Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sunshine and Blue Skies!

I am in a super good mood today, despite not getting my riding boots in, because it was such a nice day! Plus, break is pretty much on now! I am leaving for Christchurch then Rangiora in the morning. I took my Māori test and passed it 100%, I also got back the paper for that class, another 100%. So I will at least get a 30 in the class. Today after classes/chores I walked through the Botanic Gardens to check out the aviary. It was quite cool. There was a bird saying "hello. what's up doc?" and I got a video but can't really upload it.

-pics in later- social life calls. (err, texts).

Monday, August 18, 2008

An Uneventful Week

After Monday, the weather was bad. I also had to write an essay for Gender Studies. I also found out my exam schedule. My personal last day of classes is October 9, and my first exam is October 29. There is absolutely no way I can study for that long, and so I have taken it upon myself to plan a nice trip during that time. I also booked my WWOOFing and hung out with Amy a lot. The internet in my flat stopped working. It's really annoying. On Saturday I was supposed to have a kayaking trip but it was postponed, and due to not having next Saturday free I cannot do it until October 8th. So I could have gone to the Catlins with Karin and co., oh well. Amy showed a double feature at her flat - When Harry Met Sally and The Graduate. That was cool. Then we went out to the Monkey Bar with Michelle, I with my new outfit from Refind Rig, which is a super cool store. I haven't really done anything yesterday or today since the weather is so shit as and everyone else is working. If it was nice out I would have just gone somewhere, but it's really unpleasant and hailing.

My traveling for the first bit of exams is all booked! I will be flying to Auckland on October 10th, then doing the Stray Peter Pass, then taking the Interislander Ferry to Picton and doing Magic Bus' Wild West Coast Plus pass. I am planning to take an extra day in Franz Josef, and possibly one in Queenstown, depending on how much I feel I could afford. I am really excited!

As for this week, I have an online exam for Māori Society on Thursday. I will then be taking the Atomic Shuttle to Christchurch Friday morning. The family I am staying with will pick me up there, and then it's off to Rangiora for about a week of working on a horse farm. In fact, the accommodation is 'in the stable block' and I am taking that to mean I'll be living in a barn. Then on Thursday the 28th, I will get a ride back to Christchurch and spend the day there. Friday morning I will take the Intercity bus to Picton, where I will be picked up by Jane and Daryl for the Abel Tasman weekend! That involves hiking and kayaking, and should be great fun. I am getting a ride home from Becky and Karin.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Out on a Friday; Carisbrook; Evil Universe; Lovely Monday

I did indeed go see The Escapist with Amy, Gavin, Karin, Liisa, and Tex. It was alright, sort of hard to follow (hard to understand low, mumbling, Irish accents), but interesting in the end. We then headed back to 48 Grange to warm up again. Michelle and Hannah joined Amy, Gavin, and I for a night on the town. We wandered towards the Octagon, stopping for a veggie wrap from a Turkish cafe for Amy and wedges at the 24 for me (and wine for Hannah). When we got to the Octagon we realized no one at all was out on a cold, sleeting Friday (Friday isn't a big party night here anyway, somehow). So we defaulted to the Monkey Bar, of course, which always has at least a few first years awkwardly grinding all over each other. It was fun, and we saw a super crazy awkward dancing guy fall on top of this girl who is apparently pretty psycho (and slutty) and you shouldn't feel sorry for her. It was pretty hilarious, especially when the guy moved a slight distance away and started dancing again!

Saturday I went to a rugby match with Amber, Kate, Alex, Becky, Stacy, and Brianna. It was regional teams, Otago vs Canterbury. We decided to walk to Carisbrook, it isn't that far and there didn't seem to be other free options. It was actually warm and sunny for most of the walk. The match was fairly fun to watch, though it rained and got colder. But we saw a rainbow! Otago lost. There were a lot of little kids running around beating each other with signs that fans hold. Later I went to Toroa to watch Much Ado About Nothing with Becky, Amber, Kate, Brianna, and Stacy. I bought and consumed an entire 250g bar of dark chocolate (later I felt kind of sick!). After that, I went to Amy's flat and talked to her until 4 in the morning.

Sunday was the day the universe was against me. First, there was a texting mishap, wherein Amy's text didn't reach me and my text didn't reach her. So we both thought we got ditched by the other, since we had planned to do something together. I ended up sleeping in and talking to Jeff for a long time. Later, I tried to get biscuits at Coupland's, but the internet lied about when they closed. So I ended up walking up the second they decided they were closed, and though there were other customers inside and someone went in right before me, they wouldn't let me in. I went and played Phase 10 with Amy later.

Today was sunny and lovely. I went to the supermarket and Coupland's (though some ladies took the donuts I wanted). Walked back through the Gardens and noticed the duck pond. Amy texted me saying she would prefer the art gallery at 2 (it was that or the gardens) so I ate a quick lunch and got back to the duck pond at about 1. The info centre gives you free duck feed. So I got some and fed ducks for 45 minutes. It was a lovely time. Then I met Amy at the Link at 2 and we stopped by the Cambodian place on George so she could get lunch; I had a ginger beer. We went to the Public Art Gallery, it was neat. Some nice European paintings, and some weird modern art. The lighting in there is pretty terrible though, gives a lot of glare. On the way back we stopped at Trade Aid and the pharmacy. I got earrings and chocolate at Trade Aid (hey, it's free trade and was 20% off) and I got 'Immunofort' at the pharmacy. It's basically a multivitamin, with emphasis on immune system boosters. I've been wanting to try vitamins, and I sort of want to see if I can make do with taking less medicine. Maybe natural stuff is for me! I really need to call the people I want to WWOOF with, but I am just kind of nervous to call anyone, let alone a Kiwi family I don't know. I keep hoping they'll respond to my e-mail. As for now, I'll wait until tomorrow and then definitely call (of course, that's what I said yesterday...). I need to go do an essay.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Week in Review

My week, briefly:

Monday: did chores, including the supermarket, and getting more power for the flat, and reading for classes and uploading pictures. I also made venison burgers, which I am quite proud of.

Tuesday: Had classes and saw Teeth at Regent. It was good! Had Māori Language, which is always cool.

Wednesday: Watched an interesting video in Anthropology of Health about a woman who had this weight loss program to turn to God instead of food. Finished my first piece in Bone Carving, for Jeff, and got a good way through the one I'm doing for my mom. Pretty awesome. I feel pretty accomplished in that respect. I rushed to Regent to see The Wave after bone carving. It was fairly good. Went to Velvet Burger afterwards, yum.

Thursday: Had classes, then had to rush dinner to make a Speight's Brewery tour. It, too, was $14, much like Cadbury is. However, it was a much more interesting tour! They actually taught us how the beer-making process works, and had interesting anecdotes (like they make an extra 50,000 litres for Orientation Week!). Afterwards you had 20 minutes to taste beer, and could have as much as you wanted. My friends took the opportunity to drink as much as they possibly could in that amount of time, to 'get their money's worth' but I just sampled everything and discovered that adding lemonade (aka lemon italian soda, more or less) to beer makes it good. Then I went with Karin, Tex, and Gavin to Jenn's party which was Olympic themed but didn't end up being as all-out Olympics style as we imagined. I went to the Bowler after that with Brianna, Kate, Helen, and Amber, and we listened to a live band and then danced when the others showed up, but Brianna and I left pretty early.

Friday: The weather is terrible (unlike yesterday which was beautiful and warm). It's sleeting/hailing and cold. I went out for toilet paper, which we have not had in our flat for several days. I went into Glasson's which was a mistake because then I wanted to buy everything in there, they have such cute clothes. I'm looking for a cute dress or skirt, but not having luck because I'm looking to pay, you know, $20, and I'm finding stuff for about $50. Time to hit the opshops, I guess. I plan to see The Escapist at 8:30 at Regent (my last film festival movie).

Tomorrow I may be going to the farmer's market, and will definitely be going to Carisbrook for a rugby match. It's Dunedin vs. Canterbury. I guess our local team is the Highlanders? Not sure what level they are. Sunday: who knows? Somewhere with Amy, perhaps.

Monday, August 4, 2008

QT Activity Weekend

This past weekend, Arcadia students at Otago and one from Canterbury went to Queenstown for our included activity weekend. Jane actually lives there, so she met us there. We were bused over in an Otago Explorer bus, stopping at Roxburgh for lunch. Roxburgh doesn't have much in it except the famous Jimmy's Pies. And boy, are they delicious! More expensive than your usual pie, but only by a dollar or two and the difference in taste is astounding. I got mince and cheese and a Frank's Damn Tasty Ginger Beer.

Central Otago, which we drove through, is beautiful, much like all of New Zealand. It has striking rock formations everywhere in this one stretch.

An attempt to capture Central Otago's scenery through a fogged-up bus window.

We arrived in Queenstown at our accomodation, the Lakeview Holiday Park. We checked into our rooms and met up not long after to walk to the Skyline Gondola. We went up it to where you get on the luge. Here's an example of the view from the gondola:

In that shot you can see most of Queenstown and a bit of Lake Wakatipu. At the top we stopped at a lovely viewing platform:
viewing platform

We then got to go on the luge, which was 3 wheeled plastic carts that you could steer and brake. Here's the luge track:
luge tracks
The luge was pretty fun.

We were on our own for dinner. We got tramping snacks at the Fresh Choice supermarket and Becky and I went to Fergburger for dinner. It was quite good, though not as good as Dunedin's own Velvet Burger. The last thing that happened before sleep was that a random guy wandered into our room, acting like he was on drugs. It was weird because two of the girls were just coming in from seeing Dark Knight, so we thought they had brought him, but they thought we had met him. Quite awkward indeed. It took several minutes to get him out of the room.

On Saturday morning all but three of us (who went to Coronet Peak to ski/snowboard) had to be out and ready by 7:45. We took the bus out to Routeburn Shelter, which is the start of the Routeburn Track. The track begins with a swing bridge - the first of many.

One of the many swing bridges.

The track then goes through a lovely forest, going gently up and down. After the first couple hours, we took a morning tea break. The trees were tiny and it felt like Lord of the Rings. We then went off-piste (off the track) for a bit, into a stunning valley.

through the valley
Walking through the valley.

We got back on the track and it started going up steeply.

There were sheer cliff faces, and stunning views. Eventually we got to the Routeburn Falls Hut and ate lunch. It was, in fact, near a waterfall.

IMG_3696 (Small)
The hut

Routeburn Falls
The falls

After the break at the hut, some of us went up further. We left our packs at the hut. We were now past the treeline and there was snow. It was some fun hiking and amazing scenery.

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IMG_3739 (Small)
A neat little rock cave

big rock against a nearly blue sky
Lake Harris
We got all the way to Lake Harris.

postcard view

As you can see, this was a magnificent hike. It was 26km in all (about 14 miles). That night we went to Winnie Bago's to get delicious pizza and then watched the All Blacks game (we won against Australia, by a lot).

The next morning we went jetboating on the Shotover River. Then we had lunch in Queenstown (again at Fergburger) and then stopped by Arrowtown for 20 minutes. Arrowtown was an old goldmining town, and the site of at least one LOTR scene.

LOTR site alert
This is where they filmed a scene of Frodo and Arwen crossing a river, chased by Nazgul.

After that, we went to the Kawarau Bridge, which is the original bungy site (first commercial site in the world). Three of us (Kate, Stacy, and I) went to bungy. We got weighed and our weight (in kilos) was written on our hands. We then went straight out to the bridge, where they put the same harnesses you rock climb in on us. Kate was first up, and surprised me with her boldness. At this point I was cussing and wondering what I'd gotten myself into, and thinking I would never have the courage to jump off a bridge. Stacy was reassuring me it would be great, until she was actually up to jump and then she was like "holy crap!" but she didn't hesitate, either. Then it was my turn. They had me sit down while they wrapped a towel around my ankles and wrapped a cord around that. That got attached to the bungy cord, and so did the harness for a backup. Then I was instructed to waddle to the edge (legs were bound together, remember). I took the tiniest steps possible and held onto the building as long as I could. Then the guy told me to pretend not to be scared and wave at the camera. Then, it seemed like everything was going too fast, and he said "ok, jump on 1" and counted down from 5. My mind was thinking "no, I need more time to think about this!" but instead of that happening, when he said one it was like I had to jump, my body made me, it definitely wasn't my mind which was still terrified. So I jumped.

leap of faith

It was fantastic. It was such an incredible rush, not like anything I've ever felt before. So much fun. After a few bounces, guys in a raft came to get me, but first asked me what 12 times 3 was. Anyway, I was thoroughly happy and buzzing on adrenalin for hours after that. We made our way home, stopping by Lawrence to get dinner on the way. Dunedin was sort of disappointing after such a fantastic weekend, but oh well.