Classes started this week: mineralogy, sedimentology, Maori Culture, and Directed research. It’s a great schedule with a heavy first half of the week that tapers off toward Thursday and Friday– I’m anticipating morning hikes and bike rides, maybe morning trips to the beach? I’m savoring the summer weather here while it lasts.
My friend Giulia visited this week (dear friend from adventures in Peru two summers ago, happened to be in the “area”), so after or before class we were off exploring the Christchurch/Canterbury region. In Christchurch, we explored the museum that had ample natural and human history of New Zealand. We sauntered through the sites that take advantage of the open spaces from the devastating earthquake in 2011.
The Dance-O-Mat is a machine that (for $2) you can plug in your mp3 and blast music for 30 min from 4 speakers that surround a dance platform. It’s perfect for random dance parties, and apparently people host Zumba classes on occasion! Rebuilding was evident throughout the area and many buildings were still in shambles even after 4 years. Residents are frustrated with this, but to the visitor, it is incredible how much progress has been made. Shipping crates have been appropriated as storefronts and comprise the Re:Start mall in the center of downtown. There are coffee shops and retail stores and frozen yogurt stands within these shipping containers and it’s such a funky fun way of recognizing the destruction of the earthquake while intentionally moving forward.
We also went to the Willowbank wildlife reserve (sort of like a zoo). We saw cute bunny rabbits (LOOK! SO CUTE!) and wallabies (ALSO CUTE) and kiwi birds (photos courtesy of Giulia). It was fun to see all the native New Zealand animals in one spot, and to see a kiwi in the flesh/feathers (they are nocturnal, so we entered a dark habitat room and played eye-spy kiwi edition).
We explored the Port Hills to the south of the city and went on a hike called Bridle Path. We took the P bus into the city center and caught the 28 to Lyttleton that dropped us off at the Christchurch Gondola where we found the trailhead and started the upward journey. It was a steep climb but we reached the top in 30-45min. We climbed down the other side (for 1.5hrs of walking one way) into the small port town of Lyttleton and treated ourselves to a lunch of fish and chips. We were amply refueled for the walk back (another 1.5hrs). Giulia is an ornithologist/bird queen and it was such a joy to have her pointing out the European species that the British brought over to help NZ feel more like home, and to identify the native species.
We took a food tour of south and southeast Asia, eating Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Indian food (restaurant Arjee Bhajee for Indian was insanely good) during the week. Our tastebuds were happy and an otherwise hectic week was pacified by hanging out with a great friend.