Monday, August 4, 2014

Goodbye New Zealand

This past week has flown by and I can't believe my time in New Zealand is really over. This week has been filled with finishing up classwork, a few more great trips, and lots of celebrating and reflecting on our five weeks together.  Our last big day was Saturday at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve which was basically a small zoo/petting zoo with a mix of natives and exotics. We did finally get to see Kiwi there, though! We  also got to see Tuatara which are large lizards that can live up to 300 years old, although the one we saw was only 23. We also participated in another Maori powhiri (welcoming ceremony) and got to learn some Maori dances and enjoy a traditional Maori meal (known as a hangi) cooked underground. Sunday we all finished our journals and handed them in and then had our goodbye party complete with a great slideshow from the trip. The end was bittersweet as I was sad to see everyone go but I am so ready to go on to a new adventure.

The tuatara - a living fossil

The Maori women performing a poi dance
Our last family photo

My flight left Christchurch at 6:00 this morning so I spent last night in the airport and it was a long night but it could've been worse. It turns Christchurch Airport has an Air Lounge for people who have early morning flights and it has beanbags and a few other amenities which makes it much more comfortable than the other option of hard plastic chairs. After a three-hour flight, I arrived in Sydney at 7:15am (it's two hours behind New Zealand). I took a shuttle to Bounce Backpackers where I am staying for the night and dropped my stuff off but it was too early to check in so I went out to explore the city a bit.

It is already very different from New Zealand but I'm relishing it because I was so ready for a change. Sydney is much more what I think of as a city, although I can't really put a finger on why. It just feels more alive, I guess. I'm not a city person by any means but I am enjoying the feel of this city and I feel like I could walk for a long time without running out of "nice" and I couldn't say the same about cities in New Zealand. And to make myself sound really American, I just had Starbucks for the first time in eight months and I am feeling quite at home here in Starbucks as I sit here and write this. :)

As much as this city is nice, however, I can't wait to get out of it and see what Australia is really like. Katherine comes tomorrow and then the real adventures will begin! I can't wait to see what is to come! I''ll try to keep you posted and post some Sydney pictures soon.

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