Within 24 hours

I’m officially in New Zealand. The 11 hour flight to Nadi (with the worst couple ever that reclined as far as humanly possible in front of me), 3.5 hour flight to Wellington (most terrifying and turbulent landing of my life), and a 45 minute flight to Auckland (delayed 5 hours), finally got me here. Unbeknownst to me, I was in for a far better first day in this country than these ghastly flights led me to believe possible.

First off, it must be stated that when travelling, Murphy’s Law (“everything that can go wrong, will go wrong”) is usually in full effect. The many issues that took place before, and during the flights to New Zealand are evidence enough of this (thinking of you reclining couple). The accommodations set for the first week in this country fell apart the morning I was to get on the plane, so Nate and I were gracefully scrambling whilst in transit to our new home. However much we should have felt stress, we were keeping in mind the spirit of adventure and letting these discomforts simply become part of the experience. It hasn’t stopped us from making friends with random people in the airports, and realizing that all of this just makes the start to a stay in New Zealand that much more exciting. I came here looking for unknown surprises and adventure, I just didn’t know that would be delivered so soon.

Upon landing, Claudia (the contact I have had over here for the past few months) picked up Nate and I. She took us to the family she was staying with, who promptly bombarded us with kindness, food, and beer. This was honestly the most welcoming experience either of us have experienced in a foreign place. The kindness of the Kiwi is legendary, yet it was still a shock to get the welcome from these people that we received. To Claudia and her host family, we will always be grateful for making the first few hours in New Zealand some of the most memorable.

The kindness to us two weary travelers was nowhere near its end. Claudia informed us that a group of her friends were camped out of the city about 45 minutes away, and we were welcome to join them since we didn’t have a place to stay. We gratefully accepted, and the first gloriously spontaneous decision was made. Having our accommodations drop out was the best thing that could have happened. We drove out in the dark to the campsite, all the while really not knowing what we were surrounded by in the darkness. Upon reaching the campsite, we were greeting with warm welcomes and new friends. Ben, Rachel, Brittany, Josh, and Michael, became our first New Zealand friend group (along with Claudia who had to work the next morning, so left us to their mercy). These individuals have been the biggest blessing Nate and I could have imagined. We shared a camp, stories, and plenty of laughs. Nate and I slept the sleep of the exhausted, finally content to be anywhere but on a plane.

The next morning (beginning at 6AM because of the birds) revealed an absolutely gorgeous scene. I knew that New Zealand was beautiful, yet it hadn’t occurred to me just how much so until I stepped from the tent. The morning quickly led to multiple walks out to the waterfalls in the area, making breakfast together and enjoying the outdoors, and driving out to the beach at Piha to climb Lion Rock above the ocean and watch the paddleboard competition going on below. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that this is my life for the next year. Yes I’ll be working, but the freedom to explore this country and all the things that it has to offer is an absolute dream. As Nate and I prepare to buy a campervan within the next few days (fingers crossed that we can get a good deal on one), we have come to realize that all the preparation for this trip has already been worth it.

Throughout the difficulties, it’s become evident that this was something I drastically needed. The entire process so far, whether that be saying goodbye to family and friends, travel struggles, or just uneasiness in general, have begun a refining process in myself. It is one thing to believe that you are ready for something, yet it is quite another to know that you are ready for it. Going through this first 24 hour period of unfortunate circumstances mixed with the pure joy of this new adventure, and coming out the other side unscathed and completely energized, is an amazing feeling to have. The new friends, new scenery, and incredible hospitality that we have received thus far is worth everything we have done so far.

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