Kia ora! Greetings from Aotearoa New Zealand! The last time you heard from me was from the pre-departure video. I have been here for almost two weeks now and this is going to be my first journal entry in Auckland, New Zealand! It’s going to be quite the story, but follow along!
I have to say, the rest of my trip after the pre-departure video was hectic for sure. I flew into San Francisco from Boston and I filmed that video while waiting (overnight) for my next flight. To break down the itinerary from that point, I had to go from San Francisco to Honolulu, then from Honolulu to Auckland. Once I arrived in Auckland, there would be another overnight layover, then in the morning, I would board a flight to Queenstown on the South Island. Our program provider planned to have a 3-4 day orientation in Queenstown with numerous adventurous activities and cultural events. Then on the fourth day, we’d fly out to our respective cities. Everything was going pretty smoothly; I got on that flight and had a short layover in Hawai’i then boarded another flight scheduled to arrive in Auckland. The craziest thing was on the flight from Honolulu to Auckland, the person sitting right next to me happened to be going with the same program to New Zealand and was also from Massachusetts! What a small world.
But then we arrived in Auckland (Sunday night)…
I forgot to ask the person I met for her contact information and lost her at the chaotic customs lines. Then, I checked my emails and discovered that the flight to Queenstown was canceled due to the cyclone. At that point, it was nearly midnight after getting through customs and immigration. It took me a while to process the situation and what I was going to do. Thinking back, the situation wasn’t complex, but after a two-day journey to Auckland and the expectation of being able to board a flight the following morning, it sure seemed like it. Lastly, I decided that it was best to stay at the airport overnight and figure everything out Monday morning. At 5 am I frantically emailed the program advisors/managers who mentioned that I could check into accommodations early. I thought that would be the best idea since the next available flight to Queenstown wasn’t until Wednesday. The program also encouraged us to get to Queenstown if we still could. Thus, I got on a shuttle in the middle of a storm to the student accommodations and checked in. At that point, it felt surreal, here I was in a different country and now I’m in a new space.
I spent two days in Auckland at student accommodations and was already getting used to living in the flat. I was homesick upon arriving at the student housing but not nearly as much as I thought I was. I honestly think it was because of the amount of time I spent traveling. I had been on planes for two days straight and had time to process everything while flying. I truly missed my family and friends and admittedly shed a few tears.
Early Wednesday morning I woke up, got on a shuttle, and was at the airport on my way to Queenstown. It definitely felt crazy because I was just going for one day. A bit spontaneous, for sure, but I wasn’t going to get a refund for canceling the flight. I thought “When am I ever going to the South Island?” Probably not going to have time (or money) to ever go so I just rebooked instead of canceling it altogether. Finally, after two more flights, I arrived in Queenstown. The moment I stepped off the plane, I was in awe at the scenery; photos don’t do Queenstown justice. And although I was only there for one day, I do not regret it and was extremely grateful to even have the opportunity to see Queenstown with my own eyes. Once I arrived, I met some of the most adventurous and spontaneous people ever. Most were in the same program but a few were other travelers. It was mind-blowing to me and I remembered just how big the world really is. I didn’t get to do much there since it was the afternoon but we were able to have traditional Māori food for dinner followed by a brief Haka lesson. Afterward, I went on a walk through Queenstown with a new friend I met and returned pretty early and settled in for the night. The next morning we finished the Haka lesson and were on our way again to the airport. I know that this post is quite long but thank you for following along on this long journey. I will get back to you all in the next journal post, and this time, more about Auckland!