With our trip to Australia drawing to a close it was time to look across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, where more discovery and adventure than we knew was waiting for us. Upon reconvening in Auckland, having taken different flights, we met with our gracious host Stephan with whom we’d be spending a couple days. The weather the next day wasn’t exactly fit for exploring, so we decided to check out the Auckland Museum, for a backpacker’s price, of course.
For anyone curious about anything to do with New Zealand, this is the place to visit. This museum covers everything from initial Maori settlement, the country’s involvement in the World Wars, and even massive freaky birds who wandered the land millions of years ago. There’s even a section about the volcano in the middle of Auckland Harbour, and what can be expected should it ever erupt. The simulation of being in a house in the volcano’s path is enough to knock your socks off, and anything else depending on how well you hold your nerves.
From Auckland we took a flight to Christchurch, our gateway to the Southern Island and ironically the center of Chabad Lubavitch in New Zealand. We rented a car there, being cheaper than taking the ferry, and quickly resumed on our way. Our first stop was in Dunedin, where we would see how chocolate is made at Cadburry World, and how beer is brewed at the Speight Brewery, both special commodities society simply cannot live without. Rebecca had the time of her life sampling beer at the brewery; she will never turn down a cold one. We also found out that Dunedin has the steepest street (Baldwin St.) in the world, not San Francisco.
At the invitation of a phantom couch surfer we drove to Queenstown, where the most avid thrill seekers come to ride on the silver backed fern. While initially we thought we would go white water rafting, a new idea unique to Queenstown presented itself at the agency. Canyoning turned out to be an exiting activity where we would jump, slide, and climb, rappel and zip-line through gushing mountain rivers. First you’re dressed in a wetsuit, helmet, and marched up a never ending trail. When you figure the heat has become too much, that’s where the excitement begins. The inauguration isn’t exactly smooth; you’re specifically instructed step, not jump, from a height of 10 meters and land on your back, if you want to face another jump.
The next challenge would be one I’d have to face on my own, especially with my fear of heights. I had never considered doing bungee jumping before but when we made our way to Queenstown, New Zealand I thought, "When in Queenstown." I was apprehensive at first about jumping into the abyss, but then slowly I gathered my wits and made it to the edge. Then I took a deep breath, spread my wings, and with the help of a countdown I leaped to what I was told would be like flying. While the experience was undoubtedly exhilarating, I did not feel the promised flying sensation but rather a falling one, which coincidentally is exactly what I was doing. Now that this endeavour is off my list, it's time to pursue one not nearly as reckless, or perhaps one far worse...
With the thrill of Queenstown behind us, we looked to activities far more subtle, but none less breathtaking. In Wanaka we decided to check out Puzzling World, a place where every perception of reality is fooled by your own overactive imagination. You haven’t seen everything until you see people standing sideways, water flows upslope, and Gadi and I simply, “change sizes.” Further down the road, our journey consisted of many good hikes, and the vain search of the silver backed fern. One night even included sleeping in the car we rented, since poor planning and high demand resulted in all accommodation occupied for the remainder of our visit.
By this time I had only a few days left in New Zealand, and took as much warm weather as I could before I had to return to Calgary. We stopped in Golden Bay to see one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but found it hard to appreciate it being pelted by sand. Gadi also got too close to a seal, unaware they are just as agile on land as they are in the water.
Fed up with the lack of available accommodation, we returned to Christchurch and stayed with our gracious hosts Merryn and Michael for the next couple days. This warm and loving family spoiled us by taking us on a boating trip. It was the perfect end to an incredible trip to see the other side of the world, and where I would part ways with Rebecca and Gadi, for now. The only thing now to do is wonder where I will go next. See you all there!