Time is a powerful thing. It doesn’t care about you or your schedule. It is constant and unforgiving. Each wrinkle, grey hair, and creaky knee, are all relentless reminders that while time is eternally infinite, your entire existence is simply a blip in time and space. Your agenda doesn’t matter because time stops for nobody and nothing.
Tell that to my bright purple, 25 dollar Ironman watch that I bought from Groupon. That time stopped exactly 11 days ago.
Goodbye my beloved Groupon watch. You did such a great job to allay my fears of being late and letting me know how long my run was (probably a slow 10 minutes). You were good to me and we always had a great time together (HA!).
I have since replaced it with a bracelet that I bought from one of these lovely ladies in a Fijian village.
Now I feel like a true backpacker because I have a braided leather bracelet. Soon, I’ll be sporting dreadlocks, I’ll walk barefoot everywhere I go, and I’ll have one or all of the following tattoos: a compass, a world map, water and water elements, Chinese characters, or tribal designs.
Since I got into New Zealand, everyone has been telling me that I don’t have enough time here. Right, right, I know. But I don’t have an unlimited amount of time in this country and I certainly don’t have an unlimited budget. I’m making do with the time and money that I have and hopefully I can experience the best of New Zealand in the 17 days I have here. Here’s what has happened in a nutshell thusfar:
Danny and I rented a car at the Auckland airport. This is the first time that I’ve rented a car while traveling on my own. It’s such a luxury to have ultimate freedom to drive where we want and to stop whenever the mood strikes. We don’t have to abide by train schedules or bus routes. We navigate using Maps.Me, which is, in my opinion, the best travel app out there. You can download a map for an entire country and use it while offline. And it’s free!
It was a bit of an adjustment to drive on the left side of the road. But the biggest issue that we’ve had so far is making sure that we’re using our turn signal and not turning the windshield wipers on. Unlike the United States where you can turn right on a ride light, you can’t turn left on a red.
The next day, we got up at 5:30am and started driving down south to Matamata for our tour of Hobbiton, one of the most popular movie sets from the Lord of the Rings trilogies.
Later that day, we stopped in Taupo to visit Sarah, a friend that I met in Sydney earlier this year. We watched the sunset over Lake Taupo and fought off vicious sand fly attacks.
We visited Huka Falls, where the water is so blue that it looks fake. It wasn’t much of a hike since the falls were right next to the parking lot, but we still got some beautiful pictures.
On the drive down to Turangi, we saw people jumping off of a cliff into the ocean. Since we weren’t tied to a schedule, we pulled the car over, changed into our suits, and joined in. This was my first cliff diving experience!
We got up early the next morning and started our hike on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (one of the top 10 most popular hikes in the world). I felt ill-prepared for such a hike since I didn’t have hiking boots. But I was still so much more prepared to the guy at the start of the track who asked, “do you know where we can buy water?” It’s a 7.5 hour, 19.4 km hike, with no drinkable water anywhere along the path.
The morning started off pretty chilly and cloudy, but the weather warmed up later in the day. We hiked past Mount Doom (AKA Mount Ngauruhoe) from Lord of the Rings, through clouds, and past craters full of beautiful blue and green waters. We ate $1 cans of chicken, hiked with a German brother and sister, left our mark in rocks, and took hundreds of pictures that just don’t quite do the scenery justice.
We have 7 days left in this beautiful country and I have every intention of making the most of every second that we have here. If we miss anything, there’s always next time.