It’s happening. Our epic adventure, the experience of a lifetime, is ending. We’re leaving for the airport in about an hour to begin our luggage transfer (since four Fergutodds AND all the luggage won’t fit in one trip).
It still seems surreal and last night, after we’d said goodbye to some dear friends, I found myself thinking, “This was a TERRIBLE idea to come over here – why would you subject us to the pain of leaving?” This was going through my mind while I was crying, Gracie was crying, Tate was crying, Gracie and Tate were holding hands in the back seat (which was SERIOUSLY so sweet to see, y’all), and the poor Professor was just trying to get us back to the B&B as quick as possible. But lovely Andy, who we’d just said goodbye to, opened up the evening with the reminder that it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. But OOF. It hurts to say goodbye to this beautiful country, this extraordinary experience and most especially the friends we’ve made here. It sped by – I can’t believe that we’re really leaving, when I can remember touching down, our first night, our first days here. I’m still trying to sort out my feelings, but I know gratitude and sadness are in there.
As sad as I am to leave, I’m ready to be done traveling. We’ve been traveling for about three weeks now and I’ll be anxious to ditch the suitcases once and for all. Silver lining.
We kicked off the year with a 26-mile hike through the Abel Tasman National Park. Thankfully there was another family on the trip, so our little American girls hung out and hiked in New Zealand with some new French friends who live in Hong Kong. Between the girls, Pierre and Olivia, the entire group was kept fairly entertained. And those kids walk FAST. But they did great and even though we had rain for two mornings, they plodded along, singing Hamilton at the top of their lungs, and admitted freely that they were having fun. The walk was just as beautiful as the Professor and I remembered it from our honeymoon and it was really special to share it with the girls. Here are some of my pictures from before the hike – we took a boat transfer up to the top of the Park and then walked down. The Professor took more and better ones that hopefully I’ll include either in a later post or when I manage to update the “Traveling in NZ” section.
Scenes from along the way on the first day… we finished up crossing an estuary – which is more fun depending on how your tides are going. We lucked out and hit it at low tide, so we were able to cross in ankle-deep water:
The next day was the longest day – we walked over 10 miles and the first half of it was in a light rain. It was still beautiful, though. But I will freely admit that after Hour Six, I become a LOT less agreeable. The body parts felt OK, but the bottoms of my feet were tired of being pounded on for so long. I earned some seriously righteous and impressive blisters. But some delicious snacks and wine from the Lodge and all was right with the world again.
Here are the girls and the Professor finishing up on the last day – another 10-mile day. Proud of these girls for doing so well. Still not sure how I managed to finish before them, but here’s the proof.
Crossed over to the North Island and spent a couple days in Wellington with Fr. Walls. And did a LOT of laundry. Here’s a picture of the Professor and the Priest eating mussels.
We stayed at the Marist residence, in their little apartment. It was a great space and everyone had their own rooms. At this point in the trip, it was nice to be able to spread out. And the best part about it, of course, was spending some time with John. It was hard to say goodbye again, especially because he’s the person who put NZ on the map for me. I like to think I would’ve found this lovely country on my own, but I know it was mostly because of him. It’s been so special to see him regularly and talk to him locally while we’ve been here.
From Wellington we went up to Tongariro National Park, which is a volcano field. There are three volcanoes right around there – here’s two of them: Tongariro and Ruapehu. The top of Tongariro gets lost in the clouds and Ruapehu is the better-shaped volcano. There’s also some little waterfalls and a beautiful sunset.
Went over to the Bay of Plenty the next night and played in the ocean for a minute or two before we began the trek back to Auckland. Some fun and typical Kiwi sights along the way – the big gumboot in Taihapi and the big bottle of L&P (a yummy lemon soft drink here) in Paeroa. Which leads us to now.
Posting this as the Professor is gathering up the electronics cords and we’re double-checking we’ve got things we need. Like passports.
So I’ll see you on the other side. Thanks for coming along with us on this amazing journey.