A Weekend in the AlpsChristchurch, Fall 2010

So, for those of you who read the previous post, I totally lied about what this post would include. It was an accident, I swear. We (IES Christchurch students) went to a tiny little ski town in the Southern Alps for two days and it was absolutely breathtaking. Therefore I feel the need to share the photos that came out of it.

We arrived in the town of Springfield (pop. 219, located about 45 minutes west of Christchurch) and set up camp in a hostel called Smylies. From there we went to Castle Hill, which is a rather large bump in the ground littered with giant chunks of previously underwater limestone. My geological side got quite an entertaining afternoon, while my scenery senses went wild. From the top of Castle Hill the view was incredible – huge 2,000 meter mountains cutting open the clouds and sending constant whisps of snow across the sky – it was the New Zealand I had read and heard about. Oh, yeah, and for all you Lord of the Rings fans, we were on the other side of the mountains from Edoras.

Following an hour clambering over and around rocks on the steep slope we headed back into town for a delicious dinner at the hostel involving curry, potatoes, peppersteak, pavlova (a classic New Zealand dish – a very light meringue-like cross between pure icing and marzipan), brownies, and custard. Then we headed out on the town.

That is, we went to the local (read: only) pub where we mingled with locals (I think the entire town was there) and skiers from out of town, and where several of us engaged in successive games of pool, losing continuously to one particular pair of locals. I got a lesson in rugby from a young bloke from the North Island who was in town meeting some fellow ski instructors, and other members of our group got to know the elders of the town at a neighbouring table. But we eventually got tired and headed back to the hostel to watch snippets of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which had been filmed approximately where we had been earlier that day around the Castle Hill area.

We woke up at about 7:30 the following morning, ate breakfast, and headed out to a farm for some demonstrations in sheep herding, sheep shearing, and sheep chasing (proudly attempted by several of our own numbers). We had some delicious food and geared up for a jetboat ride down the canyon (I apologise – I don’t remember its name) at about 70 km/hr before we were shepherded back onto the bus to go back to Christchurch.

We came back to Christchurch and a few of us headed over to a place in the center of the city called the Holy Grail, which heralds itself as the largest sports bar in New Zealand, to watch an All Blacks rugby game (yeah, it’s kind of a big deal). The bar itself certainly was huge. According to its website, it has 17,000 square feet of floorspace. There was the floor and then two levels of balconies, each level with its own bar, plus a small alcove with stadium seating for about 100 people. And, of course, it was all facing a giant 10 meter (about 32 feet) projector screen. There were easily 1,000 patrons, and almost all of them left happy after the All Blacks beat South Africa.

On a totally different note, classes start soon, and I must say I’m pretty excited. Though this week has been pretty amazing because all we’ve been doing is socializing and exploring, I suppose studying is the reason I’m here. I’m taking a class in Antarctic biology, which should be very interesting even though it’s at 8:00 am. I’m also taking introductory GIS and two geology classes. This amounts to three labs, which could be a bit rough, but the add/drop period is there for a reason, right?

Time to grocery shopping, something which I have been putting off for a week. Hope you enjoyed the photographs! You’ll hear from me again soon.

~Andrew

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4 Comments

  1. Did you see any signal fires? Just kidding.
    Really nice pictures and it sounds/looks like you’re having fun.
    For those who might not know, you could mention in your blog that the Marshall Point Lighthouse “bridge” is the same one that Tom Hanks jogged down in the movie, Forrest Gump.
    Talk to you soon.

  2. Beautiful pictures, Andrew. I think it is a hoot you are taking Antarctic biology given your family connection to Sir Ernest. I look forward to your future posts.

  3. Beautiful pictures, Andrew. Looking forward to following your adventures in NZ!

  4. Hey Andrew,

    Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful experience. The pictures and narration are very enjoyable.

    Will you get to go to Antartica for your class? That’d be so (disregard pun) cool!

    I’ve heard that NZ has some great pipe bands ~ maybe you can find one near you.

    Cheers

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