Ponies in Paradise

For our last weekend before the final exam period, my friends and I decided to have one last soiree in Queenstown. I knew this trip was meant to be because The Great Gatsby was opening in theatres (methinks half the budget for that spectacular movie was spent on glitter) and – while walking along the boardwalk – I spied a green light across the water. Little moments like that make me happy. Other things that make me happy: going on a nighttime adventure to Wanaka, hunting down the quirky indie movie theatre ‘Paradiso Cinema,’ sitting in a vintage car to watch the film (before moving to a couch when I got tired of looking through the windshield), and being served mouth-watering, fresh-baked cookies and a glass of milk at intermission. This is the way all theatres should operate.

IMG_4793I later went as a cheerleader/moral-support to the site of the first bungee jump where my friends bravely conquered their fears.

A.J. Hackett Bungee Bridge. Nice and old.

A.J. Hackett Bungee Bridge. Nice and old.

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Yes, the water is really this color.

Yes, the water is really this color.

Checking out the stability

Checking out the stability

Tuna: demonstrating proper bungee form. Jenn: modeling an alternative, less comfortable form I like to call "Taking a Piss."

Tuna: demonstrating proper bungee form. Jenn: modeling an alternative, less comfortable form I like to call “Taking a Piss.”

Get me outta here!

Get me outta here!

I grabbed a meal in Queenstown before running off to my favorite gem of a town, Glenorchy. The drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy is stunning, a God-must’ve-been-huffing-some-serious-amounts-of-happy-gas-when-He-made-it kind of stunning.

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My friend! She flies!

My friend! She flies!

My friend and I wandered around Glenorchy, took in the glorious views, sipped some tea, chatted up locals, and pined after the cats we kept seeing in the small-town stores. If I ever own a business, I’m going to have some sort of animal mascot, preferably a sloth. Seriously, this can be a lucrative business decision (except for restaurant owners). I remember, when I was a wee one and my mother would say, “I need to pick up some beauty supplies,” I’d come in with: “GO TO THE PLACE WITH THE FAT GRAY KITTY!” Or, “I need to order some shirts”…. “THE CORGI PLACE!!!” The lesson of this story: Who gets the most business (and/or the business of anyone with an easily excitable child)? The businesswomen who brings a fluffy animal to work.

I want a stone-walled paddock

I want a stone-walled paddock for the sheep I don’t have.

pretty sure this leads to Narnia, but the cans blocked the way

pretty sure this leads to Narnia, but the cans blocked my way

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad!

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad!

I eventually made my way over to the Dart Stables and suited up for a horse trek. My friend was ditching me to walk around or something, and I was a little nervous about making new friends. At the very least, I took comfort from the fact that I – naturally beloved by all animals except that one Rottweiler – was sure to bond with my pony. I needn’t have worried. I exercised my rusty social skills (Mom, you’d have been so proud) and quickly got to know two lovely girls who happened to be recent USC grads, Lord of the Rings junkies, and fans of Stephen Colbert – basically the exact people you want to be spending a few hours with on a horse trek in New Zealand.

Riding outfits. Too sexy. Would've been better with a riding crop.

Riding outfits. Too sexy. Would’ve been better with a riding crop.

The trek was through the aptly named Paradise. I ended up in the small group of five with the USC girls and an adorable guide who was full of entertaining stories. And now I shall share some of those stories….

  • The whole of Paradise (an significant amount of land, let me tell you) was owned by one man. When he was diagnosed with a terminal illness and knew he would soon die, he thought to himself, “Hmm, only a worthy fellow must inherit and care for this land.” Instead of sticking a sword in a stone, he put out an ad saying he would sell Paradise for $1 NZD. That’s right: one dollar. Naturally, many people responded to the ad. The man interviewed them all, but no one fit with his vision. In the end, the Willy Wonka of Paradise was unable to find his Charlie Bucket amongst the interested buyers. He gave the land to a group of his friends and Paradise remains a natural and pristine beauty to this day.

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  • Our groups were assigned horses based on our level of experience and level of nervousness. Partway through the ride I learned that my new friends had good reason to be nervous: they’d done trek earlier that day and the horses had, um, “bolted.” In other words, the group – high upon the back of large, hoofed beasts – had been plodding gently along when suddenly the horses broke into a wild, galloping frenzy. One person fell off. This story did little to instill confidence in me. I’d been paired with a sassy horse named Elvis. He was third in the pecking order (horse bro-herds are very particular about their hierarchies of dominance) and had a history of, uh, erratic behavior.
  • The Tale of Elvis: I was actually very lucky to be paired with Elvis. Why? Well, during the filming of The Lord of the Rings trilogy a casting call went out for Rohirrim extras. Horses had to pass two tests, and then they and their rider would be in the films. Elvis made it through the first round like a pro. Then, during the second round, he was overcome with stage fright: going crazy, bucking, wreaking havoc, and being chased until he was eventually subdued by a human wall. He was ordered off the set and departed in shame. Another woman had been accepted, but, right before filming, her horse threw a shoe. Not wanting to miss out, the woman asked the owner of Dart Stables if he had a horse she could borrow for filming. The owner, who had a well-developed sense of humor and irony, said: “Sure, take Elvis.” And thus it was that Elvis snuck back on set and performed his role admirably. He knows he is a star and has become quite the little diva. Also, he is a horse of Rohan – and that (by my sound logic) makes me a Rider of Rohan. This is one of the prouder moments of my life.

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What do you get when you put two divas together?

What do you get when you put two divas together?

Let's pretend that this is Bill the pony

Let’s pretend that this is Bill the pony

  • Elvis and I were behind pony with the worst gas I’ve ever witnessed. This is the sort of gross factor that I would never bring up, but it deserved mention because of its absolute absurdity. I swear that thing blew a gasket with every hoofstep. I applaud Elvis’s stamina. I was paralyzed with laughter, but I doubt I would have been laughing if my face was down at horse-head level.
  • Paradise has been used as a location for many films such as The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Wolverine, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lovely Bones, so the rest of stories will largely involve a film nerd’s cataloging of shots….
  • Paradise = Lothlorien. Haldir (that elf who makes fun of Gimli’s breathing) steps out from behind that mossy tree (I know people who snore when they’re awake; sometimes I pop out from behind plants and mock them).

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  • Aragorn was pushed against that chubby tree whilst fighting an orc. I think I am standing on hallowed ground.
  • IMG_4832Paradise doubled as parts of Isengard. It’s also the site of the distinctive flat-topped rock.
  • IMG_4839The trek passes by the spot where Boromir dies. The scene involved a multitude of orcs running down the hill. Those orcs happened to be a few hefty rugby players, one of whom was hit in the head with a moving film camera and spent the rest of the shoot in the hospital. On the bright side, dude probably has the best “how I got knocked out” story ever.
  • These Dart Stable ponies are badasses. In both Narnia and LOTR films, the stout and shaggy ponies got to lead some charges because the majestic movie stallions were too fussy to gallop across the rivers on their own.
  • Beorn’s house for The Hobbit was built in this field. It became one of the most expensive sets ever built after a storm blew over one of the trees and, for continuity’s sake, the filmmakers had order a ridiculously expensive custom-built tree.
Photo blurry for reasons of confidentiality and secrecy. Just kidding. Elvis got antsy and I was too lazy to retake the picture.

Photo blurry for reasons of confidentiality and secrecy. Just kidding. Elvis got antsy and I was too lazy to retake the picture.

  • So, turns out Liv Tyler (Arwen) is deathly afraid of ponies. For Arwen’s horseback chase scene, shots were intermixed of Liv being pulled around on a furry barrel in a field (the close-ups) and the stunt woman doing some serious moves (the long shots). By the end of shooting, the stunt lady had fallen in love with the horse. Viggo (Aragorn), a fellow pony enthusiast, apparently has a heart of gold: he bought the horse and gifted to her. Speaking of Viggo and ponies – man is a dedicated actor. Remember that touching scene with Aragorn after he washed down the river? And his horse knelt down to help Aragorn get on his back? Well, Jackson thought the stunt wouldn’t work, but Viggo slept for three nights in the stall with his horse to build up trust.
  • Supposedly LOTR fanatic Stephen Colbert is going to be an extra in one of the Hobbit films. I am beyond stoked.
  • If you’ve seen the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film, you undoubtedly remember the scene where Hugh Jackman is running through a field naked. Guess what? That field is in Paradise. I walked right by it. During filming, horse treks are ongoing, so some lucky tourists got to get a nice eye-full of Hugh. Can you imagine? Thinking you’re going to just go ride some horses and see a few natural wonders – and then you’re presented with a whole other kind of natural wonder….. Around this time, I also had to pee, and figured it would be a good idea to go strip down in that same field – ya know, so I could send Hugh a letter: “Hey Hugh. We have a lot in common. We were both nakey in the same field.”
The field of naked revelry

The field of naked revelry. Those lucky sheep.

At the end of all this, my hindquarters were sore in places I never would have imagined.

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Posted in Humor, Media/Film/TV, New Zealand, Photography, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wellington Woes and “Whoa!”s

Our ten-hour road trip to the northern point of the South Island was characterized by a series of wonderful misadventures. We discovered that one road was closed, meaning that we were forced to take a detour that added two hours to our already eight-hour journey. This detour provided us with a rugged and radically evolving landscape that we would have otherwise been unable to see. It also gave us more time to “D&M” (have Deep and Meaningful conversations about life and such).  During our long drive, night arrived and it brought its friend, rainstorm. The road was difficult to see, but we continued carefully on. At one point, whilst driving on a rocky cliffside, we notice a sign that said, “Careful! Seal Crossing!” And we started joking around: “How’s a seal even going to end up here? Ooh, better be careful while it waddles across the highway! Remember that time we hit a seal on the road – right after we took out the speedboat and ran into a deer?!” Hahahaha. We laughed too soon. At the next curve we came across a roadside massacre, a mass of marine road-kill, a tossed seal salad. Some previous travelers had been clubbing baby seals with their car! Moral of the story: don’t joke about the ridiculousness of sea creatures crossing a land road because, in the pitch black, you might be closer to the sea than you think. Plus, if someone saw fit to make a sign about it, it has probably happened before. And will happen again.

an out-the-window view of green and fog

an out-the-window view of green and fog

After our intense drive, my two friends and I arrived at our hotel at 2 am. We then had three hours to sleep before we got up for our ferry (be at the ferry an hour before departure. Sounds good. Three vs. four hours of sleep don’t make much difference to me). Naturally, we all fell into bed in our clothes and woke up about three minutes before we needed to leave. Three minutes is just enough time to fall out of bed, stumble to the bathroom, and splash cold water upon the numb-with-sleep face. We, the walking dead, then make it to the ferry line. We wait, we board, we ascend the stairs and promptly fall back asleep on the ferry floor. It may have behooved to stake out our choice of sleeping quarters because, unfortunately, we settled in the designated children’s area. Brilliant. Usually, I think the sound of childish laughter and tomfoolery is endearing. But, oddly enough, there is an axiomatic equation of life that dictates: every lost hour of sleep is inversely proportional to how one feels about the ‘cuteness’ of a kid’s loud voice. In other words, I’m huddled over here on the floor, trying to decide whether to use my thin sweater as a pillow or blanket and IS YOUR CHILD CAPABLE OF COMMUNICATING ON ANY LOWER DECIBEL?! Our most nagging ferry demon was a particular little boy who took it upon himself to narrate his friend’s racing car game. I can only assume that 1) his friend was hard of hearing and 2) the boy-demon had no idea what was actually going on in the game he was scream-commentating. I can only wonder if the friend driver was as annoyed as I by his buddy’s voice in his ear:

He-demon: HE’S TURNING A CORNER!

Dead-tired me: Thank you. I was wondering. And so was everyone else on this boat.

OH! OH! HOT DOG! HE’S TURNING ANOTHER CORNER!

Another corner? There’s more than one?

AND ANOTHER TURN! LOOK AT HIM GO!

He must be a real corner-turner.

[5 minutes later]

HE’S APPROACHING THE FINISH LINE!

Thank God.

AND HE’S PASSED IT!

And there was much rejoicing.

AND HE’S ON ANOTHER LOOP!!!

WHAT?! Why?! You said he passed the FINISH LINE! GAH! Can’t you tell how many loops your buddy has before he actually finishes? Do you even know what you’re doing? You’ve probably never even been a commentator for a real car-racing-game before! Next time, don’t give me the false hope that this is all about to be over, you little punk!

Yes, we had a less than stellar start to our morning. But, on the bright side, we were in Wellington! That first day, we ate a delicious breakfast at a small café called Floriditas, explored the unique albeit slightly-to-significantly-above-my-price-range vintage boutiques on Cuba Street, visited the innovative Te Papa Museum (where my friend and I had the entire simulator ride to ourselves. It broke down, so we got to sit on the ride longer than other patrons and were also able to experience some nice whiplash), wander along seaside streets, dine at an acclaimed restaurant called Ortega, and see the visually incredible film Samsara at the Embassy Theatre – a refurbished, historic cinema that has basically hosted all of the world premieres of Peter Jackson’s films.

Almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

Almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

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I'm a fan of birds hanging out indoors. Health inspectors beware.

I’m a fan of birds hanging out indoors. Health inspectors beware.
I want all these hard boiled egg cups

I want all these hard boiled egg cups

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best salt and pepper set-up ever.

best salt and pepper set-up ever.

IMG_4731On the second day, my friend’s sickness was really settling in. I blame it on her playing Spin-the-Bottle with a group of other students a few nights before; if college partiers know how to do anything, it’s how to spread disease. Anyway, she’d lost her voice and breakfast proved to be a rather silent affair. The other girl and I are both quite quiet – better listeners than talkers – and we also happen to not be the most chipper of morning people. But we survived, partially due to the rejuvenating powers of caffeine from two stellar Wellington cafes, Surf Café right next to the beach and The Hangar Café. This rainy day I also managed to convince my slightly less geeky friends to take me to the Weta Cave. Weta Workshop designs and manufactures products for various entertainment industries. Weta had a huge hand in bringing to life The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, District 9, and even Avatar – so, naturally I had to check it out. I wandered through the Cave and then paid to go on a tour of the workshop. Pictures were not allowed in the workshop, but I saw multitudes of intricate props, high-tech machinery, and employees who were incredibly passionate about their work. Weta seems like such a fun, involved, dedicated, and welcoming environment in which to work. I had an overpowering urge to try to join their numbers until I remembered that I’m afraid of heavy machinery. Then our tour guide mentioned how Weta workers often provide help outside of their respective departments – such as when our guide went on The Hobbit set to help dress people such as Evangeline Lilly – which prompted me to beat my head against a hairy King Kong replica in order to control the waves of jealousy.

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Bilbo's contract. In all its glory.

Bilbo’s contract. In all its glory.

Me after 3 hours of sleep.

Me after 3 hours of sleep.

To further supplement my Lord of the Rings binge, we also visited Kaitoke Regional Park, the filming location of Rivendell (although, granted, it looked a little less elvish when devoid of spiral-y buildings and a pointy-eared Cate Blanchett).

didn’t quite look like this… expected, but still saddening

Wellington, sometimes originally called “Wellywood,” offers many other gems for film and/or Tolkein nerds. Tired from a busy and fulfilling day, I spent the evening at the hotel, eating room-service brownies and getting my friends hooked on Community. The next morning, we caught a ferry and began the enchanting journey back to good ol’ Dunedin.

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Posted in Humor, Media/Film/TV, New Zealand, Photography, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 20 Songs for Roadtripping Across New Zealand

A quality musical line-up can be a key player in a road trip across an entire (well, almost entire) country. This playlist kept three ladies sane during an insane drive from Dunedin to Wellington (1,152 miles completed in 20 hours with a total of only 4 actual stops and numerous coffees). These are songs that can inspire you, energize you, encourage your driver to stay awake at the wheel, provide the perfect background music, and fall into categories according to the feeling of the moment – whether the wind is blowing through your hair in uncontained mirth or whether you’re sitting in a moment of quiet contemplation (because, oh yes, you can easily go between the exhilarating freedom of head-banging jams and the thoughtful silence of acoustic rhythms in the span of ten hours).

Setting out on a Journey (roll down those windows, sing loudly)

In The Beginning – K’naan

Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root

Run Around – Blues Traveler

Highway To Hell – AC/DC

The Honeymoon Period (when it still hasn’t hit you that you’ll be sitting still for long past your sit-still limit)

Good Day – Nappy Roots

Even If It Breaks Your Heart – Eli Young Band

Rock Me On The Water – Jackson Browne

New York City – Among Savages

Get the Blood Pumping (aka: no sleeping at the wheel)

The Riddle Anthem – Jack Holiday and Mike Candys

Up On The Ridge – Dierks Bentley (for some reason, listening to this song always make me feel like a badass. I expect to find myself wearing a bandana, carrying a gun slung across my back, and riding a wild stallion)

Keep Your Eyes Open – NeedToBreathe

Pompeii – Bastille

Contemplative (energy levels low… must take break… gaze out at that view and think about the meaning of life)

Take A Minute – K’naan

Running For Cover – Ivan & Alyosha

Sweet And Low – Augustana

Skinny Love – Birdy

The Arrival (Are we there yet? ALMOST!)

Welcome Home – Radical Face

Carolina – Eric Church

Country Roads – John Denver (yeah, he and my aunt were good buddies. Just throwing that out there)

Home – Phillip Phillips (the longer I look at his name, the weirder it looks) (alternately, some heroic Disney music works really good as a sort of triumphant arrival/return finale…)

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Posted in Media/Film/TV, New Zealand, Photography, Study Abroad, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Generalities and Particularities

The highly anticipated Mid-Semester break is upon us and my plans include doing… nothing. Most students are away, traveling or visiting family. But I’m in need of a little break from exploring. I’ve been off gallivanting every weekend, and I could some time to recharge, sleep, read, lounge in the last remnants of sunshine, and make plans for future adventures. A lack of any grand, overall pursuit means that this post will lack any sort of unifying quality; instead, here’s some bulleted miscellanea about short stories, food, the city of Dunedin, and cultural quirks.

Short stories:

  • I couldn’t remember the last time I got a haircut. I missed the sensation of a shampoo-y scalp massage from a random stranger. Unfortunately, a haircut (like everything else in New Zealand) was pretty expensive, and so I was putting if off. Then: a woman approaches me on the street, brandishing a paper flyer. “Please, we’re desperate!” she said. “We need hair models. Come in this weekend and you’ll get a free haircut, dye job, and $300 worth of hair products!” Sign me up! Excellent timing! I got up early (i.e. before noon) on a Saturday to go to the salon. Feeling bad for the hairdressers after listening to them kindly try to deal with a girl who didn’t want to really let them do anything to her hair (she was just there for the free dye job, but wanted a color of her own choosing and not one that the hairdressers were trying to model), I wanted to be an easy patient: I told them to have their way with my hair. They ended up choosing me for one of their “catwalk” looks which, let me tell you, looks much better/more appropriate on the catwalk than on the sidewalk. On the bright side, I get to brag about how I had my hair dyed by a badass lady who keeps getting asked to work at the Grammy’s. Later, makeup artists showed up to prep us “models” for the actual modeling bit. The combination of thick makeup on a makeup-averse face and bangs like Peggy from Mad Men had me rockin’ a futuristic, spacey, wannabe-sultry-assassin-like look. Not my usual style of choice, but hey – free haircut!
attempting to mimic my sultry hair model

attempting to mimic my sultry hair model

  • So, one night my flat decides to have a nice girl bonding night… by watching Black Swan. During that scene in the back seat of the car (ya know, the one with Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, uh, becoming better acquainted), one of the girls whispers, “This is perfect.” Another girl and I exchanged a quick, startled look that clearly communicated, “Well, that was a little weird. Not exactly the first description that would’ve sprung to my mind. But whatever.” The scene heats up a little more and the “perfect” girl says, “This is so perfect; it should be on a magazine!” At this point I turn to her, “OK. What?!” Turns out she and another girl weren’t even watching the film; they were looking at and talking about a supposedly calendar-worthy picture of a horse that one of them had taken. And again we have a great story of impeccable timing.
  • I feel lucky to be studying abroad in country where it’s socially acceptable for a girl to make eye contact with strangers on the street. Even if I’m feeling down, I can smile at someone, receive a smile in return, and feel as if both of our days have been brightened a bit by this strange and fleeting, yet deep human connection. And then, on those days when I’m being particularly plagued by that nasty shoulder demon known as “Low Self-Worth,” it’s always particularly heartening when the bus driver kindly says, “Girl, you keep on wearin’ that smile. It looks good on you.”
  • I visited a church – Elim – at a friend’s suggestion and since then have gone back at every opportunity. Elim exudes a wonderfully caring sense of community and unbiased acceptance, and the worship team plays the most beautiful, invigorating music – the kind you can feel in your bones. In this building I’ve never felt bored or judged, but instead feel whole and utterly at ease. I’ve made some friends and interacted with people in ways that really get the waterworks show going (and because this running between teary and bawling happens on a weekly basis I’m pretty sure I can’t just blame the hormones).
  • My flatmates and I have had a number of lovely “sundowning” adventures atop Mt. Cargill. We found the top of the mountain after an exhausting exploration of some obscure dirt road (the Swag Wag really struggles with making it up that road). The end of the road presents you with a hazy, 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape and the surreal moonrise. Yes, this place is like my own personal Moonrise Kingdom. And the sunsets I see help me to understand how the earliest painters first found the inspiration to create their colors.

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  • A woman yelled at me for trying to fit in child’s ride. I was giddy when I saw one of those coin-operated mechanical plane rides. I experienced a fleeting moment of childhood nostalgia until my happiness was eviscerated by a middle-aged lady’s “WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET OUT OF THERE YOU ARE NOT A CHILD!!!!” I wonder what traumatic childhood playtime memories made her so jaded. Later that week I defiantly rode a different kid’s ride. In a different town. Just to be safe.
  • Cheesy, introspective moment: Study abroad has given me the chance to step away, change perspectives, and realizes how naïve I am. I’m taken out of my home environment, but because of today’s social media network, am not totally disconnected. The means of communication that I’ve ended up pursuing have surprised me; through written messages and the exchange of stories I’ve deeply connected with people I barely knew or met before, and I’ve simultaneously come to realize how woefully unaware I often am of the inner struggles of those I love and thought I knew better than anyone.
  • I much enjoy New Zealand’s blunt and sometimes not-so-PC honesty. I hear things on the radio here that I just wouldn’t hear in the States. At one point, I was listening to a story about a man who had shot a bunch of children, cut a deal, and was now sitting in a courtroom smirking at the tearful families of his victims. My friends and I are stewing silently in the car, feeling an intense mixture of righteous anger and sadness for the families. Then, suddenly, we are filled with surprise and just a bit of wonderment as one of the radio announcers indignantly says, “Well, that killer is just going to go to jail where some dude is going to make him his bitch!”
  • My thoughts on peeing on the floor of classy establishments: Personally, I’m not super comfortable doing it. I imagine that I’d feel a little embarrassed. I almost didn’t have to imagine. I almost got to experience the real deal. Here’s how that went down: I was at a restaurant with some friends. I had to pee, but not too badly. There was a bathroom in the restaurant. The bathroom was currently occupied by a woman who was probably in there knitting a scarf. The urge to pee got a little greater. But I’m sure I can hold it. We leave the restaurant. Umm, pee. We get in the car. Need to pee. My flatmate drives around for a bit because she has no idea where she’s going. Every. Bump. Pain. We stop at a nice hotel for her to pick up some baggage and I rush in to find a bathroom. I don’t see one. I run down the hall. No toilet. GAH! My body thought it was about to get a porcelain miracle, but this false promise has made everything worse than ever! I’m really starting to panic now. I can feel the pure, primal terror building in my core. I look for a potted ficus, anything. I stride quickly into another area where I see an Indian man standing behind a counter. We make eye contact. That is all it takes. He smiles a slight smile, gestures down another hallway and says, “On the right.” I’m caught off-guard. Is he referring to a toilet? Could it be possible? I stammer, “The… the right?” He nods knowingly as I walk to glorious freedom. As I leave the hotel, I think, “Either that man is an angel or incredibly perceptive. Or perhaps I’ve just got the most readable MY-BLADDER-IS-ABOUT-TO-EXPLODE-ALL-OVER-YOUR-SHINY-FLOOR face.

Food:

  • Shahi Tandoor is a delicious Indian restaurant that served me pre-meal hot towels. What what?! Gonna wipe my face with that. I also discovered roti.

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  • I’ve taken to frequenting the Black Dog Café. The café is far enough from campus that I can get in a nice half-hour walk with the added bonus of not running into other students. I felt even more intimately connected to this place when I heard them playing Imagine Dragons and The Lion King soundtrack.
  • People here take their coffee seriously. Every latte and cappuchino is presented and treated as a work of art. I’ve begun to take more notice of the beauty in simple things. I’ve also been feeding my coffee addiction, but easier to justify those regular coffee purchases when I feel like I’m getting an artistic and cultural experience with every sip.

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  • Jizo has the best Japanese food that I’ve ever tasted. There’s this chicken teriyaki with rice and carrot salad and special Jizo mayo so delicious that just thinking about it gives me a parotid orgasm. The flatties and I have a running (immature) joke about how the food is so good it, uh, makes you jizo in your pants… if your pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down (No, wait. I apologize- that was crude. Please, feel free to put that back down if you already picked it up).
  • REKORDERLIG! A Swedish masterpiece. Premium apple and blackcurrant cider. The sort of drink that entrances a girl who never liked alcohol. Mum and Dad – you MUST try this! You’ll never want to buy any other alcohol again. I don’t think it’s sold in the states, but I may or may not smuggle some home.

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  • Metro is this hip restaurant off the Octagon that has some tasty bread spreads.

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  • Albion Café probably has the best cold dessert drinks in town – iced coffees, iced chocolates, and this butterscotch beauty that was too much for me to handle. Also, I never imagined myself saying something like this, but whoever cleans the building must be a wizard because those bathrooms smell like gummy bears, in the best way possible.
  • A staple dessert of New Zealand, the Tim Tam can be found in its natural habitat atop a grocery store shelf or in my cupboard. The Tim Tam species, of the biscuit phylum and the cookie kingdom, comes in multiple flavors. The Tim Tam is renowned for its role in the “Tim Tam Slam” wherein a person bites off diagonal corners of the Tim Tam and then uses it a straw to consume milk or hot chocolate.

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The city of Dunedin:

  • One of the hardest parts about living in Dunedin has been the absence of a Goodwill. After a lifetime of going to Goodwill and saying, “Hmm, a shirt for $8. Getting a little pricey, don’t you think?” I can’t quite believe my eyes when I see a $260 cardigan. However, I did discover an acceptable secondhand store called Toff’s (at first I thought it was “Toph’s” and I was all excited to dress like an Earthbender. If that reference went over your head, don’t worry ‘bout it). But Toffs.
  • The Otago Museum has a lovely butterfly exhibit where I can go when the weather gets too darn cold.

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  • The Botanical Garden near my flat is green and serene (rhyming is good for my spleen).

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  • The city sports a shooting range, but unfortunately it’s the kind of shooting range where you must lie down with you rifle thingie instead of getting to stand, fire a handgun, and look like a badass.

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Cultural quirks:

  • Sometimes Swiss cheese has no holes.
  • Gas is called “petrol.” It takes people a while to figure out what I’m talking about if I say I need to fill the car up with “gas.”
  • There is a club for smoking weed on main lawn cuz apparently no one can stop them.
  • Couch burning is a popular pastime.
  • IMG_4532Hiking is called “tramping.” One of my friends was scandalized when a boy asked her if she wanted to go tramping.
  • One popular hairdo I have dubbed the “wattail.” It’s a wannabe rattail. And it grosses me out. I’m not even sure what would happen if I carried around scissors in my purse….

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  • Novelty stores have a thing for possum fur willy warmers, nipple warmers, and, ahem, belly warmers? Awesome. My belly button is generally the body part I first think about when I’m starting to feel cold. Actually, isn’t the belly button (for innies, not outies) more of an absence of something than an actual something? Why would you warm…nothing?
  • Don’t buy Budget toilet paper. That cheap product makes me feel like a smoker, going through a pack a day.
  • Many restaurants are open “late.” I was weaned on American strictness and preciseness, and thus don’t understand this laid-back approach to business operating hours. Late for you? Late for me?
  • New Zealand is a land that breeds many celebrity doppelgangers. My first encounter was the shaved-head Elijah Wood who lacked something in the fashion sense department, but exhibited a perfect sense of timing by showing up on our Hobbiton tour. Since then, I’ve passed Arya Stark’s punk twin on the street, stood in a coffee line behind Downton Abbey’s Mr. Bates, and had my groceries bagged by a shorter version of the blonde girl in Revenge.
  • I discovered a series of intriguing articles by a man who is essentially in a situation opposite mine (a Kiwi transplanted to America). I find it fascinating to read about the exploits of someone who is experiencing the reverse culture shock, the opposing perspective. Plus, he seems to be into film, which always earns points in my book.
  • Oh, the freedom of New Zealand…. the merging of nature and civilization…. What I mean by this is – birds like to hop around indoors and that is awesome.

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Posted in Humor, New Zealand, Photography, Study Abroad, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blogger Award

Well now, I’ve been completely blindsided. I didn’t even know that blogging awards existed until today. What a pleasant surprise! I feel compelled to make some sort of sappy acceptance speech. I’d like to thank A Trillion Miles for the nomination, my parents for bequeathing unto me fast-finger-typing genes *cue barrage of tears*, and Tim Berners-Lee (who is, apparently, the man to thank for the existence of the World Wide Web… I just put him in there to show off the one bit of information I actually learned in my Media History class). And, uh, I really do want world peace!

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I guess there are some rules to follow:

1. Display the Award Certificate on your website. (check)

2. Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented you with the award. (done)

3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers. (on it)

4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have linked them in the post.

5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

Here are 15 inspirational blogs (listed in no particular order) that I enjoy perusing. If any of y’all have already received this award, well, congrats on your amply stocked trophy case, you little winner you!

1. FILM CRIT HULK! HULK BLOG!

2. Daftitude

3. As Is Ever So In Bohemia

4. travelingcookie

5. Live, Nerd, Repeat

6. The Better Man Project

7. nomadruss in words and photos

8. Our Amazing New Zealand Adventure

9. 50 Year Project

10. The Jiggly Bits

11. The Top 10… of Anything and Everything!!!

12. Dinosaurs, Science, & Design

13. Emma’s Bucket List

14. Out of Focus

15. House of Geekery

And now for 7 interesting things about me….

1. I love dark chocolate, avocados, and chai tea. But not together. Well, maybe, I’ve never tried it….

2. I have an unusual penchant for personality quizzes and the like. Maybe it’s the psychologist in me (but I’ll take the slightly questionable “which Disney character are you most like” kinds of tests in addition to the more psychologically sound options). I enjoy having elements of my psyche revealed almost as much as I like having the computer screen tell me that, if I existed in the Whovian universe, I’d totally be a Time Lord. And some examples: For Disney, I’m Rafiki; Myers-Briggs/Keirsey Temperament says I’m an INFJ; Middle Earth elf over here; oh, if only I could actually bend water; Gryffindor ties with Ravenclaw; and I’m a proud member of the likely-to-survive-the-zombie-apocalypse club!

3. My first language is Beluga Whale (Beluga Welsh, if you will). My parents took me to the zoo when I was six months old (my first memory is of seeing the majestic beluga whale, but I don’t remember the next bit). Apparently, I made some weird humming noises after which the whale and I carried on a friendly discourse. Long story short, I’m solidly bilingual.

4. I’m afraid of stoves and talking on the phone. And my greatest fear: being poisoned with tetrodotoxin and having my organs harvested while I’m still alive.

5. My biggest crush ever was on Doctor Who (the David Tennant incarnation, obviously). I continue to have more crushes on fictional characters than on real people. This does not bode well for the future of my social life.

6. I love (well, loved) my prissy cat. She got eaten by coyotes, but I pretended that she ran off and joined a clan of warrior cats.

7. One of my greatest dreams involves writing a book which I then get to turn into a movies (*shakes fist at Stephen Chbosky who beat me to the punch*) and/or translating all my favorite novels into screen versions.

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Media Survival Kit: New Zealand Edition

My film-and-media-major heart has led to me to pick out some of the best, most integral apps, movies, shows, and books that are somehow connected to my time in New Zealand and/or are of importance in New Zealand culture (an asterisk indicates that the asterisked item in question originated in New Zealand):

Apps

  • Hipstamatic: If I’m ever caught in a photo-worthy situation without my trusty Canon, I run to my go-to photography app. Hipstamatic is the perfect alternative for the poor girl who doesn’t have access to an old film camera and a darkroom. I can mix and match lenses and film to create very different and stylistic looks; after some experimentation you begin to get the feel for which combinations complement one another in various situations. I never really got into Instagram, but I think of Hipstamatic as Instagram’s slightly better-looking, more exciting, more pretentious, and more difficult-to-use older sibling. Hipstamatic often allows me to more effectively capture the vibrancy of New Zealand’s landscape…
Exhibit A. It's just so hard to capture that rich, green color on a regular camera...

Exhibit A. It’s just so hard to capture that rich, green color on a regular camera…

 

 

 

  • Pocketbooth: Another fun photo app which turns your phone into a portable photo-strip-producing photobooth. For more photo app ideas, check out my friend’s article – Photography: How to Fake it With an iPhone.

  • Snapseed: A photography editing app. In a pinch, I use this app instead of Photoshop. The layout is simple and innately understandable, and provides for quick and easy adjustment of lighting/color elements as well as some snazzy effects. I usually just twiddle around with contrast and vibrancy, and sometimes add a “retrolux” effect if the photo subject calls for a touch of whimsy.

  • Sleep cycle: Hallelujah! Science and magic have gotten together to create this app. Lay it on your bed at night and it measures vibrations in order to record your sleep pattern and score your quality of sleep. Set time parameters for your alarm clock, and the app wakes you when you are in your lightest sleep state (read: less tired and cranky in the morning). The app also lets you write sleep notes and, after accumulating information, lovingly informs you what sorts of activities help you sleep better or worse at night (for instance, drinking tea has a positive effect on my sleep quality, but drinking coffee has, for some reason, a negative effect). So. Many. Statistics. And it plays ocean noises to send me off to sleep. I love sleeping – it’s something I’m quite good at and happens to be a hobby of mine – and this app has turned me into even more of a sleep nerd.

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Movies

  • Boy*: A heart-warming coming-of-age comedy/drama about a Maori boy nicknamed “Boy.” Another enjoyable and well-known New Zealand film that explores Maori culture is Whale Rider.
  • The Lord of the Rings*: I had to. I just had to include these ones. What could possibly make New Zealand more beautiful and magical than it already is? Knowing that it is Middle Earth. If you haven’t seen these films (the extended versions!), please, take a moment to re-evaluate your life. Funny story: quite a few New Zealanders are not very fond of the movies. One guy actually mentioned his overall dislike of LOTR (trying to impress me with your I’m-too-cool-for-fantasy act? Well, fail) before offhandedly mentioning how he met Peter Jackson at The Hobbit premier (me thinking: YOU DIDN’T DESERVE THAT!). I guess I can understand native Kiwis being a little annoyed with or disturbed by crazed fan tourists, coming as I do from Washington and La Push which has seen an influx of Twilight fan girls breathlessly asking the cane-using Native American if he is Jacob’s father (Did you even read the book? Jacob’s father is in a wheelchair. Fool. And more importantly: THE BOOKS ARE FICTION!). But it’s true that certain environment can deepen your sense of belief and wonder – taking away from the fiction and adding reality. One of the greatest pleasures of my New Zealand travel has been exploring the various LOTR film locations. In one of those locales, I would be quite unsurprised to run into an axe-wielding dwarf or a bearded wizard. Speaking of wizards, here are six reasons why Gandalf is a bit of a troll.
  • Asterix et Obelix: A sublimely odd and quirky French film that I saw during Dunedin’s French Film Festival. I love watching foreign films and, although this one was a bit slow at times (granted, I think its slapstick humor is probably more targeted towards children), it featured the venerable Catherine Deneuve as well as some fearless Vikings who just want to fly.
  • The Piano*: This film, from Kiwi director Jane Campion (Yay! Lady director! Way to represent), held my attention in way unlike any I’ve recently experienced. Watching it, I felt similar to how I feel when gazing at old photographs, as if I’m able to peer into a secret past – a mesmerizing experience. Over the course of the narrative, I even got used to well-defined and slicked-back middle-part hairdos. There was also some male nudity that made me extremely nervous (I’ll never able to look at National Treasure’s Peter Sadusky in the same way again. Ever.).
  • Dead Alive*: This is one of most cringe-worthy things I’ve seen in a while and one of Peter Jackson’s first films. If you’re really into zombie films, I guess you’d probably like this one. I personally learned the value of a lawn mower in case of any zombie apocalypse emergency. There’s something gross in this movie for everyone (my gross-out tolerance abruptly died when some guy ate custard with pus *shiver*). The film also featured some serious mommy issues and a climactic re-wombing (I don’t know how else to put it) scene that any film student could enjoy (or not) studying from a Freudian/Oedipal perspective.
  • The Water Horse: Oh, how I love enchanting children’s films. Especially children’s films about Scotland and sea monsters. Kids films: not just for kids anymore! I included this film because a) it was one of the first movies I watched in New Zealand and b) I watched it because the majority of it was filmed around Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu which doubled for the Scottish loch. This movie had the beautiful Scottish/New Zealandish landscape, charming friendship bits, irresistible Scottish accents, and lovely cinematography… but the best thing about it: the music. Ermagherd! James Newton Howard, you magician of music you, know the way to a girl’s heart. I’m a sucker for any sort of Celtic music. It’s possible I’m addicted. I just love the fiddle, the flute, the occasional bagpipe, the mystique, and how the melody traverses heart-aching winsomeness and life-loving brevity. I almost peed myself during the intro to Brave. Anyhoo, I love other composers – Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino, etc. – but I LOVE James Newton Howard… his work has a certain, shall we ambiguously say, elan of the soul.

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Television Shows –

  • Rizzoli & Isles: My Forensic Biology class reminded me of one of my favorite procedural shows. Rizzoli and Isles are strong, nuanced female heroines with such a fantastic relationship. The writing is humorous and quippy, and the Opening is a standalone testament to the quality of the show (OK, of course I’m going to love the intro because of the Irish jig happenin’ in the background). I watch this show and I laugh, I cry, I eat an entire box of Tim Tams. Good times.
  • Shortland Street* and Outrageous Fortune*: These two shows are basically New Zealand’s only New Zealand-made shows. Alright, not really – but they’re the only NZ shows anyone ever really mentions. Shortland Street is a hospital drama/soap opera that people either watch because they’re hopelessly addicted or because they like to make fun of how bad it is. I tried to watch an episode because I wanted to be in on the joke the next time someone mentioned Shortland Street and everyone else groaned. I could barely make it through 5 minutes. Outrageous Fortune is on the other end of the scale and is supposedly New Zealand’s “good” show. It’s about a crime family that attempts to leave their law-breaking ways behind them and the pilot episode is, indeed, pretty “good.”
  • Pushing Daisies: New Zealand is… bright. And quirky. This show is bright and quirky. New Zealand is one of my favorite countries; Pushing Daisies is one of my favorite shows. Basically, at their core they’ve got a lot in common.
  • Flight of the Conchords*: An HBO show that is, granted, not produced in New Zealand, but it gets an asterisk because the two guys – Brett and Jermaine – are Kiwis. Unfortunately, New Zealand apparently didn’t give the band much support or think too highly of them until they gained fame in the States. The show itself features the band’s songs (such as some of my favorites: “Albi the Racist Dragon” and “The Humans are Dead”), and is funny, off-beat, awkward, low-budget, and clever. Shows like this give me hope for my own filmmaking enterprises.
  • Sherlock: BBC series. Possibly one of the best shows in the history of shows. I’m forcing my flatmates to watch it and we are going to be bonded for life because of it.
  • Dinotopia: My flatmate and I watched this miniseries on Netflix during one of our mid-semester break days. I couldn’t decide if it was the best worst thing I’ve ever seen, or the worst best thing…. Whatever. It rocked. It was great in the style of the ’90s, of kindergarten lessons about dinosaurs, of nostalgia, of things that try so so hard to be great and complex…. One of the greatest things about watching Dinotopia was getting to see some contemporary well-known actors in, uh, different roles. Colin Salmon – the I-was-almost-the-first-black-Doctor-Who British actor – as sky captain Oonu (mmm, I like me a man in tight, maroon uniform. Oonu, you can take me on a magic pterodactyl ride and show me a whole new world anytime). And, well, if you’re a fan of Harry Potter or Downton Abbey, you might enjoy seeing a dodgy, one-legged Remus Lupin, or Carson dressed like this:

The gaudy style of the pre-butler days

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Books –

  • The Tomorrow Series* by John Marsden: The series is set in Australia, but is still quite popular in New Zealand (I’ve heard it described as the New Zealand equivalent of Harry Potter). It’s about a group of teenagers who are in the Outback when their town is invaded by a foreign country, and who become guerrilla fighters on the run. Tomorrow When the War Began – the first book – is an intriguing and quick read that deserves to be popular (or, at least, heard of) in the US. So, I’m bringing it back with me!

  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale: This book is one of my favorites – and I’ve read a LOT of books in my time. I haven’t actually reread The Goose Girl since I’ve been in New Zealand, but whenever I’m sitting in a cafe, sipping my artfully decorated coffee and basking in the quiet subtleties of life, I think the presence of this fairytale would add a whole other layer to the already wonderful ambiance.

  • The Passage Series by Justin Cronin: Oh. Ma. Lordy. Cronin is an American author, but not one I’d ever heard of until I came to New Zealand. I kept seeing his second book, The Twelve, in bookstores and would always think, “Hmm, that looks pretty good/interesting. Too bad books here are so darned expensive.” Then, fortune smiled upon me and I found a set in a used bookstore. And I read them. And… SO AMAZING! They’re the kind of novels that immediately grab you and suck you in; you’re totally in lost in a new story, a different world, for hours that pass by in minutes. I found the first book, The Passage, to be reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Stand – an epic of epic proportions. The enthralling novel explores the nature of humanity and is packed with action, suspense, and an ensemble of incredibly complex characters. The narrative spans over 100 years and the genre is apocalyptic fiction, with a little bit of scientific, vampire sub-genre going on (which was interesting for me after my vampire summer school course). My new dream involves transforming the books into an intense television series (I’ll market it as “Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have a vampire baby.” Clearly, in the current market, it will be very popular). I’m actually about 98.9% positive that these books will be translated to the screen before I get the chance to have a go at them. I have accepted this. So, my more realistic dream now involves fetching donuts for the cast and crew. I will fetch the most delicious donuts they’ve ever tasted. And hopefully be rewarded with a bit part as a very hungry (or, more accurately, “thirsty.” Bloodthirsty) “drac” extra.
  • Island of the Aunts and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson: As a child, these books transported me to faraway and awe-inspiring lands; today, I do more of my traveling one planes, things with wheels, etc. Still, New Zealand instills in me the same sense of adventure and childlike wonder as Ibbotson’s books.

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Posted in Humor, Media/Film/TV, Photography, The Lord of the Rings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Scavenger Hunt to the North Island

My flatmate’s best friend, on her first time out of the States, flew all the way to New Zealand for a visit. Wanting to truly give her the trip of a lifetime, we booked some cheap flights with Jetstar, created an itinerary, and set up an elaborate, around-town scavenger hunt that ended with “Surprise! We’re kidnapping you, putting you on yet another plane, and taking you up to Auckland!”

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Having not heard overwhelmingly complimentary things about Auckland, I was pleasantly surprised upon my arrival. Place is like a city in a jungle. And I loved it. My foodie flatmate had intensely researched different eateries, and we ended up dining at a hip restaurant called Libertine.

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Afterwards, in need of some post-dinner sweets, we explored Queen Street where we satisfied our cravings at Giapo Ice Cream and Research Kitchen (my, what intriguing flavors you have….) and Moustache – the Milk and Cookie Bar (which is quite possibly the greatest idea ever). Across the street was an Irish pub blasting the sort of music that makes you want to do a sprightly jig (and reminds you how badly you want to go to Ireland to drink at an authentic Irish pub with gnarled, weather-beaten old fishermen smoking gnarled, weather-beaten old pipes).

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That night we stayed in a holiday park that reminded me of the movie Hanna. It was nice and cheap with cozy (or cramped) quarters, the kind of mattresses that leave you feeling every joint come morning, and sheets that left me questioning the need for smallpox shots. I wonder if I would have been more comfortable spending my night wandering around outside; the environment of the holiday park was friendly and comfortable, and the night air was cool and fresh. I took a nice walk before bed, during which I found the girls bathroom. Funny story: my friends and I were looking for the bathroom. Because we’d just arrived. And because we all really had to pee. There was this big building next to the kitchen area. It had a small sign at the corner that read, “Men’s,” and a large opening in the center of the wall. It was one of the only buildings in sight, so some of the girls thought, “Maybe it’s a bathroom for everyone and the girl’s sign is on the other side corner,” while the others decided, “I’m pretty sure this is the man bathroom, but I’m about to wet myself, so I’m going in there.” We all used to bathroom without any repercussions. I began to think that perhaps this was, in fact, the boys and girls room. Then I returned to brush my teeth. An older gentleman walked in, stared at me wide-eyed with a small, shocked, “Oh!” and then scurried out of the bathroom. At that point I returned to our bunk and broke the news to my fellow travelers: “Guys, I’m pretty sure that’s the men’s room.” But all’s well that ends well because I found the ladies room on the other side of the cafeteria area. And so it was that I spent the next morning putting in my contacts around massive amounts of women who all be takin’ up the mirror space to apply their makeup.

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The morning after our arrival we drove to the Coromandel Peninsula. We’d rented a car at the airport which, in light of all the adventuring we wanted to do, turned out to be a cheaper and simpler option than relying on buses or taxis. The drive to the peninsula was spectacularly beautiful in a way that only New Zealand can be – the lumbering and ridged hills, the lush yellow-greens and shimmering flaxen shades, the verdant jungles. Come here to satisfy any and all foliage fetishes. One can also find a number of small beaches along the way. My friends and I took multiple car breaks in order to lay on the sand, play in the cold water, climb trees, and play cricket with a plastic set from the dollar store….

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We were spending the next few the next few days in a non-touristy area, Coromandel Town, at someplace called Anchor Lodge. We figure, “Alright. Everyone’s ready for another hostel-like situation. Hope y’all brought long-sleeve sleeping gear and/or anti-itch cream.” And then, we saw it: A beautiful haven with Tarzan’s bungalow, an outdoor grill, free wifi, a stocked kitchen, TWO TVs, spacious rooms, and (oh the glory) clean sheets with soft mattresses. It was in this paradise that we were destined to cook our own delicious meals, dine al fresco in the fading twilight, and sleep soundly like tired babies.

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Early in the morning, we began a scenic drive down the peninsula. I held my head out the window, feeling the wind, taking in the view, and feeling incredibly happy and fulfilled – like I was meant for this. On the way, we saw a rainbow that reached the ground. It was beautiful, unusual, and seemed like the best of omens. However, we were also able to dispel that old myth about the pot of gold. We checked. No gold. Whilst stopped at the lovely Jandals Café in Whitianga for breakfast, a cute little girl with blond ringlets looked at me and, without any provocation, made a truly hideous and evil face before skipping away gaily with her dolly. I don’t quite know what to make of this. I cannot hope to compare, but here is my best approximation of the face:

like this, but with more evil menace

like this, but with more evil menace

Clearly, this child has an exciting and fulfilling life ahead of her.

Anyhoo, we’d woken up early in order to snag a spot at Hot Water Beach. Natural hot springs under the sand mean that you can dig yourself a hole and sit in a natural sauna on the beach. Very cool in theory. However, we found the beach to be, even at an early hour, too touristy and crowded. There was also an unfortunate situation with a cranky older man, some shovels, and a good deal of unwarranted rebuking. So, after about five minutes, we figured, “Well, it was good to stop by and dig our toes into some hot sand. Now, time to go.”

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The second beach of the day was much more magical. Cathedral Cove: aka my new favorite place. You also might recognize Cathedral Cove if you’ve ever seen the Chronicles of Narnia movie Prince Caspian. Yeah, I had yet another New Zealand film geek-out moment.

oh, hmm now. Does that upper Narnia still look similar to that lower picture of me and my friends? Why yes, indeed it does.

oh, hmm now. Does that upper Narnia still look similar to that lower picture of me and my friends? Why yes, indeed it does.

The cove is harder to access than, say, Hot Water Beach, so it is much less touristy. The beach can only be reached by hiking or by boat. Hence the lack of lazy and grumpy older folks. Not too many people + an enchanting location = killer combo. As of late, I spend the majority of my beach time curled up on a towel, sunbathing with a good book. But Cathedral Cove took me back to my childhood. I spent my entire visit running around, splashing in the water, swimming out to rocks that turn out to be grossly covered in squishy, fibrous seaweed (feeling like how I imagine the sweaty, hairy back of an obese man would feel), exploring caves, and climbing rocks; I didn’t lie down once. If I were ever marooned somewhere, I would like that somewhere to be Cathedral Cove. My friend and I already figured out how we’re organizing our cave home. Plus, there’s a natural shower all ready for us.

the waterfall shower

the waterfall shower

anyone else getting a Lost-cave-of-light vibe?

anyone else getting a Lost-cave-of-light vibe?

A moment of solitude. Kids on the beach are so photogenic, but I felt like a super creep taking this photo. So I stopped.

A moment of solitude. Kids on the beach are so photogenic, but I felt like a super creep taking this photo. So I stopped.

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The rest of our time on the peninsula included: driving on a traumatic and ridiculous dirt road, scenery that was probably in Jurassic Park (that makes me Jeff Goldblum), cliff jumping at a river, a visit to a fairy-tale waterfall (it was a water-filled kind of weekend), playing in a sandbox that was randomly in a café (I didn’t realize the waitress was watching and laughing. Oops), and shopping. During shopping time, I found a store called “The Cave” (the name filled me with uncontrollable glee) where I purchased a journal in which to record my memories. We also went to a store where the sassy owner told us a story: Macklemore had recently visited that same store, and had kindly taken off his shoes, signed them, and given them to a young fan. Apparently, Macklemore is both a boss and a philanthropist. I’m not even surprised. At this point, I also had the pleasure of introducing my friends to what was essentially my high school class’s epic anthem, Macklemore’s “And We Danced.”

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On our last day, we returned to Auckland where I visited the most wonderful vintage stores (cue drooling), and my friends decided to go skydiving.

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During their jumping-out-of-a-plane experience, I waited, took a wee nap in a beanbag, snapped some photos, and balanced precariously on a scooter thing because, like my friends, I am also a daredevil. I actually held off skydiving simply because I’d gone a few weeks before and a second jump just wasn’t in the budgetary stars. I would’ve been totally up for going for free. New Zealand has this thing where they like to let people bungee or canyon swing for free if the person goes nakey. However, nude skydiving attempts just don’t pan out as well, probably because of the excessive airflow (I imagine women getting slapped hard in the face with their own, ahem, breasticles. I apologize for that visual). I think the parachute would also be uncomfortable… lots of chafing. And then there’s the fact that you’re tightly strapped to a stranger for a solid period of time. No, I don’t see naked skydiving gaining widespread popularity any time soon.

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Posted in Humor, Media/Film/TV, New Zealand, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment