By Caroline B.
Before I summarize my experience on the EF Journey Down Under Tour, I would like to thank the Florence Keck Fund for awarding me with the $500 scholarship. I couldn’t have gone on this once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji without your help.
Upon landing after the 14 hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand I instantly noticed how lush and green everything was in comparison to the desert I live in! The air is crisp and fresh because there is so little pollution. While in Auckland, we went to the top of the Sky City Tower.
There is an observation deck that gave us breathtaking views of the city from 1,008 feet high. Most of our time in New Zealand was spent at Lake Rotorua, an area that is known for its geothermal features. The smell of sulphur is always in the air. We got used to it pretty quickly, though.
We got a tour of the Whakarewarewa village and took a mud bath at a place named Hells Gate, which was very relaxing and a lot nicer than the name sounds! One of my favorite highlights was taking a ride on the Skyline Gondola which took us above the redwood forests and gave us amazing views of the city and the lake. From the top, we then got on the Rotorua Luge which takes you along a track and down the mountain. While in Rotorua, we were treated to a traditional Maori Feast which introduced us to some of the ancient rituals, traditions, songs, and dances of the Maori people, the Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand.
Our next stop on the tour was Sydney Australia, which was more like a modern city than Rotorua. I decided to do the Bridge Climb on the Harbor Bridge. This was my favorite activity in Sydney. The view from that high in the air was breathtaking! None of the girls from my council chose to do the bridge climb, so I had to go with girls from other councils. That was a little intimidating, but it was a good chance to get to know them.
We got to see an aerial view of the city including the Opera House, and of course the harbor below us. Another incredible experience was getting to climb to the top of the Sydney Tower. We climbed the tower at night so the whole city was lit up and gorgeous and gave us a different perspective than seeing the city during the day. We also took a cruise to Darling Harbor and got to take pictures with a koala and many other animals native to Australia and the Outback, like kangaroos, wallabys, spiders, and lots of snakes!
One afternoon we met up with a Girl Guide troop from Australia. They invited us to a barbecue and we played some local games with them. They also brought some lamingtons – sponge cake that is dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. Delicious! They gave us some gifts that we will always look back on and remember this spectacular trip!
Our last stop was the tropical island of Nadi, Fiji. It was a great way to unwind from all of the rushing around in Sydney. From the crystal-clear water to the tropical trees and the warmer weather, it was the perfect stop. We took a boat ride to a very unique Fijian island. We had a chance to go snorkeling and see the amazing coral reefs, relax on hammocks, and eat some traditional Fijian food. We also got to try the traditional drink, Kava. Kava is made in Polynesia from the crushed roots of a plant of the pepper family. It didn’t really have a taste at all, but it made your tongue go numb for a while. My friend and I also got a Fjian henna at a spa in our resort. Fiji was the perfect way to end this amazing trip!
Overall I had an incredible experience and I’m looking forward to my next traveling adventure. Thank you again for helping me make my dream trip happen!