I spent the spring semester of 2010 studying in New Zealand through the ISEP program. I used this blog to keep an account of my school experience and as a record of the adventures I found. Hopefully it can serve two purposes: to have kept my friends and family informed of my travels and experiences; as well as to serve as a reminder of how important the study abroad experience is, whether it's in New Zealand or not.
26 May 2010
Easter Break - Sunday 11/4/10 - Wanaka to Te Anau
Yet another day of driving. Luckily this country is small, so you can easily set goals of places to get to and make it there in a day with some nice stops along the way. For example: we wake up early enough, I pack up the room while my dad makes breakfast. Once we get the car all ready we head over to the grocery store to resupply our food stock before heading on to Te Anau. Just as we're finally leaving Wanaka, we run into a craft show. All this distance from home and they still follow me. We decide to take a look around, let my dad get a feel for the types of things people sell at crafts shows here. There are some nice things, and some not so nice ones, but worth the time to look. After this we head along the road making our first real stop at the top of highest paved pass in New Zealand, which was originally used to bring sheep through the Southern Alps. As we're coming down from here we encounter one of the first really huge sheep farms. Something about the amount of sheep in the small space of the first paddock catches my attention as we wind our way down the mountains. There really are an incredible amount of sheep here. I'm not sure I've said it before, but it's about 60,000,000. Reminder than there are only 4,000,000 New Zealanders. It's utterly ridiculous. We eventually make our way to Queenstown, about halfway from Wanaka to Te Anau. It turns out to be quite a nice little place. There are some small shops along the streets and it has quite a few pedestrian malls. Though, try as we might, we still struggle to find a coffee shop for a little hot drink to warm us up. The temperature is still declining the further south we go. We eat a scone and drink some coffee while sitting next to the lake, watching as some people load up onto a boat for some sightseeing. Try as I might, I cannot convince my dad to accompany me to the underwater observatory where you can watch the lake wildlife. All too soon it's time to hit the road if we want to make it to Te Anau by a decent time. We look through my handy guidebook for a place to stay, deciding on a hostel at a deer farm, a little removed from the main part of town. The place turns out to be a little more removed than we had thought and then they don't have anything open in the way of dorms, so we head back to town anyway. We end up in one place, but they can only give us the one night, so we make our way to another hostel to book a room for the next night. Once we've claimed our beds in the room we go to the DOC (Department of Conservation) to look for some local walks. We figure it's going to start raining sometime soon and we want to get a walk in before dark. We pick one, but then notice a warning on the wall. A predicted 400-500mm (15.7-19.7") of rain for the next two days. It's seems impossible, but we know this is a wet part of the country. We figure we'll just see how it all goes and do what we can when we can. We head out for the walk, making our way around the lake toward the damn and then off into the woods a bit. Along the way we stop to look at some birds in cages that are part of some type of nature reserve thing. It's my first, and only, encounter with a Kea. An amazing, green parrot that loves to eat shoes. They also love shiny things and tend to hang around places where people are to give them food and objects. They have been known to do some damage to cars, including ripping off the caulking around the windows. I don't care how badly they behave, seeing one chew on a shoe is still way cool. This is also the second encounter with the black plague looking thing that covers the trees and ground and smells disgusting. We stop for a while to examine the damn, how it works and admire the power of the water. Noting that the best idea here would be to not try to jump in for a swim. There is a Kiwi habitat warning sign, but I have little hope of actually spotting one. That is, until we're actually out there when it starts to get dark. Kiwis are nocturnal, so your best chance of spotting one in the wild will be at night. Apparently they make screeching/screaming sounds. It does just start to drizzle as we make our way back. After some dinner and talk with our new found roommate (also from the U.S.), we settle in for some reading and sleep.