Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Northland trip with Amy

Nov. 9: I got into Auckland today and am staying at Amy's friend's house and everything is all good because they are super helpful and stuff.

Nov. 10: I am in Paihia now and I smell onions! In addition to that, my allergies have started acting up. (I'm next to the kitchen which is why I smell onions). I'm staying at a really posh hostel called Saltwater Lodge. It's really nice! We were going to do a half day dolphin watching cruise but wouldn't have been able to eat lunch so didn't, then we were really hungry and tried to find a place Amy could eat and I got annoyed... I need to not be a meanie face when I'm hungry. Anyway, then we walked down the beach and played on a playground.

Nov. 12: I did my dolphiny cruise today. I saw lots of dolphins! And beautiful islands. And went through a big hole in an island. It was totally awesome. Then Amy and I stopped in Russell and ate and walked around for a couple hours. It is the oldest town in NZ, and is cute and sleepy. Then took the ferry back to Paihia and we may look for kiwis tonight. Tomorrow, back to Auckland via kauri forests and then on the plane home! It's going to be a LONG as day.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Potluck and hanging out

I went to a potluck, which was also Sarah and Tim's engagement party. And there were adults there. It was sort of odd but not really. There are certainly nice people there and I like them, but I don't know any of them that well so it's always a bit awkward. But the food is good, too.

After that I went to Amy's and we all (Amy, Hannah, Laura, Liam, Michelle, and I) [I only just realised I was alpabetising those...] just sort of hung out. Liam, nice guy that he is, bought us delicious vegan pizza from Hell. And then chocolate.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Food and Movies

Last night I... created a delicious mac n cheese with just some noodles, the rest of my cheese (a tiny bit of edam and some blue), and some butter. It was surprisingly delicious! I have like no food left now. Which is alright seeing as I am leaving so soon.

Then I went to Amy's and watched Alien with her and Liam. Except Liam was mostly asleep. It was pretty boring... you know, like many classic sci-fis, the plot is not complex but for some reason they feel the need to drag it out with boring talking. Certainly some classic moments and not entirely terrible.

Then tonight I watched Love Actually again, which is of course adorable!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Stock Xchange Karaoke

I went to Hell Pizza and it was FABULOUS. Amy invited me to karaoke, which of course I said I'd go to. I told her not to let Liam buy me a drink! He always buys everyone drinks, and it makes me a little uncomfortable because he's spending a lot of money on it... also I didn't feel like drinking anything. But, he did anyway, which I guess is okay since they unexpectedly had daiquiris again. But still... I mean I know he does it because he's nice and I assume he has the money but you know... every time... anyway when we got to Stock Exchange there was like no one singing and no one there so we ended up being able to sing whatever we wanted as much as we wanted for the first hour or so. People eventually came but we were still able to sing A LOT. I sang 8 songs, only one of which was with someone else. Amy also sang 8... Hannah probably sang about as much and Liam as usual would not sing. I sang: Hero (Enrique Iglesias... hot), You Oughta Know with Amy (Alanis Morissette), Torn (Natalie Imbruglia), Concrete Angel (a sad but pretty country song by Martina McBride), Everything (Fefe Dobson), Drops of Jupiter (Train but I'm sure you know that one), Strawberry Wine (Deana Carter... it's about losing your virginity!), and I Swear (John Michael Montgomery... another country song...). I was going back to old songs I used to love, especially country, for some reason. That's okay. I know Concrete Angel was the best one I did, I actually felt I sang it really well. Everything is another great one. And Hero is just super fun to sing, with gestures as you can imagine. I have to do it when I get home.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pineapple Track

I will be leaving at 6:30 to go and sleep in a cave at Long Beach! Hopefully it will be a good time. There is one guy that is going that annoys me/creeps me out a little but I think I will go anyway because it sounds cool. I will probably do some bouldering. I got a $10 head torch at the Warehouse, so that will be good.

As for today so far: went on a hike. We did the Pineapple Track which is up Flagstaff which is 666m high. It wasn't a hard track or very long (if you can get a car to the car park at the beginning and to pick you up at the end, which we did). It's a BEAUTIFUL day and the views were outstanding!

After that I went to replace some items I lost:
the bite valve on my Camelbak
a torch
So I ended up going to Kathmandu, then R&R Sport, then the Warehouse which is pretty far south. As I was down there already, I decided to find the Harley dealership because I want to get my dad a shirt there. I found it but it was closed. I walked back, by the Chinese gardens and the Settler's Museum. I think I will try going back to the Harley place maybe Tuesday, or tomorrow depending on when we get back from the caves. Then I will also go to the Settler's Museum and the Chinese Gardens. It is really warm today, probably in the 70s and sunny."

And about the cave sleeping: "I slept in a cave. For approximately 4 hours. I mean, I was there longer, but that's how long I slept. Then I came home. Now I'm going back to sleep. (I woke up sore and unable to return to sleep. Even though the cave floor is sand, it was still pretty uncomfortable).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sandfly Bay number 2

Today I didn't do a whole lot. Walked downtown after sitting on my ass, and almost went to the Settler's Museum but bought a new daypack instead (wanted one I could put my Camelbak in and that had a waist strap). I already think it was a good investment (only about $30 USD, anyway). Anyway, on the way home I ran into Tim (my flatmate Sarah's now-fiance)'s flatmate Susi. She invited me to go to the Peninsula later. Having no plans whatsoever, I said GREAT! I got home and saw I was invited to a Grange party too, at 9. Awesome, I thought, Peninsula and then party with my friends!

So I went to the peninsula after dinner. We went to Sandfly Bay (we being Susi and 2 of her other flatmates, Lars and Sonya). I have been there before but it's so awesome so I didn't mind at all. It was like, gale-force winds, which was ridiculous and fun because you could lean really far over, and stuff. We walked to the end of the beach and right before you get to the hide, there was a penguin right there on the beach. You're not supposed to get near them because it scares them, so we were like oh crap what now. We walked as far away from it as possible but it just sat there, unmoving. Got to the hide and could see some sealions blooping around (I dunno how else to describe it lol it's so cute!) and some fur seals coming in, and a penguin going up the hill. Eventually some French people came in the hide too. We watched the animals until it was getting dark and walked back, into the wind and now rain this time. I sort of can't breathe in such strong wind so it was a bit unpleasant, but still crazy and interesting. Got wet feet because we weren't really watching where we were going (too much wind in the face) and a wave suddenly came a lot higher than all the others. Ah well. Still a great time. We went to Countdown on the way back. The others were going to see glowworms but I decided to take my leave at that point, because it was 10 and I wanted to get to the party.

But I should have gone to see the glowworms. It would have been much more fun. There was just drinking and smoking happening.

Friday, October 31, 2008


My Halloween experience was buckets of fun. I went over and got changed at Amy's. I wore a shiny purple shirt, a weird tie, and shiny blue boxers that said "charm the snake" on them. In a brilliant last minute move, I decided to use 2 socks to create a cock bulge. That was what really made the outfit. I also wore Amy's big hat and some makeup. Beautiful! lol

We went to the Mars Bar and there was someone we knew there right away. Oh yeah, Amy was Suri Cruise, Tom Cruise's daughter - she wore a baby-ish dress, carried a bear, and wore foil alien antennas. It was pretty funny but not a lot of people got it. There wasn't much to get about mine, and people thought it was funny. Especially when I pointed out my cock bulge. Some people decided to touch it, which was only weird because the place they were touching was actually over my actual crotch. haha. There was free laser tag and mini golf, so we (Amy, Karin, Austin, Alex Garett and I) did both of those things. Fun! Got free soft drinks, too. Then we just talked to people we knew. My flatmate Patrick was there and was ridiculously wasted and couldn't really say words. He and his friends were the Anchorman team and they were pretty good.

Almost all of the Arcadia kids were there, including somehow some of the Wellington girls who were visiting I guess. There were some great costumes: an ewok, a bear, a couple sheep, lots of bloody whatevers, one girl was Alex from A Clockwork Orange, one girl was her Facebook profile, one guy was probably a Brussels Sprout but didn't seem to remember what he was, my friend Jack was a sperm, somebody was Jesus, and plenty more I can't think of at the moment (one guy was a rock).

After that I went with Amy, Brianna, and Becky to Gardie's which is a really skeevy bar. Then Becky, Amy, and I went to the 24 for food (remember, I didn't eat dinner) then to Amy's to eat it and talk. Then Becky left and Amy and I talked for awhile, now I'm home. We were going to do the Pineapple Track tomorrow (up Mt. Flagstaff) but it's supposed to rain so we're going to do it Sunday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Salsa Lessons

Oct. 24: What I did today was I went to the grocery store. Between going there and back I managed to run across all of the Grange flat. Then I cooked dinner in Amy's flat (we shared a dinner of beans-only chilli and potatoes). We did some planning of our Northland trip. We have decided to take the Magic Bus because it will be probably less expensive due to the price of gas and just easier since neither of us have done much driving here and don't really want to start in the biggest city in the country.

After that I went to a salsa lesson with Amy, Michelle, Hannah, Austin, Laura (a Canadian who's friends with Michelle), and Liam (a Kiwi I met the night before my big trip and who apparently has a thing for Amy). It was really cool. The lesson was just the basic steps in a line and then you add a partner. I was dancing with a guy named Nathan who knew what he was doing, so that made it easier. Then they just have dancing, and first I was dancing with Liam. Then for a while no one asked me to dance but then I danced with Michelle, and then this really awesomely good guy who is also really nice whose name I forgot, then Austin, then a guy named Shaun who was also good. So I know some salsa moves now. The instructor was dancing with his girlfriend and they are both really good and they were pretty much having sex on the dance floor. At first Amy was like 'I can imagine them having really great sex tonight' then as we were watching it was like 'well, no need to imagine'!

Then we went to Laura's flat which is on Leith Street North and played Catchphrase until some people decided to go to Jenn's to play beer pong. Then Michelle and I went home.

Oct. 26: I studied pretty much all day until 10 pm when I watched Cabin Fever which is about flesh eating bacteria and is terrible. Then to get our minds off that we tried to watch Love Actually but it turned out Jenn didn't have it on her comp. We went to McDonald's and talked for a while.

Oct. 27: I studied, and then at 11 met Amy to do karaoke. Went to Stock Exchange but no one was there so we went to the Bowler instead. Two guys stripped naked during their song, it was hilarious and wow, everyone there was so drunk. Amy and I sang 'I Believe in a Thing Called Love', and Amy sang 'Put Your Records On.' I tried again to sing 'Throw it all away' but they never let me. Maybe they don't actually have it? The announcer guy remembers us as 'those American girls' and he was staring at us a lot... yeah cause we're so hot. Then I got mini muffins at the 24! Yum.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mega Exam Trip

Oct. 10 - I'm in Auckland. I got here at 3:30. NZ airports have like no security. The bus into the city took awhile. I ate dinner at BurgerFuel. My left foot hurts. Also, I'm very tired. Ah well! I will have an early night tonight because I have to get up early!

Oct. 11 - I am at Hahei Holiday Park in Hahei. I have been to Mt. Eden to see Auckland City, Thames for the Pak n Save, and Hot Water Beach where I stood on some REALLY hot sand. Apparently according to the driver's sheet thing I am not booked through to Wellington, but really I am! Argh. I should be doing a walk to Cathedral Cove soon and also there is a barbecue tonight.

Oct. 12 - Today we went to Raglan. Stopped at Paeroa along the way where L&P was born. Greg got lost... we ended up in Matamata but got to Raglan eventually. The lodge is amazing. There's a ropes course, and a flying fox (aka zipline). It's very secluded in the bush on the slopes of Mt. Karioi. I didn't do the surf school because well, I couldn't afford it. Walked around in downtown Raglan, went to the beach and watched some surfers, played on the ropes course, watched the sun set (we're on the west coast). Tomorrow is Waitomo! I've decided I'm totally going for it and doing the Haggis Honking Holes, one of the more extreme options. Sweet as. Next day is whitewater rafting, then Tongariro Crossing, which I may be doing alone (but apparently everyone has to go with a guide anyway). Other people are definitely caving and rafting with me. I'm having so much fun! Oh, also, I am the only American on the bus! In addition to that, everyone at first guesses I'm Canadian because apparently I don't have an American accent, nor do I act especially American. I can totally pass as Canadian! I like that everyone's foreign. It's interesting, most of them are still excited by sheep. haha. There are a bunch of Germans, a bunch of British people, an Irish girl, a couple Dutch girls, a Swedish couple, and a few Canadians. Interestingly, I find the British accent harder to understand than the Kiwi accent. Oh yeah and today is pretty warm, yeah. Yesterday, not so much. The sand was hot because there's a hot spring running underneath it, not because of the weather :P at low tide you can dig natural hot pools in the sand!!!

Oct. 14 - Yesterday I did the Haggis Honking Holes which was BRILLIANT! so amazing! Then we stayed on a marae and learned poi (for girls) and haka (for guys) and all slept on mattresses in the wharenui. Like a big sleepover. I was surprised at how well I slept. Today I did whitewater rafting in Rotorua - exciting!!! Now I"m in "sunny" Taupo where it's raining. I'm doing the Tongariro Crossing tomorrow despite shite Stray politics! Too complicated to explain at the moment. Sorry I have such limited time to write but am keeping a detailed journal so I will tell you EVERYTHING when I get back. It will take hours probably.

Oct. 17 - I just walked through a street carnival. It was mostly for little kids. Okay, just for little kids. There were rides (ferris wheel, carousel), a moon bounce, balloon animals, etc. I got silly string all over my shoes. It was fun just to watch. There was a young band playing carnival music. I think Nelson would be a nice place to spend a few more days (that's where I am now). The Festival of the Arts is on now. Other than that today I have gone to the grocery store and eaten in the little garden at the YHA. This YHA is really nice. The nicest one (of the YHAs) I think I've stayed at so far. It has a ping pong table and some guy watching this week's Heroes on his laptop in the lounge (I'm jealous). There's a table and couches and a sink in my room which is a 6-bed dorm. My bed isn't bunked. There's a grill and a hammock... etc. Really awesome.

Earlier I walked to the train station in Welly with Ally and caught the shuttle to the InterIslander ferry terminal where I waited a few minutes then got on the ferry then it left late. It had a movie theatre, food court, play place, arcade... I got a NZ hot dog and chips (NZ hot dog is a batter covered sausage but not like corndog batter, I quite like them actually).

Yesterday I traveled to Wellington via Ohakune (which has a giant carrot that I didn't get my camera out in time for), Taihape (gumboot capital of the world), and Bulls (a terribly pun-filled town). Got into Welly about 3~ish and went and met Ally and Kailah. Threw my stuff down in Ally's flat then we walked around town. They got tickets to a Tiki Taane concert and then we went to Te Papa, a really awesome museum. It's so overwhelmingly large and had a Bourne Identity-like wall. Sweet as.

Then it was raining so couldn't do much else so we went to Hell Pizza which they had never been too. It was attached to Syn Bar and we stayed for their quiz night and failed miserably in every round except the last, a picture round where you had to identify martial artists and the movies the picture was from. I knew quite a few of those. Then we basically went to bed (Ally and I) and Kailah went out to a gay bar. I was able to procure a mattress, sheets, and a blanket, and Ally's floor was quiet and dark. Yay.

So I am having a grand old time! Tomorrow I join the Magic Bus (which I could have done today, if I had only realised that of course they would change the departure time if the ferry was delayed...) Anyway, I leapt onto the Intercity which was about to leave and paid an extra $25 not to stand around in Picton for 4 hours. Because of the opportunity costs, it was well worth it.

Oct. 18 - Today I got on the Magic Bus and traveled to Greymouth, stopping at a cafe in Murchison, for lunch in Westport, at a place overlooking the Buller River, to walk the Truman Track, and at the Pancake Rocks. All pretty sweet as. We just got into Greymouth and when we got to the YHA the desk was temporarily closed. It's in this big old house and has a chapel. The keys are the old fashioned kind! I found a terry pratchett book in the book exchange and promptly ditched the book I picked up at the last hostel which was some shit. It's not a discworld novel, it's called "The Dark Side of the Sun" I hope it's alright. Well I'm going to be picked up for a brewery tour soon.

Oct. 19 - [A kayak trip I had put my name down for had seemed to be rained out.] It cleared up but the kayak trip didn't go because of not enough numbers. bleargh. So I was like. huh. what now? I saw there was a shuttle out to the glacier so I booked that for 4:45 (only $12). I was left with over an hour to kill... I just sort of read and stuff. Then got on the shuttle which was full of old British people. Couldn't really see much out there because of clouds and mist. I'm hoping it clears up for tomorrow or else my only option will be some indoor ice climbing. Well I did a few nice walks and took some pictures and came back and made my unsatisfying dinner. Victor and Mike are going out at 8 or 8:30 for dinner and drinks so I think I will join them and get a snack to supplement the crap I've been eating, blah. Let's just say I'm beginning to eye actual cheese with major envy.

You know how you start rock climbing and you use your arms way too much because you don't know what you're doing then you can't use your arms anymore? that's exactly what's happening to me right now. ice climbing was fun fun fun! you can throw your axes in just about anywhere and shove in your feet where you please. There is a technique to it which I learned pretty quickly. Apparently I was doing quite well but my arms were tiring out quickly. Also it was about -2 degrees in the climbing room.

Oct. 20 - Tonight I went to make dinner. I walked in the lounge and who should I see but Dave, a guy who was on my Stray bus the whole 6 days! It turns out he is on Magic Bus now too so I will traveling again with him tomorrow. It is so weird! Pretty much everyone in this hostel is on the Magic Bus and is leaving tomorrow. It is a nice hostel. They put the fire on!

Oct. 21 - I am in Queenstown after a LONG day on the bus. I think I will eat in tonight, and do Fergburger tomorrow night (though I'm tempted to just go now... and not have to worry about cooking. There was some major beauty going on today. I don't know what tonight will bring... but tomorrow, at 11 am, I will be canyoning! Supposedly, according to my guidebook, it is "the harrowing adventure to your hardcore prayer." So let's hope so.


For instance I jumped into a pool of water from a height of 6 or 7 meters. Went down a waterfall slide, scrambled over rocks, went down some rapids headfirst, through a chute, abseiled, ziplining, ziplined to when you stop then abseiling down from there and then when I wasn't too high up let go and fell in the water! OMGOMOGOGMOGMGOGM

Yep. One of the best things I have done, no question. That and caving were the HIGHLIGHTS of this little trip here. Those two things are indeed pretty similar! When I was faced with a 6 or 7 m jump... I had to get the guy to count me down just like in bungy. And for another jump as well. Works every time! I knew I HAD to do them of course (well obviously you didn't have to, there were other options but I would regret it if I didn't) but my brain was like NO NO NO NO JESUS CHRIST NO. But then it was AMAZING. On one of my jumps, you had to jump out pretty far and try to land on your butt, the guy before me didn't do it very well but I was rated 9/10 HIGH SCORE! lol. We absolutely MUST go canyoning or caving or BOTH!!! MUST!!!

Now I think I'll go get some well-deserved Ferg burger fries.

Oct. 23 - [got back to Dunners] Today I was busy with laundry, napping, hanging out with Amy, and with my Magic Bus friends. It is pretty sad that I will probably never see them again. I've found you make friends really fast when you're traveling because you know if you can enjoy traveling with them, you must really like them quite a lot. And so you can know someone for a week, and really know pretty much nothing about them, except that they're a really cool person who you have shared a great experience with. And where they're from and maybe what they do. Perhaps you can get a free place to stay in the Canary Islands, or Wales, or Germany, one day. You never know!

Anyway. So that's that. It feels cool to know that I know people all over the world now. Not just people from interesting places in the world like in college that live in the US but people who actually live all the time in those interesting places.

So tonight, I went to eat at Velvet Burger because Mike texted me saying that he and Victor weren't going to be back from a wildlife tour until 9. I tried e-mailing Dave to tell him about that but he didn't check it I guess and right after I went to Circadian Rhythm with Amy and played Guess Who, he texted me about dinner. So I went with him to the other Velvet Burger and we chatted. He had done the Cadbury and Speight's tours and didn't really want to go out later. Then I got another text from Mike around 9 saying they weren't going to be back until 9:30. So around that time I tried to find On Top Backpackers but it turned out to not be where I thought it was. But I saw the wildlife tour bus and followed it, and found the backpackers. I sat in the lounge to wait for Mike to change and Victor to get there and I saw and talked to the Dutch guy from my canyoning trip. Weird.

Then Mike, Victor, and a Korean guy, and I tried to find a place that was still open to eat - and ended up going to Velvet Burger. Hey I only actually ate there once. Though I stole some fries. After that we sat at Robbie Burns and listened to the live jazz and talked about Scottish man purses. Eventually Amy and Hannah joined us, followed by the really drunk Toroa girls. We played some telephone, and then decided to go to Stock Exchange because Robbie Burns was closing (around midnight). So we went there and danced, and it was good fun. We sang on the way, and wished there was karaoke. The Magic Bus guys left around 1 because they had to be on the bus in the morning, and Amy, Michelle, and I went to Monkey Bar (Hannah left and Michelle was at Stock Exchange). Oh I almost forgot about the pink-shirt guys, who came in and danced all around us. I was like 'is this suddenly a gay bar?' (not the first time I've wondered that about Stock Exchange, mind you?). So the Monkey Bar was pretty much dead and we only stayed so that Amy could finish her drink, then tried to leave but Amy decided to stay so Michelle and I left anyway.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Farewell Dinner and bizarreness

I went to the farewell dinner. It was nice seeing Jane and everybody. Bell Pepper Blues was supposed to be Dunedin's best restaurant, and it was indeed one of the best restaurants I have EVER been to!!! Had soup, mashed potatoes, chicken, salmon, beef, veges, potstickers, salad, and chocolate cake! So much food. Then I sat in Grange until Amy was ready to go out. I wanted some sparkling wine to be a little celebratory but couldn't find a small enough bottle lol. We went to Jenn's and hung out there a little then went downtown. We had to wait for Liam (some Kiwi friend of Jenn's) and Scott to get their IDs and during that time some people in a 3rd floor window threw water on us. Not much later we were hit with some water balloons. Then we really had to pee so Amy, Becky, and I went in South Bar to use the toilets. Amy's stall had literal semen in it. GROSS. Then we went to Stock Exchange cuz Amy had a bar tab. There was some fun dancing. I'm pretty sure I saw two trannies. Hot. I left around 2 am when Scott left so I could have someone to walk home with.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sinclair Wetlands; Brighton Beach

Austin and I had planned to do Silverpeaks or a similar day hike on 5 October, but I woke up with sore ankles for some reason, and so we did something flat instead. We looked up possibilities and discovered the Sinclair Wetlands, which are just out past the airport. So we went out and walked around out there. It was pretty cool, and looked a lot like the Dead Marshes. At one point we encountered a lamb and ewe on the path, and they ran away from us until we realised we had accidentally cornered them, and then we turned back because the ewe started hurling herself at a fence and I was afraid for their safety. After walking around there for a while, we made our way back to Dunedin. We had been thinking about checking out a waterfall on the map but our decision was made for us due to low petrol.

On the way back we stopped at Brighton which has a nice beach. There are really cool rock formations there. We walked around and played on the rocks, then walked down the beach. There was someone riding on the beach! We stepped in the hoofprints. It was a good time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

BBQ and more

Amy and I did go to Hell Pizza. I got a pizza with blue cheese, caramelised onions, tomatoes, and bacon. It usually comes with mushrooms, but you know how I feel about mushrooms. Then we went to a barbeque. Amy had led me to believe you were supposed to bring your own meat-ish stuff and only eat what you cooked, so that's why I agreed to eat pizza with her. It turned out there was heaps of food and everyone was sharing. Anyway, she left after not too long because she couldn't take the meat smell. I stayed and talked to one of Hannah's Kiwi friends Emma, who is in my anthropology class. Also to Michelle, Austin, and Hannah. Karin and Gavin showed up eventually. Then there was a fire. Then Amy came back. There were some marshmallows. It got chilly. Eventually Amy and I left, Grange was watching Apocalypto but I've seen it and we now don't like watching movies with them, more on that later. So we got a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire DVD game and the first season of The Office. We played the game some, it's Australian so not that easy, but still pretty fun. We'll be playing nonstop for a week, probably.

I went on some errands with Amy. First I turned in a survey to Uni Flats and got a free candy bar. Then to the post office, where I mailed off my ballot and got a texting top-up. Next to the Med Library where I dropped off books, then the regular lib for more (on the way stopping at the Museum Cafe to get fresh-squeezed OJ).

Last night I first went to Amy's because I wanted to DO SOMETHING because I had just finished my paper. Grange was watching Black Sheep and had invited us, but didn't bother to text us when they were going to start. So we asked them but they had already started it. Amy has a thing about starting movies in the middle apparently (well, I totally get that, I can't do it either) and didn't want to go, plus was kind of mad they didn't text her because they did that last week too I guess. Eventually they persuaded us to come by telling us they would start over. So we get there and they're all pretty drunk, and they have the movie paused 30 minutes in and weren't actually planning to restart it. They also talked through the whole thing.

Anyway, we thought they would do something after that, but instead they started playing House of the Dead. So we left to search for something interesting to do. No one was out and all the bars were closing (this was slightly before midnight). It was really balmy and warm and lovely. But it was so lame. We found a Christian group who had set up Sing Star in the street. But this one girl from the group talked to us and by the time we were finished talking to her they had packed up the game :( So we wandered. It was cloudy so we couldn't stargaze. I really wanted to walk to the beach but Amy's not much of a walking long distances person and the beach is pretty far away.

We eventually ended up going to see Hannah, who was doing homework. Outside of her house someone had spray painted "Fish?" on the sidewalk. Down the street a ways, some guys were sitting on the sidewalk and we were sort of concerned but then it appeared they were all fine, and they said hi to us, but we went in Hannah's for probably an hour. When we came out the guys were still there, and were like 'hey look it's our friends' and we found out they were playing Risk. On the street. Kind of neat actually, it was nice enough out. Walking down Leith street we caught a nasty whiff of fish, and soon after saw a disgusting dead fish in the street. So, that was my Thursday night.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Bowler karaoke

After tacos, I did a tiny bit of work then went over to Amy's. We went down to Martina's birthday party (it was in the downstairs of Amy's flat) and there was some good dessert type food, yum. Then we headed out to The Bowler through the pouring rain. At first it looked like only Michelle and Hannah were coming. Amy and I sang "Complicated" and then all 4 of us sang "Wannabe" and "I Want it That Way". Karin, Gavin, Austin, Becky, and Ali showed up, then Gavin sang "Temperature" and it was one of the most hilarious moments ever. Later I sang "Candy Shop", which was also hilarious and fantastic (I actually know the words so I am pretty good at it). I got a video of Gavin doing Temperature but no one got a video of me doing Candy Shop.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The prediction

Last night, Amy convinced me to take time out from work and play. We went to Becky's to see what was going on there. On the way this drunk guy tried to get us to drink out of his half-finished bottle of beer. We were like, no thanks. He was very insistent, and said 'it's a Māori custom! Part of a pōwhiri!' and I was like 'no, it's not' and he was like 'you're probably going to die in New Zealand.' Not much later we were waiting outside of Becky's flat for her to let us in and this guy and his friends (same guy) tried to follow us inside but we got Becky to slam the door in his face and lock it. It was a little unnerving. We hung out with Becky and her Turkish flatmate Ali and his friend whose name I can't spell (Casca?). Apparently the Casca guy hit 6 airports on his way to NZ, and was 'randomly searched' in 5 of them. Luckily he actually sees it as proper to target specific people for searches because of the current political situation, but he doesn't like that they disguise it as 'random.' Then we went to the Bowler to watch a rugby game which was boring so Amy and I went to McDonald's to get fries and shortly afterwards the people we had been with came in McDonald's. Ali got mad because they made him take off his hat for security reasons: but they were making every guy take off their hats (but not girls! according to our social experiment where Brianna wore a hat) but he was not willing to recognize that. Anyway, Amy and I left and went to Grange where we talked for a little while and I burned my inner thigh with hot tea.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A tiny bit about the Sexy Harry Potter Party

Why is that not on here already? Oh well...

My costume and the party was a smashing success! I did almost all 21 things (didn't take a shot, or punch a stranger, or be in opposite land, or high-five someone I didn't like) on my list. It was fun, though a little too cold for my outfit. The top was quite precarious! But stayed on. Everyone liked my costume.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Epic Catlins Day Trip

We rented a car and left at about 8 in the morning on 20 September to be at a horse trek at 10. Hannah drove. It turned out to take a lot less time to drive to Owaka than we thought, so we first went down to Surat Bay. We could see the beach in the distance and were walking along a river to get to it. However, we found out we wouldn't have enough time to make it there and turned back. But not before seeing some pretty scenery:

We then went to Te Taunga Farm for our horse trek. It turned out they only took cash but they were willing to let us get it afterwards. We were first matched up with our horses. I was on a horse named Vachi, a 15.3hh TB/Clydesdale cross mare.

We then walked out into their fields. We went up a big hill, with some magnificent views along the way. Hannah and I got to split off from the others a couple of times to canter.
rollings hills
sheep and lambs

view of Cannibal Bay and Surat Bay
Here you can see Cannibal Bay and Surat Bay.

Here's everyone on horseback (except you can't really see Amy that well).

After the horseback ride, some of us had to go into town to use an ATM. Owaka is really tiny and we couldn't actually find a bank. Instead, we bought stuff at the supermarket and got cash out. We went back and paid and then headed out for Cathedral Caves. We got there, only to find them closed due to high seas. So we went on to the next destination, which was McLean Falls. It was down a long unsealed road in the middle of a farm. We walked down a Jurassic-park like path covered in ferns to get to a little waterfall.

"are we in Jurassic Park?"
Jurassic Park?

small waterfall

We said, ooh, a waterfall! Then noticed the path went up. We thought, oh, maybe to get a better view? And you're damned right, there was a better view.

McLean Falls

We went out on the actual waterfall, and it was fun.

After that, we worked our way back towards Nugget Point. First we did a 5 minute walk at Lake Wilkie. We then went to Purakaunui Falls, the more well-known but less impressive Catlins waterfall (okay, there are lots of Catlins waterfalls). After that we stopped at Tunnel Hill, an old hand-carved railroad tunnel. We had forgotten torches, but when presented with this tunnel, we thought, let's walk through it! At first I was keen on it, but about 2 meters in I realised it was going to be really terrifying. We went through anyway, using camera flashes to light the way. It was really dark, and I was terrified. We made it out and I was not sure I could walk back through - but I had to, there was nowhere to go on the other side. And so, that fear was not at all conquered, but I got some spooky as pictures.

We then went to Kaka Point and sat in a cafe with a whole bunch of bikers and had coffee/hot chocolate. Then went over to Nugget Point just in time for the sunset. It was so beautiful - Amy proposed to me, jokingly. We went to nearby Roaring Bay to look for penguins, and sure enough they were right there on the beach!

We made our way back to Dunedin and returned the rental car, and failed at finding somewhere to eat. It was a good day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Weekend in Wanaka

Friday, 12 September:

We (Karin, Becky, Brianna, Brianna's sister Nicole, and I) headed out at about 3. Just before this, Amy and I had attempted to book our stopover, with limited (aka no) success (for some unknown reason it was going to be much more expensive for her than for me). We began coming into the area of Central Otago, and at this point the scenery was getting really beautiful. I took out my camera, naturally. I went to turn it on - and nothing happened. I thought, well shit, I just recharged these batteries, maybe they've had it. Just to check, I put Nicole's batteries (which were definitely working) in, and pressed the on button. Nothing. I think a little piece of me might have died a little right then. Just think: a whole weekend with no camera, or maybe just a disposable camera, which is pretty much the same thing. I knew Wanaka was supposed to be gorgeous, but without being able to take hundreds of pictures, how would it be? It certainly felt different. I had to make every memory count. We arrived in town around 7 and got bunks at the Lakefront Holiday Park ($18 a night). We then went to New World to get dinner supplies: pasta, sauce, bacon, garlic bread; the essentials. We made a nice shared meal and called it an early night.

Saturday, 13 September:

I woke up and had a kiwifruit and porridge, which was apparently a mistake. I almost immediately got some terrible indigestion, and we were supposed to be doing a day hike. We compromised and did Puzzling World first. It was fantastic. There were holograms, illusion rooms, and a giant maze which Karin and I rocked. I felt kind of terrible at times but still had fun. Then we went back to New World so I could get saltines and ginger beer. After eating those, I felt fine. We then went on the Minaret Burn track up until the beach. It was beautiful, and relatively gently sloped. It was a nice 3-4 hour walk. We then went back to the rooms and went out to eat at Red Burger. We came back and waited a little while before going to watch the All Blacks game at a bar. But by this time I had lost the battle against sleep and didn't feel like going out, so I got a shower and slept, along with Becky.

Sunday, 14 September:

We had booked a horse trek for 1:30 or so, but hadn't made plans for the morning. We drove down to the lakefront. Becky and I wanted to rent an aqua bike or something but it was dreadfully windy, so we just hung out by the beach instead. I climbed a tree, and called my parents to see if I could replace my camera ASAP (it was a go). Eventually we drove out to the horse trek. It was a 2-hour one, on Appaloosas in Western saddles. I rode a horse named Wattie (not named after the food company, btw) who was pretty cool. Brianna and I were the only experienced riders. We rode in the back. Sometimes the beginners got to trot; Brianna and I held back and cantered to catch up. I got to jump over a small rock and Wattie did a little happy-to-be-running buck. Later Brianna's overcoat that they gave us dropped off her saddle and Wattie did a side leap. I lost a stirrup but nothing else. It was a really awesome time. It was in the beautiful Cardrona Valley. We rode all the way to the Cardrona Ski Field road. We could see the ski field, and Crown Peak. Sweet as! Oh yes, and that morning, Karin ran over her glasses in the car. So basically there was a bunch of bad luck, but it was still a fantastic weekend. Becky drove home. Wanaka is, indeed, one of the most beautiful places ever. I did replace my camera on Monday (couldn't go any longer without) and will be going back through Wanaka briefly in a couple of weeks. So there should be pictures.

Long Beach

The Saturday after going to Sandfly Bay (Sept. 6) Austin drove Hannah, Amy, Michelle, and I out to Long Beach which is on the north side of the harbour. It is very pretty, and there are caves and places to rock climb there. It was even warm enough to sunbathe for part of the time! I collected some shells, too.

We did some bouldering, and checked out the main, big cave. Hannah, Austin, and I crawled into a little space, and that was cool. I also checked out the second cave, which is very rectangular.

Long Beach

in the cave


After we started getting sort of cold, we drove to Aramoana after unsuccessfully searching for New Zealand's tallest tree. Aramoana is across the harbour from Taiaroa Head, so by the tip of the peninsula. There is a long pier-like thing at the beach there, and we walked out to the end.


IMG_5278 (Small)


There were people riding on the beach!

This was another fun day trip.

Sandfly Bay

One gorgeous early spring afternoon (September 2 to be exact) I had the pleasure of going to Sandfly Bay with Liisa, Gavin, Amy, and Becky, Amy's sister, who was visiting for a little while. Liisa drove, and it was sunny with gorgeous views over the harbour nearly the whole way. We passed over a long, bumpy, unsealed (aka unpaved) road and I realised why the bus driver was right about walking there from Portobello a while ago: it would have been nearly impossible, or at least very unpleasant. The first thing you encounter at Sandfly Bay is a fence, because you have to walk through sheep pastures to get to the beach. The sheep clearly have a good view:

There is also a sign warning you that it's not a good idea to collect shellfish there. I wonder what that means for the sea lions?

Anyway, you go down a bit of a hill to a viewing platform. Here's a taste of the view that will greet you:

A little further downhill takes you to another gate. On the way to that gate we saw some lambs, which I eagerly took tons of pictures of.
Hello! I'm an adorable lamb!

Just after the gate you descend a steep sand dune to the beach. It was great fun running down, as you can tell in this photo.

The beach is breathtaking, and on this day was full of sea lions. Perhaps you have a perception of sea lions as adorable and cuddly. So did I, until I came into close proximity with them. They are huge. Intimidatingly so. And, as I learned from a sign at the top of the hill, they are very territorial and not afraid of humans. So if they feel you are encroaching upon their territory, they might attack you. Therefore, none of us were particularly keen on walking around and through these living land mines.

However, we found a DOC guy who offered to show us through the sea lions (we had to get to the end of the beach to see penguins) and assured us that it was quite safe. Here are some shots that will give you a sense of the size and proximity of the sea lions.

sweet dreams
happy family

sleeping couple

As you can also see, most of them were sleeping. We made it through without incident, and got to the penguin viewing hide. It wasn't long before the DOC guy pointed out penguins atop the hill to the left:
waiting for their mates

We waited a bit longer, and finally a penguin (these are yellow-eyed penguins, or hoiho) came onto the beach.
penguin tracks

High tide was coming in and the sun was setting, so we made our way back down the beach.


Along the way we spotted 3 young sea lions playing in the waves:
playing in the waves
a roar

Finally, we reached the far end of the beach and the colours were truly amazing.

It was a great afternoon.

Other beautiful sights: