As the summer back home is starting to draw to a close and everyone is getting ready to start the new year at university, I’m finding it hard to believe that I’m already over halfway through my first semester in Christchurch. Spring has arrived here in New Zealand and the warmer weather and longer daylight was definitely a welcome arrival. I’ve been making the most of this weather recently and visiting lots of places at weekends and over the mid-semester break a couple of weeks ago so I thought I would share a few highlights with you. There’s quite a lot, so I’m splitting this post into 2 parts.
I’m starting off by going against the spring theme of this post slightly, but I’m going to put this in anyway. A few weeks ago I went on a snowcraft instruction weekend with the university tramping club (tramping is what the Kiwis call hiking, a very popular pastime over here). Over the weekend we learnt about how to safely walk in the snow, use an ice axe and crampons and how to self-arrest. If like me you’ve never heard of self-arresting before, it’s using an ice axe to stop if you find yourself sliding down a slope in the snow. However by far the coolest part (in more than one sense of the word!) was our accommodation for the night. Instead of sleeping in tents or a hut we built caves in a snow drift. I was expecting that it was going to be unbearably cold but I was pleasantly surprised by how warm it was inside once we got in and warmed it up with our body heat. Digging in the snow for several hours is also a great way to warm up in the cold weather!
Mid-semester Break – Part 1
A couple of weeks ago (not winter this time!) I had my mid-semester break, a two week break from lectures halfway through the semester. After spending the first few days cooped up in my room working on assignments I headed out to explore South Island. In case you didn’t know, New Zealand is made up of 2 main islands and a few smaller ones. There’s the imaginatively named North Island in the north and in the south, (you guessed it!) is South Island. My trip around South Island started with a train ride on the world famous TranzAlpine Railway from Christchurch in the east through the Southern Alps to Greymouth on the West Coast. Although it was raining for most of the trip the views of the mountains, valleys and gorges alongside the route were still incredible.
From Greymouth I travelled by bus down the West Coast to Queenstown, known as the “Adventure Capital of the World”. On the way I had overnight stops at Lake Mahinapua, Franz Josef Glacier and Wanaka. Here’s a few pictures of what I got up to on the way.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on far too much so I’ll leave this post here. You’ll have to wait until next time for the second half of my trip. See you soon with more adventures!