|Andy & Victoria|
Andy and his girlfriend Victoria Kotwica are Penn State engineering students participating in an exchange program with the University of Auckland. They are also accomplished outdoor adventurers and all-around cool people. Together with some other exchange students they've done a remarkable amount of hiking and backpacking in New Zealand's best locations.
It was such a treat to talk to them about backpacking in Pennsylvania, Penn State engineering and my fraternity chapter. A lot has changed in almost 40 years. And a lot has remained the same.
We had a great time talking with them about what they have been doing and their plans for the future. These two bright and ambitious young people work hard for their goals and still find time to give back to the community through volunteering. They both took a semester off and interned with companies Michelle and I are familiar with. It was really fun talking to them about it. Their intern income allowed them to fund their time in New Zealand.
Andy and Victoria arrived late Friday night by bus from Auckland. We were on a dock about 50 steps from the bus station - another wonderful feature of Whangarei. Saturday morning they were up with the sun and exploring nearby trails before we even had our first sip of coffee.
Saturday was windless but sunny so we motored out past the Whangarei heads and headed for a nearby group of islands called the "Hen and Chickens". It was a bummer we couldn't sail since Andy has sailed quite a bit on smaller boats and would have enjoyed it.
|Water smooth as glass|
|Enjoying the ride.|
|Passing Whangarei heads with the sun overhead.|
|Andy and Michelle often had this pose.|
|Bream heads - one of our favorite places!|
|Victoria looking for wildlife!|
|Approaching Hen & Chickens|
We arrived at Urquharts bay about 4 PM to find quite a few boats in the anchorage. It wasn't long before we were hailed on the radio. Our friends on Oyster Reach were pulling in for the night. They are a wonderful couple we met through mutual friends back in the States. We invited Cindy and Ian over and enjoyed a very pleasant evening hearing about some of their adventures. And swapping Tonga whale stories.
|Oyster Reach dropping the anchor|
|Sunset at the anchorage.|
|Michelle drives us back North while the Penn Staters have a chat|
|Heading back past Whangarei heads|
|Feeding oats to the ducks|
|The 3 Penn Staters!|
|Good-bye for now.|
It was such a treat to meet you Andy and Victoria. You are two impressive young people and we wish you the best in everything.
To view all the photos from their visit go Here