Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May in New Zealand

The botanical gardens are one of Dunedin's most beautiful locations. This is one of my favorite spots, next the fountains with the view over-looking half of the city. I am constantly taken back by the beauty of this place I was able to call home this semester. This opportunity has been a gift that I will never take for granted.
Not many people are big fans of class at eight in the morning. I, on the other hand, enjoy this time in the morning when no one else is around. Campus is quiet and days like this when the sunrise is breathtaking are unforgettable. As is gets colder, not as many people are showing up for these morning classes either. I only have two more days of class and then final exams begin. I'm nervous about so much of my grade riding on one test, but I think I'll do just fine. 
I went downtown the other day looking for some gifts and came across this candy store. We popped in quick to take a look around and noticed they were selling a semi-popular brand of cereal here. I then noticed the price tag and my jaw dropped. $20 for a single box of cereal, no thank you. This is how you get the population to eat healthier cereals! There was also a jar of Reeses Peanut Butter for $19.95 as well...
I went to the Market Day on campus last week, they had this trolley of groceries and you had to guess the dollar amount you thought it was worth. I'm usually pretty terrible at these type of things, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. I guessed $269.80.
I ended up being $0.12 off and won the whole thing! I now don't have to buy groceries for the rest of my time here! So many great things, like FANCY peanut butter (you can tell because its in a glass jar!).
This past weekend we went for a hike right outside of Wanaka to a back-country hut. The ride to Wanaka has to be one of my favorites here in New Zealand.
It took us a while to find the trail head. It was on private property and not marked very well, so we ended up on some of the paths through the farm before finally coming across where we were supposed to be.
We had to climb through these gates that are put in place to keep the livestock in. Almost like a dog door for humans. 
The hike was wonderful and we planned on staying in the hut for two nights. The first night we got in late and it was already dark. We were sad that we couldn't see much coming in, but once we got above tree line and saw that it was clear skies and the stars were like nothing I've seen before. We unpacked quickly,  took a few of the mattresses outside, and laid there starring up at the stars above us. The milky way was so clear and we saw multiple shooting stars. I've never experienced anything like it before, I felt so small as I gazed up at all the constellations before me. It was one of those things that caught me off-guard and I want to remember that moment forever.
This is Fern Burn Hut where we stayed both nights. A 12-person bunk with no heat, because as you can see there is no wood to burn anywhere near by.
The next day we hiked up to the next peak and back down without having to wake up too early. It was so nice to take our time, knowing we had the whole day to explore.
Here, you can see Lake Wanaka in the distance.
Melissa, Abbey, and Noelle accompanied me this weekend. I am so grateful to have met such amazing people while being here. Without them, my adventures and memories would not as great as they are. The people you surround yourself with makes a huge difference.
It got a little brisk once we got to the top. It started sleeting, so we didn't spend too much time up there before heading back down. Unfortunately it was really cloudy so it was hard to see very far.
In the visitor's book we read that a lot of people were seeing goats on their way through. We were lucky enough to see a bunch as well! There was probably a total of 15 in one spot we passed through, including adorable babies. They were nothing like the mountain goats I've seen in Colorado.

I think I will miss the sunsets and sunrises from back-country huts the most when I leave here. I've never felt more at home than I do here.
I see posts about how everyone is finally enjoying the summer weather back home. Me on the other hand, woke up to a ton of snow the next morning. A group of 11 ended up showing up that night, which ended up being great in the end. They were a group from Miami University in Ohio and they brought a ton of body heat with them! They were spending 3 weeks here for an outdoor leadership class. I couldn't imagine only spending 3 weeks here. I feel as though a semester isn't even long enough. But, what a great opportunity for them. We told them all about our favorite places and what we've learned since being here.
We then had to head out in the cold and make our way back down the mountain. I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone other than these lovely ladies.
We headed out before the big group behind us, and surprisingly didn't even get passed on the way down.
Nothing like a blizzard at the end of May to make me feel at home.
Melissa decided now was as good a time as any to bust out the emergency poncho that we bought at the beginning of the semester. 
And finally we got out of the snow.
Just had to walk through a field of poop and we were home free.
Caper's is a local breakfast spot in Dunedin that is recommended by all. I now know why. Melissa, Noelle, Olivia, and I all shared our pancaked and omelets.
Pancake of the month
Banoffee (banana + toffee) pancaked

My next goal: kick butt on my finals next week! 

So until next time, 



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hakuna Matata

Greetings! The semester is slowing drawing to a close. I recently finished all of my assignments and now all I have left is final exams to study for. Before jumping into it, I took a wee break and let myself relax. Finals are stressful enough and having so much of your grade dependent on them is intimidating. Most of us here are in the same boat, so it's nice to have support here. The longer I stay here the more I fall in love with Dunedin. The city, the people, the landscape, and everything else is all I could ever ask for. I believe I mentioned earlier in the semester that there is a farmer's market every Saturday in Dunedin. I was finally able to attend last weekend, and decided to treat myself. There is an authentic French crepe booth that I have been eying up all semester, so I finally got myself a savory crepe. Pumpkin, pesto, peppers, slaw, corn, tofu and a few other tasty ingredients made it the perfect lunch!
There have been a few very cold nights here in Dunedin. The university flats are not built with central heating, insulation, or double glazing. My alternative to freezing is to spend time in the study center down the street. Even if I don't have homework that needs to be done, it's great to sit by the fire. Probably one of my favorite buildings on campus...
One of my good friends was baptized at long beach last week. I wouldn't consider myself to be religious, but it was a great to be a part of something so important to him. I have the utmost respect for the faith he has and to see it displayed in such a beautiful place with the people he cares about most was remarkable.  
My most recent track was the Copland, located on the west coast.
I'm surprised that after all hiking I've done since being here I'm still finding track that is different than I've ever seen before. For example, this slick path of rock that has been eroded away...
The damage that the storm over Easter caused still hasn't been fully restored. We found ourselves trampling over windfall and around landslides frequently. 
This was probably the scariest, most amazing bride I've come across...ever.
Our treat at the end of the long 7 hour hike was all natural HOT SPRINGS. At first I wasn't too excited, thinking they would just be warm pools. Actually, they were just like a hot tub. So nice and warm and just what we needed. We went in after dark when the stars were out. The experience was unreal. I went back the following morning to take a few photos...
This was the 31-bunk hut we stayed at. The majority was taken up by university students, which made for a real fun time!  Back-country huts are definitely one of the best things I've discovered here in New Zealand.
I've met some great people while being here in New Zealand. It's great that we are all supportive of each other and make the effort to get together regularly. It was my English friend's 22nd birthday this week and we all went out to a Japanese place for sushi. I've never been to a place like this and it was fantastic!
I've come to love this place and appreciate the beauty all around me. The character of the old buildings scattered around Dunedin make any walk phenomenal. 
I liked the sushi so much, that I decided to get some for lunch as well. This is my first ever sushi sandwich (which is hard to say out loud). It was fantastic.
On a ride out to the peninsula we were greeted by a sheep farm that was in the process of shearing their sheep! We had to stop and watch for a bit. I sure do love these fluffy animals!
This is another great beach located right next to Dunedin, Allan's Beach. The way the ocean carves the coast with cliffs and caves is beyond me. The volcanic rock is a great place to find seals and penguins too!

I am thankful for every day I have here in this beautiful place and I will live each one to its fullest.