I meet the best people, I swear. This morning after a nice and unexpected snooze in, I was greeted with the sight of nutella, peanut butter and strawberries. I haven’t seen the first 2 in months, and the one jar of peanut butter I saw in Japan was maybe a cup’s worth for $20. So basically, it didn’t exist before today and I swear my heart soared at the sight of it today. Paired with genmaicha, which tasted like my recent home and fresh strawberries from the garden, dipped in cream? Ahaha, I could cry. That also could’ve been the vegemite I tried, this odd vegetarian sludge from a jar that’s rather popular in NZ, Australia and England but that most foreigners don’t like. I usually hate falling into the typical foreigner stereotype but I’ll gladly take this one. Luckily everything else made up for it.
After a hearty brunch Sophia’s mom ever so kindly offered to take me downtown to drive around, see important sights/buildings and grab a map for my wandering soul. I can now point out where the prime minister lives, the parliament building, Victoria University, 3 Asian markets and a random beach. We stopped at the beach for some photos, because who doesn’t want photos of themselves everywhere? I can’t believe her mom is so sweet. There were also some more restaurant point-outs, and I already have my eye on more places than I have time to eat at. Always a sad thing. I’m very much in admiration of how many options they have though – apparently everything but German food seems to be covered! We’re talking Cambodian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Mexican (gasp!), Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Turkish, Greek, Middle Eastern, I mean everything. It’s hella impressive. After the lovely downtown tour we had one stop left, which was a pretty rad view.
Mount Victoria is the highest point in the city, and from the lookout you can do a lovely 360 spin around to see everything, from house-studded hills to the beehive Parliament building to the ocean coast, where the ferry departs for the South Island every so often. Facing opposite each other are the Pacific and Tasman Seas, and while I couldn’t tell you which is which I know that they exist right next to each other and I saw it. Cool beans. More pictures happened, and I learned about the pohutukawa tree, which is culturally significant and abundant in New Zealand. It’s gorgeous, with these airy red flowers, and when they drop it creates what sounds to be a lovely cushion of red flooring on the ground.
We returned to the house after that, where I was treated to some lovely home-grown mint tea. That plus a banana, which has also been lacking in my life in Japan. Oh it was such a nice snack, and a good break, before I headed out again. The goal was to walk to Otari-Wilton’s Bush, which Sophia had mentioned yesterday and I thought I should see. Simple directions: make it to the main road and turn right, stay straight. It’s real close, so you’ll be fine. Ha, am I ever? I kept going down until I thought ‘wow, this can’t be right, it feels to far‘ and so I turned back to the grocery store, going in to browse NZ prices and eventually buy myself some day trip snacks. Prices here are grand actually, except for some fruits/veggies, and I’m very keen to get shopping and cooking for real come the start of the semester. But anyways, I stumbled upon another thing Japan loses points for – cheese. Like, 30 varieties total, in a glorious bin in the middle of the aisle. I may have stopped, stared, made noises and just admired for a good five minutes. I definitely took a picture of it in all its beauty.
After I checked out of there, then ran back in remembering how I was a tad bit lost, I got myself sorted. Starting with the name of the place, which I hadn’t known, and walking to it to realize that it was just out of sight from where I’d stopped the first time. Classic. So Otari-Wilton’s Bush, aka this kick-ass forest preserve, huge botanic gardens, etcetera, was gorgeous. Due to my mishaps I only had an hour to wander around but I’ll be back for a promised waterfall and a whole bunch of mystery steps, which I’d love to wander about. The greenery was beautiful, perfect for pictures, and felt very New Zealand (can I say that? I’m saying it).
Once I scrammed for dinner I met a lovely dog on the walk home, whose name was Ollie and who had so much fluff! Very cute. I took a bunch of pictures of the lovely houses on the hill, because they’re too gorgeous and picturesque. Of course, they aren’t done justice here but I can only do so much.
I made it home in time for dinner before heading out to town with Sophia. There’s this lovely event at Mundo Lingo Cafe, where every Tuesday the place turns into a language club on the roof. So you go to the organizer, grab flags from your country and other other language you know, then stick ’em on and mingle. I optimistically grabbed French before realizing I’m far too in to the nihongo grammatical and vocab mindset for something I’ve been lightly practicing solo as post-high school upkeep.Which was actually a bit motivating, but also just sad. Eventually the Frenchies peaced out from me before the gap was filled by a lovely Kiwi named Michael, who actually grew up in Christchurch (where I’ll be studying) but now lives in Wellington. Turns out he had studied abroad in China then lived there for a year post-uni, and my being fresh out of and missing Japan, it was a perfect match. We spent hours talking about studying abroad in Asia, the good and the bad, general experience comparisons and a bit more. It was a grand time and we exchanged facebooks, so hopefully I’ve made a new friend (huzzah for social progress) and have a good resource for life in Christchurch! Below is the rooftop bar, a view of the harbor at night and me, proud of my language stickers. Even if I didn’t use Japanese (whoops). Fun night!!