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.

15 May 2010

Easter Break - Thursday 8/4/10 - Pounakaiki

We wake up to a cold wind from the ocean. We stroll along the beach and through a camp to make our way to the trails along the river. It's like we've wandered the wrong way and ended up in the rain forest, but oh wait, we haven't, there are rain forests here. I keep waiting for a dinosaur to pop out along the way or someone to come running the opposite direction yelling "Velociraptors!! Run for your lives!!" The blue-green of the water reflects the rock and mountains of the opposite bank, which remains beautiful as long as I don't seem some prehistoric reptile slithering around. The sign on the way in tells us to expect caves and crevasses, but we see one sort of hole along the way. We turn back when we hit a river that won't let us go any further. Before heading off to Franz Joseph we decide to walk further along the beach to see what we can see. We end up wandering to a rather popular spot that you can tell would be underwater when the tide comes in. There's a sign telling us about the penguins that live along the beach; we're not supposed to go down to the beach when the penguins are coming in. There are two enormous caves, one of which has a fresh water waterfall pouring over the edge. We poke around looking for sea anemones, but only find about two and maybe three starfish. We climb our way up some rocks to explore a little further out, but have to turn around quickly in order to not get caught out there by the tide. We struggle a bit climbing down, given the slipperiness of the rocks and our lack of climbing equipment. Pushing our luck a little more, we wander out onto a sort of island, having to jump over the incoming water. We stare out over the ocean and take in the air and the sun before our next hours in the car. We barely make it back across the water before the tide comes in. Once back in the car, we settle in for a long ride to Franz Joseph, knowing there will be little opportunity for stopping. We do get to stop along the way for lunch at a pull off where a sign says we can see Mt. Cook on good days. I know I see something out there, but I'm not sure if it's a mountain range or some strange clouds. We get into the Franz Joseph town after dark and decide to check in to hostel Chateau Franz. They offer free soup, but after we fill our bowls we realize it could quite possibly be the worst soup we've ever tasted. There is absolutely no flavour; feeling a little guilty, we go to pour out our soup in the sink, but soon see everyone else has done the same. The place is a total madhouse, with people running around everywhere. A giant bus of 60+ German teenagers pulls in and we're thankful we've already cooked dinner. There is only toilet and shower for the whole hallway we're staying on, which must be at least 20 people. Overall, not the nicest place I've ever stayed in and not a place I would recommend. We talk to several people and find out you can only get on the glacier with a guide and all the tours are full for the next day. We also hear that the only worth while tour is the full day. I'm still not convinced I want to go and I know my dad doesn't want to. We wander around the town for a little while, just to get a feel for the place and find out when the tour guide place opens the next morning. We get to bed fairly early so I can be at the guide place by 7 to see if they have anything open for a full day.

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