BC: You're off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!
FC: AMERICA | RHODE ISLAND | DEPARTED JULY 8, 2012 | AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND | MY NEW HOME UNTIL DEC 6, 2012 | Rose Cheng
1: HELLO | Auckland | July 8, 2012 - November 12, 2012
2: I first arrived in Auckland not quite knowing what to expect. Trees had crazy roots or grew out of the pavement. Pretty much, nature was on steroids. | One day, we boarded the ferry... | crossed Auckland's harbor... | and arrived at Rangitoto Island - a volcano covered in old lava. | We explored caves formed by lava (and later found out that they were filled with giant spiders). | After a hot and sweaty climb, we finally made it to the top!
3: We started to settle in and forge new friendships. | We bonded at bus stops, | on the bus (that rarely showed up on time), | with bouncers, | at the classy nights at Globe, | at pregames (always hosted by flat 6), | and met people that we will never forget. | All fueled by our good friend, alcohol. | Our first nights out
4: Our groups began to merge. We started going out together and realized that more really is better. | Craziest night of the year: Cowboys and Indians party. Thank you very much Carpark! | As we got closer, we sometimes fought. But mostly, we just liked to dance.
5: Auckland Zoo | We saw the cutest penguins being fed. We were also lucky enough to see a kiwi! | And of course we had to pose like every animal we saw.
6: CHRISTCHURCH | We began our Spring Break trip in the "city" of Christchurch. Christchurch was hit hard by an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude in 2011, but the city is still working hard to recover. We didn't see much of anything but construction. We spent our time walking through the Botanic Gardens and visited a museum to learn about the earthquake and its lasting effects on the city.
7: Kaikoura | Then we traveled to the beautiful town of Kaikoura. It was amazing to see beach and water right next to mountains! Bobby, Jayson, and I took a long walk (filled with pit stops on playgrounds) around the edges of the town and admired the landscape. Along the way we got up close and personal with giant seals and saw sheep being herded across the street. My highlight was visiting a nice restaurant right on the water and enjoying a delicious bowl of clam chowder.
8: PICTON We drove to Picton and saw seals everywhere. We walked through woods to an amazing waterfall where seals drop off their pups for the day - a seal daycare. At times we were close enough to even touch them! | GREYMOUTH Then we journeyed to Greymouth, most famous for their Pancake rocks. We saw these funny rooster-like birds with quick legs that you could feed. It was cold and rainy but so worth it. We relaxed that night with a tour through Monteith's Brewery. We tasted beers available only at the brewery and were given lots of cider. Delicious!
9: We began at Lake Matheson. Although we didn't go on a very clear day, we were still able to capture the mountains' reflection in the lake. We passed through a giant waterfall and continued onwards towards Wanaka. Stopping along the way at Puzzle World, we raced the boys to climb all of the corners of the maze. Then at Wanaka, we were lucky enough to arrive around sunset and capture the sun's last rays on the lake. Wanaka was a cute ski resort town, and we ended the night with a competition against the other bus tours. Though we sang our hearts out to All Star, we weren't quite able to swing it with just the six of us. | Wanaka
10: Bungy Jumping QUEENSTOWN | I completed one of my life goals! I don't know how I made it off the ledge, but I leaped off the 43 meter Kawarau bridge and screamed the whole way down.
11: Milford Sound QUEENSTOWN | We took a day trip to Milford Sound, the "eighth wonder of the world". On the way there, we passed Mirror Lakes with a rainbow right above it! We thought it was going to be a terrible day as it started down pouring and snowing on the way there. We were actually lucky, because we saw literally hundreds of waterfalls. The cruise got as close as a few feet away from massive waterfalls, and we happily got sprayed on the top deck. We observed seal pups lounging on rocks before finally turning around at the mouth of the Tasman Sea.The entire time we were expecting to see King Kong or a pterodactyl.
12: Nightlife QUEENSTOWN | Queenstown was so much fun to go out in. The first night we went on a pub crawl guided by Jack, our bus tour driver. We started at the cutest place with little tea pots full of (strong) mixed drinks. Sea bear decided to come out and play! Later that night I was standing at the right place at the right time and scored free pub crawl tickets for the next night. On that pub crawl, we visited the ice bar and got to lounge on ice sculptures in our furry jackets and gloves. There was later a limbo contest, and I won!
13: TEKAPO Our last stop on the bus tour was Tekapo. We walked to the nearby Church of the Good Shepherd which was a beautiful old brick building. The next morning we hiked up Mt. John to get amazing views from the observatory at the top of the surrounding lakes and mountains.
14: The Pinnacles | One day we decided to hike up the Pinnacles. We crossed so many of these fun bridges that only allowed one person to pass at a time. We had to climb up hundreds of stairs and literally scale a mountain, but the view from the top was amazing. We could see rain in different sections of the valley traveling towards us.
15: Coromandel | Before finals, we decided to take a day trip to Coromandel. It was a gorgeous day, and we caught lots of rays (a little too many). Cathedral Cove was stunning, and it was such a relaxing trip. We stopped by the hot water beach and dipped our toes into the burning water before driving back to Auckland.
17: Our last nights | Our last nights out in Auckland were filled with laughs and carefree attitudes. They were our final nights before returning home to "real life". We took advantage of pub crawls, bear fights, Irish car bombs, pong, and Father Ted's. We were all returning home to different places, and there was a strong possibility that we might not see many of the friends we made ever again. So we drank and cheered to the friends and good times we created in Auckland.
18: WELCOME TO | AUSTRALIA | November 12, 2012 - December 6, 2012
19: Blue Mountain, Bronte Beach & Bondi Beach | We were rudely awakened the first day with pounding on our door, only to find out that we were late for a tour we didn't even know we had! Despite the rough beginning, we were able to see the Three Sisters, ride the steepest tram, and get close to scary edges. | The next morning we decided to take it a little more easily. We did a walk from Bronte Beach to Bondi Beach and enjoyed the views while sipping on goon. | Sydney
20: We took a day to visit the Taronga Zoo. Even though it was down pouring, we were determined to see some animals. We caught our first look of the Opera House on the ferry over. The highlight was definitely the seal show. The seals were so talented, and we couldn't stop clapping. | Sydney | Taronga Zoo
21: Sydney | by day and by night | We started the day by rubbing the pig's nose and making a wish. Walking to the Botanic Gardens, we slowly enjoyed the views. Then we finally made it to the Sydney Opera House! | One night we went out with the friends we made in our hostel room. On the last night, we were awed by fireworks set over Darling Harbour.
22: Melbourne | CBD & St. Kilda | We wandered the CBD and took in the European architecture. Then we hopped onto the tram and spent the day on the St. Kilda beach. We returned that night, grabbed some gelato, and walked to the docks at sunset to spot the baby penguins climbing ashore.
23: Great Ocean Road Day 1 | We started to feel the heat. We began the day with a pretty beach and then stopped several times along the road for beautiful sites. We walked up a hill to spot our first koalas and then got to feed some parrots! We ended the day with a walk through the rainforest.
24: 12 Apostles
25: Great Ocean Road Day 2 | This day was filled with amazing rock formations. We revisited the 12 Apostles but were able to view it from the beach. Then we drove to Loch Ard George where a man survived a ship wreck, rescued a girl, and then managed to climb up a giant rock wall to get help. After that we journeyed to London Bridge. It used to have two arches, but one arch has broken down over the years. Then we saw the Bay of Islands. Finally we visited the Bay of Martyrs. Once, the aboriginals were being conquered by the Europeans. Instead of being under European rule, one tribe chose to take the fatal leap off a tall rock into the ocean.
26: On the last day of the tour, we visited Grampians National Park. We sat at the edge of heart stopping cliffs at the Balconies and dipped our toes into McKenzie Falls. Then we made it to our final destination - Adelaide. | Great Ocean Road Day 3
27: Kangaroo Island | We took a ferry to Kangaroo Island and saw so many dolphins jumping out of the water. On the first day it was sweltering hot. We walked through a wild seal colony. They were so adorable, and it was heart breaking to hear the pups cry for their moms.Then we cooled off with kayaks and snorkeling. We slept overnight at a koala sanctuary and got so close to all of the wallabies and kangaroos! The next morning, we traveled to the Remarkable Rocks, a playground for adults. We took a quick walk to see the NZ fur seals before heading to the ferry back home.
28: Barossa Valley | We spent a beautiful day sampling wines from four different wineries. Ranging from family wineries to big corporations, the wines were all delicious. We had a genuine Aussie BBQ for lunch and split a yummy bottle of sparkling Chardonnay.
29: Cairns, Brisbane & Surfers Paradise | In Cairns, we went on a crocodile cruise and walked through the rainforest. We learned that basically everything in there has spikes to protect itself. Then I snorkeled and saw lots of little fishies and pretty coral. Spending lots of days at the city lagoon, I then flew back to Brisbane. Taking a walk along the CBD river, the city looked spectacular all lit up in lights. Finally, I ended the trip with a train ride to Bin's home in Surfers Paradise.