Category Archives: environment

Middle Earth

Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn (aka dirty human), Sam, and Legolas (well that’s all the LOTR characters that I can think of) had it special when they were travelling through Middle Earth. Now I didn’t do a LOTR tour, but totally not necessary as every place we went to looked exactly like the set. NZ really is a stunning place, filled with 100s of waterfalls, glaciers, cloud-piercing mountains, and sheep (lots and lots of sheep).

A few things about NZ:

  • New Zealanders are called Kiwis (too cute!). There is also the Kiwi bird and Kiwi fruit (tasted so much better in their own land).
  • Kiwis are not the same as Aussies. Don’t make the same mistake that Aziz made here.
  • Aotearoa, ‘land of the long white cloud,’ aka New Zealand was first inhabited by the Maori people, who travelled from French Polynesia about 1000 years ago.
  • NZ is rugby country. If you’ve never seen the All Blacks perform the haka, it’s chilling.
  • Keas, a native parrot, is a vicious bird. Do not feed it. It will attack your car trying to get food
    Kea attacking! I was eating a cookie at the time.

    Kea attacking! I was eating a cookie at the time.

  • Kiwis are outnumbered by sheep; the ratio stands at 1:9.Sheep!
  • Tramping, aka hiking, is a common activity.

Here are my highlights of our NZ trip:

Day 1: Akaroa & Bains Peninsula
Who knew we’d find France all the way in NZ? Akaroa is a cute seaside French town, complete with Frenchies and all! The views around Akaroa were amazing, definitely a good hideaway from Christchurch.

Overlooking Akaroa

Overlooking Akaroa

Day 2: Christchurch & Arthur’s Pass National Park
Christchurch was demolished in the 2011 earthquake and has yet to recover. The entire downtown is closed off with a wire fence and you cannot enter. Buildings are have there. Very sad that it’s taking them so long to rebuild. They do, however, have a really cool mall called the ‘Restart Mall.’ It takes old shipping containers and reuses them as buildings!

Restart Mall in Christchurch

Restart Mall in Christchurch

Day 3: Arthur’s Pass National Park & Franz Joseph Glacier
Morten and I camped in Arthur’s Pass Natl. Park which was freezing! We did the Otira Valley tramp, which ends at the footbridge but you can continue if you’re mountaineering.

Enjoying the walk through the Otira Valley

Enjoying the walk through the Otira Valley

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Otira Valley walk

Otira Valley walk

On our way to Franz Joseph Glacier, we picked up some hitchhikers, Mike and Steve, from the US. They were WFA-ing (pronounced woofing), which is short for Working for Food and Accommodation. Apparently that’s the best way to do NZ, as it’s free and you get luxurious meals and digs at the homestays.

Franz Joseph Glacier

Franz Joseph Glacier


Mike and Steve from the US

Mike and Steve from the US

Day 4: Fox Glacier & Wanaka
Starting to get tired on our long drives, we didn’t get up to Fox Glacier but did manage to do a walk around Lake Mattheson. Lake Mattheson has stunning views of Mt. Cook in its background and it a very well-maintained track. It is only 1.5 hours return, which we did in 1 hr.

Circuit loop around Lake Matheson with Mt. Cook in the background

Circuit loop around Lake Matheson with Mt. Cook in the background

Enjoying Lake Wanaka

Enjoying Lake Wanaka


Wanaka was gorgeous, probably one of my favourite spots. The residents are seriously spoiled by the views they have on their lake.

Day 5: Te Anau
Gateway to the Fiords and at risk of being totally bypassed by the proposed underground trainline from Queenstown to Milford Sound, Te Anau was gorgeous and the people were even friendlier.

Day 6: Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Parks
Before heading into the sound, we did a 4hr return walk into Gertrude Saddle. It was a challenging walk since I couldn’t tell where the trail was and it was pretty rocky. We stopped right before the saddle since we knew we still had a full day ahead of us in the Sound and needed to conserve some nergy.

Gertrude Saddle

Gertrude Saddle

Just out of LOTRs, there is an air of eerieness to the sound. We caught it on a good day, which is rare, but our photos didn’t come out as amazing as we’d hoped. On our way back, we picked up more hitchhikers, Magnus and Mads from Denmark. Nice dudes and Morten got on very well with them since all they could do was talk about cycling the entire 2.5 hours back to Te Anau.

Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park

Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park

Day 7/8: Queenstown
I didn’t know what to expect in Queenstown, adventure capital of the world. Seriously, this place was bumping. Everywhere you went, there were backpackers, young and old, signing up for jet-boating, skydiving, bungy-jumping…you name it. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like going fast and I’m a big ol’ scaredy cat so there was no way I was doing any of those things. Probably better for it as it cost over $150 to do any of that. Morten and I were content enough to hang out around town, drink some Montheiths (their west coast brewery is here), and enjoy some Ferg Burger. Our kiwi housemate gave us a few recs before we came to NZ and one of them was to try Ferg Burger. Hailing from the land that brought us burgers and all of its glory, you can sense my skepticism of any other burger joint. Well, well, well…was I put in my place! Now let’s relish in these glorious, mouth-watering photos of the ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ burger that nearly ended my NZ trip (I was pretty much bed-ridden with a food baby after this beast).

Mr. Big Stuff = mouthwatering

Mr. Big Stuff = mouthwatering

Day 9: Mt. Cook Aoraki National Park
Mt. Cook or Aoraki or ‘cloud-piercer’ is 3,754 metres (12316.273 feet) and is the tallest mountain in NZ. One of the best things about Mt. Cook Village was the visitor’s centre, which carefully details all the history about the mountain, the region, the first glacial expedition, the first female mountaineers to climb it, the way it was formed and so much more! It was a mini-museum dedicated to the region. Very cool and a definite must if you’re interested in learning. We had gorgeous weather and rushed to climb up the Mueller Hut Hike because the next day was supposed to be rainy and windy. This was my first over-night hike.

Just look at this!

Just look at this!


Mt. Cook and Mt. Sefton

Mt. Cook and Mt. Sefton

Mt. Sefton and Mt. Cook

Mt. Sefton and Mt. Cook

camping

camping

Tramping!

Tramping!

Sunrise over Mt. Cook

Sunrise over Mt. Cook

Day 10: Lake Tekapo
After spending the morning enjoying Mt. Cook, we headed to Lake Tekapo. It was absolutely gorgeous, aside from the fact that it was so packed we couldn’t find a bed in any hostel! We ended up camping another night, but I didn’t mind since we had a view like this.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Day 11: Back to Christchurch
Our last night in NZ was spent driving around for about 1 hr trying to find a place to sleep. There’s an accommodation shortage due to the 2011 earthquakes. We pretty much gave up on finding a place and met up with Morten’s friend, Cyril, who he met during his North American adventure earlier in the year.

Scrabble!

Scrabble!


After a good night of catching up with Cyril, we ended up camping at the holiday park for our last night and managed to camp next to Magnus and Mads, the Danish hitchhikers we gave a ride to in Milford Sound! It’s a very strange thing to see people you’ve met traveling on the other side of the planet, where you plan it or not.

All in all, NZ is amazing place, which is unrivaled in its beauty. At any one time, you can be surrounded by mountains, lakes, creeks and dense old growth forests. Even if you aren’t doing anything but driving, it’s still more beautiful than some of the places I’ve seen around the world.

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Going to the Outback MATE!

Arnheim Land view from Ubirr

Whew, it is HOT! This post is about 2 mo overdue, but I’m still feeling the heat (and bug bites) from Darwin. As part of my goal to complete my bucket list before I leave, I decided to book some tickets with my girlfriends to Darwin…all the way in Northern Territory to trek through Kakadu National Park. It is a long way to go for just a weekend trip, but the Melbourne winter was making me hate all my friends in CA even more for complaining about all the sun they were getting, while I was getting pastier than the creme you find in an oreo.

I’m not sure why, but everyone we told about our trip to Darwin was making this face O_o. It’s no duckface, but it’s also not very comforting when we knew it was just going to be just us 5 girls, going around the Outback. I think it’s more because most Australians had never been to Darwin so it made them realise that I, an international kid, was seeing more of Australia in 2 years than they had in their entire lives! But then again, my boyfriend has seen more of the US in 6 months than I have in 24 years.

Well getting on to our adventures (or mis-adventures really), 5 girls in a 4WD…Darwin and Kakadu (and us) should have been warned.

Now, what’s funnier than 5 girls trying to navigate our ways in a 4WD? 5 girls trying to navigate in THIS 4WD.

our sweet ride. not!


just when I thought massive cock was bad…


(Seriously? Who thinks of these things?!). Everywhere we went, we were asked ‘Oh you’re the girls in the massive cock, right?’ ‘Yes, man old enough to be my grandfather, we are the girls riding in the massive cock. Glad you think it’s hilarious…’ I don’t think I could have been any more mortified, but at least that is the great thing about Australians, they can always laugh. I guess if we were 5 dudes driving around in that, no one would have thought it was hilarious, but fortunately we are 5 cute (or so we were told by everyone we spoke with) girls driving in a massive cock.

So lessons learned from our trip:
1. Travel with girls and everyone offers to help.
2. Always put on insect repellent (my poor legs!)
3. Stopping on the side of the road to take a break from driving is a foreign idea to men.
4. Karaoke at 1am is always a good idea, especially when the Asian hostess is begging you to sing Achy-Breaky Heart.
5. Even if it’s the dry season, crocodiles are still around. I swear I saw one when we were at the river.
6. Always be open minded. You never quite know who you’ll meet! Totally true seeing as we ended up camping alongside some awesome Darwinians on one of the nights in Kakadu.
7. I’m really good a busting u-turns in a massive van. My lack of direction requires that I master this skill.

Now here’s some photos to make you jealous.

View of Arnheim Land from Ubirr

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2:15 finish?

Huzzah! 2:15 finish…what a long 2 hrs and 15 mins that was! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I finished the Melbourne Half Marathon in 2:15…maybe a little less, can’t recall what time I crossed the start line. But anyways, as my 2nd half marathon, I am pretty please with myself…considering that I ran this HM 20 mins faster than last years Nike run. Yay! The first 10 km was a breeze and then that’s when it went downhill…I didn’t see any markers until we were at the 18km and by that point I wanted to die. Once I saw the 3km, I thought ‘Breeze…I’ll finish this in 2hrs no problem.” WRONG. Running along I was like ‘Hell yes, I’m so there…where’s the finish line?? Um, yea…then I saw the 2km sign…say what? It took me 10 mins to run 1 km? YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! The last 3km were so brutal, I was about to give up but why would you give up in the last second? Yea, I pushed on and finally saw the finish line, you can’t imagine how happy I was 😀 (<-something like that) I guess I ran so hard during the race (approximately 6:34min/km) that I ripped my shoe! Hahaha! So glad for it to be over…this training has been more intense but it totally paid off. Now I can add this finisher’s medal to my collection. Thanks to everyone who donated and supported me. Until next year!

Only 2 km to go and in pain!

Another Half Marathon?

My body asks me why I put it through this pain…and I ask of it, actually I don’t ask it…I tell my body that I’m doing another half marathon! The day is almost here, less than 2 weeks! Let’s hope my legs hold out for another couple weeks because this training has been more intense than last year’s…that’s for sure! As part of this year’s half marathon, I decided to raise money for the Environmental Defender’s Office Victoria. They are a non-profit environmental legal team that provides legal advice/consultation to communities about environmental issues. I guess not all lawyers are soul-less money makers! Good to know 🙂 I had a goal of $250 originally but I surpassed that in less than 1 week of posting my fundraiser! So I decided to up to $500 which I was able to reach, thanks largely to Jose Revuelta and Karen Nga! Thanks to everyone else as well, couldn’t have managed the training without you all!

Update: Just 4 days left til the HM and I’ve already started the carb-loading (just my excuse to eat more rice and pasta…not that I need the justification lol). I’ve surpassed my fundraising goal of $500 and broke $600! Gosh my friends (all of you) are freaking amazing! Thank you so much for all the messages of support, it’s definitely kept me going. See you at the finish line! (I’ll be sure to post a photo of me at the race, before and after…I won’t need to say which is which because you know I’ll look haggard at the end of the race lol).

Here are the trails that I’ve been running, the number marks kilometer!

Prince Park Run


Merri Creek Trail


Melbourne City Trail

Wow, that’s so hipster of me!

Cycling. Yea that’s right. I said it. Cycling. For those of you who know me, I’m what they would call challenged when it comes to coordination. So you wonder why I would write about cycling? Well, I just got me a bike. A vintage one at that! Can you imagine? Kristine riding down the streets of Melbourne? Haha, well get used to that image because it’s happening 🙂 I’ve been on the search for a decently priced vintage bike but obvi all hipsters (esp girls) want that too, so that budget went out the window and I shelled out the $280 + $60 for new tires + $50 helmet + $40 lights + bike rack/basket + bike lock = $$$

I guess it’s a small price to pay to be green or more like it takes some green to be green. Though I can’t complain, I’ve ridden it 3x so far…managed to kick the chain off and nearly fell off trying to balance some shopping bags on it (maybe this will finally be the end of my shopping vice? If I can’t carry it on the bike, I’m not buying it). Goodness, you wonder how the seller ever agreed to sell the bike in the first place. Nah, it really isn’t that bad. Slowly but surely I’ll learn to conquer these streets, so far I’ve progressed to the bike lanes (baby steps – before I was riding on the share pedestrian/bike paths). Not sure if I should fear for my life or if drivers/pedestrians should fear for theirs? Either way, I’m going to make good use of this bad boy and go wild (though not too wild because riding faster than 10km/hr still freaks me out).


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