Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rugby: the national sport of New Zealand.

Last night I was talking with a guy and he was asking me how my time in New Zealand was going. He asked what people in the US think about when they hear about New Zealand. I told him they think of it as the island off of Australia, the place where Lord of the Rings and Narnia were filmed, beautiful landscape, and sheep. To that he replied, "they don't think about rugby?"

Kiwi's love rugby. They love playing rugby, talking about rugby, and watching rugby on TV.

This past Friday, I went to my first rugby game. What a fun experience! It was the Crusaders (Home team) vs. the Hurricanes (another NZ team from the North Island). We got our tickets through The Holy Grail, a bar in Christchurch. For $30 (roughly $15 US dollars) we got a ride to and from the game, a ticket for the game, and two free drinks. We were at the end of the field across from the box seats and about 10 rows back.

Multiple people around us were dressed up for the game. Behind us were four guys dressed up in knight costumes and a large group of guys were sporting body paint. There was so much energy in the stadium, especially when the Crusaders scored, and even though the Crusaders lost, it was a really fun game to be at.

Luckily, a friend who plays rugby went with us to the game. He told us some of the basic rules, taught us about scrums and rucks and answered the multiple questions we had during the game! It was a lot of fun and I hope to see many more games before the semester is done.

Oh, and in front us at the game were some exchange students who were studying at Canterbury University. One guy grew up in Kansas City, goes to William Jewel and knows a few of my friends that go there! How bizarre! It really is a small world!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Across the country in 4 hours

It has been a full week since arriving in New Zealand. Kind of hard to believe!

The week was filled with orientations and other "freshies week" activites. The activites included a pancake breakfast, a comdian that talked about preparing for college (much more entertaining than I thought it would be), a bus tour of Christchurch, and on Wednesday night we had a Hawaiian themed party! They had a live band, lots of free food and almost everyone was drinking. It is still strange for me to see students drinking and partying on campus. 18 is the legal drinking age over here and they allow you to drink alcohol in the dorms between 5:30 and 10:00. And alcohol is allowed at most of the functions put on by the University.

Then came the weekend!! A large group of us (14 total) headed west to Greymouth. Eleven of us took the Tranz Alpine train out of Christchurch and met up with three others who left the day before. The train went through some beautiful landscape including Arthur's Pass, but sadly it was raining the whole way, so we weren't able to see much of it. We did get some interesting conversation on the way though. We sat next to a man who had just gotten back from spending 6 months at McMurdo Base in Antartica! It was very interesting to listen to him talk about life down there. His job was to repair and maintain furnaces. Very important job!

It was still raining when we arrived in Greymouth (and continued for most of the weekend). We set out for our hostel, Global Village, which was about 20 minutes away. A great hostel to stay at, and they provided free bikes and kayaks! Once we set our stuff down we headed into town to find some fish & chips. Soaked from the rain and quite hungry we decided to eat a pizzeria. They had delicious fish & chips and also good hot chocolate!

It rained most of the afternoon, but a group of us decided to set our for a hike. Our first hike took a little over an hour to hike up and back down. There were many lookout points throughout and the view from the top was so gorgeous! We could see the city below and where the Grey River ran into the ocean.

After the first hike we went back to the hostel, met up with more people from our group and then set out on a second treck. This time we went on a loop trail. Everything was so lush and green, it felt like we were walking through the jungle. This trail had a lot of small bridges through out and many small streams. Since I had been raining there was quite a bit of water in the streams. Many of us agreed that we'd like to string a hammock between two trees and just stay there for awhile.

Here is just a small taste of what our hikes looked like :)

Sadly, my camera batteries died during the first hike, but between all of us our trip was pretty well documented. I just don't have any further ones on my computer.

After our second hike we headed to the beach. If it weren't for the clouds, we would have seen the sun set over the ocean, but it was still fabulous. It was a pebble beach and had some of the smoothest stones I have ever seen. I could have just sat there all night listening to the waves come in and then drag the stones back out to sea.

The next morning we ate breakfast and set out for another day of tramping around. We wanted to go kayaking in the morning, but the river was flooded from all the rain so we weren't able to. We went on a short hike and then head to the local brewery to sign up for a tour. While they were taking the tour Sarah, Rachel, and I walked around town and bought ourselves some jade necklaces. We then found a fun coffee shop and sat around and visited for bit.

We made it back to the hostel and found out that the group never went on the tour because a large bachelor party arrived at the brewery, so they rescheduled for later. So we set out on our big adventure!! We used the bikes from our hostel and rode out to the start of the trail which was 6 km away. After quite a bit of rain and some bike troubles we finally made it to our destination. We hiked Point Elizabeth trail. It was a very tropical trail through the hills. About 45 minutes later we made it to the lookout point. I wish I could describe just how beautiful it was! We were high on a cliff over looking the ocean. You could see the waves coming in and crashing against the rocks. It was breathtaking!

The Point Elizabeth trail hooked up to the Rapahoe trail which lead through a nature reserve and across a few streams that ran through the forest. About an hour later we made it out of the forest and made it into town where we took a break at the local pub. We got drinks and sat outside watching the waves come in. If we didn't have to hike back, we probably would've sat there all day!

We left the pub just in time for the rain to start again. We went a bit faster on the way back and made tramped the 5.5 km trail in about and hour and fifteen minutes. But it wasn't over yet! We still had to bike 6 km back to our hostel! Once we made it into town, the group stopped at the brewery in hopes of getting a refund. They missed the tour because we were still hiking.

Sarah, Rachel and I left for the store to pick up food for dinner. We made it back to the hostel and started cooking dinner. We finished right as the rest of the group made it back. They missed the tour, but were able to partake in the sampling. Then we all sat down for a wonderful dinner. The food itself probably wasn't that good, but it was a real meal and we were sharing it with friends.

The next morning we took the 8 AM bus back to Christchurch. Luckily the sun was shining for our trip back (the first time all weekend)! We went through Arthur's Pass again and it was beautiful. The mountains were tall and green and because it had been raining we were able to see multiple rainbows and the way back. At one point we even saw a double rainbow!

The weekend was absolutely wonderful and it was great to bond with some of the people we've met so far this year!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Enrolled in Uni

After a very busy day of orientations and registration, I'm officially a student at Lincoln University!

All of the international students registered in the morning between 9 & 12. We confirmed which classes we were taking, got insurance through the University, etc. After lunch we had took a tour of the campus and then started orientation. At 3 we took a break for tea. The international students went back for another orientation session.

There are quite a few activities planned for the week before classes start as well as a big "O-week" celebration all next week. There will be quite a few bands that play as well as a Toga Party! It sounds like it'll be a great week!

I'm looking forward to meeting more people and getting to know them better. I meet quite a few people today, but hardly remember any names. Many of the international students I've met are from the US, but I have also met some from France, Norway, and Germany.

From what I've heard there are about 400 students living in the Halls of Residence and about 4,000 attend Lincoln University. This is quite a change from MU, but I think it'll be a nice change of pace.

Lincoln is a small town with some cute coffee shops, a grocery store, a few churches, and of course the local pub. It's about a 15-20 minute walk away from the University. Hopefully a group of us will make it into Christchurch tomorrow. Christchurch is about a 20 minute bus ride away and is the largest city on the south island.

Will update more later and put some pictures of Sydney up! It was a wonderful weekend, even though it rained every day we were there. The hostel was a lot of fun to stay in and we met quite a few people from other countries. We had roommates from Holland, England, Ireland, and Australia. One person from England told us we had lovely accents and we just laughed and said how we loved theirs. It was a fun experience getting to "chat on" to other people traveling!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Packing, packing, packing!

The living room is currently a mess as I continue to pack. I am determined to finish most of it tonight. Saying this, it's probably going to be quite a late night.

I've been reading through New Zealand travel books and have been trying to "learn the lingo". I thought it'd be fun to share some on here!

afghan- popular homemade chocolate biscuit
black-water rafting- rafting or tubing underground in a cave or tomo
box of birds- an expression meaning 'on top of the world', usually uttered in response to 'How are you?'
chillie bin- cooler; esky; large insulated box for keeping food and drink cool
hokey pokey- delicious variety of ice cream with butterscotch chips
jandals- sandals; flip flops; thongs; usually rubber footwear
judder bars- bumps in the road to make you drive slowly; speed humps
moko- tattoo; usually refers to facial tattoos
pillocking- 'surfing' across mud flats on a rubbish-bin lid
quad bikes- four-wheel farm bikes
Roaring Forties- the ocean between 40 and 50 degrees south, known for very strong winds
whitebait- translucent fish that is scooped up in nets and eaten whole (head, eyes and all!) or made into patties
wopwops- remote; 'out in the wopwops' is out in the middle of nowhere

Sunday, February 8, 2009

3 days!

I've been telling family and friends that I will send updates and pictures of my adventures in New Zealand. Hopefully I will keep this blog up to date and you will be able to see pictures and hear some of my stories on here!

This past weekend we celebrated my parent's 35th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful weekend full of family and fun. I know my parents enjoy having the family all home to celebrate, but it was also a blessing for me to see everyone before I left. I've also been able to see friends from home as well as make a few trips back to Columbia to see friends. I know I will see them all again once I return, but it has helped me prepare to go bye saying goodbye.

It's hard to believe I'm leaving in three short days! I've been preparing since September for this trip and now it is finally happening! I'm not sure what these next few months will bring, but I am so excited to see what will happen and what I will learn!

Now it's crunch time to get everything packed and get all the last minute details finalized!