It's 8am on Monday morning. I've been in New Zealand for three full days now, and after having an eventful weekend, I'm ready to relax.
I left Minneapolis on Wednesday morning. I had a short and easy flight to Los Angeles. When I arrived in LA, my absolute dearest friend from the West who I hadn't seen in almost a year, Cassandra, picked me up from LAX. It was like we'd never parted, and we slipped into comfort mode for some laughs, some burgers, some margaritas (with our friends Brandon and Lauren), some hugs, and she sent me on my way later that night. I flew about 13 hours to New Zealand, into the northern coastal city of Auckland. My friend Jarrod was there to pick me up. He grew up in NZ, our paths crossed in LA last year where we both were studying, and have stayed in contact since.
We ate breakfast at a small bistro. It's been a while since I've had quality seafood (it's rare in the Midwest, of course) so that tickled me right away. After exploring Auckland for a bit, we headed down through the stunning green spring landscape and took a rest stop at Mount Maunganui, an East Coast beach. We took a stroll on the beach, which goes right up to a cliff (I love that contrast). Then, we got back on the road and cruised to Lake Rotorua where we stayed for the night.
In the early morning, we went to the Rotoma hot springs (a geothermally heated spring). When I first dipped my toes in, it was the temperature similar to a hot tub. Walking in slowly to adjust to the warmth of the water, I could feel the pebbles beneath my feet, not yet ground into sand. Then, as I walked through the springs (which are only about waist deep) I would get random gusts of cool water brushing up against me. When the water was too hot, I'd swim over to find one of those cool spots. When I'd float on my back with all but my face immersed, the tiny bubbles that flow from the floor would roll along my body until they found the open air. I'm not sure how long we were there, but the sun was eventually fully risen, and we were warm from it and from the waters, so we took a long drive through corridors of trees and up and down gravel roads through hills of grazing sheep.
We took some necessary stops then, getting some Hell's Pizza and buying a camera. (I haven't been taking as many pictures as I should be, but I'll try a bit harder from now on.) After the camera purchase, we took off to Gisborne which is a nice chill beach town on the Mid-Eastern coast. I met a few of Jarrod's friends there: Marcel, Nigel, and Cam. When we first arrived we went to the shop that Marcel runs and he made us some delicious food. We walked down to the beach, and later met up at Nigel and Marcel's house. I had a wonderful time drinking a locally made red wine and sharing music and stories.
On the road again, yesterday we came down to the small town of Waipukurau where Jarrod is staying for the moment in a house with his friend Brad. I'll be staying here for the next week or so until I figure out where I'm off to next, and I'll keep you posted! Cheers!