All good things must come to an end. This is our last entry that wraps up my 5 weeks trip in New Zealand. It was truly a spiritual experience to be able to travel through this wonderful country, making unforgettable memories with friends on the road.
My trip ended in Dunedin, where most of my time were spent on reuniting with many friends I made along the way. I couldn't have think of a better way to end my trip more than spending my time with those I enjoyed hanging out with.
From living like students in a student flat to being drove around by the local, here are what I did during my last 5 days in New Zealand.
Day 31: Student Flat in Otago University
I took a bus early in the morning from Christchurch straight to Dunedin. I was expecting a red carpet, a sign with my name on it and a champagne from Ashley and Rachel, who invited me to stay in one of the many student flats in the Otago University. I got none of that but I was glad to see their faces again. Since I was there right at the end of a semester, the whole flat was empty. I was able to set up camp in the living room for that night. We spend a few hours walking around, trying one of the best Salmon rice balls at a nearby sushi place and ended the day with a movie night.
Day 32: Aramoana Beach and a Night Out
Early in the morning, we met up with Ashley's friend, Jess from the university and we drove out to the Aramoana beach.
The weather did not look too good but we went out anyway and I'm glad we did. The beach was stunning even on cloudy days like this.
Four of us walked along the beach as the wind grew stronger and stronger.
We found this little guy hiding behind a rock by the beach.
Siege the day!
There were absolutely no one there except us. Understandable, since the weather looked like it was going to go down soon.
And it did! We took our last photo together and ran back to the car. As we were about to start the engine, Jess realized she forgot to turn the lights off, and the battery ran out. Jess went out and asked for help but no one had the jump cable.
Thankfully, one of the Britz campervans offered to drive us to one of the houses nearby to see if anyone had a cable. Luckily, the first car we found had the jump cable and the couple inside helped us jumpstarted the car. They even gave Jess the cable just in case! This act of kindness is what I love about the Kiwi.
That night we went out with a couple of Ashley's friends and celebrated their last day in New Zealand. We stayed up all night until dawn and we said goodbye to each other for the last time. As they went back to the States, initially I planned to rest for the next 3 days doing absolutely nothing. That was not the case..
Day 33: Meet Tulu and Yvonne
After saying goodbye to the girls, I decided to go straight to my hostel and take a long power nap. As I drowsed off, a familiar figure appeared in front of me. It was Tulu, whom I met back in Lake Taupo. I remembered her very well because she was the one who gave me her sleeping bag, and without it, I would have frozen to death while on the Routeburn Track. Tulu and her friend Yvonne were going out somewhere but since I was way too tired to do anything, I decided to take a nap a little bit more and went out on my own.
It was a beautiful day, but I was not in the mood to do anything physical so I went to the Royal Botanic Garden, the oldest garden in New Zealand, and walked around for a few hours.
After spending a healthy amount of some "me" time, I went back to the hostel and caught up with Tulu and Yvonne. They were planning to go to the Peninsula the next day and so I decided to tag along.
Day 34: Drive around with a local
Early in the morning, we took a bus out to the closest station to the Otago Peninsula. We had no idea how far it was from the station to the Peninsula so we started walking.
After 2 hours of walking with no end in sight, Tulu decided to throw out her thumb and started hitchhiking. In minutes, an old lady in the car stopped and offerred us a lift. It took us less than 10 minutes to reach the Peninsula by car whereas it would take us hours to walk the same distance.
There was nothing much to do in the Peninsula except going on a tour to see the Penguins and the Albatrosses on one of their private beaches. We didn't mind paying but as it turned out, the tour ran only in the early morning and late evening. We decided to just sit and talk about all things travel. I always enjoy a deep conversation with fellow travelers. Oh, the things I learned from them.
We spent the next 2 hours trying to get a lift back to the bus station to no avail. Tulu mentioned that she was never picked up by travelers on campervans, only the locals do, and so don't get your hopes up when you see spacious campervans pass by. Eventually, we were picked up by an Aussie who were vacationing in Dunedin for a few days.
After our little adventure, we met up with Scott, a local whom Tulu and Yvonne met while hitchhiking from the airport. Scott drove us around Dunedin and showed us his home town.
We drove to the Baldwin Street (the steepest street in the world), to the top of Signal Hill, walked around the Royal Botanic Garden and ended our day at the St Clair beach.
We came to a realization that having a local to drive us around is the right way to see the city. In only 2 hours, we saw more of the city with Scott than if we were spending 8 hours on our own.
We walked along the beach for 20 minutes before we headed back to the city and said goodbye to Scott.
Tulu and Yvonne were planning to go to Kaikoura the next day whereas I would be flying back to Auckland in the afternoon.
Day 34: My Last Day in New Zealand
In the early morning, Yvonne went out to one of the place where you can get a free vehicle in exchange for the service of relocating a car to their designated destination. She came back with a luxurious Audi that looked like it was owned by a spy or someone important.
We took this opportunity to take it out for a spin to the Tunnel beach.
They would not call it the tunnel beach if we did not have to go through a tunnel!
The Tunnel beach was quite impressive with a tunnel that looked almost like a secret passage leading us to some tressures.
I am glad that I met Tulu and Yvonne right before I left New Zealand. Otherwise, it would have been tortured for me to spend the last 3 days alone.
Not to mention, they were such a fun people to be around with!
Since my flight was at 2 PM, we left the beach by 11, had lunch at one of the town nearby and they dropped me off at the airport. We said goodbye to each other and went separate ways.
Right before I boarded the plane, I received a message from Viola (whom I met back in Franz Josef and Mt Cook) saying that she would be in Auckland as well. Since I was planning to sleep at the airport anyway, I went into the city, meet up and had our last burger in New Zealand.
The trip could not have ended in a better way for me. Being around people I enjoyed spending my time with was the best conclusion to this epic saga.
It has been months since I started writing about New Zealand and there have never been a day that I don't miss the place. It was truly a spiritual journey and the memories I had will forever be with me. I hope you enjoyed all the photos and blog posts of New Zealand. My adventure did not stop there though as I will be writing about my trip in Vietnam in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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