Location: Home, Canada
So today I have safely arrived home. After being away for 7 months it's nice to come home to a nice peaceful house. So it's catch up time to what's happened since I last reported anything. So I travelled around the North Island with Theressa and Jana (aka the two German girls), which was a great laugh. We had a good time taking the piss out of each other and there were many times I had to use the word "idiot" in a fun joking way, example when Jana stopped the car because she saw some sheep with there heads through the fence eating grass, so she stops and thinks she is just going to go up and pet the sheep - sheep don't like to be pet, I don't even think they like people being close? Good try Jana, I think you may need to go to a petting zoo. So from the sheep farm we visited a nice small town of Napier, and then cruised up to Taupo. Just north of Taupo we went and visited this great place that had sulpher pools (that were incredibley smelly) and bubbling mud from thermal activity. It was a very magical place, from there toured to Rotorua which is the most touristy city in NZ where we went to the Polynesian Spa (Thermal activity heats the pools, 40-42 C), did the street car luge again!, and checked out Zorbing. Now Zorbing is a new extreme sport that is bound to pick up in the next few years. It's a big ball in a giant ball, you climb in and hang out in the big ball and then are hurled down the hill. Funds were low so I didn't get the chance to take part but it looked like a good thrill. Many ways you can Zorb, Hydro-cycle - throw water into the ball with you and you just slip slide around like your in a wash machine - strap you tight to the inside of the ball and you do summer saults the whole way down - or you can attempt to do the hamster run. Whatever is your fancy. We travelled up through Tauranga (surf town and where my goodmate grew up, Anna) then to Opoutere, Coromandel then went up to Auckland. In Opoutere Theressa and I took out Kayaks in the morning and went for a stroll down this river. Last time I went Kayaking with T. we were in a double kayak and she was just enjoying the ride while I was doing all the paddling. Terrible. We also crashed into many bushes as well, so this time we went in single kayaks which was a much better idea! There were spots were the water was so low from the tide rolling out that we had to jerk the kayak to fight through and not get stuck to the lakes floor. No one managed to fall in and ended up being a beautiful day to kayak. We took off to Auckland afterwards where I was meeting up with Anna.
The trip started off with me getting picked up by Anna's dad in his little 1973 Jaguar (sharp car) which then went to the airport to pick up Anna. Anna and her dad live on Waiheke Island so we took the fairy across to hang out on the island for the last few days in NZ. I met Anna's little God sister (3) who was a doll and who didn't like my beard at all. I think Lulu quoted it was "yukky" and so I shaved, but she was very fun to play with and reminded me of playing with Zachary and the boys next door. The highlight of Waiheke was walking to the winery where Anna worked and having to sit down because we were laughing so much. It all started with this rediculous little small black belt. Anyway it ended up being my prop and was good for all types of cool things like the obvious a belt, headband, tie etc. I guess you had to be there but anytime Anna tried to take it away from me I just acted like a real "idiot" and started shouting and making a scene, remember we are heading up the road to a fancy winery. It was fun hanging out at Waiheke. Also I helped them pack, 4 boxes, due to the house getting a remodelling job done on it. I thought in general NZ people were laid back, well in Waiheke they are more laid back. Anna and her dad wanted to be all packed up by Monday when the builders would arrive and Saturday we started and a few bottles of wine later we stopped! It's funny how that happens.... The sunsets on the island I will always remember. They were fantastic! I will miss our long runs together Anna. I am going to try and do the half marathon in Toronto in September. I've deffinately been inspired by all the people that I have met training for either marathons or iron mans. Maybe someday I will be able to comple an iron man, first i need to learn how to swim! Flew out of NZ on the 30th at 9:30pm and into Vancouver on the 30th at 8:30pm (weird) where I stayed at this real dodgy hostel for the night where most people had at least 3 tattoos. Stayed the night and met up with Tracey in the early morning (sorry Trace it was so early). to be continued......
Location: Waipawa, New Zealand
Closing day at the sheep farm. I have been very fortunate to have spent two weeks here on the farm. I have to say I will be missing it. It was such a good experience as I learned many things. I have learned that sheep farmers ski a lot in the winter, dogs actually can listen when told what to do, the only thing dumber then a sheep is what chases it (quoted by Ian), discovered new fruit, pancakes with brown sugar, margarine and freshly squeezed lemon on top!, discovered that kiwis aren't really that good at pool (Jon 2, Brian 0), hot water bottles are essential when living without central heating, and a lot about sheep. Living with the McCoskery family for two weeks was very relaxing. I liked there system of making plans as the day unfolded. No set plans just wing it for the day. We shared many laughs together and had a great time shadowing Brian to his many nights of being supper active man, playing badminton on Tuesday and Wednesdays and going to a weight class on Thursday followed by table tennis, snowboarding Monday and Tuesday etc. and playing billards out at the beach house.
The last few days here at the farm it has been extremely rainy and not to good for the new born lambs. They all seem to have died due to the wet cold weather. The farm here only had about 30 lambs out and they haven't started lambing yet, but a neighbor down the way was half way through and probably lost hundreds of lambs. I guess it's all part of farming. By November the lambs have to weigh in at 30 kgs. So if they do wait for the warmer weather to lamb then the lambs may not have enough weight on them, as well they are more acceptable to disease (blood poisoning etc). Lambs sell here in New Zealand for about $50-80 ($38-60 Can) and sheep can have 1 - 2 lambs in one year. Here at the farm they were trying a new thing of shearing the sheep in the winter before lambing to make it easier for the birth. So they sheared in late june, early july and will shear again in Jan-Feb. Many interesting things though.
Today the German girls (Terressa and Jana) and I move up the North Island to Napier. I have 11 days left and I will be home, very excited. But till then I will be on the road, touring, kind of like a rock-star minus the sold out shows, fans, and the girls. but you know what i mean. Cheers
Location: Hawks Bay, New Zealand
So my two week roadtrip around the South Island of New Zealand has come to a close. It was an incredible trip with so much to reflect on and write about but I'll put it in short as to what we all did over the two week time. Went street car lugging in Queenstown, caught a cold, climbed a glacier, did a few beautiful tramps through rainforest in Abel Tasman, went sailing in A.T., mountain biked in Nelson, on rainy days we just sat in and watched season two of the OC (sorry Anna), went kayaking, watched street performers in Christchurch, went to a New Zealand All Blacks tri nations rugby match against the Wallabies (aussies), All Blacks victorious!, attended "Boogy Nights" twice (the best bar in the world as it is all disco music with a really cool light up dance floor) in 70's attire, the second time with the rugby teams (all blacks and wallabie players) and the last day had a nice brunch with my best mates minus Arny and had to say our inevitable good bye.
It's amazing how close you can feel to people who were strangers 6 months ago. Though these friends over the past 6 months have been there and stepped in and played a brotherly role. It's not the places you travel but it's the people you meet along the way. My trip was what it was because of the friends I made. It was hard saying goodbye to these guys on Sunday but it was more of a see you in a bit. I guess it's the same back home because home is such a special place because of the friends and family I have. And that's why it's so hard being away but I'll be home in 20 days.
Currently I am on the sheep farm. Slaving away, talking sheep, eating sheep, and some how counting sheep (every night). Sleeping has never been so easy. So far I have been drafting sheep which is seperating sheep into sheep that have one lamb inside them and sheep that have twins. They are seperated into different paddocks (which are fields) because the sheep that have twins need more feed so they need to be in where there is good grass. I didn't know how much sheep farmers relied on good grass. It's worse then golfers! Possibly more then our next door neighbor (Neil) grass. I have been blown away with how good the dogs are. Ian the brother of my friend Haley that I'm staying with, has six dogs, and on his command he can get each individual dog do something different. So if the sheep are in the back of the field he calls his pointer dog (which is the dog that is really fast and directs the sheep) to go push the sheep up, then he'll call one of his huntaway dogs (which are the noise) to go and bark at the sheep to move ahead. Once the dogs are in place he has a dog whistle to direct them and by yelling commands. It really is something to see. We could be on top of a hill watching the dogs heard sheep from a km away, still giving them commands. He tells them to "go right, left, stop, speak up (bark) go to the back (back of the pack) that's good (stop you've done what I wanted you to)" etc. If only people listened that good. Ian says the sheep are dumb but the only thing dumber are the things that chase sheep. I chase sheep so what does that mean?
Anyway yesterday I had to give them medicine, via the mouth. That was a chore, your in a tight space with lot's of sheep, sheep are as heavy as 80 kg and not wanting you to touch their mouth. They especially don't like it when you stick a small little rod in their mouth and spray blue liquid toothpaste substance in there! My strategy was to talk to them tell them it was candy and then go for it. Some weren't convinced and didn't like it to much and spit it out. This called for me to have to do more work (which is always inconviniant!) and go for the clamp down with my hand after I gave them the medicine approach. This worked! I was told I did a good job and after 30 minutes I had about 30 sheep done. Probably set a new standard for the slowest person ever to dose sheep. I have also learned how to open a gate good, as you are always having to open up a door to get into and then having to close it behind you. Sheep like open gates, as do pheasants I guess! Also I ride around on a 4 wheeler alot, sorry no horses. It has been a very good experience being here. I have also shadowed Haley's dad, Brian, to his nightly physical activities. He is a very fit individual and am having a tough time keeping up to him. Tuesday and Wednesday I went to badminton with him which was great to get back into that, last night I went to his pump class which worked every muscle in your body and makes you really soar the next day, afterwards playing ping pong. He told me "It's very social for him and I might break a sweat" well I've broken a sweat every night and been soar every day! Tonight I might take off just to rest and relax. Next week I have been invited out to go skiing with him and his wife. I'm keen to go skiing so I think I will be taking him up on his offer.
I best be going many smelly, loud, grass eating sheep to tend to. 20 days and I'm travelling to my favorite place in the world, HOME! Love to all .... sorry about my spelling
Location: Queenstown Franz Joseph, New Zealand
Well day three of our road trip and we have gone snowboarding on beautiful Cadrona Mountain. The day was filled with sunshine and painful wipeouts. My roomate from Maleisia, CY, who has only seen snow once before decided to give snowboarding a try. He got MIB (most improved boarder), by the end of the day he was flying down the mountain. Arny had only been skiing indoors, which just is weird, and Taka is fearless and just likes the feeling of pain.
Day 2 went touring around Queenstown and climbed to the top of the Gondola lift where we discovered the street car luge. This was a cheap thrill! Basically go-carts but instead of having engines the cars race down the hill, gravity being the V8 engine, and running into one another seemed to be the thing to do.
Day 3 - just finished our hike up the Franz Joseph Glacier which was brilliant. I climbed the Fox when Jim was down but it was a totally different experience climbing the Franz. Each experience being great. I will update the photos later on, as for right now I'm running out of time and going to be thrown off soon. I can't wait to get back into summer time mode!
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
I have wrote my final exam at Otago University and am very excited to have this stage of my trip finished! It's that surreal feeling you have afterwards. You really don't know what to do because everything that you now have time for is already done because when you were procrastinating for your exam you did instead, example cleaned up, emailed everyone that had sent you an email that day, packed, etc. So happy to be done. There will be a big party next door tonight. The boys are already setting up for it. The residence that I am staying at is so great as they provide the stereo system for the party, the outdoor heaters, and the security guards. It will be the last chance to party with all the friends that I made while living here in the international hall. I will never have this opportunity again. Living with people from all over the world was a priceless experience and enjoyed every minute of it.
I sort out the lose ends over the next few days and leave on Friday with Arny, Oz, Taka, Choong Yi (my roommate), and the two German girls for a two week road trip. It's going to be an incredible trip. From here on in I will have little excess to Internet so I will only be updating photos. I will miss Dunedin, but look forward to the return home! August 2nd I'll be home.
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
It's all coming to an end so quickly. It hasn't hit me yet that I only have a remaining 16 days left here in my residence. I will miss this place but even more so the friends that I have made. I guess I haven't thought about everyone disappearing and to never see most of them again but it's going to happen and it will be hard. I have the last exam spot of the exam schedule so I will get to see everyone leave before me.
The first snow fall of the year in Dunedin was on Sunday. It snowed for about an hour and then let up. The mountains around had snow on them but it was quick to melt away. My roommate Choong Yi from Malaysia had never seen snow. I've never seen anyone so excited for a 1cm of snow!
I bought tickets to the rugby tri-nations game, New Zealand All Blacks vs against the Australian Wallabies. Possibly the best rugby match you could ever get to see. The game will be on July 8th in Christchurch and finish our road trip with Oz, Taka, Arny, Choong Yi, Teressa, Jana and I. The plan after the game is to revisit boogie nights (disco bar). From there I will travel up to the north island where I will begin to work on the sheep farm. So much to learn about sheep, I'll be able to speak sheep when I get home.
Everything was becoming familiar here in Dunedin and now it's all over. The experience has been unforgettable. The best decision I have made in my educational career was to study abroad. I have so many untouchable memories, and a new desire, to travel and see more of this beautiful world. Though it's time to get back home and finish what I started, my degree in PE.
Better get back to studying, it'll be over soon! I am excited to see everyone back home! All my love....
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
Exam time - Hilarious how much information they give you about the final exam. The profs basically give you the exam before you go in. My professor today told us that there was a lot of irrelevant stuff to omit and not to fuss about. I love Otago's phys-ed exam preps. Also no multiple choice exams! That means part marks for Jon!
Exams June 8 - Biomechanics
June 17 - Sports Coaching
June 19 - Exercise Metabolism (Biochemistry)
June 21 - Adventure Education
I hit the road again travelling up to the North part of the South Island with the boys and the two German girls on June 23. Very excited for school to be done.