It was a whirlwind of sights and emotions and a huge revelation to myself about my life:
this is what I want to do. this is what I want to do, forever.
So, because I did SO much, I am going to break up these blog posts by cities and/or major events of the trip, and try to hash them out in a timely manner. Hopefully, before I leave for trip number two of 2014, which starts in... oh, approximately 6 days. Oofda. Yeah.. that would be a miracle, but I'll see what I can do!
Let's just start with this for now.
My first stop in the South Island was Queenstown, also known as, the 'adventure capital of the world'. This is where I was FINALLY able to reunite with my best friend from the good ol USA. I love her so much, and I couldn't wait to see her!! After all, she flew around the world, and gave up holidays at home, just to travel with me. What a trooper!
But of course, as usual, I didn't get there without a little trouble first.
I suffered through some 20 minutes of a denied passport in line for check-in, before finally being handed my boarding pass and cleared to leave the country. I went from being incredibly excited, to incredibly worried, and hoping that I didn't somehow screw up my visa in Australia. Um. Stressful much?!
Whatever the problem was, they figured it out, and luckily I had no further complications aftewards.. phew! And then, of course, I was the lucky one chosen to be searched for bombs for the first of many times on this trip. But hey, gotta keep life interesting!
BUT then, I was finally on my way! As we headed towards Queenstown, I was blown away by the scenery from the plane. While everyone else was engrossed in whatever the hottest novel is, or deafening their ears via Ipod, I could not keep my eyes away from the window, because this is just a glimpse of what I was seeing. How was everyone else not ogling over this?!?!
Wow. I was SO ready for this adventure. I landed and spent the night catching up with the friend I hadn't seen for 4 months, which if you know us, feels like a lifetime. We planned our "must-do's" and did weather checks and realized that we would have to go skydiving the next day in order to fit it in the schedule. All I was thinking was... I'm not ready for this. I need more time to worry. But, I put my big girl pants on and decide to be brave and go for it. And we booked it up for the following afternoon.
We started the day with some light and peaceful hiking to get our body and minds ready to jump out of a plane from above the clouds. And here's what we saw! All around me were mountains and gorgeous blue water. I was officially in Jerrica heaven. A perfectly sunny day, with nature as beautiful as this? My absolute dream come true. I fell in love. And if you know me at all, you know I don't say that a lot.
And.. more MOUNTAINS. and WATER. ahhh.
And then we put our bravest, scaredy cat girl, game faces on. We were ready to jump through the clouds for a similar view of this from above the ground. We headed to this destination, which was about a 45 minute drive, but not without almost falling into the motion sickness trap. Yeah, you know the windy roads of New Zealand? They weren't lying! Especially when you add crazy kiwi drivers into the mix. But somehow, we made it. Alive, and relatively intact. Just the state you want to be in before you go plummeting to the ground from 15,000 feet above.
|Prepping for the big jump!|
And we did it!!! And let me just say that this was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. Aside from being a big test to just how adventurous I really am, I have never seen a better view of the world than from perfectly set above it. And seriously, do you know what 65 seconds of free falling feels like? An eternity. Yet, awesome at the same time. And the 5 minutes AFTER the parachute opened? pure and peaceful bliss :). such a breathtaking view.
To watch the video of my experience click here. The views are even better when you get to watch 6 minutes of me falling towards it. Plus, in all honesty, once I got suited up, I was way less scared than I thought I would be. Until I saw Amy jump, that is.
A big THANK YOU to Skydive Paradise for giving me such a wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity in such a stunning place! The staff, the jump, and the overall experience gets a big two thumbs up from this girl. I would HIGHLY recommend them, if you're ever in the area and looking for a thrill :).
And aside from that, Queenstown was very touristy. "Touristy" often gets a bad rap, but I really think it's quite endearing. What does it say about a place, when so many people want to go there? It means, it's pretty darn spectacular. And it was, in my opinion. We did a little shopping, drank a little drank, and ate the biggest and best burger of my life at Fergburger's. How could life get any better? Oh wait.
Then I got a weird and random surprise of a lifetime. By sheer coincidence, my blogging idol was doing a tour herself around the South Island. When I found out she was in Queenstown, I contacted her and asked if she'd like to drink some beers with us by the lake. And quite to my surprise, she agreed. The weird thing is, HER blog is the one I came across before I made the move to Australia. SHE was the one who without doing anything other than writing and inspiring, convinced me to start blogging and turn travel into a lifestyle. It was great to get her advice, and to meet her so randomly!
Her name is Liz and she is the author of Young Adventuress, if you'd like to get to know her more. She has a travel history, I can only hope to replicate someday, and her wit, humor, and photos get a BIG A + in my book. Plus she gets to live and work in New Zealand! How great is that?
And then Amy and I ended our trip on Christmas Day. It was quite different this year with no snow and no family, but I felt so lucky to be given the opportunity to travel and to have someone so special from home there with me.
I hope you all had a great holiday season, and believe it or not, we were thinking of all of you from all those thousands of miles away.
Stay tuned for my next post on the beautiful Milford Sound! More stunning views and road trips :). XO