South Island

Volunteering in New Zealand - Rebecca Shinners:

South Island

Saturday morning I got up early and took a taxi to the ferry, pretty disappointed because it was cloudy and raining.

Now, when I signed up to take the ferry, I was thinking ferry as in a bigger version of the ferry between Douglas and Saugatuck. Not so much. This ferry was what I imagine a cruise ship to be like – a couple stories, crazy sections of reclining seats, bars, a movie theater, etc. It was advertised as “a destination in itself.” So yeah, pretty nice, but it kept raining so the views were not what I hoped for.

The train was cool, just because it’s fun to take trains, although I might have been the only person under 65 on board. It felt like I crashed some “Senior Kiwi Guided Tours” or something. We went through mostly farmland, but also some salt harvesting operations.

Rob took me straight to the guys’ house which is right next to downtown Christchurch. It’s a pretty nice place – backyard, three bedrooms, etc., but it’s about in the same state of cleanliness as the URichmond apartment (but with 6 less refrigerators). Richard, you’re probably the only one who will get those references. Rob and Brad are working as pizza makers in a place called Hell Pizza. Tim is a “punter” which means he takes tourists on boat rides down the river. They seem to be having a pretty sweet time.

That night we went to a barbecue at Tim’s co-workers’ house, and we were the only people there without popped collars. It was like all the pretentious people in New Zealand grouped together on one deck. Oh well. I still had a good time, especially biking to and from. At night. On the wrong side of the road.

This morning we went to a cricket match – England’s national team vs. Cantebury. Oh man. Cricket is quite a sport. First of all, everyone just sits on the sloped grass surrounding the field, and people looked like they were on their third beer by 11 AM. But no one cheers. Something actually happens every 45 minutes or so. When something cool happens (every 2 hours or so), the speakers start playing some mellow Sting or Coldplay, to really psyche people up, and people clap politely. In between “lunch breaks” and “tea breaks” the players wander over to the stands from the field and sign autographs while the game goes on.

Naturally, us Americans couldn’t let this be. We got all the kiwis to stare at us as Rob heckled the English players mercilessly, offering them baseball gloves when they missed catches. Good times.

We spent the afternoon at pickup ultimate. They take it pretty seriously, and I was a little intimated by the Kiwis at first, but then I scored the first point of the game, and felt better. Next, we got chinese food, went to the beach, and threw the frisbee off the dock for layouts into the water. I got cold (of course) and got out early to take a hike and look at the sunset.

Now I’m back at the house and we’re gearing up for some super bowl action tomorrow morning. More later.