Welp... back to reality. Phooey.As my mom loves to say, “the partys over…”
In this case, the party in New Zealand is over for the Jansa family as they all headed back to life in the U.S. Annie (who co-wrote most of this) and I got several days to hang out by ourselves in New Zealand which was a great way to wind down my six months abroad.
A few last highlights from NZ:
Queenstown: After a great New Year’s Eve celebration, full of funky dancing, groovy tunes, and plenty of wine/bid spades. To start the New Year I decided to go for an early morning bungy jump. Whew! What a way to wake up!!! After that, we said goodbye to Michael and had one more night in Queenstown, during which we enjoyed a freakishly steep gondola ride up to the top of a nearby peak at sunset, and it was far more spectacular than any of us thought it would be. We also indulged in one last ice cream cone; it saddens me to know that my days of coffee and ice cream treats are few and far between now that vacation=over and I will no longer have my loving parents doting on me.
Island hopping near Auckland:
Annie and I had plans to spend our 2 remaining days in the Coromandel National Forest, but our plans were foiled by sold-out busses, trains, and a minimum 5-day rentals on all cars due to peak season. We ended up staying in Auckland and took two day trips to nearby islands, Rangitoto and Waiheke, which turned out to be stellar alternatives.
Rangitoto: On this beautiful volcanic island, we hiked to the top for stunning views of the ocean below, and then walked around the western edge of the island, stopping at a few beaches and enjoying the varied scenery of volcanic rock, lush greenery, and bright blue water. On the down side, we ran out of water pretty quickly and had to ration it for the last 2 hours, which wasn’t all that much fun considering the heat and continual walking. It was a pretty monster day of walking but the phenomenal scenery and utter isolation/solitude made it completely worth it.
Waiheke: A larger (and inhabited) island, Waiheke provided us with a great last day in New Zealand, a nice walk in the jungle-like forest, lounging on the beach, reading (I started and finished my book in one stinkin' day), and soaking up a bit of sun.
I am currently sitting at home in Portland, fighting off jetlag and food-fade (salmon, green beans, quinoa, and plenty of vino!), excited to see Andrew Cataldo and Amanda Greenstein tomorrow, as well as my other Gonzaga friends but I must admit that I already have pangs of nostaligia for the land down under and all the incredible people I met there. It will be an interesting readjustment back to real life after the most incredible 6 months I have ever experienced, but many more adventures are to come.
P.S. I will continue posting blogs about my travels throughout Eastern/Southern Australia and Fiji but they are really acting as more of a journal for me rather than a blog. However, if you want to see what I was up to during that time, be my guest!