I have been in New Zealand about a week now and am currently at the domestic airport to leave the North Island and adventure along the West Coast of the South Island! I will fly from Auckland to Hokitika, with a stopover in Christchurch. I'll be renting a car in Hotikita and driving up to Franz Josef from there. ...I keep reminding myself to drive on the LEFT! ...Watching Ben drive this past week, I think the most difficult for me will be turning... And roundabouts. :P
This past week was great! My brother Lenny's friends, Ben and Mel, are awesome. The three of them lived together in Hamilton while Lenny was here for a year... Almost ten years ago now.
We went on mini hikes (my kind of hiking!) to absolutely gorgeous views of water, towns, and landscape. We went to a number of serene beaches... Often we were the only people on the beach... And always, Ben would say it was the most beautiful beach in New Zealand!
Yesterday, for Christmas Day, we were at Ben's parents' house. They live on a farm and it was gorgeous. Over 30 people came for dinner! It was fun... I really enjoyed the family time. Everyone was so welcoming, I felt like a member! It made me realize that even though I have wonderful friends in Vietnam, I don't get 'family time'.
We got up fairly early this morning and stopped by one of Ben's family member's house for a visit. this man, John, has been to Canada 3 times now... traveled all over... and even been to my hometown area in Rochester, NY! so we stopped by for coffee/tea and a tour of his farm. he has two donkeys, a horse, two dogs, and a cat.
From there, Ben and Mel dropped me off at the bus station in Thames this morning... I caught a bus to Manukau and then on to the airport. ...Aaaaaand now I am finishing this post up after the flight to Christchurch, then another flight to Hokitika on a teeny tiny plane seating 19 people, one on each side of the aisle. I've just mastered the roads well enough to make it safe and sound to the hostel in Franz Josef. YEEAHHH!
I will be posting more specifics and many pictures once I am back in HCMC.