Flights are cheaper than taking the bus/ferry to Auckland, so I took a flight the day before I flew back to Fiji to Auckland. Best part, other than the view, was the Lord of the Rings safety trailer!!!
I also got to see some of the North Island. Parts that I missed.. next time!
I met up with two friends that I met at HangDog. They were going to Big Gay Out (Auckland’s PRIDE festival) so I went with them and we got food afterwards. There was live music which was nice. I crashed on Sandy’s couch which was very nice of her. The next day I met up with Sd (a Fiji friend) and then flew back to Nadi!
It’s been pretty good being back! It’s been nuts busy, because I volunteered with Orientation and been very busy catching up with everyone. I’ve been getting along reallllly well with some of the new international students which is awesome. Kate’s and my flat is totally awesome and super close to campus (though you have to high jump over 800 rabid dogs to get in or out). It should be a lot easier to adapt the second time, which it was, but I’ve been feeling pretty sick a lot of the time. I’m not sure what upsets my stomach here but it really does, and stopped while I was abroad. The weather is also insane, it rotates between our driveway melting and dripping down the hill or torrential downpour x2. I’ve been getting super dehydrated but I’m not sure if it’s possible to drink more water!!! Kate and I had a big housewarming party last weekend and it was tons and tons of fun, and I’ve got to go swimming every day at least once which has been great.
I picked my classes too! I am taking Marine Biology, Ethics and Professionalism in the Public Service, Marketing and Individual and Community Health Psychology. It’s a pretty hard semester actually, a lot more than last semester. The bio and psych class I think will be challenging because it isn’t my major and they are final year classes… but I’d rather take something interesting here where my marks don’t matter, then Bio 101 and Psych 101 back home. I think I’ll get a lot more out of these classes. I’ve met a lot of my classmates and it’s been nice being back somewhere familiar-ish.
I’ve been doing a lot of slacklining too, which is like a loose tight rope, and I’ve been getting better!
This weekend I am going on a hiking trip. I am a bit nervous.
My 20th birthday involved a lot of delicious food and beers. We started at Smash Palace, which is one of Christchurch’s regeneration-type projects where they take dead space where they tore down buildings and turn it into something cool. This corner they turned into an outdoor bar where there are two busses inside, and you order your drink from the window of the bus. Cool! A blue cheese burger was consumed that day.
After taking advantage of some other drink specials many hours later, we hit up a really good vietnamese restaurant and Lauren had his first pho. The day ended with some live music and some ginger beer. It was a great day with a few great (new but great!) friends. I like to think I saved some money on hostels when I lived in the van, but I probably spent the equivalent amount of money on chai lattes and beer (cafes and bars are the best places to get someone to fill up your 8 2L water bottles).
For the whole time we were in Christchurch, we mostly stayed in Sumner, which is a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Christchurch. It has awesome surf, an awesome beach and is pretty laid back. It was hit really hard by the earthquake but it was a great spot to park (cold shower! ample seating! flush toilets!). It was so good that we actually met other people almost daily who were also parking there.. a couple from France, an Aussie climber, and a surfer dude. Also, the park beside the road had entertainment like bagpipe Sundays (errrggghhh) and kids birthday parties. (That family definitely uses Pinterest) It was quite silly because the van has a bit of a loose fan belt so we got stuck a few times where we couldn’t move the car because the screeching would damage the kids/bagpiper’s ear drums.
Bookme.com had a deal where if you book surfboards in advance you could get a 24 hour rental for $20. DEAL! We did that, but it turned out that there was no surf that day. We fooled around in the waves, but I really need a lesson. Quite badly.
We then realized that it was near impossible to sleep in the van with the surfboards.. oops! I texted Robyn (Kat’s Dal friend that I mentioned earlier) and conveniently she had a house in Sumner AND was coming back that day. Yay hot shower!!! The next day we ended up climbing (as mentioned before) at Castle Hill. Here are some more pictures:
On the way back we also did Cave Stream, which is a 45 minute cave with a.. duh.. stream through it. It was fun!! We still had the wet suits so I was nice and toasty.. too warm even!
They were active days for sure.. in two days I went caving, rock climbing, bouldering and surfing!
The last full two days in Christchurch, after Lauren finished work, we drove up to Hamner Springs Thermal Pools which is basically tourist extreme central. It took us ages to find a place to park the van without a no camping van. We spent the day lounging around in hot pools, which was pretty fun. Too hot though. They had maybe six kinds of pools, and there were a bajillion tourists there. I liked the coolest ones the best and the sulphur pools the worst (smelly and WAY TOO HOT). But I got to wear my flamingo bathing suit so I was happy.
Over the course of this time, more climbing was done.. and I led my first 21! Sloppily, and hanging off each draw, but I DID IT! This is a HUGE progress point from where I started at the beginning of the summer. It was supposed to give me more motivation to stay in shape but I have been a bit of a blobby blob so far.
Felix and Nico had to run off to a dinner the day they drove me to Christchurch, so I met up with Lauren in town. Lauren and I met earlier on the trip at Castle Hill through Pia and Craig (who I travelled South with). Originally the plan was to stay in Christchurch and climb/travel the area for about a week. I ended up showing up two days early and we ended up getting along so well that I actually stayed there for the rest of my trip.
A lot of Christchurch rock has been entirely obliterated. What used to be columns of rock is now a pile of rubble from the 2011 earthquake (2 years ago!). Christchurch area was a huge climbing area, but now it barely has any.
We decided to check out Albert Terrace on the first day as it is supposed to be a good beginner/warm-up wall. We found the rock a bit dodgy as it sounded quite hollow. It was fine though, and we had fun on a route that in my book said was a 19 but then as more people came by to climb it kept upping a grade or two because people kept saying that it got re-graded a few times. Riiight.
I also got a driving on the left side lesson that day.
The next day Lauren had to work in the morning so I got to practice driving on the left side some more. I am good at it other than all right of way rules because they are backwards!! Fiji drives on the left, so I am used to sitting on the left, but Fiji also does not have any right of way rules so I am not used to that. There are a couple of big adventures I want to do in Fiji this year where you need to rent a car so I feel a lot more confident now than before.
We spent a few days in the Banks Peninsula area looking for things to climb. On the way we stopped at Lyttleton which had a nice Kiwi beach, which was good, but then a lady who was also there told us that it was one of the beaches where the water is hot. We sat in a hot pool/puddle for a while. So awesome. Nature’s hot tub.
We also stopped and inventoried our food because we both had no idea what we had with us. We found out that if the car broke down we could probably survive on baked beans for a week no problem.
My climbing book, South Island Rock, also know as the worst climbing guidebook I have ever seen, led us astray a few times. We did end up doing some trad climbing at Holmes Bay which was very smooth and crackular. My hands got torn to shreds quite a bit. But most of the time we just spend wandering/driving on dodgy roads (thank goodness for 4 by 4).
The next day we were so frustrated at trying to find the cliffs (you seriously need a machete!) so we gave up and ate fush and chups and drove back to Christchurch. Then we went to the climbing gym. At that point it had been a seriously long time since I had a shower, heh, so it probably was a good thing that we went to the gym.
I am skipping ahead a bit, but I just got some pictures from Robyn and would like to share them! On Waitangi Day (a stat holiday in NZ), Lauren, Robyn, Lauren’s friend Warrick and I drove to Castle Hill and Cave Stream. Robyn is one of Kat’s Dal friends! I had planned to meet up with her all along, and it finally worked out towards the end of the trip. Robyn was gracious enough to let us store the surf boards we rented on her lawn (more info about this in a future post) and use her shower.
Here are some pictures that Robyn took! They look cool!!
These pictures really capture the beauty of the area! They are great.
I am in the purple, Lauren is in the blue tshirt and Warrick is the one not wearing a shirt.
I spent one night in Queenstown. Queenstown is known as the party/resort town so we made it count. We started off the night at a bar with a beer deal, then $2 tacos and pitchers, then another happy hour special where I had a delicious cocktail that had an entire kiwi in it (not the person, the fruit). Kiwis.. more potassium than a banana, more vitamin C than an orange! (have I said this already?) Though I do think that a kiwi’s nutritional value gets negated when combined with Midori. It was great fun.
We also stopped at a bungy jump to watch – I think it was the first ever commercialized bungy jump. Can you imagine how dodgy bungee jumps must have been when they first started doing them?
I was planning on going to meet up with a friend from Hang Dog and climb near Mt Cook, but our plans ended up not working out so after a giant eggs n bacee breakfast I headed with Nico and Felix (the German guys who I met in Milford Sound) to Dunedin/Otago Peninsula. The drive was long, but beautiful.
I’m not sure if they were being serious or not, but we stopped in Alexandra because Felix’s girlfriend’s name is Alexandra.
After driving the hunk of a junk van into the ditch (see below), we camped on the beach and had a steak campfire dinner. It was delicious! The rule in NZ is that you can camp or park your car anywhere overnight as long as there are no signs that say ‘no camping’. Even still I was a bit nervous about setting up my tent in a parking lot so I ended up waking up early enough to see most of the sunrise.
Wicked Campers is a popular car rental, that rents out junk vans that look cool. Despite looking awesome, they are all on the verge of falling apart. The one I travelled in:
– they are the complete opposite of discreet with their giant “BACKPACKERS LIVE HERE” sign
– they one we had had an extremely, unbelievably rattle-y back door
– poor gas mileage
– super disruptive sliding door (I noticed this one while camping at a DOC campsite on the way to Wanaka)
On the positive side, they allow you to drive like a nutso because everyone knows that you are a foreigner.
We started to make the trek up to Christchurch, with a stop in a few places. That area is pretty famous for large numbers of albatross and penguins. We weren’t there at the right time of the day so instead I ate penguin shaped pancakes. Otago Peninsula has lots of windy roads and beautiful views!!
We also stopped at the Whitestone Cheese Deli factory (that day was a very extravagant food day, normally I was eating chickpeas, veg and noodles haha). I got to try 9 kinds of cheese! My favourites were goat milk feta, cammenbert, gruyere and their vintage blue cheese. NOMMMM their blue cheese was delicious.
The next day I wanted to do a cruise tour through the Milford Sound, and when I found out I could go at early o’clock and on the junk boat for cheap, I decided to do it. It was good, but I do wish it was raining or just after it rained. When it rains in Milford Sound it looks quite amazing.
Anywho, it was cool seeing what the glaciers have carved out, the sea lions and a big waterfall. I hung out with two people (a Canadian and a UKer) that I met the day before on the Key Summit Track.
The night before at the hostel I met a great group of people from Germany and Switzerland, they were all planning on heading to Queenstown (as was I) so we left after the cruise.
I took this picture at one of our stops. Keas are cheeky birds that like to destroy absolutely everything. Their all time favourite delicacy is windshield wipers.