Final Goodbyes

This marked my last week in New Zealand. Lots of emotions. I was sad to leave the placed I’ve called home for the past four and a half months, but excited to head back to the States to see my friends and family.

My week started with an unexpected visit from my friend Sim (another Arcadia student studying in Wellington) as she got stranded in Auckland for two days on her way to Melbourne, Australia. Unfortunately I couldn’t be much of a host, as I still had two more exams to go.

I did however have time to squeeze in one last Nike Run, and it was my sixth time which meant I finally got my We Run Auckland Nike T-shirt. Needless to say I was very excited!

Celebratory pic with my new shirt!

Celebratory pic with my new shirt!

On Saturday after finishing both exams, Caroline, Meg, Ryan and I went to Ima Bistro as a farewell dinner for Ryan who was heading off to Australia early the next day. It’s been very sad to say goodbye to everyone little by little. That night Rob had everyone over to his apartment for our last big get-together before everyone was parting ways.

Last get-together at Robs!

Last get-together at Robs!

Sunday I met up with my kiwi friend Chris and we had a great lunch at Elliot Stables, a renovated horse barn turned elegant food court. I only wish I went there sooner! We spent the afternoon searching for souvenirs for my family before saying final goodbyes.

I decided to spend my remaining time with the amazing friends I’ve made here. I finally got a roommate picture! (a day before we all headed our separate ways).

Jasmine, Chrissy, Carsen, and I

Jasmine, Chrissy, Carsen, and I

I’ve been so fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad in Auckland, New Zealand for the semester. I crossed so many things off my bucket list:

1. Go Zorbing (Rotorua)

2. Go Spelunking (Waitomo Glowworm Caves)

3. Learn to Surf (Raglan)

4. Bungy Jump (43 metres off the Kawarau Bridge, Queenstown)

5. Go Skydiving (12000 feet above Kerikeri, Bay of Islands)

6. Drive of the “other” side of the road

7. Go White Water Rafting (Rangitaiki River)

8. Sleep under the stars (Coromandel)

9. Run at 5K (Auckland)

10. Start a blog!

There are so many things I will miss about New Zealand. The people, the constant adventure, the breathtaking landscape, the BEST COOKIES IN THE WORLD-Tim Tams, the BEST BURGER IN THE WORLD-Fergburger, kebabs, and more.

In addition to my many adventures that made my experience all the better, it was the people I enjoyed these adventures with, the friendships I made, and the memories that will last a lifetime that made my trip more than I could’ve ever imagined. Saying goodbye to New Zealand was hard, but saying goodbye to my new family of friends was even harder. I hope to cross paths with everyone again as soon as possible. I know that this will not be the last time we see each other. It isn’t goodbye, it’s until we meet again…

I am now officially a senior in college, hard to believe!! I’m headed to LA to spend time with my aunt, uncle and cousins and then I’m visiting my roommate, before headed back east to see my family and hometown friends.

Thanks for reading! xo Lyssa

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Visit from a friend

I’m currently stuck in the middle of finals with not much going on, however this past weekend my friend Amanda, who I go to school with at Providence College and who is studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, came for a quick visit! Amanda and I lived on the same hall together freshman year, and she contacted me about a month ago saying she wanted to come to NZ and asked to crash on my couch. Of course! That is the best part about traveling!!

She arrived late on friday night, and early saturday morning she was off to the west coast beaches of Auckland for a canyoning adventure. That night I took her out on the town with a few friends here to experience Auckland nightlife. Sunday we spent the morning hiking Mount Eden, a dormant volcano with a giant sunken volcanic cone at the top, located in Auckland’s suburb of Mt. Eden. The crater was huge and super cool! It was great to take Amanda there not only to show her around the city, but to explore the hill myself because I had yet to go there, and time is running short! The views from the top were sensational. I could see the entire Auckland city skyline and all the suburbs as well.

Panorama of the crater at the top of Mount Eden

Panorama of the crater at the top of Mount Eden

Amanda and I at the top

Amanda and I at the top

View of Auckland from afar

View of Auckland from afar

After grabbing dinner at a nearby Burger Fuel (second best burgers, behind Fergburger of Queenstown) we decided to go to the Sky Tower and catch the views of Auckland from above. We went to the 60th floor and took in the breathtaking views of Auckland by night.

Auckland by night

Auckland by night

At the Sky Tower...don't look down!

At the Sky Tower…don’t look down!

Amanda and I checking out the view

Amanda and I checking out the view

We had a short, but sweet visit and it was great to see someone from Providence so far away here in New Zealand! Only a week left and still so much to do!

More to come. It’s not time to leave yet!

xo Lyssa

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Study Break on Waiheke Island

Hard to believe the semester is over and my time in New Zealand is rapidly winding to an end. I originally came to NZ with the intention of traveling not only all around the country, but to Australia and Fiji as well. When it finally became time to make the decision about what to do for the week before finals began, prices looked a little steep to travel anywhere outside the country. After talking to our program director, Kate, she suggested that we rent a house or ‘bach’ for the week somewhere in New Zealand as a group. It would be way cheaper and just as much fun, if not more!

I, as the organized one of the group, looked through tons of different houses all within a few hours of Auckland that would accommodate our large group, and finally decided on a bach located on Waiheke Island, a mere 45 minute ferry ride away from the city. Check out our bach here.

In total we had 19 people staying in the house, not all at once, but a large group all the same. Our group consisted of (here we go): Ryan, Dan, Chris, Joe C, Jess, Meghan, Caroline, Marjie, Amanda, Bianca, Tony, Grant, Leo, Rob, Gemma, Rachel, Joe S, Jannik, and I. Quite the crew!

Most of us took the 2:00PM ferry over to Waiheke, hoped in a van that drove us right to our doorstep where Joe C and Jess had their rented mopeds out front. The bach was AMAZING. The pictures from the website did not even do it justice. Let me paint a picture: Amazing view looking over the rest of the island and harbor, looking outwards we could see downtown Auckland and Rangitoto. The main house held most of the bedrooms with a grand kitchen, den, and bathrooms. We had our own heated, indoor pool, lounging deck with equally amazing views, patio, two jacuzzis, ‘man cave’ equipped with separate bedrooms, snookers table, and foosball, and a mini soccer field. We were also surrounded by 12 acres of farmland so the property was very secluded.

Our home for the week <3 (Photo courtesy of Gemma)

Our home for the week (Photo courtesy of Gemma)

Our beautiful front lawn

Our beautiful front lawn

View from the front

View from the front

View from the deck

View from the deck

INDOOR POOL!

INDOOR POOL!

Joe, Me, Amanda, Meghan, Caroline, and Ryan. We have arrived! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

Joe, Me, Amanda, Meghan, Caroline, and Ryan. We have arrived! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

That's me flailing to get the ball and Dan playing some soccer

That’s me flailing to get the ball and Dan playing some soccer (Photo courtesy of Amanda)

Deck & Dining (Photo courtesy of Amanda)

Deck & Dining (Photo courtesy of Amanda)

The first day we all got settled, I walked to the grocery store to pick up some things for the week, and by the time we eventually made it back it was time to cook dinner. Monday night was burgers. We all pooled money to have communal dinners, and Caroline was the chef for this one while Ryan grilled. The homemade burgers were delicious! We spent the rest of the night soaking in the hot tub over beers and playing cards and enjoying each others company.

Tuesday, marked the day for beer olympics. We had organized the event before hand and split our group up into teams. Each group of four came up with a country or theme and dressed up according to their country. My team consisting of Tony, Joe C, Meghan, and I decided to be ‘International Waters’ which basically meant dressing in scuba gear, with hula skirts and floaties, and Joe was a pirate. Other teams themes were Ancient Greece, Translyvania, and Candyland. Pretty original I thought!

Team International Waters!

Team International Waters!

Meghan and I in our matching outfits!

Meghan and I in our matching outfits!

I couldn’t tell you who won, the organized games got fairly disorganized very quickly. All the same we continued to relax, enjoy each others company, and enjoy the hot tub too! That night was pasta night, where Meghan made some delicious penne with marinara and parmesan cheese!

Wednesday marked the day that some of our fellow mates were leaving and heading back to Auckland. Some of the group went back into the city to catch the Dalai Lama speak downtown, while Ryan, Joe S and I decided to rent mopeds or ‘scooters’ and go wine tasting. Waiheke Island is known for its vineyards, so it only seemed appropriate that we hit up at least a few wine tasting while we were here. First stop was Mudbrick Vineyard  where we sampled an array of wines- 3 whites and 2 reds. A 2012 Chardonnay from Waiheke, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough (a region in the north of the south island), 2011 Merlot/Franc/Syrah from Waiheke, 2011 Merlot/Malbec from Waiheke, and a 2011 Syrah from Waiheke. Have to say my favorite was the Sauvignon Blanc. As we tasted the wines, the man explained the origin of the wines and the tastes associated with each one. The gardens and vineyard were beautiful, and the wines were tasty!

Mudbrick Vineyard

Mudbrick Vineyard

There's our mopeds!

There’s our mopeds!

Wine tasting at Mudbrick

Wine tasting at Mudbrick (Photo courtesy of Ryan)

After our visit to Mudbrick, we zipped over to Cable Bay Vineyards, a short drive down the road. The view from Cable Bay was literally AMAZING! We sampled another array of 5 wines- 3  whites and 2 reds. A 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, 2012 Viognier from Waiheke, 2010 Chardonnay from Waiheke, 2011 Syarh from Waiheke, and a 2010 Merlot/Malbec from Waiheke. Here my favorite was the Syrah.

Joe, Ryan, and I at Cable Bay Vineyards

Joe, Ryan, and I at Cable Bay Vineyards (Photo courtesy of Ryan)

Joe and I wine tasting at Cable Bay

Joe and I wine tasting at Cable Bay (Photo courtesy of Ryan)

After our tasting, we opted to go check out the wine library in the cellar of the vineyard.

Enjoying the wine library

Enjoying the wine library

Barrels, barrels, and more barrels!

Barrels, barrels, and more barrels!

We decided to sampled some light tapas before returning back to the bach. Bummer the vineyards are only open until 5:00PM, I would’ve liked to have seen more! We stopped back at the bach to grab more layers before getting in some more scootering before it got dark, and then once it got dark we still continued to ride around exploring the island with the goal of getting lost…and we did! But it was so much fun. Only a few mishaps, Ryan crashed into a sign (he’s fine though, and Joe caught it on goPro so we showed everyone!), I nearly crashed into Ryan, and Joe nearly flipped, but we’re all fine and had a great time! That night we also enjoyed a delicious meal of pad thai that Amanda made. Sooo good!

Joe, Me, and Ryan back at the bach with our scooters

Joe, Me, and Ryan back at the bach with our scooters (Photo courtesy of Gemma)

Lookin' good on the moped! I was a natural...

Lookin’ good on the moped! I was a natural… (Photo courtesy of Ryan)

Quick stop at the beach before the sunset. This island was paradise!

Quick stop at the beach before the sunset. This island was paradise!

Our last full day on the island was Thursday, which also happened to be game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which my team, the Boston Bruins, are in (and are going to win!). So, all the guys and I spent the majority of the day watching the game. Little did we know the game would go to THREE overtimes! And the Blackhawks ended up winning in the end! 😦 Oh well, Bruins still got this! We studied a bit, and once the game was over I helped Ryan make his delicious Mexican feast as our last meal at the bach. A wonderful way to wrap up our time there.

Thats me in green intensely watching the game!

That’s me in green intensely watching the game! (Photo courtesy of Gemma)

Our Mexican feast! Mmmm!

Our Mexican feast! Mmmm! (Photo courtesy of Amanda)

On Friday morning we all gathered our things and headed back to Auckland. The memories from the bach were something I’ll never forget. I’m so glad that I was able to find such a great group of people here in NZ and share my study abroad experience with them. This was the last hurrah and the last time we were all together. Slowly but surely people are starting to part ways now, and it’s depressing. Although I am looking forward to our future reunions and visiting my new friends in their hometowns in the near future. Hey, just another excuse to travel someplace new, and I have a couch to crash on!

Off to study more for finals, one down and three to go. Tomorrow my friend Amanda from Providence, who studied in Sydney, Australia this semester, is coming to New Zealand! She’s crashing on my couch for the weekend and I have some fun things planned. Hopefully we get some good weather.

Much love, Lyssa

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Go All Blacks!

This weekend the entire Arcadia crew, plus some other friends, all rallied to go to the opening All Blacks (New Zealand’s rugby team) vs. France rugby game. I had everyone over my room where we snapped some pictures and Jess did her thing with face paint and gave us all creative designs!

Caroline, Me, Bianca, Jess, and Meghan faces painted ready to cheer on the All Blacks!

Caroline, Me, Bianca, Jess, and Meghan faces painted ready to cheer on the All Blacks! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

The game was at Eden Park in Auckland, the same place I went a few months back to see Auckland’s rugby team, the Blues, play. It seems I opened and closed my NZ trip with rugby, how fitting! This was one of our activities organized by Arcadia with an added cost of $25 bucks per ticket. We anticipated sitting in the nosebleeds, but boy were we wrong! Our seats were about 10 rows from the field! We were dressed in our ‘all black’ outfits, ready to see the infamous haka, the traditional war dance of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people. The haka is performed before every single game the All Blacks play in attempt to scare off the competition. For me, it was one of the major highlights of the game!

Check out a youtube video of the haka here!

Crowds walking into Eden Park. It was sold out!

Crowds walking into Eden Park. It was sold out!

Here we go!!

Here we go!!

Dan and I cheering number 1!! Dan clearly went all out with the face paint!

Dan and I cheering number 1!! Dan clearly went all out with the face paint!! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

Our All Blacks ended up winning 23-13! I am very glad I was able to attend an All Blacks game in New Zealand- although I am still unsure of all the rules of rugby. I usually start cheering when I see the other people dressed in black cheering. Regardless, the atmosphere was crazy and the game was very exciting!

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Farewell Dinner

It’s hard to believe that I’ll be leaving this country I call paradise in a little over two weeks. This past week was my final week of classes at Uni, as well as our Arcadia Farewell Dinner. Our program directors aka program moms, Kate and Jane, took us to a wonderful little Mediterranean restaurant called Ima Bistro. All fourteen of us gathered anxious to spend some quality time together, as it would be one of our last as an entire group with finals coming up and everyone soon parting ways. This was the last time we would all see Jane in New Zealand, and it was tough to say goodbye. I had the opportunity to meet with Jane back at Providence in the Fall before arriving in Auckland, and she was that familiar face when we first arrived at the airport. Jane is in charge of the entire New Zealand Arcadia program, whereas Kate is based here in Auckland with us, and we will see her again before our group flight back to Los Angeles on July 2nd.

We enjoyed an amazing appetizer (which are actually called entrees here) filled with an assortment of hummus and dips as well as a stack of pita bread. During our antipasto we caught up with Kate and Jane and filled them in on all our adventures. We also enjoyed the main dishes- fish, chicken, various salads and rice dishes. Mmmm!

Delicious dinner at Ima Bistro

Delicious dinner at Ima Bistro

Jane and Kate then presented the prizes for the Arcadia Photo Competition. I had submitted my photos on a whim, mostly landscape pictures (because how could I not!), and my photo of Lake Marian, a lake located on top of a mountain in the South Island won for Best Landscape Photo. I was thrilled! And in addition to that, I also won the prize for Best Overall Photo from Te Ika o te Maui (North Island) out of all the Arcadia program students studying in both Auckland and Wellington. The prizes were great too- I got a Kiwi luggage tag and a hoodie sweatshirt with the classic kiwi lingo “Sweet As” written on it. Needless to say, I was very happy.

My winning photograph- Lake Marian, Fiordland National Park, South Island, NZ

My winning photograph- Lake Marian, Fiordland National Park, South Island, NZ

Kate then made a short speech talking about how tight-knit our group has grown and that we are one of the closest groups she has seen in thirteen years. She handed each of us an ArcadiaNZ t-shirt and a post card with the saying: Te pae tata, te pae taqhiti kia puta koe ki te whaiao ki te ao marama (Pursue horizons of understanding so you may emerge into the world of light).

To follow Kate’s speech, Dan prepared his own speech and shared it with all of us. He talked about all the various places around NZ we have travelled, the many memories and laughs we shared as a group from our first trip together to Coromandel to our mid-semester South Island trip to now. He then went on to say a few special things about each person in the room, I had some laughs, but mainly tears, as I was the first one to start bawling. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, everything dan said hit us all hard. He concluded his speech with a special dedication to our South Island group of himself, Ryan, Bianca, Meghan, Caroline, and I (the Misty Whitney crew). And in Dan’s words he wrote a poem to talk about the special friendship and experiences we shared together: The winding roads and all the bends, While spending times with all your friends, The pictures you take the memories you make, They’re worth it all in the end. 

To conclude our dinner we snapped one final picture of all of us together. Although this was our farewell dinner, we like to think of is not as goodbye, but a see you soon or until we meet again. I am so fortunate to have come to this country with such a great program and with such great people and new lifelong friends. Many more posts to come as I am trying to fit so much in the so little time I have left! Cheers!

Our Arcadia Family!

Our Arcadia Family!

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Taupo & Mt. Tongariro

With only a few weekends left here in New Zealand, I decided I had to make the most of our most one. This past weekend was Queen’s Birthday weekend, which meant our last week of school was cut short with monday holiday! Ryan, Tony, Bianca, and I made the most of this opportunity and booked a trip to Taupo, a town about five hours south of Auckland, home of the infamous Lake Taupo. We left about noon on Saturday morning eager for our roadtrip ahead. Fellow friends, Rachel and Gemma, were also making their way to Taupo, but by hitchhiking their entire way! And lo-and-behold as we passed through Matamata, we spotted those two, thumbs out hoping for a ride. We stopped for a quick hello and a sarcastic sorry we don’t have room and were on our way again. As we jammed to some tunes and conversed trying to pass the time, we spotted a BMW passing us with Rachel and Gemma in the backseat! With a little egging on, Ryan passed them again, and we played cat-and-mouse all the way to Taupo. Once in Taupo, by about five o’clock, we snapped some pics of the lake, and went out for some pizza at a takeaway restaurant called Hell, besides the name, everything else was delicious!

Serenity...

Serenity…

Pics in front of Lake Taupo!

Pics in front of Lake Taupo!

Gemma, Me, Ryan, Rachel, Tony, & Bianca at Lake Taupo

Gemma, Me, Ryan, Rachel, Tony, & Bianca at Lake Taupo (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

With not much else to see in Taupo, we parted ways, and headed another hour south to Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s oldest national park, home to three active volcanos, Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe (aka Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings), and Mount Ruapehu, which is also a ski area! The entire Tongariro Alpine Crossing is 19.4 kilometers and is considered one of NZ’s Great Walks. Just recently the entire crossing reopened, it was closed due to a volcanic eruption that occurred on November 12, 2012. We parked our car at the Mangatepopo Valley parking lot, and settled in. The boys pitched their tent nearby, while Bianca and I got to enjoy the luxury of sleeping in the car, which was surprisingly warm! 

We awoke Sunday morning to a misty fog, we hoped would clear. By about 8:30AM we set off on our journey, bundled up in multiple layers, ready for any rain that would come our way. About 30 minutes into the track we were all sweating and decided to take off a bunch of our layers. After about an hour into the hike we reached Soda Springs, and having spotted some snow along the way, we decided to put on our layers again, and good thing we did!

Road to Soda Springs- the easy part!

Road to Soda Springs- the easy part!

The next leg, called Devil’s Staircase, brought us to the base of Mt. Ngauruhoe, however our intentions to climb the mountain were soon disregarded due to the fact that the misty fog was getting worse, the wind was picking up, and it was getting cold! The peaks of the mountain were not even visible, and considering the challenge ahead, we decided it wasn’t worth it.

Onwards across the flats of South Crater, we reached an exposed ridge. This was the most challenging part. I felt like we were climbing Mount Everest! Severe fog, heavy mist, and at least 40 mph winds that felt like they could knock you over into the plummeting crater below. Numerous times we took shelter behind giant boulders, to shield ourselves from the blasting wind and rain, only to force ourselves up the snowy ridge to reach Emerald Lakes.

Finally we got over the ridge, up another steep hill, and to the Emerald Lakes. It was worth it! We managed to get a bit of blue sky and sunshine and ate our lunch by the lake.

Frozen Emerald Lake!

Frozen Emerald Lake!

In front of the Emerald Lakes!

In front of the Emerald Lakes!

Freezing!!

Freezing!!

As we began our climb back, unfortunately we couldn’t do the entire crossing because our car was parked at the other entrance, we traversed over loose gravel called scoria, that when you take one step forward you fall three steps back. The key is to take it slow with good footing to prevent yourself from sliding backwards.

Beginning of our climb back up

Beginning of our climb back up

There we are: Tony, Ryan & I (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

There we are: Tony, Ryan & I (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

Managed to snap of picture of Blue Lake just in time! Look at the snow!

Managed to snap of picture of Blue Lake just in time! Look at the snow!

View of the Emerald Lakes & Blue Lake from the top

View of the Emerald Lakes & Blue Lake from the top

We made our way back across the ridge, slipping and sliding on the snow. I cannot tell you how many times Bianca fell, wearing only running sneakers she was regretting not having any hiking boots! Luckily we made it down, safe and sound, cold and soaking wet. I’m so glad I got to do the hike, although it would have been nice to go during the warmer months rather than NZ’s winter. Conditions were a bit harsh!!

I’m becoming an avid hiker here in NZ and have lots of plans for hikes once I get back east! I cannot believe I have so many trails and hikes literally in my backyard and don’t take advantage of them! If NZ has taught me anything, it’s to get outside and explore. If I’ll travel over five hours in a weekend here, why won’t I do that at home. Things are changing!!

All for now. Xo Lyssa

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Skiing in NZ…Well Indoor Skiing

This past week I’ve been really craving skiing, it might be because I missed out on my favorite season by leaving in the middle and coming here, or because it’s getting to be winter here but the snow never comes to Auckland, regardless I’ve been in the skiing mood. It all started when I spent a few nights this past week indulging in my favorite ski movies, the Warren Miller Films, and watching some news ones by Matchstick Productions, thanks to Tony.

We decided that since we were both unable to go back to Queenstown, the hub of New Zealand skiing, due to our finals, we would check out Auckland’s own indoor ski mountain, Snowplanet, and invited our friends Grant and Leo to join us. The indoor ski mountain, if you could even call it that, it’s more like a hill, is located in Silverdale, a 25 minute drive north of Auckland. Luckily, we were able to borrow our friend Rob’s car, and all four of us, Tony, Grant, Leo and I crammed into Rob’s tiny car ready to hit the pow. I was able to put together a somewhat reasonable ski outfit, hat, gloves, jacket, and sweatpants (no way was I wearing jeans skiing- I usually make fun of those people!) and we rented our skis and boots there. Boy did I miss my own skis and boots though, it makes such a difference!!

We walked out to the platform, out onto the manmade snow, that was actually pretty similar to the snow I’m (unfortunately) used to skiing, into surprisingly freezing cold air, and headed up the hill. Snowplanet is too small for an actual chairlift, but they do have two modern-day t-bars or what they call magic saucers. I was able to get the hang of it in no time! Our runs were a maximum 30 seconds long before we were up the hill once again. Tony brought his goPro and we took some fun shots though. I decided to stick with skis for the entire night, but Leo and Tony gave snowboarding a try, so it was always fun to watch them wipeout on the bunny hill.

The lovely "lodge" that looks out to the mountain (Photo courtesy of Leo)

The lovely “lodge” that looks out to the mountain (Photo courtesy of Leo)

Me, Tony, Grant, and Leo at the bottom of the hill (Photo courtesy of Leo)

Me, Tony, Grant, and Leo at the bottom of the hill (Photo courtesy of Leo)

Terrain Park on the left, Race course on the right. We skied smack down the middle! (Photo courtesy of Leo)

Terrain Park on the left, Race course on the right. We skied smack down the middle!! (Photo courtesy of Leo)

Me, Tony, Leo, and Grant. Happy Ski Bums!

Me, Tony, Grant, and Leo. Happy Ski Bums! (Photo courtesy of Leo)

Needless to say it was great to get in skiing in (crossing ‘ski in another country’ off my bucket list), but once was enough. I would have loved to make it to Queenstown, but I’ll save that adventure for next time I make it back to NZ! I’m ready for bigger and better mountains- already planning my next ski trip this winter. I’ve got the travel bug!

Cheers, Lyssa.

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Markets Galore!

Hard to believe I have less than two months left in Auckland. Feels like I arrived just yesterday. Having been faced with this realization, I have made up a list of things I want to do in Auckland before time flies by and I missed out. One of the things on my list was to check out the markets around town. I’ve been to the Auckland City Farmers’ Market in the Britomart, and this past week I ventured to the Auckland Night Market in Papatoetoe, a 20 minute drive from the city center, and to the Parnell French Market.

The Auckland Farmers’ Market in Britomart runs every Saturday from 8:30AM-12:30PM. You can find tons of local produce, meats, breads, tasty breakfast danishes and treats, and even dumplings! Stallholders are only allowed to sell what they grow, farm, pickle, preserve, bake, smoke or catch themselves (within the surrounding local area). There’s also live music and lawn space and benches so sit and enjoy your coffee and breakfast!

https://www.facebook.com/cityfarmersmarket?ref=stream&hc_location=stream

Britomart Farmer’s Market in peak summer! (Photo courtesy of the Farmers’ Market at Britomart Facebook)

The Auckland Night Market runs on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at various locations throughout Auckland, usually outside of the CBD, therefore requiring a lengthy bus trip or access to a car. Luckily, since Ryan, Bianca and I rented our car for our Bay of Islands trip, and returned earlier than expected, we were able to hold onto the car for a bit longer and actually drive to Papatoetoe to check out the night market. Tony, and Tony’s friend Pat who was visiting for a bit, tagged along too.

The night market includes various vendors selling everything from vintage clothes to organic vegetables to jewelry to iPod accessories, but the best vendors were the food vendors!! About a third of the entire area (an underground parking garage filled with stalls and vendors) was devoted to food. Mostly asian themed ranging from Korean to Malaysian to Indian, but Bianca and I spotted this unique Hungarian fried bread stall called Elephant Ears, and knew we just had to have it! I got my fried bread topped with tomato and feta, which made it seem a bit healthier considering every dish served there was fried! Regardless it was delicious!

Busy, busy night marketers indulging in some tasty eats!

Busy, busy night marketers indulging in some tasty eats!

Twist Potato! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

Twist Potato! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

DELICIOUS Hungarian fried bread topped with tomato and feta! I want more!!!

DELICIOUS Hungarian fried bread topped with tomato and feta! I want more!!!

Lastly, the Parnell French Market, the best of them all, runs on both Saturday (8:00AM to 1:30PM) and Sunday mornings (9:00AM to 1:30PM). You can find tons of different food options here, everything from cheeses, to vinaigrettes, to sausages, to smoked salmon, to hummus, and I can’t forget about the delicious pastries and of course the large selection of wines and champagnes! The options are endless! I’ve gotten the paella, nutella crepes (of course!) and bought the best pita bread and sun dried tomato pesto! And naturally the vendors always have samples, so I tend to wander around sampling various delicious hummus and cheese. Although the market is fairly expensive, it’s nice to treat myself and buy something made locally in Auckland while I’m here!

Parnell French Market! Tons of vendors!

Parnell French Market! Tons of vendors!

Array of hummus!!! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

Array of hummus!!! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

The "Farmers' Market" Section (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

The “Farmers’ Market” Section (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

The wine options are endless- Mom you would love it! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

The wine options are endless- Mom you would love it! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)

All for now. I promise I’ll be posting more adventures soon!! Only two more weeks of classes left! Time is flying by!!!

 

 

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We. Run. Auckland.

This past week I heard about a local running club, We Run Auckland, through the Nike Store in downtown Auckland. On Monday and Wednesday evenings, and Saturday mornings the group gathers to go for guided runs around the city. I’ve been wanting to run a 5k during my time here, although I didn’t think it was going to be this soon! Wednesday was a rainy, rainy day, but despite the rain Bianca and I decided to go! We arrived greeted by the enthusiastic running instructors and other members of the club. Once we arrived we realized tonight we were running a 6k not a 5k! My first 5k and it ended up being a 6k!!

Bianca and I pre-run!

Bianca and I pre-run!

Nike also offers 10k runs too, but I’ll save that for another time! The route changes weekly too, so there’s always new things to see. Our route took us down through the Auckland Viaduct, along the waterfront, to Victoria Park, and we got a little lost on the way back, but eventually after maneuvering through some streets found our way back to the Nike store in the Britomart for some warmth and shelter. It poured the entire time, but we did it! Bianca and I ran into my roommate Jasmine there too and all three of us kept a great pace while listening to our iPods and supporting each other throughout our run. Can’t wait to go again! P.S. After you run six times you get a free We Run Auckland Nike t-shirt! If that’s not an incentive, I don’t know what is!!

Post 6k. Sweating, soaking and smiling!

Post 6k. Sweating, soaking and smiling!

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A Weekend Skydiving in the Bay of Islands

This weekend, Ryan, Bianca and I, took a road trip up to the Bay of Islands, located in Northland, the northern most part of New Zealand. Our sole purpose of this adventure was to skydive. Having bought our tickets on GrabOne (New Zealand’s version of Groupon) ahead of time, we were determined to jump, no matter what. Our jump was originally scheduled for this past weekend, however due to a rainstorm they canceled our jump, and we pushed it to this weekend on Friday. Friday rolled around and we drove from our backpackers, Base X Pipi Patch, in Paihia to Kerikeri to finally get our jump in. Here we ran into fellow friends and travelers, Marjie, Amanda, Grant, Leo, and Joe S. By the time we arrived Amanda already jumped, but Marjie, who was all suited up, went up in the plane but was forced to turn around and come back due to a storm front rolling through. This meant our dive was cancelled too. 😦 Completely bummed we rescheduled for Saturday, our last day in the Bay of Islands, in hopes that the weather would hold off and we would be able to jump!

Beaches of Paihia, Bay of Islands

Beaches of Paihia, Bay of Islands

Friday night we received news that we should be ready to dive bright and early at 7:00 AM. That night we ate great fish and chips and burgers at this restaurant Shippey’s, literally the restaurant was a ship, and ran into more friends, Tony and Pat who were up in the Bay of Islands for a scuba diving trip! We enjoyed a nice meal, hung out at our hostel with Tony and Pat for a bit, before we called it a night ready to be up bright and early for our sunrise jump.

Shippeys at night

Shippey’s at night

Saturday morning we arrived, and the weather was perfect! We arrived in Kerikeri by 7:00 AM, pumped and ready to go! My instructors name was Andy, and I put complete trust in him as we prepared to jump out of the plane. Suited up, Ryan, Bianca and I, along with our guides and a pilot crammed into the smallest plane I have ever been in! We slowly made our way to 12000 ft. They opened the door, the wind was blowing in my face, my hair was flying everywhere, and 3…2…1… we jumped!! Soaring through the air, we reached terminal velocity. I was literally flying! Well, I was mostly screaming, but I was able to enjoy the view a tiny bit!

After about 45 seconds Andy pulled the parachute and we began to float around, and now I was able to really enjoy the scenery! After a few minutes we landed and I survived!! The jump was amazing, and I’m so glad I did it!!

Me, Ryan & Bianca suited up, ready to go!!

Me, Ryan & Bianca suited up, ready to go!!

Slightly freaking out in the plane!

Slightly freaking out in the plane!

Who am I kidding?! THIS IS AWESOME!!

Who am I kidding?! THIS IS AWESOME!!

WOOHOO!

WOOHOO!

All smiles now that Andy pulled the parachute!

All smiles now that Andy pulled the parachute!

Sigh of relief!

Sigh of relief!

High Five! We did it!!

High Five! We did it!!

I SURVIVED!!

I SURVIVED!!

Cheers to that! Little by little I’m conquering my fear of heights. Wonder what crazy thing I’ll do next. Who knows!?!

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