I am on such an adrenaline high for the rest of the week I can’t stop smiling. I keep reliving it and start plotting when I can dive again, so fortunate that I forced myself to conquer such a huge fear. I buy a ticket for the Tranzalpine Rail, one of the most scenic train rides in the world, starting in Greymouth and going straight through to Christchurch, crossing through Arthur’s Pass, a skinny rail line suspended between mountains. I stood outside the whole time, freezing with the snowy valleys and snapping more photos of mountains than anyone would ever need. Ending in Christchurch was pretty sobering. I had read about the earthquakes in the news and heard about the wide scale destruction they had caused but seeing was a very somber experience. The downtown area had been evacuated, barricaded and declared a red zone. A month before I arrived it was reopened to foot traffic but all the buildings were closed to construction.
Overall, I'd write New Zealand off as one of the most beautiful countries I've ever visited. I not only developed a greater respect for the outdoors, but also for the effortless beauty of nature. I had never enjoyed sitting on a bus and looking out the window so much, and I look forward to when I can return to that diverse little island.