Saturday, 28 June 2014

Day 2 Rainbow Springs

Firstly, the stars here are amazing. I mean, the stars throughout NZ are simply beautiful and 100x better than anything I’ve seen back in the UK as you always see the milky way quite distinctly. But last night? I swear it was a star gazers dream, I completely forgot to take a picture as I just got caught up looking up.
Today I woke with the sunrise and after a quick breakfast I head out looking for the trek I wanted to do. Now I’ve mentioned before that Kiwi’s aren’t big on signposting and never was that more true than today. I ended up going down 4 wrong roads because none, NONE of them were marked on any of my maps. And, of course, there are never any road signs in NZ
 It's hard to mind getting lost when you're getting lost that's just so pretty- these trees were massive! The bushes at the bottom were over three times my height!
 I did eventually find the track though and after seeing a slightly daunting warning not to attempt it when the river was in flood or after heavy rain I set off (I should maybe mention that last night it rained… pretty heavily)

The walk to Rainbow Springs was simply beautiful and definitely one of my favourites – the foliage was stunning and the path ran right along side the river so you’d often catch a glimpse of some rapids and the soar of the crashing river was your constant backdrop.

I’m really glad I set out early in the morning too, as despite it being winter here I definitely understand why its called the ‘winterless north’ as by around 10 it really started to heat up.

Just before I got to the waterfall everything went quite quiet, until I turned a corner on the path and got COMPLETELY drenched. I suppose the heavy rain had made the waterfall play up but my glasses were a blurry mess within seconds and my top was wet through!

So I quickly went up the cliff side to get a drier view of the falls.

 The walk back flew by and the whole trek only took a few hours so I decided to venture further along the river towards the Basin Reserve as I still had plenty of time. The section was definitely harder, purely because it was intensely muddy after the rain.

There also may have been one, or two terrifying moments that the mud was just too slippery and I did a crazy little wobble/skid towards the sheer drop down the river.
Despite nearly tumbling into the river a few times when I saw a thin, muddy little track to a second, surprise, waterfall I couldn’t resist. Although I think it was wading down to the rocks that really did it for my shoes – they’re now retired in the bin

I really love it when I come across a NZ heritage sight or historic landmark, because they always just seem so new to me! This was a historic power station that, weirdly, is just open for the public!

Steadily the path widened until I ended up in a park, from here I went to the Stone Store, which is the oldest stone building in New Zealand, and the missionary buildings - all of which look lovely in the sunshine

Everyone that works there is dressed in traditional clothing – think long dresses, corsets and shawls. And they sell only locally sourced bits and pieces, including preserves and jams made from the fruit grown in the gardens. They also make sure to sell a lot of what the store would have originally sold – gunpowder tea, handmade beeswax candles etc

Really falling in love with the horizontal lifestyle here in Kerikeri – the weath certainly doesn’t harm either! Walking around in t-shirts and shorts in winter? Yes please!

Day 1. To the Far North

I think I’m going to do the same thing I did on the south island, as although continuously posting daily might not be the most interesting thing to read (I know you only really look at the pictures mum!) I really think that when I look back and want to reminisce about this year quotidian posts will really help.
I feel like waiting until you’ve something interesting to show, or lumping days together, means you never write about the little things – and the little things are important! Looking back it’s almost always the little things that actually made a difference, and yet they’re so rarely recorded.

I’m travelling New Zealand with only my little backpack again (I one I used for travelling Italy) I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to survive 3 weeks with so few clothes… I’m sure it’ll be fine though! My suitcase is currently next to Hanne’s in Tiffany and Centaine’s cottage as Hanne and me are meeting up in Hamilton on the 17th where we’re going to finally say goodbye after having a sleep over in the lounge!
(me, Annda and Hanne all getting ready to leave1)

The plan is to try and cover as much as possible of the Northland, Bay of Islands, Corromandel, Bay of Blenty, East Cape and Taupo, so right now I’m in Kerikeri for 2 nights before I head further north (although I probably won’t be able to upload this until next week in Whitianga)

This morning was surprisingly hard, scrap that, this week has been pretty hard. I’ve made some truly amazing friends that I’m determined to not let out of my life, and knowing that we’re not going to see each other for months and months was pretty difficult. And of course knowing that I’m no longer a student in New Zealand anymore was weird, I’m incredibly lucky I still have 3 weeks travelling NZ and then over 40 days travelling all over north America. But it’s just strange to think I’ve actually finished my exchange year… I just can’t believe a year has past – saying goodbye to mum at the airport and crashing at 3pm in Thailand seem so far away, and yet I can’t believe an entire year has passed!
(the hostel room I have to myself)
This week has been simply draining. Aside from having a few panic attacks when weighing my suitcase (I swear I’ve only bought 3 things?!), last minute cramming for exam (I’ll never learn to revise earlier than the day before), nerve-wracking end results, and 2 leaving dinners, it’s been the countless goodbyes as we all disperse across the world that have been really hard. I’ve spent 8hrs on a coach today so I’ve spent most of it either dozing for reflecting on my time here - so needless to say I’m feeling rather introspective at the moment.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Movie Evenings

So this last week we've all realised how little time we have with each other so every night this week me and Anna have gone round to Hanne's to spend the evening with her, Tiffany and Centaine
 Centaine has an amazing selection of Disney DVDs so we've been spending the evenings reminiscing and watching out favourite childhood films! Anastaia was a winter - we spent half the film singing alone! The best bit was Anna knows the songs in Swedish, and Hanne in Flemish so when we were all singing along there were there different languages going on
we baked a ton of cookies which were scrumptious 

 Another night we shared dinner together - we had soup for starter and then risotto for main!
 We went along to Hamilton Night Market since I only have one more Saturday left here! How crazy is that?? We all stocked up on yummy asian food, I got a giant Churro, and some vegetable dumplings, Hanne got japanese 'balls' and some canadian chips, Anna got a massage and some curry and Centaine got a fancy Japanese crepe which was a masterpiece!
 Me and Anna split a traditional Hangi - it's buried underground with traditional native branches and cooked for wish hours. I had the vegetables and Anna got the meat. Oh and we had it with 'fried bread' which was slightly sweet and is traditional too. It was surprisingly yummy and I'm glad I got to try it!
 Hanne left me with this beautiful photo from one night!
 And then last night was a particularly cold one and George popped around. We were laughing that Anna looked homeless with her hat and blanket it. Not that George looked much better!
Also Facebook translate changed Hanne's status, from Centaine to JOHN! Needless to say we've been calling her John ever since. We've also booked a meal for when Anna and Hanne get back to say goodbye! Trying to make the most of everything, despite having to spend days in the library getting my essays done!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Facing the inevitable

It kind of just really ‘hit’ me last night – I’m leaving New Zealand. In a number of days no less.

And all the amazing people I’ve met here will be left behind. Yes, I’ve luckily become close with a lot of Europeans, which is great, but there’s a very high chance I’ll never see some of my Kiwi friends again. I don’t know if I’ll ever come back to NZ, life being what it is and flights being so expensive.

I’ll never walk that ridiculously steep hill to the management building again, or bemoan by shoes as I’m forced to tread over muddy grass every morning, or wile away the hours with amazing friends watching the sunset over the lake at momento’s, or marveling at how ridiculously clear the night sky is here (even when your in the middle of the city). I’ve never been more grateful for the fantastic opportunities I’ve been able to have, and I’ve also never been so thankfully I’m one of the last ones to leave NZ – I plan on dragging out every last minute I have the fortune to be granted in New Zealand.
Despite having a month left, my days with some friends are limited - people are dropping like flies, packing up their rooms and heading onto their next escapade. Up until last night it all just felt a little surreal but, the more I think about it, the more I realize I’m just not ready to leave such a beautiful and welcoming country. I’m not ready to say goodbye to the life I’ve made for myself here. And I’m certainly not ready to face the reality of this year being over and potentially never stepping foot here again.

But then, you’re never really ready for life. The best adventures come when you’re assuredly not ready for them, you just have to embrace the moment and learn to roll with it!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

007 Leaving Party

It's completely crazy to think we're having leaving parties already! it's most definitely not OK! I still have 34 and a half days left in New Zealand… not that's I'm counting and attempting to treasure every last minute here or anything.. Regardless of it feeling premature Friday evening was Orchard Park's Leaving Party, it was 007 James Bond themed so everyone really went all out - I should have taken some photos of what some of the other girls were wearing as everyone looked gorgeous! 
 Me and Anna went round to Hanne's to get ready with Tiffany, Shelby and Centaine for a few hours and it was so fun and girly! I ended up doing Anna and Hanne's make up and we all played dress up trying on about 100 different dresses before we settled!
 I was definitely coerced into wearing my outfit!
 It was a super fun evening, we all got a 'little' tipsy and had a complete ball! George's braces were also a star attraction the evening
 In between munching on vegetarian lasagne Anna got up to do her speech that Brett had asked her to do on behalf of all us inter nation students who were leaving. Needless to say a few people got a little emotional - it's truly crazy to think my time here is nearly up. I just can't comprehend how quickly time has flown while I've been out here - I swear I only got off the plane a few months ago, an entire year as certainly not passed!!
At the end of each Semester Orchard Park take a group photo and this year my camera got the honour! Orchard Park really has turned into a little family, and it's kinda weird to think I know every single person in this photo and i'd call almost all of them friends!
 To stop ourselves getting too emotional we headed back to Hanne's cottage where the evening progressed in a very dignified manner - as the photo above clearly demonstrates

Copious amounts of singstar continued into the early hours until our lovely RA's turned up and told us to turn it down, before doing an obligatory song themselves!
It was an amazing night- one I'm definitely going to remember. It's just not sunk in that's it's probably the last time we're all going to be in the same country since from monday onwards people are heading home once their exams are done - scary!