Monday, October 7, 2013

Sydney, New Zealand, Cairns.... wow!

Monday September 16th
My weekend in Sydney was incredible! A few friends and I went down early on Friday, instead of going Saturday morning, so we could hit up a few bars and see the nightlife a little bit, as well as shop Paddys Market early Saturday. It was a fantastic plan! My favorite place we went Friday night was O Bar, which is a bar that is on the 47th floor on a round building in the heart of Sydney; all the walls are glass and the floor spins very slowly so you can see the entire city if you sit for long enough! It was great seeing the beautiful Sydney Harbor Bridge all lit up, since we would be climbing in the next day!

So Saturday rolls around and we climb the bridge- it was awesome!! I loved almost every second of it, it was scary in some parts, but overall very doable, I highly recommend! That night we had dinner with everyone and celebrated!

The next morning we took a thrilling ride on the Thunder Jet Boat, which is a crazy stunt boat that takes you around Sydney Harbor doing spins and such- you get drenched! It was soooo fun! After, we went to the Botanical Gardens and the Government House, and then went home to Newcastle. Now Im getting everything ready for my exciting spring break that starts this weekend! So much to do.

Here's a just a little bit of my spring break...
& read on for all the exciting details!

Saturday September 28th
Leaving New Zealand tomorrow and I definitely have to say I've had an absolutely fantastic time. This country is so freaking stunning. Just on the bus rides you can't help but take a bunch of photos because everywhere is just beautiful; mountains everywhere you look and green green green.

This entire trip has been very adventurous. We landed in Auckland and got a night and the next morning before leaving; of course that time was occupied by shopping. The first place we went was Hahei. Hahei is a very special little place because nearby are both the famous Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. We of course did both. Hot Water Beach was first. Basically you dig a hole on a specific part of the beach and when the tide comes up, the hole fills, and because the ground has geothermal activity, it becomes a hot tub; and man was it hot! Steam comes off of them! That was incredible. The next morning, we got up bright and early for a 7 am kayaking tour on the ocean to Cathedral Cove. It was quite windy that day so the ocean was a bit rough and it was tiring paddling against it, but it was so worth seeing the cove, it was gorgeous.

The second place we went to was the Waitomo Caves. These caves contain the very tiny glowworms. We went on two cave tours, the Rhukari and Glowworm. Rhukari had beautiful stalagmites and stalactites and rivers flowing through it as well as a few glow worms. The Glowworm cave had so many glowworms; you take a boat on a river through that cave and it just looks like you're looking at tons of constellations of green stars. Glowworms are actually only found in this part of the world (New Zealand and the east coast of Australia); they're mainly only found in caves because they essentially live in hammocks for months at a time and there's no wind to knock them out, as well as the total darkness helps attract food to their glow.

Next was Rotarua. This town was really cool and seemed pretty modern, unlike a lot of New Zealand, although there were sulfur springs everywhere so if it was windy at all, which it was, the smell of sulfur (not good) consumed the entire town. That was incredibly unpleasant, but the sulfur springs were incredible; like you would just drive around the town and all over there would be holes with sulfur and steam coming off of it.  Just tons of geothermal activity! While in Rotarua, the majority of the group went on The Lord of the Rings Hobbiton tour; that was so fun! The houses are so cute and afterwards you get a free drink at the Green Dragon pub.

Our last stop was Taupo, 100% my favorite place in New Zealand. Taupo isn't near the beach at all but it's built right off of Lake Taupo, which is the biggest crater lake. Our first day there, we took a sailboat tour on the lake to see the Maori carvings which can only be seen from the lake. These are carvings on a cliff rock that were made by the indigenous people of NZ; they're only as old as 1980 but they are still very neat! And the boat ride turned out to be very exciting, it was rough seas that day on the lake and we would've been soaked if not for the fleece lined ponchos they give you! The sailboat tipped a lot too, that was so fun! That night we decided to take on the great Tongariro Alpine Crossing the next day. We woke up at 5 am, got picked up at 6, drove an hour or so to the mountains, and started our great trek around 7:30. This day hike consisted of going across a volcanic rock valley, then climbing a mountain that is right next to a huge active volcano (erupted twice last year) and then descending a great deal before you finish with a couple hours through the bush (jungle) until you finally reach the carpark (parking lot). It took us until 4, so 8.5 hours. The entire hike is roughy 15 miles and is incredibly rocky, with various terrains including snowy paths. You see the mountains below and the huge volcano right next to you, as well as a few craters and the famous neon lakes. The views were incredible to say the least. The hike was pretty difficult and terrifying in some parts but overall I liked it. Would I ever do it again? You couldn't pay me!! After 6 hours, my legs started shutting down going constantly downhill for so long and after 7 hours or so, we all started going delirious, "I think I see a car!" (Meanwhile still in the thick of the bush) "Is that a dog?" (Tree stump) After we reached the carpark, I literally cried out in relief "I'M ALIVE!!" People probably stared and questioned my sanity, but that's okay because I was just happy to be alive.

I'm now sitting on the bus going back up to Auckland to fly out in the morning to Sydney, then straight to Cairns! New Zealand has been spectacular, but I'm not complaining to leave for sunny Cairns...

Monday October 7th
Ive finally unpacked everything and done all my laundry from the last two weeks (I dont even want to think of how many times I wore everything- blegh)
Cairns was so sweet! It was waaaay hot too hot. We explored the city and did a little shopping the first day. The second day we went out on the Great Barrier Reef, which is an all day thing. That was amazing! I thought there would be way more fish, but it was nevertheless a spectacular experience, and I got a bunch of underwater video and pictures, too! The last day, we had our flight in the evening so we did a quick trip to the Cairns Tropical Zoo, and we all held a koala! It was so cute and cuddly!
Buster & I
Now Im reunited with Newcastle and Abbeywood (the apartments) and it feels so good

It got hot here while we were gone, like mega difference! Our apartments dont have air conditioning so theres been lots of sweating, but even more frightening, lots of BUGS! Gah! The spiders have gotten bigger, the moths more plentiful, and the mosquitoes hungrier. I still love Australia so so much.but these bugs are really starting to freak me out.please just stay out of my apartment! How hard is it?! The moth count since Ive been back found in my apartment is up to at least ten.thats just in a few days. Anyway, Ill stop my little bug rant. The weather is beautiful and Im excited for all the days Ill be spending at the beach this month, and of course the homework Ill be doing as well. (:

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