October 30, 2018
It’s crazy how fast much of my remaining time here in New Zealand has flown by. After that first blog post, I quickly fell into a routine that involved focus on schoolwork from Sunday night through Thursday evening, and trips across the South Island Thursday nights through Sunday afternoons most weeks. This cycle definitely provided a lot of opportunity to explore however, as I have now been to six of the nine national parks on the South Island of New Zealand. These include Fiordland, Mt. Aspiring, Aoraki, Paparoa, Arthur’s Pass, and Westland.
Looking back upon my travels through these national parks, the extreme variety of scenery in what is such a relatively small land area amazes me. Each of these national parks is incredibly beautiful and very distinct from one another with how they look. For example, Aoraki national park, housing New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mt. Cook, is, unsurprisingly quite mountainous, with much of the park consisting of mountains with sparse tree cover, and beautiful blue glacial lakes. It is immediately recognizable as compared to even Mt. Aspiring, which tends to have more greenery. Perhaps my favorite is the one I most recently visited, Paparoa national park, which is described as a temperate rainforest. What I and the rest of the group I travelled there with described it as is if Jurassic park were an actual place.
Beyond just travel around the South Island, I was also incredibly lucky in that I was able to travel to the Fiji Islands during my mid-semester break, which almost definitely tops my list of favorite vacations so far. We were able to book an island-hopping package, and stayed on the main island, as well as Manta Ray Island and Beachcomber island throughout our trip. Beyond just the beautiful scenery of Fiji, we met so many wonderful people here, both island natives and all manner of international travelers. This was truly an unforgettable experience in the middle of another one in my study abroad. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity presented to me and know that I will cherish memories of this entire semester for the rest of my life.
Now I sit here towards the end of exams and realize that I only have 12 days left here in New Zealand, followed by an 8-day trip to Australia. It’s hard to believe that I’m just 20 days away from returning home. I’ll definitely be sad to leave behind so many of the great friends I’ve made but will also of course be glad to come home to family and friends whom I haven’t seen in person in almost 6 months at this point. I intend to post a more comprehensive post reflecting on my time in New Zealand as a whole once I’ve finished my exams in the next week.