Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Day in the City

It has been an especially quiet couple of days as most of the group has been off in Queenstown and Connor and I have been trying to make the most of our free time without spending too much money. Our first choice was paragliding but it turns out that it's closed for the winter around here, so we also looked into hot air ballooning, horseback riding, and even skydiving but they all proved to be too expensive. We made the most of it, though, and spent one day out in the city of Christchurch. Christchurch is the closest city to Lincoln University, where we're staying, and it's not what I would call a big city by any means. The damage from the earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011 is still readily apparent and, although the city has a great spirit of resilience, it's obvious that Christchurch isn't what it used to be. I've noticed that New Zealand cities (at least Auckland and Christchurch) don't have the same bustling and busy feel that American cities do. I guess it's because the entire population of New Zealand (about 4 million) is less than that of any one big American city, but the cities here feel sort of desolate and empty. Despite that, Christchurch does have a certain charm and I like the innovative ideas they've had to make the most of the post-earthquake devastation and rebuilding.
One of Christchurch's distinctive sculptures
One of the ways Christchurch adds color and character
The Christchurch Cathedral

Connor and I took the bus from Lincoln to Christchurch and explored the Restart Mall (aka the Container Mall) which is a shopping center built entirely from freight shipping containers and some of the local shops for most of the morning. We stopped at Dimitri's Greek Food - a food truck right next to the Restart Mall - for some delicious falafel pitas and then at a cafĂ© in a container for coffee. We filled the rest of the day with more exploring and ended the day with a drink at a local bar made from old school buses and then took the bus back to Lincoln. 
The Restart Mall
(All these photos were taken in when I was there in December,
hence the reindeer on the roof)
Yesterday was just a day of relaxing and working on class journals. I also spent much of the day looking for jobs for when I arrive in Perth, WA. There are certainly plenty of opportunities out there and I've applied for a few but I'm still waiting to see what works out. Only one more week until this course is finished and I fly to Australia!
All the best,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Last Month in New Zealand

I can't believe it's really my last month in New Zealand - actually, I'm down to less than two weeks! It may be surprising but I actually can't wait to leave. Some people may fall in love with New Zealand and never be able to leave but I am not one of those people. I found myself wishing many times that I hadn't committed to such a long time here and that I could just go home, but it really has been a great experience and I certainly don't regret it. The culmination of my New Zealand adventure is a 5-week study abroad in Conservation and Biodiversity with the University of Florida and it has been worth the wait. I am now on week 3 out of 5 and I already know I am going to miss the great people I am fortunate to study and travel with.
"The squad" as we like to refer to ourselves

It's hard to summarize all we've done in the past three weeks but you can check out our class blog at if you want to know what we've been up to. We just returned from a 3-day trip up the coast to Waipara where we learned about wineries' efforts to become "greener" by providing patches of native forest for native wildlife within the wineries and to Kaikoura where we saw A LOT of New Zealand Fur Seals (known as Kekeno which means "looks around" in Maori), some species of birds which we hadn't yet seen, and some Dusky dolphins way off in the distance. Needless to say, the views were also spectacular.

One of the fur seal colonies(above), a fur seal "looking around"(below)
 Most of the squad is looking forward to a fun weekend in the adventure capital of New Zealand - Queenstown - and although I would really love to go, I can't afford it so I will be enjoying a relaxing weekend in Christchurch. And in case you were wondering where this random blog post came from, from now on I'm going to try to blog regularly... better late than never! :)

Til next time,
The Kaikoura Coast