Going hiking today wasn't initially in my plans.
In fact, I had just finished taking a shower and was enjoying some hot tea when my friend Jay Jay popped his head into my flat and asked if I wanted to go on a hike this afternoon... Five minutes later, I had already laced up my hiking boots, thrown on an extra jacket, and was grabbing a bag of trail mix.
Then, on our way to the Nichols Falls Track I discovered the playground of my dreams...
I will come back for you, playground... And those swings will be mine.
So instead of taking the usual track to get to Nichols Falls (aka, the well-maintained tourist track), we hopped from rock to rock going upstream, ducking under branches and crawling over fallen tree trunks.
...Because who needs trails?
The weather was relatively cold today (surprise, surprise), but at least it was clean and crisp. And everything was green, wet, and mossy - something I have never had the chance to experience before, with the exception of a zoo exhibit.
It was definitely my kind of playground.
I am also very happy that I bought a waterproof, shatterproof, Abreana-proof camera - without which I would not have been able to take these pictures.
At 15 m high, Nichols Falls isn't the grandest waterfall in New Zealand (most are at least a couple hundred meters high, if not 700 or 800 m), but it was charming and refreshing nonetheless...
Well...okay...it was breathtaking and incredible.
Oh, and this is my hiking buddy Jay Jay!
I felt a little sad knowing my hiking buddy back home wasn't here to experience this awesome hike with me. I have met many incredible people since arriving in New Zealand, but real friendships take time to nurture and develop, and sometimes I get impatient. I miss the ease I can slip into a friendship at home, with the comfort and security of already knowing and caring for the other person.
The good news is I can be my own best friend, so to speak. I can enjoy the company of other people without depending on them to fulfill or complete my study abroad experience -- because at the end of the day that's my responsibility.
On that note... I am excited to announce that I signed up for a handful of horseback riding lessons! It's something I have wanted to try for years, and the Student Association at the Uni of Otago had a great deal for students.
I think I have just embraced the fact that I'm going to come home in December broke with an empty bank account, but rich in experiences and the stuff that really counts.