I have been in New Zealand for over a month now, which is pretty crazy. It has been quite the month. I moved to a new country, felt homesick, traveled all over the North Island, debated quitting, and met lots of fascinating people. I have not regretted any of it.
In honor of the ups and downs of travel, here are some things I got to check off of my bucket list, and some things I got to check off of my un-bucket list.
Saw an octopus in a tidal pool in Russell
I found this little guy in a tidal pool on Long Beach. He was waiting for the tide to come in and I was hoping it wouldn’t so I could watch him for longer. In the end, his wish came true, but only after I’d admired him for over an hour. He even came over and stuck some of his tentacles out of the water to say hello.
Cantered down the beach on a horse and didn’t fall off
In the movies, this activity looks effortless. The woman’s hair streams behind her as the horse swishes through the water in long, luxurious strides. In reality, you get very wet when a horse goes through the ocean, and, in my case, your hands get rubbed raw as you try desperately to stop the horse before you plummet to your doom.
Got pulled over by the police… twice
I have never in my seven years of driving been pulled over by the cops, so when those red and blue lights flashed behind my car I tried not to panic. I went through my mental checklist: Was I driving too fast? Did I veer to the wrong side of the road? Is one of my break lights out? Am I being deported?
Turns out they were checking licenses and car registrations because apparently people drive without proper licenses. Hands down the nicest cops I’ve ever met.
Witnessed the first sunrise in the entire world on the East Cape
Since New Zealand is so close to the International Date Line, the first sunrise of each day in the world can be witnessed from the East Coast of the country.
Got my first parking ticket in Wellington
I could have sworn I read the signs correctly….
Didn’t get blown off of the top of a lighthouse…
… but it was a close call. Apparently the weather in Cape Palliser is rather finicky, and I was there on a day when the wind was particularly strong. However, the drive and the view were worth it.
Got stuck in a herd of cows
Literally. I was driving down a dirt road back from a lighthouse and then bam, there was a herd of cows blocking the road. Instead of moving as I beeped at them, they instead surrounded the car. I was ever so slightly afraid they were all going to ram it, but they just stared at me and chewed.
Didn’t get eaten by a fur seal
It was a really close call. Okay, not even a little bit of a close call, but the seal certainly scared me half to death when it growled at me. According to a local they do occasionally do serious harm to tourists who get to close, so now I have the greatest of respect for these furry sausages.
Hiked the Tongariro Crossing
Touted as one of the best one-day hikes in the world, this hike was certainly one of my favorites. The views were stunning, especially since the weather behaved itself. Plus, I can now say I’ve hiked through Mordor and lived to tell the tale.
Overall it has been a spectacular month abroad. I’m looking forward to the remaining months I’m here, and whatever crazy adventures come along.