Three Months in the Blink of an Eye

Kia ora e hoa ma! (Hello my friends!)

It is interesting that term two started with me cramming study for a psychology test and now it is ending with me cramming study for a psychology exam. Although sitting in the same place two months later doing the same activity (staring at the textbook, snacking, and occasionally banging my head against the desk) may seem horribly bland and circular really it isn’t. Between the end of April and this wintery June evening so much has happened, so much has changed, that really I’m not the same person I was. This is a cliché, but for me sometimes the cliché works.

Experiences, and the people that we share experiences with, can change us in so many subtle ways. You don’t see or feel it happening until you find yourself in a place (psychically, maybe, or mentally) that you never expected. New Zealand has been this for me: a constant change, a chameleon shift of color, shedding of one skin for another.

Arriving in New Zealand it felt like I would be here forever, at the end of April break it felt like I would be here forever, even last week it felt like I would be here forever. Now I’m hearing my friends saying things along the lines of: “I only have one week left in NZ!” and if that wasn’t enough to break my heart I’m receiving invites for goodbye parties. Suddenly the end of the semester is upon all of us. Ilam will not be the same with all of the internationals gone. Thank goodness I still have more than a month to spend in this beautiful country.

It is not time for goodbyes quite yet. Now I want to explain what has gone on with my life during term two at the lovely University of Canterbury and surrounding countryside.

April ended with me arriving back in Ilam exhausted and dirty after a break filled with adventure. (See previous NZ blog post for details) During the first week of term two I turned 21, took an exam, hung out around Ilam, started going to class again, and traded stories with friends about what went on during the break. Soon enough my adventurous spirit started to itch for the outdoors, this happens when I stay in Christchurch for too long. This itch leads to…

Adventure #1: Carrington Hut

Start date-Saturday, May 14th

This weekend in the mountains was the kind of vacation that most people only dream of having.  My first weekend in Arthur’s Pass I walked out to the dreaded Anti-Crow hut, this tramp leads past Anti-Crow to Carrington.

My partner in crime for this weekend (and many weekends after that) was Ben Daut; Vermont native, climber, hiker, and overall excellent person. We got started early Saturday to hitchhike to the trailhead, which is around two hours away from CHCH. Supposedly the male-female hitchhiking combination is the best for getting rides but this time it took us an extremely long time to get picked up! Nevertheless we got started on the trail around noon.

Waiting for a ride on the side of the road in Darfield, looking sad, or serious…
Starting on the trail to Carrington Hut!

Five and a half hour walk past the dreaded anti-crow hut and further along the river valley. Snow had fallen on the Southern Alps making them even more breathtaking then before. These mountains are made for snow to cap them.

Blue rock, turquoise river, snowy peaks, grey sky. There was only one river crossing which was pretty lucky, cold water is alright but some days once is enough. Carrington hut holds 36 people but that night we had it to ourselves thanks to the inclement weather report. Arriving perfectly, just as my feet started to fatigue and the sky started to darken, I found the cabin stunning.

Snow capped Souther Alps
Carrington Hut!

Rain started to tap at the roof as I demonstrated my fire building skills honed by countless summers at Kennebunk Pond being a complete pyro. I bet Ben that I could boil water faster on the cast iron fireplace than he could on his camp stove. He lost that bet.

The next day we woke up to the sound of pouring rain on the roof. Not a small drizzle, I am talking complete and total downpour. Once again we got lucky and as soon as we started hiking out it cleared into a stunningly lovely day.

Just muckling around in the river on a lovely day, there is nothing better.
Ben on the hike out with blue skies all around!
Blue skies means blue rivers

Adventure #2: Flat Family Dinner

Weekly event

In my lovely home called N83 I am graced with the best international family I could ask for: Philip, Sameena, and Mackenzie.  We’ve recently started having weekly family dinners. Around here a usual dinner consists of pasta and sauce, or stir fry, sometimes a sandwich or salad. Bottom line is that we just don’t eat very well. We talked about having a family dinner but it really started with Ben (a non-resident family member) wanting to cook us all a nice meal. Although I don’t have a picture that first meal was lamb chops with some kind of Dijon mustard sauce and sides of apple and cabbage.

Philip’s lasagna night was next:

Flat family picture. We are just so cute…(Mack, Sameena, Philip, Carolyn, Ben)
Photo Cred: Amber
Lasagna Time! Left to right: Sameena, Amber, Philip, Ben and yours truly.
Philips tiramisu wasn’t quite as solid as expected. So it became “Aquamisu” (pun credit goes to Benjamin) and we ate it with straws.
Left to right: Ben, me, and Mack

Mackenzie came up with the idea for a “Mack” themed dinner consisting of homemade mack-and-cheese, mackintosh candies, and jello for a finish. Oh, and party hats.

Mack night! Party hats are a nice touch.
Mack and Dorchester playing with the party hats.

Then it was my turn so I made soup: chicken noodle and autumn minestrone, with a side of bread.

The most recent dinner was Amber (another non-resident family member) who made delicious chicken, cranberry, and brie toasties with roasted vegetables.

Flat family dinner continues to be a huge success. Also it is just nice to sit down with everyone for a little while, usually we aren’t all in the same place at the same time.

Adventure #3 Crusaders Rugby Game

Date-Mid May

I still don’t totally understand rugby but it is still exciting to get dressed up and wave a flag around at a game. I tend to cheer when everyone else does.

The Crusaders is the main Christchurch team. The crowd was wild at the AMI stadium. I really enjoy the energy of sport and of the fans, and so top off the night the Crusaders won by a landslide. Wananei!

AMI Stadium! We had front row seats at the short end of the field, still a pretty nice view.
Mack and I painted up for the game!

Adventure #4: Akaroa, Take One

Start date-Around the end of May.

Akaroa is a small village on the Banks Peninsula about 84k away from Christchurch. The town sits on the water in a sheltered harbor surrounded by craggy volcanic hills. It has a lot of French cultural tones in the architecture and signage due to the early colonization by the French in the mid to late 1800’s.

It was a last minute trip planned in order to once again get out of the city. Ben did most of the planning and I really just packed a bag and got on a bus.

Akaroa is as beautiful as everyone made it out to be.

Water trough on the Skyline Track.
Sheep appeared over the hill to watch us for a bit, but then ran away when we came too close.
Clouds over the Skyline Track
The sun was sort of maybe deciding to come out.
Hills and ocean.
We found a livestock structure on the way down the hill, these fit perfectly into the surrounding landscape.
Fishing on the wharf. We didn’t catch anything but it was still nice to sit out in the sun and wind.
Rainbow over Akaroa
The fishing rods that we borrowed from the hostel were so tangled that we spend most of our time trying to make them work.
Backyard of Chez la Mer in Akaroa. If you are travelling here I would highly recommend this hostel! We had a great experience both times.
Chez la Mer: pretty in pink
Ben and I out by the Akaroa lighthouse.

This trip also marks the beginning of my watercolor travel journal. This is a project prompted by Dr. Kathe Julin’s Architectural Watercolor class which I have been participating in online. I have, and will be, uploading pictures to my Flickr account of the completed pages:

*01/28/21 my Flickr account is long dead! I forgot that this trip was the start of the travel journals, it’s amazing how large in my life these have become. Here is a link to view the whole collection:
If you open the New Zealand digital book, starting on this adventure (4) you’ll be able to see sketches and paintings of the places I describe.*

Adventure #5: Evening trip to Taylors Mistake

Sameena, Mack and I went for a wee drive into the port hills to see Taylors Mistake which is a beautiful beach and surfers destination. We played in the sand, ate chips, and chatted until we got too cold then we were Ilam bound.

Taylors Mistake
Sameena and Mack, my favorite kiwis.
Sunset on the drive home

Adventure #6: Snow Falls in CHCH

Beginning of June

It is winter in New Zealand. Even though everyone said that it would become wintery I didn’t expect snow. I expected a prolonged rainy autumn in New England type of environment. Mackenzie got extremely excited the night before snowfall because “The sky is turning pink! That’s how you know!” I was shocked when I woke up the next morning to find snow on the ground and still falling. This wasn’t totally wimpy gone-the-next-day snow either! But it definitely wasn’t even close enough to close down the University for three days…which is what happened. Kiwis don’t dig the snow. But everything closing down for a few inches of snowfall gave everyone an excuse to get out and play. My flatmates and I included. About a week later all of the snow was gone and we haven’t had any since.

Mack and I are always ready to rock.
Sameena and I goofing around in the snow.
We built a snowman in a trolley so that we could take him home with us. Trolley snowman survived the journey from the gardens to the apartment but then a couple of days later someone official come a took it away. Oops.
While we were out playing in the snow one of our friends got into our flat and filled our freezers with snow. Thankfully we got to it before it froze into a solid mass. Here is Mack looking unimpressed. (Yes that is a wetsuit)

Adventure #7: Back to Akaroa!

Around June 8th

Ben decided that for his 21st birthday he did not want to be in Christchurch, unfortunately Arthurs Pass and its trails were a mess because of the snow. Instead we decided to head back to Akaroa for a weekend of studying and celebration. We took the same bus over and stayed at the same hotel, it was just as lovely as last time.

Study time in Chez la Mer
For Ben’s 21st I made him an apple pie (mom’s famous recipe!) it turned out so perfectly that we ate it for breakfast every morning until it was gone.
Hammock time by the ocean!

These huge iron pots were used to store and refine whale blubber when Akaroa was first colonized.
This would be the best nap location in the world if it were warmer.
Ben and I
Akaroa Harbor
Under the wharf
Rowboats tied to the dock

Adventure #8: ALL BLACKS vs. IRELAND

This is THE rugby game to attend. The All Blacks are the New Zealand national rugby team and they played Ireland in Christchurch at the AMI stadium. Needless to say a big group of us got tickets. Mackenzie is a first generation Kiwi with an Irish dad, so she was cheering for Ireland. In order for her not to feel totally left out, and also to create some healthy competition within the group, I donned the green jersey and quickly learned the lyrics to the Irish anthem.

Last time the All Blacks and the Irish team met on the field the Irish team got totally destroyed. This game ended the first half with Ireland in the lead. In the last MINUTE of the game the score was tied and the All Blacks managed to barely scrape a win. It was a wonderful night all around.

The All Blacks doing the Maori ‘haka’ to intimidate the opponent!
Abby, Mack, and I. Look the two teams can get along!
The game begins!
Mack and I got pretty excited when we thought that Ireland might win. Unfortunately we did not….but that’s alright because I was secretly cheering for the all Blacks as well.

Adventure #9: Sign of the Packhorse

Date: June 18th-June 19th

This adventure started again with the simple idea: Let’s get out of Christchurch! After some online research Ben and I rented a car and drove over the port hills to the banks peninsula. Even though I’m certain it terrified him to hand the keys over I finally had a chance to try driving on the “wrong” side of the road. Surprisingly it wasn’t too bad! I actually left pretty oriented to the side of the road I was supposed to be on.

The hike into the hut was going to be pretty short so we decided to take a drive around before hiking up. The weather wasn’t great but once getting above a certain elevation overcast turned to mist turned to blue skies with clouds in the valleys. There was a scary moment where the twisting shady dirt road we were on turned to ice with snow accents. Sliding around close to the edge of a cliff is a nice way tot ake years off of your life. I’m just glad that Ben was driving.

We hiked with fields of sheep up to the Packhorse hut in time to watch the sun set. From that height you can see all the way to the now completely white Southern Alps. Once again we had the hut to ourselves, this time Ben didn’t take any fire-related bets with me. I woke up in the middle of the night to see stars and moon reflecting off the under cast. When the sun finally rose we walked outside to find the saddle and hills around us turned into an island with mist lapping at its shores. Before breakfast we threw on boots and hiked up one of the closest peaks to watch the clouds and sun shift against the tussock.

After we got back down to the hut the mist had closed in turning the once lovely view into what the inside of a ping pong balls looks like. Breakfast and a swift hike down with some more sheep brought us to the overcast valley. On the drive out around the peninsula the road brought us in and out of cloud cover. We returned to Christchurch in the afternoon.

I got to drive! What you can’t see in this picture is Ben’s terrified face….
Snow covered the hills of higher elevation.
Start of the hike!
Sign of the Packhorse hut. Sleeps eight people, heated by wood stove.
Making dinner by headlamp.
Not a particularly flattering picture, but I have to show off this jersey. Best thing ever. (Also the couscous Ben made tasted much better than my face here would make it out!)
We were on an island surrounded by cloud.

Artsy picture courtesy of Ben. Good job, sir.

Other (more minor) Adventures:

Over April break my mom brought us some real maple syrup harvested by the Fernalds from our own trees. Real maple syrup is one of the things that Ben (being from VT) and I miss so so much from the states. So we made french toast and then licked the plates clean so as to not waste ANY.
Hammock afternoon in Ilam gardens.
I had to say goodbye to the cello generously lent to me by Carline Bakker. it was sad t0 see him go.
It’s pretty easy to get to the CHCH botanical gardens. If I get sick of the concrete of Ilam and the city this is the place to go.
Mack, Ben, and I went to get hot drinks at the container mall after hanging out in the park. While we were there a huge group come in to film part of a travel show. It was pretty exciting.
The “TimTam Slam” is a big tradition in flat N83 and the world at large. What you do is make some coffee (or hot coco, or just milk), bite off the corners of a TimTam, suck the beverage through the biscuit, then enjoy the best thing you have ever eaten before it melts all over the place.
While we had the rental car Ben and I drove up into the port hills to look at the city.

It is extremely difficult to capture two months time in a few pages and pictures. The whole experience isn’t quite as clear cut as going from one adventure to the other, instead it blends together the edges between one place and another blurred.

Now I am in crunch time, it is a sprint to the finish of an amazing semester. Even though school is ending I still have a lot of time to spend in the country, a whole month in fact!

My schedule:

Three days until last exam

Six days until being picked up to WWOOF

Four weeks at the Island Hills Station

Four days in Christchurch

Ten days in the Auckland area WWOOFing and sightseeing

Two days in Christchurch to pack

Homeward bound on the 30th of July.

This next month will be of a completely different nature than these months past, and I am looking forward to it so much.

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tuohu koe me maunga teitei.

Translates to: Pursue that which is precious, and do not be deterred by anything less than a lofty mountain.

It is a Maori proverb which encourages one to strive, to set goals, to persevere and to pursue the things that you care most about.

This is all for now, but there will be more to come!

Katahi ra koutou!

Kua haere au,


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