There And Back Again (Part II)Auckland, Spring 2012

Right now I’m sitting in a motel in Christchurch, right across from the airport. My ten-day campervan adventure is quickly coming to a close, and although I’ve seen towering mountain cliffs and tiny, indescribably cute penguins, I feel ready to go home and rest a bit before school starts up again.

After we visited Franz Josef glacier we made our way to Milford Sound, which was the grand finale of our road trip down the south island coast. The trip to Milford Sound is a winding one, and there are precious few things other than sheep and trees. There’s one road into Milford Sound, and it takes about two hours to drive through it. Once arriving there, the view is spectacular all around. Milford Sound is a fjord, and is surrounded by mountains. The combination of the beautiful mountains that we’d seen a lot of so far with an ocean inlet and plenty of birds was even more lovely than what I could have imagined. We spent time walking around the area: relaxing, reading, and just taking in the scenery. The only way to truly get a good glimpse at Milford Sound is by booking a cruise, so we took one later that day. There were waterfalls that jutted off of the face of the rocks, hundreds and hundreds of little streams that were created by the glaciers from above. We got there when it was rainy, and supposedly that’s the best time to see the fjord because so many temporary waterfalls are created. After getting soaked by water from all sides, we sat inside and saw dolphins swim right alongside our boat. We also saw seals lounging on a rock a little bit away from our boat. Although Milford Sound was probably the most expensive couple of days in our journey, the fjord was beautiful and I’m glad we stopped (and now I know what a fjord is!).

After Milford Sound, we had a couple of days to get back to Christchurch and catch our flight back to Auckland. We stopped in Dunedin, marveling at the architecture and old churches. We also drove along the peninsula to the beach, where supposedly penguins lived. We saw a couple in a little house in the nature preserve, and a whole ton of seals playing along the beach, but we didn’t actually see any penguins come up from the beach. The look on my friend Olivia’s face when she saw the penguins in the pen, though, cemented the fact that it was a worthwhile trip. The days leading back to Christchurch were full of driving, having rock n’ roll sing-a longs while our campervan rumbled down the road, and stopping at night next to very vocal and restless cows. Many of my friends from Auckland mentioned how many sheep and cows were in the south island, and I thought they were exaggerating…but every twenty minutes or so we’d pass fences and fences full of grazing sheep. Sheep, cows, mountains and rivers are pretty much the summation of my south island trip with friends.

I am so lucky to have gotten the chance to tour around the south island. Although I’m not super-nature gal, I’ve learned to appreciate the solitude that comes from being alone among trees and rocky cliffs. There’s something comforting in knowing that although I may feel stressed out about due dates in my classes and I may miss my family, life is still moving on at a constant rate, even though I may not feel it. Unlike busy Auckland, life in the south island is so much slower, and so much more contemplative. I like both versions, but it’s been nice to take a break from fast-paced city life to appreciate some deep, chasm-y rivers and silly sea lions. The best of life is both of these things, and I’m experiencing the best of life here in New Zealand.

love, e

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