Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spring Break Cometh

Ok it's really not Spring Break, it's actually "Easter Break" or "Fall Break" if you're feeling politically correct, but I always call it Spring Break because old habits die hard. Regardless of what you call it though I have two weeks of freedom starting a week from tomorrow, so here are the travel plans-

First week-South Island

This week, I am going to the South Island of New Zealand with a few American friends, and we are basically bussing around primarily the West Coast. I suspect the map may be helpful...
April 6- night bus to Wellington
April 7- ferry accross the Cook Straight to Picton (this takes about three hours), then bus to Nelson
April 8- Nelson- Greymouth
April 9- Greymouth- Franz Joseph Glacier
April 10- Franz Joseph Glacier- Queenstown
April 11- Queenstown
April 12- Queenstown (we're going to Milford Sound on this day)
April 13- Queenstown- Christchurch
April 14- Christchurch
April 15- fly from Christchurch to Auckland

Second week- Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are a group of islands between French Polynesia and Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. They are a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with the government of New Zealand, which as far as I can tell means independent enough for me to add it to the "countries I've been to" list but not independent enough to, say, defend themselves if Tahiti decided to invade. It's about a 4 hour plane ride from New Zealand and right over the date line, meaning I will arrive there well before I've left. I always thought that was a pretty cool trick myself...

Anyway, I'm going there with my American study abroad program, and we will be staying on the main island of Rarotonga. Yay! Here are the more interesting points on the itinerary; as this is technically an education thing we have to listen to a few lectures at the University of the South Pacific but I'm omitting those here (and I am skipping the swimming time because that's self-evident).

April 16/15- fly from Auckland to Rarotonga
April 16 take two- Cook Islands museum, conservation walk through Rarotonga forest
April 17- visit Parliament, a local school, free afternoon
April 18- visit the market, learn to climb a coconut tree, traditional Umu dinner (they heat up rocks and bury food on the beach- no this is not a veggie-friendly place)
April 19- world-famous Muri beach, culture night dinner
April 20/21- fly back to Auckland (arriving at 9:40am)

April 22 will be, of course, the day where I stare bleary-eyed at the calendar noticing that lectures start the next day and thinking I need a break after this break! Luckily ANZAC Day is on Tuesday meaning classes will be cancelled, so that'll be nice.

As a final note, as I'm sure you can tell this itinerary is very full and I don't have plans on posting a lot here during break, so please don't get all huffy about it! You probably don't want to hear anything more than one or two "things are going great" because it will consist of "Yvette is rained in/ broke/ suffered a mishap/ broke the space-time continuum while crossing over the date line." Don't worry though everyone, there will be a lot of very pretty pictures of Lord of the Rings scenery and tropical climates when I return!