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Monday, February 20, 2017

PLEASE Add New Zealand to Your Bucket List

Cue my excuses for the delay in posting. 

One thing I was not prepared for when coming on this trip was the lack of sleep I would be experiencing. The time change was difficult enough but then add in early morning flights with sleepless nights and my life is one big pile of jet lag.

BUT, I have to remind myself that I'm finally doing what I've always dreamed of. The lack of sleep will just have to be something I deal with.

One thing that has been great about this trip is that it's been a constant "go, go, go." I have not had much downtime, making it difficult to post as frequently as I originally hoped, but that means I've covered so much ground in the cities I've visited.

After traveling from Sydney to Melbourne to Auckland to Waiheke Island, I realized it was essential to travel with my laptop moving forward. Which is why I am typing this blog from the comfort of my ocean view bed in Hamilton Island, Australia.

Don't believe me? Here's your proof...

Where I last left you guys, I was in Melbourne, Australia. We visited an ice bar for the first time--did I mention we went on Valentine's Day when it was decorated in roses and offered chocolate covered strawberries? This was a pretty awesome experience. For those of you who are not familiar with an ice bar, it's a bar made entirely of ice. It was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit in the bar. Luckily, they supply you with boots, gloves, and heavy coats to keep you warm. You're only limited to about an hour and can leave when you want.

Our bartender was very kind and had recently moved to Melbourne from Sweden. We had some delicious drinks--I indulged in a little specialty called "penguins piss", how appropriate.

After the ice bar, we visited one last rooftop bar in Melbourne before heading to the zoo. (If there is one thing in Australia that I cannot get enough of, it's the views.)

Of course, as a full blown tourist, we had to have some one-on-one time with the kangaroos. This close-up encounter did not disappoint. I met a little baby Roo named Meg.

After we spent the day at the zoo, it was back to the airport where we waited for our flight to Auckland, New Zealand at 12:00am. We arrived in Auckland at 5:30am with yet another time difference (two hours ahead of Sydney and Melbourne). This was where we began our 36 hours of no sleep.

Our first day in Auckland was quite an adventure. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a hiccup with our originally booked accommodation. After a few hours of back and forth trying to sort things out, we were able to book a room on Waiheke Island, a beautiful island that was only a 40 minute ferry ride from the city. This made our trip amazing.

Waiheke Island is known for its beautiful beaches and vineyards. If you haven't heard of it before, please do some quick research. You will not regret it.

We stayed at the Waiheke Island Motel and could not have been happier with the accommodation. Christina, who works at the front desk, took it upon herself to make us dinner reservations, booked us cabs, and showed us some of the best hiking spots.

We hiked to the Onetangi Beach for some incredible views. We were absolutely drenched given the severe rainstorm but it didn't matter. We made the best of it and actually went swimming in the ocean.

Before leaving Waiheke, we visited the Mudbrick Vineyard which is home to some breathtaking views of the island and Auckland. Not to mention, the wine is delicious.

New Zealand truly stole my heart.

When I was mapping out my trip for friends and family, I often heard "you're going to Australia? That's the one place I'm dying to go!" Or "Thailand looks beautiful, I'm so jealous" and "Eastern Asia is a dream, I wish I was visiting." All of these mentions but barely anyone acknowledged that I was traveling to New Zealand.

My only regret thus far is that I didn't spend more time in New Zealand. The people were friendly and helpful. Waiheke Island had some of the most beautiful beaches and vineyards. AND we went bungee jumping.

Yes. Bungee jumping. It was the best day of my life.

We jumped off the Harbor Bridge in Auckland. After our group had finished, the team mentioned that we would be able to get a second jump for half the price within the next 6 months. Given that I knew I wouldn't return within this time span, I quickly asked... "well, what about right now?" They shrugged and told me to hop back up.

But this time, they made us go backwards. Talk about terrifying.

I would 100% do it all over again if given the chance. 

Our time in New Zealand was incredible, even given the unexpected heavy rain. I truly look forward to the day that I can return there and spend more time.

We flew back to Sydney on Saturday morning where my two friends spent the last evening of their trip. We went to another dumpling restaurant (I'm now obsessed with Chinese dumplings). Afterwards, we enjoyed some of the rose petal ice cream cones from I Creamy before heading home to pack.

I'm so thankful that I have friends eager to see the world. It was incredible having my two friends from college join me for a portion of this experience. We made a lot of memories that I know will last a lifetime and I'm anxiously awaiting our next adventure.

Ali and Sage went their separate ways to head home to the States where Hannah and I hopped on a domestic flight to spend the next few days on Hamilton Island, home of the Great Barrier Reef. I cannot even put into words how beautiful this island is. The view from our room says it all.

Looking forward to a few days of relaxation here before we begin our trip to Hong Kong and a few cities in Thailand.

It's hard to see the days passing so quickly but I'm beyond happy that I am making the most of this experience and decided to take a risk and travel. There is so much left to see and so much more to do.

I hope you all continue to join me for this adventure--I pinky promise to be more active.

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