On Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, after a mere 14 hours on a plane, coupled with Melatonin and two in-flight meals that were presumably baked pigeon, I found myself on the other side of the world. Everything in New Zealand feels differently, but oddly familiar at the same time – like an eerie parallel universe where the people are wildly friendly and the animals are not.
Not to mention, I basically time-traveled to get here and lost a full 24 hours crossing the international dateline. You’re literally reading something being written on a day that you haven’t even lived yet. Spooky, right?
I spent my first couple of days in New Zealand’s capital, Auckland, as well as Waiheke Island. I checked out museums and cafes. I went zip lining over vineyards on the island with a heart full of adventure and purse full of food. The next morning at 7 am, I missed my first Uber ride. I chased my second one about two blocks as he began to abandon hope that I was going to show up, which was totes Auck(land).
By some miracle, I arrived at my Stray bus tour pickup location, a little flustered, but none the worse for wear. I embarked on the journey of a lifetime with 24 people from all over the world – thrown into a small bus together to explore the North Island.
Being the only American, “Kate from the States,” I answered a flood of questions about politics and felt pretty insecure about my white bread accent. The next few days were filled with all types of adventures, from a hike into Cathedral Cove to digging our own jacuzzis at a volcanic hot water beach. I went to a traditional Maori performance and dinner (yes, there were Hakas), checked out Hobbiton and kayaked through a beautiful waterfall-filled gorge at a Blue Duck conservatory (so remote it needs two double A batteries).
By the end of the six days, I felt like I’d known the people on this tour for years. New Zealand began to feel a lot like home. With the foreword of my life Down Under wrapped up, tonight I catch my flight to Melbourne to begin the official first chapter. It will be an adventure worthy of a Hobbit. I can’t wait.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.