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.