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

Spring Break: Part 3

Time October 10th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After an exciting week in Queenstown we continued on to Te Anau in order to experience Fiordland. We did part of the Routeburn track which I really enjoyed. I wish we could have done more of it since we only got to hike about three hours out before turning around. We made it to our goal though which was an amazing waterfall. It was a great day and really got me excited for the Milford Track which I will be doing in a few weeks. The views throughout the hike were amazing and even the ride in was fun due to all the views.

The next day we went to Milford Sound. We hit snooze a few too many times and were running a little late for our cruise that we pre booked. This caused us to do a little speeding to make up time. I do not recommend it. The road to the sound is extremely curvy and it was quite a scary experience. We made it just in time though. We literally had to run out to the boat as it was pulling away from the dock. The cruise was well worth the stressful morning though. It started off a little slow but once we got further out in the harbor the views were amazing. We were lucky enough to have it rain too which usually would be a bad thing. In this case though the rain adds to the beauty. Whenever it rains tons of waterfalls form along the rocks. Even though it wasn’t raining hard it was still a site to see. Also, we encountered a pod of dolphins which was a really nice surprise since I didn’t even know that was a possibility. Milford Sound was really nice but it didn’t fully live up to my expectations. It seems like everyone thinks that is the number one thing to do in New Zealand but I personally think the glacier walk was more interesting. That night we just relaxed at our hostel which was much needed.

The next day we thought it would be a good idea to drive to Dunedin via the scenic highway. We drove all the way down to Bluff so that we could be at the southern most point in New Zealand. We got some oysters there which were amazing! Expensive but amazing. Then we continued with our journey and drove up along the coast. We stopped at Nugget Point right as the sun was setting. We kind of underestimated the amount of time we would spend in the car so we didn’t get to do all the little side trips we would have liked but it was still a nice day. We arrived in Dunedin around 8pm and after getting some food we all went to bed since we were so tired. I never want to be in a car for ten hours in one day ever again!

On our first full day in Dunedin we took a few tours. We started the day with a tour of Cadbury Chocolate. It was the most delicious tour ever since we got so much candy. They even gave us little cups of melted chocolate which was the highlight for me. After the tour Caroline, Lauren and I went over to the University of Otago campus to get some lunch. The campus is really nice and kind of made me wish that I studied there. After filling up on some cheap food we made our way over to the Speights Brewery for another tour. It was really informative and was a lot better than the wine tour. After we finished walking around the brewery they took us into a room where we could sample the beers. I didn’t plan on starting to drink at 2pm but who am I to complain. After the free beer tasting we went next door to the pub and met up with Adam and Nick who are in Megan and Lauren’s group. After a while we decided we needed some food so we went to this mexican restaurant near the octagon which is the center of the city. It was the first place with real mexican food so I was pretty excited. That night we went back to the hostel and played some drinking games with the other people staying at the hostel. It was really nice to hang out in the common room since before this part of the trip we were always too busy or tired to just hang out. I met people from England, France, Hong Kong, Germany and Ireland. It was really fun and talking to them made me change my views on travel. I always thought traveling was something that people who couldn’t find jobs after graduation did. But now I really want to travel after I graduate. Everyone I met was so happy and social that it seems like a really fun thing to do.

On our last full day in Dunedin we went to Baldwin Street which is the steepest street in the world. Megan and I ran up most of it but got a little tired before reaching the top. We then made our way to the botanical gardens. They were not as good as the ones in Christchurch but there was a really cool aviary. Once our friend Adam finished his tour of Cadbury we went over and picked him up to go to the peninsula. We went to the only castle in New Zealand which was a little underwhelming but still a cool thing to say you saw. After that we went on a quest to see some penguins and sea lions. Sadly we couldn’t see any penguins without taking a tour which we didn’t want to pay for. We did end up seeing a sea lion though. That night a big group of us from the hostel went out in Dunedin. It was a blast and was the perfect way to start wrapping up the trip.

On our last full day on the south island we went back to the peninsula to try and find more sea lions. We ended up finding quite a bit and even got to roll down the sand dune on our way to the beach. After hanging our with the sea lions for a bit we started the trek back to Christchurch.

The next morning we woke up before dawn in order to catch our flight back to Auckland. I couldn’t have had a better spring break! It was a blast and really made me start to thing about what I want to do after graduation. I now know that I want to have a year of just backpacking around at some point in my life.


Faces in the Fire

Time March 25th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

The cozy, welcoming hills of Dunedin seem never to get old.  They wrap around the city and close us off in our own world – one which I’ve found relaxing, inviting, and full of opportunity.  What a wealth of possibilities is merely a bus-ride away!  Just this past weekend I had the chance to climb Mt. Xenicus on the Routeburn track.  The 1912m peak afforded glorious views of the mountains of Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring National Park and even the Tasman Sea 80km away.  But even more so, just a block away, is a more beautiful marvel – the people that I’ve met.  I’d love to tell you about just a few of the relationships that I’ve been lucky enough to have.

My second week in town I met a guy named Mikey from Auckland who’s a third year at the University of Otago.  Of all the people I’ve met here so far, I don’t think that anyone has loved me more or given more for me.  Just last night as I left his place after hanging out with he and his flatmates my arms were full with a textbook I had been looking for, another book, and a full duvet, all of which he glady gave me to use.  We’ve spent a lot of time ranging from movies to street ministry on St. Patty’s Day, and I know that he’s one friend that I’ll be Skyping from America when the day comes – we are now fellow travelers on the narrow path in life.  I met Mikey through a Christian group called Student Life, and I’ve met a great deal of other awesome people through that group.  In particular, two of Mikey’s flatmates, Ashwin and Jeremy, have become my good friends.
Another guy, Sam, I met through Elim church and friendship cemented over a long and excited talk over the wonders of mathematics.  Last night, our group talked about fellowship – a bond between people that is life-changing.

My flatmates are also very cool, and although of American heritage, living with them is a new experience.  Our flat is constantly full of hilarity.  As I type this I’m listening to Michael and Eric tease a third guy about his awkward encounters with a interested girl who won’t take his (clear) hints.  This place has often been filled with balloons, bottles, people, fine cheeses, tramping gear and any number of other things.  Though I may not agree with everything that goes down, I’m grateful to have the chance to live with them.

Thirdly are friends I’ve met through the IFSA Butler study abroad New Zealand program.  I really gelled well with a lot of the people who came through this same program provider – as I mentioned before, we all share an element of outgoingness.  The people I tramped with (Kepler track) are permanently set in my heart as lifelong friends – we’ve already made mention of traveling to Texas/Maine to reunite.  I got to see others tonight as well at a Butler-sponsored event.  We had an orienteering competition, followed by an amazing Indian dinner at a local restaurant.

This is just a small mention of the depth of the relationships that have formed I began studying abroad in New Zealand.  Even in such a fantastic place as New Zealand I’ve found that the greatest wonders are the people around me.  The Southern Alps are incredible, yes, and the superb peaks of Fiordland – and I wish to explore them – but to me, the beautiful hills of Dunedin, which remind me of the community I have here, are the best of them all.