on this tour but I’m ready to go home and see my kitty and cuddle with David angling with sleep in my own bed.

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Science is all around us…

Rotorua is a city literally built in the mouth of a dormant volcano. This make a lot of the surrounding land and water hot with geo-thermal heat.

We got to experience this phenomenon first hand by spending some time at the Polynesian Spas. The spas are naturally heated by the earth and they use the mineral water from there nearby area. It was very relaxing. I almost fell asleep at one point.

The spas were the perfect way to recover from the interesting morning we had in the OGOs. OGO are these giant balls filled with water that you roll down a hill in. It sounds super weird but it was some of the most exciting fun I’ve had in NZ. We just sloshed around rolling down the hills. I would highly recommend. It was early and cold that morning but they have hot tubs and the water inside the ball is warm as well. Well worth it.

After drying off from our wet morning, some of the group went to Hobbiton and the rest of us stayed to explore Rotorua. We saw the redwood forest. I thought that was cool because I’ve never been to California. We also saw the geo thermic lake in the middle of town that is so hot it boils. It was a science teacher’s dream. J wanted to spend so much longer there but we had to travel to Auckland.

Rowdy in Rotorua

The moment we landed in Rotorua, we headed to to the gondola and went straight to their winery. We tasted 5 of New Zealand’s finest wines and I proceeded to get drunk. Thank god we did the live run down the kill before wine tasting because I definitely would have crashed haha.

After a quick nap, I woke up and got ready for our traditional Maori Hangi dinner. A Hangi means that the food is cooked by the geo-thermic heat that comes naturally out of the ground. Rotorua is built in the mouth of a dormant volcano so they are known for their heated spas and geyser. Maori people also gave us a look into their culture by showing us a traditional wakka in their clear stream along with their weapons, instruments, a welcome ritual, traditional dances, and a war haka. It kind of reminded me of Hawaii (not that I’ve ever been). I was very impressed with all of it.

For our Hangi feast, they served chicken and lamb (that I didn’t eat) along with regular and sweet potatoes, stuffing, rice, cheesey potatoes, chowder, and garlic bread. Everything was amazing but I ate way too much.

After dinner they showed us some of the traditional buildings and their spring that provides us with fresh drinking water. We also got to see some of the famous blue glowing worms. It was a great welcome to their culture.

If I jump, you jump Jack

I don’t know what it is about Queenstown that makes you fearless, but I caught whatever it was. Me and Nuti got up and grabbed beagle for breakfast before catching our bus for sky diving. That’s right, I somehow managed to jump out of a plane for fun.

I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I thought I’d would be. I didn’t get nervous on the bus or even when we started to suit up. Even when we boarded the super tiny plane with three other jumpers I didn’t start to panic. The plane took off and we had a 15 minute ride to reach our 12,000ft altitude. I only started to panic when everyone else started to jump and when it was my turn I got a red light because we were too far away from the landing point so we had to circle around. But once it was go time, I was ready. At that point I just had to jump. That initial fall is kind of scary but once we’re belly up and my arms were spread I was able to relax and enjoy the view. I feel like I keep saying that but Queenstown is honestly all about the gorgeous views of the mountains and the lake.

We continued the craziness afterwards and took a helicopter ride to the top of a mountain. It’s not as crazy as jumping out of a plane, but still pretty dope. I had never been in a helicopter so that was a cool experience. It was a short ride but kind of a mind fuck to be in the grass in the beginning and then 10 minutes later be in the snowy mountains.

We had free tickets for the gondola ride that we took to Bob’s Peak. We watched the sun kids the mountains goodnight before heading down to the bars.

We ended the night at two rowdy bars. The first one was right across from our hostel. The World Bar is known for their tea pot cocktails so of course I tried one. The final bar was Cowboys where I felt the need to ride the mechanical bull. Queenstown has definitely been my favorite stop on this trip so far.

Milford Sound

Our first full day in Queenstown was spent driving four hours away from Queenstown.

Milford Sound is a World heritage site known for its reflecting waters, towering peaks, and hundreds of waterfalls. Unfortunately we have to travel up and through the mountains to get there so it takes awhile. We mostly napped along the way but we did stop a few times to take pictures and have some fun.

We took a two hour cruise around the Sound and enjoyed the views. I didn’t realize the beauty New Zealand had to offer me. It was raining out but that only seemed to make the waterfalls that surrounded us multiply.

We had run on the cruise and I stared out the window most of the journey. I wanted to take in the memories instead of capturing pictures that wouldn’t do it justice.

The way home consisted of sleep and a New Zealand movie called Search for the Wilderpeople which was the perfect amount of weird.

That night we stayed lowkey. We went to the casino and watched the big rugby game at the bar. It ended in a tie which was anti-climatic but I guess it was just a friendly.

Good morning New Zealand!

I made it to part 2 of my adventure! Nine of us continued to Queenstown, New Zealand from Sydney. We said goodbye to half our group and boarded our plan to our next adventure.

As we approached our landing, I finally noticed the scenery around us. New Zealand is beautiful. I’m not sure what I expected but it is perfect.

We’re staying in a hostel in a small town up in the mountains. That usually wouldn’t be my cup of tea but I’m just amazed by the mountains. I have never been in snow capped mountains. Every where we turn, we’re surrounded. I think I’m annoying everyone by pointing them out everywhere.

That night, me and Nuti grabbed a quick pizza and then met up with the rest of the group to head to the ice bar. I have always wanted to go to one, so why not try it in New Zealand? It was chill (haha). We got shots and our drinks came in cups made of ice. It was so cold by drink became slushy. We only stayed an hour because you get so cold your body goes numb. It was cool though.

We bar hoped a bit after that. We took money shots and a ditched for a bit to get hit chocolate after the ice bar. It wasn’t too crazy of a night, but a perfect welcome to New Zealand.

First full day in Sydney

We had two full days to spend wondering about Sydney and take in all it had to offer.

Wednesday we headed out for a bus tour of Sydney. We got some history about the city, but I started to realize how young Australia is, and therefore lacking history. It doesn’t make me appreciate Sydney any less.

We started across the harbor and appreciated some nice views. We saw this stone bench that an old queen used to cry in as she watched the harbor or something like that.

Our next stop was this look out where the harbor opens up to the sea. The cliffs were high and I guess had a reputation for suicide.

Our last stop on the bus was Bondi Beach, the most famous beach in Sydney. There are shows about the beach and it get millions of visitors per year. There was shore walk we started at that had us walk along the rocks and led us to the beach. I Weill never get over the different views Sydney had to offer.

After a quick lunch we ferried over to Darling Harbor. It was pretty similar to the ferry ride the day before. I sat upstairs in the sun.

That evening, a few of us bought tickets to see a show at the Opera House. The Opera House is composed of 6 theaters all suited for different things such as plays, operas, and symphonies. We saw a play in their drama theater. A famous Australian stand up comedian was staring in an Australian dramady called The Torrents. I enjoyed the staring feminist tone of the play.