I have exactly one more month left in New Zealand. I cannot believe how accustomed I am to life here, nor can I believe that I actually have to go back home in thirty days. The past two weeks have flown by and because the first week was not too exciting, I decided to combine the blog once more into a two-week recap. So here goes nothing!
I went to the Tramping Club’s annual Cave Rave, and it ended up being more of a beach bonfire. Even though it was not what I was expecting, I still had a fantastic time. I met a bunch of new people and got to catch up with some friends. The bonfire was lovely, and we were treated to an impromptu firework show on the beach. It was a beautiful night, and we walked along the beach to explore the caves. Penguins are known to inhabit these caves, so we were a bit sad not to see any in the first cave we found. But the next cave we saw was smaller and shorter, and we got to see not one, but two blue penguins in this cave! They were super loud, so we left quickly, but it was an awesome experience nonetheless.
The Tramping Club hosted a one hour sale at the local Kathmandu store a couple of days later. I took the opportunity to find some really cheap and nice outdoor gear. I ended up with a rain jacket and a pair of shorts, both more than fifty percent off retail price! I have already gotten plenty of use out of my new rain jacket since right after that sale it rained for a couple of days in a row.
The first weekend, I took a trip back to Queenstown with two of my friends, Sara and Elizabeth. We had a gorgeous drive out to the city through autumn trees and rolling hills. We went back to Fergburger for some lunch and went to the beach overlooking Lake Wakatipu. There was an arts and crafts market right near the beach, so we got to look at some really amazing pieces. We then walked over to the botanical gardens and made a stop at the playground. We went back to our car and discovered that the battery had died. We asked around but nobody seemed to have jumper cables. Luckily, we asked a taxi, and they had a portable car battery charger, so we were able to jump the car!
We drove over to the Twelve Mile Delta Campsite (about fifteen minutes out of the city) to pitch our tent. The campsite was a film location for one of the scenes in The Lord of the Rings trilogy! We went to bed early and woke up to a beautiful, but cloudy, day. We took the gondola ride up the skyway so that we could do the Ben Lomond track. We went all the way to the saddle and decided that since it was so cloudy, the summit would not be worth it. The saddle was beautiful anyway, though, and the hike was incredibly fun and very much worth it. We went back into town to grab some lunch, and then we went to The Winery to do a bit of taste testing. Afterward, we drove back to Dunedin.
The following week I finished up a few big assignments and got to catch up with a lot of people from Arcadia when Jane came to Saint David’s for a cuppa! These catch-ups are always a lot of fun, and you get a free drink, so I would always recommend making room in your schedule for these!
This past weekend I ended up going back to Milford Sound with a different group. We drove down on Friday and stayed at an Airbnb in Te Anau. That night we went to the bird sanctuary and watched the sunset over the mountains. We stayed in that night and the other half of our group met us there. We woke up early on Saturday morning and headed out to Milford Sound for our cruise. The weather was completely different from the last time I was there. This time it had been raining and there were clouds everywhere. It gave the Fiordlands a mystical feeling, and there were hundreds of waterfalls everywhere you looked. I am glad I ended up doing the cruise again because I was able to experience both extremes of weather, and I had a fun time with my group on the cruise.
Afterward, half of the group went to the Lake Marian track and the other half made some stops on the way home and we did a short walk at Lake Mistletoe. We went back to the Airbnb and showered, and then the other half of our group caught up with us to go out to eat. We had some awesome Italian food, and then we hung out and played games that night. On Sunday, we drove back into the Fiordland National Park and hiked to Key Summit. This was a stunning hike and took us a little over an hour to reach the summit. It was a beautiful and sunny day, very contrasting to the day before. We got back to the cars and ate some lunch. Then we started the long drive home.
Even though I had already been to both Queenstown and Milford Sound, the difference in weather and company made them entirely different experiences! I got to see even more in each area and even revisiting some of the same places was still exciting. I hope to make the most out of the month I have left here, and I am so excited for all that is to come. Be it planned or unplanned, I will be ready!