March 17, 2015

Culture and Adventures...

‘ello there! Check this out!

Fun fact: NZ is as large as the east coast of the US! As I’ve been planning travels I keep forgetting that NZ is larger than it seems.

Another quick fun fact: pedestrians here don’t have the right-of-way.

The big joke in the US is that New Jersey drivers (where I’m from) are the worst...but compared to here, NJ drivers are saints. Drivers are pretty aggressive and do some crazy things. I talked to my running partner about this and her opinion was that the craziness was a result of the mix of Asian, European, Pacific Islands (etc) cultures that come to NZ from places with different road rules/driving etiquette. This actually makes a lot of sense. Everyone in the US learns on the same roads. Moral of the story: even though you can legally jaywalk here, it's probably not the greatest idea. 

My favourite thing to see here regarding driving is how kiwis parallel park. Instead of driving up alongside the spot and backing in, I've seen numerous drivers simply drive into the spot up over the sidewalk, and then attempt to straighten their vehicle and put it back in the road. It looks pretty ridiculous and probably ruins your tires, but hey it gets the job done. 

Anyway, now on to adventure talk. Last last weekend, the weekend of March 8, we took an IFSA Butler sponsored chartered sail to Waiheke, an island off the coast of Auckland city, where we had lunch at a vineyard and got to try archery and clay bird shooting. Don't panic...for the clay bird shooting the guns were shot guns that had been outfitted with lazers. The little plastic, not clay, disks that we were shooting registered when we hit them, so basically we were doing stationary lazer tag ;). The chartered sail was on a 47ft yacht named Tequila and the weather was perfect for sailing, nice and clear with the right amount of wind.

Steering with one hand, like a pro.  
We took a short shuttle from the port to the vineyard and during the drive we had some amazing views of the ocean from the hills on the island. I wish we had had more time to explore the island itself because what we saw from the boat and car was really beautiful.

At the vineyard we were served a wine/beer tasting and kiwi pizza, which was totally different than the good ol’ NJ pizza I’m used to (NJ pizza is still the best, sorry NZ). 

After lunch we headed over to the archery range/clay bird shooting area. So far while in NZ I’ve done archery twice, and both times it was super awesome and something I’d definitely do again when I get back to the states. I was absolutely horrible at clay bird shooting, but it was still fun!

After our sport we headed back to the mainland via ferry, had gelato near the dock, and headed our separate ways. It’s been a while since I was on a sail boat like that, and that night every time I sat still I felt like I was bobbing back and forth on a boat!

IFSA Butler gang, standin' on the dock of the bay. 

In other news, this past Friday a couple of friends and I went to watch the sunset from the top of Mt. Eden, a large hill south of the University, where there's an amazing 360o view of Auckland city and the surrounding suburbs...

Skytower in the distance.
Chewing on some grass watching the sunset, no big deal. 

Finally, for adventure news anyway, this Saturday a couple friends and I took advantage of free bus service to Takapuna beach to soak up some rays! The free bus service was intended to shuttle people to Takapuna beach so they could watch their fellow Uni students compete in “The Great Waka Ama Race” (Waka is NZ Māori for canoe/boat, Ama refers to the paddle/outrigger part….so a Waka Ama race is a race for outrigger canoes). 

For the race students had to row the outrigger canoes from Takapuna beach to Rangitoto Island, run 5km to the top, get a flag (or something…I think?), and then row back to Takapuna beach. You can see by my incredibly detailed knowledge of the event that my friends and I were clearly dedicated fans who watched every second of the race, and weren’t just using the bus service to go to the beach or anything…

Rangitoto Island

Hah nope, we were totally just there for the beach.
I think that just about sums up my most recent adventures. School and clubs are starting to pick up a little bit so I have less free time now, but I definitely feel settled in and I’m really enjoying my time here. This weekend the IFSA Butler group and I are headed to Rotorua where we will be mountain biking, luging, and/or white water rafting!

Until next time…ka kite ’aka’ou! (kah kee-tay ahka-oh: see you again!)

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