The Māori 108 concert went so well! I had an amazing time during the rehearsal and getting dressed up for the performance. So many of my friends came out to watch our performance, and it was truly a blessing having their support. The next day we had our international student dinner, and I was able to get a free meal and some free University of Otago merchandise. The following evening was the Arcadia farewell dinner. We had an amazing family style meal and shared some fun stories from the semester. We received some cute t-shirts and really thoughtful cards signed by Jane, Libby, and Grace. This was an emotional night, but it was still very much needed. The following day I left at 8 am for an eight-day road trip with fellow Arcadians, Libby and Maddy, and Natalie.
On Friday we drove up to Christchurch and spent the day in the city, walking around the botanical gardens, visiting the abandoned buildings and the cathedral, and then getting some dinner. The following day was a little rainy and misty, and we drove around Akaroa. We randomly went into a gem and mineral museum, where a couple of us purchased some rocks as souvenirs. We stopped at a cheese factory and purchased some goods. We then ate our packed lunches in the car and walked up to the lighthouse. We then did a short walk to Newton’s Waterfall, and it was stunning. Then we headed toward Arthur’s Pass. The mountains were covered in snow and soon we were driving through a winter wonderland. We made it to our campsite, Klondyke Corner, to discover that our tent poles were not the same length. So we made due and put our belongings inside of the tent inside of the shelter at the site, and ended up car camping. First, we made some soup and played some card games. Then we slept in the car – an experience for sure. It was actually not too uncomfortable, and we were able to stay about as warm as we would have if we had been tent camping.
The following day we hung out in Arthur’s Pass and did a hike to see the Devil’s Punchbowl and then we did Arthur’s Pass walking track. We drove over to Castle Hill rocks to eat lunch and then we explored around the snowy area. This destination was full of people skiing, sledding, and hanging out. It looked like a ski resort, and we loved it. Then we headed over to see the cave stream. We were able to make it down to the cave, but unable to cross the stream without getting our shoes soaked, so we were forced to go back up the way we came. We headed to a café in Arthur’s Pass Village for some warm drinks and to figure out what we were going to do in terms of accommodation for that night. Luckily, there was a hostel only an hour and a half away that was thirty-two New Zealand dollars per person per night, so we called and booked the room.
The drive to Greymouth was stunning, and we made it to West Coast Beach just in time to finish watching the sunset and to see the beautiful colors over the water. We checked in to the hostel, which was incredibly nice, and went to make dinner. After dinner, we took advantage of the hot tub and then made our plan for the following day. We slept like babies that night and woke up early to hit the road again on Monday.
We drove away from Greymouth via the west coast route and made a pit stop at the Pancake Rocks and Jack’s Blowhole. These formations were incredible, and it was a beautiful time of day to witness them, just after sunrise. We then drove over to a seal colony, which was amazing to watch the seals play. Our last stop was to Maruia Falls. We then finished our trip and ended at Marahau in Abel Tasman National Park. We started hiking and ran into two different groups of friends on the trail. It was really cool to see people we knew and to catch up a bit within our hike.
We made it to the Anchorage hut just in time for sunset and watched the colors over the water and on the beach. We found the hut, which was incredibly nice, and made our dinner. There were eight other people staying at the hut aside from ourselves. We played cards and sat by the fire. Then we all went outside to stargaze. The stars were probably the best I have ever seen, as there was no moon, no light pollution, and a lot of shooting stars. I was in awe, and we stood with our necks back for at least an hour. We then headed to get a good night’s sleep and woke up for sunrise again the following day.
After the sunrise, we made our breakfast and headed out to hike once more. We stopped at Cleopatra’s Pools and a couple of summits along the way. We ended up at the Bark Bay hut, which was also extremely nice. We were not staying there for the night since we were going to be picked up by the water taxi, so we ate lunch and walked along the beach to look for shells. The water taxi came, and then we headed back to Marahau. It was cool to be able to see the National park from the water; it gave us a different perspective. We then drove over to see the Split Apple Rock and then ended up in Nelson. We went out for some amazing pizza and then went to sleep in the hostel.
The following day, we went for a free tour of Pic’s Peanut Butter Factory. This tour was really interesting, and it made it that much better that it was free. Then we walked around town a bit and to the Christ Church Cathedral before heading back to the hostel to eat leftovers. We went to McCashin’s Brewery for an awesome tour that afternoon. We got to taste four beers and a cider. They also gave us the cute bottle openers. We went back to the hostel to make grilled cheese dinners and to watch a movie. It was a low-key night, and we really needed the relaxation. The next day we went to the Nelson provincial museum, and then we went to Maddy’s parents AirBnB to check in since her parent’s flight had been delayed. The Airbnb was extremely nice, and we ate lunch there and got to go in the hot tub with a stunning view overlooking the city and the ocean. Maddy’s parents arrived and took us out for burgers and fries. We then parted ways and drove to Kaikoura. We checked into our hostel and then watched part of a movie.
Yet again, we woke up for sunrise and watched it from the peninsula walkway. We got to see even more seals up here, and the view was breathtaking. Finally, we made the long drive home and ended with some ReBurger in Dunedin to celebrate. That night I went to the last Rugby game (that ended in a draw) and slept for a very, very long time. On Saturday, I called home and talked for hours. It was fun to catch up after not talking for a while. Then I went to a bakery for some essentials. That night I went to a BYO with some friends to celebrate their completion of Māori 102! I have had such an amazing time, to say the least, and I am so looking forward to the remaining ten days I have left in New Zealand. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for having such a perfect experience from beginning to end. I have been so blessed with my time here and my new friends. I am also very much looking forward to seeing my friends and family who have been supporting me this entire time from afar. I definitely will have a story or two to share. I cannot wait to get back home and see their faces in person again! Now that the end is so near, I can truly appreciate each day as it comes, yet still, look forward to the future. Here is to not counting down the days, but to making the days count.