Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Kiwi Experience!: Arthur's Pass

Before we officially started our roadtrip, Pet brought me to a BBH motel to sign up for their membership. If any of you are planning a trip to NZ, I think this would help save you a few bucks as you pay lower fees for rooms and you get discounts on things. Just Google it up and you'd find something. Otherwise, just look for a sign outside the motel that shows a sheep with the letters BBH and ask to join as members. The $45 membership includes $20 worth of calls on an IDD card, which doubles up as the membership card.

And so, our first destination: Arthur's Pass. There were many pastures along the way so I took a picture of a typical NZ scenery:

Black and white cows with a backdrop of snowcapped mountains.One cow was so friendly, it walked towards us!

I became so excited when the greenery gave way to whiteness:

So excited that I had to stop the car and get out for a photo! Yes, quite jakun this friend of yours....

Right, so when we finally arrived at Arthur's Pass, Pet said she had to do something. That something was to make a snowball and throw it somewhere. Haha.. at the Information Centre, we decided to do the Bealey's Walk. The person behind the counter explained that we wouldn't miss it as the green in colour Jack's Hut is situated directly opposite the carpark to the walk.

We totally missed it. We spent close to half an hour just searching for it. And the reason was because the hut was tucked behind a few meters of snow. The signboard showing the walk was buried under snow. But we still took our chance and went on the walk anyway.

As you can see, the track could hardly be seen! There was so much snow! Even the bridge was half covered in snow...

My advice is this: if you have boots, bring them along because they will definitely be better than wearing normal sportswear. My pair of Adidas was so slippery! Pet and I looked like we were dancing on ice! So funny!

The walk ended here:

It was ALL WHITE! There was so much snow and I kept sinking into it! Okay, I'm heavy, yes. What was amazing was that the snow was up to my knees.... wah.....

And there you go, my first snow adventure!

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Kiwi Experience!: Petra's flatmates

I cannot resist the temptation to introduce all of you to Petra's flatmates! Sorry, I just can't! They are just the most adorable bunch and I can only imagine how much fun it is to live with them.

According to Pet, they make her eat and exercise heaps, which to me, is LIFE. Gosh, Pet, you are like the LUCKIEST!

For a clearer picture:

Starting from the back, the one in orange is Rohan. He studies international law and drags Pet out of her room for full meals in the middle of the night. His brother, Antonio, is visiting him from Japan. In the front, the two Germans. Max, in stripes, studies German literature and something else. I hope I got that right... oh, and he's also Pet's gym buddy. They do rockclimbing together. I had the honour of watching Pet and him climb the walls of the flat. Fabian, if you listened closely to the video, is the one with the yummy ice-cream. If I remember correctly, he's a qualified engineer.

And oh, not forgetting Burt, Max's soft toy kiwi:

My Kiwi Experience!: Christchurch (Day 2)

On this wet Sunday morning, we had breakfast at a cosy cafe that had a large fish tank and a friendly cat. I have a feeling the person who runs this joint loves cats as she uses pebbles painted with different cats to identify her table orders. Creative.

We explored the city of Christchurch on this day, starting with Cathedral Square. It is what the name indicates - a square with a cathedral. As it is a place of worship, we were not allowed to have photographs taken, although there were quite a few shutterbugs happily snapping away.

The next place we visited also does not allow photographs to be taken because the animals are nocturnal. And they were so cute! We were quite lucky as when it was our turn in their enclosure, they were actively running around chasing each other and busy looking for food in between cracks of trunks and in the ground. These flightless birds are non other than the famous kiwi birds of New Zealand.

Petra then took us for lunch at a cafe housed in the old University of Canterbury campus. They actually do occupy one of the old lecture rooms, equiped with a fireplace and all. Snazzy... oh, and the salad that Petra ordered was yummylicious!

Right opposite the room we were in was the Rutherford Den. Does that ring a bell? Yup, it's the great scientist, Lord Ernest Rutherford whom we studied about in high school. The den was were he actually did his experiments and found out the things we learnt in school. Cool, eh? There's also the lecture hall where he studied and lectured:

Don't you just love the old charm the place is oozing? All the sandstone and granite... ahh... so English...

Why doesn't Macquarie have stairwells made of timber and stained glass like this:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Kiwi Experience!: Akaroa

With little sleep, we dragged our sorry asses to the car rental company in town. Before heading off to the little French seaside town of Akaroa, we stopped at Pet's flat because the Jamaican brothers we coming along. Oh, and to have some coffee...

brewed by the one and only, Barista Petra!

And so, we were off! Along the way, there was one stretch of highway that was super straight and this was the view:

Strange, eh? Maybe whoever was allowed to fall the trees did not have permission to access that particular plot of land! Haha!

The road was not so straight after that. Not only was it windy, it was steep. Thankfully, Pet had some garlic pills for motion sickness and I had some asam. All's good as we were rewarded with breathtaking scenery. Look, that's Akaroa there!:

Lunch was had at a cafe with views of the cove. Apparently, this is the only place in the world where you can swim with Hector Dolphins, the world's smallest species of dolphins. We strolled around town and took time to soak in the atmosphere.

We learnt from one of the shopkeepers that Akaroa was formerly a volcanic crater that became a lake which later on, opened up to flow into the sea. Okay, this all happened throughout thousands of years so don't think it all happened in the last decade or so. When we stepped out of the shop, I noticed this:

Haha! The seagulls were all posing on a post each!

As Dor was the one who drove to Akaroa, I was to drive back to Christchurch. We noticed on one of the road signs a place called Little Akaloa... Dor and I looked at each other, blinked and laughed. It was as if some Chinese or Japanese settler couldn't pronounce the 'r' sound hence the 'l'!

Pet took us to an Italian restaurant called Tutto Bene. That night, I was the first one to fall asleep. I think it was all the driving...

My Kiwi Experience!: Christchurch (Day 1)

As promised, the photos of my trip. Luckily, I took notes of what I did. Some names of places are fuzzy but hey, what is Google for, eh?

Right, so, rewind the clock to this time three weeks ago. I was wandering at the airport waiting for time to pass. When you have an airport as small as Sydney International that is undergoing renovations, you'd be wandering around like a lost duckling, like me. Ok, I wasn't all that lost as I had a book but who wants to read amidst loud chattering of foreign languages and the rhythmic hammering of builders? To make things worse, when I finally arrived at my designated terminal, my flight was delayed due to the weather. Argh... the highlight of my wait at the lounge was this though: a couple doing everything they can to the vending machine that took their money but wouldn't let them have their packet of chocolates! They kicked, slammed, lifted and shook the machine. Even tried putting in more money for a second packet. And the result was? They raised their hands in triumph when BOTH fell out! Yes!

Pet had just arrived when I walked out of the arrival gates. Good timing. A very friendly cab driver took us back to her place. It was past midnight.

Pet lives on campus at Ilam Village. Including her, six people share a flat on the top floor.

Each have their own cosy room and they share the laundry, toilet and bathroom, kitchen, dining area and living room. She lives with a Kiwi, a Jamaican and three Germans. Made me miss life in DLC. Sigh.

Despite not sleeping, Pet still took me out. We ran some errands in uni. While she was in the pharmacy, I quickly took a picture of the cafeteria, which to me looks 10 times better than what we have in Macquarie and it is not the only one:

She had to return some books and videos to the library:

Don't you think their library is lovely? I mean, they may not have the green lawns that our uni has but hey, a water feature complete with a waterfall on one end and a fountain on the other? Pure coolness!

In the basement of the library, you'd find this:

According to Pet, University of Canterbury is planning to become a bicycle campus by erm.. I don't remember when. The uni is encouraging people to cycle instead of drive as it is better not only for the environment but also for the health of the cyclists.

Next stop: the Faculty of Law. *shudders* The walk there was lovely though:

Just imagine these trees exploding in pink in spring... aah...

They even have a creek running through campus! I was so in love with the clarity of the water:

No, that is not moss you are looking at. The greenish colour you see is actually the rocks at the bottom of the riverbed. Now, this is what I call crystal clear water. I don't blame the ducks for loving it here. If you think Macquarie has many ducks, think again. They have more here not only in numbers but also in variety.

We then walked out of campus onto Riccarton Road. Now, how do you pronounce that? When I first saw it, I pronounced it Ree-carton. The locals pronounce it differently. It actually is pronounce Ree-curtain, minus the 'r' in the curtain. Oh well, as long as you know where it is. We were to collect the key to our room at Ilam Motel. Along the way, I spotted this fancy letterbox:

We then took a bus into town where Pet returned some DVDs and rented more movies to watch. We ended the day having traditional food prepared by the Jamaican brothers and a friend of theirs from Trinidad and Tobago.

Oops, no, that was not how we ended the day! We had to go to the airport after that as Dor was arriving from Auckland. We brought Dor back to the motel where we had chocolate and wine and lots of yapping! As Dor and I shared a room, we talked till we heard birds chirping and decided, ok, think it's time to sleep.