Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beaches With White Rocks

Packing up today to leave Wanaka was definitely the fastest I have packed so far. I think I am getting better at it. Today was the big drive to Franz Joseph for our glacier hike tomorrow! Ant at breakfast ms. Bottoms even pointed out we have 8 days until FIGI. Im pumped. Anyway big drive up the coast today- our longest yet-    3 ½ hours. Yikessss. Its do-able. Stopping for pictures along the way for shots of the ocean helped beat back the bus sickness & we stopped for a good lunch in Hausta (????). I had chicken tenders and fries with strawberry ice cream after and it was really really good considering it was from a grocery store café. After lunch it was back on the bus but it wasn’t long before we stopped again and this time it was at the beach. It was a gorgeous black beach with white rocks that people wrote on with their names, well wishes, or the classic “_____ was here!!!!”. We all signed a Nat. Geo. Rock that one of the other girls created and I made my own little rock:

            Romantic I know- seeing everyone else’s love rocks put me in a romantic mood haha. Then of course, back on the bus to go onward. Finally we arrived in Franz Josef and got our room assignments and now wer are all so tired. Night!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mazes & Beats

Today we woke up early to get some sunrise shots down by the lake. I wasn’t able to really get any since Rufus was being super sleepy and not wanting to wake up and take pictures. I kept putting his battery in my jacket to try to revive him, but nothing really worked. I did end up with one useable shot though:

            Pretty right? Yeah it was a pretty lucky shot. After sunrise shots we went back and had a really relaxed breakfast. Miles made a omelet -which really failed into being a scrambled egg omelet when he tried to flip it- but it was super good! Following breakfast we all got on the bus to go to Puzzeling World. Puzzeling World is just what it sounds like- a “world” full of puzzles. I personally like puzzles but I was even more pumped when I heard that it has a giant maze. I love mazes. We didn’t get to the maze right away though, first we looked at the hologram exhibit, and the tilted room- which was so trippy, literally and figuratively- we also so the ames illusion. But then it was on to the maze. When I was in Hawaii my sister and I attempted to conqer the great dole plantation hedge maze. We failed with a lovely time of 45 minutes against the high score of 4 minutes, but I remembered it being a lot of fun. At puzzeling world though the maze was made out of wooden walls, but it was equally as frustrating.  Here’s a view from one of the maze towers:

            After we were all done we waited inside doing table puzzles and games for a bit while we waited on our leaders to get out of the maze. Post- puzzeling world we went on a hike up Mt. Iron. The hike up was brutal when I got double Charlie horses in my calves but the view from the top was stunning. We all got a 360 panorama from the top point and then spent a little bit of quiet time sitting down and taking in the scenery. We hiked back down and got on the bus to go to the little house thing we were staying. We were able to do laundry or just chill out all evening which rocked. After an interesting laundry experience (when isn’t it an interesting experience?) Peter ordered pizza and it was really really good (minus the mushrooms!). We also did a little light painting after dinner.  Then we had a little critique and I showed these two pictures:

            WOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW I just sat down with my beats and tried to put them on as I did and I the cord must’ve gotten snagged on the couch as I did and they snapped in half. Greatttttt & I bought these with my own money…... At least Kevin had duct tape that was red that matches and makes the fix a tad less ghetto. I tried. Haha. Well, im pretty tired so night night!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fire & Angels

Queenstown is seriously the cutest little city- it reminds me a lot of Cambridge. We woke up around 9ish and left the awesome little hostel “Nomads”. For breakfast we ate at The Bakery and I got two sugary little deserty things for breakfast. They were really good but in the end I switched my apple turnover with someone else to have their little breakfast sandwich. It was really really good and I swear they had the best Chai Lattes ever there. After breakfast we all were able to split up into small groups to go shopping but I had to go to the clinic to get my bugbite checked out. Peter and I walked to the clinic and after getting the doctors opinion we picked up the antibiotics for it just in case. It is probably nothing major and is definitely on the mend but she said there is still a chance of infection so im suppose to “keep on them” haha.  After my little stint to the clinic we walked down the hill to the water where the group was meeting. We made one last group-stop at a souvenir store before we headed up again to ride the Gondola. Just before the Gondola we stopped at a graveyard that initially freaked me out but eventually I was able to get used to it because it was so bright and peaceful. Some of the graves were really old, the oldest we found was 1869 and it was founded in 1867. The grave markers, or tombstones, were really interesting- you were able to see the styles change through the decades and centuries. We took a lot of pictures and I think I got a pretty legit one of an angel:

After the graveyard we rode the gondola, which was much steeper than the Telluride one I had ridden when I was little and the cars were much smaller. From the top though the view was unbelievable. I was able to get a really interesting shot through a fire inside:

I also got a really cool panorama from the top:

It was so pretty today from up there. Really sunny and bright, we were able to eat lunch at the little café there and I got a amazing bacon, turkey, avocado & lettuce sandwich it was really good. After lunch we headed back down and got on the bus to start the trek to Wanaka. We made a short pause to take some scenic pics and it was SO cold when we got out we were out there for a total of like 2 minutes before we all peaced it & jumped back on the bus. We got to Wanaka around like 6pm but the sun was already down. I was able to experiment with a flash at night with a low shutterspeed on metal fences which ended up looking pretty legit. I also got to experiment with my super-zoom lense ms. Bottoms gave me and I caught some action shots of guys playing rugby:

Well, that’s enough today! I can’t even believe that the trip is into its second week!

Sheep & Nomads

Traveling to Queenstown today was a very casual thing. We woke up at a normal time, at breakfast and then hit the road. We had about a 3 hour drive but it was broken up with plenty of stops and picture moments. The most memorable stop was the sheep farm. We had a little trouble finding it but we eventually did and we all tumbled off the bus to see this shearing of sheep. First Andy, the sheep farmer, talked to us and told us all about sheep farming and how it effects the world today. Then we watched him round up the sheep and bring them into the barn with the help of his two adorable dogs:

Once the sheep were in the barn he had to separate them out to decide which ones to shear.  The sheep were jumping all over the place but they were very photogenic models and I think I got some amazing pictures of them:

We watched him shear the sheep and then we all got to pose with it. The sheep was really warm- but kind of heavy when I held it. Eventually after we had all but exhausted our cameras by taking pics of sheep we left and continued on to Queenstown. We are staying in this little place called Nomads- which is basically a really legit hostel. Its really nice and all new. For dinner we went just down the street to this place called Flame, which was a really stylin little place that had some really good food. Back now & super tired. Will be chilling around Queenstown tomorrow! 

Birds & Helicopters

Today, we woke up early and we did our critique of Milford Sound. I showed my waterfall pic:

We then saw the ash in the sky from the volcano that erupted in Chile, it made the mountains look smoky.  Gemina has said it was going to be a “hang around town day” so that’s basically what we did. We had lunch at the Olive Café, which had really amazing food, & then we walked around the lake a bit, harassing the ducks, and stopped at the outdoor bird sanctuary to check out some of New Zealand’s super cool birds. Many of them are on the threatened list because they are flightless birds & due to the introduction of predators they have all been hunted down to little numbers. I was able to get one posing for me here:

            Also by the bird sanctuary there was a bird conservation building where we watched a little movie on birds. We walked around inside for a bit more and then headed back outside to walk more of the lake. After we were all pretty cold we walked back into town to watch the real movie of the day. The New Zealand movie- it was shot from helicopters and showed some of the most amazing landscapes I have ever seen in my entire life. It was really really well done & the shots were breath-taking. After the movie we walked on down to Baliez, which was the sports bar kind of restaurant, in town. It had a really long wait but the food was super good so it was worth it. Last night in Te Anau! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nutella & Dolphins

Today there was Nutella for breakfast which made breakfast that much more amazing as we set out for the Sound. Milford sound was amazing times a million. Seriously, the weather was sunny & perfect - but it was really cold & stuff. I tried to dress warm for today and I think I succeed. On the boat we were able to see freshwater dolphins, which came right up to the side of our boat!:

The boat guides said that rarely ever happens and that we were super lucky. We also saw these adorable little seals and I think I got some decent shots of them:

Below deck on the boat there was a little tea area which was so awesome and I made myself a decent little tea-latte. There were some amazing waterfalls and by using a slow shutter speed I was able to get a really awesome shot of one. On the way back we were able to get out take a little hike to the "Chasm" and then after the tunnel take some landscape shots of the ridiculously cool mountains. I seriously can’t comprehend how God was able to carve them- so so cool. 

Wheels Down...

            I can’t even believe it. Seriously. Its hard to fathom just how far from Texas, from home that I really am this place is unreal and completely stunning it is unlike anything else I have ever seen. The mountains remind me of Telluride, CO, the clouds of Albuquerque, NM, the lake like Livingston, TX, but make no mistake New Zealand is its own marvel in its own right as something completely different from anything before. At the moment we are on a tiny mini bus which has probably been dominating these winding mountain roads for a century-okay okay, probably only a decade but it looks like it is ancient- our driver Carl reminds me of a hippie hobbit and plated us an old New Zealand song on the Ukulele. He also serves as our tour guid in addition to Peter & Gimina. Carl is always popping on the loudspeaker to explain something or tell a good story, super precious. Looking out the window now at the rural countryside, I cannot help but be reminded of the English countryside of the similarities of the rolling hills and the spiraling trees. However, the sky scarping mountains are completely regal in their placement.:

            Wow, im starting to sound like a history book or something haha. We drove from the airport to Te Anau and we are staying in this little complex thing. Its really nice and I’m rooming with Sarah for now. The best thing about it is that it has little bed heaters that you can turn on- I'm seriously in heaven with them since you can turn them on before you get into bed and never be cold! Everyone is really awesome and nice so far and I still can't believe I'm staying in such a magical place. Great time so far! More later!