Beach..Beach..Otago and O-Week!
Making my way back from a hectic week of settling and travel, I was ready for some time off in my new town, Dunedin. I decided to start this off with a nice friendly run through the beautiful Botanical Gardens. Weaving our way through the trees and exploring the maze, Cathy and I came to a beautiful fountain, pristine rugby field, and winding road with a view of Dunedin and the Forsyth Barr Stadium starring in Orientation Week at Otago otherwise known as O-Week.
The Beautiful Botanic Garden!
Exploring our way out of the forests of the Botanical Gardens, Cathy and I found ourselves at a small rugby practice grounds. Little did I know that this run full of unexpected twists and turns would set the tone for the week. A surprise rugby game with a new friend Stewy and the sizzling New Zealand sun let me know heaps of sunscreen is a good idea. The next day at the deserted and gorgeous sands of Aramoana Beach with friends, the sunscreen proved to be just that “a good idea”. Running down a sand dune was absolutely thrilling. However, when comparing it to maneuvering the loose sands and small footholds surrounding a heart shaped rock structure, it was fairly calm. With that scare, I was ready for some solid downtime. Fast forward.
Woah! Check out Aramoana
St. Kilda. Heaps of bros. And in contrast to Aramoana the day before, St. Kilda had me do some serious relaxing before body surfing for the first time, having a sand fight, and snapping some sweet pics while running along the beach. Then on another whim I decide to walk the 5.6km back to my flat, and a recent acquaintance, Charlotte, decided to join me. The spontaneous walk with an acquaintance became a friendly chat about life, love, and the future.
Spontaneous walk to the beach with friends!
Chillin out like a rock star at St. Kilda!
Sand Fight!!!! and…
Just two days later it was my 21st Birthday! Now, you would think that would not be a big deal in a country where the legal drinking age is 18, or at least that is what I thought. That wasn’t the case. I decided to kick off the night with a lively close gathering that starred BBQ and drinks. Earlier that day, I went to club sign up and had a lot of free food and things. The night was… well I am going to leave that up to your imagination. However, I will say it was filled with heaps of adventure and good times.
Continuing to travel and explore, the next day took me on a gorgeous Taieri Gorge Train Ride! The scenic ride south of Dunedin was beautiful. Not to mention the exquisite train that had unique designs and styles for each car. Moreover, the train ride reminiscent of the Polar Express allowed me to poke my head outside as we passed through tunnels and let some fresh air blow through my hair.
Beautiful Taieri Gorge!
Then, after getting back from the train ride, and attending my second Rugby practice, there was the Macklemore concert. Sold Out, with over 5000 students filling the Forsyth Barr Stadium. I had not been to a concert of this sort. HE Rocked the House! Wow, that was only Thursday.
So, the end of the week was the event I was really looking forward to, the Super XV rugby match! The Otago Highlanders were facing off against the Defending champs the Hamilton Chiefs. That day also marked the beginning of my brewing career. My friend and I decided to save some money and try something new, brew our own hard cider. Sweet As Brew© as we would later name the mixture began that day when we bought our supplies. However, in the middle of making our gourmet meal to celebrate, my partner and I lost track of time and realized we needed to be heading to the game. Skulling some wine and brews for the road, we hustled to the stadium and the zoo we would be sitting in. The game was a good one with plenty of back and forth play and national level rugby players. Unfortunately, the home team, the Highlanders lost in a close match, but that didn’t stop Dunedin from partying and us from enjoying our gourmet pasta bake.
Lineout to the Highlanders!
The rafting trip the next day reminded me of the wonderful food that goes hand in hand with every IFSA Butler event. Also, it reminded me of how much I enjoy everyone within the program and having that sweet sweet food. Oh, and Sian, the Butler coordinator for Dunedin, was nice enough to bring me a cake to celebrate my Birthday from earlier that week! The rest of the weekend was pretty low key with some much needed skype conversations with some of my best friends from home and Vassar. The twists and turns of travel and the adventures that come with it are exciting as I am only at the beginning of story of my time in New Zealand.