Of course, I knew that I would have to leave sometime, but I suppose that I just began to not believe it. However, denial would not be enough to stave off a deportation officer.
Since we spent so much of our time in New Zealand traveling the country, Sam and I decided to spend our last few weeks exploring all of the places in our hometown that we’d been putting off since we first got there. Better late than never, right?
We had already been to the Otago Museum on our campus earlier in the semester, but due to it’s enormous size, we were unable to get through the whole thing in one shot, so we figured we would just swing by some other time. Five months later, we frantically made time for the final visit among exams. The museum holds an eclectic mix of just about everything you could imagine. Busts of Greek philosophers? They’ve got it. Pistols from the Victorian Era? Check. Jimmy Hoffa’s remains? No, but they’re working on it. I’ll highlight some of my favorite parts.
There’s a room in the museum which is filled with living butterflies from all over the world. The room spans three stories, with multiple bridges and catwalks connecting random parts of the room together. It’s also flippin’ hot and humid in there (the room is complete with a waterfall), because apparently, that’s what butterflies are into. It was a nice escape from the bitter cold outside the museum.
Within the more conventional-ish parts of the museum, there are lots of life-sized mannequins. I must admit – these freak me out. There’s just something about seeing something that looks like you trapped in glass that doesn’t bode well with me. Anyway, though frightening, I thought that this one was pretty cool. He’s the likeness of a Samoan warrior back when they used to make their armor and weapons with the teeth of sharks and fish corpses (is that the plural form of corpse?).
Dunedin’s Botanical Garden was a site that we had walked by dozens of times, but never actually ventured into, as we figured we would probably go there a thousand times during our stay. We were absolutely wrong, and in a last ditch effort, we finally went there. Unfortunately, it was winter at this point, so nearly everything was dead, except the greenhouse plants, and this nifty commemorator of the garden’s 150th year of existence.
A little slice of Mexico in New Zealand.
A pond was situated in the garden as well, which was crammed full of ducks, most likely because the Botanic Gardens kept them well fed. One of my favorite things about New Zealand were the abundance of free and public services, events, and utilities.
Sam and I found some pretty neat vantage points of the city on our last day in New Zealand. We went around to random tall buildings, took the elevator to the top, and took pictures. Here’s a photo of the famous hill that leads up to my flat.
At the conclusion of our last full day in the country we came to love so much, we had a pot-luck dinner with the remaining residents of a few of the flats in our complex (many people had gone back home by this point, and the following day all of our leases expired). We ate entirely too much, recalled memories we had made during our stay, talked about our future plans, and knew the extent to which we would all miss each other and New Zealand. It was a beautiful and appropriate conclusion to the most extraordinary experience in my life.
The next day, we got up early, loaded our bags into our neighbor’s car, had a very emotional farewell with our friends outside the flat, and were reluctantly dragged to the airport. It was, appropriately, a gloomy day, and New Zealand cried with us as we left. The following events were a melancholy blur, but we took a plane from Dunedin to Auckland, waited in Auckland for several hours, and eventually landed in Fiji, where we stayed for six days before returning to the United States. More on that next blog, which will be followed by a final reflection on the experience as a whole.