By Vanessa Maloney (University of Auckland, New Zealand).
I’ve just had my last exam and realised I should probably upload a blog about all the fun I’ve been having this semester.
This semester has been incredible. I feel like my first semester was good because everything was so novel and such an adventure as I was getting to know the country and meeting new people. However, this semester has been a whole different experience as I feel like I have been living more like a local and less like an exchange student – especially as I have a job and am no longer living in halls. I feel so settled in that I could definitely imagine coming back to live here for a while after my degree.
Joining AUCC (the University canoe club) has really defined this semester for me. I was going away on kayaking trips almost every weekend for the first half of this semester. In fact, it has taken up so much of my time that I am going to dedicate a whole post to it rather than trying to squeeze it into this one.
So first of all, here are a couple of my favorite non-kayaking adventures…
At the museum where I work, we sell tickets for Auckland Bridge Climb and Bungee, so my boss managed to get some of us a free bungee as a familiarization experience.
I’m so glad I did it through work, because I’m not sure I would have had the guts to sign up myself without any prompts!
I was the first to jump out of our group and I’m not going to lie… my heart was literally in my stomach. But, after the initial scariness of jumping, it was just surreal – I just remember kind of zoning out and watching the water moving in and out. After that it was just a huge adrenaline rush which left me on a constant high for the next week or so. On the whole I’m so proud of myself and so glad my boss signed me up!
Sailing to Waiheke
Another great experience that I got through work was a surprise staff day out organised by my boss. We sailed one of the Museum’s heritage vessels to Waiheke Island. It was pretty hands on as I had the opportunity to hoist the sails and climb the rigging. The sea was very choppy at some points, to the point where half of the passengers were sea sick, but luckily I don’t get sea sick and actually thought the choppy bit was the most fun. When we got to Waiheke we visited a vineyard where we had an amazing lunch, a wine tasting session and enjoyed the view.
Another awesome weekend I had was one spent at my friend’s bach 3 hours north of Auckland. A ‘bach’ is basically a Kiwi holiday home by the seaside. A surprisingly high proportion of New Zealanders own family baches – they are usually a pretty basic house on a beach somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
I love the fact that in New Zealand (partly because the weather and landscape is so incredible) you don’t really need to plan anything extravagant to have a really memorable time. All you need is a car, some meat for the BBQ, a few beers and some good mates (and maybe a Ukulele if you’re pushing it…).
My friend’s bach was in such a remote, untouched place that we had to arrive during low tide so that we could drive along the beach to get to it! The first evening dolphins came so far in that we could watch them from the deck of the house. The weekend basically consisted of eating, swimming, walking on the beach and campfire in the evening. Perfect.