I just returned from a whirlwind trip to New Zealand. I was financially sponsored to go there by an amazing woman who wanted me to have the opportunity to do a bit of relaxation in her native country, but also to share my Wat Opot world with others. I was able to meet up with other New Zealanders that have volunteered their time at Wat Opot, those like others, have been drawn back time and again for reasons of the heart.
Fiona opened her home to Kate (who flew in from the US and made NZ the first of her 6 month volunteer/vacation stops around the world) and I. After arriving the morning of the 31st of November, Fiona drove me around to see the damage/restoration of the city from the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. We had the day to kill before picking up Kate that evening.
The next few days were spent catching up on each other's lives; relaxing in and around Fiona's home, traveling across the harbour and busing it to nearby sights. It had been 5 years since we were all together; having met at Wat Opot Children's Home in 2010.
Two fundraisers had been lined up, one by Jena in Christchurch and the other by Josh in Dunedin, and together they raised more than $500 for Wat Opot! We also sold some jewelry, artwork and books. Here's a photo with me and Alistair, the proud new owner of a bracelet created by Nak.
Josh organized a quiz night at one of his local hangouts and although our team came in, ahem...last, we still enjoyed the evening.
In between talks, Fiona took us all over in her Van (a.k.a. The Waka).
In no specific order, here's some amazing photos from my time there.
off Otira George Road
View from Fiona's living room
Trying to keep in my lane, while driving outside my comfort zone; on the opposite side of the road in the opposite side of the car!
An unexpected hail storm in Oamaru
Goofing around in Queenstown (and then a nice shot)
I believe I can fly (over Clay Stream Scenic Reserve)
Castle Hill Rocks
This trip would not have been possible for me without the support of friends and especially Wayne, who held down the fort while I was away. Although I had a wonderful time, Wat Opot was never far from my heart. I feel honored to have been able to visit such a beautiful country and can only hope I get the chance again!