Saturday, June 25, 2011


So we're finally waiting to board the plane to Fiji! But not without some trouble along the way.. When we arrived to check in they didn't have our tickets.. Jan the evil devil woman who messed it up last time failed to reticket us which wasn't all that easy.. But eventually we got our tickets and we're waiting to board now!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Uh oh!

So we awoke this morning at 5:11 promptly to go to Fiji! Once we were all packed up and ready to head out they broke the news to us that our flight had been cancelled due to the ash cloud circling New Zealand thanks to Chile! (wahoo!) Not haha. Well we went to the airport anyway to get things sorted out and after nearly 5 hours of waiting and shopping at overpriced airport stores we finally got booked onto a flight.. On Sunday.. But it is a direct flight to Fiji which is nice, but not as nice considering I could have been there right now! We'll still have a day or so in Fiji. After this we headed out to the International Antarctic Center to check out some Penguins and other such things. It was actually pretty sweet and helped me to get my mind off the fact that I will not be going to Fiji today, or tomorrow for that matter! We also got to go on this all terrain thing that they use in the arctic. It was so awesome! It was like a roller coaster except cooler.. We also got to see a 4D movie that shot water at you and shook your chair! Overall it was pretty sweet.. Right now we're about to go out to dinner before watching a big Rugby game on TV! I'm actually really excited for this! It'll be fun!

Here's some of my shots from Christchurch yesterday, they're pretty intense..

This is a bridge in a suburb that's pretty much utterly been destroyed. It's extremely humbling. 

Christchurch's Catholic Cathedral that's been absolutely destroyed. Currently their plan is to rebuild it bit by bit, like literally they have the other pieces just laid out in the yard. 

View of an abandoned Christchurch Street

Another Church with it's Steeple or Spire on the ground after falling

Cranes working to piece together a church

This is an excellent description of basically all of Christchurch

Utter destruction

Another classic image of Christchurch

Pictures! Finally!

Today, meaning June 23rd, was pretty humbling.. We drove around Christchurch all day to witness the utter devastation that this small city had endured since this past September. We learned that Christchurch has had around 25 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher since September. There's also several suburbs that haven't had plumbing or running water since September. I have a couple pictures that I may upload in a bit. It was also kind of surreal to see stuff like this in person. I walked up to several coffee stores and other similar stores and they had been literally frozen in time. I peered into one of them and looked at a newspaper that was dated February 22nd, the day of the 2nd horrendous earthquake to strike Christchurch. There was dust everywhere and spoons spilled on the ground, chairs toppled over and tables overturned. It truly was a spooky sight to see. It really got me deep.  You kinda stood there and imagined what happened when the earthquakes hit, like you could really get in touch with it, but you could never fully understand it. 

On a more positive note we also went to a Maori cultural center, which was pretty sweet! I was somewhat reluctantly forced into being the chief of the group.. To which I so "graciously" thanked my group members. This entailed that I had to walk at the front of the group and had to get the peace offering from the Maori warrior (which was a fern leaf) after he had taunted me with a threatening dance kind of thing with a spear-type object thing. So after receiving the peaceful leaf thing I lead the group into the song hut amphitheater thing (as you may be able to tell my Maori terminology is second to none). When we got into the amphitheater I got my own "throne" as well as a seat for my Queen, which in this case, as always was and forever will be Martha! I then had to meet the Maori tribe Chief and shake hands with him and also meet them in the traditional Maori way, meaning touching foreheads as well as noses. Which was kinda strange, but strangely personal and in an extremely special way. Then I sat back in my throne and watched the Maori's traditional dances, which was pretty sweet! The girls then had to learn a dance and do it in front of all the guys there, which was pretty interesting! The guys had to do it as well, ours was a traditional Haka dance, which the All Blacks do before every game, and let me tell you what, that thing is intimidating as hell, like I just watched it on Youtube and it intimidated me... 

So these are a couple pictures from the last few days that I haven't been able to upload, but hey now it's working! 

This is a random beach that I shot while heading to the Pancake rocks

Rainbow wave at Pancake rocks

Rainbow explosion at the Pancake Rocks

Bri being a rebel.. such a freshman..

Brohommad getting soaked on the beach at Truman Trail

Reflection in water at the end of the Truman Trail

Wave Explosion from the Truman Trail Beach

The underside of a cliff from the Truman Trail beach

Long exposure on the Hokitika beach with a little bit of light painting at the back. 

Tomorrow we're waking up EXTREMELY early.. but hey we're going to FIJI! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Okay so no pictures

I can't get these pictures to upload... so just imagine amazing pictures

More Pictures!

Alright so I've gotten to the point where I don't blog anymore, I literally don't have time, so I'll show you all what's going on via my pictures! To give you some background, it's been a really warm fall here in New  Zealand, henceforth there is no snow, so we are not skiing! Today we went on a horseback ride at a small farm just outside of Hanmer. It was really pretty awesome! My horse was named Storm and he was more a less a total beast. I love animals like that.. Unfortunately I didn't think bringing Martha on horseback was the best idea, so I just left her in the bus. She's still mad at me for that haha. After that we went to a natural hot springs that had a water park attached to it, yeah life is rough here in New Zealand... I didn't take any pictures though. Oh well!

I'm trying to post some new pictures right now, but yet again the internet isn't blazing...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More Pictures for you Mom hahah (and Sara)

hokitika beach 

Hokitika Beach

Hokitika beach again

Bird in Hokitika Gorge 

Morning view of Franz Josef 

Picture Update!

This is a rock outcropping off the west coast of New Zealand

Holding the National Geographic Society flag in front of Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

Bruce Beach

Ducks in Queenstown

Friday, June 17, 2011

Updateee from Franz Josef!

So i've tried a couple times to upload pictures to my blog, but coincidentally the internet situation in Franz Josef, New Zealand isn't exactly the ultra high speed stuff we're used to at home. No worries though, it's not that important! Yesterday we went hiking on the Franz Josef Glacier and it ended up being alot of fun! I got some really wicked shots of us hiking in the most unimaginable terrain, like seriously the pictures make us look like dwarfs. It was definitely a humbling experience! It's when you truly realize how insignificant you are in the world that you can ultimately comprehend your place in the world, I definitely had that epiphany up there. I also fell! I was trying to get this artsy shot going up the face of the glacier so I was like leaning onto this sloping plane of sheer ice. Then my crampons slipped out from under me and I started sliding down a slope of the glacier... YIKES. So logically what would my next step be? To dig my crampons back in the ice? To abandon everything in my hands in hope of grabbing hold of something to abate my descent? Nope. Grab Martha.. Yup, rather than save myself I went for the camera! Luckily I stopped just short of about a 4 or 5 foot ledge with some nasty jagged looked snow chunks at the bottom of it. After this things got ducking fawkward with me and the guide, he had already asked why I was carrying paracord with me to which I had a somewhat sly reply. So I just shut up for the rest of the trip. After finishing the hike we headed back to our hotel thing and hung out for a bit before heading to the hot springs kinda thing. Yeah the hot springs.. hahaha it's a rough life here in New Zealand.

Saturday June 18th Franz Josef
Today is basically a massive chill day. We're working on our on assignment projects and getting other things ready, and blogging! (gross). It's also raining outside but it's good! I've had lots and lots of thinking time which I like..

In other news I've started advocating for the Summer 2012 Nat Geo trip... My idea is Brazil and Patagonia.. YES.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Zealand. nuff said.

Our day started ironically extremely early, due to the 3 or so bars located right outside our window, I woke up at like 3 or 4 only to hear some pretty legit techno beats! Hahaha it was actually pretty funny looking back at it, I fell right back asleep, so as the kiwis say, “no worries mate”.  I ended up waking up around 7. I really liked the hotel we were in, it was called Nomads and it’s designed for young travelers on the go who just need a place to say the night. It’s very much oriented towards young intrepid travelers, there was lots of crude humor present throughout the entire hostel, which I very much enjoyed! After showering we packed up our stuff into the bus and headed out to breakfast where I had my first meat pie! It was absolutely delicious! Following this we did the most fun thing we’ve done on the trip so far, for me at least! We got to split up into groups of 3 or 4 and headed around Queenstown by ourselves discovering all of it’s finer aspects that you just can’t see when you’re in a big group, I love discovering new cultures and exploring new things, so basically I loved today.  My mini group was myself, Miles, Brianna, and Carson and we had a pretty fun time exploring the not so touristy side of Queenstown, which is always good! After exploring for a few hours we rendezvoused down by the lake, which by the way is one of the most spectacular places my eyes have ever laid upon. Then we got to ride the Gondola up to the top of the mountain to check out the scenery which I’m truly again, at a loss for words. It’s unbelievable. One thing that you should know is that mountain is unbelievably steep, like seriously it’s probably a 45 degree slope or steeper the whole way up. So like when we’re almost at the top I spotted a bungie jumping platform thing, and oh my god, you’d need some serious guts and other things to jump off that thing, it was knarley (shut it Sara hahaha). So after scoping out the views off the top of the mountain we headed inside to grab some lunch, where of course, I had Fish & Chips! Absolutely delicious. Why isn’t this a mainstay on every menu in America? I’m liking New Zealand much more than the US! We finished up our lunch and headed down to Queenstown to do some last minute shopping at Mary’s Sheep, which had the coolest hats EVER. I bought 2 for myself, and let me tell you, these definitely fit my neon cravings, they’re leegggittttt. I got some other things too, like boxers hahaha. All in all twas a successful day shopping, I just need a legit skater hoodie and my life will be complete! After shopping we headed out to Wanaka, which led us on a seemingly endless vertical, zig-zagging stretch of highway where it also seemed like 30 cars passed us ha! After a jam sess on my ipod with Brizzey we arrived at our camping location thing. It’s right by a Rugby club which provided us with lots of entertainment tonight! Firstly I HAD to get the shot of the Rugby field with the silhouette of the mountains behind them. It ended up being pretty sweet! Following that we headed out to dinner and had Indian Food. Okay so I ordered Beef asalamasdlfkasfisvonaskvnsivv or something along those lines and it was okay, except for the fact that it literally looked like semi-digested green vomit. The green ended up being spinach(YUM, not). But I survived. I’ve also concluded that I want to be in a Bolleywood dance video thing, those are legit, I watched 2 hours of them tonight hahaha. Following this we headed back to our camping deal and went through the usual.

PS. Sorry that I haven’t been able to reply to Facebook messages and or emails, my internet availability has been uh patchy to say the least, and blogging is my #1 priority because that can reach the most peopleee. I will as soon as I can!

So today was pretty freaking amazing! We woke up pretty early to watch the sunrise over the lake (which I really can’t remember the name of) in Wanaka! I spent a large part of that adventure trying to keep my hands alive! I let Sarah use my opossum fur gloves, yes opossum fur. They make me look homeless though because they’re those gloves that only go midway down your fingers, so I’ve gotten a lot of hey are you homeless comments today haha. I also spiked my hair today, which made me look like a total Jersey Shore Guido, but because we’re in New Zealand it was renamed to Kiwi Shore. I have several funny shots to attest that! Following the sunrise we headed over to Puzzling World, which ended up being the coolest, yet most frustrating few hours of my entire life. They had this wicked maze thing that literally took my 2 hours to finish. Google Puzzling World and you’ll see why it’s so freaking hard! That was actually pretty fun, but I don’t think I want to do another puzzle or mind stimulating activity for a long, long time. After this we grabbed some snacks before heading up to the summit of Iron Mountain as it’s called here. It wasn’t a hard hike so to speak, but it was after 2 hours of a seemingly endless maze. One more cool thing about Puzzling World was that it had this room with the heads of famous people that looked like they were following you around the whole time. And there was another room that had a 15° slope to it, and seriously that was like the most nauseating experience of my entire life, I have literally never been SOOO confused. They had this chair thing that seemingly went upwards, it was CRAZY. But yeah going back to the hike.. So we went up this hill thing for seemingly forever we reached the summit and there were some absolutely amazing views. Again, I can’t describe it. After this we headed downhill and proceeded back to our hotel thing for the rest of the night to relax.

Today’s Revelations:
1.     Blogging Sucks, really its not all that fun.
2.     Picking out your top 10 pictures of the day also isn’t fun.

Day 6 Bus Ride from Wanaka to Franz Josef
So today wasn’t the most eventful day, we woke up at 8 and ate breakfast before heading out to travel. It was bitterly cold this morning… Carl went out to wash the windows of the bus early with hot water, and it froze hahaha. It was pretty knarley (hey sara). So yeah we headed out and made a couple stops along the way to check out the scenery. We stopped at a cliff kinda thing with a rock outcropping that was absolutely stunning, and then at Bruce’s Bay. Which was pretty cool too! We found a dead shark on the beach which I was ultimately very fascinated by. We headed through some awesome scenery before arriving at Franz Josef. I’m sorry I don’t have more descriptive details but today wasn’t super eventful, but fun none the less!

Today’s Revelations:
1.     Sandflies SUCK. They swarm you and literally stick onto everything. Miles and I tried to obliterate some in the back of the bus today, so it literally looks like a war zone back there, at least for Sandflies.
2.     New Zealand is the most epic country ever. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011



Traveling! Our journey commenced Wednesday in Houston, and ending Friday in Queenstown, almost 35 hours later. However, there were several interesting happenings along the way. First thing, babies should not be allowed aboard trans-pacific flights. This comes in response to only sleeping for 4 hours on a 14-hour flight due to the seemingly perpetual crying and sobbing that this formidable baby had echoed for the ENTIRE flight. It got to the point where the Qantas flight attendants had to bring us earplugs to attempt to drown out the noise… Yikes! Needless to say landing in Auckland was a welcomed relief for the entire group; we all seemed to have unfavorable opinions of that baby to put nicely! Upon arriving in Auckland we headed through customs and immigration, which are extremely stringent in New Zealand to keep it’s pristine nature intact. From there we headed to our next flight on Qantas’ partner, Jet Star. So this ended up being the low point of the trip thus far. With this being a student expedition flights are booked in bulk, which usually means you’re in the back of the bus. Unbenounced to me this also entails that you don’t have a window, which is not the most favorable situation to be in while flying over the famed Southern Alps! Luckily the flight attendants were unbelievably friendly… Not! Haha I don’t know what was going on with those women, but they seemed to have something against the world! My fellow sufferers in Row 30, Brianna and Carson, were also turned into nemesis against these wonderful ladies. As we craned and contorted our bodies into seemingly unthinkable positions in a futile attempt to see the amazing scenery everywhere around us, the pleasant Jet Star flight attendants rebuked us for “not having our seatbelts done up tight”. Finally when we reached our destination I disembarked the plane to see one of the most fantastically amazing landscapes I have ever witnessed. Imagine mountains that seem to explode from the ground in every direction, combined with luscious greenery to create an unbelievable seen of pure majesty. I really can’t even describe what the landscape is like here… I don’t think I ever want to leave! After another 2-hour bus ride, driven by our beasto-driver Carl, we arrived at our final destination, the small town of Te Anau, New Zealand, a welcomed sight after 35 hours of traveling! Going back to Carl, he’s freaking awesome. Carl is like 65 years old, extremely healthy looking, with long gray hair tied back onto a ponytail under his Crocodile Dundie-esk hat, with a killer mustache that should receive some kind of recognition for just pure awesomeness. After we unpacked, and showered (ahhh thank god), we headed out to dinner at, ironically, a Texas themed restaurant named The Ranch. While there I ordered some surprisingly good calamari, while most of the group ordered cheeseburgers, which apparently tasted like meatloaf (must be a kiwi thing). Needless to say everyone got much happier when we weren’t starving. Following this we packed up and headed to bed, which was probably one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever had after 35 hours of traveling, and only 4 hours of sleep thanks to demonbaby.

WOW! I’m truly going to struggle encompassing today in words. Milford Sound was the most amazing, magical destination I have ever been to. Words cannot adequately depict the raw, unadulterated beauty throughout this area. I’ll try to start from the beginning. We arose from our long awaited slumber at 6 am (woof) and got ready to begin our travels. We had a breakfast of bananas and cereal (Mom guess what?! They have that Nutri-Grain cereal here that I was obsessed with in Australia that you can’t buy in the States! No worries I’ve already bought a box to bring home). We then headed out at about 7:20 well before sunrise for another 2-hour bus ride to Milford Sound. We were all somewhat skeptical of the weather because it was extremely cloudy and fogging when we departed. We winded our way through the New Zealand countryside and finally arrived at Milford Sound. When I walked through the lobby of the visitor’s center and gazed out upon the scenery I literally almost fell over, it was absolutely amazing. I can’t describe it to you, I really can’t. I don’t even think my pictures can do due justice to the majesty surrounding us. I got some good shots from the dock and then headed our aboard our boat to see the rest of the Sound. The next two hours seem like a blur to me, but I’ll try to point out the highlights! One of the most memorable sights for me was the dolphins. A pod of about 10 dolphins swam along with our boat for 5 or 10 minutes, absolutely amazing. I was on the bow of the boat, and directly underneath me were these absolutely massive dolphins, I can’t describe it. I really can’t. Another amazing feature was the waterfalls. I have NEVER seen so many waterfalls, like literally it you were to throw a stick in the air here in New Zealand there’s a 99% chance that it’s either going to hit a sheep or land in a waterfall, it’s unbelievable! I’m really struggling to find words to describe Milford Sound, but hey I’ve got lots and lots of pictures! After finishing our tour we headed back to Te Anau, but with a few scenic stops along the way. Upon arriving in Te Anau, we all started grumbling about not having eaten lunch, and that we hadn’t eaten for nearly 11 hours. I was STARVING. Gummy bears can only hold you over for so long.. We finally headed out and made a stop at an ATM where I picked up $40 in New Zealand currency, which is really cool looking to say the least. Then we went to an Italian kinda restaurant with pizza and pasta and such. I ate so much that I thought I might explode, and then I was still hungry. Hahaha! But after that we all went to the grocery store and I got some goodies for myself. Thank Goodness!

So today was a much more chill day, we didn’t do too much. Most of the morning was spent hammering out stuff for our pictures and organizing them too. After that we headed out to town and went to lunch at a little cafĂ© like thing where I ate Asian Stir Fry (please note the differentiation between lunch in New Zealand juxtaposed with that of Africa). Following lunch we went on a hike on a mile long trial that culminated at a bird sanctuary. At the sanctuary we saw tons and tons of native New Zealander birds, but unfortunately we have yet to see a kiwi! I have lots of pictures of the menagerie of ducks and other assortments of birdies, including Canada Geese! I was shocked to see those hanging out in New Zealand! After the mini hike we headed out to see a movie about New Zealand, it was probably the most amazing 32 minutes of my life. To see the diversity and majesty of the landscape was truly fantastic. After the movie we went to dinner, where I had a lamb roast and then snacked on other people’s left overs, such as filot minon and an assortment of breakfast items (again note the difference between New Zealand and Africa). After dinner we headed back to our Lodge and sorted through pictures before heading to bed.

Today as of now has been pretty legit! We woke up around 7 to finish packing our gear to head out from Te Anau to Queenstown. Miles and I both helped Carl to pack up the bags into the trailer behind the bus. Then we headed out for the Sheep Farm in Cattle Flats. It was a truly great trip! I learned a lot about how sheeping works, as well as the complexities of sheering sheep from the farmer himself, Andy. I got to hold a sheep after it was sheered and was absolutely shocked to feel how warm it was. While there I grabbed some artsy shots of Sarah, Kelsey, Brianna, and of course Lauren. One thing that’s really awesome about this trip is that we’ve all bonded really really really well considering it’s only day 3, we’ve already devised several reunions and refer to ourselves as a family! It’s a lot of fun. Today I was bus buddies with Brianna, we’re legit. Which reminds me… while she was holding the sheep I went in for a close up of her, and the sheep kicked at me and was like literally half an inch from kicking me in the face, it was a little too close for me! Apparently I made Gemina’s heart stop at that moment. Haha I also made her heart stop at the playground in a small town we stopped in. Miles and I were on a see-saw and he like pushed down really hard and I like went FLYINGGG I have no idea how a held on and controlled my fall but It was probably pretty cool looking! After that headed out to Queenstown, with a few a stops along the way of course! Right now I’m laying in bed typing as fast as possible trying to get this all done before we head out to check out Queenstown! Tomorrow we leave Queenstown to go to ___________ (I really have no idea where we’re going but it’s probably absolutely amazing).  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Photography Class. Houston, June 6th, 2011.

So today we're just setting up our blogs and getting some reminders and brush ups on our photography. Peter, our group leader, is flying in tonight to teach us a little more about photography and such. I'm really excited for the trip and I can't wait to leave!