A Dizzying Departure: Bye, New Zealand!


Wow, I just completed my last full week in New Zealand. Time truly flies by so quickly; I mean, I was ready to go back home right after finishing my finals on the 15th but still, the past two weeks were like a sprint to the finish line. I’m excited though, as tomorrow I fly out of Christchurch around 3 pm, then from Auckland around 7pm, and then it’s back to the States!

So how did I spend my last week in New Zealand? Honestly, I’ve been kept pretty busy since last Sunday. As planned, Lizzie and I woke up relatively early to check out the Sunday Christchurch Market. The market was really interesting, with a mixture of food vendors, craft stalls, and flea stalls.

Lizzie still needed to buy some souvenirs for her family so we went into Central Christchurch afterwards to go to the Art Gallery Market and other souvenir stores in the city. There’s always so much cool Maori art and designs; I wish I wasn’t living the broke college life and instead could buy all of the paua shells, greenstone jewelry, and symbolic carvings my heart desired.

I did manage to buy some possum wool gloves—apparently possum wool is better because it offers more warmth at a lighter weight. I don’t know about the “more warmth” part but the gloves are a still useful souvenir, so no buyer’s regret here. Afterwards, we visited the beautiful New Regent Street one last time, stopping in for a sweet treat at Rollickin Gelato, and then checked out the Contemporary Art Centre.

On Monday it was back to business at CVOC; we had a jam-packed day with a politician and victims meeting, other org meetings, charities to deliver to, and a volunteers appreciation party to host. For such a hectic day, I actually think everything went pretty well! The party food was great and the company was even better.

It was a great chance to say goodbye and show appreciation to the many wonderful people who have donated their time and energy to CVOC. And seeing as how I was leaving New Zealand in a week, there were many goodbyes and well wishes from, and to, people I’ll probably never see again.

Oh, the ever-glorious task of setting out refreshments. Someone’s gotta do the hard work around here ;).

Speaking of goodbyes, Lizzie flew out on Tuesday. I made sure to annoy her the entire day for good measure, of course, with my incessant hugs and cries of “You’re leavingggggg.” I had to leave a lasting memory as the melodramatic American friend! In all seriousness, I’m definitely glad that I met such a wonderful human being and that I was able to bully her into being my friend this semester. Hopefully, I’ll cross the pond soon and visit her in the U.K. But for the rest of the day and Wednesday, it was my turn to pack and clear out of the flat.

On Thursday morning, I officially left Ilam Apartments, my home for the past 5 months. For some reason this time felt different than how I left my university dorm rooms in past years. Maybe it’s the finality that I’ll never be there again? Maybe because this was my last uni dorm? Or how it was probably my best living situation during undergrad? Whatever it was, I was actually a bit sad to leave, but then I moved in with Zhiyan for the last few days in Christchurch who was gracious enough to host me (again, dat broke college life tho).

So of course, the rest of my days have been a mixture of CVOC duties and little unique glimpses of quotidian Christchurch life. From the 27th to the 29th, I was given a tour of a Maori K-12 school, went along for a hospital visit, met with a Hagley schoolteacher, experienced a Matariki celebration at Phillipstown Hub, and of course, continued data-entering resource delivery forms.

Will the Sisyphean task of data-entry and paperwork ever end?!

Today, Zhiyan and I took a little road trip to Hanmer Springs, a town known for its natural hot springs. Now business has expanded and it’s become a pretty touristy town with multiple heated pools, waterslides, spa rooms, etc. I had kept on hearing about Hanmer Springs since I came to New Zealand, so I’m glad I actually got to experience it before I left. It was also my first time in a hot spring. Official opinion: definitely relaxing, but no matter how hot the water is, I still can’t get over the fact that I’m in this pool with 20 other strangers like some kind of human broth.

Anyway, now we’re back in Christchurch and I’m getting ready for my flight home tomorrow. I’m packing up for the last time and, good news, I officially finished data-entering all the spreadsheets for CVOC! So, the next time you guys hear from me, I’ll be back in my hometown on the other side of the world! See you, New Zealand, it’s been real :)

What I’ve learned:

  1. Matariki is the Maori new year, which also follows the lunar cycle as opposed to the solar cycle.
  2. So it’s spelled “Hanmer,” but locals pronounce it as “Ham-ner”…..or maybe it was just the locals I was around lol

What I need to learn:

  1. How to walk and drive on the right side of the road again
  2. How to lift a 10kg carry-on bag onto an overhead plane bin by myself
The men are digging out the hangi, the traditional way of preparing Maori food, at Matariki. The steamed meat and vegetables have been underground since 5 a.m.
The adorable chorus singing in Te Reo to celebrate Matariki. The girls in the front are performing with poi balls, a tool that requires dexterity and coordination to master over time.