Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Fields of gold in Wanaka, New Zealand

When I heard that the Queen’s Birthday caused classes at the University of Otago to be canceled on Monday, 1 June, I knew I wanted to use the extended weekend and travel somewhere in New Zealand I’d never been before. I’d already visited Queenstown, the country’s mountain-rimmed adventure capitol on the shores of stunning Lake Wakatipu, but I’d never been to Queenstown’s smaller and less touristy sister an hour’s drive away, the town of Wanaka. Using Queenstown as a base, I hopped a shuttle to Wanaka early Sunday morning, arriving at the information centre in town completely by myself with no idea what to do. However, with the help of a few suggestions from the centre and a map in hand, I ventured out to hike Mount Iron, the highest point in town. New Zealand’s weather forecast had been unreliable in the past, but this time it served me well: a day that was supposed to include snow showers turned sunny and warm by late morning. As I reached the summit, the sun broke through the clouds to fall on Lake Wanaka below, the surrounding Southern Alps, delicate red berries, and feathery dry grass. Whichever direction I turned, delighting in the joy of independence and adventure, all I could see was beauty. I was walking in fields of gold. This was New Zealand.

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