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.

20 June 2010

Easter Break - Friday 16/4/10 - Timaru to Kaikoura

The day’s goal, other than to reach Kaikoura by night, is to see Akaroa. Along our way we pass through the town that is home to Lincoln University and I take the time to think of Sandy and get a look at where she first experienced New Zealand. Compared to Palmy, the place is almost nonexsistent. If she thinks Palmy’s got nothing going on, I can’t imagine what she must have thought about and done in this place. However, it’s a majorly agricultural school, so I’m sure she loved it and it’s not quite as far removed as Hampshire; I’m sure it’s a place I would have enjoyed. After a long windy way in we reach Akaroa, which is a French – English village (the only French settlement in New Zealand) some 85km from Christchurch. The town sits in an ancient volcano, which doesn’t seem to bother the people living there, though the last eruption was some half million years ago. The ocean has entered via channels made by stream erosion over the past years since the volcano became dormant. There is actually a second volcano that is the town of Lyttleton and together the two volcanoes make the Banks Peninsula (pronounced Peninshula by our wonderful Kiwi cousins). Akaroa is the larger of the two volcanoes, but the way we go, we end up driving through both of them; in Maori the name Akaroa means “Long Harbour.”

We drive a long and winding road to make our way to the small town, a place I’m told is a must see by my friend Winnie back home. When we finally crest the hill that leads into the village, we see a peaceful harbour filled with boats and a quaint French looking village at along the shore. While all appears peaceful today, the area was quite violent back in 1832 and lead to one of the most important events in New Zealand history. The Captain of the British ship Elizabeth, John Stewart, helped the North Island Ngāti Toa chief, Te Rauparaha, to capture the local Ngai Tahu chief, Te Maiharanui, his wife Te Whe and his young daughter, Roi Mata. The settlement of Takapuneke was sacked. Concern over the complicity of John Stewart, along with other lawlessness among Europeans in New Zealand, led to the appointment of an official British Resident James Busby to New Zealand in (1832). This was the first step in the British involvement that led to the Treaty of Waitangi.

While I take very few photographs of this part of the journey, it is still amazingly beautiful. All along the way are endless perfect beaches and sunny blue skies, quite the opposite of what we were experiencing down in the bottom of the south. We eventually wind our way along the ridges to Lyttleton, the smaller of the two volcanoes.

Just over the final pass we get our first view of Christchurch. This city is massive; it seems to stretch on and on forever. It’s an amazing shock to the system after all the farmland along the way, with almost no people anywhere. I can immediately tell I don’t want to spend time here and am somewhat thankful we didn’t make it to sleep there the night before. It takes us quite a while to make our way through the traffic lights and out the other side of the city after a quick petrol stop.

Our next journey is somewhat inland, with a peak here and there of the ocean, but there’s virtually no stopping all the way in to Kaikoura. We make it there just after the sun sets and get a general idea of the beauty of the place before darkness takes over and we find our hostel. We take a walk to the grocery store to get our last supply of food for the night and lunch the next day. I can’t believe my dad will only have one more day here and in two days I’ll be heading back to school. It’s gone by incredibly quickly and I want nothing more than to continue the experience. I joke with my dad that he doesn’t really need to go back and neither do I, we can just tramp around the north island next. This is of course not a real possibility, but we enjoy our last bits of time in NZ by soaking up the heat of the spa tub they have at the hostel. This one is quite nice in the sense that it’s like a little swimming pool and we have the whole outdoors to ourselves, but, as seems to be the Kiwi way, the water is only just at body temperature, which is not quite warm enough to massage away the aches of sitting in a car all day. We finally muster the courage to run through the cold back to our room before making dinner.

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