Gotta Love Food… (11/3/09)

Cuba Mall, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

12 days in New Zealand.

Today, Elizabeth and I cracked open a container of Peanut Slab ice cream. A “Peanut Slab” is one of Elizabeth’s and my favorite New Zealand candy bar that can best be explained as a a Mr. Goodbar on steroids. The ice cream did not disappoint. After a long day of gift shopping, this was the perfect end. We recalled the amazing food that we have shared together here in 6A, something I’ll miss a lot, especially since Elizabeth leaves for the South Island on Saturday. While I’ll still be able to eat some of the cuisine I’ve made here in New Zealand back at UD, there are some things that just won’t be the same. Besides the obvious brand and ingredient differences (unless I get the Kiwi pie shop in New York to ship me a huge supply…) cooking for myself won’t be the same. I’m so used to cooking while the 6:00 news is on and I really enjoy cooking for another person. Maybe someone in HKLZ will want to cook together…

Blog in brief: Cooking is better when you’re in New Zealand with Elizabeth.



Music and Dance (11/3/09)

13 days left in New Zealand.

Today, I had a very simple, new experience. However, I was able to see Elizabeth and Emily perform in a pretty sweet dance performance. There were a number of different styles of dance displayed, including break dancing, Malaysian dance, hip-hop and Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art/dance. This was the first time I had been to something that resembled a campus event and it was great. There are so many events that I attend on Delaware’s campus and it was fantastic to get that feeling from Victoria after four months
I also had the opportunity to hear Saint-Saens Violin Concerto performed by my neighbor at his second year recital. Just like the dance event, it was fantastic to be attending recitals again. When at home, I have to attend 20 recitals a semester, which I typically dread. However, going to just two here has made me realise how much I actually miss them.

In short, dance + violin = missing Delaware.

Till tomorrow,


Oriental Bay, Wellington Harbour, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Time Flies (11/2/09)

14 days left in New Zealand.

Each day from now till 16 November, I’m trying to do at least one new thing in New Zealand each day and post a new picture from somewhere in New Zealand that I haven’t put up before.

Today’s new activities:

* Coffee at Espressoholic.
* Eating spaghetti on toast with cheese.
* Seeing the Wellington Youth Orchestra perform.

Something new tomorrow!

– Liam

Sunrise, Auckland Harbour, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand

Food and Culture (10/30/09)

Wellington has the highest number of cafes & bars per capita anywhere in the world. And yet, I’ve been to the same 15 restaurants, bars and coffee shops since I’ve been here. So yesterday when Kevin walked into the lounge and said “let’s go out to dinner,” Elizabeth and I couldn’t think of a reason not to. It was that or left over ziti.

We headed to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, a restaurant that never seems to have an empty seat inside. This restaurant serves traditional American fare, and I think we were all excited to have a bit of comfort food. Chips & salsa, spinach dip and hush puppies soon filled our table, followed by a homemade mac & cheese, fried chicken, dirty rice and slaw. I have not been so satisfied with a meal in a while. The only thing missing from this wannabe American restaurant was Heinz Ketchup. But their horseradish laden cocktail sauce was good enough for me and we left there extremely full and happy.

Tonight, Elizabeth, Maggie and I headed downtown again, to Flying Burrito Brothers, Wellington’s only TexMex restaurant. After another satisfying meal (shredded beef burritos this time) the three of us went to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet perform Peter Pan. I was once again impressed by the quality of the performance. Totally worth more than the student rate of $20 that we were luckily enough to pay for it.

Happy Halloween!

– Liam

Hamster Balls and Parachutes (10/28/09)

Mt. Ruapehu, North Island, New Zealand

Welcome back,

Classes are over, essays handed in & only one more exam to go before I’m officially finished with uni in Wellington. To celebrate the end of classes, another road trip was in order. Myself and four other Americans took the long drive north, visiting Taupo, the Coromandel & and Bay of Islands. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough time to visit everything worth visiting in the North Island, but we made the best of our five days.

In Taupo we were able to see some of the natural hot springs that exist there and could even go swimming in a hot water stream. Definitely hotter than any hot tub I’ve ever been in. Taupo is also minutes away from Huka falls which dump 270 square metres of water every minute. The air being mixed with the water here causes it to have a shockingly bright blue colour. A short drive further north brought us to Rotorua.

Hot Pools, Taupo, North Island, New Zealand

Huka Falls, Taupo, North Island, New Zealand

Rotorua might smell like rotten eggs, but that’s solely due to the sulfur emitted by the many thermal pools surrounding it. The number one attraction for me in Rotorua was the Zorb. Zorbing is basically climbing into a hamster ball that is eleven feet in diameter with a small amount of water and rolling down a hill. I know that it sounds (and frankly looks) ridiculous, but it was an amazing amount of fun and something I’ve wanted to do since I arrived in New Zealand.

Zorbing, Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand

Next was a drive to the Coromandel peninsula, famous for its beaches and natural beauty. We rented a cabin which was located an hours drive along a gravel road from the nearest town. Our secluded piece of paradise overlooked the Pacific from its jungle location. The cabin had no electricity, water provided from rainfall and a propane powered refrigerator. Being away from modernity is not something too foreign to me, but it was great to get away from the world for a couple of days. The beach was only a short walk through the jungle and we spent a couple hours there the next day, just soaking in some New Zealand sun and climbing on the rocks.

Rainforest, Coromandel, North Island, New Zealand

Beachfront, Coromandel, North Island, New Zealand

Our next stop was the Bay of Islands, about a 4 hour drive north of Auckland. We were supposed to have a house booked for this locale as well, but due to some miscommunication we found ourselves homeless. As it was Labour day weekend, all backpackers were booked for the weekend, but we were luckily able to book the last vacation cabin at a Holiday Park in Paihia. The next day, I completed another goal for New Zealand: skydiving.

10,000 Feet above Kaikohe, Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand

For anyone who knows me, you know of my fear of heights and my hatred of roller coasters. Let me tell you that 12,000 feet is no small height. Luckily, with tandem skydiving, someone actually pushes you out of the plane, so once you’re in the plane, you’re also jumping out of it. It doesn’t really feel like you’re falling at all. It feels as if you’re floating and a really strong wind is blowing at you. After falling 200 kilometres an hour for about 40 seconds, the parachute was deployed and I floated for almost five minutes, through some scattered clouds, to the ground. This was a rush that outdid bungee jumping by a mile. Best single experience in New Zealand so far.

After a boat ride with the girls while they went parasailing and catching some more rays on the beach, we had dinner with way too much food. We had chicken and beef already to make on the grill, complete with fresh made guacamole and asparagus. But our luck struck again when the owner of the cabin had a plethora of fresh caught snapper and offered us 6 fresh fillets to make on the grill. So we had a surf ‘n’ double turf for dinner and full to bursting, we headed to bed.

Paihia Harbour, Paihia, Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand

The drive from Pahia to Wellington along the West Coast of Northland is 13 1/2 hours with no stops. This made for a long day in the car. Luckily, everyone showered.

The north of this country is absolutely beautiful and I wish I had more time (and money…) to explore it. But the adventures will be confined to Wellington now, and I can’t complain about that.

Auckland Skyline, North Island, New Zealand

Till next time,


40% New Zealand (10/18/09)

Classes: Finished.

I know I’ve been saying this a lot, but I really can’t get over how weird it is to be done with class in the middle of October. And with Vic’s exam schedule, it’ll be two weeks before my first exam and another 10 days after that before I’m completely (academically) finished in New Zealand. I don’t think that I’ll truly be ready to [insert L-word here] on 14 November, but I don’t think that I’d be ready to leave on 14 November 2010 either. This country is just too amazing to see in a short 4 1/2 months. But enough about that…

Last Wednesday was not only my last day of class, but also my Monteverdi concert. The concert was great, mostly because it was awesome to be performing again. I miss the plethora of opportunities that I have to perform back at UD so it was nice to have one chance to perform in Aotearoa. After the concert, our conductor took us out to dinner at a great pizza place near campus. All in all, a great evening.

On Friday, some friends and I joined some campus environmentalists on a march on Parliament. They were demanding a 40% reduction in carbon emissions instead of the 10% that John Key (Prime Minister) has signed onto. The march went straight through town, through the business district all the way to the Beehive. When we arrived we were greeted by two Members of Parliament, one from the Green Party and one from Labour. It was great to hear some of the politicians that I’ve been watching on TV and in the debating chamber since July up close and personal.

The next few weeks will hopefully be full of further exploration of Wellington. I still haven’t seen the zoo or some of the local beaches around the city. And there’s hopefully a short trip to some of the more exotic locations on the North Island. Its hard to fathom how hard its been to see a country barely bigger than Colorado. But then I guess the world is huge…

Kia Ora,


Likes and Dislikes (10/11/09)

ts the last week of classes here and I have just over one month left in the country. First, what?! Before break, time was inching by. Every day seemed to be a new adventure; a new discovery in this country. Ever since I returned from the South Island, time has been flying. Mondays suddenly become Fridays and its felt like so much of my time has been spent writing papers and preparing for finals.

Things I Will Miss About New Zealand:

* Flatmates & friends I’ve met here.
* The view I have every day when I wake up.
* Pies.
* Using Skype to talk to people in the same room rather than 9,000 miles away.
* Living in a city.
* Tomato Sauce (not the kind that goes on pasta, but the kind that’s so much better than ketchup)
* Booking a car at 4AM and not deciding where to drive it until right before you leave.
* Going to Parliament.
* Realising I know more New Zealand politicians than American ones…
* Sausage sizzles.
* The familiarity of my living situation. Just as its getting routine I have to go home…
* Sunday morning laughter at 3A.
* Wine tastings.
* Tui & Speights.
* Finding new ways to add cheese to a meal while listening to the 90s mix in the lounge.
* Shortland Street.
* Wednesday nights.
* Finding people’s true laughs.
* Ring 3.
* Noodles.
* Scrumps.
* New Zealand’s agressive public service announcements.
* Badly dubbed commercials from Europe & America.
* Random music parties.
* Getting to hear the word “crotchet” and “semi-quaver” used at rehearsals.
* Mr. Wedge & Meatosaurus

Things I will not miss about New Zealand:

* The long line to print a paper in the library.
* Hills.
* Sudden unexpected rain. With gale force winds.
* Construction workers at 7AM.
* World Religions.
* Strange liquid that appears randomly in the cabinet.
* Drinks in restaurants costing more than your meal.
* Paying for condiments.
* $4 coffee.

More soon…


Technology Woes (10/5/09)

After a week without a computer, I can honestly say that technology is so addicting. I’m used to rolling out of bed in the morning and immediately being checking my email and facebook; being able to work on a paper while sitting in my pajamas on the couch. Its been quite a challenge working through the end of this semester without having a completely working computer to use all day. But then, this is the third semester of college that I’ve had with a damaged computer. So I guess I’m used to it…

Since we last talked, its been pretty quiet around here. As the end of the semester approaches, my workload is at its highest this semester. I can’t believe that I’m this busy at the beginning of October, but it’ll be over soon. Of course, this isn’t exactly a reason to celebrate. I’m just going to hope that the time between 14 October and 14 November takes as long as possible to pass. There will hopefully be a few more road trips around the North Island during that time.

The only other piece of news is that I’ve been given solos in one of the Monteverdi songs being performed on the last day of class. I’m quite excited for the performance…especially since it is the last thing I have to do for uni before finals.

Ok…off to bed now, but more on kiwi culture soon.

Kia Ora,


Kiwi Thoughts (9/27/09)

As September comes to a close, I’ve now been here for three months. And now, I only have two weeks left of class. Two weeks!! I cannot believe how fast time has gone here. My life in New Zealand has proved to me that time really does fly when you’re having fun. It’s also proved to me how well the world is connected. The fact that I have been able to remain connected to so many people at home is reassuring. Not only am I sure that when I return I’ll be able to pick up things where they left off, I’m also sure that keeping in touch with everyone I’ve met here will be just as easy.

As I think about my time here, I start to think about the things I’m going to miss most about this place. When you’ve spent so much time setting up a life that is normal and with a routine that feels regular, how do you leave? Especially when there are so many things that I won’t be able to transfer home. The walk to campus, the food I’ve become used to, the people I live with, the beer I drink. I’ve become so accustomed to things here that I can’t even fathom how I’m going to make life at 133 Lovett feel as comfortable as it does here. I know that I’ll have no problem with flatmates because if I did this well with 3 random people, I’ll be fine with HKLZ. It’ll just be readjusting to US brands, US prices and (maybe worst of all) US beer.

Anyways…I’ll be back soon, and hopefully with some happier thoughts.

Kia Ora,


All good things come to an end (9/27/09)

Christchurch Cathedral, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand

Today is the rainiest it’s been in a while here in Wellington, so i’m curled up on the couch with a cup of Chai tea, watching The Sword in the Stone and determined to finish the story of my trip around the South Island.

Sunday morning, Maggie and I were hoping to finally do that horseback riding, but stormy weather meant the ground was too muddy for the stables to risk. And so, we headed on our way, back to Christchurch through the middle of the island. The drive was as beautiful as any other I have experienced here. Golden fields flanked by rolling hills and snow capped mountains. We had hoped to stay at Lake Tekapo, a beautiful lake near Mt. Cook. However rain and high hostel rates had us pushing on, towards Christchurch. We arrived in Christchurch that evening and found a hostel in the centre city.

Luckily for us (and our wallets…) we have a friend in Christchurch. Allen lives across the street from me here in Wellington, and his family was gracious enough to host us for the next three nights. We received amazing hospitality from his parents. It was great to eat a home cooked meal and not have to get up and leave every day. Christchurch is a beautiful city. It is much more spread out than Wellington and has a much more suburban feel. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, Maggie grabbed a flight home to Wellington to get some work done before classes started again on Monday. On Wednesday, Lauren and I met up with another friend, Jacob, to do some kayaking in the botanical gardens in Christchurch. It was a spectacular day in the sun and a great way to spend our last day in Chch.

Botanical Gardens, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand

EARLY Thursday morning, Lauren and I hopped on the TranzCoastal train. This is the same company that took me from Auckland to Wellington back in July. The train offered gorgeous views of the coast and after a few hours, we arrived in Kaikoura. Kaikoura is a small town on the eastern coast that attracts tourists by the boatload during the summer months for whale watching, swimming with dolphins and hanging out with seals. In the winter though, the town is pretty dead, albeit beautiful. We enjoyed a day on the beach and did a little souvenir shopping. That night marked my second late night trip to a hospital as Lauren and I took a walk to the Kaikoura hospital to make sure Lauren’s persistent cough was nothing serious. The walk was beautiful as the full moon had risen and was shining off the snow on the top of the mountains. If only I had my camera… I did manage to get some good shots earlier in the day though.

Beachfront, Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand
Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

On Friday it was back on the train to Blenheim. Blenheim sits in the heart of the Marlborough wine region, home of some of the best vineyards in New Zealand. Natalie lives here and once again, we were fortunate to stay in a real home. Natalie’s parents are amazing hosts and our first night, we headed to a local country club to participate in a quiz night. Quiz nights are huge in New Zealand and we dominated, coming in second. We were only one point behind the first place team and they had bought a few answers. But second place was good enough for us. We walked away with a cheese board filled with snacks and four bottles of wine. And all in support of the girl guides (sort of like girl scouts with a boy scout feel).

On Saturday, Natalie’s parents made us an awesome outdoor breakfast and then we left on our tour of some vineyards. We visited a few vineyards and another place that makes different liquors and alcoholic ice cream toppings. After several tastings and coffee on a sun drenched patio, we headed back home. Our time in Blenheim was great. It was awesome to see Natalie again and to see some of the wine I’ve been reading about for over a year.

Sunday was our last train trip followed by a ferry ride across the Cook strait; back to the North Island. It was a relaxing trip home but definitely bittersweet. I had such an amazing time on the South Island and I was not looking forward to getting back to the grind of school. At the same time, I hadn’t seen my flatmates (except Natalie) in over two weeks, and it would be nice to sleep in the same bed every night. Looking back, my trip across the South Island was incredible and I’ll never forget it. Maggie & Lauren were amazing travel partners and we’ll have stories to tell for years to come.

Kia Ora,