Andrew Jdaydani | Dunedin, New Zealand | Post 1

Andrew Jdaydani | Dunedin, New Zealand | Post 1

The activities in which I’ve participated within the past few days astounds me. After an entertaining and food-filled 13-hour trip to the wonderful city of Brisbane, Australia, I flew a couple more hours southeast to Auckland, New Zealand. On the flight, after ten minutes of attempting some frustrating sudokus and word searches on my own, I struck up a conversation with two fantastic people—Cara and Valter. Breaking bread together, we laughed and enjoyed the tasty Lebanese delicacies that my mother had provided for the remainder of the flight.

Full of more energy than the Energizer Bunny himself, I arrived in Auckland. Luckily, customs allowed me to retain all of the comforting food my mother had sent with me—score! After customs, I spent a couple panicked moments searching for my ride from the airport—the friend of my friend’s sister, whom I had never before met. She finally spotted me with my two new friends, and together we commenced our Kiwi adventure. We visited the beautiful bays, ate delicious fusion foods in the renovated Victoria Market, sipped on mugs of melted chocolate, and drove through the streets of Auckland on the left side of the road.

Bright and early the next morning, I journeyed back to the airport for an IFSA-Butler group orientation and New Zealand tour. Hours later, I and my soon-to-become close friends landed in the beautiful scenic peninsula of Whangaparaoa, where scenic mountaintops filled with sheep and adventure awaited us. Every day of the trip seemed like two considering the amount of activities we crammed into a mere 24 hours. Nearly an hour after arriving in Whangapraoa, we hopped into kayaks and paddled out to sea, and over the course of two days, we mountain biked, swam, rock climbed, played rugby, did ROGAINE (Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance), visited hot springs, enjoyed water slides, and bonded with 40 fellow students on the mountaintops and under the stars. After two full days, we had only completed the first half of this orientation; the next activity comprised of a true Maori welcome. The Marae, the Maori house and cultural center, provided a venue for an incredible experience filled with cultural education and great food. We experienced a traditional welcome, chose chiefs, watched a Haka, and learned a Maori greeting.

After returning to Auckland, my study abroad group finally headed to our final destination of Dunedin and the South Island. Our first couple of days in Dunedin were similarly packed with active undertakings, during which I roamed the city, university, and flats I would soon call my home. Much of the week included a period of acclimation as I settled into my first house-style living. Grocery shopping, banking, bedding, writing, and exploring filled much of my time, but I still managed to see the most gorgeous scenery and realize the extent to which Kiwis are spoiled with the peninsula’s beauty. While on the peninsula, I stood a foot away from a sea lion, saw the mighty albatross and their ten-foot wingspan, and fell in love with the country’s landscape—and all of this happened just in my first three days in Dunedin!

On Thursday, I traveled to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world and center for adrenaline junkies everywhere. Staying in a hostel, climbing trees that hung over the ocean, and eating a famous Ferg Burger before street luging filled only half of my day-trip. The night’s experiences included visiting the local bar—which brimmed with thrill-seeking world travelers—horizontal bungee-jumping, participating in a billiards tournament, and experimenting with acrobatic stunts that ultimately required the relocation of a couple fingers.

With so much of my trip left, endless adventures await.

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