It started with a flight delay...
When you're the one who organized the shuttle pick up to take you to the airport, you sort of feel like it's your fault when you have to tell everyone the shuttle is still picking us up at the same time, but our flight is delayed two hours. That's how our 12-day break started.
First of all, for the past two weeks, a group of us has been getting together a few nights a week organizing this trip. I had to plan a 12-day trip? I had to figure out where I'm going to sleep? Am i even responsible enough for that? We spent hours figuring out what hostels we should book, what towns we should be visiting, what routes we should be taking to get to each destination, what activities we were going to do at each location, which mountains were worth climbing (not even metaphorically). To give the average person a realistic view of New Zealand, the amount of cathedrals and churches in Europe alone is equivalent to the endless number of trails that cover the North and South Island - yes, New Zealand is split up into two islands, technically speaking three. We made a spread sheet, kept track of who was spending what on their credit cards, and spent a good hour trying to figure out who owed who and what for. Talk about frustration.
We got to domestic departures and I was amazed by security. In the states, we have become accustomed to taking off our belts, shoes, watches, coats, getting randomly selected to be patted down and/or questioned, or even my laptop being opened and lightly dusted off with a white cloth while the security guard was wearing gloves in Newark. At Auckland International Airport, I walked in, handed a women my printed-at-home boarding pass, put my checked bag on the scale, and that was it. I went to security which included me putting my carry-on on a conveyer belt with my phone and wallet. As soon as that went through the X-ray, I walked through a detector seemingly no different than the one that I've walked through during Jury Duty in Bridgeport, I was done and was welcome to roam around. That compared nothing to home. My passport wasn't checked, my ID wasn't checked, no one knew that Julia D'Agostino was flying from Auckland to Christchurch.
Christchurch... unfortunately experienced a fatal earthquake in 2011 that caused widespread damage across the region, killing 185 people. It was apparent as soon as we started driving around in our rented white minivan (which we named Peggy, short for Pegasus) that they have yet to recover much. Our first night in the South Island we stayed in the Dorset Backpackers House. It seemed to be an old victorian home with bedrooms lining the second and third floors with multiple bathrooms. Seemed cozy enough. We dropped our suitcases off in the 5-bed room and hunted for food.
Best. Tacos. Ever. Mexicanos. If I ever suggest anything about Christchurch, it would be the tacos at Mexicanos. Two tacos, multiple pitchers of sangria, and dark red lights eased our stresses from flying and the big trip ahead of us.
We ended up going to sleep on the later side since we were all in one room together, had a large amount of wifi usage, and got back late enough to begin starting conversations with those at home who were just starting their day.
2:00am rolls around and there was someone trying to barge into our room.
"Dude it's locked let me try".
A group of boys got their room confused with our room. One piece of advice from day 1: always lock your doors when you're in a hostel.