“A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – Gael Attal

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pit Stop in Picton

Arriving in Picton
Stephen and I and Some Boats 

The Ladies near the Water 

Our first stop on the South Island was the sleepy little town of Picton. It is small but BEAUTIFUL. Straight off the ferry we found our hostel called the Picton Lodge. This little place was ran by two old English women who, as Stephen said, were comparable to mother goose. With an early morning the next day, we explored the town a little, cooked up an Indian style dinner, and played a little UNO before bed.


Erin and Stephen Boarding the Ferry 

First step to heading South was boarding the Cook Strait Ferry. The Cook Strait is the body of water separating the North and south Islands of New Zealand. We departed Wellington in the early afternoon arriving in Picton four hours later.

Moving through the sounds
On Deck

Heading Down South

The semester was half way over which meant it was time for Easter Break! Two weeks away from University, a perfect chance for us Americans to explore parts of New Zealand away from Wellington. So where did we go? THE SOUTH ISLAND.
The South Island promised us a trip of adventure. We planned our route beginning with the ferry across the Cook Strait and traveling down the West Coast, South towards Queenstown. We departed on April 7 and returned by April 18.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Funny Thing About Rugby.

While at Barings Head, some boys were trying to teach me to play rugby. One of the main rules of rugby is that you can not pass the ball forward, only behind you. So basically I looked a little silly at the beginning of every play when I would run across the line of scrimmage, turn around,  and yell "I'm open! I'm Open!"at the guy with the ball.
They would laugh back, "NO you're not!"
Right... This isn't American Football.

Bouldering Barings Head

A Little Misty in the Morning 

Ash and I Climbing
That's a big Rock! 
I didn't even know I could get up rocks this high! Barings Head is a large rock formation right on the beach. Bouldering, is freestyle climbing, without any ropes (only a "spotter"). Around the rocks at Barings Head are piles of shale cushioning any sort of fall, making any climber a little braver to get up the rock faces. There was one track specifically that took multiple attempts. I could find the right handholds, and then pull my body up to steady my feet, knees folded all the way up into my chest. This was the hard part. It took all of my strength to straighten my legs and propel my body up the rock. The problem was the lack of handholds at this level, forcing you to instead put pressure on the sides of the rock and lean forward while trying to move your legs again. Needless to say, when I reached the top I felt extremely accomplished. After a day of Bouldering and a little rugby on the beach, we stopped and picked up a pack of cider just in the nic of time to drink and watch a beautiful sunset. Talk about a perfect day!


Friday, March 30, 2012

Bioluminescence. Ever heard of it? I hadn't.

While on our trip to the Bay of Islands I was able to experience something so insane no amount of photos or description can really capture it. While on our night kayak and swim of "The Rock" we experienced bioluminescent water. What is it? Basically Bioluminescence is the emission of light by a living thing. In this case, it was by algae. On really sunny days on the Bay, this sort of algae absorbs lots of sunlight that it then emits when disturbed at night. So when our kayaks and paddles glided through the water during our night adventure, the area lit up fluorescent green!!!! When the lights were out on the boat and we were on the water, all you could see were streaks of fluorescent green. Even cooler was jumping of the back of the boat and producing the same flashes of neon with every movement of your body!!! According to our Kiwi guides, this phenomenon was inspiration to James Cameron's Avatar. I wasn't able to capture it on film, but here's a similar example...


Bay of Islands

Those Crazy Americans 
Last weekend we took a long weekend and skipped our Friday classes to head way way way North to the Bay of Islands, a must see in most New Zealand Guide books. Our group of 12 Americans traveled by bus to get there. It was an overnight ride exceeding 15 hours of travel from Thursday night to Friday morning. Looking back now, it would be equivalent to taking a long weekend to LA from Boulder and making the trip in a straight overnight shot. No wonder my Kiwi room mate thinks we are crazy Americans (We had the option to fly!)... Oh well the trip was amazing and well worth the travel time!
We're on a Boat! 
Bay of Islands is a paradise. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees with no wind and the water is GORGEOUS. The Bay holds 144 small islands originally named by explorer James Cook in 1769 (History Fact). When our group arrived, we boarded "The Rock" for a two day cruise around the bay. "The Rock" is a converted car ferry boasting it's bar, pool table, fire pit, and fun crew.
Within half an hour of boarding the boat, I found myself shooting paintballs at a plastic duck being towed off the back in hopes of winning a free beer. The competition was followed up by fishing for dinner. When you caught a fish, you were required to kiss it before it was cooked up. Catching the first and best fish of the evening would be rewarded with winning a free beer. With this incentive, my friend Ryan and I partnered up and soon enough got a bite. When we pulled it up, one of the Kiwi crew declared it to be the worst catch of the night (it was only about two inches long and we snagged it through the back...). Ryan kissed it anyway and we threw it back.
Kiss the Fish! 

View from the Boat. 

After a meal of the freshest fish I have ever eaten, we went out for a night kayak and swim. The stars were insane. We paddled away from the boat and floated in complete darkness. We laid back in our kayaks and took in the view. You couldn't tell where the sky ended and the dark water began. Here I also experienced bioluminescent water, something so incredible that it deserves its own post.

Eating Kina 
The next morning we had coffee on the deck of the boat, and prepared to ferry to one of the islands for a beach day. Once on the island, we headed on a short hike to a look out point with a majestic view of the bay and Ocean. Looking out onto water from here reminded me how far away from home I really am. We went snorkeling and hunted for Kina (black sea urchins whose eggs are considered a delicacy, which we ate) and enjoyed a full day of swimming and kayaking before the boat took us back to town.
Bay of Islands. Beautiful.