Yet another study abroad blog, this time from New Zealand

Sleeping in a Hut….For Real This Time

Sorry it has been so long…finals week :(

Tuesday: Typical day….didn’t do anything fun.

Wednesday: Finishing up some assignments so we can leave for Kepler on Thursday.

Thursday: Went to class and turned in my essay. Then it was time to pack. Juan, Theresa, Nikola, Stepan, and I would be hiking the Kepler Track. The Kepler Track is up in the mountains, and at this time of year NZ is freezing!!! We were planning to be gone until Sunday because the track is a three day hike. It rained all day, hopefully it wouldn’t be like this during the hike.

We didn’t leave until 6:30pm so it was pretty late when we got to Te Anau. We had some trouble finding the holiday park that were were going to stay in for the night. We finally found it, and Stepan could not have picked a creepier place to stay. The gates were all locked when we pulled up and the hostess was super mean. The grounds looked like a hedge maze, and it took a few minutes to find our cabin. There weren’t very many people staying there either.

The heater in the room didn’t work very well, so we huddled around it and played cards until the room was slightly warmer. The next day we would get up and buy our tickets for the huts.

Friday: We got kind of a later start this morning. We wanted to be at the iSite by 8am, but it turns out that the huts had plenty of room. The ranger did warn us that there would be a lot of snow above the bush line.

We started off at the Rainbow Reach car park. This track is one of the 7 Great Walks in NZ. The trail was really well maintained and there were nice shelters along the way. The first day we hiked for 7 hours to get to the Iris Burn Hut. The hike wasn’t too bad, and the weather was wonderful!! The next two days will be harder because we have to climb the mountain and hike through the snow.

We got to the hut around dinner time. Because it is the off season for hiking all of the huts have the water turned off. We had to use rainwater and our little camp stove to  cook dinner. There weren’t any lights in the hut either so we had to use some candles. Luckily there was a wood stove and we were able to warm up a little. The bunk rooms were not as warm as the kitchen. The five of us ended up sleeping in the same bunk to keep warm.

Saturday: We got a late start today (in hindsight not a good idea). Before starting out on the track we went to check out a waterfall nearby. It was beautiful!! Unfortunately, this was a half hour detour from the track, and we still had a long way to go. This day kicked my ass. We hiked up the mountain in about 2-3 hours, but still had not reached the first shelter. Above the bush line was slippery because the snow had started to melt. This made it harder to walk.

Exhausted, I finally made it to the first shelter. It was two hours to the next shelter and another two to the next hut. Stepan, Nikola, and Theresa were concerned that we wouldn’t make it to the hut before sunset. They took my pack so I could walk faster (These three are crazy!! Theresa ran with her pack on a lot of the first day). Juan had gone back to see if he could find a jacket he had lost in the snow. We thought he would be able to catch up quickly.

We spent the next two hours walking through the snow, sliding on ice, and trying to minimize the amount of water that got into our boots. Nikola, Theresa, and Stepan went ahead of me, and I walked by myself for awhile. The mountains were amazing!! I never thought I would get a chance to do a hike like this. When I caught up to the other three at the shelter, Juan still had not caught up to me. It was starting to get darker and we still had a long way to go. Nikola and I went ahead, while Theresa and Stepan abandoned their packs at the shelter to go look for Juan.

The next part of the track was the last big hill. My feet were covered in blisters, but thankfully the cold water in my boots had numbed my feet so I could keep walking. Nikola and I were climbing the hill and looking back to see if they had found Juan. Just before we rounded the bend we saw them walking toward the shelter with Juan. He had gotten really sick and fallen and had been unable to catch up.

We kept walking for what seemed like forever, and kept hoping to see the hut around the next bend. Finally, in the last bit of daylight, we saw it!! This hut was called the Luxmore. It was much larger than the one we had stayed in the previous night. There were a lot of people in the hut and we hurried to find beds.

After changing out of our wet clothing we went downstairs to cook our dinner. As we walked in to the kitchen, we were hit with a wall of warmth. It was actually so hot in the kitchen that I had to take my jacket off. We set our wet boots next to the fire in hopes that they would dry overnight. Everyone in the hut was really nice. It was wonderful to share a bunk room with 50 people and not have to worry about anyone messing with your stuff. We ended up going to bed fairly early because we were so exhausted.

Sunday: We got up early today. We made tea and watched the sunrise. It was the most amazing view seeing the sun over the mountains. The town below was covered by a fog bank. We spent an hour watching the sky change colors. We packed up and started our way down the mountain.

This day was supposed to take around 5 hours, but we got to the first car park in a little over 3 hours. Stepan, Nikola, and Theresa continued on to the second car park to get the car. Juan and I  sat in the shelter at the car park and tried to entertain ourselves while we waited. After a joke text from Theresa saying that they were lost, we drove into Te Anau. We stopped for lunch and spent a few hours at the waterfront. From there we drove back to Dunedin.

Monday: I slept most of the day, thank god for no classes on Mondays. It’s going to take a few days for my feet to feel better, but this trip was totally worth it :) I  had to work at the elementary school today. I was really pleased with the progress the kids have made from last week. They actually wanted to learn how to play rugby and listened. Today was the first day I wasn’t frustrated when I came back from volunteering. I’m really enjoying working with these kids. I feel like each time I volunteer it is really hit or miss. Hopefully next week will be good as well. Until next time!

Four Essays to Write…..Then I can Sleep in a Hut this Weekend

Sunday: Well, I didn’t make it to the library today. Oh well, I was actually productive at the flat. I finished two of my scholarship applications and found two articles for one of my assignments (let’s hope my professor approves them). Just need to write a lab report, my Maori essay, an Epidemiology essay, and a Sport Psych essay….I may have made a miscalculation in the amount of time I have to work on these projects….oops.

I stayed up way too late tonight. Ended up going to bed at 5 am…..Monday is going to be fun.

Monday: Got up at 9 am….probably not the smartest decision of my life, but oh well. I worked on another scholarship and found some sources for my essays….now I just have to write them. A few of them are due next Monday and Tuesday, but we are planning to hike the Kepler Track this weekend and could be gone until Monday. Tuesday is also Theresa’s birthday so we are going to go get her a free cocktail at Lone Star, and on Wednesday we are having a pie bake off. So many things to do and so little time.

Time to kick it up a notch. I’m taking a break from writing my paper, and procrastinating by updating my blog. I’ve been in the library for about 8 hours now, and I’m really starting to feel the lack of sleep. Might be time to head back to the flat. My professor still hasn’t emailed me back….good thing this assignment is due Thursday lol.

Wish me luck, I’m probably going to turn into a delusional library hermit this week.

Tuesday: Surprise! Guess who is living in the library? This girl. Today was Theresa’s 21st birthday, so we went out for lunch and had margaritas at Lone Star (Classy Tex/Mex/Western bar). I got a quesadilla, and it was actually ok (it is so hard to find Mexican food here). After lunch, it was back to the library for a few more hours.

Later we went over to Theresa’s for some birthday fun! She, Allie, Stepan, and Nikola had all gone on the Speights tour earlier, so she was off to a good start. Cassie and Nate made a wonderful cake, and we spent the night drinking, making mulled wine, and playing Cards Against Humanity.

Wednesday: Theresa had a good night and didn’t remember most of her birthday.We had to go to a tutorial today for our Maori Society class. It was kind of a waste because it was a peer edit session. Oh well, we got 5% of our semester grade just for showing up.

Because it is May Day we decided to make a bunch of pies. Janessa and Juan made an apple pie. Stepan, Theresa, and Nikola made a savory cheese and onion pie. Mackenzie made a really good chocolate caramel dessert. I supervised Mellora making a banoffee pie. We at way too much pie and lollies (candy) that night, but it all tasted delicious :) We ended the night by taking flat family photos. They turned out wonderfully!!

Thursday: Spent the entire day writing papers and got them turned in on time. Turns out that we are not going to hike the Kepler Track this weekend (it is supposed to snow). Instead we are going to visit the other WU kids up in Christchurch. We are also planning to stop at a hot spring. I can’t wait!!

Juan finally talked all of us into going salsa dancing. He has been trying to get us to go for weeks. We went to lessons at Capone and learned the basics. We danced for about two hours and had an excellent time!! I think salsa dancing is going to become a weekly event. It’s also a great way to get warm during the cold Dunedin nights. The instructor says he teaches classes on Thursdays at Capone and Friday at The Church (old church converted into a bar. There are actually quite a few of these in Dunedin).

Friday: Lazy day. We are leaving for Christchurch around 4pm. I just have to pack my stuff and go grocery shopping for food. Nikola and Theresa made cookies for Sabine and her flatmates for letting us crash on their couches. Theresa is out doing a red card before we leave (http://www.critic.co.nz/features/article/767/red-card-101), so as soon as she gets back we are off on our adventure!

We picked up Theresa and she told us all about her afternoon (heard some of the stories about 20 times). Her red card was a scavenger hunt. There were two teams and each team got points for certain activities (climb a tree, make a homemade hat, sing a song to a stranger). She had a lot of fun and was a good sport about the 5 hour car ride.

We finally made it to Christchurch around 10pm. We had a great time hanging out with Sabine and her flatmates. We decided that the next day we would go to Hanmer.

Saturday: We got up early and made Sabine and her flatmates breakfast as a thank you for letting us crash at their place. After breakfast, we loaded up the car and headed out to Hanmer (about an hour north). Allie stayed in Chirstchurch with Sabine.

Hanmer is a really nice town. It reminds me of Sunriver, a little resort town in a beautiful location. We explored for a little while and then got some lunch. We ate lunch next to a pond and fed the ducks. Stepan really wanted ice cream, but a single serve was too expensive. Instead, we ended up buying a liter of ice cream and finished it between the four of us.

From there we went to the holiday park where we were going to stay the night. It was still early, so we decided to go for a hike. We drove a half hour outside of town to the car park for Mt. Isobel. This hike was really steep, and after an hour of hiking we reached the top of a peak (what I thought was the mountain. I was wrong). After a short break we kept hiking and finally reached the top. The view was amazing!! You could see for miles!!

Tired and sore, we headed back to the holiday park just as the sun was about to set. That night we had pasta for dinner. It was probably one of the best meals I have ever eaten. When we had finished eating we went outside to play on the playground. It had a trampoline!! Theresa and I were super excited!! Nikola and Stepan did not seem to be as excited. It was then that we learned that neither of them had ever been on a large trampoline. Watching two 24 year olds jump on a trampoline for the first time is the funniest thing!! Theresa taught Stepan how to play Crack the Egg. He didn’t really understand the rules, and ended up kicking her in the nose (accidentally…..we think he was cheating).

We finished the night up by playing K’s and A’s. Tomorrow is the hot springs!!!

Sunday: We went to the hot springs at 10am. There was already a big line to get in to the park. The pools were so nice. Perfect for sore bodies from the hike the day before. There were even water slides. We spent a few hours switching between the hot pools, lazy river, and water slides. Hanmer hot springs are a must if you are in the area.

After the springs, we went on a short walk through one of the city parks. It was a much easier walk than the day before. Then it was time to leave. We made a quick stop over in Christchurch to pick up Allie and then headed back to Dunedin. We got back around 10 pm again. Tomorrow is going to essay writing all day :(

Monday: Today was all essay writing :( I got all of my work done though. It helped that it was raining today.

Later, I had to volunteer at the school. The kids were forced to play in a tiny little gym. They kept screaming and not paying attention. They were literally climbing the walls (for some reason the walls have ladders built into them). I honestly don’t know how we are supposed to organize these kids into a rugby team. Hopefully next week will have better weather and we can play outside.

When I got home we had a complex dinner in our flat. We fit about 30 people in our common room….way too crowded (we’ve learned if you have people over it warms up the flat without having to turn the heater on). Each complex gets a dinner catered for them by Uni Flats. It was nice not to have to make dinner (I hadn’t been grocery shopping in a while). The food was wonderful, and because we hosted the dinner, we got to keep all of the leftovers!! We ended the night with a game of Mafia in flat B.

We decided that next weekend we are going to do the Kepler Track because the weather should be nicer. Until next time!!

Around the World, Health Workers Under Attack

humanrightswatch:

In Syria, doctors have fled in droves, fearful of adding to the casualties  in the country’s bloody civil war. In Pakistan, vaccinators are gunned down by militants. In Bahrain, physicians who treat protesters are thrown in jail. Despite universally recognized international law protecting medical workers in conflict situations, increasingly, the people on the front line of health care are becoming targets.

Read More

Winter is Coming

Maori Canoe 

Giant Moa

Tuesday: Just a regular day. Nikola threw a party for Stepan (late birthday maybe?? We don’t really need an excuse to celebrate). It was a lot of fun and Nikola is an amazing cook!!

Wednesday: Typical day…nothing special

Thursday: We were supposed to go to the caves tonight. We planned to go and sleep in the caves….I guess it’s too cold for some people. Instead we went to the store and got wine and supplies for slutty brownies and homemade pizza. Fun Fact: In the Czech Republic they put corn on their pizza. Sounds a little weird right? No. It is delicious!!! I have no idea why I’ve never thought of putting corn on a pizza before this night. The brownies turned out amazing as well :) It was a wonderful night.

Kiwi

Friday: Janessa and I went for a run today! It was really nice we ran down to the Chinese Gardens. I think we are going to try to go to the museums this weekend. The rain started this afternoon :( NZ is feeling even more like Oregon today. 

Kangaroo 

Everyone in the flat is kind of tired and not doing much. It’s starting to get colder at night, but we will not turn on the heat pump. Mellora has told us that the heat pump is only to be used when you have two sweaters, a jacket, three pairs of socks, slippers, and two pairs of sweats on are you’re still cold. We are still pretty far from that point, but the cold weather is making it hard to get out of bed in the morning. 

Whale 

Saturday: Got up early and went to the farmers’ market for some veggies and banana bread. It’s a nice day so far…it’s supposed to rain again later this afternoon. 

Mini golf

Stepan, Nikola, and I are going to the Otago Museum today. Exhibits are well put together. They have rooms dedicated to the tribal people of the Pacific, Maori, and the early NZ settlers. They also had a room with artifacts from the Christchurch earthquake. 

Mini golf

In the attic there are stuffed animals from the 1870s. All of them are faded and kind of strange looking. We had fun looking at all of the weird looking animals from different countries. We even saw a blue whale eye and a few jars full of snakes. 

There is a cafe in the museum that might be a nice place to study. Honestly, anyplace that is warm is a nice place to study. You don’t realize how much you miss insulated walls and central heating until you live somewhere that does not have these things. Our flat is in a good area because we catch the sunlight throughout the day (helps keep it a little warmer). I’ve talked to some people who have said that it is normal for them to be able to see their breath in their flat. Sometimes it is warmer outside of the flat than inside :(

All of Flat E’s dishes

When we got back to the flat Tom and Mackenzie asked if we wanted to play mini golf. There is a laser tag/mini golf/arcade place about two minutes from our flat. Janessa, Stepan, Nikola, Tom, Mackenzie, and I played a game to escape the bad weather. I won :) (Disputed. I may or may not have cheated). As we were leaving the guy working at the counter gave us a ton of free candy. 

While we were making dinner, Jay and Nikola stormed into our flat and demanded we give their frying pan back (we stole theirs earlier). Dishes constantly migrate from our flat to theirs and vice versa. They ambushed us, stole both of the frying pans, and refused to give them back. This means war!!!

Smiley face chairs

We vowed to get revenge. The plan was to get up really early and steal all of the dishes out of their flat. Everyone was a little hesitant to agree to wake up so early on a Sunday, but in the end we agreed it was necessary.

Sunday: So early :( Got up at 7 am. No one else is up. Finally get Stepan and Tom up, but Janessa decided to stay in bed. Mellora told us not to even try to wake her. Tom stole Mackenzie’s keys and we quietly sneak over to flat E. 

I won!!

No one is up, and we quickly empty all of their drawers and cabinets. We also steal their toaster, electric tea kettle, and vacuum, but that wasn’t quite enough. We tried to take their microwave, but it was bolted to the wall. The only thing left is the chairs around their dinner table. We took the chairs and locked the doors. No one will know what we have done until they look in the cabinets. 

Back in our flat, we busy ourselves with hiding all of our loot. We arrange the stolen chairs in the shape of smiley face and leave the curtains open so they can see what we’ve done. With that done, we go back to sleep and wait for the angry knocks.

We know we look good :)

Two hours later Jay is banging on the door and yelling “It’s not funny!!!” After letting him stew for a few minutes we finally let him in and help them reclaim their stolen dishes. 

The rest of the day is pretty lazy. We were going to go to the other museum today, but it started raining and none of us wants to leave the flat. We have also decided to play laser tag (flat E’s chance to get back at us for this morning).

Anzac Memorial

We are grossly outnumbered in the first game and lost easily. The second game we play without teams. We had so much fun running around in the dark. Kyle, one of the guys that lives in E, has his parents visiting him and they have decided to play as well. When the game finishes, we look to see who has won. It’s me!! I was so surprised. I never win at laser tag. 

After the game, Kyle’s parents throw a bbq back at the flat. It’s still raining so we have to move indoors. The  food was excellent!! It was a great night :)

The bus

Monday: Working on assignments and being lazy….I’m really enjoying not having class today. It’s going to be a hard transition back to Willamette with three labs next semester :(

Tuesday: Back to class, but I get some assignments back. So in NZ an A- is an 85% and a B-is a 70%. Failing is anything under 40%. I get my assignments back and get A’s on everything :) Study abroad is going to boost my GPA.

Sitting on the bus

Later that night we have dinner at Theresa’s house. I bought a 5kg bag of apples at the farmers’ market and I’m trying to get rid of them before they go bad. Theresa and Nikola mad a stir fry and I made oven pancakes with apples and peanut butter. Juan is finally back from Auckland, so he and his friend Alyssa joined us for dinner. Janessa contributed some milk and Stepan did nothing (just kidding). We ended the night by playing Cards Against Humanity and headed home in (Eddie the car because it was still raining).

The gardens

Wednesday: I had lab today. We went through resistance exercises and made up fitness programs for made up clients…the joys of being a PE major. After lab, I went for a run in the rain. I had forgotten how nice it was to run in the rain. The rest of the night was pretty boring.

Nikola

Thursday: Anzac Day. It is NZ’s version of Veterans’ Day. It mostly commemorates those who lost their lives in WWI. We didn’t have class today :) After catching up on some sleep, we went to the Settlers’ Museum. It was really cool to see this museum. They had a lot of stuff from more recent years and things you could play with. Stepan and I had fun dressing up in old fashioned clothes. We also played around on old trolley cars and buses. 

The tea house

After the museum, we went next door to the Chinese Gardens. It was reduced price admission today because it was Anzac Day. We explored the garden for a few hours. It reminded me of a class that I took freshman year of uni. It was interesting to remember all of the information that I had learned about the Chinese gardens. 

Stepan and his pink robe

There was a tea house in the gardens. On the tables there were Chinese games. We played a game that was similar to Sorry, but instead of drawing cards you rolled dice. There were also some traditional costumes that you could try on. Stepan, Nikola, and I had fun trying on different outfits. Stepan really like his pink robe with a dragon on it. He walked around the gardens and modeled for us.

It was the first day that it wasn’t raining. We decided to take advantage of it and get some ice cream. It had been a while since we went to Rob Roy. We walked back to the flat and didn’t do much afterword. 

Me and Nikola

Friday: I had a paper due today. The majority of the day was spent working on it. I surprised Mellora when I finally emerged from my room. She didn’t realize that I hadn’t left the flat at all today. We had a girls’ night because all of the guys were gone. We figured out the major problems with history and argued about how the American measurement system makes no sense. 

Stepan, Me, and Nikola

Saturday: Time to do work….I’ve been in the library all day working on homework that is due next week. I want to get all of my schoolwork out of the way so I can go tramping on the Kepler Track next weekend. Tomorrow is looking like another library day. The library doesn’t open until 10 am on the weekends :( Also, the library is only open until 11pm. Everything closes early here. I’m kind of missing the States and being able to go get food or something to drink after 9pm. Oh well…until next time :)

  

Adventures with the Parental Units

Butter shot

Theresa and Nikola with

the cakes

Tuesday-Thursday: Just the normal school activities. My parents went to Queenstown during these days. We did celebrate Janessa’s 20th birthday on Tuesday. We made her a cake and tried to make her really confused by grabbing the most random ingredients from the kitchen and carrying them next door. We made a chocolate cake that had way too much butter and resulted in Tom taking a butter shot (gross). The second cake was a banana and nectarine cake that turned out wonderful. 

Happy Birthday!!

Albatross chick

Friday: I went to class in the morning and then waited for my parents to pick me up around noon. We had lunch and went to the Royal Albatross Center on the peninsula. We took the tour and were able to see three albatross chicks. We also saw two of the juvenile albatross. The albatross kind of look like seagulls on steroids. They have a 3 meter wingspan and can weigh about 9 kg. The albatross that live on the peninsula are called the Northern Royal Albatross. Yes you read that correctly, the NORTHERN Royal Albatross, even though we are almost as far south as you can be. There is a species of Southern Royal Albatross that live further south than these birds (hence the northern). After they are fully grown, they spend the first five years of their life flying around the southern hemisphere, never touching land. In their lifetime, the only place they will land is on the peninsula in Dunedin. It’s hard to get a picture of an albatross next to anything, so it is really hard to get an idea of the scale of these birds. We were really lucky, because many times the tours only get to see the chicks.

Albatross

When we got back to town, we bought a bottle of wine and went to a BYO before the rugby game. The pizza we got was amazing :) We finished our dinner and I gave my parents a quick tour of the university grounds and then headed over to the stadium.

Nugget Point

The Highlanders were playing the Brumbies. My parents had fun sitting in the student section and laughing at all of the people dressed up like animals (the section is called The Zoo). We got some beer (My dad is hooked on Speights after taking the brewery tour) and sat down to enjoy the game with our free souvenir flags. I tried to explain rugby the best I could (I just know the basic concepts), but I couldn’t answer any questions my parents had about the calls the referees made. The Highlanders lost again (I think they are 0-6).

After the game I went home, the next day we were going to be leaving on a trip to the Catlins.  

Nugget Point

Saturday: Today is the Hyde Street Keg Party. I was woken up to blasting music at 7 am, but people had been partying starting 4am. I missed out on getting a ticket (this is the first year they limited the number of people allowed). Normally it is a huge party with 5,000 people attending. This year it was limited to 3,500. There were cops everywhere and the streets were blocked off. Fun Fact: NZ police do not carry guns, only tasers. Everyone we dressed up in crazy outfits. Due to the admission limit, many people were throwing their own parities on different streets.

Penguin :)

When my parents arrived, we went to the farmers’ market to get some food for our trip. We tried the crepes, and they were delicious!! After our shopping trip, it was time to load up the camper van and head south. The Catlins are on the south east coast of the south island. There are so many waterfalls and short little bush walks that it takes a few days to do all of it.

The falls

On our first day we stopped in Balclutha, Kaka Point, Nugget Point, Roaring Bay, an abandon railway tunnel, Surat Bay, and Owaka. Like I said, plenty to do and see. We didn’t even get halfway through the Catlins on the first day.

At Kaka Point we walked on the beach and saw a few of the overlooks. We continued on and stopped at Nugget Point to see the light house. There are a lot of rocks around the point that jut out of the sea, which is why it is named Nugget Point. On the rocks we were able to see some seals swimming in the sea.

One of the bays

On our way back to the main road we stopped at Roaring Bay. There is a penguin hide near the beach, so we thought we would try our luck at seeing the penguins. The best time for viewing penguins is either at dawn or at dusk. We got there around 3:30-4ish. One of the ladies pointed out something and said that it was a seal. I was taking a picture of it with my camera and saw that when you zoomed in it was actually a penguin. We were able to watch it swim in to shore and then hop up into the bushes where it had made a nest. As soon as the first penguin had disappeared, another one swam into shore. It followed the same path as the first. We watched two more penguins do the same thing before moving on to the next viewpoint.

Cathedral Caves

The railway tunnel had been dug by hand and was 250 meters long. It was pretty spooky looking, but really cool. I didn’t really get any good pictures of the tunnel because my camera was dying.

After the tunnel we stopped at a campground just outside of Owaka on Surat Bay. We had fun exploring the beach and watching the sunset. I also taught my parents how to play a card game called Kings and Assholes.

Cathedral Caves

Sunday: Today was a long day. We Started the day at one of the falls and kept stopping at different lookouts. One of the first was the Cathedral Caves. The caves were only accessible at low tide because they are right on the beach. After a 15 minute walk through what looked like a rain forest, we emerged on the beach. The caves are connected under the cliffs and are not dark enough to need a torch (flashlight). On our walk back to the campervan we met a couple from Wisconsin. They suggested that we stop at McLean Falls, one of the stops we were going to skip. They said it was one of the most beautiful stops in the Catlins. They were right.

McLean Falls

We stopped at the falls next. After stopping for lunch, we made the 30 minute trek into the forest. The falls are 22 meters tall, and beautiful. Much to my mother’s protests, I climbed up to the next level of the falls and took a few pictures. Then we continued on.  

McLean Falls from the top

We then made our way down the coast to Curio Bay. There is a fossilized forest that makes up a beach. This place is a great place to see penguins. We walked out on the rocks to try and find them. On our way back we see one hopping around on the rocks. We were able to follow him and watch for quite a while before he disappeared into the bushes. 

Curio Bay

From there we moved on to Slope Point, which is the most southern point on the south island. To get to the point you have to walk through a sheep pasture. Sheep are easily frightened. As we walked by a few they wen running away as fast as possible. A few of the sheep had the hiccups, it was the funniest thing. The sound of their hiccups would scare the surrounding sheep and make them run away. From this point you can see Stewart Island. I was surprised by how large the island looked, on the map it seemed so much smaller. I’ve heard Stewart Island is really beautiful (this is where the Kiwis live).

Penguin!!!

After Slope Point we continued on to the place where the worst shipwreck in NZ history occurred. Of the 180 passengers on the boat 150 died. The wreck is commemorated with a lighthouse. There were a few big sea lions by the light house. A few of them looked like they were going to get into a territory fight. It was amazing to be so close to such big animals. 

Lighthouse

We tried to make it back to Dunedin tonight, but it got dark pretty quickly and most of the roads in the Catlins are gravel. We stopped at the McLean Falls for the night. 

Sea lion

Monday: My parents got up super early to drive us the rest of the way back to Dunedin while I slept. We got back to town around 9 am. To celebrate my dad’s birthday we went to breakfast at Capers again (yum more pancakes). 

Great day :)

After breakfast we went to the University Shop and bought some sweet as sweatshirts. We also had to get a picture of me next to the University of Otago sign. Then they had to leave and drive back to Christchurch to return the campervan. Then they would fly back to the States the next day. 

Miss you guys already


It was great seeing you guys and traveling around :) I miss you, and I wish you could have stayed longer! Thanks for everything, without you I wouldn’t have made it to the Catlins. Until next time :)

Fall Break Part 2/Birthday!! The Big 21 :)

Rachel

Wednesday: Hello everyone, sorry I have fallen a little behind on my blog. Schoolwork is starting to pick up, and I just haven’t felt like putting in the time to keep writing. Fear not, I will catch up!

Nate :)

I would just like to say that Otto is the coolest professor!! He paid for our BYO on Monday night, arranged this fall break excursion, and is just a cool guy :) All of us felt bad that we didn’t like math, and had never taken any of his classes. 

We had a ridiculously long bus ride today….We left for Te Anau around 1ish. It is a five-hour drive through curvy roads. Not the most fun :( The seats were uncomfortable and made it almost impossible to sleep. 

WU Crew

We stopped at a little cafe and gift shop halfway through our journey in the middle of nowhere. I was hungry so I ordered what I thought was an egg salad sandwich…..turns out it was a butter and cheese sandwich. Surprisingly it wasn’t horrible, or maybe I was just really hungry. 

Kea

After a few more hours, we arrived in Te Anau. Nate, Theresa, and I were in charge of cooking dinner for the night. We made way too much pasta for our group, and not enough asparagus (for future reference 3 bags of pasta for 8 people is enough, 4 bags is way too much). After a nice dinner, we drank some wine and enjoyed some biscuits (cookies). 

Our cabin

After dinner, we went exploring around Te Anau, which is a really small town (smaller than Gladstone is if you can believe it. In fact, Gladstone is considered a large town in NZ standards). We found a playground, and as anyone knows, you are never too old for a playground. The seven of us had fun going down slides that were too small for our hips and climbing the weird jungle gym. 

Our cabin

From the playground, we walked downtown. There wasn’t much to see. Everything was closed except one bar. We decided to walk back to the hostel and call it a night.

Kayaking 

Then it was time for a bedtime story. Allie and Sabine picked up a trashy Civil War romance novel from a thrift shop. All of us were super excited to listen :) Nate was the perfect person to read the story, and even did voices for the different characters (he was a good sport for putting up with all of us girls). 

The next day we were going to Milford Sound for our overnight cruise. 

Dinner on the boat

Thursday: We got a late start today (salmon and cream cheese on rolls for breakfast :) Thanks Allie and Sabine!!!), we thought we could sleep in until we needed to meet the bus for Milford Sound. Turns out if you aren’t out of your room by 10 am they charge you for an extra day. Good thing they took pity on us and didn’t charge us. 

Theresa on the bow

The bus to Milford was much better. The seats were more comfortable, and our driver was pretty cool. He recited fun facts about the area and let us out to do a few bush walks. At one of the stops, we saw Keas (alpine parrots). When we returned for the walk, he was standing in the parking lot surrounded by the birds. He had been feeding them, and they kept hopping over to the other people on our tour to see if we had food as well. When we left, the birds hopped after our bus and started screeching for more food.

Using Nate as a wind shield

The scenery was amazing!! We had to drive through a tunnel under a mountain to get to our destination. The mountains we drove past were the ones that Sir Edmund Hillary practiced on before becoming the first person to climb Mt. Everest.

Rachel, Theresa, Jan, Me, and Nate

We finally arrived at the place we were getting on the boat. It turns out that Jan (Theresa and Nate’s flatmate), his sister, and her fiancé would be on the same boat as us. We boarded the boat. All of us were in two person cabins. Theresa and I were in the same cabin. It was really tiny, but the bed was more comfortable than my bed in the flat (it was a very narrow bed. I couldn’t turn over without thinking I was going to fall off).

Dolphins :)

We took advantage of the free tea and coffee because it was quite cold outside. We were served lunch (tomato soup), and then went out on the deck to take pictures. Milford sound is beautiful. We saw some seals on our way to the place we would stay for the night. Fun Fact: Milford Sound is not named accurately. It is actually a fiord not a sound. Fiords are carved by glaciers (as Milford was), and sounds are formed by rivers. 

WU Crew

When we anchored, we were given the choice of kayaking or a nature cruise. Theresa, Allie, Sabine, and I opted for the kayaks while the rest of the group went on the boat ride. It started raining, so we got completely soaked while kayaking. Our guide was pretty awesome, and she told us about all of the plant life in the sound. 

Sabine and Theresa swimming

On our way back I got ahead of Theresa, and missed my opportunity to jump off of the top of the boat :( It was pretty cold water, so maybe I didn’t miss out too much. After we got dried off and warmed up we had dinner and played cards. We drank the wine that we had brought onto the boat (we weren’t supposed to, but $38 for a bottle of wine is too expensive). It didn’t seem like the crew really cared either. 

Theresa post swim

We finished up the night with our bedtime ritual of Nate reading a few chapters of the romance novel. We went to bed because we had to get up at 7 am for breakfast. Theresa and I decided to go on an adventure before falling asleep. What else do you do when you are on a boat but take Titanic pictures on the bow of the boat? I was happy just standing were it was blocked off, but Theresa climbed out to the end of the bow. Then it was time for sleep.

Nate

Friday: They woke us up to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” a little before 7 am. Just by looking at everyone’s sleepy faces, you could tell no one was happy. Breakfast was really good and fast (we had to finish eating before going out on the Tasman Sea). Probably not the smartest thing to feed all of your passengers and then take them out to sea, but oh well. It was freezing and dark when we finished our meal. We went out on the deck and had a hard time adjusting to the roll of the sea.

We saw the lighthouse on the point and a few birds that are the smaller cousins of the albatross. On our way back into the sound, we saw a pod of dolphins. They swam right up to the boat, and had fun playing around. 

Allie and Sabine in the hostel

There were tons of waterfalls today because it had rained so much during the night. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in NZ. It is a must do if any of you are visiting. 

Honeymoon at the

glowworm caves

We got back on the bus and headed back to Te Anau. We had a few hours to kill before going to the glowworm caves. We had lunch at a little cafe in town and then went down to the lakefront. Theresa and Sabine decided to go swimming in the glacial lake (we were freezing just sitting on the bank). After they got out and ran back to the hostel to get warm, we all just took naps (getting up early will do that to you).

Birthday :)

Finally, it was time for the glowworms. We had to take a 30 minute boat ride across the lake to the caves. They have a little visitor center at the caves and they gave us free coffee and tea while we waited for our turn in the caves. We weren’t told until after we had had a few cups of tea that it was made with water that flows through the caves (drinking water out of the rivers without boiling or filtering is a thing here). 

Didn’t have any candles 

Finally, it was our turn. I don’t have any pictures, because photography was not allowed :( The cave was beautiful!! There was a waterfall in the middle that was really loud (we weren’t supposed to talk either, it was nice to hear just the water rushing by). Here is a link to the caves: https://www.realjourneys.co.nz/en/experiences/glowworm-caves/te-anau-glowworm-caves/

Blowing out a lighter

After the caves, Hannah and Rachel made us dinner (it was so good!!!!). We then finished up with another installment of Sapphire as read by Nate. 

Allie and Hannah

Saturday: Long bus ride back to Dunedin starting at 7am. All of us passed out on the bus. Poor Rachel had to go all the way back to Christchurch today (like a 10 hour bus ride). We arrived in Dunners around 1 pm. Hannah and I went to Squidy’s for lunch. 

Later, Hannah made us dinner and we started celebrating my birthday early. I had to come up with 21 goals for the next year (a lot harder than you would think) and drink after each goal.

Juan and Janessa

Sunday: Happy birthday to me :) Another lazy day trying to catch up on homework and the like. I finally met up with my parents and we went over to Otto’s house for dinner. It was a great party. They bought me a bottle of champagne and two different cakes. Again, Otto and his family are amazing!! 

The boulders 

After the party, my parents dropped me off at Theresa’s flat for party number two. Theresa had baked a peach cake from the leftover peaches from Tim’s orchard. So yum!! Your 21st is a big birthday in NZ for some reason. On your 21st, you do either a yardie (a tall glass that holds 7 beers) or 21 shots. I opted for 21 shots. Theresa tried to make me lose track of how many I had done. We played a few games. Overall, it was a great birthday :)

Boulder broken open

Monday: My parents took me out for a birthday breakfast today. We went to Capers and had wonderful pancakes :) I think my parents have a new favorite breakfast place. 

From Capers, we took off and went to the Moeraki Boulders. The boulders are giant round rocks that are sitting on the beach. It is a very strange sight to visit. We had fun taking pictures and climbing on them. 

Seagull on the boulder

We had to leave after a while because I had to volunteer with Sport Otago at the Pine Hill Primary School. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the kids I was working with totally surprised me. One of the second graders had a lip ring. A few of the other kids were cussing at each other in front of their parents and one girl almost started a fight when she disagreed with the rules of the tag game we were playing. It was interesting, and will be a challenge working with them. I think I’m up to it though. 

Picture for scale

While I was volunteering, my parents went to the Speights brewery and took the tour. When they were finished, we met up and they took me grocery shopping :) We also went to Velvet Burger and had a beer. My dad is hooked on Speights after the tour. 

I had classes the next day, so we made plans to meet up for the weekend. While I was in class, they would go to Queenstown. Until next time :)

Queenstown/Wanaka-Fall Break

Lost our rental car

reservations :(

Hi everyone :) I’ve decided to split my vacation adventures into two blog posts. We just did so many things, that one post would be way too long. Also, I can add in way more pictures (I took over 700 last week). So here we go!

Friday: Hannah and Rachel, two Willamette students studying in Christchurch, rode the bus down to join Theresa and I on our weekend adventure. They wouldn’t be arriving until the

Off on an adventure!!

afternoon, so Theresa and I went to go pick up the rental car. We were able to get a ride to the airport from another Otago student heading out of town. When we got to the airport we tried to check in, but the company had lost our reservation.

Our driver

This weekend was the Easter holiday, so pretty much every car was gone. We made our way around to five or six different companies in the airport, but no such luck. Until, we talked to the last rental company. The woman working had one car left. Someone had canceled their reservation at the last minute. We were saved!!! That is until she asked us if we were 21. Sadly, I was just a little over a week from being 21 and Theresa still had a few more weeks to go as well. The woman was nice and called another company, who had a car and rented to 20-year-olds. The problem was we were stuck at the airport, over a half hour drive from the center of town where the rental car was waiting for us. We had not planned on needing a ride back from the airport because we thought we would have a car.

Graeme James :)

Time for hitchhiking experience #2! We had to walk for a while before we got picked up by a nice couple. The man was a former student at Otago, and was coming back for his 20 year reunion (he really didn’t look that old). They gave us some great tips on what to see and do during our trip. They also dropped us off right outside of the rental car company. We still had an hour before the rental car company would open, luckily, there was a Gypsy Fair right across the street. We walked around the trailers and looked at all of the crafts. There was also a magic show.

Ferg!!

When the rental company finally opened, we were able to fill out the paper pretty quickly. We rented a Nissan Sunny (a car that I have never heard of). Turns out this car (their last one) was a manual. Luckily, Theresa knew how to drive a manual (none of the rest of us did). She had fun learning how to shift with her left hand and driving on the other side of the road.

Here we go!!

We went home and packed up the car. By the time Hannah and Rachel showed up and we left it was 3 pm. We tried to stop at Countdown or New World for groceries, but because it was Good Friday, nothing was open. We ended up getting food at a gas station convenience store an hour into the drive.

Ahh!!!

The drive to Queenstown is ridiculously beautiful. I have never been so amazed by scenery. We had a great time taking pictures while driving. We stopped in a few places along the way. Once was to buy a large bag of apples from a local orchard. The other was when we stopped for a bathroom break at one of the craziest public toilets. The bathroom talked to you and dispensed everything with a push of a button. It also played elevator music. It was really weird.

We finally made it to Queenstown around 7 pm. We set up camp at this cool campground made out of recycled shipping containers. The site we were in was the smallest I had ever seen. It was about 8 feet across and just long enough to fit our car. Needless to say, we were really friendly with our neighbors.

Hilldie our car :)

After we pitched the tent (4 people in a 3-person tent), we went downtown to explore. We ended up stopping at Fergburger (world famous burger restaurant). After waiting in line for quite a while, we got the best burgers I have ever eaten! We ate them down by the lake and watched the ducks. We even saw an eel.

Dance party!!

On our way back, we watched a street performer named Graeme James. He was amazing…..we may or may not have gone to all of his performances while we stayed in Queenstown. He looped tracks of different instruments to create all the parts of the songs he sang. Every night he had about 70 people coming to listen to him.

In the morning, Theresa and I went downtown to catch our shuttle to the bungy jumping site. While we were waiting, we made a new friend from Taiwan. We all rode out to the bridge and got ready to jump. Theresa went first, and was able to climb all the way back up the hill before I jumped.

Found a Kiwi!!

The Maze

Then it was my turn. I got all strapped in and hopped out to the edge of the platform (probably the scariest part of the jump. I thought I was going to jump too far and fall off). Then the people working on the bridge had me smile for the picture and videos. Then it was time to jump. It was the most exhilarating experience of my life. After bouncing around for a few minutes, I was lowered into the raft at the bottom of the canyon. The rest of the day, I felt like I had a constant adrenaline rush. We picked up our t-shirts and bought some pictures. Our new friend actually went skydiving after we went bungy jumping. Crazy!

The leaning tower

When we got back to the campsite, we loaded up the car and went for a drive to the Routeburn Track, one of the great walks in New Zealand. We didn’t really get out and hike anywhere, but we had fun taking pictures of the amazing scenery.

The floor is just slanted

Later that night we went back into town with the intention of riding the mechanical bull at one of the bars, but we got distracted by the street performer from the night before. This time, there were about 70 or 80 people watching him. Theresa made a new friend and started dancing with her. The next thing we know, the entire street is dancing. Random street dance party in the middle of Queenstown…as you do. It was a wonderful night!! We danced and sang along until the battery for his equipment died, and even then, he led us in a few more sing-along-songs.

Cows in the road

Sunday: We headed up to Wanaka for the day. The road from Queenstown was ridiculous! We had to go up the side of a mountain doing hairpin turns. It was crazy. Our poor car barely made it.  

We stopped at a little craft fair and bakery when we arrived. It had started raining, so we tried to stay inside until the weather got better. The perfect indoor activity in Wanaka is Puzzling World. It is a crazy illusion place with five different rooms and a giant maze.

 

Drive into Mt. Aspiring

We started out in the maze. You had to make your way to the four different towers before finding your way out. We thought that that it would be easy, because there were a ton of little kids running around. Turns out, it’s a lot harder than it looks. It took us about 45 minutes to make it to all of the towers and to the finish. The maze was huge and actually went over the top of the building. 

So beautiful! 

After we got out, we went into the other rooms. There was a holograph room, an art room, and a room that made people look really small or big. One of the rooms had a slanted floor. When you stood on the level area, it made you look like you were standing on a slant. There was a waterfall that looked like the water was flowing uphill. We had a great time exploring. If you are in Wanaka, Puzzling World is a must!

Easter Eggs!!

We decided to drive into the mountains again, and ended up heading to Mt. Aspiring. It was a wonderful drive. There were cows and sheep in the road so we had to wait for a while before they would get out of the way. The valley we were in was so beautiful. The pictures I took do not do the landscape justice. 

On our way back, we stopped in Arrowtown. A cute little town just outside of Queenstown. We decided that we needed some candy, it was Easter after all. We stopped at a candy shop and got some fudge for the way back. We had a nice Easter feast of tuna, crackers, and marshmallow eggs. 

Vineyard

At dinner I got a text from my mom. My parents were supposed to fly out to NZ today, but the message I got was that my dad was in the hospital in San Francisco. He had a kidney stone while waiting for the plane and needed to be taken to the hospital by ambulance (update: all is well. My parents are getting on a plane tomorrow to visit me in NZ).

Hannah and Rachel with

some peaches

After dinner, Theresa and I headed downtown to hang out with our new friend Yong. All of the bars were closed because it was Easter, so we found our new favorite street performer again. We had another dance party in the street before heading back to our campsite. 

WU BYO

Monday: We got up and packed up camp. On our way home, we stopped in Cromwell to see our friend Tim’s vineyard and orchard. His property was so beautiful. We tried some white wine grapes and were given two bags of peaches and nectarines. They were so good! His mom made us lunch before we went on our way.

Sushi Boat

When we got back to Dunedin, we had to unload the car and change quickly for the BYO with the other Willamette students. BYO is a popular trend in NZ. You are allowed to bring your own bottle of wine to a restaurant for a small corkage fee.

Sabine

We had to drop off the rental car before we could go to the restaurant, and ended up being a little late. We were eating at a Japanese restaurant that was amazing!! I had some wonderful curry :) Sabine, Allie, Theresa, and Nate ordered a sushi boat that was huge!! After dinner, we went back to Theresa and Nate’s flat for some ice cream and peaches. It was a great night :)

Tuesday: Today was a lazy day. I had to catch up on laundry before we went on our Milford sound trip. Later that night we went over to Allie’s flat for Cards Against Humanity. It was great to hang out with the entire WU crew.

Next entry: Te Anau, Glow Worms, Milford Sound, and 21st birthday :)

Two Weeks to Fall Break

All Whites!!!

Fall Break? Yeah that’s right, I’m in the southern hemisphere so everything is upside down and backwards. It’s kind of funny when you spend your entire life thinking that June, July, and August are the summer months, only to have your entire class give you strange looks when you get the seasons mixed up. Oh well, I’m still adjusting….

The two weeks before break actually went by pretty fast. Not too much happened, except it’s is midterm time. I haven’t had any tests so far, but I did have a few assignments that I had to work on. Shocking I know….I actually had to do work while studying abroad.

Go NZ

Other than the normal goings on of student life, there weren’t any big events. Here are the few that stand out:

After the Fiordland trip, I got pretty sick. Turns out that tramping in the pouring down rain for 6 hours is not good for your health. I couldn’t get out of bed on Tuesday and missed all of my classes. I was able to make it to my one class on Wednesday though.

On Wednesday, I also had my first volunteer opportunity in NZ. I am volunteering with Sport Otago. The event that I helped out was the Primary School Triathlon. About 400 kids showed up to run, bike, and swim. I was helping with the safety checks for the bikes. After that, I went over to the pool, helped drag the exhausted kids out of the pool, and told them their times. I had a great time at this event, and I can’t wait to help out at future events.

Me and Theresa 

That same day, my 18+ card finally came in the mail. It turns out that they couldn’t mail it to me because my address was wrong….oh well. Of course, when I got it I noticed that my name was misspelled. So glad I spent $20 on a card when the makers couldn’t take two seconds to look at my application to ensure that it was right. It still works thank god, so it wasn’t a complete waste of money (my passport will be safer now too).

Stepan and Jan

Friday we went to the All Whites game. This game was a World Cup Qualifier against New Caledonia. It was a great game!! NZ scored early on in the first half, and kept the lead until the second half. Then NC scored. The All Whites had so many opportunities to score, but just couldn’t get the ball past the keeper. The game started to get out of hand, and there were five yellow cards. One of the players even got kicked in the face and had to be taken off the field to be bandaged. Thank god, NZ scored in the last minute, advancing them to the next round!! It was a really awesome game, and I’m happy I got the opportunity to see a world cup game :)

And then this happened…

We didn’t really do much over the weekend, but we did go on a picnic near signal hill. It was a great place to relax and enjoy the afternoon. Later we went over to Cassie’s house to hang out, and ended up going out to the bars.

The next week was equally uneventful. Theresa, Rachel, Hannah, and I put the finishing touches on our plans for fall break. We decided to go to Queenstown and Wanaka the first weekend, before going to Milford Sound with the rest of the Willamette students.

Short entry this time…..until next time :)

Fiordland and Helicopter Rescues

Ready to go!!

Wow! Two posts in two days. I must have free time or something. This was an amazing trip!! I ended up catching a cold while we were out in the bush, and I am still sick, but I will push on for you lovely readers. (Note: I stole some of these pictures from other people on my trip)

The Shelter 

Friday: After sleeping in from a late night at Netsky the night before, I had to get up and pack my bag. I was excited to use my new pack for the first time. Janessa and I had to make a quick trip to Kmart (yes they have Kmart here) for a bedroll and first aid kit. We had been told that the weather on Saturday was going to be amazing. The weather on Sunday however (direct quote), “is total shit.” We had plenty of time to pack, because our bus was scheduled to leave at 6 pm.

Here we go!

The bus and three vans finally set out on our five hour journey at 6:15 pm. Trip entertainment included a video about fishing with no audio, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the Greatest Hits of Fleetwood Mac, and a poetry competition (winning entries received muffins as a prize). 

There were about 70 people on this trip, and about 10-12 different tracks. Juan, Janessa, Markus, and I had all signed up for a Moderate+ track called Deadmans. There were 11 of us on this track, including our fearless leaders Tom and Lochiel.  

So amazing

At about 8 pm, we stopped in a town called Gore for dinner. This was the first time I had eaten at an American restaurant (Pizza Hut) since coming to NZ. After about an hour, we hit the road again. Stopping only once more before reaching The Divide at midnight. 

We all climbed out of the bus, and set up our sleeping bags and packs in the shelter. It was surprisingly quite for how many people were in the shelter, but no one really slept well on the hard ground. 

Fearless Leaders

Saturday: It was still dark out when the group leaders started waking people up. I think the first group got up around 5 am. I tried to sleep for a little while longer, until I heard my trip leader telling us to get up at 7 am. We packed our stuff into a van and were driven to the trail head. We stopped to have breakfast (tea, yogurt, and muesli) and split up the food we would be carrying.   

Lunch Time

Over the next six hours, we climbed 100 vertical meters to get above the bush line. The trail was very narrow, and at times was little more than a deer trail on the side of a mountain. At one point, we had to climb the side of a cliff. Grabbing the surrounding plants as you walked was the only to ensure you did not fall off the mountain if you slipped. The scenery was beautiful, but some of the mountains were blocked by the clouds. Deadmans ends in the Routeburn Track (one of the Great Walks). During lunch (tea, crackers, and cheese), we stopped on the side of a hill, and people that were walking the Routeburn above us yelled down to us. I really love how much tea is a part of the culture in NZ, for every meal we had a cup of tea to drink.

Bush Bashing

We went back below the bush line to make it to our camp. At this point, we had been bush bashing for almost two hours. Bush bashing is going off trail, and basically just trying to crawl over any plant life between you and your destination. I had fallen earlier on the track, and all of the bushes seemed to know exactly where my bruise was. 

We finally made it to our camp around 4 pm. We set up our tent fly (which is really just a glorified tarp) and started to make dinner (pasta). After dinner, we had fun frustrating other members of our group with The Hat Game (We will have to play it sometime). We finished the night with ginger root tea and some Timtams (so good!!) As we went to bed, it started raining and didn’t let up until 4 pm the next day when the van picked us up. 

Bush Bashing

One thing that I found interesting is that there aren’t any major animal predators in NZ. It was strange camping in the mountains and not having to worry about leaving your food out for the bears or cougars (NZ also doesn’t have any snakes). The most dangerous wildlife we encountered on our trip was sandflies.  

Sunday: No one really slept during the night because of the rain, and it was another early morning. After breakfast we cleaned up camp and started back to the car park. We stopped to fill our water bottles in the nearby stream (the water is good and you don’t need to filter or boil it). 

Bush Bashing

Then we had to go bush bashing to find the trail. I like bush bashing when we are headed downhill. Bush bashing uphill sucks. After about an hour, we found one of the orange triangles that are used to mark the trail. 

We made really good time, only taking about 5 hours to go back down the trail. It was pouring down rain the entire time we were walking, with the trees providing little shelter. The trail seemed to be a little more dangerous on the way down because of the excess water. The moss and exposed rock became extremely slippery. 

Making Dinner

By the time we stopped for lunch everyone was soaked. We set up the tent fly to escape the rain for a little while. Our packs were getting lighter as we ate the last of the food, but the weight we lost was regained by the water seeping into our bags. 

After lunch, it was another hour to the car park. The path was so slick, I fell multiple times (I have some pretty great bruises and scratches). When we reached the end, we set up the tent fly again and changed into some dry clothes. We had to wait a few hours for the van to pick us up, thank God we had some tea and biscuits (biscuits=cookies) left.  

Chopping Veggies

Finally the van showed up. We made a quick stop at the shelter we had stayed at on Friday night. There were four girls from the Tramping Club waiting there for another van to pick them up. We were not able to take them with us, because our van was full. 

We drove for about an hour and stopped in Te Anau for food and petrol. While we were there we learned that one of the other groups had activated their emergency GPS, and was going to be air lifted out of the Fiords. We were going to stay at the parents of a Tramping Club member’s house until we got more information. 

The Tent Fly

I was really surprised by the hospitality of this couple. They allowed 12 damp and tired strangers to stay in their house while we coordinated with the flight medics. They even offered dry clothes and an opportunity to take a shower. The woman even let me send an email to my parents and Otto, telling them that I was fine, but would  be home later than expected. 

After a few hours of being entertained by the two dogs at the house, the two girls that had been airlifted showed up at the house and told us their story. They had been trying to summit Mt. Isolation, one of the harder trips. It turns out that the trail was not well maintained and it took them much longer to make it to their campsite on Saturday. They did not make the summit, and on Sunday had a hard time making it back down in the rain. Their trip required them to cross a few rivers to get back to the main path. The first crossing went smoothly, but during the second they ran into trouble. 

Building a fire for pasta

Halfway across the river, none of the group was able to touch the bottom. The water level had risen due to the large amount of rain during the night. The group was broken apart and swept down the river. One of the guides and another girl were able to get out of the river fairly quickly, but the other guide and two girls were not so lucky. The guide ended up on a rock in the middle of the river, and the two girls were able to get out thanks to the first guide. The guide in the middle of the river did not think he would be able to get across, so he activated the GPS for a helicopter rescue. Luckily he did end up making  to the other side of the river, but one of the girls had smashed her knee and the other was suffering from hypothermia. None of them had any dry clothing left. 

We found the trail!!

The helicopter came and picked up the two girls, but was unable to airlift the rest of the group (fun fact: helicopter evacuations are free in NZ if you have a medical emergency. If not, then they cost $2,000. This is why the Tramping Club has so much money in their budget). This was the first helicopter rescue for the club in two years. The girls were taken to the hospital, and were discharged with a few bumps and bruises. 

Crossing the falls

The rest of the group would have to spend the night in the bush, and hike the six hour journey back to the car park in the morning. This group had one of the vans, and was supposed to pick up the four girls we saw at the shelter. The four girls did not have any of their gear, because they had stowed it on the bus. We sent two of our guides with a van to go pick them up, but they had decided to hitchhike (very safe), and two of them arrived at the house while the other two were picked up in the van. 

Lunch under the tent fly

We passed the time by watching X-Men on TV, while the group leaders tried to figure out what to do. We had 17 people to transport home, and only ten spots in the van not counting the drivers. Some of us would have to stay the night (again amazing hospitality to open your home to strangers and offer to let them spend the night). 

Lunch under the tent fly

I volunteered to go back the next day because I didn’t have class, but other people chose to stay. We piled into the van and started on our four hour journey home. It was late, and we were tired. We played some loud pump up music to keep our driver awake. We made it to Gore, where we picked up another member of the club, who would act as a relief driver. We finally made it home at 2 am. All of us crawled out of the van and passed out.

Climbing down the

side of a cliff

Monday: I didn’t get out of bed until around noon. All of us were really sore, and I had come down with a bad cold. Overall, amazing trip and I would totally do it again. I am thankful that everyone made it back safely, because that situation could have been much worse. 

I’ll have another blog post soon about this past week. Only one more week until break!!!

Sorry…It’s almost been a month

Sorry guys :( Looks like my goal of keeping this blog updated once a week isn’t going too well. I’ve had a lot of adventures, so let’s get started :)

Silos at Cadbury

March 1st-3rd

In my last blog I had just started classes and missed out on the Paradise tramping trip. That weekend we had one of Juan’s friends stay with us. She and her two travel companions had been traveling around the south island before starting school in Auckland. Juan, being the good host that he is, took them all around Dunedin. On Saturday, we scheduled a tour of the Cadbury factory (at 9:15 am). Is there a better way to start the day than chocolate for breakfast? The tour was great! It was shorter than the normal tour because it was the weekend and the factory was closed. Unfortunately  we weren’t allowed to take pictures so I only have a few from the outside of the factory. We were given some free samples and were able to taste liquid chocolate after walking around in one of the silos.

Old Delivery Turck

Here is some information we learned about chocolate making on the tour: Apparently, Dunedin cows produce the best milk for making chocolate. The milk is then mixed in with the coco powder and sent to Australia and Singapore for processing (http://www.cadbury.co.nz/en/about-cadbury/how-chocolate-is-made.aspx). The Dunedin factory mainly focuses on making the marshmallow candies and Jafas (http://www.cadbury.co.nz/products/all-products/cadbury-jaffas.aspx?p=3406). Every year there is a Jafa Race, where Cadbury releases thousands of Jafas from the top of Baldwin St. (steepest street in the world remember). All of the Jafas have numbers on them, and are funneled at the bottom of the street to determine which one won. 

Mellora

From the Cadbury factory we headed over to the farmers’ market (I’m really enjoying the weekly trips to the market). We stocked up on some fresh fruits and veggies, before Juan’s friends had to leave for their flight to Auckland.

The day was far from over, because we still had one more tour left. This time the Speight’s brewery (http://www.speights.co.nz/Home). Speight’s is the local beer, The Pride of the South. The tour we was a lot of fun, and our tour guide was a little crazy (Mellora made a new friend). The tour took us through the history of beer and how the brewery was started. We even learned how the Christchurch earthquake had changed the business. Speight’s has been brewing for 130 years, and the location we visited was still using the original copper kettles to make their beer. After the tour, they lead you into the sampling room. You then have a half hour to pour yourself as many glasses as you want of the six types of beer they have on tap.

Juan

After the tour we went to The Warehouse (kinda like a small version of Walmart/Costco) to get Juan some hiking boots. Mellora and I went to one of her friend’s house. I met a few more international students, as well as some Kiwis. We ended up going to the Octagon, and Juan came with us!! It was his first time going to town. It was a fun night, and we got to sleep in the next day.

March 4th-10th

Classes are well underway, and I am starting to get used to my new schedule. I really like three of my classes, Maori Society isn’t as interesting as I thought it would be (the class has gotten better though). Monday and Tuesday were normal days, with nothing exciting happening.

Me

On Wednesday, we went to the Tramping Club Gear Buy Night. The club is sponsored by a local sporting goods store, and we normally get a 15% discount on items. This was a special night, the store was open for club members only, and we were able to get a 20% discount. They also had some refreshments, and we were able to meet other members of the club, as well as get advice on what gear we needed. Juan, Janessa, Theresa, and I didn’t end up buying anything (too expensive, but we did take advantage of the free beer) but it was cool to see what they had in stock.

Sandfly Bay

Thursday was another Willamette get together. We were going to go to Innocent Bystander (pizza place with half price pizzas on Thursdays), but some people forgot their passports (They wouldn’t let us in even though they let Otto’s kids into the restaurant). Instead we had to find a place to eat that wasn’t considered a bar….this is a lot harder than you would think. We ended up at Miga, an amazing Korean restaurant. I had never eaten Korean food before, but this place definitely made me want to come back for more. The service was great, and they brought us so much food before we had even gotten our main entree. It was great!

Sleepy Seals

After the dinner, we went to a movie in the Octagon. We saw Oz the Great and Powerful. The movie was good, but not as great as I thought it would be. It was interesting seeing a movie in another country. There were some differences between the U.S. and NZ theaters: assigned seats, large armchair style seats, the floors were carpeted and there weren’t any cup holders.

On Saturday we went on another day trip adventure, this time to Sandfly Bay. We took the bus to Macandrew Bay, just a few stops before Portobello. From there we had to hike to the other side of the peninsula to get to the beach. It was about a 10 mile hike and we had to hike over the hill. We finally made it to the beach, and had to run down a very large sand dune. We had fun exploring the beach and looking for seals and penguins. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any penguins. There were a few seals, but they were sleeping on the beach.

Tom, Theresa, and I

After lunch, we started walking back to the bus stop. It took a while to get back up the sand dune, but we made it. On our way back we stopped at Larnach Castle (the only castle in NZ). We wanted to go in and look around, but it cost money. Instead we walked down another track to get back to the bus stop. It was a little strange because the track ran through a some private property. We eventually made it back to the bus stop.  

Netsky!!!

The next day was another lazy day. Theresa and I had a baking party. I made slutty brownies NZ style (cookie dough, timtams, brownies, and oreos). Theresa made a German chocolate cake for Cassie’s birthday on Monday. According to Jan it looked like a mince (ground beef) cake.

March 11th-15th

Cassie’s birthday!! I worked on some scholarships and other assignments (I’m really enjoying not having class on Monday). Later that night we went over to Theresa’s for cake. It was delicious :)

 

Tim, Me, Theresa, Nate, and Cassie

waiting to get in to Netsky

The rest of the week was average (I got a spot on the Fiordland Tramp) except Thursday night. That was the Netsky concert at Union Hall. It was so much fun! Allie is an amazing person!! She gave Theresa her ticket and gave up an amazing opportunity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YeNC-CXQiQ). It was a great night. The next day I had to pack and get ready for the Fiordland trip (more next blog entry).


So far still loving every minute of my time here. Until next time :)