Happy New Year and a belated Merry Christmas from New Zealand!
For me, not only has it been my first experience of Christmas in the sun but it has been the first festive season that I have spent away from home. I knew since my time in New Zealand began that I would not be going home for Christmas but did not really have any firm plans until mid December. “I’ll either be on the beach or up a mountain on Christmas Day”, I had told my parents when I said goodbye in June hoping to reassure them that I didn’t mind the prospect of potentially spending Christmas alone during my period of unplanned travels.Whilst I did not end up on the beach or up a mountain on Christmas (my plans and ideas have been constantly changing since June) I was invited to spend a really lovely Christmas with two of my Dunedin flat mates and their absolutely wonderful family up on the north island.
Christmas trees are only a little different to at home, but still beautiful
In typical Christmas fashion everybody ate lunch together and spent the afternoon napping, chatting, watching movies and playing games. I guess the main differences were that some of Christmas dinner was cooked on the barbecue and napping could happen on the grass outside! I video called my family in the evening (their morning) and they were treated to beautiful singing from the Te Punga family.
I’ve spent the post Christmas and new year period exploring the mid North Island with Tania and her family. We’ve been exploring glow worm caves at Waitomo and tramping (a.k.a. hiking) in Tongariro National Park with awesome views of Mount Ngauruhoe. I’ve been told this is better known as Mount Doom but I’ve never actually seen Lord of the Rings or anything (shhhhh!) so I wouldn’t know!
Lower Tama Lake
We also kicked off the New Year with a swim at Waihi Falls, beautiful even with very little rainfall in this area over the past few weeks.
I’ve been loving Christmas and New Year in the sun, it’s still very novel to me. It feels like everything new that I’ve been doing is making my list of things to do (or do again) steadily grow. And is making me more and more sure that I will be back to New Zealand in the future!
Happy belated new year and I hope that the new term begins well in Durham! All the best until the next blog 🙂