sarahblack: (Giselle sweet)
I'm back in Auckland! This is my last day in New Zealand. Can you believe it? Where did the time go? I feel like I'm constantly arriving and departing countries with absolutely no time going by in between.

Not much to report, except I stopped in a little town called Matamata yesterday. And I visited Hobbiton!

S5007498


It was so surreal. Just like leaving the real world and entering Middle Earth. I half expected Bilbo to walk around the corner, or Gandalf to show up and set off some fireworks. Everything is maintained meticulously! There are even people in charge of keeping the plants from shedding their leaves and flowers, so that it is always summer!

We were so lucky with the weather, too. The tour before our tour basically had to wonder around in a fog, but as soon as we got there the fog just went away and the sun came out! I was so glad! It just isn't Hobbiton if there isn't a blue sky.

I'm so glad I was able to visit. It was magical! ♥

I wish Thorri could have been there with me to see it.

My trip to New Zealand has been really great overall. The nature is beautiful, the people are fun and easy-going, there's tons of activities to keep crazy tourists busy, and I can read the ingredients list on all the food packaging! I definitely need to come back to explore the south island, though.

The only downside of the trip has been the weather. It's been quite cold! Not cold enough to really bother me - I have my wool sweater with me - but you can't really do beach stuff when it's this cold.

Oh, well. I'll be able to do plenty of beach stuff in sunny California.

America, here I come!

Wellington

Jun. 20th, 2012 07:08 pm
sarahblack: (Gone With the Wind)
Greetings from Wellington! I have finally made it to the most southern point of my New Zealand journey. (Wellington is basically the last stop on the north island before people take the ferry to the south island.) I will have to return one day in order to explore the south island since I don't have time to do it now. I've heard it's amazing! I think I'll be happier to visit when it's not quite so cold, though. (It's winter in New Zealand right now, and much colder on the south island than it is on the north island.)

Anyway, after my Taupo skydiving adventures I went to a little place called River Valley. It was stunningly beautiful there! And on the way we stopped and walked to a waterfall that was featured in the Lord of the Rings movies. "Gollum's waterfall" according to my bus driver. It was very pretty. I do love waterfalls. ♥

We stayed in this little cabin in the middle of a river valley - hence the name - and the views all around were just stunning! And little baby sheep prancing around made the picture complete. We had a really nice evening in the cabin. There was a chicken roast dinner, and a bar with a generous bartender. (I didn't pay for a single drink the entire night!)

We drove to Wellington the next day, but before we left I had a chance to have a little walk around the surrounding area. It was really so beautiful. I can't even describe it. Especially in the morning light.

It's been quite nice to stay in Wellington. It's a very hill-y city, with houses built on the numerous hillsides that tower over the water. Today I went to the Weta cave and saw some pretty cool miniatures and memorabilia from the Lord of the Rings movies, and also from the Tin Tin movie. There was also a DVD you could watch which showed a lot of the work that the Weta people put into making the CGI, puppets, props and all that stuff for the films that they've worked on.

The rest of my afternoon was spent at the Te Papa museum. It's the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand and full of interesting stuff! I liked the colossal squid the most. It's the only museum in the world that has a specimen on display!

Last night was quite fun as well. It was my first night in Wellington, and there was a trash bag party at the bar which is attached to the hostel. People could design and wear an outfit out of trash bags in order to get a free drink! I made a really awesome dress, but I did not win the contest. Boo.

Tomorrow I'm heading back north. I'm not sure where I will spend tomorrow night. Either Taupo or Matamata. In any case, my next tourist activity will be to visit Hobbiton! I'm really looking forward to it.


P.S. My second skydive was even better than my first. I jumped with the same guy again - Amos - and he let me do a backflip out of the plane, go in circles during the freefall, pull out the chute, steer the chute and go in horizontal circles... It was so awesome! And the view of Mt. Doom and Lake Taupo was even more beautiful in the sunset. ♥

Taupo

Jun. 17th, 2012 03:56 pm
sarahblack: (Glam Rose)
Some of you probably know this already, but I thought I should say something about it here.

I went skydiving yesterday!

Halla


It was so awesome. I wasn't scared at all! And the view... I mean, I was basically jumping out over Lake Taupo, and I could see into Mordor! (The mountain that was Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings is visible from here.)

I'm actually just on my way to go again right now! The weather is so gorgeous!

But yeah, I also went on a river cruise today. On the river that we will all see in the Hobbit movie this coming December. It's the one that they will travel down in barrels!

How much do I love New Zealand?

So much!
sarahblack: (Giselle dress)
I don't have a lot of time on this public computer so I'm just going to post what I posted on facebook:

"New Zealand is amazing. The nature is unbelievable! I never want to fall asleep on the bus because there's always some new gorgeous view around the next corner. I've been to a beach where you can dig a hole and hot water springs up, in caves with glow-worms that make the ceiling look like a starry night sky, and today I went to see a Maori cultural show! It's all been amazing. ♥"

I was one of the very few who went into the hot water pools that we dug up on the beach. The tide happened to be at night, so it was pitch black and freezing! But I held up the honour of my Viking heritage. It was nice and warm in the water, though.

The glow-worm cave in Waitomo was a dream come true for me. I've been wanting to see them since I saw David Attenborough talk about them in one of his documentaries. It was a surreal experience!

I just got back from the Maori cultural show here in Rotorua. They fed us a feast of traditional hangi after the show. (It's slowly cooked meat and veg, basically.) I'm so full! The show itself was very educational and fun. The Maori did their war dance (Haka) for us and sang traditional songs. We also had to choose a chief from our tour group to represent us, and he got to take part in the opening ceremony. The war dance was quite intimidating!

Tomorrow we leave Rotorua, a place which reminds me of Iceland since it is full of hot springs, and go to Taupo - the adventure capital of the northern island. I'll be sad to leave Rotorua though, the lake here is gorgeous. I walked out to it earlier today, and some black swans swam right up to where I was standing!

I hope you're all happy and healthy! ♥
sarahblack: (Oops)
I've made it to Auckland in one piece! I'm at my hostel right now, but I have to wait a few hours before I can check in. The flight was actually great! (A good thing, since it was 11 hours.) I'm so glad that I'm flying Air New Zealand again when I go to LA. They have a really funny flight security video, great entertainment system, super friendly and helpful staff, and a lot of free refreshments. The food wasn't half bad either - for airplane food.

My last days in Japan were spent in the company of Snaevar and his family. It was a lovely relaxing time for the most part. They took such good care of me. ♥

I did try to do some tourist stuff on my own on Saturday. It didn't go as well as I would have hoped. The major annoyance was the rain. It was pouring! But I suppose I was bound to get one really rainy day. But I managed to have a look at Yasukuni shrine and the museum. I was very interested, but I got the feeling I would have benefited from more knowledge of history to fully appreciate the museum. I didn't quite like how they glossed over the warcrimes committed in Nanjing. They barely had a paragraph about it!

After the museum I went to the Toshimaen Garden Spa onsen. I was in the water for maybe two minutes when I decided to move to a different area of the spa. This was a bad decision. I tried to step on the bottom step in the pool, but the bottom step wasn't there! So I kind of stumbled forward and the front of my right leg (a bit below the knee) hit the edge of the next step. This edge was sharp enough to leave me bleeding. The wound is not that big, but it's a little deeper than a superficial flesh wound.

The employees helped me stop the bleeding, get the area sterilized and bandaged up. They also gave me a refund, since I couldn't really stick around the onsen after getting hurt like that.

So that was fun.

But yesterday was better. The weather was back to being sunny and warm, and I went with Snaevar, Riya and Elin to the Tokyo Aquarium. It was so cool! Especially the tuna tank. Tuna fish are enormous! I also got to pet a little shark. Very awesome.

We didn't stay for very long since we wanted to get some lunch (mmm, gyoza), and then I needed to pack and get to the airport! But I'm very glad we went. It was so pretty around the Aquarium, and I always love watching the fish swim. ♥

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Sarah Black

March 2015

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