Author: Sarah Tubbs

Location: Dunedin & Christchurch, New Zealand

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

October 14th, 2019… 9:10PM…. Truly a bittersweet day. My final day of being my current age. Being on the other side of the world, away from close friends and family, turning 21 in less than 5 hours, and just getting back to Newcastle from one of the most monumental weeks of my life. Taking it back to the night of October 5th, four of my girlfriends and I were flying out to New Zealand to start a week long road trip throughout the South Island. We had flown out of the Sydney International Airport and landed in Christchurch, New Zealand not too long after. Finding cheap flights in Australia can be very easy, but the times of these cheaper flights can sometimes be very inconvenient. Due to buying the cheapest flights we could find, we ended up arriving in New Zealand at 2:30am. We couldn’t pick up the rental campervan until 8am, so we all slept on the international arrivals terminal floor for about 5 hours. This was such a wild experience because WE WERE FINALLY THERE in New Zealand, all of us so ready to begin our adventure, but we were completely exhausted and had to wait to pick up the campervan that are international friend Krista had rented. But as soon as 7:50am rolled around, we were up and at it, ready to get on the road.

Krista, Linneya, and Sammi reading in the back of the campervan on our way to Dunedin!

Our first stop was Dunedin, located four hours south of Christchurch. We decided to go here because Holly and Linneya both had friends who were studying abroad at the University of Otago. The four hour drive ended up turning into a six hour one because we kept on stopping at different beaches and lookout points that caught our eyes. These first hours spent exploring and finally being in New Zealand was only the start of the beautiful landscapes and sceneries we were about to see in the upcoming week.

Krista and I dancing on a beach on our way to Dunedin

Krista drawing sand art on a beach

The first night we arrived in Dunedin, Sammi, Linneya, and Holly all went and spent the first night and day with their friends who were studying abroad. Krista and I slept in the campervan alone and decided to get up early, get coffee, and go find a hike to do in the area! We woke up at 6am and headed out to whatever coffee shop we found along our way. After sitting in a coffee shop for a little while and reading (such a beautiful moment, everyone should READ MORE!), we walked around the shops a bit more. While we were in one, we sparked a conversation with the owner who told us her favorite hike in the area was the one called Organ Pipes. She mentioned that not many people knew about this hike, but that is was one of the best ones in the area. After hearing this, we knew that we had to go to this hike. We were stoked to now know about a local hike we could do for the day! The entire time after we had talked with this woman, we kept thinking about how it was such a beautiful experience to be able to have such kind conversations with the random people we met along our way. We searched for the hike in Google Maps, and we hit the road. The hiking path was about 25 minutes outside of the town and then the hike was a total of four hours round trip. We found parking and started hiking along the unknowingly steep path that we were about to experience. And woah!!… we understood why this hike took four hours long after only 5 minutes on the path. This thing was straight uphill and had SO many stairs… but after 2 hours of slowly making our way up, our knees shaking from the climb, we got to see the view that was worth the long haul upward.

Krista and I at the top of the Organ Pipes Trail in Dunedin, NZ

Krista at the top of the Organ Pipes Trail in Dunedin, NZ

The air and the views that we got to experience at the top of this mountain were unlike anything else. We were almost in the clouds and it was a hike I’ll never forget. We sat up there for almost an hour. Simply breathing in the air and finding such peace with the sounds of nature. This day was one of the highlights of the entire trip, from the morning including the hike to the Organ Pipes and the sunset hike to Tunnel Beach later in the night. After Krista and I spent the day at Organ Pipes, we met up with everyone else back in Dunedin and drove to Tunnel Beach to watch the sunset. The experience here was one I could never put into words, and truly something that I’ll keep in my memories forever. So I hope the following pictures help to somewhat capture what it was like that night on Tunnel Beach.

Running around at Tunnel Beach

Sunset Over the Rocks at Tunnel Beach

The View on the Way Down to Tunnel Beach

Lots of Hugs <3

These days were only the first two days of a six day long adventure we all had together. So much happened in the next four days, from the campervan breaking down, hiking in the pouring rain, to dancing with two little girls at a random petrol station, go-karting down a mountain, and so many more amazing memories that I will never forget. It would be such a long blog post if I told every moment of what happened throughout our week in New Zealand, but overall this was one of the most transformative and unforgettable weeks of my life. This trip encouraged me to push myself towards my dreams that I want for my future, and showed me that so many things are possible if you stay kind, attentive, and courageous no matter where you are in the world. Even though this trip wasn’t all great moments of crazy adventure (there was a lot of challenging stuff that happened), I found myself to be so grateful with the women that surrounded me and our ability to communicate with one another and figure things out as they happened. It made me realize that no matter where you are in the world, you can always find comfort and love in the community that is around you if you look for it.

So when you’re abroad, don’t forget to stay in the moment and LIVE your LIFE! A quote that has been following me around while in Australia has been one by Eckhart Tolle. He once said that, “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life which is never not NOW”.

Last Hike in Christchurch, New Zealand