As we come towards the end of our time in Punakaiki, I’m thinking more and more about saying goodbyes. Throughout this job, there’s been people coming and going, but there are certain farewells which stand out for their bittersweet-ness: to care so much for people in such a short time is a wonderful thing, but the more attached you become, the harder it is to accept that they’ll no longer be a part of your every day.

This level of attachment is part of the working package – unlike travelling, where you might stay somewhere at most a week, we’ve been in Punakaiki for over three months, where the people around us have taken us into their lives and made us feel special. It is a huge testament to all the people here that I’m so sad to leave. But it would be much sadder if I was counting down the days, wishing away each working day; happy to be sad, as strange as that seems.

Leaving this job has gained even greater significance since Hayley and I decided to do the next three months in different places. And if anyone’s thinking, “I knew two girls would argue after eight months together”, you couldn’t be more wrong: I know I’ll never have another friendship quite like the one that has formed over this time – she is truly the most wonderful person and this whole experience has been made by her part in it. But to act against a gut feeling just to stay together would be a mistake that could end up having an impact on all the magic that has happened.

I’m hugely excited about the next chapter of this trip: not only will I be learning to snowboard, exploring a new area of New Zealand, and settling into another work environment, some time travelling alone will be a different experience, with the incentive to meet lots of new people. However, after eight months relying on a single person, the thought of my own bedroom terrifies me! Perhaps it is time to address the dependency issues anyway…

Luckily, I know that we’ll finish the trip like we started it – bouncing off each other’s appreciation for the incredible things we’re doing, and for what this year has given both of us. To the best friend a person could have, thank you for the time of my life!

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