Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Kevin, Bri, Van, Gemina, and I went out on a fishing trip at 8 while everyone else stayed back to tan and swim. With a fabricated story of how we almost caught 5 yellow finned tuna, we returned with a not so successful trip. But, I loved being able to see the island from the boat out in the beautiful sun! We got back and only had time for lunch, a shower, and packing. We headed out on a 3 hour bus ride back to Nadi where we stopped for a mini shopping session. We boarded the Air Pacific plane and headed to LAX. We landed in LAX to board to Houston. Off we went!! Now I'm home in my comfy home! I am so happy to see my family but all I can think of is how much I already miss New Zealand and Fiji. It is so easy to get used to those mountains, ocean, and gorgeous landscape, but Houston is my home. I know that I must go back to Fiji and New Zealand again! Who knows how long from now, but I have loved every second of my three week adventure. It is hard to reminisce without getting emotional!! I love all the people that I have been able to get to know!! I'm back home safe and sound!! Off to a work day at Spring Woods tomorrow at 11:30...hopefully I'm not too jet lagged.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
After getting to our hotel at 1:00 in the morning and driving on the bumpiest roads ever, we woke up to see a RAINING Fiji. Our one full day in Fiji and it's raining. Miles, Bri, and Gemina went off scuba diving while Kevin and I went to explore. A lot of people were bummed about the day but it was adventure time for Kevs and LOLO. We found a snake-like eel, hundreds of crabs, a sting ray, and hundreds of starfish. Finally it held off raining enough for us all to go into town to the markets. I had plenty of Fijian money to spend so off I went. We came back for dinner, but after dinner was the crazy part. The traditional Kaba juice was made and served. This juice that resembles dirty water/mud. Everyone had two chugs except for Chief Kevin, Miles, Mike, and Van. I know Kevin was dying and so was I. Later, we learned some Fijian dances and songs. We taught them the cupid shuffle and the dougie. Classic. Pow Wow on the beach with the most amazing star was amazing!! Nothing will ever compare to those gorgeous stars!! Final night in Fiji was emotional!!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
We got to the airport this morning and were here in plenty of time, but our lovely/nasty helper at the airport Jan backstabbed us again. It took us about a full hour and a half to get our boarding pass but we finally got through. Getting through customs was a breeze and now as I sip my cappuccino, we wait to board our flight to Fiji. Finally we will be going to a place that we have been wanting for a few days now. Peter won't be able to stay with us in Fiji because he is heading to Africa, all he will be able to see is the airport. Fiji for one and a half days and then we are headed home. I am so sad that this amazing trip will be coming to an end so soon...even though its been three weeks. Goodbye New Zealand, hello Fiji.
After dealing with all the airport drama, we had a second day in Christchurch. We played/learned rugby, played Netball, played frisbee, walked/lunched in the gardens and parks, and bowled at a Kiwi bowling alley. It was such a fun and active day, we weren't all stressed about pictures and we were able to enjoy the day!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
As I sit at the Christchurch airport in New Zealand we find out some bad news. Our flight to Auckland, NZ has been canceled due to the ash from the Chile volcano that circled the world once and now is interfering with flights. We arrived at the airport at 6:30 and waited until 10:00 to talk to Qantas/Jet Star to rebook a flight. Well, the next flight to Auckland is tomorrow morning, but we just found out that we can’t leave the country because of ash. So as of now, it looks like no Fiji for us. We are waiting to hear more news, but right now we are sitting at the Burger King in the Christchurch airport blogging away and looking up flight plans to figure out how the hell we are getting out of the country.
Today was one of the most eye opening days that we have had so far. We drove into Christchurch this morning from Hanmer and finally we were able to see the devastation that has rocked New Zealand for the past couple of months and weeks. We were in the country for the last earthquake that shook Christchurch so it felt even more real. It was crazy to be able to see earthquake damage up front, instead of from a television screen. As it rained during our walk, everyone was emotional and somber. After our walk, we saw a traditional Maori show where we were dancing and singing. Our “Chief” Kevin led us into a little hut while he accepted a leaf peace offering. Tight. Then we went to a Thai dinner, had Pow Wow and slept. We leave for the airport at 5:45 in the morning tomorrow.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Today was our final day with Ulla and our one day in Hanmer. We went to Hanmer instead of Mt. Hutt because there was no snow falling :( so therefore we couldn't ski. That morning we went to Hanmer Horses and went horseback riding. My horse, Mickey Blue Eyes, was a little horse with the most sparkling blue eyes. Apparently he is a real ladies man because of those sparkling eyes. Our horseback ride was English style with an English saddle which was new and different for me. I had to keep better balance and better posture but I enjoyed it a little more than Western style, but then again I am in New Zealand. After we rode, we did some stable work to see both sides of the horse/stable business. Later, we had lunch at a bakery and went to a hot pool theme park. It was like a higher quality splash town with lounging hot tubs. But, we couldn't put our heads under water just incase worm parasites got in. We then went to dinner at Saint's Restaurant where Ulla gave her final presentation and final goodbyes. She showed us these amazing pictures about these amazing stores, a African tribe who worships the USA and an Indonesian group of sulfur miners. We ate, picked top 10, did laundry (actually Van did), washed Horse crap out of our shoes (actually Kevin did), and went to sleep. Off to Christchurch tomorrow! It will be so sad and epic.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
We got on the road yesterday to take a 4 hour drive that took all day! We drove across the Southern Alps from Hokitika to Hamner. We stopped at Arthur's Pass to hear from Chris Stewart who taught us about the Pass and then we continued onto Castle Hill. Castle Hill blew my mind! We ate lunch by the rocks and Sebastian, Ulla's fiancee, gave us a climbing show on the Rocks! We continued on with Ulla's instruction on documenting the day. We got to Hamner really late at night, had some Thai food, and did our usual Top 10.
We woke up really early and drove an hour and a half to Pancake Rocks. But as we almost reached the Rocks, our bus ran out of gas on the road/highway. So, we proceeded to walk along the side of the highway with all our camera gear to try to figure out where we were going. It was an adventure to say the least, but the guys pushed the bus out of the road and we finally reached the Rocks. Carl, our bus driver, found some gas as we explored the Rocks. It was so amazing! Blow holes, crashing waves, rainbows, Peter's modeling, amazing views, and Pancakes about sum up the day. We took hundreds of pictures.... maybe for me about 1,000. We ate lunch at the Pancake Rocks Cafe and headed back on gassed up bus. We made a small stop that lasted about an hour, there was a nature trail and a beach full of crashing waves! AMAZING! We then drove back home, got in late, ordered in pizza, heard Ulla's talk, and slept! It was a long day!
We drove from Franz Josef to Hokitika and finally met Ulla, a REAL national geographic photographer, who has done huge stories about mummies and volcanos in the National Geographic magazine. Once we got everything situated at our motel, we headed to the Gorge. It was an adventure walk with crazy birds flying around and a swinging bridge. Little Kiwi children were running around and jumping off all these slippery rocks that we Houstonians couldn't even handle. Once we finished, we headed back to the beach next to our hotel. There were waves that were amazing and huge!! Later we headed for dinner in town (I have had enough fried food (i.e. fish and chips) to kill me). Then Ulla gave a talk and showed a slideshow that told her story. We had the owner of the motel sit in with their photography club to hear Ulla present. FUN NIGHTS IN NZ!
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Yesterday we sat in our "common room" and worked on catching up on uploading pictures. We put pics into folders and worked on our "On Assignment." I chose textures of New Zealand as my On Assign so I've been putting texture pics into my folder. Ms. Karter made spaghetti and stayed inside as it rained/poured outside. We made a slideshow of funny pictures and watched the Anchorman. Funny/chill day was awesome.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Yesterday we woke up really early and drove out to get ready to hike a glacier. At the adventure placed, they supplied us with smelly adventure pants, smelly adventure hiking boots, our rain proof jackets, and our cramp-ons. From then we set off on our adventure. We hiked through a rainforest and then then 2.5 km over rocks up to the glacier. We picked to be in group 1, group 2, or group 3. Group 1 and group 2 were the fast groups and group 3 was the slower group. I was in group 2 because as everyone on the trip knows, I am an athlete (insert sarcasm now), but really its true. We had a half day hike on the glacier with our guide Tibias, who looked exactly like Prince Harry. We had an adventure hike that was rough but amazing!! We stuck our cramp-ons into the ice to help us not fall, but as Kevin attempted an artsy shot, he slid down the glacier (scary but funny at the same time). We finished our hike and were exhausted back at our Holiday Top 10 Park Hotel. But, it was Gemina's birthday so we went to a Glacier Hot Spa. It was amazing!! We then went to dinner and had a dance party in honor of Gemina while we ate birthday cake!! Such an awesome day!!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Today we drove 6 and a half hours from Wanaka to Franz Josef, home of the Franz Josef glacier which we will hike tomorrow. We made many side stops to take landscape shots and on a black beach lined with white rocks. The tradition is to write a note on the rocks. It is breathtakingly beautiful…minus the sand flies that bit me about 30 times and caused swelling red circles on my legs. The ride was very long but well worth it. The scenery changed from mountains to rainforests and beaches!! I love every second of it!!
In Wanaka we woke up early and took sunrise pics on the lake with our tripods. Everyone made fun of me with my little tiny tripod but I still love it!! Miles was the master chef and made eggs for everyone and we later went to a main attraction…Puzzle World. It was full of optical illusions, a wooden maze, tilted rooms that make you nauseous, and an illusion room used in Lord of the Rings. Puzzle World was actually more fun than it sounds. We were ironically exhausted from walking/intensely running the maze trying to find all four towers, but Peter and Gimena decided to take us on a “trail.” The trail turned into the steepest hill hike that was death when I walked with my leggings and yoga pants and triple layered jackets. But, I kept to the front of the pack and “trained for Fiji.” Once we got to the top, the view was the most amazing thing ever; it is hard to describe the beauty from this mountain that we climbed. We took some time to sit, close our eyes, and realize the beauty. Mountains, lakes, glaciers, and greenery surrounded us as we took panoramic pictures!! That night we went back to our Holiday Park Home and did laundry, which took about 3 hours!! We ordered in some “classic” pizza which I guess is a food your can find all over the world. We did some light painting at night (Keviin’s expertise).
We drove back to Queenstown, the place we originally flew into, and had a day of freedom and adventure. We stayed at this Nomad hotel/hostile that was pretty urban and something I have never experienced before. We split up into groups, mine consisted of Kelsey, Van, Ms. Karter, Lindsey and me, and explored the town. Everyone met up and traveled up the gondola to the top of the mountain, took pictures, and ate lunch. We took pictures at this old graveyard and shopped at Mary’s Sheep to buy some possum gloves, hats, and sheep boxers. Love it! We all then boarded the bus and drove to Wanaka. In Wanaka we watched an intense rugby match and ate Indian food, which definitely did not go so well with the group. But I loved it!! I love trying new things!!
Monday, June 13, 2011
We left Te Annu and headed off to the sheep farm where we met Andy and his father Alan, the two sheep farmers. They were so amazing and let us walk all around the "sheep pen" as we took shot after shot of the yelping dogs herding the sheep and the sheep running as if their life was on the line, rather than just losing their wool. The smells of sheep poop as it stuck to your shoes and being able to hold the sheep in your own arms was so awesome! We then drove from the farm back to Queenstown where we're staying in this hotel/hostile hippie joint where you see all types. Dinner consisted of a small salad and watching a man fall asleep on a date, resulting in the woman to stand up and leave and the man lay snooring in his seat after a glass of wine. Funny what catches our eye. Everywhere in New Zealand is picture perfect. I love every second of it!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Day 1: Landing
Friday, June 10, 2011
Finally getting on the plane to head to LAX was truly surreal. I have been talking about this trip for so many months now that taking the first leg of the journey was the most exciting thing I have done in a really long time. Now, we are finally in Te Annu, New Zealand and all that it took was a 4 hour + 13 hour + 1.5 hour plane ride which nearly made me collapse after a total traveling time of about 35 hours. The flight from Houston to LAX was a breeze, but heading to Auckland was a flight that I will never forget. An Indian family decided to carry their tiny baby on the 13-hour flight and they just happened to sit two seats behind me while the baby screamed the entire 13 hour flight. Don’t ask me how. But it got to the point when the stewardess passed out earplugs. We got to Queenstown after taking Jet Star with the two sassy Australian stewardesses but finally we could see the amazing-ness New Zealand had to offer. Our driver Carl is the new addition to our family and while I ate dinner at “The Ranch,” which is ironic since we leave Texas but end up at a ranch, I got really excited on how close everyone is and it’s only the first day!
Day 2: Milford Sound
Saturday, June 11, 2011
We woke up early and drove two hours to Milford Sound to take a boat ride around the amazing mountains. I had no idea what to expect but once we got closer and closer, the view of the mountains got better and better. But, lets face it, all of New Zealand is gorgeous and spectacular. Carl drove us through the tunnel through the mountain which is the entrance into Milford Sound, Carl also added that it was built during WWII and the Depression (a good side note of history). But, once we got to the end of the tunnel the sky opened up with the most amazing sight that I can’t even begin to describe. My family will die when they see the vast landscape and animals of Milford. We took some twisty turns on the road to get to the boat which took us on a two hour boat ride around Milford Sound, the ride was full of 15 dolphins, seals, hot tea, and balancing acts as the boat moved back and forth. After the tour we stopped on the side of the roads a bunch of times to take side shots as our stomachs were growling like lions. We didn’t eat lunch or I guess it was considered as my Nutella and English muffin combo on the bus. I love how we’re all so close! Kelsey is Krazy but I love her just the same.
Day 3: Walk by the Lake
Sunday, June 11, 2011
***Happy Birthday Libby!! But you probably won’t see this because we can’t find any Internet access. But I love you and hope your birthday is amazing, although it’s one day earlier here.
Today was more of a relaxed day. With about 2000 excessive pictures from Milford Sound yesterday, I had to pick my top 10 and top 1… I don’t understand how I did it but it took about 3 hours in the morning.. We strolled by Te Annu lake and saw beautiful birds and took more pics!! We saw three videos today: the visitor centre, the cinema, which had the best chocolate cappuccino, and the National Geo one for inspiration. As I type this blog into a word document as we wait patiently for internet connection, I am falling asleep. So, tonight I’m keeping it short and sweet. We are on the move tomorrow to Queenstown and to the sheep farm! Gotta love it!! ‘Goodnight (in my New Zealand accent)
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
First day at Spring Woods High School and I am finally learning how to work my Nikon D90 camera plus we're diving into the world of ISOs, F-stops, and shutter speeds. Hopefully I am a quick learner because I am ready to take thousands of pictures! YAY New Zealand and Fiji. We leave on Wednesday...only two days left.