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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Kia Ora from Backpack Australia & New Zealand

Kia Ora from Backpack Australia & New Zealand

G’Day and Kia Ora from Air New Zealand Flight 008,

“We travel not to escape life, but for life to not escape us”- Sistle Maher

It’s wild to think about all we’ve done in such a short amount of time. As we fly at 35,000 feet across the pacific the mind begins to wander. I remember back to the day we touched down in Auckland, 18 new faces eager to embrace the adventures ahead. It takes guts, ambition and, more than anything, a sense of adventure to travel halfway across the world with people you don’t know to explore countries unfamiliar to oneself.

It’s 23 days later, and any fears have been replaced with admiration. Last night, we sat around the lagoon pool at our Cairns hotel and shared a bit about our experiences and the journey. One by one, we shared our thanks to our fellow travelers and reflected back on a few moments that brought smiles to our face. Some shared stories that brought on laughter, others shared sentimental moments that highlighted our appreciation for one another, but one thing was clear, nobody was at a lack of words to show respect for our fellow travelers… a truly special evening to an end to an incredible journey.

While the last night was one to stick in our minds, it only seems appropriate to reflect on our time in Cairns first…

After our domestic flight from Sydney to Cairns, we promptly collected our bags and drove to the tablelands with our outback guide Loz. Windy roads and hills followed as we drove deeper into the oldest rainforest in the world. Upon arrival at our lodge, we quickly reflected on the natural and stunning lifestyle of those in rural Australia. Our time in the Australian tablelands was filled with native tours that presented the opportunity to swim in waterfalls and taste the food of the land. A few brave souls found a secret cave behind the cascading falls of Milla Milla while others recreated the hair toss of an herbal essence commercial scene in the pristine pools below.

The days were long, but memorable as we paddled through the mist and darkness in a serene night canoe adventure spotting wildlife such as possums, water dragons and wallaby. With only the stars to guide and a few torches on our heads we paddled through the night viewing some of the most unique Australian wildlife native to the area.

After returning back to the coast, it’s hard to tell if it was the warmth of our friendships or the warm sea breeze that had the group feeling a sense of euphoria. Our final days in Cairns were filled with laughter, great food and new experiences as we walked about this eclectic ocean-side town. From SCUBA diving to cable skiing the smiles were endless and the bond of family grew stronger with each passing day.

Two can create a bond, but 18 have created a family. We fly across the pacific with a sense of accomplishment. Not only for the adventures we’ve conquered but for the people that will remain in our hearts forever. A few tears come to our eyes as we think about how we’ll spread out across north America upon landing, not sure of when we’ll see our new family members next. We’ll surely share photos, keep in touch via the internet and chat via social media, for it’s not over, you may be able to separate the pieces of this family puzzle, but time will never break the bond we’ve created on our adventures in New Zealand and Australia.

Thank you for following along our adventures,

The Westcoast Blogger


Are you prepared for an amazing experience? Check out our Australia and New Zealand tour for high school students and get ready to have a thrilling adventure.