Monday, November 12, 2012


Fiji was as nice as we hoped it would be! We stayed at a resort off the mainland and had our own little house, called a bure. The weather and water was beautiful and the people were friendly. 

We were able to go snorkeling twice a day if we wanted to and mom was even able to take some windsurfers out. It was a great, relaxing end to our trip. Especially since we were travelling during New Zealand's winter and were more than happy to head somewhere warm. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

From the South to the North

After Kaikoura we continued north up the South Island, finally reaching Nelson, at the northern most tip. There we were able to hike/kayak the famed Abel Tasman hike. Despite being a bit cloudy, the area was still incredible. We took a water taxi to our starting point and then kayaked for approximately two hours to our lunch spot and start of our hike. The kayak was much more difficult than anticipated and made my arms and back hurt. Thankfully the water was calm and we saw a variety of bird-life and seals. 

After lunch we had a two hour hike on the Abel Tasman track until our final destination where the water taxi would take us back to our hotel. The track was full of beautiful view points, and lush, tropical vegetation. 

After our stay in Nelson we headed East to Picton where we would catch the ferry to the city of Wellington on the North Island. Wellington is a vibrant, historical city. We spent a few hours at the national museum, Te Papa... and still didn't see it all! 

Then we went to the Wellington Zoo where we got to see enrichment for the Malaysian Sun Bears! While in Wellington we lucked out that they were having their annual restaurant month and we got to try a variety of different restaurants. The food was incredible! Now a quick flight to Auckland so we can start our adventure in Fiji!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Up the coast of NZ

After leaving Queenstown, our next stop along the way was to do some hiking in Mt. Cook, home of New Zealand's tallest peak. We ended up getting delayed on the way by a sheep crossing. I had never encountered one before so it was a new experience for all of us. It was so cool!

Mt. Cook was a bit rainy and overcast when we arrived but thankfully cleared up enough for us to do some hiking. We hiked a trail called Kea Point which led us to views of Mt. Cook and Mueller glacier. Bright blue glacier run-off can be seen in the picture below. It was spectacular. 

After Mt. Cook we headed to Christchurch where we had dinner with friends. They opened their home to us and cooked a delicious meal, venison roast and homemade dessert, yum! We spent the next day in Christchurch viewing the earthquake destruction, as well as some of the renovations already taking place, like the container mall. A resourceful, and colorful way to bring some normalcy back to the city.

We then headed farther north up the east coast to Kaikoura, a beach town. We went whale watching and were fortunate enough to see two sperm whales! The boat was much rockier than we thought and thankfully we had prepared before to avoid seasickness. 

Not too far out of Kaikoura we were able to stop at Ohau falls. This is a magical place where seal pups come to socialize and play while their moms are out getting food. You get to go right up to the pool and watch the pups play. It was amazing! Next stop, Nelson!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Family trip updates

I was lucky to have my mom and aunt visit me in New Zealand for 2.5 weeks. Here is a bit of a recap on our adventures. Our trip began with a two night stay in Queenstown. Despite the fact that it was winter, the weather was pretty mild and we got lucky with sun and clear skies most days. 

The first day we went horseback riding in Glenorchy, a small town 45 minutes from Queenstown. We were able to ride in some of the sites where the Lord of the Rings filming took place. It was very remote and very beautiful. We had great horses and a great time!

The second day it was time to be more extreme! The three of us did the Nevis Swing. This swing is suspended over a 150m canyon and you plummet to a 70m freefall. It was so scary! I was shaking the entire time. The adrenaline rush was incredible, as were the views. The experience was totally worth it and I'd definitely do it again!

An aerial view of Queenstown from the top of a hill overlooking the town. A gondola took us up there and the views were spectacular. Also at the top was a luge track where you sit in go-kart type vehicles and race down a track. Mom was the fastest. 

On our final day, Paige and I conquered an actual bungy. It was a 43m jump and definitely did not need to be any longer. It was an incredible experience. I didn't let myself think about it at all. You just had to go for it before your mind said NO!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

XC Skiing

Last weekend my friends and I went cross country skiing at Snow Farm in Wanaka. Wanaka is about a 5 hour drive from my school, very doable. The ski place itself is another 40 minutes or so from Wanaka. It's at the top of a mountain and you can't even see it from the road. It's a dirt road and very steep and windy, the drive itself was quite an adventure. 

We had to ski 7km with our 30lb backpacks to the hut where we would be staying. The hut was one of the only places at the ski place where you actually had 360-views of the southern alps. The view was incredible. 

The place had over 50km of cross country ski trails and is the premiere cross country ski location in the southern hemisphere. There were a lot of olympic teams training while we were there. Also interesting is that the site is home to a proving ground for high end cars. While I was there they were testing Mercedes AMG. It was a bit weird to be quietly skiing and then here the loud rev of a racing engine. 

On the way back we were fortunate to catch the sunset behind Mt. Cook. Mt. Cook is the large peak in the center and is the tallest mountain in NZ at 12,316 feet. This is the view at Lake Pukaki. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lyttelton and Diamond Harbour

Last weekend my friend and I took a spontaneous day trip to Lyttelton, a harbour town on the east coast of Christchurch. It was about an hour bus ride from Lincoln. We had a short bus layover in the center city in Christchurch so I took the opportunity to finally get some pictures of the city's destruction.

The center of the city is blocked off and abandoned. They are doing construction work in there, but there doesn't appear to be much major progress. I think they are partially concerned about another earthquake and therefore are hesitant to rebuild.

They have however reopened some shops using shipping containers. It's a pretty neat and creative idea and they turned out really good!

Then we got back on the bus to Lyttelton. We got there with no agenda and walked towards the docks in the port. We ended up discovering that you can take a short ferry to the other side of the bay to Diamond Harbour, so we hopped on!

Diamond Harbour was beautiful. We ate lunch there and went on a hike around the coastline. The water was a really pretty green color. 

Then we headed back to Lyttelton and took some time to actually walk around. They got hit pretty bad by the earthquake, especially since it's one of the original founding towns and has a lot of historic buildings. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A fun-filled weekend

This last weekend began with a trip to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve on Friday afternoon. It's a small wildlife park filled with mostly native NZ wildlife. Although they do have some lemurs and monkeys and things that you would not normally find. First stop was to see the eels. You could buy food to feed the eels and we did just that. They were so gross, yet so cool. You fed them with a metal spoon and they gobbled it right up. At one point we touched them on their head and they were surprisingly smooth and squishy. 

Then it was time to feed the lemurs, which we paid extra to do. It was so fun. The lemurs were super cute and gentle. Their favorite food was dates, but they also ate carrots, potatoes, and grapes, among other things. Some of the lemurs sat on your lap and one would sit on your shoulders. The funniest part is when the sun would come out. The lemurs were drawn to the sun like they were in a trance and would sit and "meditate."

The next day we went to Sumner beach. Sumner has a lot of houses on cliffs and was greatly effected by the earthquake. This is a picture of a line of shipping containers down the road that are used to protect against the cliff slipping. 

Some of the boys set up a slackline at the beach. Zach (pictured) was really good. The line was pretty loose, so when the tide came in his feet would be completely submerged in the water. Overall a great weekend! Next plans, cross-country skiing in Wanaka!