Thursday May 9th was easily the most emotionally and physically draining day of the trip. Since our flights were at 5:45, 6:30, and 6:45, we had to leave the center at 3 a.m. to arrive in Cairns at 4 a.m. All of us stayed up and participated in our lasts. Our last game of Euchre and Settlers of Catan, our last episode of Game of Thrones, our last walk through the rainforest to our Cabin, and many more. Not to mention the fact that a third of the group stayed behind until 7 a.m. Thus, the goodbyes and subsequent tears started at 2:30 as we began loading up the vans for departure. Someone wrote on the whiteboard in the common room, “Goodbye to everyone and Warrawee Center it has been an amazing ride.” I decided that goodbye was not the appropriate word. I wrote under it, ““This is not goodbye; it is just see you later.” Like I said in my first post, goodbye has a sense of permanence to it, which is inaccurate for our situation. No one could figure out who wrote it until I decided to reveal myself a week later.
With all of us going our separate ways we sat together in the airport until our flights. A group was going straight home, a group was going to New Zealand, and several people were exploring Sydney and the east coast either in a group or solo.
I was in the group bound for two weeks in Auckland, New Zealand. My three friends, Liz, Emma, and Mackenzie, and I stayed at the hotel Bianco off Queen, but weren’t there often. Between site walks, three day mountain hikes, hot springs, sea kayaking, etc, New Zealand was a great way to cap off an amazing abroad experience. However, one activity stood out the most, blackwater rafting. Blackwater rafting is simply whitewater rafting through caves. At the glow worm caves in Waitomo, my friends and I were decked out in full cave exploring gear: wet suit, boots, hard hat, and headlamp. Trudging through the freezing cold water, jumping off waterfalls, and paddling in the dark while looking at the glow worms was incredible.
Throughout our trip, we were always multiple hours outside of the city because we decided to rent a car due to the ease of transportation. The first time driving on the other side of the road was trippy and difficult to get used to. The last thing I wanted to do was accidentally turn head on into oncoming traffic.
Additionally, our hotel had a washing machine dryer, refrigerator, freezer, and full kitchen. We were able to cook majority of our meals in order to save some money. By the end of the trip, between New Zealand and Australia we were all tapped for money. Regardless, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Overall, New Zealand is breathtakingly beautiful, and I definitely need to go back in order to explore the south island and everything it has to offer.