Saturday, May 08, 2004

It has been much longer that I would've liked. New Zealand was a hard place to travel alone. Long bus rides of landscapes resonating of British Columbia. The busrides, however, were possibly my favourite part because I saw more scenery from there than on foot. Between Taupo and Napier are the most dramatic rolling hills I've ever seen - ornamented with dairy cows and wire fencing. The slopes were so steep, green and condensed I thought I turned a page in an illustrated children's book. Its origin has something to do with the North Island's volcanic activity and New Zealand being submerged a couple of times during the ice age.
Napier, on the North Island's east coast, is called the Art Deco city. In 1931, an earthquake flattened the town killing over two hundred people. The town was rebuilt within only a couple of years resulting in a lot of Art Deco architecture. Not long after that, Art Deco was considered dated and so the buildings were covered up with plaster boards only to be rediscoverd decades later and used to attract artsy tourists like myself.
Napier is also situated at the bottom of tall, gorgeous cliffs alongside the ocean. It was a beautiful city - got post cards and a lot of photos.
From there I went back to the north shore to Tauranga where I climbed the neighboring mountain ( or hill by BC standards). The hostel I stayed in was kind of freaky. The bedrooms had no windows, and the owner thought that I was going to stay at the hostel forever. I was happy to leave Tauranga.
Before I arrived in Napier, I flipped through a book of New Zealand's beautiful landscapes and decided to go to the North Island's prettiest picture. That picture was taken from Cathedral Cove, near Whitianga, the town I headed to after Tauranga.
Whitianga is a cute small fishing town parrallel in character to small BC towns like Harrison. From the wharf, I took a small ferry boat to Hahei, and from there to Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.
Because of volcanic activity, cathedral cove is made up of cavernous cliffs and shark fin rock formations. It was as beautiful as its picture, and topped off with a scenic hike to get there. If I wanted to, I could've taken boat tours into the caves, but I didin't want to pay eighty bucks to go places I would probably close eyes in because of my horrible fear of the dark.
From Cathedral Cove, we went to Hot Water Beach. The 'we' is a german man named Arthur and a swiss girl named Mara - both I met at our hostel - The Cat's Pajamas. Because of the thermal activity below the sand, some areas of the beach are hot, and get hotter as the cold ocean waves move in and out allowing your feet to sink deeper and deeper until you yelp from the heat. It was pretty fun.
There was a barbeque that night at the hostel in honour of the former manager leaving for Auckland. Free sausages. I don't like sausages but food is food.
The next day I enjoyed a scenic bus ride back to Auckland and from there, a plane trip to Sydney.
I learned how much better it is to travel with a friend - especially with places like New Zealand where most of the attractions are taking in the scenery (if any of you go - rent a car - buses can't get you to most of the great spots). There, I longed to return to Australia to see the friends I've met and the free internet access. New Zealand is known for its exotic birds but the only one I ever saw was a kiwi bird in captation. I see parrots, cockatoos, red-belly white birds and countless others everyday when I walk from my room to class. In the evening, on the way back, I see cute possums who frighten me with their hisses. The landscape and culture here is much more dramatically different from BC than New Zealand was. I didn't go to the South Island, though it is considered the prettiest, because the main attractions are snowy mountains and glaciers. I see that back home. In the North Island I at least got to see volcanic activity.
Since I returned to Canberra, I've been cramming to get work done. I only have about five more weeks of class. There's so much more of Australia that I want to see though. I want to return to Melbourne one last time, go party with Phoebe in Sydney, and see as much of Queensland as humanly possible. I'll have one month in July to try to do it all. Heather said she might come with me, or I'll meet up with Kathleen and her boy Peter who will be driving up from Sydney. I don't know how it will work out yet. Oh well, more cramming to do.
On small, day to day stuff, Canberra has gotten terribly cold. I'm working double-time to finish a toque I'm knitting to keep my head warm at night. Cat, fun girl from Melbourne, has lent me one of her winter coats for the semester (yeah Cat!). When I wear it, I like to sing about how warm it is!
i joined the girls' softball team only to find that I couldn't keep up with it since the practises were scheduled during my classes (which isn't hard to believe since my classes are from nine to five). It was fun for a while. My arms were so sore I couldn't lift them above my head. It took me twice as long to get ready in the morning, and for a few days there, I decided not to bother shampooing.
Hmm, blog has been excellent for procrastination but now I have to return to some essay writing stuff.
This time I swear I'll be more punctual in keeping up with the blog!
Love you all,
Sharon

PS:
Don't forget to wish mothers a happy mother's day.
And the movie, "Goodbye Lenin" is pretty good.
And don't drink eight shots of vodka in one night (just saying).

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