Sunday, April 5, 2009

Just an extra hour at Piha

We went camping! :-) As a result, I am now a bit sandy and sunburnt... and my knee... don't think I was supposed to slide down Lion Rock... But it provided an absolutely stunning view of Piha! Since camping was something that was on my list for the "summer in NZ" or such, it was a joy to actually have a plan come together. Five of us headed out a bit later than expected on Saturday to the western beaches of the Auckland area. They are known for wicked surf and sometimes quite strong currents.

First stop: Foodtown to pick up some groceries. Let the fun begin. Was a nice drive down; quite a curvy road through some dense bush. Nice views awaited from a stop-off just above Piha! Soo exciting!! (Note: There is a large, obtrusive rock called Lion Rock in the middle of the beach at Piha. This is in a few films, so may look familiar.) Once we arrived, we had a "nice" (*cough notnice cough*)chat with this lady who presumed we were up to no good... Quite an unfortunate assumption on her part, I do believe. Regardless, we found a campsite in a small field-ish area and set up camp! Then we headed to the beach!

What a beautiful surf. Huge waves galore.

Needless to say, we enjoyed a bit of the water, though it was very chilly. Relaxed for the afternoon and loved taking in the view of PIHA!! Returned to the campsite after enjoying a beautiful sunset. There was also a couple in wedding attire on the beach! Gorgeous. Dinner (cheese sausages) was fixed in the kitchen after a few 3-minute showers and then we retired back to our site. Sat outside in the chilly air, relaxed on the air mattress, and looked at the stars for quite some time. The sky was completely scattered with stars and absent of clouds for a while, which was nice. Then...

There was a noise around our campsite.

It sounded like an animal (and to be honest, my instincts told me "Run! Bear!"... Of course I wasn't thinking, "There can't be bears, we are in New Zealand...")...

Sooo... we began to investigate and found...
HEDGEHOG! Eating our chocolate cupcakes and sitting amongst the feijoas!! Oh goodness... Soo... we took too many pictures, laughed for a while, and then sent the hedgehog on its way.

Needless to say, I slept in the tent from this point on.

Day two: More of the beach!! :-) Once we finally cleaned up, had breakfast, played on the playground, and packed out the cars, we headed to catch some surf. I actually tried SURFING for the first time in my life!! :-D It was super super exciting, even though I was not successful... Regardless, I enjoyed the mini-lesson and think it would be nice if we lived near a beach back home so that I could potentially practice! Either way, my half hour of surfing was totally worth while and sweet as! :-) Tuna and bread for lunch on the beach, with a few Oreos for "pudding." For the rest of the afternoon, I took a nice walk up Lion Rock, nearly slid down into the grass, and managed to enjoy even more wonderful views of the surf and such. What a splendid spot.

It was a bit stressful getting everything settled, but nothing that would distort my impression of a wonderful weekend at the beach. Camping and all! :-) I'm still suprised that it actually happened.

Quite tired now. Back to Remuera Road, packed, and ready to leave tomorrow for the Cook Islands! We shall see when I find time to do my papers, but hopefully all will be well for the remainder of break!!

Ready to try out surfing.

I found this road sign to be rather obvious. Lion Rock.

Relaxing along the shore.

Ahhh... Piha.

Our visitor!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ahhh, sweet break.

Mid-semester break has begun! I am quite quite QUITE excited about the upcoming two weeks!! Today begins with an adventure to Piha Beach. We are going camping!!! :-) Something that I've been hoping to do since arrival. Should be nice. Then coming home to finalize packing and such for the Cook Islands! Stoked about visiting Rarotonga!! Dancing, swimming, markets, embracing the island, and an Easter celebration!! :-D Yay! Then... to the South Island. Oh goodness, I hear it is absolutely wonderful. Also, am excited that my parents will be there for a while!! Sweet as! :-)

For now, I must be going to finish packing, baking, and preparing for the two incredible weeks ahead! Adios for now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Your jumper is really quite nice."

My first Flat White... (basically I couldn't drink it because, although it was supposedly "quite weak", it was full of caffeine and coffee-flavored...). But it certainly looks nice! I'll take an Iced Chocolate, please. :-)

I am really enjoying the Kiwi language. It makes me smile to hear even the youngest of children speaking in "proper English." For instance, Honey and Ivan's grandson, around age 7, was asking me about my proper jumper. He is so proper and utilizes quite an odd vocabulary in comparison to most American seven-year-olds. Several other words came about over the course of this past weekend... "flash" refers to something that is modern, something that is fresh. "That city is certainly flash! Perfect for the tourists!" "Fringe", not bangs, for the hairstyle (note: utilized for both guys and girls). "Jumpers" are worn by most; meaning a sweatshirt or hoodie. Not the typical American dress of sorts. (I know this is standard in most other English speaking countries, but still struck me as a bit odd.) And... as mentioned in the title, it is very common to refer to an event, food, or other object as "quite nice" rather than "good, tasty, cool."

On the other hand... I walked up Mount Hobson this evening! Quite lovely once again! And what's not to love about nature, sunset, and a sweet city overlook?! I mean, honestly... I have included a few pictures below regarding my evening.

I experienced my first U of A exam yesterday evening!! Everyone was super serious... rather ridiculous if I may say so... :-) Regardless, it was a nice exam, and I trust I did rather alright. Biopsychology, so much of the information is not new at this point.

Here is a random tid-bit from my day. My friend Eliza and I went to the Warehouse (an all-puropose, wholesale, everything-store) and found Easter candy. I found this one to be a bit disturbing...

Casket? Really?


And now I am beginning to set out clothes for the upcoming two weeks of incredible chaos!!! Very excited for mid-semester break!!! :-) (My internal clock tells me that I should be preparing for Spring, flowers, and pastel colors. Clearly that's what is associated with April, Easter, and such! But no... the leaves are turning and there is a chilly breeze lingering on a more regular basis. Strange. Anyway, I will continue to wear pastel colors because it is Spring to me.) :-) Leaving for Rarotonga in the Cook Islands on Monday!! Soo soon!! And then it will be 23-28 degrees C (mid-70's and such). Nice. Then to the SOUTH ISLAND!!! Meeting my parents at the airport in Christchurch and cannot wait to see what the week holds!! Yay!

But for now, I must focus on looking into my research papers (all 5 of them...). Yikes.

Have a lovely night/morning/day! Miss you all!

My home is in the lower left corner. You will see a series of connected dark grey roofs; I live in one of those!

Mount Hobson, looking towards Mount Eden.

The Clocktower from Albert Park, Uni.