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!