Sunday, May 20, 2012

1 month 14 days 13 hours

I'm in the home stretch...basically.  I only have 1 month, 14 days, and 13 hours left in New Zealand.  My sisters came and went in the past week, and I bid farewell to them (twice) just this afternoon.  The Airport Flyer bus didn't notice them waiting at the bus stop (I'm not sure how he didn't notice Mng Meg's bright PINK suitcase...) and drove right past, so we had to wait another fifteen minutes for the next bus.  Anyways, so here I am again trying to get back into my normal routine of classes and other various city stuff...

Our week together was filled with many firsts.  When I met them on Sunday back at my flat they were already in bed with the curtains closed, exhausted from walking up the BIG hill.  I was happy that they were able to find the place all right...and I knew that the hill would be a killer.  At least it was a good workout :)

We had a couple meals out in the city, one of which was at Fisherman's Plate - a little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese/American restaurant.  Mng Meg was in the mood for some pho.  It was pretty good, a little different from the Vietnamese place back home...I think it was the excess of pepper and the meat was different.  We discovered a kiosk on Manners that serves GLUTEN FREE French crepes!  We shared the "caramellou" (dark chocolate and caramel) crepe.  TWICE.  Two days in a row.  We would have gone a third time had the line not been so long, but we resisted.  Mng Meg and Mng Christine tried Abrakebabra, where Mng Meg discovered that "tomato sauce" here is actually she had ketchup on her kebab...I wouldn't recommend it.  We got coffee a couple times at the Gloria Jean's on Lambton Quay, and the second time I tried a cafe mocha with GF orange and almond cake.  That was delicious as well.

On Friday we went to the Adrenalin Forest!  We managed to get through 4 out of the 6 levels, which was an above average adrenaline level.  By level 4 I think we were all pretty exhausted, but we survived.  At one point there was a high wire that spanned probably 50 feet and 5-6 stories off the ground.  And the following platform we had to hold on for dear life on the "Commando Flying Fox" - a zipline that spanned probably twice as far as the high wire.  On the same level there was another high wire towards the end, and by that time I felt like my arms were about to fall off.  Altogether we zipped across at least half a dozen Flying Foxes, and the next morning we all said our entire bodies were on fire.  My paranoia of heights was definitely tested, but I would do this again anytime!  Oh, I didn't mention that our adventure through the Forest was unguided...the professional high ropes course people stood at the bottom looking after us, but other than that we were trusted to go through the course on our, clipping and unclipping our hooks and pulleys.  Mng Christine was in charge of providing her camera for documenting our experience, so unfortunately I'm unable to post any here...but trust me, we had fun.

On Saturday we went on our 8.5 hour Ultimate Lord of the Rings Movie Tour!  You probably think that is a long time, but we saw about 25 different places from scenes in the films.  And all of these places were located in the Wellington area and greater region.  A little van drove us north to the Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt Valley, the Kaitoke Regional Park, Miramar, and Wellington's Mount Victoria.  We ended at the Weta Cave - a museum of the Weta Studio's work...they are essentially the creative brains behind the scenes...doing makeup, digital renderings, costumes, animation, and other effects.  We saw where Weta studios are located within the Miramar area, where the main actors in LOTR lived during filming, and even saw a HUGE green screen they used for the film.

If you were wondering, "weta" refers to a native spider of New Zealand.  I saw a ton of them crawling around the Waitomo Caves at the beginning of my adventures in NZ.  They are related to the grasshopper they have a grasshopper-like body and 8 spidery legs, and they can be as big as my hand!

We saw where Helms Deep and Minas Tirith were built and filmed, scenes in Rivendell, the Hobbiton Forest, Isengard and the gardens of Isengard, and the Hutt River where Aragorn laid with his horse and Borimir floated on after his death.  The tour was very interactive, but the three of us didn't want to participate in the role-playing activities.  We watched as the tour guides brought along props and costumes to let the tourists re-enact scenes fron the movies and get was pretty funny.

On Sunday we relaxed and did a bit of shopping.  I think Mng Meg ended up purchasing about nine new tops!  Mng Christine bought 3 dresses and a few tops as well.  Luckily we hit up all the places with summer clothing sales...that's one good thing about New Zealand's opposite seasons...while their summer clothes are going on sale, they can wear them when they get back to Missouri's summer.

I think they are both happy to go home and bask in the sun again.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My sisters arrive in Wellington tomorrow at 9am!  I am very excited to see more familiar faces here on the other side of the world.  I made us an itinerary of places to see, food to eat, shopping and hiking adventures.  It's a pretty full schedule for us, especially in addition to my uni classes.

Tuesday will be the beginning of our hiking adventures!  To the top of Mount Victoria.  It will be my second time since I went with Ben during his visit.  Depending on the weather this should be a pretty good workout for us.

I am psyched because on Friday we will be taking the train to Porirua (about 45 minutes north) to go through the Adrenaline Forest.  I am crossing my fingers that it won't be rainy and cold that day...because I've already purchased our tickets.  I don't want to be doing high ropes courses and ziplining in the freezing rain.  That sounds just terrible.

On Saturday we will be doing the Ultimate Lord of the Rings Movie Tour around Wellington!  Well technically the bus will be taking us out of Wellington city for quite a few stops (25 total!).  More hiking and photo ops!  I haven't been to any scenes of the LOTR movies yet, which is weird since I've been here for three months already....

Between all of our hiking trips I am sure they'll be doing lots of souvenir shopping.  Good times!

Last night, after dinner at A-Roy Thai and gelato at Kaffee Eis with the ladies, we walked along the harbour for the first time at night (my first time).  It was very peaceful.

Tomorrow I will be taking a field trip with my Peopling of Polynesia class to Palliser Bay, the location of an archaeological site.  Because of this trip I won't be able to pick up my sisters from the airport....but hopefully it will be worth the wait.  It's going to be a two-hour long bus trip there and two hours back, lunch at the site, and a mapping assignment.  I've never been to an archaeological site before this...I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow either.

Weather here in Wellington has officially turned to winter.  In the past week it has rained 4 days, my umbrella has turned inside out 4 times, and I've slept with long sleeves, long pants, and a hoody with three blankets.  Oh how I miss summer back home...