2013 & 2014

A lot was done in 2013! It was an amazing year filled with new friends, old friends, travelling, climbing, new adventures, learning and lots of food experimentation.

I think it is also my fittest year yet. Even counting my lazy days in Fiji where I used the heat as an excuse not to exercise, I feel like I’ve gotten stronger and improved my cardio (slightly). A big moment was when I did my first pull-up!

I lived in many places: Wanaka, Christchurch, Suva, Christchurch (again), Vancouver!

I worked in many places: Mountain View Backpackers, Lakeside Hotel, Ernst & Young, Hume Doors & Timber, Vancouver Cliffhanger, Pacific Community Resources Society and 2 day-long jobs.

And I tried many new adventure activities: backcountry skiing, traditional climbing, backpacking, scuba diving, surfing, caving, outdoor bouldering, ridge walking, paragliding and participated in my first bouldering competition.

I am lucky to have had such a good year.

My most challenging goal for 2014 will be to climb the Chief in Squamish. I want to be able to switch leads, and not just follow. My other goals are a bit smaller, but numerous (Kat says they are boring): climb at least once a week, concentrate on my studies, climb at Smith Rock (Oregon), go to the US, venture farther east in BC, get a promotion at the climbing gym, volunteer once a week for at least 3 months, outdoor lead a 5.10d, get hired as a TA, win a scholarship, get a good co-op job and eat more naturally (I’m thinking once a week I am going to try to not eat anything that is made with prepared ingredients – but not sure if this is the best strategy).

Oh! And finish up/make a Fiji/NZ travel journal.

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coromandel

Right after the volunteering, Lauren flew up to Auckland and we headed over to the Coromandel Peninsula. We rented a little Yaris to get around, but when the lady at Avis saw my ginormous suitcase, she gave us a free upgrade to a Hyundai Accent. Sweet!

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Our mini-trip was awesome and filled with camping, eating nice food and seafood, visiting beaches, swimming, getting eaten by sandflies, short walks to look at kauris/mine tunnels/waterfalls, visiting hot water beach, and camping.

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There were 300 people at Hot Water Beach when we were there. We didn’t even bother renting a shovel. The water was too hot in some places to even stand!

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We hiked through an old mining tunnel that is 500m long. Tunnels give me a bit of the creeps after living in Christchurch (because of all the earthquakes) but it was cooooool! The tunnel was also cool, which was a nice break after the much-larger-than-expected hill we just walked up.

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In Auckland we met up with some old friends and went climbing, slacklining and ate A LOT of $1.50 steamed buns.

tiritiri matangi

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For 5 days the week before I left, I volunteered on an open bird sanctuary island called Tiritiri Matangi. It was a really fun experience with friendly people and I am really glad I did it! The volunteering aspect was quite easy – cleaning and refilling water troughs, cleaning out culverts and drains, washing the automobiles, picking up garbage, cleaning, digging fence holes and washing things. I was expecting to do a lot of tedious work, so the variety was nice.

The island is a maximum of 1 km across and 3 km long, and for 3 days, there were only 8 people on the whole island (1 ranger, 5 researchers, and 2 volunteers). That was really cool and the ranger and other researchers were really nice and friendly. We had meals together, drank wine and had a lot of laughs.

The beach was really nice and I managed to convince myself to swim 2 of the days. It was really cold, but beautiful.

One night I went out on a night walk and I saw 2 teeny blue penguins by the water (1 got scared and jumped into the ocean while the other one tried to camouflage into the hill) and a big fat kiwi ran across the road I was walking on and gave me a kiwi-in-the-headlights stare. One of the researchers, Donar, took us around and showed us some of the work he does with the hihis (stitchbird) and I got to see some chicks that had just been born within 24 hours! They were so small. He also showed us a tuatara (giant lizard), a baby tuatara, a morepork chick and we saw some kokakos. Other birds I saw were fantails, tuis, robins, parakeets, pukekos, takahes.. and so many more, but I can’t remember!

Hihi chicks:

tiritiri-12Pukeko with baby pukeko:

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I wouldn’t mind working as a ranger for a while. I would definitely be keen to take a co-op job out of Vancouver. Vancouver is really nice to be a nice city with everything close to mountains and the ocean, but I’d love to live farther out of the city.

Here are some photos that I haven’t posted yet.

– Lauren and me paragliding:

tiritiri-7 tiritiri-6 tiritiri-5 tiritiri-4– After Cup Day:

tiritiri-3– Picton:

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off to hawaii!

This airport has free computers… but only for 2 minutes. Will make it quick!!!

Off to Honolulu today.. will meet up with Natasha tonight and Kat and Scott in a few days.

Volunteering on Tiritiri (the bird island) was awesome. I saw penguins!! And a kiwi!!!!

The last few days with Lauren have been very nice. We rented a car (free upgrade) and went to the Coromandel. We had awesome beach weather and went swimming, to beaches, slept in the most sandlfy-infested campsite and hiked through an old mining tunnel. He is on his way back to Christchurch right now.

since the door warehouse….

Ok the hostel I am at today has free computers, so I can update the blog. I’m in Auckland now and this hostel is a bit funny because most of the people that stay here work here and live here long-term. In my opinion there are a huge amount of better places to live than in urban Auckland!!! Me no comprendo!!! Get me outta this hostel!!!!!!!

While I’ve been here I’ve stayed in hostels, campsites, private campsites, couches, huts, van, and probably more. I am very thankful that I found so many friendly people, friendly university clubs, friends of friends and friendly alpine clubs because I’ve been able to meet lots of locals but also lots of other travellers that are like me. And Lauren!

Anyway, since I worked at the door warehouse, I have been up to many things! Lets see how much I can remember…

I had about a week off before my next commitments, so I decided to fly up to Wellington and see where I could go from there. I didn’t have a set plan, but my wish list consisted of: visiting friends (Craig, Laura & Kevin), going to museums, hiking, rock climbing, sightseeing and staying in the sunshine. (Craig – met climbing in the summer, Laura – lived in my building in Fiji the first semester, Kevin – his twin brother John was there in my first semester in Fiji and he’s been on exchange in Wellington)

I landed bright and early in Wellington (flying is cheaper than going by car/boat/ferry by A LOT!) and spent that day hanging with Craig and some climbers from the Victoria University Tramping Club. It was a beautiful day and it was nice hanging out on the beach and climbing a bit. It was an adventure getting to the rocks because we had to cross a river/inlet, which was a lot more full than usual. Craig crossed up to neck-deep (haha!) and me up to my waist. We then found out there was a crossing that was only up to our shins further along. Ooops. There was an unfortunate pack-and-camera-getting-dipped-in-the-water incident (noooo) but the camera has meanwhile resurrected itself. WAHOO! This means I don’t have that many of my own photos for this post….

The rainy weather was incoming so I decided to go up to Tongariro the next day to do the crossing the next day. It is a VERY popular hike across an active volcano that every tourist seems to do. I ended up doing it with 3 German travellers which was fun. Unfortunately it was extremely rainy and cloudy so I didn’t see any of it!!!! Nooooo! But it was still worth it to walk up the valley with all the rocks and to see the aftermaths of the recent eruption (big craters from flying rocks and holes in the bunkbeds of one of the huts – glad I wasn’t staying there!). I recommend doing it, but on a sunny day because it really only turned into a 20km workout walk instead of a nice picturesque scenic hike.

So then I decided to head back to Wellington and did many things: visited the Museum of Wellington and Te Papa museum, visited Laura on the coast and had delicious fish tacos, had sushi (twice!), went climbing at the gym, met Kevin’s sister and brother-in-law (I now know their whole family practically!!) and had a night out with them, and took many-a-many trains. Kevin and I went to an AWESOME cocktail bar called Alice, where the drinks are all served in teapots and they serve you the drinks on a big platter with a doiley and a tea pot and cups and saucers. The bar was also at a funny height so you feel really high on one side and really small on the other. And to get to it, you go through another bar, through a door that says toilet and then through another door. SO COOL!

Then last weekend I took the ferry from Wellington to Picton which was very scenic and nice, and then did an actually quite lovely short walk in Picton (some of the best views I’ve seen in NZ even though it was only like 1.5 hours long!), spent the night in Blenheim (another bad hostel) and came back the next day. It was actually quite funny how I got on the ferry. I walked from Craig’s house to the ferry and asked when the next sailing was (didn’t matter to me) and they said “YOU CAN GET ON THE ONE RIGHT NOW!!! JUST JUMP IN THIS TRUCK!!”. Me: uhhh whaaat? Apparently they had already taken the gangway away but I could still get on the ferry by riding the luggage truck onto the bottom. Haha! I was not in that much of a rush, but fine by me! It reminded me a bit of the crazy adventures I ran into in Fiji.

This past week has been busy and lovely spending lots of time with Lauren and friends. Tuesday we went to the races in Christchurch and we dressed up and had a big champagne breakfast. That was lots of fun spending so much time with Natalie and Hugh. Yesterday I did a (sadly short) day of data entry (I type too fast), but when I got home my coworker Jen from EY called me and said “THE WIND IS RIGHT FOR PARAGLIDING, COME ALONG!!!!” Naturally, Lauren and I jumped in the van and drove there and her partner Simon took us out. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a cool hobby/sport!! We had been trying to go with them for a while but the wind has not been right. I would like to take lessons in the near future. AMAZING!!!!

On Thursday I met up with some work friends during the day and then a small gathering with some friends at the best restaurant in Christchurch (Mangdu, a Korean restaurant yummm) and went out for drinks. And then today I flew up to Auckland and that’s where I am. I am leaving to volunteer tomorrow for 5 days and then Lauren is flying up and we rented a car to go to either Northland or Cormandel. Still to be decided. And then, HAWAII!!!!!

Oh yeah, I also registered for classes for next semester and got into all of the ones I wanted. Yay!

wanaka and queenstown

I don’t have much Internet access anymore so I decided to write out my blog post while at work to save time. This doesn’t help when you forget the paper at home when you come to the library… will have to write again!

I didn’t mean to put in so many pictures of me but it seems like every picture that I took of Lauren is blurry or he is blinking. Ah well. Rose-splosion. (Liz if you are reading this, you will also notice I am wearing your Guelph sweatshirt in almost every photo. If I am not wearing it… it was in my bag.)

Lauren and I went on a week and a half trip to Wanaka & Queenstown and it was awesome! The weather was looking a bit marginal (rain every day) but it only rained twice and the weather was nice and warm (though windy).

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We climbed 4 days, a mix of new places and places I went in the summer. It was great meeting up with Glen and other friends again as well. When I worked at the hostel in Wanaka everyone always talked about the Rob Roy (beside the) Glacier Walk as a must-do, but I could never figure out how to get a ride down to it. So we decided to try again, twice but again was not successful! The first time the road was flooded and we didn’t want to break the van. The second time we got farther but there was a ford that looked pretty large.. and we didn’t want to break the van. Maybe I will try again but I think it’s a sign…

So we went on a valley walk instead…

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Look! New boots!
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One day we also did a ridge walk up to Mt Dingle Corner Peak an unmarked mountain but because I am lazy I got too tired to make it to anything named. It was still good though with great views! I’m still not sure if hiking/tramping is my thing.

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Rainy days were the perfect times to go swimming, watch movies, read books, eat out and try all the craft beers. We watched a documentary called Antartica: A Year on Ice which I highly recommend! It makes me want to live in Antartica (the average person that lives there is an average shmo like me!). But then I realized I could also just go to Northern Canada to experience similar eternal light/dark. This might be a bit more cost effective. I would be interested in that! I also got to finally try a Fergburger (not the best burger I have ever had, but maybe the best one in NZ) and I also highly recommend the aquatic centre in Queenstown (it has a lazy river, a spa pool, water guns, water sprays, 2 slides (that weren’t on, tear) and much more).

IMG_0727Oamaru also has an awesome playground.

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We also realized that we were there for the World Championship Jet Boat Race! There were teams from Canada there. The boats were SO FAST and really fun to watch. They were racing from Wanaka to Cromwell. Such a random thing to bump into.

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It worked out perfectly that on the way home from Queenstown I got a call from one of the temp agencies in Christchurch and they said they needed someone for a receptionist job for three days this past week and 4 days this week (it’s a long weekend). I am currently working at a door warehouse and my job entails bringing paper ten steps over from the printer to the other lady and answering the phone when she is not there or on the phone. I am not really sure why they are employing me as I read 1 book a day.

Oh yeah! We went to Castle Hill the day before we left as well with a bunch of friends:

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Terra's photo
Terra’s photo

And here’s a photo from the Boulder Bash:

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Petr Polák – Piti

a few goodbyes

The past week has been lots and lots of fun as Brendan was staying with us for the week before he flew out. It was nice having flatmates that wanted to climb/be active/cook great food/watch ski movies. I will be looking for similar flatmates when I am in Vancouver (who wants to be myyy roooommieeeee??)

Lauren belaying behind a native (?) bush at a post-work climbing session at Cattlestop crag:

IMG_0679I am going to miss that fella (Lauren has said this too). I wonder if he reads this? (hi brendan!!!) I met him in my first few days on the South Island as I was taking a bus from Christchurch to Nelson. We hung out intermittently while I was working on the orchard, for Christmas with Helenka, and then took two trips to Paynes Ford, one over New Years. We met up in February when him and his girlfriend Maureen were visiting Christchurch. Helenka also met up with both of them again when she returned to Nelson at the end of her trip.

But that wasn’t the end! As he was passing through Christchurch we met up with him again for a big Indian meal, and then we met up with him in Mt Cook while we were climbing. Then squeeze in a trip to Temple Basin to go touring and the climbing around Christchurch in his last week. It’s been great getting to know him and doing fun stuff, and I feel like when we see him again it will always be doing something awesome. See you in Chamonix!!!!!

Work at EY is finished which is a good change (6 weeks turned 13.5 weeks). I should work a bit more but have a few leads and still am keeping a couple of temp agencies hot. The plan is to go to Wanaka/Queenstown for the next week but the weather looks TERRIBLE!!! I was also planning on hut wardening in later October near Napier, but I realized yesterday that I have no way of getting to the trailhead from Napier. Oops. So much for planning ahead. EY was a lovely place to work and everyone was incredibly friendly. I look forward to meeting up with them soon, and hopefully I have convinced some of them to do working holidays in Canada.

Here are some pictures from Temple Basin. I had a pretty bad goggle tan line after that weekend.

IMG_0647 IMG_0649 IMG_0645And this is the group of climbers/audience that saw me ski into a hole. Whoops.

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They are selling the house that we are living in in a couple of weeks so we have to move out (including our other flatmates). I think this is a good time to move on as well. Change is good! Lauren has been getting a lot of work through the health care temp agency with a pretty wide variety of clients. This week he did two night shifts, three day shifts, two short cleaning shifts and I might even be missing some. He crazy.

Hopefully it stops raining soon!!!! But meanwhile, here is a picture of a cool greenhouse:

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