Day 6: New Zealand – Blue Duck Fire

I woke up again at 4am and crept out to the bathroom. Sadly Cid was sleeping with his head facing the door, and as he would tell me later I was not the only one to give his face a brush of cold air in the middle of that night.

One constant on this trip has been the stars. On my insomniac jaunts in this location I could always go sit outside and gaze. The funny thing is, no matter where we were or how often it was that I was up in the middle of the night, the nights were always so clear of light pollution that I’d just take deep breathes and feel relaxed. I feel calm whenever I take a minute to look at the stars, but haven’t really thought of why until now.

Did a quick google search to find this answer for why people like star gazing on Yahoo Answers:

Because, the vast, infinite beauty of space leaves one to dream and reflect. 🙂 Everything seems more possible when looking at the impossibility of such a vast cathedral of beauteous light painted upon infinite darkness.

I love this answer. It’s beautiful, and related to but not exactly why I love the stars and the sky so.

Flash back to high school, my older brother was great at the technical courses, english, history debate, and math. Meanwhile, I was always good at the creative/coordination classes, foreign language, art and sports. In the core classes I would always end up with a teacher that my brother had before and I always felt like I was marred by my brother’s shadow, he was so good at these things that I couldn’t keep up or even be on par and these were the classes our parents cared about.

Junior year I ended up with the same AP Physics teacher who also taught our Astronomy class. He had a rule in his class that if you passed the AP test, then he would change whatever grade you had previously to an A. This was the first class I ever studied for. I’d go after school to the study sessions and ask extra questions. Finally I passed the test and went for a grade change, since before I had been averaging a C in the class. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Yay, it’s time to change my grade to an A! (Handing him the grade change form.)
Him: Wait what, you didn’t get an A already? I don’t understand, but let’s change that for you. Whoa how’d you get a C?
Me: Well, I’m just not as good as my brother at these kinds of things.
Him: No, you’re not as good. You’re better. Someday you’ll be his boss. Just you wait and see.

Great teachers just have a way of changing your life. He saw in me something I hadn’t yet seen for myself. The next year in his Astronomy class, our course assignments were to develop websites in Netscape Composer related to what we learned. This intro to web design was what would later on shape my career. It was in this class when I developed an affinity for the web, sharing ideas, and an appreciation for the stars.

The stars and planets are beautiful, vast and far away, but they are also filled with hope, possibilities, and the prediction that my future would be great from one of the best mentors I’ve ever had.

I digress. After the thoughtful bathroom break where I waxed poetic about life and why I love Astronomy, I ran back into the room, waking Cid again with the chill from outside, who then threw the covers over his head. I hopped back into my bed and passed out.

In the morning, I had actually decided not to partake in any of the activities today. I didn’t really want to ride a horse, nor murder a goat, the farm tour didn’t sound all that interesting and I’m already proficient at skeet shooting as I had an ex that was really into shotguns. Instead I thought I’d just do the only free activity of the day which was a hike within Whakahoro Farm to a waterfall. Talking to my roommates, Sonja, Lisa, and Cid, while they had other activities they said that if I waited for them till right after noon then we could all go together and I agreed. Instead I ate the local yogurt I purchased the day before since Yvonne had mentioned all yogurts from NZ were particularly tasty.

Moogurt Noms

Moogurt Noms

The rest of the morning I spent in the common areas eating my million sandwiches that I prepared or desperately trying not to run out of internet access until I had booked a hotel for my stay in Wellington. Since I had booked a flight from Wellington back to Auckland, I wanted to have a bit more comfort for my one extra night. The internet was shoddy and my phone kept cutting out right before purchase every time since I was using a points site to book everything it was an additional pain, but managed to resolve everything right as Cid came back from hunting and the girls were just about wrapping up with skeet shooting. Lisa ended up being ridiculous with a shotgun, she maybe only missed one target. Ian we expected to be good as he was a military man, and that expectation held.

Shortly after that we set off on our walk. It was muddy from recent rains, but my waterproof boots seemed to be holding up.

Cid lead our merry band of hikers as we squished around for an hour or so before reaching the river near the waterfall where we’d see a bunch of hunters with their atvs and dogs in hot pursuit of goats. Goats are a menace in New Zealand, they were introduced by European settlers and will eat the foliage of most trees and plants and quickly destroy all indigenous vegetation within their reach, eating seedlings, saplings and litter-fall off the forest floor. For this reason goat hunting is encouraged. Also along the way were a bunch of animal traps for smaller feral nuisances. We’d also take a gander eat each of the traps along the way to see if anything was so unlucky to be decapitated.

Hunters in NZ

Hunters in NZ

At the fork in the road we walked down a path to finally arrive at the waterfall, where we took photos before breaking out our stash of snacks.

Kaiwhakauka Falls

Kaiwhakauka Falls

On the walk back it started to rain and I tucked my backpack under my rain jacket, since I wasn’t going to have a repeat of murdering my DSLR, like I did on the rainy Napali Coast hike in Kauai. I ended up helping Cid do the same with his camera and pack. Once back at the hostel we washed off our boots and scrubbed them by the hose, and the girls decided to do laundry while I spent time back on my computer.

This night there was no dinner provided and we had to cook. For my dinner I would be having yet another one of my million sandwich march along with the 2 beers I had left. While others offered me their warm food, I felt bad about taking it, I mean after all I had just been too lazy to cook or wash dishes. The one exception I did make was trying some goat that Ian and Cid had caught during their hunting expedition.

Since Cid is a chef by trade, he prepared the goat to perfection. The back pieces he cooked over the stove were super tasty. He had basted the leg in onions, carrots and celery. While he personally felt like it wasn’t very good as the goats were old and tough, I assured him that it was still very delicious and seasoned well and he smiled. Later on Seagull would come in and let us know that the conditions for the Tongario pass wouldn’t be good tomorrow, with minimal visibility. A group of us had all wanted to go, but with this as the expert opinion, we decided not to go once we hit the National Park and do the alternate activities.

NZ Beer

NZ Beer

I spent the rest of the night blog posting or chatting in front of the warm fire in the lounge, until getting called to the outside fire to have the goat leg that Cid cooked over the fire because the oven was broken have wine and gab. I huddle close and have random chats with Lucy and Marscha. Everyone was playing great music on the outdoor speakers and drunken activities begin. Lucy wants to walk on the top of this fence and do a handstand. Cid comes over to explain to me how Seagull tried to charge him, but since he knows Brazilian martial arts he easily pinned Seagull down without much effort even though Seagull is at least a foot taller than him. Then later the guys played this punching game where they would just keep meeting fist to fist until someone cried uncle. It was a fun night. Every so often I’d just look into the fire and be mesmerized by the flames licking the wood. This was a good day, relaxing for all.

After laughing and drinking as much as I could the wine kicked in and it was time for bed. I shuffled off earlier than most with Sonja and Lisa.

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