Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Christchurch and TranzAlpine

I LOVE NEW ZEALAND. As soon as I got off the plane, I knew I was going to like it here. The customs and passport people were super chatty and friendly, and I hopped on a $7 shuttle straight to my hostel. It’s located in Cathedral Square, which is right in the center of town and I met up with KL and Erikka when I arrived. We immediately headed out to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in town and saw lots of baby ducks – we even picked them up!! And we saw eels in the water, and petted wallabies. SO CUTE. IT WAS AMAZING. The wallabies were super tame, and the one I’m petting had a baby in its pouch!

We headed to the botanical gardens afterwards and walked around for a bit. The trees were blossoming even though it’s winter here and it was SUPER chilly! Especially after Singapore and Hawaii! I’m very jetlagged but I’m excited for the train ride tomorrow. It passes through the glaciers and we’ll end up in a location where we can hike the glacier and rent kayaks around a pristine lake. YAY!

So far, I’ve been really surprised by New Zealand. It’s so British! The kids all have matching school uniforms and blazers, and everyone is very proper. It’s a very wholesome feeling, and I like it!

We took the TranzAlpine train today from Christchurch to Greymouth. It was a 4 hour ride and absolutely stunning! It was advertised as one of the most beautiful train rides the world, and I believe it. The rivers were beautiful, the mountains were covered in snow, and the train captain narrated as we passed towns so that we knew a little bit about the history of the train and New Zealand. It was really nice! We switched to a bus and ended up in Franz Josef, a small town that’s the base of a couple really awesome activities. It basically exists so that people can climb the glacier and kayak on a perfectly reflective lake, which we planned on doing until we woke up this morning and saw that it was RAINING, and found out that the glacier hike was totally booked! We hadn’t scheduled anything because we knew the weather would be a bit funky, but I guess it’s a busy day so we’re out of luck for our planned stuff. Now we’re probably going to hang out at the lake for a bit and then try 4-wheeling later in the afternoon, which is supposed to be really fun in the rain. We’re not sure though – looks like we’ll have to do a bit of adjusting of our plans.

(Caitlin, Erikka, and KL)

It’s completely gorgeous here and the people are ridiculously friendly and nice. I love it! I wish I had the time to spend a semester here doing that Geology program through Frontiers Abroad, I can see myself living here really easily. Who knows, maybe I will someday!

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