A Travellerspoint blog

Goodbye Christchurch!!!

rain 57 °F

Yesterday was my last day in Christchurch. I didn't want to leave. This traveling thing is SO HARD!!! You just start to get to know people and before you know it you're off to your next destination. I know I've said that a lot already but it really is hard. For me. I mean, I'm not crying myself to sleep at night but I am really bummed that I can't take all my new friends with me. Not that I can't ever go back and see them again, of course.

My boss at Charlie B's, Sandy, was kind enough to drive me to the airport. She has been the best boss ever!!! If anyone ever goes to Christchurch, make sure you stay at Charlie B's cuz they are too cool for school. I got to the airport checked in and took a short flight up to Auckland. I checked into a hostel called Skyway Airport Lodge. It's right next to the airport (hence the name) and they pick you up in their own shuttle. This hostel is the most quiet hostel I have stayed in since I've been in New Zealand. But it is very nice. It's owned by a husband and wife. A kiwi man and an asian woman and they have the cutest baby girl ever. She's walking around right now as I type this and she's trying to get my attention. She's so adorable!!! Her name is Sky.

Today I'm getting a taxi to city center and then I'm catching a coach bus up to the Bay of Islands. It's about a 4 hour drive but it's supposed to be a beautiful one. So that'll be nice. I will be staying in Paihia which is the main town in the Bay of Islands (pronounced pie-hee-uh). After that I will take the ferry over to Russell and meet up with my new boss at the restaurant I will be working at. Then he will take me over to the staff house. So that's good that I don't have to worry about finding a place to stay.

It's raining right now in Auckland. It better not be that way further north as that is one of the reasons I wanted to come up here. So I am looking forward to 90 degree weather and white sandy beaches and clear blue water. I think I'm gonna swim with dolphins. That'll be awesome.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at Charlie B's for making me feel so welcome and for being my home for the past 2 months. It's been a blast and you guys rock!!! I will see you in the fall!!!

I would like to take another opportunity to plug a certain artist who is a good friend of mine. She started this line of books called "Little Vampires" and it is just too cute. The artist is Rebecca Hicks and I met her when I was working at Mimi's Cafe in San Diego. She's very talented and I want everyone to go to this website: http://little-vampires.com/ and check out her stuff. She also has her own comic book called "Project Elohim" which has 4 volumes out at the moment. Check it out peeps!!!

Okay that is all for now, I will get back in contact once I get to the winterless north!!! Cheers!!!

Posted by Squarabara 14:25 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Springtime!!!

semi-overcast 55 °F

Springtime has arrived in the beautiful country of New Zealand. Flowers are blooming everywhere and the streets are more crowded than usual. Not to mention the weather is warmer. Which makes me quite happy as I am SO over the cold.

I have come to the end of my work here at Charlie B's. I am really sad that I will soon leave the friends I have made here behind. I know that I can always come back and visit. As for where I'm going next, I have no idea. I can't decide. I was thinking about going to the top of the country to stay at the Bay of Islands. It's gorgeous up there and being that summer is about to start, there will be tons of people and different things to do there. And lots of work is available in the area at the moment. I had an interview this last Friday for a cafe in Wellington and it went really well. The cafe is totally groovy. When I walked in I saw a portrait of John Lennon on the wall and I knew that it was my kind of joint. It's called "Gravity Coffee" and it's really cool. They only have locations in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. So if I wanted to transfer I could only go to those places. Blah. I want to see more of the country than that!!! Although I do want to go to Wellington eventually. But I don't know what I'll be doing next. But I have to figure something out soon.

This last weekend I went out with some fellow co-workers and some English girls that I met in the hostel. They are very nice and they are staying at Charlie B's for the next few weeks. Their names are Kate, Kelly and Abby. They rock. We went on this thing called the "Big Night Out". It's organized by people who work at Base Backpackers. You pay 25 bucks and you go to 5 different bars and as soon as you walk in the door you get a free shot and then cheap drinks for the rest of your time there. But since I work at a backpackers I didn't have to pay the 25 bucks so I pretty much drank for free the whole night. YAY!!! But anyway, it was tons of fun and the people who run it are super awesome. That would be a fun job. They run one in Queenstown as well. So we did that and then at the last bar we decided to go to a night club called "Boogie Nights". By far the coolest club ever. It's right up my alley. The dance floor lights up and the DJ sits inside a VW bus. If a girl works there she has to wear this cool 70's dress and white go go boots. So cool. I would LOVE to work there. Not to mention you get to listen to the coolest music all night. Kat and I went there the previous weekend and we just danced all night. Awesome.

So that was good times. I think I have one more weekend here and then I'm gonna have to figure out where I need to go next. I don't know. I'm SO confused!!!

Posted by Squarabara 17:43 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

The past few weeks.......

sunny 50 °F

This last weekend (12th-14th) was my first weekend off since working at Charlie B's. Needless to say, I was ecstatic at the fact that I would finally be able to go out with everyone and experience Christchurch nightlife first hand. We all decided to go out on the Saturday as the All Blacks were playing a game against Australia and we thought it would be fun to go somewhere to watch it. We went to a bar called Iconic. Pretty cool place. Pool tables, giant screens to watch the game on........hot bartenders. Always a good thing.

We stayed there until the game was over (we won!!!) and then headed next door to The Flamingo Bar (???) to go watch "The Black Seeds". Francis told us they were playing there earlier in the week and suggested we all go out and see them after the game. Francis tends to know a lot about the local music scene and the cool venues to see shows at. He's full of all kinds of useful information and is constantly spewing forth knowledge. Sometimes it's not all so useful. For example, one of the first times I worked with Francis he tells me out of nowhere "Apparently scientists just discovered that the Octopus doesn't have 8 legs. It has 2 arms and 6 legs."

Thanks very much.

The Black Seeds play funky, reggae-ish type music. That kind of music, to me, is always good to hear live. They were awesome. And for those who don't know, Bret from Flight of the Conchords actually plays in this band but since he is currently busy filming Season 2 of Flight of the Conchords he had to have himself replaced while they were touring. Gutting, as I would've loved to have seen him in the flesh. He's quite yummy.

I think that was the perfect outing for my first weekend off in Christchurch. Watched my first rugby game, went to a concert. Lovin' it.

Last night I went with Jess and her boyfriend, Dermot, to a party that their friend was throwing. It started out pretty slow and I had a headache, but after awhile I started to feel better and was enjoying myself a lot more. Jess has some pretty cool friends.

Around 1 am we decided to head into town to go dancing. And that was fun 'cause I got to see more of the town. I don't even know what places we went to but they were fun nonetheless. We ended up at one particularly small bar/club dancing until 4 in the morning. I love that about this country. In the states everything closes by 2 am. Unless you're in a big city like Vegas or New York. So I'm taking advantage while I can. And I have every weekend off until I'm done working here so I'll be able to go to a few more places before I head up north.

Speaking of work, I only have 2 weeks left here and I'm actually quite sad about it. I didn't really feel sad until the first weekend that I went out with everyone. I'm just starting to get to know them and soon it'll be time for me to head elsewhere. I knew that these kinds of things would happen before I left for this trip but I didn't think that I'd feel that sad about it. I mean, I still have 9 more months left to stay in New Zealand (hopefully more if my path leads me that way) and I will have plenty of opportunities to meet new people and make more friends. But it's hard doing it this way!!! I'm really glad that I am doing this trip by myself 'cause it's something I thought I'd never do but if I ever go somewhere else on a trip like this one I'm gonna make sure I have a travel buddy to come with me. So I'm a total wuss, what do you want???

I'm pretty sure I'll be heading to Wellington next. I'll know definitely in a week or so. I have a potential job opportunity there so everyone keep your fingers crossed for me!!! I'll keep you all posted. ;)

Posted by Squarabara 14:46 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Sara and Francis' Day of FUN!!!.........

..........at EDORAS!!!

overcast 50 °F

Yesterday was the coolest day ever. My coworker, Francis, and I got to go on a Lord of the Rings tour to Edoras!!! For those of you who aren't familiar with all the names and places in The Lord of the Rings, Edoras is the capitol city of Rohan and it's where the blonde lady lives. Eowyn. You see it for the first time in The Two Towers. And you can see a picture of it here:

http://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/html/episodes/images/ttt/ttt0494.htm

The top bit was built by the art department for the film and the huts on the lower part of the mountain were put in digitally. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll start from the beginning of the day.

Francis and I met at Charlie B's in the wee hours of the morning. Well, not really. About 10 to 9. The tour guide picked us up in a special vehicle that this particular tour company uses. The vehicles use biodiesel which is made from recycled cooking oil and it helps minimize the release of carbon into the environment. So "good on them" as the Kiwis say. From there we picked up two ladies visiting from Australia and two couples from another backpackers. Two from Ireland and two from England. They were all very friendly.

Our tour guides name was Hammond and he was so cool. Full of all kinds of information about Christchurch and New Zealand in general. For instance, there's 4 million people in New Zealand and 43 million sheep. Crazy. There's also a hole in the ozone layer above New Zealand. Therefore, New Zealand has the highest percentage of skin cancer in the world. A bit depressing. I'll be sure to carry my sunscreen from now on. He also asked us some questions about Lord of the Rings like how many of us are fans. I raised my hand. How many have seen the films.........raised hand. Five times.........ten times.........twenty times..........thirty times..........forty times........hand still raised. Only hand raised in the car. Big surprise. I stopped there as I think that's probably about accurate in terms of actually sitting down to watch it. That doesn't count the times that I would put it in for background noise. Which is so many times I can't even count. So needless to say, I was the biggest fan on the tour. I didn't break the record, though. Believe it or not. Someone else had watched it close to 200 times (all 3 combined of course). I think I break that one with just having it on.

We had a few stops on our way to the location. The first one was a place called Rakaia Gorge (pronounced Ruh-kai-uh). We got out and took some photos on the bridge. Very pretty.

IMG_4758.jpg
IMG_4751.jpg
IMG_4756.jpg

That guy, by the way, is Francis, who I work with. He's a big geek. But a cool one. The mountain in the 2nd pic is Mt. Hutt. Really good for skiing and all that.

So on we went. Hammond put in a DVD to watch on the location of Edoras. Of course, I had already seen it. It's just the extra bit on The Two Towers theatrical DVD. It was then that he told us that he actually worked on the trilogy. He was part of the sound team. His job is to record what happens in front of the camera. He worked alongside Peter and the cast for the entire shoot. Therefore, we were in the presence of an Oscar winner. He won one for Return of the King and one for King Kong. Freaking awesome. He's done all of Peter's films since Heavenly Creatures. Of course I was super stoked and I wanted to ask 50 million questions but I didn't want to look like even a bigger nerd that I already made myself out to be. So I just let him keep talking. He then asked if any of us were aware of the Easter Eggs on the DVD's. I raised my hand. He then asked if we had seen the Extended Editions of the films. I almost laughed out loud. Duh. I raised my hand. He asked me if I knew how many Easter Eggs were on them and if I was aware of what they were. Of course I knew and told him. He then played my favorite of them all, the fake interview between Dominic Monaghan and Elijah Wood. Brilliant. It was really cool to watch it 'cause I hadn't seen it in so long. I forgot how funny it was. "When will you wear wigs???" HAHA!!! Of course, only those who have seen it will know what I'm talking about.

We stopped in a small town, which I can't remember the name of, to get some coffee at a little cozy cafe. I got a hot chocolate and a white chocoloate raspberry muffin. I'm pretty sure it was the best muffin in the history of time.

IMG_4761.jpg

That's the cafe there with our truck in the front. We sat down and enjoyed our drinks and Hammond came over to sit with us and chat. I then asked him how he got involved in film. I told him about my acceptance to the film school in Wellington and how I wasn't able to go for financial reasons. He mentioned how it's really hard for most international students for any kind of school they want to go to. (It's financially hard for ANYTHING here if you're not a citizen.) He said he got involved in the 70's when a friend of his, who worked at some studio in Christchurch, needed some extra help for the sound on a film he was working on. He showed him how everything worked and he went to it. He's been involved ever since. Now the man has two Oscars. Brilliant. He said that in order to make a living with it you have to be willing to do any kind of project. TV, documentaries, commercials, etc. Not just feature films. He says he does this tour every two weeks in order to make some extra money. I thought it was awesome that he ended up being our tour guide. (Synchronicity, right Donna???) I only got more inspired after talking to him. Filmmakers are such interesting people!!!

Across the road from the cafe was a field with a bunch of sheep. You know what is so cute that I want to kill myself??? Baby lambs. SO adorable!!!

IMG_4760.jpg

Then it was time to head off. We had about another 45 minutes before we made it to the location. Hammond told us that the nearest town to the Edoras location was the small town of Methven. About 1,000 people in the town and it was where the cast and crew based themselves during filming. From that town it was an hours drive to get to Mt. Sunday (Edoras). So they had to bus in 300 extras, all the equipment and the cast and crew every day. What a pain. But, as Hammond said, totally worth it as the location was so amazing. There was one more stop before we got to the actual site. It was a place called Lake Clearwater. The land is part of a conservation of some sort so no one owns the land but there are plenty of holiday homes that you can rent throughout the year. None of them have electricity, they run on solar power and you get your drinking water from the rain that falls off the roof. You have to bring everything in that you need. They call them "Bach's" which is short for "Bachelor Pad". Funny. We got out to take some photos by the lake:

IMG_4763.jpg

It was very pretty there. This area is about 20 minutes from the Edoras location. We hopped into the truck and continued on and after awhile we came around the corner and there it was. You'd think that since the set wasn't there anymore it wouldn't be a big deal. But the surrounding area was just so breathtaking that it wasn't hard to picture it still there. This was my first view of it:

IMG_4770.jpg

We were able to get a view of the whole valley before we actually went down into it. So we took advantage of the photo opportunity:

IMG_4773.jpg
IMG_4774.jpg
IMG_4775.jpg

We then started the journey down into the valley. I love that we went on the same road that the cast and crew used each day. It was so awesome. Here's a photo of it when we got into the valley:

IMG_4776.jpg

We took the jeep to the bottom of Mt. Sunday, driving through the river that Gandalf and Pippin ride through in Return of the King. So cool. We got out of the jeep and Hammond gave us all some walking sticks since it was a bit muddy from the winter season. We started our trek to the summit. It was an easier walk than I thought it would be. It seemed bigger from far away but when you get up to it it seems smaller. It's usually the opposite but whatever. So we made it to the top and from there Hammond was able to point out each particular spot that was of interest. For instance, the spot where Eowyn stood looking across the plains:

IMG_4787.jpg
IMG_4788.jpg
IMG_4793.jpg

I just love the one of me. I never thought I'd get to stand in the same spot!!!

Hammond brought up props for us to use for photos. That was good fun. As you can see:

IMG_4790.jpg
IMG_4795.jpg
IMG_4796.jpg
IMG_4797.jpg
IMG_4798.jpg
IMG_4801.jpg
IMG_4802.jpg
IMG_4800.jpg

That last one is the Irish couple who came with us. They were really cool. I didn't get their names, though.

After giving us the layout of the top of Mt. Sunday, Hammond told us about the surrounding scenery and which bits were also used for the films. First was the backdrop for Helm's Deep. Here's my photo:

IMG_4781.jpg

And a still from the film:

http://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/html/episodes/images/ttt/ttt1146.htm

You can see the trees in the bottom left corner of each photo. NEAT!!!

And the hill that Aragorn and Brego are on is this one here:

IMG_4782.jpg

In the 3rd film, Aragorn sees the lighted beacon from the top of this peak:

IMG_4784.jpg

And the still:

http://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/html/episodes/images/rotk/rotk0634.htm

I could be wrong on the location of that bit but I'm not too sure.

This is the bit of river that Gandalf, Pippin and Shadowfax run through on their way to Minis Tirith:

IMG_4785.jpg

And again a still from the film:

http://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/html/episodes/images/rotk/rotk0329.htm

It was really cool to physically see all of those locations. It's so true when they say the film doesn't do it justice. I just wanted to hang out on top of the mountain all day and enjoy the view. Before we left Hammond showed us one more thing. When the art department was getting ready to build the Edoras set, they made a deal with the conservation that they would leave everything the way they found it. That meant putting back any plants and rocks that had to be moved. It took them 8 months to build this set. During that time they had a gardner taking care of all the grass and plants that had to be removed from the site. They were all kept in a green house for that time and when they were finished they were planted back in. So it took them 8 months to build and they shot there for 11 separate days and then it was torn down. Once everything was put back the way it was supposed to be, the art department wanted to leave some kind of sign that they were there. So they took a nail and hammered it into one of the rocks on the summit of Mt. Sunday:

IMG_4803.jpg

I think that's pretty cool.

It was then time to leave and go have lunch. We got our walking sticks and started out descent. Francis slipped and fell:

IMG_4804.jpg

Twice.

IMG_4805.jpg

Geek. At least he could laugh at himself. We got back in the truck and headed to a shed that was just around one of the hills nearby. Inside they had various merchandise for sale. I got myself a shirt to commemorate my visit. We sat down and had lunch which consisted of ham sandwiches, chocolate cake and champagne. It was very good. Right when we finished lunch it started pouring down rain. We couldn't believe our lucky timing. Just 45 minutes earlier and we still would've been on the summit. Brilliant.

On the drive back, Hammond put in the special that they aired for The Two Towers right before the movie came out. That brought back tons of memories. (Remember that one Donna??? The one with the tape on Billy's chest and Dom ripped it off??? "He didn't ask me if he could stick it on. He just stuck it on!!!" Haha.) So that was really fun. And then on the rest of the ride back he told us about his experience with winning the Oscar for Return of the King. He said he felt like he was invincible. And at the end of the night they all had a party in Peter's room and they all lined up their Oscar's on the table. Twenty-two in total. And well deserved, if I do say so myself. Here's a picture I found of Hammond winning his Oscar:

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm244554496/nm0003827

He's the one on the right. Very neat guy. Now that I know what he looks like, I'm gonna make a note to look for him when I watch behind the scenes. He then started talking about what Peter's up to now. He's finishing work on The Lovely Bones which will be released sometime between May and September of next year. He's also getting things prepared for The Hobbit with Guillermo Del Toro who is directing. Then of course they're doing a second film which takes place between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Lord of the Rings which I am SO excited for. Hammond said that he always had a feeling that Peter wouldn't direct it if it ever got the green light. With his history with New Line and the fact that he has so much on his plate for the next few years it just didn't seem like he'd want to do it. But he did say that Peter still wants to be involved and thank God for that because I just couldn't imagine any Tolkien film done without Peter's involvement, no matter how small a role he plays. But he is producing and writing it so it's not so small of a role anyway. For those who care it's the same writers from the trilogy including Del Toro so at least we know it's in good hands. He also mentioned Peter working with Spielberg to do the Rin Tin Tin movies and mentioned how the Halo movie is still something he is interested in doing. So that would be quite neat. I know my brother would love to see that movie. =)

We finally arrived back in Christchurch and everyone was dropped off. We were the last to get back and I we thanked Hammond for such a great time and I told him how it meant a lot to me to be able to see that place as the movies were so life changing for me. He said it was just how it was in '77 when Star Wars came out. It set the bar for how movies were made after that and Lord of the Rings has set the bar higher now for what a fantasy film is all about. "A Beautiful Mind" won best picture the year that Fellowship was nominated. But who's gonna pull out "A Beautiful Mind" 25 years from now to watch??? Maybe some people but The Lord of the Rings will be watched for many years to come and will be considered a classic. Of course, I already think it is.

This trip as been the highlight of my stay here so far. I totally recommend it to anyone who is in Christchurch and even if you aren't a huge fan, it's great even just for the scenery 'cause it really is breathtaking. I am so happy that Hammond was our guide for the day. As I said before, I got really inspired and even more excited about film making. As my good friend Donna once said, "AAAHH!!! MOVIES!!!" And as Dawn from The Office said, "It's better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than half way up one you don't."

Posted by Squarabara 21:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Well........

overcast 54 °F

So today, I went in to get my tattoo done. The tattoo artist, Zane, had my design all drawn up and it looked really good. I changed one or two things that i wasn't crazy about but all in all it looks great. I had butterflies all day and I was scared out of my mind. Until I actually felt it, I wasn't going to be able to calm down. He got me all prepped and we positioned the design in the correct spot and then I lied down on the chair and prepared for the worst.

IMG_4736.jpg

It hurt so bad.

I honestly believed that I wouldn't cry. I really did. But I did. It was kind of a shock. I was a bit overwhelmed, to be honest. I had to stop after five minutes because I started crying and I wasn't able to hold still. I had to take a break for almost half an hour just after five minutes. The thing that hurts about tattoos is the outlining. It feels like they stick a knife just under the surface of your skin and then when it drags down, it feels like they're taking the skin off. It's awful. My friend Jess who I work with came with me and I could tell that she felt really bad for me. I told her to try and distract me by asking me questions and I actually wasn't able to answer her most of the time cuz I just couldn't talk while he was doing it. It sucked that bad. I had to take three breaks. Once the outlining was done he had to fill in the letters. That wasn't nearly as bad as the outlining. I was able to relax and just sit there. Sometimes I couldn't even feel it. It was great. Too bad the whole tattoo process doesn't feel like that. Anyway, here's a few pics of the tattoo place:

IMG_4744.jpg
IMG_4745.jpg
IMG_4742.jpg

It's a really nice shop. I like how he decorates the place with his art work as opposed to a bunch of tattoos that you can get. If you go to his website http://www.zealandtattoo.co.nz/ you can see some of the pieces that he's done. He did this one tattoo of the last supper which is really cool and then he did this back piece of a long hall way with these creepy looking people on either side. It's amazing work.

So anyway, since my tattoo hurt so bad I only got the script done and after that heals I'm gonna go back and get the rest done. Here's what it looks like:

IMG_4749.jpg

So, basically, anyone who says tattoos don't hurt they're big fat liars and are just trying to look tough. I have no problem telling everyone what a baby I was. But there was this guy who was in the shop and saw how much it hurt me and he told me about this numbing cream that I can get at any pharmacy here and he says it makes the pain go away about 50%. And he had a lot of tattoos. Needless to say, I'm getting me some of that.

In other news. Yesterday was the first day of spring in New Zealand and it was absolutely gorgeous out. I didn't even need to wear my jacket which was really nice. I am so ready for it to get warm. Here's a few pics that I took when I went out to the square today:

IMG_4731.jpg
IMG_4733.jpg

Those guys love their chess.

Well, everything else is the same. Working, hanging out in the office. So on and so forth. I've been applying to jobs in Wellington because I really wanna go there next. We'll see what happens.

Okay, talk to you all soon!!!

Posted by Squarabara 01:35 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 46) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 9 10 »