Mid Semester Break (Part 1)

Alright everybody, I have recently just returned from my 12 day mid semester break (also considered spring break back at home). It was probably the most epic break I have ever had, I donโ€™t think I will be able to top it haha! Over break I traveled with a great group of Americans that I met during my first week of orientation… Bryce (Cal), Calli (Portland), Alex (Main), and Ryan (Virginia). Such an amazing group, I had an absolute blast with them! We started our adventure on Thursday April 5th, catching anย evening city bus to Invercargill, a small town where my flatmate, Cam, happens to be from. We pulled in late that night and as soon as we stepped off the bus we were determined to find a place to eat. The only restraunt in town that was open happened to be a turkish kabab place. We munched on lamb, falafel, and grape leaves! Being the only customers in the restaurant, we started chatting with the owner who was very nice and happy to have us. After eating we walked straight to the Tuatara hostile to get some sleep. That night we shared a room a boy from Germany, he was very nice.

The next day was good friday, so naturally the entire country seemed to shut down for easter weekend. Not much was open and the town seemed quite deserted. So that morning we sat in a Starbucks and chatted, later we played frisbee at a nearby park. We also checked out the botanical gardens and Invercargill museum. In the museum were the famous Tautara, a prehistoric animal that is very similar to a dinosaur (pic below).By noon we were all hungry and of course the only restaurant that was open was the turkish kabab place! woot woot! yes, we went back once more and the owner was very pleased to have us. Again, we were the only customers and had a lovely time chatting with the owner, he loved having us around haha! We took a pic with the owner (shown below). After eating, we picked up food at a small 24 hour market for our next adventure to Stewart Island!

Saturday, we took off early to catch our morning ferry to Stewart Island down at the bluff. The ride was about an hour and it was beautiful! As we approached Stewart Island, the sun broke through and we could see all the little islands off the coast. As soon as we docked we grabbed our heavy backpacks and walked towards the hostile, making a pit stop for sausages be sold at a bake sale in a nearby park. hehe! After putting down our luggage we immediately took off to explore. We all wanted to go kayaking really badly. Walking over to an area called Half Moon Bay, we rented kayaks from a little place owned by a Canadian from Vancouver, BC! She pushed us out into the water and our adventure began as we glided across the incredibly smooth water. We paddled out to Ulva Island across the bay and glided through all the tiny surrounding islands. It was so beautiful, I felt like I was in a magazine! hahaha! As we paddled around the back of the island we looked through the clear water and saw fish, jellyfish, and clams! We also accidentally ran into a SEA LION ahhh! woops! Ryan spotted the big creature first and was chased out of the sea lions territory haha! As we continued to paddle past that area the sea lion chased each of our boats at one point and we all gave little yelps of surprise, encouraging us to paddle faster haha! As we paddled back towards Stewart, Bryce and I ran into a Blue Penguin swimming in the bay!

That evening we explored some beaches around the area, they were all incredible! There were no signs of anyone ever touching the sand, we laid down the first footprints on quite a few beaches. It was all very peaceful ๐Ÿ™‚ Later, we went out for dinner at the local fish n chip place! It was delicious!!! We tried Kumara fries, which are very similar to sweet potato fries, and we tried fried mussels as well. All very tasty. Then, we hit up the one bar on the island enjoying a local musician who sang covers of old songs by Tom Petty and the Talking Heads. We also enjoyed watching a rugby game with the 400 residents of Stewart Island who I think all packed into the bar that night haha!

 

The next day we planned to tramp around the island, but before we could get started we had to stop to get some coffee. haha! and while we were at the little Kiwi French Crepery, might as well get some delicious looking carrot cake along with it hehe! It was a very appetizing meal. We headed out west on the Island, walking on a trail that carried us out on the perimeter of the island. We stopped at many different beaches: Bathing Beach, Dead Mans Beach, Braggs Bay, Horseshoe Bay and Lee Bay. Taking a short break at Horseshoe Bay we ate lunch and even went for a little swim (which was very cold might I add). Continuing with our hike, we reached Raikura National Park! This hike was amazing through the tropical looking forest with twisting vines, incredibly tall trees, and many different forest creatures. We saw three different kinds of birds on our tramp, the Kea (resembles a parrot), a Wood Pigeon (the biggest pigeon Iโ€™d ever seen with vibrant blue on itโ€™s wing and made a beautiful sing-song voice), and the Tui (a dark colored bird that also sound very pretty and happens to be one of the famous brands of beer in nz hehe). After hiking all day we made it back to the hostile for a nice dinner we prepared. Unfortunately, we did not have a room booked for that night, but the hosts were nice enough to let us crash in the common area for the night.

more to come about my break…. ๐Ÿ™‚

Catlins

March 30th – April 1st

I planned a trip with some friends to the Catlins this weekend, about 2 hours south of Dunedin. It was a spontaneous trip, but my flatmate (Giancarlos) and I both thought it was a good weekend to get out of Dunedin because it was supposed to be very sunny. Once again we took the good old red nissan (praying that it wouldn’t break down again haha) and jumped in the car with the American crew Giancarlos (NY), Mel (NY), Phil (N Carolina), and Kevin (Cal).

This was an intense trip, we hit up so many different spots in just two days. Leaving early Saturday morning we headed south, taking a little detour in Balclutha (where we accidentally took the wrong road and had to turn around hehe) and got some lunch. The first beach we went to was Tautuku Beach where the Cathedral Caves can be found! They are 5 caves that have been carved out by the crashing ocean waves, you can only walk in them at certain hours of the day when the tide is out.
This beach was so incredible, with the tide out the sand seemed to extend for a long ways. We hiked ten minutes down to the caves. Most of the caves were skinny and all five caves laid right next to one another.
After leaving the caves we realized it was getting late and we should probably find a place to sleep. We didn’t bring a tent with us so we had to find a lodge or motel to stay the night. We asked the woman at the beginning of the trail where we could find a place to stay, she told us we could find cheap backpacker stays in Purakaunui. We drove around and stopped at different lodges till we found the perfect one. An old couple, Anne and Brian, take care of a house that they rent to travelers. The house, Wrights Mill Lodge, was adorable, cozy, and reasonably priced. We all shoved into one room for the night haha!
We decided to continue with the adventuring and did a night hike out to the Matai Falls and Lake Wilkie. When we reached the lake we laid out on the dock and looked out at all the stars.
The next day we stopped at a Gypsy Museum that we found on the side of the road. The little caravan was filled with tiny trinkets the owner had made out of recycable material, it was really neat!
We then headed out to slope point, the most southern point of nz. The look out was beautiful!
Next beach to hit up was curio bay, famous for its fossilized trees that are embedded in the beach. I saw my first wild PENGIUN there as well!
The next beach we went to was Cannibal Bay where we were really hoping to see a sea lion, but unfortunately they were not out that day. Instead we played soccer on the beach ๐Ÿ™‚
Next, we drove to the Purakaunui Falls and hiked out to the beautiful big waterfall. Below we are stadning in front of the falls in Maori warrior pose.
The last stop we made was at Nugget Point to watch the sunset!

Moeraki Boulders

Sorry I haven’t updated in awhile everybody, I have been quite busy with school and travel.

But the weekend of March 15th, I had planned a trip to Lake Tekapo…unfortunately the car broke down and we ended up at the moeraki boulders on Koekohe Beach, just north of my school.

yoga on the boulders!

brodie and kevin planking on the boulers

Long Beach (cont)

After going to Tunnel Beach, we headed out to Long Beach, about 25 min north of my school. We pulled up in our tiny red nissan, parked, and walked about 15 min down the beach to a giant cave! This was our campsite for the night ๐Ÿ™‚

the nissan

campsite for the night!

Of course we didn’t come fully prepared and didn’t bring a lot of food and forgot firewood….we were all prepared for a cold night ahead of us haha! Luckily, about ย an hour later we ran into a group of 30 people (we found out later all go to Otago) who came prepared with firewood! We kicked it with them for the night around a bond fire and sang songs with a kid who played guitar ๐Ÿ™‚

dinner for the night!!! pasta mixed with some beans mmm mmm! hahaha!

Chillin with Natalie, Joyce and Kevin ๐Ÿ™‚

the caves we had the bon fire in!

That night an amazing harvest moon came out! it was beautiful and this picture doesn’t do it justice. It was so low, pink/yellow in color, and abnormally big hanging out over the water…New Zealand, you continue to impress me ๐Ÿ™‚

Tunnel Beach and Long Beach

Friday March 9th

Sorry I haven’t updated my blog in awhile, my flat is running low on internet so i haven’t been able to download anything. Anyway, last Friday some of my friends and I trekked it out to a Tunnel beach, about 20 min south of my school. It was a gorgeous day, the sun was out and it was warm! Tunnel beach was formed from the waves hitting up against the the side of the land for so so long that the rock has become completely smooth. A large tunnel has been caved out one patch of the land and eventually the piece of land will collapse. Tunnel Beach has been my favorite spot to visit so far!

kevin

Tunnel

Paradise (cont)

my friend Julia!

destination reached: Routeburn Falls

I felt like I was on top of the world up here!

It was an incredible day that I will never forget. When we got back to base, we had a cooking competition! Our group made burritos! I think I ate about five haha! I was so hungryyy! Later we had “worm wrestling” – where two people get into sleeping bags, hold there arms into their chest, and wrestle. Funniest thing I have ever seen! haha! I think there is a video I can get from my friend hehehe!

The next day we did a short hike out to Lake Sylvan where we went swimming and ate lunch ๐Ÿ™‚

Lake Sylvan! So fun! We swam out to some rocks and jumped off of them!

The drive back was very scenic, check out that blue water!

Attempt at fixing our rain fly….ya it’s pretty janky, but it worked ha1

Para Para Paradise

This past weekend I went on a camping trip with the Tramping (hiking) Club to a place called Paradise. It is more inland on the south island, about a half hour past Queenstown. It is seriously one of the most beautiful areas I have ever been to, the landscape was incredible.

Image

We arrived at Paradise around 11:30pm on Friday, so we couldn’t see anything around us. Some friends and I found a tarp to sleep under right near what sounded like a river or stream. That night was rough, the wind was strong and and we had a slight malfunction with our tarp. Regardless of getting little sleep, we woke up early the next day to get out tramp on! As I walked out from under our rain fly, I realized the camping area was surrounded by giant vertical mountains and a river rested by our tarp. Our camping area was beautiful!

Tamping Buddies (Andy & Bryce)

tramping buddies (andy and bryce)

Camping grounds, early in the morning.

Tarp malfunction ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The leaders of my group, JJ and Kate made us some oatmeal in the morning and then we set off into the wild. We began hiking around 9:30am and didn’t get back till 6:30pm, it was a long and eventful day. We tramped along the Routeburn Trail. It was amazing how the landscape was constantly changing, getting more and more breathtaking with each step! The day started out a little chilly, but as we began our vertical incline I was stripping layers off quickly haha! We passed by a vast amount of beautiful landscape, my pictures do not do it justice. I wish you could all experience for yourself how incredible the land is here. There is so much to take in its almost overwhelming haha! Standing in a valley surrounded by giant snow capped mountains, I felt so insignificant to everything around me. Around noon my group finally reached our destination, Routeburn Falls. They were beautiful…and cold. We stopped for a little and ate some lunch. I actually ran into my flatmate Giancarlo while I was out hiking! It was so random! NZ is small haha! The hike back down was quick and my legs went into autopilot mode because I was just so tired.

The water was extremely clear and fresh. It was clean enough for us to drink out of ๐Ÿ™‚

(Ok my computer is being annoying and not letting me upload pictures, so I am going to pause my blog here, but there are more pictures from Paradise to come!)

 

St. Clair’s Beach

Ten minute drive from Otago is the BEAutiful beach of St.Clair’s where there are little coffee shops and art stores. I chilled there with my flatmate Giencarlo and my friends Alex and Haley.

surfing!!!

surfing!!!

Haley and me