2 and a half weeks and counting.
30.10.2013 20 °C
Spring has well and truly arrived here in Auckland, heralding both the end of uni and the end of my stay here. As I write this I am surrounded by the chaos of a half-packed room- I haven't seen my floor in days, nor, unfortunately, any of my socks. Littered around are scraps of paper crammed with Chinese characters- while the Tri Week of Hellish Hellness (as I named the last three assessment-packed weeks of semester) has passed, there are still two exams looming between me and complete undergraduate freedom.
-My to-do list from the Tri Week of HH.
Once these two exams are done and dusted, I'm off down to Nelson for the summer- I'll be working kite instructing at KiteSurf Nelson, and just can't wait for the sun, sand and surf. Nelson is at the top of the South Island, sandwiched between the Marlborough Sounds and the Abel Tasman National Park- a veritable feast for the outdoors. I'll be playing around there until probably Feb/March- though anyone who knows me also knows the only thing concrete about any of my plans is the fact that they aren't.
My parents came over to visit about a month ago now, and I had a great time showing them around a city and country I've come to know so well. We braved an intense storm front to head up to Northlands- fighting to stay grounded in the face of gales at Cape Reinga, dolphin-searching at Bay of Islands, slathering ourselves in mud at Ngawha Springs where the water changed the colour of sterling silver jewellery, and fording rivers to bathe in the grandeur of Tane Mahuta- a 51.5m Kauri tree named for the Maori god of the forest.
-Cruising around the Bay of Islands
After our wind-blown adventure they teamed up with my Aunt Debbie and explored the Coromandel Peninsula without me for a few days- while I reluctantly dove back into Auckland-life to make sure I hadn't missed anything too crucial at uni or any shifts at work. Once they returned we headed off to Rotorua- where I can attest that my mother took more photos of mud bubbles than me. The weather was perfect and sunny- which we were able to fully appreciate on our 'Welcome to Rotorua Arrival Hike' which I promised would take 20 minutes- and took 3 hours. And we didn't even make it as fas as I wanted to go. The reason for my abysmal time estimation skills was that the last time I did that trail I was on my mountain bike- turns out riding is faster. Much, much, faster. Who'da thunk?!
I had a great time playing tour leader- up hill and down dale, we tramped our way into toned-thigh glory.
We spent many an hour wandering around geothermal areas- the following photos are from Craters of the Moon, a dramatically named site that was used to be farm land, until they began the geothermal power project nearby which released ground pressure and one day the farmer found his paddocks sunk into a bubbling, steaming luna-esque landscape.
We also ventured across to Taupo- a lakeside town that serves as the jumping off point for many alpine adventures. Accordingly, the last couple of times I've been there it has been on desperate soy-milkshake hunting missions post epic climbing journey- the shores of Lake Taupo harbour some of the best climbing on the North Island, though often at the end of 2 hour approach hikes.
-The view across Lake Taupo- Snow-capped Mt Ruapehu is on the horizon.
I'm still sporting the battle scars of the weekend-past trip to Taupo's shores- A group of climbers from uni celebrated the long weekend and end of uni with some of the best climbing I've done here so far- a brilliant mix of trad and sport routes, on a Maori Reservation called Whanganui Bay. We climbed by day, did yoga on the lake side, compared lingos by the fire (American: 'Doona?! What the hell is a DOONA?' Me: 'What do you mean a COMFORTER? IT'S A DOONA!' Kiwi: '...are you guys talking about duvets?' American/Me: 'WHAAAA?!') and basked in the sunshine and knowledge that another semester had come and gone. Sadly I didn't take my camera with me so have no photos to share, though apparently there is a video of me screaming my lungs out on a rope swing we set up across a gorge on the way down (I seriously didn't know I could make those sorts of noises) and also a photo or two of me napping in the sun against trees, or rocks, or climbing partners.
As always, with imminent leaving of a place the nostalgia starts to set in- past of the reason I've put off writing for so long is probably because I know it will be the last time I write from Auckland. To think I've been here since February blows my mind, and the fact that I'm finally finishing up uni even more so. Next time I write will be from sunny and windy Nelson- look out for some amazing photos, but if the photos aren't enough come on over and take some of your own!
All my love and hoping everyone is well,
Also, pretty much all of these photos are courtesy of my mother- I have been slack with my camera again. Thanks Mum!