Update #5: Alex Adventures Abroad

Welcome to my fifth update about my adventures abroad in Sydney, Australia! Since my last update, a lot has happened to me. I traveled to New Zealand with my parents for almost two weeks and then proceeded to show them around my new home — Sydney.

But to get things started, I've put together a video of my latest trip to New Zealand. You can check it out below!

Week #13: North Island in New Zealand

For my semester break, I had the opportunity to travel around New Zealand for two weeks with my parents. As you can see on the map below, New Zealand is only a short flight away from Australia. The country of New Zealand is separated into two islands, and we ended up spending our time in both the North and South Islands.

For the first week, we traveled to Auckland, Rotorua, Lake Taupo, and Wellington — all located on the North Island. Some of our highlights included...

  • Going vineyard hopping on Waiheke Island in Auckland — our favorite winery was located on a hill overlooking the city and the surrounding waters
  • Exploring Piha Beach and Karekare Beach — two black sand beaches just a short drive outside of Auckland
  • Going sailing around the Auckland Harbour
  • Hiking around the many geysers and thermal pools in Rotorua
  • Doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing — a 20-kilometer hike where Mordor and Mt. Doom were filmed in "Lord of the Rings"
  • Checking out Lake Taupo and taking a breather after the Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike
  • Eating and happy hour-ing at every twist and turn
Map of New Zealand

Map of New Zealand

Map of North Island, New Zealand

Map of North Island, New Zealand

Week #14: South Island in New Zealand

For our second week, we took the iconic Interislander Ferry from Wellington to Picton and began our adventures in the South Island. On the South Island, we checked out Blenheim (known its many Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards), Christchurch, and Queenstown. And although we didn't think New Zealand could get any prettier, the South Island definitely "knocked our socks off" — as my mom would say.

Some of our highlights included...

  • Biking around the Marlborough Region and stopping at many cellar doors to try their Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Getting invited to a private wine tasting at Greywacke Vineyards* in Blenheim
  • Eating an unforgettable seven-course dinner at Arbour Restaurant in Blenheim— a must for anyone exploring New Zealand!
  • Driving along the East Coast of the South Island to Christchurch
  • Biking again around Arrowtown — one of the prettiest rides I'll probably ever do in my life 
  • Facing my fears and ziplining in superman-fashion at AJ Hackett Bridge in Queenstown
  • Riding a gondola to a mountain peak and luging down in Queenstown
  • Boating around Queenstown on a thrilling jet boat in the pouring rain — I don't think that my dad and I will be able to talk my mom into going on a jet boat ever again!
  • Flying out to the Milford Sound and cruising around mile-high mountain peaks that towered over us — a definite highlight of my trip to New Zealand
  • And, again, eating and happy hour-ing at every twist and turn

*Long story short: My parents and I were eating an Irish Pub outside of Blenheim when we overheard a few people at the table next to us mention both Georgetown and UNC-Chapel Hill in the same sentence. Then, despite my dad and I's many pleas, my mom decided to walk over to the table to tell them that's where both my sister and I were in college. After a few minutes of talking, they then told us that they owned one of the top vineyards in the Marlborough Region and invited us to a private wine tasting at their vineyard!

Map of South Island, New Zealand

Map of South Island, New Zealand

Week #15: Putting My Tourist Pants Back On in Sydney

After traveling around New Zealand, my parents and I headed back to Sydney. My mom had taken the reins on planning New Zealand, but I got to plan our week in Sydney. And neither of our itineraries disappointed!

My parents had never been to Sydney before, and I think they both considered moving there after I showed them around. Some of our highlights included,

  • Staying in Bondi Beach and waking up to the sunrise every morning over the ocean
  • Walking around Sydney and checking out all the tourist hot-spots like the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Checking out a whiskey speakeasy and then going to the opera "La bohéme" on the Sydney Harbour
  • Doing the Bondi to Coogee Walk not once, not twice, but every day
  • Cheers-ing at Coogee Pavilion overlooking Coogee Beach
  • Taking the ferry over to Manly Beach to check out the Northern Beaches
  • And, of course, eating and happy hour-ing at every twist and turn

Spending time with my parents was an absolute blast! Now, I'm ready to show my sister around.

It's crazy to think that I've already been studying abroad for over three months now, but I'm making sure to appreciate every opportunity and experience that I have here. Time truly does fly when you're having fun!

Be on the lookout for my next update in a few weeks, and you can always check me out on Facebook and Instagram.

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