New Zealand Memories (8 years later)

Attn. nerds: this is the river in LoTR where Arwen saves Frodo from the Ringwraiths!!! (with Jen & me trying to look cool in front of it)

Eight years ago on March 24, I was in New Zealand with my friends Jen & Rob on what I like to call “my divorce settlement trip.” Divorce settlement meaning that I took the money I got from selling the my ex’s Mustang and motor home (which he left on my dad’s property, and I’m fully convinced he only gave  them to me–via the divorce agreement–because he didn’t want to face my dad in order to get them back) and used it to buy plane tickets. J&R generously financed my hotel rooms, which I will never be able to thank them for ENOUGH, because it was one of the raddest things I’ve ever done.

Anyway! We started in Queenstown, with a side-trip to Dunedin, and then we moved to Auckland for the last few days. Queenstown is INSANELY BEAUTIFUL. Surrounded by clear, gorgeous bright blue water, with a ring of mountains so close you can pretty much touch them, and a cute brick-laid main street with lots of eating, drinking, and shopping options. Dunedin was a 6-hour drive away, and had more of a big city feel (as big a city as you can pack onto an island, anyway). And Auckland reminded me so much of Seattle, it was eerie. But I digress.

Here I present to you my favorite moments from that trip–the things that I think about a lot. And miss. And want to relive. 

mmm. so much coffee!

1. That first walk from our hotel down to the main part of town in Queenstown, seeing all the blue water and mountains, and just being overwhelmed by how pretty it all was.

2. Discovering latte BOWLS were a common thing! A whole bowl. Full of coffee. What.

3. Riding the Gondola up the hill and luging halfway down it (panic attack from riding the lift up to the top mostly forgotten).

4. Going on a winery tour with a bus driver who also served as a location scout for LoTR, and who pointed out where a lot of key scenes were shot.

5. Coming back from the winery tour buzzed and happy, and discovering the cute NZ boy cleaning my hotel room had commandeered the stereo and was dancing to my copy of Doolittle. (I may have watched him dance for a bit before announcing my presence. *ahem*)

6. Discovering Guinness Lamb Stew. omfg. for reals. so good.

view from the top of the gondola mountain

7. Taking photos of a crumbling old cemetery with Jen (in lieu of viewing the kiwi bird sanctuary with the rest of our group).

8. Getting totally soaked and screaming all the way through a high-speed riverboat ride.

9. Stumbling on a “Seattle Espresso” shop in Auckland, walking in to talk to the owner, and not having them understand that I was from Seattle, and it was actually a real place.

10. The King Penguins at the Auckland Aquarium (queue Batman Returns music and endless Danny DeVito/Penguin quotes).

crumbly angelface

11. Being treated to a fancypants dinner by Rob’s parents at the top of the Auckland Sky Needle, in their rotating restaurant, which is quite a bit taller than our Space Needle and provided a pretty killer view.

12. Planning a tour of the Cadbury factory in Dunedin, but missing out on the last tour due to time constraints (DOH!), and then just buying a whole crapload of weird NZ Cadbury chocolates to pig out on instead.

13. Getting drunk on absinthe for the first time with Rob’s dad and uncle (slightly weird, but also cool). {This was pre-US availability.}

14. And my favorite moment: the last day we were in Queenstown, I took a walk by myself in the main square–after a latte bowl, of course–and there was a busker singing “Mad World” in the style of Gary Jules. As I walked, singing along, I noticed that almost everybody I passed on the street was also singing. The sun was shining, and it was just amazing. A total magical movie moment, and the first time after my divorce where I fully realized I was going to be just fine.

"When people run in circles it's a very, very..."

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