Monday, May 2

Oh, and if I didn't tell you before...

Over Easter break I went to the North Island for a week. I have to go to class, but I will write about it by Friday...TTFN

I have a lot of writing to do...So, lets go back in time.

Here is the info about the Tongariro Crossing that I did on April 30, 2011.

The super long 9 hour hike. Yes, it was 9 hours. It is actually scheduled to be 10 hours but I managed (with some Austrian friends I met) to do it in 9. From 7:15AM to 4:23PM. I hiked all the way up mount doom...which is just like the name. You are supposed to start the hike (which is two hours in to the 18K trail) by 9:15AM and we started it at 9:13AM. It takes 1.5 to 2 hours to clamber up and only a half hour (or less) to get down. It is windy as hell (70 knots), has lava rocks that are really slippery (just a ton of them like take one step forward and slide two feet back) and sharp. There is no track up mount doom. You create your own, up 600 vertical meters. All you have to remember is that you are not guided and if you fall you need to get your own help. So, I managed to make it up without falling to my death or losing anything permanently. I did lose both my hat and sunglasses due to the wind, but managed (with the help of kind people) to find them. The Austrians that I was hiking with helped me crawl and puff my way up to the top. They then rummaged in their bags and pulled out a Corona each and a self rolled smoke to toast to their success. They offered me a sip of beer but I knew I had to get down and hike the rest of the day. They told me is was only the FIRST BEER and that they had another set when we finished the trail at 3:30. Good god. Imagine carrying enough water (approx 1.5L) to keep you hydrated for the day AND a pair of beers in glass bottles. They were nuts. We had a good time getting down and making it to safety. The wind was blowing so hard in the end that large pieces of gravel (larger than sand) were being whipped into our faces and it felt like someone was shooting bbs at us. My face was dirty, my hair filled with dirt (I had to wash it twice after soaking it and scrubbing with my fingernails), even my ears had dirt in them from that dang wind. It was tough, but I got through it. Everything was a piece of cake from there. We climbed up, up, up through another saddle in the mountain range and down over the other side. The down part was the best! At about 1PM we were able to stop for lunch at the wicked cool spot where there were green/blue glacial pools (that smelled of sulfur) and found an awesome spot out of the wind to eat lunch. I have photos, but am too exhausted to put them up or download them or anything. I can hardly write this e-mail! :P Anywho, after lunch we went up one more tricky bit and then it was smooth sailing from then on! We walked down down down through the patches of snow with a nice cool breeze at our backs. We had fun making the trip go faster by throwing snowballs and talking about life. We made it to the final rest stop (a hut for those making a longer trek) and spent a half hour resting in the sunshine shielded from the wind. The final beers came out and we polished them off with ease. The Austrians didn't have the time pressure that I did to catch a bus at 4:30 and I realized that I was running a half hour late. So, I decided to RUN for a half hour to catch up with everyone else and to make it to the bus on time. I did it, but was pretty tired and gritty. I was lucky enough to stop by a stream and rinse my face off with glacial water which made the trip down fun. I made it to the bus with seven minutes to spare and was pretty darn tired. Overall it was a great day. I have an invite to Austria for skiing, and am very happy camper. This was probably the coolest day on the North Island and now I have to go to bed because of it. Tired and have to catch a bus in the morning. Will sleep like the dead.



Monday, April 4


Today it is raining and cold-ish here. I am able to get by without
wearing a winter coat and just wearing my nice fall wool one. I am
glad that you had a great weekend with friends partying it up. I
spent the whole weekend recovering from soccer and mass amounts of
schoolwork. I have managed to get through quite a bit and plan on
surfing with Amelia and her boyfriend on Wednesday.
This week I am very excited because we finally are allowed to walk
around more of the campus. This seemed like a pain before the
earthquake because there are so many paths, but now I understand why
they are there! It used to take me 10 minutes to walk from the bus
stop to the main area of tents where lectures are held. Now, with
more paths and walkways open it only takes me 5. This is a big help
because now I hate walking. I walk 15-20 minutes to the bus-stop, 10
minutes on campus to get to class, 10 minutes to get back to the
bus-stop, and another 10-20 minutes after soccer practice from the
bus-stop to Michelle's house at 8:30 at night. This accounts for me
wasting at least an hour every single day. It isn't as bad as driving
to school, but I spend a lot more time walking and waiting then I
normally do driving to class. It is just a different lifestyle that I
am not enjoying as much. I love it down here and I don't mean to
complain, but today is such a crappy day and walking in the rain is
not very much fun.
I am working my butt off for soccer and am relieved to know that
practices are reduced from two to one day a week. This seems lame
that I'm so lazy, but they are from 6-8pm at night...and it gets cold
when the sun goes down. So that means that I have to walk back in a
dark park all sweaty and hungry. It just makes for a super long day.
The girls that I play with are very nice and enjoy having me on the
team. They all came to the scrimmage yesterday hungover from some
massive party the night was noon when the scrimmage
started and they all looked like they were in a massive amount of
pain. Near the end they managed to get themselves out of their
hungover state and were joking about the antics that happened the
night before. I did not partake in those festivities, but perhaps in
the future something fun (and safe) might occur. I am quite rusty
from not playing for some time, and hope that I can make it back to
the standard that I was once at. I have to learn to shoot and float
the ball again...But the good news is that the soccer cleats that I
bought down here work, they haven't destroyed my feet and my knees are
holding up well. I am currently covered with black and blue marks
from playing for 4 hours this weekend in scrimmages...but I can still
Michelle has been busy getting ramped up for her new job. She loves
gardening and has been monopolizing the quake devastation on the
nurseries by buying a TON of cheap plants. They are all currently in
their little pots in the backyard...potted and waiting for her when
she has time. She says that she will get them all in the ground, but
her mom and I are quite skeptical. She reminds me of Grandma in that
sense....planning and starting a huge project that just gets pushed
aside when she gets busy.
Oh well, its her life. Now I'm waiting for my class to begin at
Uni...stuck inside like a billion other students in the 3-4 buildings
with computers and places to sit to study. Everyone here is focused
though, so it is actually productive unlike the Libraries in the US.

Well, hope the week goes well! I can't wait to come home to the
Northern Sunshine and 4th of July antics!

Saturday, March 26


Today was a new day. Yesterday we said goodbye to Hanae (the japanese study abroad student living with Michelle). It was so sad to see her sob at the airport when we had to say goodbye. The house is very quiet without the 4'10" bouncyball to welcome you home. Michelle is going away this weekend and i will have the house to myself. She plans on stopping by a friends and "just looking" at a pair of female kittens...I am sure that she'll come home with them.
I went out to the mall after class/two online lectures and shopped. I feel much better after yesterday's fever/sore throat/dry cough fiasco. I think that going to the two hour soccer practice literally ran it out of me. It was great because then I can actually focus on school now. Not that I wasn't before, but I just have a lot more energy. I also went bed early and naturally woke up at 6 am and couldn't fall asleep. So I got up and got ready for the day. I made it to the bus without running any of the 15-20 minute walk through the park. it is getting colder outside...I have to wear a fall coat in the mornings and late in the evenings. This is fine because I am sick of being hot all the time! The sun still shines and I is really nice during the middle of the day. The oak leaves are changing color and it reminds me slightly of home. No matter what I do to try and explain it to people. No one knows where Lake Superior or Minnesota is on a map. So they don't understand the vastness of the lake or the climate that I come from. so I give up and say that I'm from Canada. Everyone thinks I sound canadian anyways. Oh well. I'll run with it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Dear All,

My classes are going just fine. I had a good time on my marine biology field trip to Kaikoura where we went snorkeling for about a half hour, looking through a microscope for about 3 hours a day (for 3 days), and walked along the tide pools for about 2 hours. I don't like plankton anymore (both zoo and phytoplankton) because we had to look at it under the microscope and identify it for so dang long. Otherwise I had a good time. I met some people who seem like they'll be a good crowd to hang out with (they know where I can get my hands on some horses)!

My other class that I have physically attended is Maori Cultural Studies class. In this one your dad would be super interested in the native culture down here. They love to eat, tell stories, and stick their tongues out. JK. We have only had four lectures about navigation, origins of the Maori people, and oral traditions. So, it is interesting, but there is going to be a bitch of a test at the end of the year. All of our classes have a final that counts for 50-65% of our grade. We also don't have a lot of tests due to the time crunch that the earthquake provided to fit in more tests and assignments, so everything that I do counts for a TON of my overall grade. (MAORI STUDIES IS THE MOST INTERESTING CLASS SO FAR)

Anywho, I have evolution and Antarctic studies (more of a geology class than I anticipated), which are cool except that they're all online. This means that I have to find them, download them, watch them and take notes all on my own. I have the motivation, but sometimes downloading them is so frustrating because the formats that they have them in don't work with the slow internet that I have so they constantly stop and buffer every 2-3 minutes. You would understand what I'm going through with the netflix buffer capacity at your house. So, thats when I go into school and use one of their computers to try and get a faster internet connection.

All the classes are work, but not too much busy work, just trying to keep up and not get behind. I was kinda screwed because we went on the marine biology field trip when the other classes were just getting started online, so I missed about 2 lectures in one day. So, I've been trying to play catchup. I also have 3 papers already assigned and have to be working on them constantly. Piled on top of reading the one textbook that I actually own at this point, I'm kinda stressed. So, to counteract that and to force myself to get outside I have joined the soccer club. We play 3 times a week in a competitive league. I haven't actually been to one of the practices yet, but I'm excited for the scrimmage that I have tomorrow. I forgot to bring any of my stuff down here, but I managed to buy boots for about 80 US dollars, and shinguards and socks for about 50. They will fortunately provide a shirt and I brought one pair of soccer shorts down with me. That was the most important piece because running shorts down here are $65 NZ dollars. THATS EXPENSIVE!!!

I'm sorry I haven't been updating my blog, I've just been busy trying to catch up with school and not be tied to the computer the entire day. It really sucks to have to look at a screen all day long and send e-mails to professors instead of asking them face to face. Overall, I would much prefer to just be able to go to class...even if it is at 8AM.

Thursday, March 10

Adventures Galore!

So, after I got back from my awesome adventure on the upper half of the Southern Island Amelia proposed that we head south for the remainder of the time before school starts. So, we went to the Catlins to see lots of wildlife.

Yesterday we decided that we needed to travel and headed south to Dunedin. We (Amelia and I) bought a tent while we were travelling before and are now camping. We froze last night and had to wake up to shove clothing down our nice 15 degree sleepingbags in order to keep warm. Today we had a lethargic day of our own. We went shopping after attempting to get free internet from Starbucks. Unfortunately, our information about free internet was false and we just ended up spending money on coffee. Whatever. We went shopping after that because we just about froze last night in the tent. I bought a new dress and a pair of cheap long underwear. I could've spent more, but I didn't.

Sorry for the lack of updates but here is only this super small Internet cafe in this vast wilderness. I am jealous about the fresh snow that fell all day. It has been raining here often and I finally got a warm sleep last night by cramming all of the clothes I brought down my sleeping bag with me in it. I woke this morning to the noise of a small yapping dog, but was informed by Amelia that it was really the couple next door having super loud sex. Bleh.

It has been super cold down here. I have been wearing long underwear and warm clothes all the time. The only reason I was outside at all is because we went birding and saw a ton of really cool birds including giant albatross and penguins! We also saw seals on the beaches with their pups. They were so cute!!! I guess we also saw some midget dolphins this morning. They look really strange and I will attempt to surf this evening with hem. They are supposed to be super curious, and I can't wait to see them up close!!

So, an update. After I left the internet to go surfing. There are Hector's dolphins in the bay and we saw them that morning. The nicest thing happened. As we were surfing the dolphins came within two feet of us!!! :D I couldn't believe my eyes! There were four of them and they were swimming around me as I was floating on my surfboard. One brushed my foot as it swam under me. I really had an awesome time surfing for about 3 hours. The only reason I was able to last that long was because the wetsuit that I rented came with these super nice booties that kept my feet warm. Ahhhh, I wish I could afford that for when I go again. It was SO nice! Anyways, after I went surfing I took a super hot shower and made dinner. We had cold salad and bread with nutella. MMMMMMM!
It was cold again that night and I stuffed all my clothing in the sleeping bag to keep me warm. It also rained, but it didn't matter...the tent was able to keep us dry again! :) We woke up to pack and go to the Cathedral Caves (attempt #2, the first time we got there and it was closed). It was really nice with these giant caves that were carved from these giant cliffs. There was a nice hour long walk to get there and the majority of it was along this beautiful sand beach. I took some pictures, but I don't know if they convay what I saw that well. Anyways, we hiked back to the car and made it to Owaka a very small town that rivals Two Harbors in size. We camped there last night with the same amount of cold and rain as the last two. We've got the technique down to stay warm and managed to keep dry as well. Before we went to bed we walked down Suart Bay (another beautiful beach) and saw these GIANT (and I mean 350 - 500 kg) male New Zealand Seals. They at first seem like giant logs that have washed up on shore, but then they have a small appendage that moves. There were about 5 of them on this beach and I assume that we walked for about 3 hours down and back. It was a really nice walk and made us feel better about driving so far in the car that day.
So, after that night we woke up ready to drive all the way to Omaru. This would involve a 3 hour drive up to see the little blue penguins. Unfortunately, the car that we have (A 1995 Subaru Legacy) that we have dubbed Gary decided that would be a bad idea. He first got a flat tire, in which we were able to haul the spare from the trunk and put it on to get to the only mechanics shop in town. They told us we put the nuts on wrong...dang and could replace the tires for new ones. This was good. So after getting an oil change there (because Gary needed one anyways) we were off. And then we weren't. About 10 minutes after leaving the mechanics we mysteriously stopped on a small hill. So, we called the shop and had them tow us back. This was a little more than thrilling because the guy that towed us back only had a yellow towrope and we barely had any brakes. After just about dying on a U turn that we took and flying up and down the hilly road we made it back to Owaka. The mechanics hmmmed and looked at Gary and finally (3 hours later) decided that the belt had shifted and had to be replaced. This would take until tomorrow. So, after leaving at 10:40 and it now being 4:00 it was decided that we would stay another night at Owaka. So, here we are at the old hospital which is now a backpackers, waiting for the car to be fixed.
We'll go out to the bar and have a few bumps with the mechanics and be on our way....all 5 hours to Christchurch if we're lucky. Then two classes start on Monday. Wooopie! I can't wait!

Friday, March 4

Last days of Trip

Alright, the underground rafting was a blast!!! We arrived in Charlestown (a town of only 150 people) and hopped on a bus to go up a sheep pasture to a mini train. The mini train took us along the Nile river to a path. After putting on a wetsuit bottom, top, socks, booties, hard hats with torches, and carrying our gloves and inner-tubes. We climbed 125 steps up to the mouth of the cave. The cave had been carved out by the flooding of the nile river and is considered a pristine cave. This means that there are no lights, paths, or unauthorized access to this cave. It was incredible climbing around the cave with stalactites and stalagmites! I will post pictures of them when I can connect my computer to the Internet, right now I am posting via my iPod which dies a better job connecting. After the crazy hike through the cave we hopped into the innertubes, put on our webbed gloves, and slowly paddled in complete darkness to see the glow worms. They are incredible little large that spit out bioluminescent strands that they sit above in a hammock to wait for prey to get caught. Later in life, when they are fat enough they spin caccoons (spelling?) and hatch to mate as moth like creatures. Unfortunately they only live for two days and the cycle continues. There were millions of these glow worms in this cave and looked like a wonderfully dotted milky way (in shades of green). After we emerged from the glowworm cave we hopped into the Nile river and floated down to the train station. Afterwards it poured and we stopped in Punakaiki for some Internet and phone calls. We went back to the the Te Nikeu retreat for a really windy night. The trees were whacking the hut and the wind was howling! I didn't sleep that well...but the long car ride the next day saved me. We drove down the coast to Hokitika to do a bit of shopping before we drove into the mountain pass. We spent about 3 hours there looking at Jade carvings and Amelia and Trixie went friggin nuts buying stuff. I didn't spend anything that day except the admission to the Kiwi Center. We went in and saw a lot of marine organisms that are considered endangered here. The best part was going to see the kiwi! I got to see one rummaging around in its habitat cage (very spacious and comfortable for the Kiwi). It was right next to the glass in a dark room and it looked quite happy. It was really cool to see the bird and realize how LARGE they were. They are about the size of a large yorkshire terrier! We weren't allowed to take pictures of the Kiwis so sorry everybody back home. After they are nursed back to health at the center they release them back into the wild. It was so nice to hear that!
After Hokatika, we decided to go through Arthur’s Pass to get back to Christchurch. Arthur’s Pass is a beautiful road that took 3 million NZ dollars to build through the mountains. It is the only man-made thing except for an occasional road and railroad that follows it. The mountains are beautiful, even in the rain. One of the reasons it is so beautiful is that all the mountain sides have huge rock slips and from those slips the bare rock underneath is exposed. This bare rock is millions of years old and when it rains waterfalls drop from them in giant cascades of white. There were probably about 50 of them when we passed through and it was beautiful to see them in their misty glory. These waterfalls were contrasted by the beautiful green trees with many many many epiphytes on them. Some epiphytes were mosses but others were delicate vines and it almost looked like another rainforest.
Even though it looked like rainforest, it wasn’t. It was colder in the mountains and we had to wear windproof or waterproof coats. At the hostel, they provided us with heated blankets and thick down comforters to keep us warm. New Zealand has a problem with housing design, namely the idea that insulation is a great thing to have. I met a girl at a hostel who was an eco-architect that explained all of this in detail to me in Kaikoura. Anyways, we took these last few days a lot easier with only two 1.5 hour hikes, and a lot of reading. I read the entirety of Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire”. It was good. But now I’m hungry for more. It rained on and off during the day so we got outside when we could. On the drive home we went through the most beautiful mountain valley I have ever seen. There were foothills with vegetation that made it look like the hill was covered in velvet. I wanted to hop out of the car and jump on a horse to ride until the sun set. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any time, nor where there horses so I had to admire from the confines of the backseat. I wasn’t able to take any pictures because I had stuffed my camera into a bag that was buried in the back of the car. Trixie took a ton of photos, so maybe I’ll be able to steal them from her.
Now I am in Christchurch and waiting for it to cool off! It is SO hot here! I am in a summer dress in the shade and still sweating! Who could have known March is so darn hot! AHHHHHH! It it coming up on 4 o’clock and I might take a trip down to the shops to see how everything is going. The city is recovering and the damage has been done. Everything you see on the news is true, but that is only the worst of the it. Everything west of Christchurch city central area is fine. It is amazing to not see any damage on the couldn’t have guessed there was an earthquake. I am very lucky to be where I am. The school was west of Christchurch city central as well. Unfortuantely they have to wait to get EVERY building on campus approved before they can reopen. The reopen date is March 14, so Amelia and I might take another little trip. We are for sure going back to Kaikoura because we are taking a field trip for the Marine Biology class. This is scheduled for March 19-22. We don’t know if we’re going to miss other classes due to this, but it is encouraging that SOMEONE is making plans to move forward with their class. Since we missed two weeks of school, the teachers have decided to cut some content instead of trying to make us play catchup. This is really nice for everyone, because most people don’t even have textbooks. We never had time. Anyways, it is beautiful outside and I need to be out there. Adios.

Monday, February 28


Started out on the trip with Amelia and Trixie today. We had a great day driving away from Christchurch. The traffic wasn't bad, but people were panic buying gasoline when we needed to fuel up. It was awful that people felt that they needed to do that because many gas stations are open in Christchurch. We made it through the line anyways and got back on the very scenic road to Kaikoura. We made it there by about 12 and ate a VERY expensive lunch. It was only expensive because it was a tourist town too! Well, after lunch Amelia went surfing and Trixie and I went hiking for 3.5 hours. It was a pretty walk around a peninsula, with a short stint through a cow field. The cliffs reminded me of Maine and we checked out he tide-pools. We found small fish, red and green seaweed, many different types of shellfish attached to rocks, snails, and inverted sea anemones. The anemones were inverted and looked like small squishy black balls of slimy jelly that had a hard end on one side where they were attached to rocks. They had a small circle on the top where they were inverted that reminded me of a belly-button.
We got done with the walk an had a dinner of a cold pasta salad. I was taught two more card games today: frog juice and ratatatcat. They were really fun games, and I will teach them to everyone when I get home.
The next day Amelia and I slept in until 9:30 to recover from the sleep lost when the earthquake struck. We decides that we would spend a few says at Punakaiki later in the trip, so we booked he best hostel there! It is the Te Nikku Retreat, the same one that my mom and I stayed at before. We woke up early to get most of the driving sone so that we could have some of the day for adventures. We got to stop at the swinging bridge that my mom and i hit before, the flat rocks/blowholes and the beach. The beach was the most exciting part with tons of jellyfish washed up on the beach for us to examine and prod with a stick. We also discovered our love of bouldering! It was so much fun to climb the giant sandstone rocks and cliff walls! The last thing we found was fossils! I realized that the sandstone cliffs and boulders was once part of the ocean floor, and at closer inspection saw many many many shellfish fossils in the rocks. There weren't any that we could pry from the rocks, but is wS fun thinking about how they were millions of years old and we were looking and touching them! Before I get too tired I need to write about our day in Abel Tasman yesterday!
Again, I think I am extremely lucky with the weather down here! It was pouring the whole night before we signed up to go kayaking/tramping the whole day in the park! Even at 7:45 while we were in the van going up there, but magically it cleared up by the time we got in the water taxi. We had a slightly cloudy kayak to the seals, and a bright sunny hike to a giant beach. We got so hot Amelia and I went swimming! It was so nice to be in the ocean again!!!
Tomorrow is a day filled with a three hour hike along a river an two swing bridges, a twenty minute walk around the blowholes at Punakaiki, and potential surfing at a new beach. Tuesday we go underground rafting! We go in tubes down a river (after hiking there through a rainforest). The river goes through a natural tunnel to a series of caves in which we see glow worms!!!! I don't get to take my camera (it sinks) but we get a series of digital photographs taken during the event and burned onto a disk for us to bring home! ;). Everybody is excited to go!!!! Well, time for bed so that I can be well rested for trekking! Goodnight!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Thursday, February 24


Yesterday the supermarkets opened up like nothing happened in the suburb that i live. This is great because many people could not get food for 1.5 days. Now they can go to the store and get what they need, including bottled water.

Many people are without water or power. They go to friends and family to recharge their cellphone batteries and stay the night in a warm place. Today I leave the city with my friend to head north. We managed to secure lodging in a series of hostels in Kaikoura, and Nelson. I feel like we are running away and abandoning the city, but it is the best thing to do with water supplies so low. We will have q brief vacation and when we come back we will help where we can. Probably removing rubble from homes, but I'm glad just to help. Pictures will be uploaded in Kaikoura of some damage.

I love you all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 23


I am fine. It was exciting but fortunately I was near an exit and made it safe outside! School is cancelled for at least a week so I'm going on vacation with a friend to the North Island so we'll make the most out of the situation. The aftershocks still rumble the buildings and it frightens people. Don't worry about me, but pray for the safety of the people in the city in Christchurch! They spent the night in tents in the local park in the rain after being displaced from their homes! Send support! New Zealanders will need all they can get!

The ground rumbles, text messages only to communicate, and boiling water are many of the things we so here to cope with the state of emergency. We are lucky 89% of the city was without power last night. The airports open today, and Amelia and I might catch a 50 dollar flight somewhere else...I would volunteer but they flew in 3,000 emergency workers today. I don't know what I can so to help, but I want to be safe too...we'll see with time and I'll let you know.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 22


Dear All,
I am safe at Michelle's with running water, internet, power and everything. We have plenty of food and everyone is alright...Christchurch is destroyed, but the suburbs are alright.

I love you,


Monday, February 21


I just had my first class: Maori studies. It will be so much fun learning about their culture over here. The professor seems nice and I met a girl from Dunedin who is very nice. It should be a great class to have on mondays. It is my only class on mondays (4-5pm) so....I get a LONG weekend! :) Yipeeeeee! Tuesdays I have two classes before noon, and wednesdays I have three classes before noon. All in all, I'll be done with class early in the afternoon which will allow for some nice adventures. Unfortunately, Antartic studies is an 8 AM class, so I have to be at the busstop at 7 AM. Early mornings...but I'll be able to go to bed early. :) I am all smiles today. I don't have to buy as many books as I thought, my schedule is all set, and I am happily making friends. It is a goooood day in the sunshine.

Sunday, February 20


Hello everybody, I am sorry that I didn’t write about my week sooner. I have been busy with a lot of things and haven’t been spending a lot of time inside. :)
Monday was a full day of orientation. This could have boiled down into “Classes are hard and don’t be stupid in Chirstchurch because it is dangerous”. They told us that the driving was different, drugs were bad, there are murderers out there, and drinking in excess was bad. I made a friend in orientation. Her name is Amelia and she is from Montana. She goes to school in Portland and knows how to surf. She and I have very similar interests and hang out all the time now. She is actually in the Marine Biology class with me! Its nice that I have a nice study partner. :)
Tuesday I went to the “half” day of orientation. It was another session on how not to die in New Zealand. This day covered the city smarts section. Not very interesting and I laid outside for the second part of the afternoon. The sun was shining and I had started reading “The Da Vinci Code”. I actually fell asleep and it was magical that I didn’t get sunburnt again.
Wednesday I went surfing with Amelia and a girl from Holland at Sumner. We had so much fun and surfed for about 2.5 hours. The surf was great and I got up consistently. Amelia also taught me how to catch green waves (waves that weren’t quite breaking yet). This allowed me to stay up longer and ride farther. Afterwards, we went to the fish and chips shop and ate ourselves silly. We then went back to the backpackers that Amelia stayed at and just hung out. We played a new card game that Amelia taught us called palace. It was fun and I ended up taking the bus home at about 10.
Thursday I spent getting ready for school. I didn’t actually have class, but I had enrollment. I managed to be the first one in line and get through the whole process in less than a half an hour. I also got into all the classes that I wanted: Marine Biology, Evolution, Aotearoa: Introduction to Maori Society, and Antarctica:The Cold Continent. I also looked for books to try and save some money. I got all the books that I wanted and saved about 150 NZ dollars. :)
On Friday I meet Goody in the city. Goody is the Taiwanese girl that we met at the Bug backpackers in Nelson. She told me that she was going to be in Christchurch and that we should meet up. She had just gotten her mom, sister and 20 month old niece from the airport. We ate dinner and caught up on the adventures that we have been having. I took the group around the city and showed them the rose carpet in the Chapel. We also went to the grocery store which was quite the adventure for Goody’s mom. They had never seen so many food items in one place! They also had never tried cranberries or apricots, so we got them a few to try while they visit the lower part of the south island. It was interesting trying to communicate with them because Goody’s mom didn’t speak any english. Goody’s sister spoke a little bit of english, but not too much. It was a good time filled with gestures and smiles all around.
Saturday Amelia and I went surfing again but the waves kinda sucked that day. I had upgraded boards (that I’m renting), and that made it a little harder to catch the waves, but I’m up for the challenge. There was a ton of people out in the surf! It was about 100 people on the entire beach and most of them were surfers. I met this really nice older man who told me I was doing a great job for my fourth time out! Its nice to know that I’m making progress.
Today is Sunday. Amelia came over and we played a TON of poker games (not for money). We hung out at Michelle’s house and at leftovers until she could check into the next hostel. We both went over to check her in, and played soccer golf afterwards. It was fun kicking the ball through and around obstacles. We also found this super awesome bouncy mat (like the kind that are at carnivals) at the place she was staying. It was supposed to be for little kids, but we had fun bouncing on it too. We also juggled around for about an hour, it was great to pass the time in the shade. Now I’m home and Michelle is making a pasta dish for dinner. Amelia is staying, and we’re trying to find a used surfboard for me on Well, thats EVERYTHING that I’ve done. I’ll upload pictures tomorrow after I get done with class. Bye!

Tuesday, February 15

New Phone

I have a new phone on the will arrive by Friday of this week. The number is 0212079374 you have to use the NZ country code of 64! so the full number will be 640212079374. Don't ask me to remember that. :)

Monday, February 14


I was a good girl and went to orientation, from 9-3 with another session tomorrow from 9-12. (Snoozefest.) I get a day break and then on Thursday I get to enroll in classes from 9am-12. :) Then I'll be able to get some books and hit them HARD!
But, the good news is that I made a new friend today in orientation, unfortunately she is American. Her name is Amelia, and she is from Missoula, Montana. She goes to school out in Portland, Oregon and likes to surf, camp, and tramp. So, we're going out surfing on Wednesday when we don't have orientation or enrollment. I'm super excited.
We went downtown to get a phone today and eventually found a Vodafone place. My phone will arrive in 3 days and I am pretty excited because there aren't a lot of payphones around here. Going home was an adventure too. I managed to make it onto a bus, but it was the one going in the wrong direction. Stupid foreign country girl in a "big city". Sigh, so it took me 2 hours to get home when it should have taken me 20 minutes. :P My host mom and Japanese girl thats living with her laughed at me when I got home.

Saturday, February 12


We are still alive! WOOO HOO! We have made it to my host Mom’s house (by 8 AM)and met her. She is a very nice lady who took us out shopping around the city and helped me get my bus pass. She is excited to have me here and is very helpful in directing me where to go in order to get to the University. Tomorrow Mom and I are going to take her to brunch and will shop a little afterwards before Mom has to leave.
Michelle’s house is beautiful with a separate bathroom and large closet for me. I have a very comfortable bed (Mom has used it twice now), and am very relaxed here. She has even offered to let Mom stay tonight in the double bed with me. This is very convenient because there is a HUGE race (transcontinental) ending near here and all the hostels are fully booked.
So, now to describe Michelle’s house. Her house used to be a showroom for the suburb retailer. It has a three beautiful bathrooms, three bedrooms, and a large kitchen. Everything is well made and there isn’t any damage from the earthquake. There is internet here that I can use which will be handy in keeping contact with the North Shore. I took a nap in the backyard earlier today in the sunshine. The backyard has a large garden and has been growing her own veggies in the backyard….yippee for fresh tomatoes! She lives very close to the airport, and where Mom has to drop off the car tomorrow. Everything is going well, and I can’t wait to start school and get everything settled. Mom will check in to her flights tomorrow and we’ll get the refund for the camping gear from baggage services. We got her REAL phone number…(03) 359-9429 and you will be able to contact me through there. I think I’ll get a prepay phone though, just to have on me.

Friday, February 11

Lucy's Update

Today is a truly a vacation day. Grace and I will not have to pack up our gear and check out today for the first time in 14 days of good hard travel. We have our own room (not sharing dorm space with any foreigners, pleasant or otherwise, at the eerily quiet Marine Backpackers in Sumner (just 30 minutes from downtown Christchurch). We are 2 blocks from the beach, 2 minutes from the fish and chips shop, and 2 seconds from the bar. I think I did mention that it is officially the Marine Bar and Backpackers. We have all of our needs well met. I believe that it is quiet here because yesterday there were still signs about the town stating WATER POLLUTED posted in front of the surf shops and at the beach. Well, we lucked out. Since when has a little E coli contamination kept us out of the water or even drinking it for that matter.
Actually our surf instructor yesterday did check for the all clear with authorities before allowing us in the water. There are some (but very few things) that Kiwis take seriously. Water pollution is apparently one of them. There was a sewage spill from a broken pipe in a nearby estuary that occurred over a week ago. Water testing on the weekend showed the beach to be clear but they continued to keep the beach closed until further surveillance. Yesterday late afternoon the tests were fine so Grace and I lucked into our first surf lesson within one hour of arrival. As stated in last blog notes, it was exhilarating and exhausting. Today I can feel those arms and shoulder muscles pleasantly aching. I experienced one nosedive (where you bury your head into the sand as you fly forward off the board bringing laughter to any one fortunate enough to witness it) but the thick Norwegian skull prevails… No worries in the head department.
We’ll need a really fast shutter speed but I’ll try to capture some images of us above board today.
A few observations about Kiwi culture. They have a great sense of fun and what’s possible. Yesterday when we first arrived in Sumner we could not find any info available regarding lodging, surfing, etc. At an I site. (These are usually well represented in even the most remote locations.) Fortunately the library was open. I approached the local librarian, a woman of roughly my own age, 50ish, and she did not bat an eye or laugh uproariously when I inquired about surfing lessons. She got rather excited and began an earnest search for the local surf instructors as if she was on board with the whole adventure. She was like most everyone over here, very helpful in a familiar way, as if she had known me for much longer than 30 seconds. I realize that most of the NZ economy is dependent on tourism, but New Zealanders seem to genuinely enjoy being hosts to their country. I have not travelled abroad extensively, but I have never found a ubiquitously more hospitable country in the world. It is if they have all had college education in the hospitality profession. It comes very naturally to them. And they do it all with out pretense but with a generous dose of humor. They are not afraid to have a bit of fun with you at your own expense. Here’s a good example of that.
When Grace and I had a guided paddling day of kayaking in Abel Tasman, we were grouped together with 6 others from around the world. At the end of the day of paddling, as we cruised toward our final destination at Anchorage Beach, all 5 kayaks were lashed together (with our hands gripping each others kayak seats). Our guide, Laird (I will call him that because he was Laird like in his naughty charming way) brought out a large sail. The outside kayaks each took a corner of the sail so that we could sail into the harbor rather than paddle the last bit. Laird invited any one to become the mast head for the group by straddling the front middle kayaks. Candy (a pilot from San Francisco) accepted the offer/challenge. She was very athletic, scantily clad in a black bikini so she of course was the natural choice. She easily stood up on the bows of 2 of the kayaks and we all enjoyed (some more than others) her antics. Then Laird had to up the ante by parting the kayaks forcing Candy to perform the splits. Fortunately she was extremely flexible as she looked like an Olympian up front with her legs fully extended. We all laughed including Candy and she crawled back to her seat. Laird tried to get me to do same, but I modestly declined. However, a very tall (6’6”), lean iron Man type from Germany named Mike accepted the challenge. Now, Mike was nearly my age and had already witnessed what a scene Laird had created with Candy, so he was fully informed when he decided to become the second mast head. Mike obviously had a very twisted sense of humor and was a bit of a showman himself. He clambered forward to the front middle kayaks and straddled them with less grace than Candy. As he stood fully appreciating the fact that we were all laughing with him, once again Laird parted the kayaks and it was Mike’s turn to do the splits in his black speedo.
He survived this ordeal as we laughed and laughed. Then I called out for an encore. He was very much enjoying being the center of attention so he decided to stand on his hands on the kayak. He managed to get into some form of an awkward hand stand position momentarily, but then the Laird factor kicked in. Once again the kayaks mysteriously parted and Mike could no longer stay balanced. He came down hard, crotch first over the bow of a kayak and then flopped into the Tasman Sea, laughing the entire time. Of course, all of us nearly fell out of our kayaks, laughing our asses off. As he scramble into the bow of his own double kayak in retreat, he swamped that kayak but this time, Laird reached over and single handedly uprighted the kayak. At the end of our sail into the harbor, Mike did end up swamping Laird’s kayak and then both tipped over in what was observed by another guide on the beach to be the world’s slowest swamp. More about Kiwi humor later.


Thursday, February 10

Great DAY!

Well, now my trip to NZ is complete. Today I was able to go SURFING!!!! I have been talking about learning to surf for years and today was the Day. It was a great lot of fun and a great lot of exercise!!! I actually stood up and rode a really long wave (once). Most of the time was spent falling off the board shortly after coming to a stance. Apparently my body is facing forward too much (going down the hill) rather than snowboarding across it. However, my balance is pretty good for a little old gray haired lady. It was so fun that tomorrow I am going back to do it again. Tomorrow it will be the focus (and highlight) of the day. We are already staying within 2 blocks of the beach here in Sumner at a backpackers hostel aptly named the Marine Backpackers. Did I mention that the Marine Backpackers is also conveniently a bar as well? Sumner, according to our surfing instructor ,Aaron, is the best beach in the whole world to learn on. There is no undertow, the waves are small but big enough and regularly spaced for beginners to groove on. Best of all, there are no rocks or sharks. Sumner is only 30 minutes from the city center of Christchurch so we are also oh so close to making our full circle tour of NZ complete. This is a great way to end the trip!!! It would also have been a great way to start the trip... or simply spend the entire trip. Can you tell I like surfing? I should have been a California girl.


Tuesday, February 8

For Leo

Dear Leo,

The temps down here have been from 20-30˚C with a high around Christchurch of 42˚C (107˚F) this is approximately 68˚F to 86˚F. The water temperature is a little more is warmer than lake superior and was chilly, yet swim-able when the temperature was 86˚F. My mom had a blast cooling off in it while, it is nice, but when you get out the wind chills you if its not warm. When we went to Milford Sound it was really cold in the morning so we were issued thermal long underwear, a fleece, and a waterproof rain-jacket in case it rained. We also got hats too now that I think about it. It was cold with a misty morning to rival Duluth in the fall, with the occasional sprinkle at night. HA! It was actually about 260mLs (15 cubic inches)...all the rivers flooded and someone who was camping had to head to high ground at about 3 AM. We got to kayak after this massive rainfall and it was BEAUTIFUL with about a 50 waterfalls going that day...and it wasn't raining. :) We've been lucky and avoided the rain until today. We're currently in Dunedin (DONE-E-DIN), a city founded by Scots in 1848. They found gold here and mined the town until the gold ran out. There are a ton of beautiful Victorian style homes and giant Gothic churches scattering the hillside on which the town resides. It reminds me of Siena, Italy with all the hills and the old buildings.
We had a little bit of trouble finding the hostel and managed to get a parking ticket because all of the parking spots you have to pay at a little mailbox and get a receipt to place in your car window. This is not explained anywhere and it just looks like you can park anywhere. Oh well, a learning experience. We then tried to navigate the city and to quote my mother "these streets are ape sh!t!". She was referring to the layout of the city and the fact that the streets are narrow. It was tough because you can't really tell which streets are one ways, which street they actually are because they are poorly marked, and the fact that we had a really bad map. We managed to find it after pulling over, exchanging some loud, strong language, and gathering ourselves for a second attempt. I understand that I was confused during the beginning as the navigator, but when the driver decided to become the navigator and tells the navigator after not seeing the map that the person with the map is wrong...phew! Its like driving with Leo sometimes! (just kidding!)
Anyways, I finally got my BBH card so that I can get discounts on the hostels that we're staying...a little late, but better than never. We booked a night at a really relaxing place for tomorrow night in a bay about 20 minutes from Christchurch. We can dig for mussels, sit on the deck and sip a nice beverage. We also get free toast with internet it must be good! It will mean a 6-7 hour drive day, but we'll stop and make it interesting. We wanted to get up there in order to be in position for a sunny day for surfing at Sumner Beach. This beach is sandy and is supposed to be great for beginners. I'm looking forward to this and seeing the University, my host mother, and just settling in for the work ahead. Soon my mother will have to go home and I want to be comfortable for the long haul ahead.
We often think of those at home...How Patty would love looking at all the plants and fowl, Peg would love to sit and talk with all the friendly New Zealanders and visiters on holiday, Dad would love the countryside with the massive amounts of sheep and deer grazing in pastures, Leo would love all the strenuous treks to torture himself on, how all the country fried chicken places would make Bruce jump with joy and many many other thoughts about how this country compares to different parts of the states.
Anyways, I've been listening to my iPod and showing others the beautiful place that I live back in the states in order to keep from being homesick. Also, all the comments from people about the blog help a lot too...

Well, time for bed. Lucy has been there for about an hour passed out already.

Cheers from the Southern Hemisphere,


Sunday, February 6


There are more pictures uploaded. We spent the night in a pretty seedy hostel. All of our stuff is still here and parasite free. :) But there wasn't any Internet for the last two nights. So, I have finally gotten somewhere that there is a decent connection! Pictures are from Punakaiki (pancake rocks with a small geyser) and from Fox Glacier. We hiked at Punakaiki for two hours and Fox glacier for 7 hours. It was a bunch of fun and the glacier was really cool!
I am super sleepy now and will post more tomorrow night....We're pretty toasty from 8 hours of driving. We drove from Haast through the Arthur Mountain Pass to Te Aneu. YUCK! We tried to break it up by stopping at Wanaka and another rest stop along the way...but we didn't want to drive at night. The drive was very pretty with many waterfalls from the rain that poured down last night. It also drizzled a bit, but it was nice to have it rain while in the car. It also cleared up when we hit Wanaka, and was able to run around and even swim in Lake Wanaka in the sunshine! We also got ice cream after some grocery shopping. They have the best produce this time of year and we have been surviving on fresh salads, awesome locally made cheese, ciabatta bread, and chocolate.
So, we finally made it at 8 pm and Lucy has gone to bed immediately! I decided I better stay up a little later. Tomorrow we wake at 6 AM for a kayak in the rain around Milford Sound. It should be lovely because of all the waterfalls. They'll supply us with warm gear and we were told all we had to bring was: a lunch, sunglasses, sunscreen, a camera, and either wear underwear or a swimsuit. This should be interesting. Talk to you soon!

Thursday, February 3

Survival Update:

So, we survived again today. This time we rented a car and drove on the left side of the road. I literally was the talking GPS and helper while praying that my mom wouldn't run me off the road. Again, the ditches are steep and only a foot off the road. It is really scary driving with my mom who is notorious for driving WAY too fast around corners and all the roads are S curves the WHOLE WAY! So, no motion sickness today...yipee! Only small heart attacks.
I also took a step out of my comfort zone and walked across a swinging bridge. It was beautiful and I actually got used to it enough to take some awesome pictures. The river was roaring beneath me though and it was pretty unnerving. I am picking up brochures in order to go canyoning. This is the act of rappelling down canyons and sliding down small waterfalls and rapids. I think it will be fun and will go when my mom leaves. We are hiking on the fox glacier on Saturday (your time) and will have a good time taking pictures.
By the way, I have added pictures to my blog so you can see how fit and tan I am....My ears are so sunburned from being out in the sun that they are peeling and blistered. Luckily it doesn't hurt, just itches. There are also gnats here and sandflies that have attacked my ankles, but tomorrow I will deftly defend them with bug-spray.
Other than the little buggies, I have been having an awesome time. I have met people from Taiwan, Holland, Germany, New Zealand (of course), Canada, the USA, Israel, Sweden and many, many others...It is incredible how many people are here on 3 month holidays! I wish we had that type of schedule that we could just get away for that long!
Everyone here is amazing and keeps telling us their favorite places to stay and things to do while we're here. It just tells us the important things to do and add to our schedule!
We are still planning to head to Milford Sound and was told that even in the rain it is worth the kayak to see all the beautiful waterfalls! I can't wait!

Well, more pictures today via took me forever to get that to work and hopefully more will be coming!


Car Rental

Today begins the crazy adventure down the coast in the rental car. We will be focusing on driving on the left hand side of the road. It will be scary, but I think with a LOT of focus we can do it. We'll be going to the flat rocks for a brief stop and take a look around, and then we'll try and make it as far as we can down the coast towards the glaciers. The plan is to take a day hike to the leading edge of the glacier and then try and get down to Arthur Pass. From there we can zoom down to Milford Sound and take a nice day long kayak tour down there. From there we'll head back to Christchurch and see if we can get some nice weather on Sumner beach to try our hand at surfing. :). Well, thats all for now!

Wednesday, February 2

We're Alive!

We made it back from the trip. VERY SMELLY!!! We got up at 6AM to catch the bus from Nelson to Motueka (1.5 hour ride) and then a two hour taxi ride to our drop off zone. We then hiked for 12 kilometers (up and down this rocky coast...not very easy) with our HUGE backpacks filled with gear. It was hard work and I literally fell asleep after hitting the beach. I woke up several hours later with sunburn on my calves and behind my knees. Other than that I was fine.

The hike itself was BEAUTIFUL with golden beaches and rainforest-y flora. The ocean is so pretty and warmer than lake superior. We swam in it many times to cool off. Luckily I had packed my swimsuit and have become very tan from my multiple swims/lounging on the beach. There are really cute little birds that look a lot like quail that are running around with their little chicks. There are also stoat like creatures trying to catch them, so we get a free little nature show at night. We camped next to the beach on a crappy rented tent that I had to fix one of the broken poles in order to sleep in it correctly. It looked pretty sad, and I was missing my Marmot Limelight 3 badly.

The second day we went kayaking. It was beautiful and we got to see seals! There were little baby pups with them and they were very curious! We also went around the multiple bays with beautiful beaches. We estimate that we kayaked about 10 kilometers, but it was much easier than hiking. Pictures will come soon.

The third day we went hiking again, but we had heard that you could hire the water taxi to haul all of your stuff back to your final destination for a minimal fee. It was like 8 dollars US. We did that and actually ENJOYED our 12.5 kilometer trek back to the base where we picked up ice cream, iced coffee, and our bags and sat in the nice cool shade with an ocean breeze drifting over us. I swear on this trip alone I lost 5 lbs and gained a TON of muscle mass.

We then caught the bus home to "the bug" hostel and found our luggage waiting for us. A nice cold shower will soon follow this e-mail with fresh clean clothes! AHHHHHHH! I can't wait.

Sunday, January 30

On the plane from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Today was a really hard day for travel. It was tough to say goodbye to everything I know and am familiar with. All comforts gone, I waited with my mother at the Duluth airport for the first flight. I had said goodbye to the pets, friends, family without a single tear. The flight was fine, but the plane was late.
Unfortunately, this made us late for the next flight and we didn’t end up making it. We then had to try and get on the next airplane from Chicago to LA. We were told that it was full and that we could get on the wait-list. We were numbers 4&5 on the initial initial wait-list, and was a little scary to just sit and wait to see if we had to spend the night in Chicago or LA. Fortunately, we were able to get on the flight and literally RAN through LA to get to our New Zealand Air flight.
We only had 20 minutes to be able to get through the entire airport from our arrival gate to the departure gate. They had taken us off the list for the flight, but since we had made it, they told us that they would try to get us back on with the last two seats left. It was really nice of them, and we were able to FINALLY get back on schedule. We hadn’t eaten all day, except for the food that Peg gave us for our daypacks. I was becoming hypoglycemic with a small headache, so when they told us food was being served on the flight not once, but twice, my mom and I were exhilarated. So, my mom has currently watched 2+ movies, I have been trying to sleep. We are sitting next to this wonderful lady who told us all the best places to go on the island because she is a native. So we know where to go and what to do.
I still have six hours left on my flight, but I don’t know what to do other than try and sleep. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can anymore, even though I’m super tired. My mom has no trouble sleeping on the plane. She just puts on another movie and falls asleep within 5 minutes of it turning on. I”m a little jealous. Oh well. Hopefully when we get to our destination, we have a good time making it. Well, thats all for now.

2:19AM NZ time.

In the wonderful Fraurisenhaus (or however you spell it) hostel after fighting our way through Auckland Airport.

So, after a super tight connection in LA (only 20 minutes to get to our flight before it took off) where our only savior was a REALLY nice Avis bus driver who volunteered to take us from terminal 7 to terminal 2 at LAX. It was a 20+ minute walk or a 10 minute bus ride if it left immediately. So this guy single handedly got us onto our New Zealand flight. The connection was so tight that the flight attendants had cancelled our seat reservations because they knew we were on the later LAX flight. They were SO surprised when we got there and were panting at their desk! HA! Grace and Lucy work another small miracle! So, that was pretty awesome. :)
Unfortunately, because we made our tight connection we left our luggage behind. It will be coming later this week to Nelson Airport where we will pick it up before we go to Abel Tasman Park. Hopefully it will get there and we will be able to swiftly pick it up. Another bit of good news: my cell phone works over here. It IS on roaming charges, but it works! So, if the airport have a cell number to call when the luggage gets here. If all goes well we’ll get the luggage as we roll through Nelson.
In Christchurch we checked into our hostel after taking a shuttle, no driving yet! We got gyros from Dimitri’s, got some shampoo and face-wash from a pharmacy, and cleaned up! We have our only clothes in the wash so we’re wearing rain gear...super hot look. <3 Oh well, we are never fashionable anyways. Thats all for now TTFN!

You can’t imagine the excitement your mojo bar brought to our first leg of the journey… Our first flight to Chicago was a small commuter flight where we were jammed in like spam in a can. I was seated next to a young very professional female optometrist dressed in a business suit and only inches away from the watchful eye of Keith, our intense air steward. I was feeling a little bit peckish. I remembered that you had given me the care package with the mojo bar. I ravenously dove into it. We were experiencing some significant turbulence at the time and Keith, our polite but firm steward had instructed us to remain SEATED with SEAT BELTS fastened. Out of the corner of my eye, sans glasses, I thought I had dribbled some bit of bar onto my seat. However, I was not allowed the luxury of standing at the time so I cast my hand surreptitiously under my bottom in a vain effort to retrieve the nasty bit. It was very hot in the cabin. Once we were out of the turbulence, I made a better effort to assess the damage. Well of course the bit that dropped down under my ass was chocolate(even though the majority of the bar was nuts) and now it was smeared all over it. My seat mate was clearly appalled at the situation and readily offered up her napkin. Keith caught wind of the whole situation and wondered if he could help. I handed him the brown smeared napkin and suggested that it was best not to ask. He brought over mass quantities of disinfectant, papertowels,napkins, etc. I stood up with my ass tilted toward my seatmate, the optometrist, and she kindly obliged wiping off my bottom while the entire forward compartment roared in laughter. Grace seated directly behind me stated ‘That is not my mother.‘ I am so glad that I am 50 something so that I could laugh just as heartily as everyone else.


Our luggage is now in Christchurch, while we are in Nelson. This sucks because we booked a tour of Abel Tasman without all of our gear. I have only 2 changes of clothing and mom only has one. bummer. Oh well, we'll pick up a few essential items and borrow a few from a friend here and all will be well. Cheers.

Sunday, January 16


Here's the deal. My mom and I leave on Jan. 27, 2011 and don't arrive until the 29th of January. SO, don't expect many blogs to happen during that time. We take about 6 planes and hope that our luggage makes it safely. Also, all the words in BLUE are links to websites explaining the location. Enjoy!

Planned itinerary for the epic beginning:

Location 1: Stay at the Frauenreisehaus in Christchurch and chill out. We'll probably spend the entire day trying to recover from 24+ hours of flight. If we feel up to it we might go and work on some surfing skills. Yes, we will avoid being eaten by sharks or stung by jellyfish. No, we won't wear helmets.

Location 2: If surfing goes well, we'll stay and play the rest of the day away! Also, traveling outside of the city to look at the mass amounts of sheep in the hillsides. LKF (Little Known Fact) New Zealand has a 9:1 sheep to human ratio. I hope they perform the LED sheep choreography like in this video!

Location 3: This day is a little fuzzy. We could catch some rays at the beach or we could start our adventure to the wonderful Abel Tasman Park. We'll stay in the huts on the long sandy beaches and hopefully see some dolphins while tramping. Sea kayaking might also happen here. There are supposed to be some awesome sea caves to explore.

Location 4: We'll then travel down the west coast and try to see the RAINFORESTS!!!! Wow. I am super excited to go there. We'll going to go hiking there. The surrounding city is called Punakaiki, but the rainforest is in Papora National Park.

Location 5: We might stop at the Okarito Lagoon which is host to the only white heron colony in New Zealand. It is also the countries only unmodified tidal inlet. There are orchids, rainforest and more than 70 species of birds. Some people compare it to the Amazon.

Location 6/7: We'll hopefully stay and hike on the two main glaciers that are accessible to trekkers. One glacier is called the Franz Joseph Glacier, and the other is called the Fox Glacier. Both are supposed to be spectacular where the terminal face of the glacier cuts right through the rainforest. So, a super hike that day!

Location 8: Since it is a 6 hour drive to the Glaciers to Milford Sound, we might take a break at Queenstown. Queenstown is one of the locations where Lord Of the Rings was filmed. Pictures will be taken, don't worry LOTR fans! :) Queenstown is also the place where most of the extreme sports occur. We'll see how adventurous we feel!

Location 9: Milford Sound is the 8th wonder of the world according to Rudyard Kipling. The sound is the most stunning fjord in a park full of them! The sheer rock walls plunge thousands of feet to the sea and friendly seals and dolphins are eager to visit. The whole sound is surrounded by snow capped mountains! I can't wait!

Location 10: We'll head back to Christchurch to meet with my host-mother. Her name is Michelle Meynell. This is the address and description that I was given:

Michelle Meynell
1 Nunweek Boulavard
PH: 3533 429
Children: None
Pets: None
Time to University: 10 minutes walk 10 minutes on the bus.

Michelle has a lovely modern home in a new subdivision. She enjoys
gardening and is part of a vintage car club. Michelle worked for Quanta's
airways in Australia for many years but has come back to NZ after the death
of her Father a few years ago to support her mother.

She seems like a really nice person. The address given is the address I can receive mail at!

Well. That's it for now. I'll post when I get there! :)