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 ketchup....so 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 actually...so 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 pictures...it 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.