Saturday, May 11, 2013

South Island Video!Hey everyone I made a video for our South Island trip! I can't get over how much fun it was and I hope this video gives you a better taste of how the trip went!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

South Island!

Here I was minding my own business in the North Island all this time... Little did I know how AMAZING the South Island is!!! For our mid-semester break I took a week long trip to the South Island and it was incredible! Laura, Phil, Anna, and I started by taking a ferry to Picton where we rented a car, driving on the left side of the road isn't too bad, except when you go to make a right hand turn... or go through rotaries... or back up... jokes, jokes it really wasn't too bad, you get used to it pretty quickly. The first night of break we drove down to Franz Josef. The first problem of the trip was that I forgot our itinerary at home, aka we didn't have the names of any of the hostels we booked. Once we got to Franz Josef we took a guess that we booked at a YHA, we pulled off, it had just gotten dark out, we rolled down the window to ask someone at a store where it was. He looked at us confused, "just continue down this road, its right there." by chance we turned on to the right road! How awesome are we!? That next morning we woke up very early, like before the sunrise early, and went to this place called Lake Matheson, if you get there early enough in the morning the water is still and you can see a perfect reflection of the back side of Mt. Cook in the water. We took a joyous walk around the lake, taking our time and taking lots of pictures. It was a beautiful spot just off of a cow farm, there was a ton of mooing. I think the cows were upset by our presence. From there we drove over to the Fox Glacier, we walked up a path that led us to a lookout from which we could see the glacier but the rest of the path was roped off. In the distance we could see people taking tours on the actual glacier itself. In a moment of insanity we took a chance, and snuck under the rope. We were then on a mission to "touch the butt" (Finding Nemo reference, at some point we decided that touching the glacier was like the fish in Nemo daring each other to touch the butt)  walking down the path we passed two guides, nervous that they would tell us to turn back we paused to pose for some pictures, but all they said was to be careful of falling rocks. YES! So we continued on down towards the glacier. At the base of the glacier there were two more guides, both of which congratulated us on making it to the base of the glacier, saying that most people were too afraid to come down. WHAT? We definitely thought they had control to send us back, but they described it to us by say that its not like in America, they don't own they glacier, they can just recommended that you pay for a guided tour which would be safer. Victory was ours! At last we got to touch the butt! What a cool experience standing on a glacier that wont be there years from now! It was thrilling! I stood on a glacier!
That day we had another long journey ahead of us, we were off to Te Anau about a 6-7 hour drive from where we were. However it didn't feel nearly as long as it was because it was just such a gorgeous drive! We drove around these beautiful blue lakes with tall mountains and cliffs surrounding all sides, we stopped frequently for pictures and side of the road dance parties. We arrived in Te Anau ... in the dark... with no leads on what the name of our hostel was.... as we drove down the road we had our eyes peeled for something that would tip us off, then out of nowhere, BOOM! Beachfront Backpackers! That's it! We turned in and sure enough we had reservations there. What a stroke of luck. The next morning we woke up early again to make our way to Milford Sounds and the Fiordlands where we took a cruise through them. It was incredible! the mountains shot straight out of the deep water which was a rich blue. We got to see some seals, and waterfalls and where the water opened up to the Tasman Sea. This area was more beautiful than I could possibly describe! I legitimately felt as if I were in a dream. The mountains were twice the size of the Sky Tower in Auckland. On the drive there and back we drove through a tunnel in the mountain, little Matildia (our car) had a hard time making it back up as it was very steep and we were four people and 4 backpacks in a tiny tiny car. But she made it after a small gas shortage scare.
Next stop Queenstown! This was an adorable little town, very busy with lots of tourists but it was quaint at the same time, not city like at all. It had a lake on the edge of it and you could walk around it to the gardens where we found a bunch of elderly people playing outdoor bowling which was adorable! On our first full day in Queenstown Laura and I did the Nevis Canyon Swing, the highest canyon swing in the WORLD. I was totally all talk... leading up to the swing Laura was saying how she was going to be really scared and I would need to pump her up. The whole time leading up I was psyched, super excited, and ready for it. As we arrived at the canyon I was still pumped, we walked out on to the ledge and I was taking video with the gopro, still ready to swing. It was when we got to the edge and I was getting strapped in that I started freaking out. My hand flew to my mouth as I repeatedly said, "I'm gonna throw up." I lost my cool to say the least, the drop suddenly seemed 100 times more scary. What was I thinking!? We were lifted into the air in preparation of the swing, I could hardly breathe, 3... 2... 1... free fall... for a long time. I couldn't breathe let alone make a sound. What a cool experience! Swinging through the air over the canyon, it was wonderful and beyond thrilling! The next few days in Queenstown was relaxing, we found a killer Mexican restaurant and a this place called Patagonia's which had a huge selection of Gelato! Can I just say YUM! One night we did this thing called a Kiwi Crawl where we were guided from bar to bar in Queenstown and faced with some relay races where I won a jet boat cruise! My competitive side definitely came out that night, I refused to lose! The Jet Boat was awesome, it took me back on the rivers behind Queenstown giving mc access to beautiful sites that you cant see from town. As the weather didn't cooperate our big event got canceled that may or may not have included me jumping out of a plane.
Our plan was to spend the night in Christchurch on our last day because our plane left early Saturday morning to get back to Wellington. We arrived after another long drive in Christchurch at sundown... Navigating though the streets was difficult, there were lots of roads still blocked off from the earthquake in 2011, the city is definitely still trying to get back on its feet. We ended up driving in a complete circle looking for our hostel, this time we remembered the name of it. Working our way through the city a second time we finally came across the hostel...... at this point you might think we were excited.. but you didn't see what this place looked like. In short it was dirty, the car across the street's window had literally just been smashed in, and when we went back to our room you could tell the bedding was dirty just by looking at it. The man who was in the room was probably homeless, as he was talking to us he mentioned how he was "just heating up his pie for dinner" he was literally heating up his meat pie from a space heater on the floor. NOPE! We got out of there faster than you can say run! By now it was almost 8pm and we decided to get some pizza and just head to the airport to spend the night there. I surprisingly got about 3-4 hours of sleep on the floor with my bags tucked around me, much more sleep that I would have gotten at the hostel, the man just looked like a snorer. We got to see a terrific sunrise on the plane just as we were taking off to head back to Wellington. Laura, Anna, Phil and I talked about how nice it is that right now Wellington really feels like home. :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

North Island Video Post

Hey all! I just finished my GoPro video of our North Island trip! Be sure to check it out on youtube!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

North Island Trip!

Wow! I have been so busy since leaving for Auckland on the 27th of March! We were very luck to get a week off for Easter so I went up to the top of the North Island with Shoshana, Sean, Nina, Laura, Phil, Vince and Dan. We were quite the crew traveling around all together. When we landed in Auckland Sho Sean and I went up to the sky tower where we got to look out over all of Auckland from all directions, the room at the top was circular with windows wrapping all the way around at the top. There was also a few spots with glass floors where we got to stand and look down on the city. Auckland is a much bigger city than Wellington, it was a bit overwhelming to be honest, I don't think I could handle being there for more than a few days. I am just not a city girl. It was very cool to experience the larger city in New Zealand though. From there we took a bus up to The Bay of Islands in Paihia and spent 3 nights a the Pickled Parrot, a hostel with an bulldozer sleeping in the bed across from my bunk. But actually, you would not believe how loud this guy snored, I probably got 4 hours of sleep the whole time we were there, it was unbelievable I could hear him over my ipod cranked up on loud. Here we got some good beach time in the first day and the day that followed was probably my favorite day since being here. We went on an all day sailing trip out around the islands. It was absolutely breathtaking, relaxing and completely wonderful. On our way out of the bay we saw a group of dolphins swimming in the distance ahead of us. They were huge, easily 7-8 feet long and they were a gorgeous shade of grey. That start made the whole boat trip worth it but then it just got even better! We stopped midday on a small island with a short hike that had a 360 degree view at the top so we could see all the islands. (there are going to be quite a few pictures with this post) on our stop we had a wonderful picnic did some kayaking and took a dip in the water. On our way back to shore a dolphin showed up right under our boat, I got some great video with the gopro of it swimming at the bow of the boat! The rest of the trip was so relaxing, a guy who came on the sailing trip was an amateur singer and he brought his guitar and sang Zac Brown Band, George Straight and Johnny Cash to us, it was so cool! (Hailey House you'd have loveddd it!)
From Paihia we went to the Coromandel Penisula, and on Easter morning I was able to skype my beautiful family who were all having Easter dinner at Gramma's house. I was sad that I couldn't be there with everyone but luckily this holiday I refrained from crying as we were off for our beach hoppin' day. We went to a beach near cooks beach where I built a pretty awesome sand castle and then went over to another place where we hiked down to Cathedral Cove. There
I did some minor rock jumping (don't stress mom I really do mean minor 10-12 feet max). From there we went to the hot spring beaches, at low tide there is a specific spot on the beach where everyone congregates to dig holes in the sand near the hot springs creating mini hot tubs to chill (or actually heat up) in. It was a spectacular experience! Overall the trip was spectacular and so much fun!
Coming back to school I was welcomed with 3 1500-2000 word essays and another 1000 word assignment. Not coO0oo0Ol. At all. Finally I have finished all my papers and my assignment. Only to find out I have 2 more things due next week. ughh. School shouldn't be this much of a drag. haha Luckily I am doing one of my presentations next week on the Nazi Olympics so hopefully that will be able to hold my attention long enough while also daydreaming about actually being in the Olympics some day. (Lindsay you better be working out!)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tongariri's Taking Over


Last weekend we went on a trip to Tongariro where we got to hike Mt. Doom, an active volcano! This hike was unlike any that I've ever been on! we were literally getting blown away from the strong winds coming at us. The land was completely barren and rocky, the first part of the hike was very flat and along man made paths and board walks. Then it turned into a dramatic incline with lots of stairs. It wasn't until about 3/4th up the mountain that it turned into natural path with ligit hiking and climbing. The view from the top was so cool, we could see the whole volcano and a few of the Emerald lakes! This hike was one of the coldest ones I've been on, at the top a few of us laid down in a spooning train just to try and warm up from the cold winds!
Getting back into the swing of school has proven to be difficult. I am just not in class mode yet, the set up is different here, instead of all lectures we have either 2 or 3 lectures a week with a mandatory 1 hour tutorial which is smaller than our lecture forcing us to participate more. This set up makes skipping lectures very tempting (sorry mom). I'm thinking next week I'll be better about doing my readings and being prepared for class.
I have decided to join club basketball and club rowing.... and tramping (hiking) and white water kayaking? There is just so much to do and participate in at Victoria I want to do it all! Last night from 4-8pm I went to this basketball clinic run by former NBA coach of Kevin Love. I was by no means in shape enough for this. It was more of a camp geared towards younger kids looking to play college ball in the states. Woops missed the boat on that one! As hard as it was I had a really good time playing serious ball and working on my skills. Rowing was supposed to start this morning but I couldn't pull myself out of bed, I am so sore from basketball! I'll have to get into it next week.  Gotta get my rowing in if Lindsay and I are going to make it to RIO!
After Basketball last night Jackie Shoshana, 2 of Jackie's roommates and I went down to Cuba Street (Very similar to Church Street in Burlington) where they had a night market with lots of food and venders. We got this delicious hallow spiral bread, the outside was covered with cinnamon sugar, and they coated the inside with chocolate. I was salivating just looking at and tasted even more great that I can describe! Wellington is such a cute wonderful city!
I just booked my trip up to Auckland for Easter break with Shoshana and Sean and 2 other girls from another program. I'm so excited we are going to be going to the Bay of Islands and some other really awesome places up north, it's coming up so soon! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week 1 in Wellington!

This first week in Wellington has been absolutely crazy! There are just so many little housekeeping things to do when you are trying to adjust into a new county. I've had to get a phone to contact people locally, open a bank account in order to get the best conversion rates, sign up for classes and a million and ten other little things in order to settle in. Today was the second day of classes, my schedule is pretty manageable too, I have two classes everyday except Wednesdays which I have off! But here they do school very differently, usually the locals only spend three years in University, jealous. They also have this thing called tutorial, which is an hour of scheduled time every week with a group from your class that's mandatory to attend making my schedule seem a bit busier than just two classes a day. Getting adjusted to school is tough now that I've had the last two and a half months off, hopefully I can get into the swing of things soon, however that's going to be difficult seeing as how the weather has been so nice! Its been hanging around a perfect 70 and sunny with no humidity, very different from Fiji! This has been making beach trips very tempting since its only a 15-20 minute walk from my flat. I live with three Americans, Becca who goes to school in southern Cali, Nick who is from Michigan, and Tommy from Mass.
Wellington has been wonderful so far! Campus is literally on top of a mountain, in order to get to town we have to walk up and down this gigantic hill, its so steep walking up it has been one big struggle especially when I have my arms full of groceries! My legs are finding it to be a love/hate relationship because it burns but that also means I'm getting a sick workout just by walking home. Last week we hiked up to this wind turbine where we could look down on all of Wellington it was beautiful! On this hike we were supposed to be able to see the south island but it was too hazy out that day. We ended up going with probably three other groups which made for about 30 of us hiking up through town up to the trail #tourists.

A few people in my group are going paddle boarding today, Jackie decided to skip class to go even, but not me (ehem Mom, see I am a good student!) I'll be going tomorrow when I don't have class. :) This Friday night a bar downtown is having a Space Jam party, yes, Space Jam. Like the looney tunes/Michael Jordan movie. I wish I had brought my Jordan jersey here with me so I could wear it out this weekend! (not that I actually have one...) I'm stoked there's so much to do right in Wellington and hopefully I can start planning some bigger trips throughout New Zealand in the next few weeks, there is just so much to do and see I can't wait to get started!

Monday, February 25, 2013