Surf’s Up

This weekend (May 7-8), ISA took us on an excursion to Raglan (where we learned to surf!) and the Waitomo (glowworm) caves.

Banana & chocolate muffin

We all walked to the bus stop at 7 am on Saturday, May 7. We made a quick pit stop at a cafe called Autobahn where I got this huge muffin. Jessica made a comment saying, “Day 34 and we’re still not halfway there,” which reminded me of the movie The Martian (Mom, remember that space movie?! We watched it together!). I commented back saying, “The Muffin.”

Pretty COOL

After stopping for some food, we picked up our ISA friend Paige, who’s studying in Hamilton, and then went to these Bridal Veil Falls! It was a fairly easy walk and was 55 meters high!

Waterfall ft. my friend Ben

Ben thought I was taking a candid photo of him, but I really just wanted another photo of the waterfall. A few minutes later, he took a candid photo of me being scared by his camera.

On the way to Raglan

We boarded the bus and shortly after got off to feed our stomachs. I ate a tasty burrito.

Surfin’ USA Australia

After we ate, we wandered around Raglan and saw lots of cute shops. There was also this wall with half a surfboard attached!

I don’t remember what exactly Evan said, but he said something to the effect of, “You’re probably going to write in your blog about how awkward you felt (during this mini photo session).”

Nope, I’m just gonna put what you said.

Bridge on water

After looking around some stores, we walked to a nearby dock area until we had to board the bus again.

Where we surfed!!

It was so beautiful! We had a three hour surf lesson with Raglan Surf School, and all of the instructors were super nice and made us feel safe. We practiced all of the surfing techniques on land before we hopped into our wetsuits and jumped in the water.

Appropriately called a longboard

The instructors helped us catch a ton of waves and told us when to start standing up. Every time I kept trying to walk out into the ocean, a wave would come and push me back, making me lose all the progress I had just gained. The instructors ended up pulling me out on my surfboard into the ocean so I could catch some waves. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but falling off a surfboard is actually a little fun because you’re learning how to surf but aren’t quite sure how to do it yet, but you kinda get how it works after a few tries. I may have gained enough sodium intake to last me a lifetime because of all the falling, but it was still a really nice experience. I felt so accomplished when I successfully stood up on the surfboard for the first time!

Magnum bar, yum. (Definitely deserves a thumbs up!)

We headed to our hostel (Raglan Backpackers & Waterfront Lodge) around 4 pm and were free for the rest of the night. A group of us went to a place that served a whole variety of food, and I ended up getting a garlic bread appetizer because I wasn’t super hungry, and then we grabbed some dessert! I was really cold after eating it so I walked around in circles to warm myself up, which kinda didn’t really work at all.. but at least I got some exercise I guess.

Uno with a twist

After, we came back to the hostel and some of us played Uno while others watched movies. This Uno game was different than other Uno games I’ve played because there were four blank cards where you could write in what to do. By the time it reached 8, all of us were super tired from the surfing and we thought it was much later than it truly was.

Morning view from our hostel!

Sunday (May 8): We checked out of our rooms at 7:30 am, loaded our bags into the bus, and then walked to The Shack Cafe and ate breakfast together!

Shack Cafe interior

I ordered a smoothie bowl that was kinda similar to an acai bowl minus the acai. Thanks for paying for all of us, ISA!

Glowworm caves!!

This was one of the trips I was looking forward to the most when we were sent the entire list of ISA excursions.


See this photo? We went under all of that!

Spiral entrance to caves

We first went on the glowworm caves boat ride where we moved underground along the Waitomo River and just gazed in silence at the myriad of glowworm lights. Photos weren’t allowed in that specific part because of its historical significance to native Maori.

Blurry glowworms

After our boat ride, we ate some food (I had sweet potato fries) and then left to go to another glowworm cave – the Ruakuri Cave. It’s the longest underground guided walking tour and we were able to take photos! It was pretty difficult to take a photo in the dark without a tripod, but I’m just glad my camera was able to capture the color of the glowworms.

Hi, sky

This is a pipe, and that blue dot is the ground level! The pipe was here so that concrete could be passed through the caves.


“Stalactites tightly grip the ceiling and stalagmites might one day reach the top” – our tour guide. It as neat to see and learn about all of the formations in the cave.

Cave exit

It was fun to marvel at the glowworms and learn about geology in the process.

Other highlights this week:

Monday (May 2): Theresa and I went to Movenpick to get some ice cream.

Vanilla brownie

Tuesday (May 3): Emily, Justin, Evan, Tasha, and I all went to Trivia Night! We learned that Grey’s Anatomy was named after a medical book and that we’re really bad at guessing the ages of the actors/actresses on Friends.

After Trivia Night, we went back to the apartments and played some Chutes & Ladders and Pool.

Wednesday (May 4): I went to the movies with Simran and we saw The Jungle Book in 3D! It was a really good movie.

Thursday (May 5): Figured out how to operate my toaster!! Only took about 3 months.

Friday (May 6): My flatmates and I cleaned our whole flat! It only took about an hour.


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