Hanmer Happenings

All of us chowing down on thai food after a long day of travelling

So our stay at Hanmer is almost over now. I haven't covered the last couple days of the trip though so here it goes! 
Hanmer is the wannabe Mt. Hutt. You see, as you can see from my Route It Out post, we were supposed to go to Mt. Hutt directly after Hokitika. But there was simply absolutely no snow to ski on, so Mt. Hutt didn't seem as thrilling anymore without the whole skiing thing. So Mom and Dad, I read your last couple comments and could hear the concern through your demands to be super careful on the slopes, but no worries! No skiing for any of us. Definitely a bummer, but instead, we changed our route a bit and ended up in Hanmer. And luckily Peter and Gemina pulled some strings and planned us a very nice replacement day in lieu of skiing. But before I get to that, I want to tell you all a bit about our day of travelling from Hokitika to Hanmer.
It was a long one indeed. Probably the longest bus ride of the trip. But our long exhausting bus rides are never complete without many stops along the way! We drove through this historic place called Arthur's Pass and stopped at the information center to learn a bit more about it. That's where I get this bad boy:

We were just about to get back on the bus and this parrot was sitting on top of the roof of the outdoor bathrooms. I snapped a shot straight into the sun just as the bird was flying away and this is what showed up on my preview. Definitely one of my favorite silhouette pictures of the whole trip!

Ecstatic about my crazy parrot shot, I got back on the bus with a smile plastered on my face. It wasn't long before I realized we were stopping again at this place 20 minutes or so away called Castle Hill. This place was unbelievably beautiful and so peaceful. In fact, it was named a "Spiritual Center of the Universe" by the Dalai Lama in 2002. 

We all got out our packed up lunches and had a nice picnic with the sun beating down on us. It's always refreshing when you finally get to shed a couple layers as the sun comes out when you initially thought it was going to be another frigid day outside. Ulla and her fiance, Sebastian, had tagged along with us to drive to Hanmer because her session with us wasn't over quite yet. Once we arrived at Castle Hill, Sebastian, was ready to climb some of the huge boulders. He climbed up some different ones for us so we could snap some shots. 

Once we left Castle Hill, it was all driving from there. We finally made it to Hanmer and celebrated with some Thai cuisine. We then woke up this morning ready for our activities Peter and Gemina had planned for us to make up for not being able to ski. Instead of skiing in Mt. Hutt, we got to go horseback riding and then hit up the Hanmer hot springs Spa! Horseback riding was a blast; I can't even think of the last time I got on a horse! We got to go on this long trail, went up some hills, and by the end of the trail, we could see the whole town of Hanmer. Absolutely beautiful. After some fun horseback riding, we came back into town for a quick lunch at a yummy bakery and then to the Spa we went! It was very different from the one we went to in Franz Josef, but still just as fun! The Franz Josef spa was much more relaxing and calm, while this spa in Hanmer was more like a waterpark! They had a bunch of different hot pools but then they also had a variety of slides and other water activities. As miserably cold the walk was from one pool to another, or the pool to one of the slides, it was all definitely worth it. After the Spa we came back to the hostel and freshened up and then went to dinner at one of the most delicious places we've dined the whole trip! Ulla made her last presentation while we waited for our food to come out and everyone else in the restaurant was very intrigued by all of her pictures and work displayed on the projector. She had a bunch of amazing pictures and stories to show us yet again. Before we knew it, dinner was done and we all had to say goodbye to Ulla. I was so sad to see her go! She was such a fun soul to have around the last few days! We all miss you already Ulla. 
Well now I'm laying in my bed, ready to get some serious sleep before our drive to Christchurch tomorrow morning. I cannot believe that my stay in New Zealand is ending so soon. It feels like I've been away for so long but it went by so fast all at the same time. Once we're in Christchurch tomorrow we're checking out some of the earthquake damage and taking pictures here and there. Then from there we're catching up on our photography work and enjoying our last moments in New Zealand. Then Friday morning we fly out of Christchurch to Fiji! Can't believe I'll be in Fiji in like a day! Cannot wait!!

Lastly, I would like to wish the man I look up to most in my life, my daddy, a wonderful happy happy belated Father's Day. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to actually post something on the actual day. But I love you so much, miss you so much, and want to thank you for being the most fantastic father a girl could ever ask for.


Hokitika Updates

So you can probably gather from my previous post, Route It Out, that we are now in Hokitika. We arrived here mid morning yesterday and it's yet another lovely little town full of beautiful sights and picture taking opportunities! The most exciting thing about this spot is not the town, however. But the person we got to meet once we arrived here! Ulla Lohmann, our National Geographic professional photographer, finally was able to meet up with us here in Hoktika after many failed attempts to get here. Because of the volcanic eruption in Chile, flights have been delayed recently because of all the ash. In fact, I don't think I ever told you all this, but back in Te Anau we walked outside the first day and there was something falling from the sky. Naturally, we thought it was snow, but it turned out to be ash! Coming all the way from Chile! Pretty weird.

Anyways, Ulla goes beyond all my expectations. She has travelled all over the world, discovered an ancient tribe in Papa New Guinea, lived and worked on a boat for a year and a half traveling all across the globe, photographs volcanoes, speaks numerous languages, is originally from Germany, and is the sweetest, most genuine, passionate, adventurous, and talented woman I have ever met. I've only known her for two days and I cannot begin to tell you how much she has inspired me. Not only in just photography, but in living life to it's fullest as well. Having her here with us to teach certain techniques and help us improve our photography has already had a major influence on me. Her passion for photography and adventure motivates me to get the perfect shot so I can run and show her. I am loving having her around!

My two photography idols. Ulla on the left and Mrs.Bottoms on the right :)
So yesterday once we introduced ourselves to Ulla and all got acquainted, we grabbed a quick lunch, and went on our way to a gorge a little bit outside of Hokitika. Once we were there, Ulla challenged us to use different angles and asked us what we could do to make our photograph unique. We walked on this long swing bridge and once I was on the other side, I totally got my creeper on. I waited for other families to walk the bridge and eagerly took pictures of them. They seemed to be fine as they naturally modeled for me. 

After spending a couple hours at the gorge, we drove back into town and then walked to a nearby beach. This beach was beautiful- the sand is a much darker color and the waves are huge. We all went camera crazy once Ulla told us to capture the perfect shot explaining how we felt while on the beach. 

After the beach we all had a delicious dinner. As we were driving home from dinner, Gemina and Peter announced that the woman who owns the hostel we were staying at was in a photography club and her and the other members invited all of us into her home to listen to Ulla's first presentation about her photography studies. It was so neat to hear more about Ulla and her amazing stories. Her fiance definitely proposed to her on top of a volcano. And they have an unreal silhouette picture of the engagement on the volcano! How sweet is that?! Hearing what Ulla had to say about photography and her work and being able to experience that in a living room of a random house full of people who have the same love for photography was a really sentimental moment for all of us. 

We woke up Monday morning with a whole new motivation to get great photographs. After hearing Ulla's talk the night before and seeing the extreme measures she went through on a daily basis, everyone seemed a bit more determined. We ate a quick breakfast and got on the bus for a long bus ride to see the Paunakaiki Pancake Rocks. Just as we were pulling into the small town, however, our bus ran out of gas. Our poor bus driver Carl felt awful, but we took it as an excuse to walk through the town and explore before we went to the pancake rocks. It was quite a funny scene when we were all walking on the side of the freeway with cameras around our necks, trekking through the town. But the trek was definitely worth it because the Pancake Rocks were amazing! It was a great spot for pictures. We walked into this mini rainforest, tall blades of grass forming a tunnel towering over us, and then we turned the corner and the waves blast against these flat looking rocks, forming the neatest looking shot. Once we fooled around in there for quite some time, we got back on the bus, but before we were on our way back to our hostel, we stopped at a place called Truman Track; another rainforest path leading you to a rough tide shore. The lighting was just right once the rainforest opened up to the beach. So naturally, I totally got my silhouette pictures on. With some helpful tips from Ulla of course!

We came back to our hostel, exhausted, ready for some grub. We stuffed our faces with some pizza and then were on our merry way, headlamps secured on our foreheads, on a 2 minute walk to the glow worm caves. It was pitch black once we turned our headlamps off to get some glow worm shots, but it was a really fun night activity! 


Route It Out

As you all read my posts and follow me across my journey through New Zealand, I seem to write about these towns and cities as if you all know where they all are. I had no idea how our journey was going to play out and how we were going to be able to see all these places in just two weeks. And I had no idea what places we were going to until Gemina read over our itinerary the first night. So I thought it would be beneficial to y'all if I showed a map of New Zealand and list my route for the trip!

From Houston we flew to LA and from LA we flew to Auckland, New Zealand. Then from Auckland we flew to Queenstown and that's where our official journey began. 
1. Te Anau
2. Queenstown
3. Wanaka
4. Franz Josef
5. Hokitika
6. Mt. Hutt
7. Christchurch

And then off to FIJI! 
[thanks to Google images for this bad boy]


Thursday, June 16, 2011 & Friday, June 17,2011

Okay everyone. Brace yourselves for a long post because I am going to cover two days. Are we all ready? Okay good.
So we are currently in Franz Joseph; the smallest town yet. Seriously. Like there is a glacier called the Franz Joseph glacier here and I think that's the only reason there's a town here. There's one working restaurant that we've gone to twice now to have dinner, one souvenir shop, and a few hostels. And that's about it, folks. But it's really nice and quaint and I like it a lot. We've finally had today to completely relax. I totally slept in until 10:30 and have been appreciating every second of it. Right now it's Saturday the 18th and it's around 12:30. We haven't done anything today and it has been so nice. We are catching ourselves up on picture uploading and blogging and resting time after our exhausting glacier hike yesterday and I think it's safe to say everyone is enjoying this breather day. The first rainfall of our trip is pounding away on our hostel roofs and it couldn't be more calming as I lay in my actually comfortable bed and reflect on the last two days of the trip so I can share them all with you on my blog! ( that was horrible grammar and that's like the most complex sentence ever but hopefully you still get the point)

So let's rewind a couple days so I can give you all a recap.

Thursday, June 16, 2011
Another long day. But they all seem to be quite long at this point. We packed our bags and loaded on the bus for another travelling day from Wanaka to Franz Joseph. What was supposed to be a four hour bus ride turned out to be a 7 hour bus ride if you include our stop for lunch and all of our little picture taking stops. The long ride was definitely worth it though. As we drove from one side of the island to the other, it was so neat to see how it transformed. At one point we are surrounded by mountains as if they are caving in on us and then we are driving through a tunnel made of trees into this beautiful rainforest and then as we emerse through the tunnel, a beautiful beach is awaiting us. As the bus pulled over, we eagerly piled out, ready to dip our feet in the sand and run across the shore. At this beach, people from all over the world use sharpies and write on the beautiful pebbles and have created this long message thread that lines the start of the beach. We decided to make a National Geographic rock and all signed it and placed it with the others. And then of course, Michael and I had to make our own too because we're cool like that.

Here's some other shots I took at the beach:

If you haven't noticed yet, I seem to be taking a bunch of silhouette pictures. For part of our work for this trip, we have to do an On Assignment Project and I've chosen silhouettes. So hope you aren't sick of my silhouette pictures because they are going to keep on comin!

After we stopped at the beach, we loaded back up on the bus and continued on our way to Franz Joseph. Once we got to Franz Joseph, we settled in our cozy little hostel here and then went out to that one restaurant where literally the whole town hangs out. When we were walking around the town it was deserted. Then we walked into the restaurant and realized that's where everyone who lives in the town is. All the time. 
Then we went to bed early to get a good night's rest for the big glacier hike the next day.

Friday, June 17th, 2011
We woke up early ( I feel like I write that "we woke up early" every day so I apologize for the repetition) and got on the bus to go to the glacier hiking place. I was so scared. I woke up with nerves in my stomach and was not looking forward to the hike. But after putting their smelly pants, their clunky boots, and their waterproof jackets on, there wasn't much I could do to prepare myself anymore, so we started our hike through the rainforest and to the glacier we went! 
Much to my surprise, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the glacier hike. Trust me, I'm just as surprised as you all are. ( Sterett and Tess, if you are reading this, please refrain all laughs and jokes about me not being athletic) We split into groups and Kelsey, Brittany, Mrs. Bottoms, Lindsey, and I decided to form the "slower more pathetic" group and the pace was almost TOO slow for even me! I'm proud to say that I was the first person behind the guide on the hike the whole entire time! I was an eager little glacier hiker. ( Sterett and Tess, this is where you comment on my blog and tell me y'all are proud of me. P.S. I miss you two so much)

Here's some shots from the glacier hike:

Kelsey peeking through a little tunnel we all got to go through in the glacier.
Unlike anything I've ever seen before.

Kelsey, Britt, Me, Mrs, Bottoms, and Lindsey with our glacier guide, Rob. 
Rob leading the way as we hiked through the glacier. They had man-made stairs and everything! So nifty!
The slower pace group chilling in the glacier tunnel. What a fun day!
Our glacier hike came to an end and we loaded back on the bus, more exhausted than ever, with an aching sore covering our body from the combination of our glacier hike and our mountain hike a couple days prior. We all shed our sweaty layers and flung ourselves in our beds, just before Peter and Gemina ran in all the rooms surprising us with the news: "Get your swimsuits out kiddos, we're going to the glacier hot pools!" Yeah, that's right. I said swimsuits. I never thought my swimsuit would see the light of day while still in New Zealand. But alas, there I was, opening my Fiji stuff tucked into the very bottom of my suitcase to grab my swimsuit. We arrived at the glacier hot pool Spa and I'm not going to lie, it's definitely been one of my favorite things about New Zealand so far. This spa was in the middle of the rainforest! It was SO neat and relaxing. They had four different pools with all different temperatures: some colder, some super hot. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any pictures because I decided to not bring Cam the Cam along for the Spa Adventure, but I snagged one off of google for you all to get a glimpse of what it was like:

After the relaxing glacier hot pools, we went back to the same trust restaurant we had dined at the night before. It was still just as yummy :) 
And THEN came back to the common room at our hostel and surprised Gemina with a birthday cake and trick candles and had a huge dance party to celebrate her 25th! It was definitely the longest and most exhausting day, but also one of my favorites.
And finally, this post is coming to a close. Now back to more relaxing and working on our pictures on this rainy, calming day.
Miss you all. 10 days until I'm back in Htown kiddos. Just 10 short days.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What a long two days it has been! I know I haven't posted anything since the night before our puzzle world adventure in Wanaka, so I must provide you all with updates! Yesterday morning we woke up early and all walked down to the beach with tripods in hand just before the sun was rising to capture the beautiful sunrise. It was so peaceful to stand there in my selected area with tripod legs pushed into the sand as I watched the clouds make way for the sun to brighten the lake and highlight the details in the mountains standing before me.

After numerous sunrise shots, we all decided it was time for some much anticipated breakfast. But not before we all lined up our tripods in a line to take some group shots of us in front of the beautiful scenery! We were all laughing hysterically as we all lined up our tripods, stood by them as we counted to three, and all simultaneously ran to the shore to get in place so we could make it in time for the picture. After many failed attempts of half of the group being in the shot, or all of us being out of focus, or none of our eyes being open, I ended up getting this shot. And I ended up loving it more than I would have liked just a regular group photo. Cars drove by us and must have thought we were crazy. But at this point we are pretty used to the odd stares we get as we all run around like crazies snapping away. 

After a yummy breakfast back at the hostel we were staying at in Wanaka, we got on the bus and drove to Puzzle World! Puzzle World was crazy. Wanaka is this cozy little town right on the lake up in the mountains, which was why I was so shocked that Wanaka of all places had this crazy place called puzzle World! I haven't seen anything like this place. It's almost like Ripley's Believe It or Not, but even cooler. This place had multiple rooms; filled with optical illusions, artistic puzzles, a challenging maze outside, and this crazy warped room where everything was at an angle. Literally. You walk in, and you think you are standing up straight, but this is how it looks when you are standing:

Real talk.
Then Michael, Sarah, Britt, and I decided to brave the maze and boy was it challenging. We definitely cheated multiple times and climbed over fences and under walls to get to all the different towers. But it was still so fun!
Loving our self-timers for these shots. Love these kiddos too :)
Then after Puzzle World, Peter and Gemina decided it would be fun to hike up a mountain. Me, not so much. But it was definitely a good experience. It was not my favorite activity of the trip, but it did challenge me and bring out my more outdoorsy side. Didn't really know I had it in me!
Then last night after our exhausting hike, we decided to order in delicious pizza and call it a night early. But not before we had the chance to work with our tripods some more and some super slow shutter speeds and make some crazy glow light pictures!

Pretty neat, huh?


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Michael and Sarah trying out some goofy hats. Queenstown definitely knows whatsup with the hats.
So Queenstown was a total success. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner last night in Queenstown at this restaurant called Flame. Lindsey, Sarah, Carson, and I decided to order the Combo Meal and it ended up being huge... such a big deal that we had bibs. There will be pictures up later on that, don't you worry.  And today was SO fun! We finally got to wander around a little in smaller groups today as we ventured through Queenstown and it was a blast! Shopping, picture taking, and the warmest weather we've had the whole trip all came together to make this my favorite day of the trip so far. We all had breakfast at this cute little bakery a couple blocks away from our hostel and it was delicious! I tried my first meat pie and I must say it was pretty yummy. Michael made me have a bite of his and I ended up having to beg Gemina to let me buy one for myself. Then we all split up in smaller groups and Sarah, Michael, Brittany, Alex, and I all went with Ms. Bottoms to do some shopping and exploring! We had such a fun time and got some pretty neat things too. Then we all met back up again and after a quick photoshoot in a really neat old cemetery, we all decided to ride the gondola to the top of one of the hills to see yet another beautiful view of New Zealand. 

We snapped a bunch of pictures and then all had a lovely lunch, surrounded by huge windows overlooking New Zealand. Then we loaded back on the bus and headed for our next stop: Wanaka! To get to Wanaka, we had to drive up the highest road in New Zealand! Pretty professional stuff. So we got settled into our new hostel in Wanaka and then went to Bombay Palace and had Indian food. Michael and I could not help but laugh at our ignorance with Indian food. All of the students and I were a little skeptical at first, but it ended up being quite a fun dinner! Well I'm off to bed; I'm exhausted! After all that shopping and eating, I need some sleep! Gotta get up bright and early tomorrow morning with my tripod ready for some early morning sunrise pictures! Then off to some maze exploring and optical illusion puzzle trails and special things that Wanaka has to offer. Can't wait! :)

P.S. If you click on My Photography tab at the top right above this post, you'll see a bunch of pictures that I've taken so far on the trip! I'll be updating that periodically when I have internet connection and time. Enjoy!


Monday, June 13, 2011

After a relaxing day yesterday spent becoming even closer with our tight-knit group and another delicious breakfast this morning, we were off! We packed our bags again and loaded everything on the bus and were on the road again, heading back to Queenstown to stay there for the night. But on the way we stopped at a sheep farm! It was quite the experience. Seeing these super smart dogs herd all the wandering sheep was priceless! It made me miss my puppy at home. But anyways, I don’t think I will ever take that many pictures of sheep ever again. Seriously. I have like hundreds of pictures from today and they are all of sheep. Too funny. 

So now we’re in Queenstown staying at this really sweet hotel called Nomads. It’s really unfortunate that we are only in Queenstown one night because it’s a really neat place. It’s a nice change from the unpopulated little town we’ve stayed in for the last couple days. But I’ve heard some really great things about Queenstown and it’s fun nightlife and it’s awesome people so I’m excited to see what it has to offer! Besides what’s going on here, with all these long bus rides to different locations and early bedtimes, I have a lot more time than I thought I would to think about home and how much I miss it. Not having any way of communicating with anyone back home is hard, but I know it will all be worth it in the end. Just know that I am thinking of you all and I’m missing you a ton and wishing you were all here to share this amazing experience with me. It’s weird to think that in a month and a half, being far from home will be normal. I’m going to college this fall and it’s starting to really hit me. I’m not one to get very homesick, but I have found myself getting sentimental multiple times on the trip. But with us all being such a close group already, I think I’ll get by just fine!

Sunday, June 11, 2011

As I write this on a word document on my laptop because there are seldom times when we have access to the Internet and when we do it usually isn’t free, it is Sunday June 12, 2011 and it is 11 AM in the morning. What’s ironic is that when I began to type the date out, Microsoft Word wanted to correct it to Saturday June 11, 2011. I’m starting to realize how magically strange the world is. How is it that I’m living in the future? It is 6 PM at home in Houston. My mom is probably beginning to think about what she’s going to cook for dinner and my brother is probably playing video games upstairs in the game room (but let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what time it is, Gentry’s without a doubt usually playing video games), and my friends are probably just getting off work and trying to decide what they’re going to do tonight: movie, dinner date, staying in and hanging out, etc. But while all of that is going on at home a day behind me, I am sitting in a common room, just now finishing digesting my breakfast, staring out the window at the most beautiful mountains I have ever laid my eyes on.  I sit here, 2 days and a skipped one later, still trying to take it all in. If I were to say all of the exhausting plane rides (3 of them to be exact plus a crying baby directly behind me all the way from LA to Auckland), the jet lag, the luggage carrying, and the packing stress was worth it, it would be an understatement. Words cannot even begin to explain the sights I have seen, the places I have been, and the experiences I am being able to be apart of. 

I am not your typical outdoorsy girl. I must admit, if I had to choose between canoeing on a lake and shopping, well, you all know which one I would pick. But this trip has truly given me a new appreciation for nature. National Geographic’s mission is to inspire people to care more about the earth and being here has already provided me with that new admiration. As we venture to different activities in our little bus driven by our wonderful bus driver Carl, there is not one moment where you aren’t able to stare out your window and see something unbelievable. From towering mountains with the perfect amount of snow drizzled on top to the most beautifully sculpted waterfall, New Zealand has left me in awe. And what still dumbfounds me is that we aren’t even close to seeing everything that New Zealand has to offer. Today has been a relaxing day. Nothing but uploading and editing pictures onto our computers, sharing our best shots of yesterday’s trip to Milford Sound with each other, and critiquing each other on how we can improve. The sole purpose of this trip: photography. But as the morning comes to a close, we are all ready to venture around the town we are staying in at the moment, Te Anau. We have a pretty chill day lined up compared to yesterday, full of eating great food, hiking around Lake Te Anau, going to see a movie about the beauty Te Anau has to offer, laughter, and even more bonding. Till next time!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

We finally made it. I've had a full night's rest in a quite comfortable bed in a lovely little mini lodge. We've unpacked our bags a bit and gotten comfortable in our surroundings. And we have taken out our cameras and become the most trigger-happy photographers you will ever meet. And as of now, I have been in New Zealand for a full official day, and boy, has it impressed me. After traveling for three days and being here in New Zealand for a full day now, I already feel like this group is family. We are all quick on forming little inside jokes, laughing uncontrollably, taking goofy pictures together as a group, and loving every minute we are spending together in this magical place. 

Today was unreal. We woke up bright and early (which surprisingly I have not had one issue with and have been out of bed the second I hear my alarm- Please believe me Mom and Dad) and jumped on the bus for a two-hour skinny winding road extravaganza to get to Milford Sound. We zipped up our jackets and attempted to put on our gloves and still take pictures while we soaked up the beauty of Milford Sound on a two-hour boat cruise. We saw seals, dolphins, glaciers, waterfalls, and mountains galore. I had heard wonderful things about Milford Sound but you really cannot even begin to understand how beautiful it is until you see it yourself. Google images do not even come close to doing it justice. My parents had gone there for their honeymoon and my mother raved about it to me before I left so I cannot wait to come back and show her the pictures I took. 

We stopped at a couple sights on the way back to our lodge to take some more pictures, if the amount we had already taken wasn't enough. We found ourselves at this beautiful rainforest called The Chasm. The waterfalls we saw there was insane. I'm beginning to see the remarkable things the world can do over decades and centuries. It was so beautiful that I ended up taking almost 900 pictures. Just on the first day, people. And that's nothing! One of us took 2,000. I think you can safely say we're eager little photographers. 

After a long day of sightseeing and picture taking, we had our first official group pow-wow. We played this exciting game where we went around and named our cameras and talked about them as if they were our boyfriends.  Multiple people had quite clever jokes to insert in their introduction of their cameras. Peter, one of our National Geographic guides, was smart enough to record the whole thing so hopefully it will end up on facebook sooner or later. My camera was dubbed the name Cameron, or “Cam the Cam.” Gotta love my boy Cameron, he’s definitely going to be my main pal on this trip, I can already tell. But the other boy I have come to love on this trip is my jacket, Big Red. They did not prepare us for it being this cold outside. Every single person in his or her pathetic flimsy little jackets all look at me in utter jealousy of how warm I am while wearing Big Red. I may look ridiculous and look like a puffy red marsh mellow, but Big Red hasn’t let me down yet, and for that, I will always be grateful. 

Someone very dear to me once said that in the cold, you feel alive, while in the heat, you feel like you are slowly dying. And it isn’t until you are on the top of a boat standing directly under a four hundred feet waterfall, eyes watering and tears trickling down your cheeks, wind forcing you backwards as you try to keep your feet steady, mountains completely surrounding you, and below freezing weather, that you truly feel alive.


Day 3: The Traveling Begins

My Daddy, puppy, and I just minutes before I left the airport! All packed up and ready to go saying our goodbyes.

So I am currently sitting on the plane, typing out this post on my iPhone. We are all accounted for, successfully made it through security, and are all seated as we anxiously wait for the plane to start slowly backing away from the gate. Besides a minor issue with Alex forgetting her passport at home in her copy machine, I would say airport experience #1 has been a breeze. But it's a whole different ballgame once we have to go through customs in LA! Yeesh; not so thrilled about that! This will be the last time I will be posting something in the states, so from now on we are finally getting to the exciting part! I have true blood season 1 and five different independent films waiting for me to attend to and an ambien if those don't fulfill my entertainment needs, so I think I'm set! Plane is about to take off, phone's going off, ergo this post is ending. Loving and already missing you all! Next time you hear from me, I'll be an official kiwi! Until then loves.

Brittany, Carson, Alex, and I all in our sleeping gear provided by Quantas Airlines. We were ready to do some heavy sleepin from LA to Auckland! Too bad the crying baby sitting behind us had other plans.
Michael, Brianna, Kelsey, Sarah, and Kevin all excited for the long plane ride ahead!


Day 2: City Centre Adventure!

Well today was quite an eventful one! And it's only almost two in the afternoon! I'm not sure if, by reading this, you are stunned with my energetic tone or you are just convinced that I'm beyond delirious. If you were one of the people who read my last post, you would know that I had about two and a half hours of sleep last night. No worries though! Hopefully by five o'clock tomorrow afternoon as I board the plane, I won't need the excessive amount of benadryl I originally thought I would be sipping down to get me through this 16 hour plane ride. Any who, I am currently sitting in the Spring Woods library, one of the last kiwi travelers left, slaving at this blog. I am already so beyond thrilled about creating this blog and being able to update you all with my adventures daily! Ms. Bottoms and Ms. Carter can already tell that I am so enthralled with doing everything I can to make this blog as cute, entertaining, and well thought-out as possible.This morning we finally got a chance to truly dive into the features of our cameras. We got in small groups and explored the basics of photography- learning more about aperture and fstops, shutter speed, tripod techniques, and ISO's. I was so excited to finally start taking pictures again to strengthen my portfolio; I hadn't seriously thought about adjusting my light meter or any of that jazz because I had refrained from using manual mode. But alas, the days of automatic are over for now and I truly could not be more excited! Taking pictures at city centre was a great kickoff to the future photography sessions ahead. I cannot tell you how many times I have been to the city centre when it's in full swing, whether it be for shopping, eating, hanging out, froyo-ing it up, or socializing. This being said, it is so nice to be there at 9 AM in the morning when nothing is open yet and there isn't people in a rush to get from place to place. It was quite calming actually. I took numerous photographs this morning, but the four pictures above became my favorite. City Centre opened a precious little Free People boutique and it was so fun to shoot in the store! Not only do they have THE cutest clothes, but their set up is so lovely.If you noticed the pictures are in polaroid form, which I love. My friend Jaclyn Worbets, a good friend of mine and a wonderful photographer, showed me this application that you can easily download off google. It's called Poladroid. ---> click here to download it for free!

Well I'm finally leaving the library! The rest of today will consist of running some last minute errands for equipment I still need for the trip, finishing up my packing, heading to a fellow Kiwi traveler's house to have a New Zealand Fiji kickoff celebration, and then spending the rest of my night with my family and friends that I will miss dearly. I'm not sure when my next post will be, but until then, tata!

Late Night/ Early Morning Thoughts

Okay. How am I still up? I keep frantically running around my room throwing clothes in my luggage thinking I need more stuff which is absolutely absurd! I keep feeling like I'm forgetting everything and keep making checklists on notes on my iPhone. IT IS 4:38 AM IN THE MORNING PEOPLE. Why am I awake?! This trip is starting to make me crazy, but in the best way possible. Fewf, turning into a kiwi is tougher than it seems.

(kiwi is a nickname to describe a New Zealander)
^ I know so legit, #amiright?


Day 1: Houston Class Part One

So today it's official. I finally feel like I'm actually boarding a plane to New Zealand for three weeks with National Geographic for the chance of a lifetime. When I compare the day Mrs. Bottoms initially introduced the opportunity to go on this trip in my 4th period photography class to this morning when we sat in the Spring Woods Library to set up this blog and discuss packing items, the timing in between seems like it has disappeared. Spring break, prom, countless graduation parties, and graduation itself all were played on a fast foward button. And now numerous months later, here I am: 2 days from embarking on the most epic adventure I have ever gotten the opportunity to be apart of. As we loaded photoshop on our computers, downloaded mypublisher on our desktop, and showed off our new hightech gear to prepare us for the journey awaiting us halfway across the world, we all had that antsy feeling in the pit of our stomachs. A combination of nerves, excitement, curiosity, and eagerness filled the room. Some of us don't know how to work a camera, yet alone turn one on; some of us know every single button and it's job and know how to take a perfect photograph in any type of setting. Some of us have never left the country, yet alone left the state of Texas. Some of us haven't been on a plane while some of us have our own frequent flyer card. But one thing we all have in common is our passion. Whether it's just beginning to form or if it's already in full swing, every single person embarking on this journey is ready to learn with camera in hand. And with that drive, I think it's gonna make for a pretty amazing experience.