UV Rays

8 days left in New Zealand.

Sunday’s forecast for Wellington: 60 degrees & sunny.
Monday’s forecast for Wellington: 55 degrees & rainy.

And of course, today had to be spent studying. However, I did attempt to get as much studying outside as possible. And for the first time ever (and probably the only time), I got a sunburn while studying for my fall semester exams. The weather here is getting better and better but its even better in Australia and Fiji, making me really excited for what will be the hottest November of my life.

But for the moment…its back to the books and some aloe on my arms.

Till tomorrow,

Liam

Beach at Dusk, Catlins Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Thin ‘n’ Crispy

9 days left in New Zealand

Today, I had an absolutely fantastic classic New York style pizza. One of the things that can instantly remind me of home is a thin, crispy piece of dough with tomatoes and cheese on top.

The weather is still fantastic and of course, I’m still studying.

– Liam

Sommes Island

A Thai Goodbye

10 days left in New Zealand.

Today was probably the most beautiful day I’ve seen in Wellington. Of course it’s just my luck that as the weather turns absolutely gorgeous, my final exam is just around the corner and study had to commence. After a few short hours in the library, I caught another voice recital at the NZSM (New Zealand school of Music) before just laying in the sun waiting for Natalie to get done with her exam so we could run downtown to run some errands.

Tonight, we went out to dinner at a nice Thai restaurant with a mix of Kiwi and American friends to celebrate our time together here organised by Allen, my across-the-street-downstairs neighbor. It was a nice dinner, but highlights the current theme of Landcross Street: leaving. People have already left and its shocking to know that I have only a week left in Wellington. Who knew that four months could go so fast?

Cheers,

Liam

The Island and a small slice of Americana

11 days left in New Zealand.

Unlike the last two days, today was packed with new adventures in Wellington. Lauren and I left Landcross street this morning and after a few stops at the grocery store and Le Moulin, a French bakery, we met Jacob at the ferry terminal. The three of us boarded the ferry and made our way across the harbour to Sommes Island. This wildlife refuge was once home to internment camps for anyone who sounded foreign to the Kiwis during both world wars. We spent almost three hours exploring the island. It was so beautiful, mostly for the fact that it is so untouched by mankind. We saw weta bugs, exotic birds, a baby blue penguin and of course, sheep. Lauren and I were excited to hear Jacob say that he saw some “really awesome, weird swan thing” but were so disappointed when we discovered that it was merely a Canadian goose. Oh well…

The last time I explored with Jacob & Lauren was in the Christchurch botanical gardens, back in September when we went kayaking. These are two of my favourite days in New Zealand. Jacob has been our unofficial tour guide in Wellington. Every day with Jacob starts with a planned activity and is followed by several random ones scattered all over the city. Lauren and I can always count on Jacob for a great day.

After exploring the island as best we could, we returned home for dinner before heading back to town to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. Popularised by the movie V for Vendetta, this holiday is celebrated only in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It celebrates the day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a Catholic in England, planned to blow up Parliament. He failed, and this is celebrated annually on 5 November with fireworks and festivals. The fireworks were great to see, since I had missed July 4th at home, and the carnival was fun as well. Topped off with a chai latte at Enigma, one of my favourite cafes, this was a fantastic day in Wellington.

Blog in brief: Jacob is Wellington’s most enthusiastic tour guide and the weather’s finally good enough to give me a sunburn.

Until tomorrow,

Liam

Te Mata Peak, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

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.

Cheers,

Liam

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,

Liam

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,

Liam

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,

Liam