Alright everybody, I have recently just returned from my 12 day mid semester break (also considered spring break back at home). It was probably the most epic break I have ever had, I don’t think I will be able to top it haha! Over break I traveled with a great group of Americans that I met during my first week of orientation… Bryce (Cal), Calli (Portland), Alex (Main), and Ryan (Virginia). Such an amazing group, I had an absolute blast with them! We started our adventure on Thursday April 5th, catching an evening city bus to Invercargill, a small town where my flatmate, Cam, happens to be from. We pulled in late that night and as soon as we stepped off the bus we were determined to find a place to eat. The only restraunt in town that was open happened to be a turkish kabab place. We munched on lamb, falafel, and grape leaves! Being the only customers in the restaurant, we started chatting with the owner who was very nice and happy to have us. After eating we walked straight to the Tuatara hostile to get some sleep. That night we shared a room a boy from Germany, he was very nice.
The next day was good friday, so naturally the entire country seemed to shut down for easter weekend. Not much was open and the town seemed quite deserted. So that morning we sat in a Starbucks and chatted, later we played frisbee at a nearby park. We also checked out the botanical gardens and Invercargill museum. In the museum were the famous Tautara, a prehistoric animal that is very similar to a dinosaur (pic below).By noon we were all hungry and of course the only restaurant that was open was the turkish kabab place! woot woot! yes, we went back once more and the owner was very pleased to have us. Again, we were the only customers and had a lovely time chatting with the owner, he loved having us around haha! We took a pic with the owner (shown below). After eating, we picked up food at a small 24 hour market for our next adventure to Stewart Island!
Saturday, we took off early to catch our morning ferry to Stewart Island down at the bluff. The ride was about an hour and it was beautiful! As we approached Stewart Island, the sun broke through and we could see all the little islands off the coast. As soon as we docked we grabbed our heavy backpacks and walked towards the hostile, making a pit stop for sausages be sold at a bake sale in a nearby park. hehe! After putting down our luggage we immediately took off to explore. We all wanted to go kayaking really badly. Walking over to an area called Half Moon Bay, we rented kayaks from a little place owned by a Canadian from Vancouver, BC! She pushed us out into the water and our adventure began as we glided across the incredibly smooth water. We paddled out to Ulva Island across the bay and glided through all the tiny surrounding islands. It was so beautiful, I felt like I was in a magazine! hahaha! As we paddled around the back of the island we looked through the clear water and saw fish, jellyfish, and clams! We also accidentally ran into a SEA LION ahhh! woops! Ryan spotted the big creature first and was chased out of the sea lions territory haha! As we continued to paddle past that area the sea lion chased each of our boats at one point and we all gave little yelps of surprise, encouraging us to paddle faster haha! As we paddled back towards Stewart, Bryce and I ran into a Blue Penguin swimming in the bay!
That evening we explored some beaches around the area, they were all incredible! There were no signs of anyone ever touching the sand, we laid down the first footprints on quite a few beaches. It was all very peaceful 🙂 Later, we went out for dinner at the local fish n chip place! It was delicious!!! We tried Kumara fries, which are very similar to sweet potato fries, and we tried fried mussels as well. All very tasty. Then, we hit up the one bar on the island enjoying a local musician who sang covers of old songs by Tom Petty and the Talking Heads. We also enjoyed watching a rugby game with the 400 residents of Stewart Island who I think all packed into the bar that night haha!
The next day we planned to tramp around the island, but before we could get started we had to stop to get some coffee. haha! and while we were at the little Kiwi French Crepery, might as well get some delicious looking carrot cake along with it hehe! It was a very appetizing meal. We headed out west on the Island, walking on a trail that carried us out on the perimeter of the island. We stopped at many different beaches: Bathing Beach, Dead Mans Beach, Braggs Bay, Horseshoe Bay and Lee Bay. Taking a short break at Horseshoe Bay we ate lunch and even went for a little swim (which was very cold might I add). Continuing with our hike, we reached Raikura National Park! This hike was amazing through the tropical looking forest with twisting vines, incredibly tall trees, and many different forest creatures. We saw three different kinds of birds on our tramp, the Kea (resembles a parrot), a Wood Pigeon (the biggest pigeon I’d ever seen with vibrant blue on it’s wing and made a beautiful sing-song voice), and the Tui (a dark colored bird that also sound very pretty and happens to be one of the famous brands of beer in nz hehe). After hiking all day we made it back to the hostile for a nice dinner we prepared. Unfortunately, we did not have a room booked for that night, but the hosts were nice enough to let us crash in the common area for the night.
more to come about my break…. 🙂