Life is a Climb

Submitted by Andrew Gorski on the 2024 Winter KAAP program in New Zealand

The third week of our trip was filled with hikes and adventures. Each day of the week, we went
on an excursion that required heavy levels of elevation and decline. On Monday, we took on
Mount Cargill in Dunedin. Mount Cargill is 676 meters above sea level. This hike was different
from Signal Hill because we tried our trekking poles for the first time. The poles gave us our legs
support as we climbed up the steep mountains. Mount Cargill had organ pipe rocks which gave
an awesome rock climbing experience. On Tuesday, we visited Tunnel Beach which was
another rewarding experience. What was supposed to be a quick visit turned into an enjoyable
day at the beach. The air and wind complimented the hot sun to be the perfect weather. It was a
good way to spend our last day in Dunedin.

Wednesday morning, we departed from Dunedin at 8:30am. We stepped onto the charter coach
and waved goodbye to the friends we made at St. Margarets college. After a four hour drive
filled with beautiful scenery, we finally arrived in Queenstown, also known as the “adventure
capital of the world”. We unpacked our bags into our accommodation and immediately headed
out on Queenstown trail. This trail was a hike where you thought you were at the top, but there
was always somewhere to climb higher. We were also able to see mountain goats for the first
time in New Zealand. It was always common to see cows and sheep, but we finally found the

This Thursday was a day of excitement and adrenaline. At 10:30am, we rode the Skyline
Gondola up 1 kilometer. At the top of the mountain was ziplining, luge, and bike trails, but we
were there to climb the Ben Lomond Summit, one of Queenstown’s most demanding climbs. It
took 6 hours to climb up and down the summit. Afterwards, we traveled 20 minutes out to the
skydiving zone. 12,000 feet in the air before we jumped out of a plane with a parachute on our
back. It was the greatest adrenaline rush I have ever had in my life. My instructor told me that
he was also studying abroad in New Zealand, but he loved skydiving so much that he never
came back!

We only stayed in Queenstown for 3 nights, but we definitely made the most of our time. We
flew to the North Island and landed in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. I am excited for
another week of adventures. (Submitted on January 21, 2024)

View of the Mountain from Ben Lomond Trail

Christchurch, NZ

Submitted by Elias Tapia on the 2024 Winter BUAD program in Australia and New Zealand…

Christchurch is a city located in the South Island of New Zealand, where the second week was spent, and the difference between Auckland and Christchurch didn’t become apparent until later in the week. The North Island and the South Island differ by the way they approach certain aspects of life, as Christchurch feels more vibrant compared to Auckland, and a lot of buildings have street art as if the community were given a voice itself. These arts range from different inspirational figures to abstract art, with it being left to the viewer to interpret what they mean, with the city being surrounded by beautiful scenery adding to the life of the city. Christchurch as a city is unique as it has many historical landmarks honoring those within their country’s history who took chances to go against the collective and went on their own path to achieve greatness. This sentiment cements Christchurch as a city, as while exploring the city, the people there tend to be more open and expressive, giving off a feeling of informality, rather than Auckland, where the colors, structures, etc. felt formal as if the two were total opposites. The approach they have to everyday life changes slightly as the people from Christchurch are even more relaxed than those from Auckland, as there are more scenic spots to visit than in Auckland. Spots like these include Mt. Cook and the Tasman Glacier, as these places provide a heavenly view of the country, possibly explaining why the people there are more relaxed as everyone seems to do things at their own pace when accomplishing their tasks. (Submitted on January 18, 2024)

Life on South Island

Submitted by Lauren Stagnitti on the 2024 Winter BUAD program in New Zealand and Australia…

After our week in Auckland, New Zealand, my group and I traveled to South Island, New Zealand on January 10th to spend our next few days in Christchurch. Upon arrival, we did a walking tour of the city and quickly learned that the culture of Christchurch differs greatly from Auckland. Christchurch felt more urban and it was characterised by lots of street art and sculptures. 

On top of the Tasman Glacier with my classmates

On Janurary 11th, we spent all day traveling to the Tasman Glacier. Since it was over four hours away, we left at 6:45 am and didn’t get back until 8:00 pm. We stopped at multiple lookout points along the way including a local market and Lake Tepako. We got fresh locally grown fruit and breakfast sandwiches. The hike to the top of the Tasman Glacier was the most beautiful I’ve ever done and sitting at the top felt so surreal. It is so grounding to sit at the top of a mountain and truly take in the beautiful views with my classmates. Although this day was a long travel day, it is one of my favourite memories from the trip and it brought my classmates and I together and helped us to bond. 

On Janurary 13th, we spent the day at Akaroa Harbor. We spent the afternoon wandering the island and shopping. I’ve been collecting postcards from all the places we have visited and we found so many fun souvenirs for our family and friends. Some of my friends kayaked on the water and it was beautiful. Then, as a group, we did a dolphin cruise on the water. We saw dolphins, mini penguins, and sea lions. There was a dog on the ship named “Albie” who helped the captain find the dolphins because of his ability to hear the dolphin’s high pitched noises that humans cannot hear. 

On Janurary 14th, (our last full day in Christchurch), we had a free day. I wandered the city by myself and did homework in a coffee shop. Later in the afternoon, I went on a gondola tour up a mountain with some of my classmates. We ended up at such a beautiful lookout place and spent time taking in the views. We ended the day wandering the city with our group and spending time in the botanical gardens. We went to the riverside market and got more souvenirs. We then had a group dinner and got ready for our flight to Sydney the following morning. It was so nice to spend down time in the city with my classmates and explore. Auckland and Christchurch differed greatly, but I enjoyed both of them so much! I can’t wait to see how Sydney compares! (Submitted on January 17, 2024)

Exploring Dunedin, NZ

Submitted by Owen Bubczyk on the 2024 Winter KAAP program in New Zealand…

A photo of me on the beach with my binoculars; this was during a wildlife tour, where we saw penguins, seals, and sea lions

My classmates and I have been exploring Dunedin ever since we arrived at the start of this month! We have seen panoramic views of the South Island by hiking to high peaks overseeing Dunedin. Each week, we have read scientific articles related to trekking poles and cycling. We have applied what we learned to our excursions. While biking 60 kilometers on the Central Otago Rail Trail, for example, we took time to understand how seat height and pedaling cadence affected our rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and the muscles we were using. While hiking three miles uphill to Mt. Cargill, all of us used hiking poles to understand their benefits of reducing lower extremity fatigue.

It has been exciting to discuss the cultural differences with those who live in Dunedin. Of course, a big interest of mine is sports. So, I spoke with the Head of College at our accommodation, St. Margaret’s College, about their perspective on American Football. Conversely, she told me all about their country’s passion for rugby, netball, and curling. Our group already had a curling lesson, and we look forward to further lessons in rugby, netball, and surfing. We also explored culture in New Zealand by splitting into small groups and visiting various museums. The Otago Museum, Settlers Museum, and iSite Museum are just some attractions we have visited to learn about the history of the country. New Zealand natives readily adopted a lot of the cultural differences that explorers brought along, much like those living in North America did. Some of these adoptions have included sports and physical activity. We have discussed how these used to only include men, but now include men and women. In fact, some sports such as netball are female-dominated.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the nature that Dunedin has to offer. I look forward to continuing my journey through New Zealand with my classmates. Next, we are off to Queenstown, known as the thrill capital of the world. It should be a lot of fun! (Submitted on January 15, 2024)

Me cycling on the Central Otago Rail Trail

Mt. Cargill

Submitted by Alexys Padilla on the 2024 Winter KAAP program in New Zealand…

As week 2 of our trip has come to a close, we ended this week with a hike up Mt. Cargill. This hike was somehow the shortest but most difficult hike of our trip so far, I would have preferred to do the 50 mile bike path three times over than repeat this hike. It may have been a combination of missing breakfast and the heavy wind chill, combined with the insane steepness of this hike but it was extremely difficult. Although this is considered a beginner hike, I would argue otherwise. Nonetheless, making it to the viewpoint with my group and seeing those breathtaking views made it all worth it. My group and I spent some time taking pictures and talking about how bad our legs hurt stepping up those 3 ft steps for the last half mile of the hike while we enjoyed our packed lunches. I am sad to leave Dunedin so soon but excited for what is to come! (Submitted on January 15, 2024)

The street art of Christchurch, New Zealand

3D spray cans that anyone could put their work on, they were all decorated differently.

Submitted by Jada Thompson on the 2024 Winter BUAD program in New Zealand and Australia…

Midway through my second week in New Zealand we went to Christchurch. This was such a beautiful city. We started with a walking tour of the city and we noticed the town was decorated with street art. I learned earthquakes decimated the city in 2010\2011. During the rebuild people were drawn to bring life and color back to the city. Now there are festivals where people come and decorate Christchurch. This was a bit of a culture shock to me because in the United States, “street art” is graffiti. This has more of a negative connotation. Especially because it is frowned upon in the US. It was so neat to see all the different types and sizes of art. I have attached some of my favorites that I saw while exploring. (Submitted on January 14, 2024)

A Week in Dunedin

Submitted by Logan Batt on the 2024 Winter KAAP program in New Zealand…

Truly has been a wonderful trip. I never thought I would have so much fun. All the people on the trip were amazing and truly great people. We’ve done many fun activities such as hiking, biking, curling, and just traveling around the city of Dunedin. One of my favorite places to visit was also the Botanical Gardens which is an Authentic Chinese Garden and is beautiful. I have had some culture shock here which has caught me off guard. The first thing is that people don’t tip here, it’s almost considered rude. Another thing that I find quite funny is that when you say “thank you” to someone they will respond “that’s alright” instead of “your welcome” which is quite funny. On that note ill try to explore much more and try to capture it for my next entry. (Submitted on January 14, 2024)

Bike it Now!

Submitted by Andrew Gorski on the 2024 Winter KAAP program in New Zealand…

The New Zealand Study Abroad Class of Winter 2024

Week 2 of our KAAP New Zealand Trip went by fast! Meeting new locals and continuing our time outdoors have made these days fly by. We are still transitioning to New Zealand culture and it has been a grand experience for all of us. We started the week on Monday with a visit to University of Otago’s Anatomy Museum. We were able to see the bodies of real humans that were self-donated to the museum for research. The museum had body parts that were plastinated, which meant the water and fat were replaced with plastic to reserve them for future studies. Some of the bodies have been there since the 1800s! Afterwards, we continued our tour of Dunedin by finishing up our scavenger hunt, and concluded with our presentations on Tuesday. It was inspiring to see everyone’s efforts come together to show the rest of the class.

Wednesday and Thursday was a 2-day overnight biking expedition. This was by far the highlight of our week. Altogether, it was a 67 kilometer bike ride. We stayed overnight at the Wedderburn cottages. The views of the canyon were nothing but extravagant. I have never seen anything like it before and it made this trip much more worth it. The sun would set at 10:00 pm which left an amazing display of sunlight fading away. Afterwards, we followed up our bike trip with a lesson in curling. Curling is one of the more popular sports in New Zealand and trying it out for the first time was difficult, but fun. We split up into our groups and tested out the ice!

On Friday, we set off on a Wildlife Tour to see the exotic animals this country has to offer. Some of the animals included the Albatross, the largest flying bird in the world. We also saw countless sea lions and penguins on the beach. The sea lions lived their best life soaking in the sun, and playing in the ocean. The penguins were more reserved as they stayed in their tiny huts. We concluded this awesome week with a nice, relaxing day at the beach on Saturday. A long day of hiking and biking was followed by swimming and boogie-boarding in the Pacific Ocean. It’s hard to believe it’s been two weeks already. (Submitted on January 14, 2024)

Species Seen on the Otago Peninsula

Submitted by Allison Kuruc on the 2024 Winter KAAP program in New Zealand…

In the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand, we stayed at the University of Otago for a little over a week. On the 12th of January, we were lucky enough to go on a seven hour wildlife tour where we traveled throughout the Otago Peninsula. With my camera in hand throughout the day, I was able to take some once in a lifetime photos. Featured here is the almost extinct yellowed-eyed penguin at the OPERa, a sea lion on the beach at Harrington Point, and a seagull at the Royal Albatross Centre. (Submitted on January 13, 2024)

During our stay in Dunedin, we participated in a wildlife tour. During this seven hour tour, we were lucky enough to see many different species.

Auckland, NZ

Submitted by Elias Tapia on the 2024 Winter BUAD program in Australia and New Zealand…

A photo of Auckland’s sky tower

Auckland, New Zealand, is an interesting place to visit, as it is one of the few countries to have had direct British influence on so many of the local life, customs, and traditions. They share the land of New Zealand with the Māori people, the indigenous people of New Zealand, with the government striving to include their native language and their customs throughout the country. Kia ora, a greeting wishing good health, is one that many use to greet people, especially tourists, to inform them of the rich culture that is bursting throughout New Zealand. The first week was spent in Auckland, a city on the northern island of New Zealand, where the lifestyle of the people of this country became apparent as most of the shops closed early, with most of them opening only a few days of the week. This is because the culture is extremely laid-back, calm, and peaceful, a stark contrast to the lifestyle of the United States, where the hustle and bustle of city life runs rampant. The reason I believe this is due to the place they live. With scenic views, fresh ocean breezes, and landscapes straight out of fiction, many would sit back and appreciate what they have been given, even at the cost of potential profits.

This impression was from when I first landed in the country and started walking around the city. Seeing these different shops, the way people drive, and how the locals interacted with one another made it seem like a completely different world. Throughout the week, we visited sites such as Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and Piha Beach, where the beauty of the northern island was shown as the people there explained how they are trying to do their best to restore the beauty of their country to the way it once was before the European settlers came to New Zealand. Their efforts have been greatly paid off, as people who don’t know the history wouldn’t be able to tell that this is only a fraction of the beauty that the country once had, explaining why the people of New Zealand are so conscious of their impact on the planet. The time difference between here and the United States caught me by surprise, as the difference is apparent on paper, but I feel it is otherworldly as night starts to fall around a little bit after 9 p.m., giving the impression that the country doesn’t want to sleep. This is still giving me difficulty, as I know I need to sleep, but due to the sun not setting earlier, it gives me this sudden burst of energy to keep exploring even when the rest of the world is sound asleep. (Submitted on January 12, 2024)

A picture of me looking over Waitakere Ranges Regional Park