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: