Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Taking risks like Batman…well almost

Tonight is a night for productivity. I’m currently sitting in the old common room of Ilam Village waiting for six 50-minute lectures to save onto my desktop. I just finished one of my first online quizzes for my New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity class.  Once these files save, I will move on to another online quiz for Freshwater Ecosystems. In the meantime, I figured I would be slightly productive and update the virtual world on my New Zealand life.


First off, I am still not used to having so much free time at my disposal. At first it was a shocker, but the upside is that I actually have time to cook meals for myself. I have the time to walk to the grocery store, buy fresh vegetables, prepare, and consume them before they turn rotten. Plus all of that walking means I don’t have to spend $70 NZD on a gym membership.


A bunch of us wanted to see the new Batman movie, so we decided to head to the theatre on Tuesday since that’s when they offer a discount student price. I asked my flatmates about the policy of sneaking snacks into the movies. And that sparked the whole conversation of the procedure of buying a movie ticket in New Zealand. Apparently Tuesday is an extremely popular day to go to the movies, especially because “there is nothing to do in Christchurch” (quoted by one of my flatmates). However, you can’t just show up 5 minutes before the movie starts to buy a ticket because movie theatres have assigned seating, which is kind of nice if you’re indecisive, but I really enjoy picking my seat at the movies. Our seats were a little too close to the screen, but nonetheless the movie was AMAZING.


Kayak rolling class was cancelled this week since they didn’t have enough people sign up, but hopefully I will be able to go again soon. Needless to say I still had a very eventful weekend. At the University of Canterbury new student orientation, there was a speaker named Gary from Hello New Zealand! He organizes tours around New Zealand. So a few of us decided to tag along on the trip to Queenstown. The ride was gorgeous! We stopped at a few scenic places along the way including Lake Tekapo, and Lake Pukaki where we saw an amazing view of Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand. I tried to take as many pictures throughout the trip but I cannot help but feel as though they really do not capture the true beauty of New Zealand.


We arrived in Queenstown around 7:30 pm and checked into Base Backpacker (like a hostel) for two nights. We were given free time on Friday to explore the town where we grabbed a much needed dinner at this quaint place that was reasonably priced, and then hit a pub for some delicious New Zealand beer. I still consider myself to be in the sampling phase when it comes to beer but I can’t really complain because even the “low quality” beer here is far superior to cheap beer in The States. (Side note: In New Zealand, kiwis (or New Zealanders) refer to The United States of America as simply “The States” which is one slang type word that I have easily picked up).


A picture of me at Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Pukaki and a view of Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand.

The sun is starting to set over Lake Pukaki

On Saturday, we woke up super early (7:15 am) for breakfast, which we happily ate and then returned back to our bunks for a much-needed powernap. There weren’t any scheduled activities until 11:15 so I headed off by myself to explore Queenstown. The sun had already set by the time we arrived at Queenstown the previous night so I was absolutely shocked by how gorgeous the city was during the day. I meandered along until I found an artisans market by the lake. Everything was a bit out of my price range, but it was a really fun atmosphere. While exploring I found a Salvation Army Store and headed in to find my very own New Zealand wool hat for $8 NZD, which is much better than the $40+ NZD they ask for brand new hats. My exploring time had ended, and I had to head back to the backpackers to meet with the group to organize (take a nice calm relaxing breath) bungy jumping! I jumped the Kawarau Bridge Bungy. As described in the brochure: “The historic Kawarau Bridge is home of Bungy pioneers AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch’s first commercial Bungy site. It was here in 1988 that the Bungy phenomenon began. 43m above the stunning Kawarau River, this Bungy Jump is still the most popular Bungy in New Zealand, attracting thousands of thrill-seekers and spectators every year.”


The Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump

Excitement started to build as we boarded the bus for a 20-minute drive to the jump site. We then had to sign our life away, get weighed, and then line up to jump. My friend, David, went first while I recorded his jump. Then there was no more delaying; I had to finally volunteer. As I walked up to the bridge I started to become nervous, but I just brushed it aside as I tried to sound confident as I chatted with Ryan while he set up my harness. Then I had to stand up and wiggle my way to the edge of the platform and that is when it all suddenly became real. I was standing 43 meters (~141 feet) above a rocky river where I couldn’t help but hear my mother’s voice ring through my ears, “Well would you follow them if they all decided to go jump off a bridge?” I guess we finally got the answer. It took a little coaxing. The fact that it cost a nonrefundable $150 NZD helped with motivation. I definitely didn’t jump on the first count of three, or the second count either, but third time’s a charm and I found myself falling. It was a crazy, amazing, breathtaking feeling. And the first thought that came through my mind was, “man I spend a lot of time upside down in New Zealand.” I’m sure the people reading this are probably thinking, “That girl is crazy!” But yes I would jump again, and yes I definitely recommend bungy jumping at least once!


The proof that I actually jumped.

When I was finally right side up again, I realized just how hungry I was. When you go bungy jumping you shouldn’t have anything in your stomach, so the last thing I ate was two pieces of toast at 7:30 am and it was now almost 3:00 pm. When we made it back to Queenstown, we stopped in at Fergburger, a really famous burger joint. I got the “Bun Laden” which is comprised of Falafel patties dressed with lemon yoghurt and chipotle chilli sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber, avocado & aioli. It was delicious and definitely hit the spot as we made our way up to the gondola.

Bun Laden from Fergburger

The gondola takes you up the mountain to Skyline where you can see a beautiful view of Queenstown. There’s an optional luge activity that you can choose to add with the gondola ride. I took off from the start of the course and started to gain a lot of speed when I came upon the first actual turn. I soon discovered that the luge cart doesn’t have a great turning radius and I wiped out. It took a bit to get the luge cart back on course and from there I literally went at a snails pace.

The view of Queenstown from Skyline

It was around dinner time when we finally came back down. We texted Gary to see if there were any plans for the evening. We wound up meeting him at this restaurant called “Prime” which has some decent early bird (before 6:30 pm) dinner specials. When we finished, we then had to decide what to for the rest of the night, but since we were really tired from our activities we decided to hang out in the backpacker’s tv room where some people had rented the movie “Hostel”. The movie is a horror movie and as a quick summary: Three guys decide to go backpacking in Europe where at this one hostel they find out that if they go to this one area they can meet a lot of women, instead these women lure the guys away one by one where they get tortured and killed by this group of people. Not exactly a good bedtime movie that you want to watch while staying in a backpacker. The backpacker had a computer room, so I coughed up 4 NZD for one hour of internet where I checked my email and facebook, and then proceeded to watch corgi videos until my time ran out.


On Sunday I woke up even earlier in order to head to the pier to watch the sun rise. It seems as though whenever I plan to see a sunrise it’s always cloudy. Nonetheless, it was still beautiful. I then packed up all my belongings in order to board the bus back to Christchurch. We stopped at the lake at Wanaka on the way home, and then moved on to Puzzling World. We didn’t feel like paying the entry fee but the lobby had a lot of mind puzzles to do while we waited for everyone else. The bus ride home was relatively quite since everyone was tired out from the eventful weekend.


The lake at Wanaka

Mount Cook on our return journey. Notice the heavy cloud cover to the west.

While I resisted the urge to crawl into bed and fall asleep, I unpacked my bags and then repacked them with my uni supplies (or school supplies) and found myself in the Old Common Room. My files have finished saving, so I supposed I should move onto my online quiz for Freshwater Ecosystems.


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