Sunday, 18 November 2012

Auckland with Team Germany

Following the Kepler track I only had two days to pack my life up and run around Dunedin to get everything organized for my adventures ahead. Team Germany (Marvin and Winton) and I bought flights up to Auckland that left on Monday November 12th. So I got all packed up and boarded a plane with these crazy Germans! Arriving on a Monday night we expected the city to be dead but I hadn't seen a night as busy as that one in a couple weeks. The local university in Auckland just finished that day and it seemed like every student was downtown celebrating as a result. The bar right next to the hostel was definitely the busiest spot too but, it was a $20 cover to get in and with that we headed back to the hostel. It only took one scrumpy each until we decided to pay the 20 bucks and rage with the other uni kids.

The next morning we were all woken up by the cleaning ladies who were shocked to see that we were still in bed at 10am. We got up very quickly, ate some breakfast and realized that we didn't know anything to do around Auckland. We got some great help from the hostel people and decided to take a trip over to Whaiheke island which is a 40 minute fairy ride off the East coast of Auckland. Getting off the fairy we went to look at bike rental prices on the island (turns out its the same price as renting a car) and in that time missed the bus which runs every hour. So we hitch hiked across the island and a woman who listened to the absolute craziest/weirdest music picked us up (The band was called Die Antwoord) and she lectured us on the band the whole car ride.

We made it to a vineyard and all headed directly to the wine tasting room. Our server thought it was hilarious when we explained to her that the nicest wines we've ever had came from a box. The majority of the wines were amazing and there is a definite difference between them and a goon. After the tour we jumped back on the bus where Marvin and Winton thought it was hilarious to teach me some German and we caught the next fairy back to Auckland.

That night we met up with Andrew (another student studying at Otago the same time we were) and hit the town where absolutely nothing was going on. Marvin and I wandered around what felt like the entire city having sword fights with these cylindrical cardboard pieces the whole way.

I flew out on the Wednesday; leaving from Auckland going back to Toronto! No one knew that I was heading back to Canada at all so I was very excited to surprise everyone. I had a 12.5 hour flight out of Auckland that was an hour delayed because of an oil leak? I only had a 1.5 hour layover in Vancouver so this gave me 30 minutes to collect my bags, go through customs and make my flight heading to Toronto. It was actually quite funny having the whole airport stair at me as I ran like a mad man to catch my flight. Sure enough I was the last one to board my plane and I don't think that the other passengers were too happy waiting for me. Landing in Toronto was a great feeling, but I really didn't miss the cold! Only one of my two luggage bags was on our flight and the other one was on a flight an hour afterwards. It was mailed to my house the next day.

 I headed to Brock the very next day to surprise everyone. Pretty much everyone freaked out thinking they were looking at a ghost and one person even cried! Its good to be back home with the family and fellow Badgers. I start work on Monday and have 19 days until a family trip to Jamaica and 51 days until I leave for a separate adventure through America, Shanghai and Australia. Life is good.

Final trip of the Semester

Laura and I had always been talking about one last amazing trip to end off the crazy smester we have had and we finally decided on doing the Kepler track. It's on the West side of the South island in Te Anau. Laura being on top of everything had it all planned out already (track direction, huts, campsites, etc).

So my final exam at Otago was on the Tuesday November 6th and we were planning on leaving the following day. The night was really our last night seeing many of the people that we hung out with during the semester. So we stuck to the Scarfie tradition and got on "the piss" for one last time all together. Wednesday morning was super sad with saying many more goodbyes and if it wasn't already a rough morning, we were running around like crazy to get the last minute things we needed for our trip! But it all worked out and we were leaving our flat by 2pm.

Of course we were hitch hiking out! (That was Laura and my last hitch hiking experience together) and boy was it a journey! We got 4 rides (a woman with two babies, a couple who shared their life story, a guy who did not want to talk at all, and a very racist old guy). The old guy took us to the outside of a small town called Riversdale which is about 130km's from Te Anau. It didn't seem like a far distance considering how far we had already come that day, so we were confident in making it for later that night. Turns out no one leaving Riversdale was going to Te Anau or just did not want to pick up the two people standing on the side of the road. We hung around the same spot for around 2 hours playing the harmonica (trying to learn), throwing rocks at signs, and scouting out different places to stay if no one picked us up. Sure enough the sun was setting and by this time no cars were even driving by anymore so we found a bush and called it home for the night.

It was really funny setting up a tarp and laying our sleeping bags down while all these people were walking by having no clue that two people were in the bush eating peanut butter sandwiches. Probably one of the funniest things that happened on that trip later that night around 1am was when I couldn't understand why Laura was eating some muesli.  I got even more confused when she rolled over and said "Jordan, do you hear that noise?" Sure enough a possum was nibbling on a bag of muesli that was 2 feet away from my head! I leaped up, the thing scattered and never really came back around. I don't think either of us really slept that much after that.

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early, both really unsure of if we'd ever actually make it to Te Anau. We caught a ride within 20 minutes to the next town which was even smaller than Riversdale. We were there for about a half hour when this vehicle flew onto the side of the road and the girl yelled at us to hurry up because her son was late for a doctors appointment in Te Anau. Score! We got a ride the who way there. We met up with our friend Robbie who hitch hiked out the same time we did but he actually made it there in one day.

Luxmore Hut - Night #1

We had a 'pre-tramp' PB&J and were off to start the Kepler track. The first day started out real easy walking along the lake and about halfway in, it gradually started to go up hill. It was all up hill from there until we reached the cabin we were staying in that night, but "the higher you climb the better the view!" The hut was around halfway up Mt. Luxmore and overlooked all of Te Anau. That night we had an awful meal of baked beans, partially cooked rice mixed with onions and garlic. Thinking back on it now makes me want to be sick, but at the time it tasted amazing. There was 17 other trampers doing the same course as us and staying at the that hut as well; we were all in bed super early.


Friday morning Laura, Robbie and I got up at 6:20am to catch the sunrise over the mountains. It was probably one of the coolest things I saw in New Zealand. Afterwards we made some porridge mixed with jam (amazing combo) and left around 9am all bundled up with our sock gloves to start day 2 of tramping. Compared to day 1, day 2 was much more challenging but it was also much more scenic and exciting. Basically we walked up the rest of Mt. Luxmore and literally hit the summit. During this entire day we were battling 80km winds and even with a 30lb bag it was still pushing me over. Coming down from the summit I had to sit down twice because I thought I was going to be blown over the edge!

We trekked on walking along the ridge of the mountain stopping in both emergency huts to warm up and eat one of the four massive chocolate bars that we brought on the tramp. Finally we started heading downwards off of Mt. Luxmore and headed straight into a forest. At the bottom was were we were staying the second night. We decided to camp out the second night, so we got a fire going, set up the tent and fought of the dreadful sand flies (the sand flies were so bad that at one point Robbie actually had around 15 on each ankle). As the night progressed the sand fly invasion died down and we made a pasta dinner with meat stick. We sat around the fire for a little longer more and headed to bed all praying that it wouldn't rain later on that night.

The third day was the longest but mostly an easy flat walk the whole way through. We planned to be back in Te Anau by 3pm so we were up at 6 and leaving just before 7. The walk was mostly through forests; we passed a rock slide and stopped for lunch an hour out of the car park. Laura and Robbie went swimming as I life-guarded. The last hour was a breeze and we made it to the car park just after 3. I ended up hitching solo (for the first time) and Laura and Robbie were going to go together. I got picked up first by a couple in their late 60's who were only going a little while down the road. The second ride was by a guy heading to a car crash derby and they set fire to one car and watch it explode! Third ride was by two Filipino's who absolutely loved Toronto! We talked about the Raptors the entire time. They dropped me off in Gore and I walked for almost an hour until 4 teenagers picked me up, made me chug a beer, then threw me out of the car (probably my craziest experience to date). I walked for another 45 minutes and started to get worried because there were absolutely no cars on the road and the sun was setting fast. Finally a car pulls over and I think I might have scared the man as I freaked out when he told me that he was heading back to Dunedin that night. I got home just in time to return the camping stuff to the rental shop. Met up with the rest of the students that were still in Dunedin for the remainder of the night.

Laura and Robbie got stuck in Gore that night and had to hitch hike back the following day. I won that race!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Cave Time

Long Beach is about a half hour drive outside of Dunedin and right along the shoreline there are massive caves that many people who I've talked to have stayed in over night (for cave parties, camping, etc). So a few of us decided that this past weekend that we have to experience spending a night in the cave. So Laura, Dave, Mike, Julie and I packed up Friday afternoon, did a 5 minute essentials shop through New World (grocery store) for all the camping essentials and hit the road for Long Beach!

Arriving at the beach, the weather was looking kind of scary so we wasted no time in making it to the cave. We set up shop in the smaller one, climbed some rocks and all went on a hunt for fire wood. Ofcourse Dave and I had to find the biggest log on the beach and drag it all the way back to the fire pit at the cave...

There was another group of Kiwis staying on the opposite side of the cave that we were in and ended up playing a game of touch-rugby with them later that night (my first game of rugby in New Zealand!) After the game Laura, Dave and Mike all took off into the freezing cold ocean; I don't think there was any way of convincing either Julie or I to swim in that ice cold water.

We got a massive fire going and sat around conversing over how fast the semester has gone by and how little time we all have left in New Zealand. The night was full of other international students stopping by in the cave to say hi and sit by the fire (but they all decided to drive back to Dunedin that night). Some guys brought some fireworks, so we shot those off on the beach.

Breakfast of Champions!

Very shortly after the fireworks the fire ended up going out because we didn't collect enough wood earlier that day (I blame Dave). So we called it an early night and all jumped into our sleeping-bags inside the cave. It rained for the majority of the night and we didn't all get up until around 10:30am. At that time it was beautiful out (New Zealand weather is crazy).  We all had cake for breakfast packed up our stuff and went rock-climbing for the rest of the morning. None of us really had any experience asides from Dave so it wasn't very long until we were all ready to head back to the dirty Dunedin.

Laura killing it at
Rock Climbing

Thursday, 1 November 2012


So Laura and I being the "last minute spontaneous hitch-hiking experts" that we are decided to take one more crazy trip this week because of A) How beautiful the weather was and B) We both needed to make it to Wanaka before we left NZ. As always it started as a joke on Sunday night with Laura saying "Wanna hitch-hike to Wanaka tomorrow?" Not knowing if she was serious or not my response as always "why not!"(That "why not" was definitely a common term used during the trip!)

I had a 9am exam on the Monday morning, so I was up early cramming all the stuff I have previously not studied through procrastination. I finished the Training Principles exam within an hour and a half
All the requirements when
(suppose to take three hours) and still beleived it went very well and we'll hopefully find out soon enough. Getting home from the exam, Laura was still dead set on taking over Wanaka! Having no money, no where to stay and no way of getting there we packed our bags, found a tent and got dropped off at our usual spot by Mr.Ben! The coolest Kiwi I know.

It took around 20 minutes for a girl in the gas station across the street to signal us and say we can catch a lift. Emily (driver #1) was only going 40 minutes down the road to a town called Milton. Emily was an Otago student who taught us a thing or two about sheep shearing. Milton being a very small town did not have much traffic flowing through but Glen (driver #2) picked us up after another 20 minute wait. We couldn't tell but didn't want to ask if he was Australian or not (his accent was in between a Kiwi/Auzzie). He took us to a town called Lawrence that has free town-wide Wifi! Weird eh? Glen was a sheep shearer and on vacation going hunting. Lawrence was our longest wait of around 30 minutes, when a Kiwi couple (Driver #3) (forgot their names) that lived and work in Dubhai were back visiting relatives in NZ. They took us to Alexandra which is just over halfway to Wanaka! Within 3 minutes Zoey (Driver #4) had pulled over; she was heading back home from work and lived in Wanaka! Score! Got a ride the whole way there! Zoey told us about all the cool things to do and see in Wanaka and said that we should go talk to Simon at the information center when we get there.

This next part just shows how strange the universe really is! Laura was super bummed about not getting Ferg burger (we were either trying to make it to Wanaka or Queenstown that night) but Zoey said she knew a great burger joint called Red Star Burger in Wanaka that she can drop us off at. The staff at Red Star were largely entertained by our huge backpacks and happy go-lucky smiles when we walked into the restaurant. We found out our cashier was from Montreal so it was super awesome to meet a fellow Canadian. We asked her if she knew anywhere around Wanaka where we could camp for free and without hesitation she told us "you can camp in my driveway!" Laura and I both said "why not!" So we exchanged numbers with Kiki (cashier girl) and she said she would text us when she gets off work. We headed up to her house set up the tent literally in her driveway and then met up with Kiki and her flatmates in town for a drink. (If Laura had not been craving Ferg burger, then Zoey wouldn't have told us about Red Star and we wouldn't have ended up meeting Kiki) CRAZY!

Lake Wanaka
It was a fun night getting to know Kiki, Andy, and Christopher (all from Montreal). They've spent half a year in both British Columbia and Australia all working within the restaurant business. Now they have a work-visa for New Zealand and are planning on going back to BC when it expires (what a life!)

Could be making Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner?
Tuesday morning we woke up bright and early expecting to do a hike that was 45 minutes outside of Wanaka so we were back to hitch hiking. (Side note - Prior to the hike we went to the super market looking for sunscreen which was awfully expensive so we pulled the "student card;" squeezed a bunch into our hands walked out and applied it in the parking lot: no shame!) Jimmy (by far the coolest guy who picked us up during the entire trip) was from London and was on his way to check out a property outside of Wanaka. He told us some hilarious stories and gave us some amazing advice ("you are never lost, your just taking a different route to get there" & "Im only 25% for sure for sure?"). That crazy car ride ended and we were halfway to our hike when we realized that there were absolutely no cars at all around that area and that we definitely were too far outside of town to get back to Wanaka after doing the hike. We ended up hitch hiking back into town and doing a closer hike that we could walk to from downtown. We ended up at the information office and asked for Simon who was quite a jerk... Funniest part was that Zoey (who told us to go there) broke up with this Simon guy last week; so Simon was quite surprised that she told us to ask for him haha!
Where we got our water the whole weekend

After the hike we went into town and got the knarliest Chinese food that you could get for $10 in Wanaka (bad decision). We sat on the beach, ate our Chinese food and watched the bus loads of tourists get off the buses to take pictures. That night we went back to the tent, ate the classiest PB&J sandwiches, showered and headed back into town to meet up with some other internationals students from Otago that we met up with during that day. It was an early night because Laura and I planned to catch the early morning traffic that would be leaving Wanaka the next morning.

Me and Spot!
Long story short we were having very bad luck on the way back and it took 4 rides (from Peter who was German, and Linda, Andy and Cliff who were all Kiwi) to get from Wanaka to Alexandra! We were getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere with no map and no idea when we'd get picked up next. Cliff told us some really cool stories about Otago. He was a riot officer in the 1989 student riots at Otago and explained to us that the students today just aren't what they used to be. So it was very interesting hearing the difference between Otago then and now. We waited an hour an a half in Alexandra until our friends (Ben and Jess) stopped by and picked us up! (They were in Queenstown earlier that day). Laura and I, both super sun burned and exhausted passed out in the backseat; so thankful we were able to get back to Dunedin.

Getting home, the sudden realization hit that it was October 31st and we were having a Halloween party at our flat that night... The shenanigans never stop!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Peak to Pub

At the beginning of the year my buddy had asked me if I was interested in making a team for the annual Peak to Pub race which is a Triathlon consisting of snowboarding, mountain biking and trail running. Its a real cool race with the starting line at the top of the mountain and the finish line at the local pub in the closest town. I told him it sounded like a great idea and I would love to do the run portion. At the time I had all of these training plans and workouts planned (don't think I ever did one).

We recruited a German for the bike portion so our relay team consisted of a Kiwi (Jono) doing the snowboard section, German (Marvin) doing the mountain biking, and Canadian doing the running. Talk about an international team!

This crazy weekend started Friday morning waking up very late and only having 20 minutes to pack up and get out of the house for the crazy weekend ahead. I literally threw my runners and a change of clothes in a bag, made a PB&J and was in the car ready to go. It was a 3.5 hour drive to Ashburton where we were staying with Jonos family. Friday night we literally never left the couch.

Saturday morning it was very disappointing hearing that our race had been postponed due to high winds on the mountain. So we decided to go see a Lord of the Rings film site from the Two Towers movie. We went to Mt. Sunday which was an hour outside of Ashburton where the kingdom of Edoras was in the Two Towers. It was once again a very slow night, consisting of homework, television and bike tune ups.

Sunday morning we all got up all ready to race! We ate breakfast and headed straight up to the mountain. It was a real crazy drive heading up the very steep mountain road to the ski resort (Mt. Hutt) where the triathlon was being held. Thankfully it was such a beautiful day that when we reached the top we could see the whole country-side and the oceans coastline! Buzzay!

We had our race debriefing and each headed to our transition zones. It kind of sucked that I was only up the mountain for only a half hour, but it was so awesome for that small time. The race started and I anxiously awaited the arrival of Marvin at the transition. When he finally came I had to take the pinny off him and then I was off starting my 11km journey! (And a journey it was)

First two kilometers I was literally running  down a river that was around 40cm deep. Glad to be out of that, the river dried up and I was running through the dry riverbed for the next 6km; rolling my ankle around three times. The river led me to a highway where the dreadful swim across the RDR was waiting for me (RDR is the Rangitata Diversion Race which is part of an irrigation system that is around 12m across). I had to jump in and swim across. I planned out that I would jump in early and flow with the current across but just my luck; the current was going the opposite way... Had to work twice as hard!

After the river it was a couple kilometers until the finish; it took me around 500m to actually recuperate and recover from the swim. I was very thankful to see the finish line and picked it up for a last final push. Hitting the finish I was congratulated with a beer that almost came back up as soon as I drank it.

I found out after the race that Marvins breaks had snapped as soon as he started his portion of the race so he only had front breaks for the entire bike! The crazy German still pulled it off!
We stuck around for awards and spot prizes. Marvin actually ended up getting free brakes by telling his story in front of the whole crowd. We got another round of beers, ate dinner at Jonos, packed up and were back on the road to Dunedin.

We ended up coming 12th out of 42 teams and placed 9th out of the mens teams. Super awesome weekend! Had a great run and some amazing times with the boys!

Monday, 8 October 2012

20th Birthday Kiwi Style

My Birthday started on the Sunday, September 30th with my bestie Laura staying up with me until 12am. As soon as the clock hit October 1st she proceeded to beat the hell out of me while screaming "ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" While I curled up in the fetal position trying to defend myself. Once Laura's arms got tired of hitting me, the birthday battle came to an end and I went to bed planning on getting up for my 9am class.

Waking up Monday morning I didn't share the same feelings as the night before and had this strange idea of "its my birthday! I don't need to go to class..." So I made an awesome breakfast, went to the gym and came home to get the house ready for the evening ahead. I heard a rumor from some Kiwis that a dairy close to our flat had a birthday special of getting 5 scoops for just a dollar! So we ventured over to "Dundas Dairy" in hopes of us all splitting this massive ice cream. But much to my surprise the ice cream special wasn't there anymore (they only did it for 6 months and then stopped? sucks to have your birthday in the other 6 months of the year...) 

Walking home after that strange explanation we encountered all of these drunk Kiwi girls running around the road trying to round up people for their initiation (basically long story short some roads are so prestigious for partying that the people living there next year literally have to be initiated by the students living there this year). And these 'wastey cases' are running around on a Monday afternoon trying to find people to help them. Of-course Laura forces me to do it saying "its his birthday, he'll do it!" And that was it, I was running behind these drunk Kiwis back to their flat where 40 other people were waiting for our arrival. I really want to forget what happened next, but I will tell you this. It required this girl to lick ketchup off my stomach, take a shot of tequila (almost spewing on me), then wiping off the rest of the ketchup...? Definitely a story for the birthday books!

Running out of there, Laura and I headed home both very shell-shocked on what we just experienced. I got in the shower right away and got ready for everyone to come over.  A bunch of us headed out that night for a birthday BYO to an Indian restaurant. Apparently it was a rule was made that I had to wear a huge colorful sombrero the entire night which was pretty good at acting as an umbrella. 
                                                               After Robs Great Idea
Dinner was great! I made a very terrible speech, spilled half my curry on my jeans and barely ate what was left of my curry because we were all talking so much! Once the obnoxiousness group of us paid we all traveled back to our flat for some drinks and drunken banter. I couldn't believe it but I got heaps of birthday presents! A Canadian cupcake platter, carrot cake, and candy card was all made for me! Definitely was not expecting that.


Overall it was such an awesome experience to celebrate my 20th birthday in NEW ZEALAND! It was much different than any other of my 19 birthdays before; lets hope the big 21st can top it.