My last days in New Zealand and I feel as if I was looking through a kaliedoscope for 3 days. The colors were so powerful on the South Island – plus – the sun was out so we had bright blue skies…yeah!! I left a very cold Queenstown (it actually snowed there all day and was 1 degree C when I left) and hopped back on the Magic Bus to finish off my tour of the South Island. It was weird to re-integrate myself back on the Magic Bus as all of my friends had moved on the past week – so I was back in the business of making new friends again! With a new bus, came a new driver, Mark. Mark really left something behind…like a personality…but he had his weird quirks and generally got us to where we were going safely! He loved to use the term ‘wee little town’ and the word ‘keen’. It was cute for the first day – but after the 3rd day I was about ready to jump out of the moving bus if I heard the expressions again!
Photo – the clouds…it looks like a canvas!
We headed to Dunedin – a cute little college town and home of Speights Beer. I decided to skip all of the touristy stuff that afternoon and instead treat myself to a movie in a theater as opposed to a plane movie! I decided to go to Flags of Our Fathers as I knew it was rather recent and everything else showing was a few months old – I felt like I needed to be on the cutting edge. The movie theater was great, HUGE, Lazy-Boy like recliner seats…and I was the only one in the theater!! I sat smack dab in the middle and enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t packed with people like in NY. However – as I started to think about NY – I realized that being in this theater was just like being at the Lowes on Broadway…all of a sudden I thought…what if my past 2 months were just a dream and when I walked outside I would exit on a bustling Broadway street. My mind was playing tricks on me – it was a very eery thought. Anyway – after the excessive violence in the movie – I was jolted back to reality and exited out into Dunedin…thank goodness! I stopped in at a local photography exhibit and it inspired me…so make sure you check out this blogs picture link…it will be worth it! The town had an overall artsy feel…must have been the college influence there.
The next day we were off again to Lake Tekapo – but first we stopped in Dunedin at the world’s steepest street…yep…that’s right – it’s not in San Francisco – it’s in Dunedin New Zealand! I have to admit – I was skeptical – but honestly – it was really steep! Pictures really don’t do it justice – but I tried! Then we stopped at the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders – they were these amazing limestone boulders that were shaped by the sea…much like the Pancake rocks of the West Coast. However – these were perfectly round!
Next we headed into sheep country again – the vistas were beautiful as ever. There were these fluffy clouds that looked as if an artist just painted them on a canvas. We then rode into a flat area where we had an amazing view of snow covered Mt. Cook – the tallest mountain in New Zealand. We stopped at a lake to take some pictures and I experienced the most beautiful blue lake I’ve ever seen.
The color was so unique! The color of the water was such a perfect blue because it was glacier water. Once again – I felt as if someone had painted this view on a canvas…it doesn’t even look real in the pictures! We were so lucky to see it on such a clear day! We arrived in Lake Taekapo late afternoon and I hopped on a horse and rode around the lake for a a short time. Having never really spent much time on a horse – it was more like I gingerly got on an old horse named Jimmy and we slowly followed the other horses in front of us around a trail for an hour. It doesn’t sound quite as glamorous that way though!
During this leg I met some new friends on the bus from Canada. A mother and daughter traveling together for a couple of months – Terri Ann and Lois – they were so cute and full of energy it was wonderful to see! The mother, Lois, even went sky diving…my idol! We spent time talking about all of the funny Magic drivers and playing cards – they really were fun to see and it made me miss my mom! We were off for Christchurch the next morning. Christchurch was a great town full of art and architecture! I was only going to be there for 3 hrs before I had to catch a plane – but I had a great time taking pictures on the sunny day. I wish I would have had more time there – but I had to hop a plane that evening back to Auckland.
So – I’m back in Auckland now reflecting on my Magic Tour of New Zealand. My time was too short here – I needed about 2 more weeks. Even though it’s a small country – it has some much to offer. I toured both islands in a matter of 3 weeks and there were so many places I wanted to stay longer! Overall – I can’t seem to find the right words for the hills, mountains, and the color that surrounded me. Some of the words that come to mind are: mighty, presence, pure, vast, and vibrant. The hills were so green – like a golfcourse fairway – but for acres and acres. The green against the blue sky, and the white clouds and sheep seems too perfect at times. Everywhere I went on the bus I thought that it couldn’t get more beautiful than where I am presently – but I was constantly overwhelmed by a new breathtaking landscape. It actually at times didn’t even feel real. In this world of digital artistry and retouching I felt as if someone created these views for me. I half expected to see the Dreamworks logo on the bottom corner of the mountain view!
Let’s talk about sheep.
The sheep outnumber the people in this country…which I find rather unique. There are 60 million sheep and 4 million people. The sheep could actually unite and form a coup and take over the whole country if they wanted to. I actually would entertain myself on the bus thinking about that scenario! When I was in grade school – each year a sheep farmer would come and the whole school would gather in the gymnasium to watch a real sheep shearing. I was reminded of those days…I thought it was so cool. I never thought that I would end up in New Zealand – the sheep mecca of the world! I was reminded of one of my favorite movies…Babe…yes, Babe. I would see the sheep dogs running around in the fields and marvel at the beauty of it all! Sorry – no pigs to be seen though.
This New Zealand adventure was also about testing myself. I wanted to see if I could do the backpacking thing. I felt like I missed out on the ‘backpacking life’ in my 20’s – so I wanted to try to experience it in my 30’s. I will admit – at first it was a bit challenging. I was really not comfortable with sleeping with strangers (no laughing), sharing showers, and trying to live on the cheap – it was so different than my regular life that I have come to love! There were no 400 thread count sheets here! However – I adapted – I grew to embrace my budget lifestyle again. I got used to sleeping on the top bunk and not falling out. I even enjoyed eating PB&J every day until I got through a whole loaf of bread! I proved to myself that when I needed to – I could be thrifty again. However – I never did get used to coming home from the bar to a dorm room full of people sleeping, trying to be quiet – and use my flashlight to find my way around in a drunken stumble! I missed my past life of simply getting a cab home, having my cat greet me at my apartment door, turning on the TV, grabbing a bowl of cereal, and sitting on the couch in my pj’s trying to sober up before I went to bed! Having to be considerate of others in a drunken state was not my forte!
This trip wasn’t about immersing myself in the local culture – in fact – I met very few local except for the guides. However I did learn some of the local sayings – my favorite was ‘Sweet As’ – used to express something that was ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’. For the first few days here I thought they were saying ‘Sweet Ass’…but alas…they weren’t complimenting my bum…they were just saying ‘cool’.
The trip through New Zealand was more about learning about myself – some inner exploration. I had lots of time on the bus to think…think about life, think about the past, think about the future, family, and friends.
Photo:Art Gallery in Christchurch…the shadows were great!
I feel like my creative side has been allowed to come out. The good news is that I feel like I have a creative side again! I feel like I’m looking at the world through new eyes…the color is so intense – and the thoughts are so intense. I constantly carry a little note pad around with me and write down thoughts just so I don’t forget them. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with all of this new vision…but I hope to God I do something with it. I know I will do something with it!
So – I came to New Zealand without ever seeing Lord of the Rings…however, I felt like I really SAW New Zealand – my way. Sweet-As!!