After all of my exams, I took a holiday to Australia to visit friends! To get there, I took flights after flights, and the most surprising one was the 3 hour flight from Auckland to Sydney. I did not realize Australia was that close to New Zealand. Another fun moment was when I crossed through Australia customs using the new (to me) e-passport kiosk. For the record, if you use these, you don't get a stamp on your passport. I realized this when I got through and asked the first person I saw if I could get a stamp. He took me to the information desk, and the next person led me to one of the customs check-in people. He finished up allowing two people in, spun around in his chair, and held out his hand. Without a word, he took my passport, stamped it, and handed it back. "Do you get this a lot?" I asked. He laughed, nodded yes, and returned to his job.
The Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
I will admit, I purely bought an All Blacks ticket because of peer pressure. I had never seen much rugby before, and I'm not much of a sports fan anymore. But, I had American friends tell me I just had to see an All Blacks game, and half of my flat mates were going. I caved and bought a ticket, and it's a good thing, because I had an amazing night!
And the All Blacks score!
Well, that's it folks. I officially finished all of my lectures and have begun finals. It's finally starting to hit me, that the semester is quickly coming to an end. And I still have so much to do! But before I go on any more adventures, I want to reminisce about all of my classes.
Finally, after being in Dunedin for three and a half months, I went to the Otago Museum. Granted, it was mostly to find an object for a group project, but I took the whole afternoon to enjoy the sights. I didn't go to the live butterfly exhibit, though, because I promised a friend I would only go with her. I have to admit, this has been my favorite museum to visit, because it is set up more like a gallery than a museum.
The Oceania section.
A few days ago, I was right in the thick of that part of the semester where all the major projects in all your classes are due all at once. So, of course, I have been swamped with writing and procrastinating. And what better way to spend the latter than a trip to Christchurch! Some friends of mine were selling cheap bus tickets, so I planned a weekend excursion that would give me time away from Dunedin and maybe give me inspiration for my many papers. Through all the carsickness from reading and typing on the bus, early morning explorations, amazing city and museum sights, I managed to have a good time and finish an assignment!
The Cardboard Cathedral, set up for the Noah's Ark children's show.
Though it was not as stress-free as I would have preferred, my mid-semester break was fun and full of adventure. I decided that I was going to explore a few places on the North Island during the long break. I gave myself 6 days, which wasn't enough time! But, to start, I had a great first flight (though it was the shakiest one I've ever been on) where I got to watch the wheels during the take-off and landing. By the end of the day, I was quite through with travelling, because after two flights and multiple bus rides (and lots of mis-booking, confusion, and uncertainty) I racked up a total of 12 hours of travel time. But my destination--Rotorua--was well worth the wait.
I absolutely love airplanes!
Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do. Back in the States, I didn't always have the time in my schedule to help out around town. Sure, I did things for the school, but it isn't the same. Giving back to the community is a nice way to say "thanks." It's even nicer if you love what you are volunteering to do. I've helped out in a kindergarten classroom, back at home, which was incredible. Here, I get to walk dogs. Once a week, for 2 hours, I volunteer at the Dunedin SPCA. All I have to do is come in, grab a lead, poo bag, collar or harness, and excited dog!
Boi, a staffy and black lab mix.
My last full day in Wellington. Naturally, I returned to the usual tourist attractions that I didn't get a chance to tackle on Friday. So, I set out with the hopes to visit Zealandia, the Cable Car and Botanic Gardens, the Beehive, and St. Mary of the Angels Church. I did it all--not as extensively as I would have liked--but I did it all, nonetheless. Maybe, if the entire city woke up before 9 or 10...I could have gotten more accomplished!
Anyways, the first thing I did was find a bus time to go to Zealandia. In the hour before I had to pick up the bus, I wandered into the center of the city to find St. Mary of the Angels Church (left). I didn't get to go in (it was Sunday and the signs were confusing), but the outside was beautiful. Not getting to see the inside is probably my greatest regret in Wellington.
The Aotearoa Animal Rights Conference was the reason I came to Wellington. And, wow! It was incredible. The actual conference was Friday and Saturday. I attended a debate on Friday night and the entire event on Saturday.
The conference venue.
To start off, I went to the Friday night debate. The topic was, "Is Animal Rights a Waste of Time?" Now, to put it in context, most of the attendees were vegan activists for animal rights. So, the people on the affirmative didn't have much of a chance of changing opinions. They did, however, get to play devil's advocate and make some great points. Of course, at the end, the negative side won by a landslide of cheers. But, I personally thought the affirmative side made the better argument. For example, going vegan for animal rights is a waste of time because you fight against a huge industry and many people may not agree. If you take a health perspective, though, you have a much better chance of possibly turning someone vegan. Essentially, they appealed to the audience the best they could by saying animal rights was a waste of time but veganism was not (for either environmental or heath benefits). It was relaxed and fun to watch.
I went on my first adventure outside of Dunedin! And what an adventure it was! I took the weekend off and went to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Actually, I took three days off: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Due to the massive amount of interesting and touristy things I did, I will be splitting my Wellington posts in to these three days. So, lets start with Friday! Sunrise over Wellington on my return trip.
My flight was at 6:50 am, and I needed to be there early! So, after a quick breakfast and a wonderful shuttle, I got on the plane and took off for the capital! From now on, I only ever want to take early morning flights. Both my arrival and departure flights were at 6:50 in the morning and both times I got to watch the sunrise from the air. The sunrise created a perfect melted rainbow in the sky, the deep red slowly creeping over the wing and illuminating the clouds and land below us. The white capped peaks of the Kaikoura Range stuck out of the foggy, blue-grey land like crunched up tin foil.