FiNZ 43 – The Wild West

How’s everyone doing back in New England and along the east coast? My parents sent me a photo of what life is currently like in Massachusetts–

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Definitely makes me appreciate enjoying the warmer climate after a year of winter!

As for our past weekend (that did NOT involve shoveling snow), we finally got out to the west coast. We’ve been saving a trip to the west coast for some time (more like 9 months!), mainly because it tends to always be rainy over there. But otherwise its a fairly easy 3 hour scenic drive over to the other side of the country.

Lucky? for us Keith volunteered me for his coworker’s marathon relay team when their female team member wasn’t able to participate. Keith and I drove to the tiny town of Reefton Friday night, picked up another hitchhiker from Germany along the way, and stayed at a lovely little hostel that used to be an old bakery…pretty much a typical start to journey in New Zealand. The Buller Gorge Marathon was the next morning, each of the 4 of us had a 10.66km leg and the other team members drove the course in a van to cheer the runner on. It was a lot of fun and our team placed 7th out of 36 mixed relay teams!

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Since the day was still young, Keith and I hoped in the car and “did” the west coast for the rest of the day before meeting back with my teammates for dinner. Our first stop was Charming Creek Walkway. We were told this walk was quite “charming,” and it definitely was! The west coast has their population mainly thanks to the mining industry. This walk took us along an old mining track–through tunnels, along a river, and along some old fun relics.

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Railway tunnels and Waterfalls!

At points it was a bit of a wanna-be horror movie setting, but quite cute in the daylight!

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Watsons Mill Abandoned Camp

Then we drove south along the coastal scenic route. It was GORGEOUS. I can’t believe I never made it out here my first trip to New Zealand. SO BEAUTIFUL! It reminded me a lot of Great Ocean Road in Australia, with less people. We stopped at the ever-popular Pancake Rocks to grab some obligatory photos. You’ll see the rocks are formed into tall stacks that sort of look like pancakes. No one really knows why…

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Then it was off to a typical Kiwi bach for the weekend! A bach is the kiwi’s word for a holiday home or vacation house. They could be cabins in the woods or extravagant houses. Keith’s coworker’s family had one on a beautiful lake with the southern alps beyond. That night we thoroughly enjoyed fresh pork, sausage, and lamb, that were all literally from one of my relay-mates farms (another “only in New Zealand” moment).

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Lake Brunner

The next morning it was time for some boating and waterskiing. Keith couldn’t pass up waterskiing at this beautiful spot, and in February nonetheless–

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While we waited on shore a weka came to visit. Weka are a threatened species of flightless bird in New Zealand, yet still more prevalent than kiwi birds. This is probably the closest we’ll ever come to a “sort-of kiwi” bird. So obviously Keith had to chase it down…

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You can’t catch me!

To make this post even more random, I’ll conclude with Christchurch’s celebratory Cricket World Cup fireworks! We kicked off the competition last week with a very large opening ceremony right in the nearby park. It was definitely a fun experience and likely a “once-in-a-lifetime” type event! When will I ever have a world cup opening ceremony in my backyard again?! I know most of my friends & family have no idea what cricket is or how it’s played, but to give you some perspective, the opening ceremonies were predicted to have over 1 BILLION viewers.

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Fireworks over Hagley

This weekend is going to be a little more relaxed than normal. A few of our friends are flying in next week and we’ll have hectic plans for those next three weekends so I think it may be time for a break…maybe…

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FiNZ 38 – Bowls, Bats & Bails

Well, I’m certainly back into work mode. Its been a busy week of work on a deconstruction project, I guess most of Christchurch (unfortunately) is involved in a deconstruction project nowadays. Therefore, this post will be far less full than the past three weeks. Lucky for this blog, we try to make an effort to do something notable each free day we have.

So this weekend, besides finally potting some garden plants, it was off to our first cricket match!

This year is huge in the world of Cricket + New Zealand. The Cricket World Cup is coming … and to Christchurch! Well, Christchurch…and the rest of New Zealand…and Australia. It’s really the Cricket World Cup in Australasia. Lucky for Christchurch we host a few of the games and the newly constructed — Hagley Oval. Like most buildings in Christchurch, the previous stadium shut down after the earthquakes, so for the World Cup they spruced up the oval in the park. This is much preferable to a “concrete jungle” stadium. Because cricket matches last DAYS and every day lasts HOURS, having the opportunity to picnic on a vast long is much preferable to a big stadium.

The Black Caps (New Zealand’s national cricket team) were playing a test match game against Sri Lanka at the Oval this past Saturday. The tickets for the Black Caps game during the upcoming World Cup are sold out, so we figured a day-long test match would be the easiest opportunity to check them out. We grabbed a pair of $40 tickets on Friday and found the game to be sold out the next morning. I would assume its a common occurrence at cricket stadiums since the games are so long, but at least at this game we were able to pack a cooler full of food, blankets, and even chairs if we wanted (general admission meant you were able to claim a spot on the grass anywhere).

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Hagley Oval

We knew we couldn’t sit on a lawn for 8 hours without knowing the rules, so after asking around and watching THIS YouTube tube video we felt knowledgeable enough. Basically, while throwing in some more familiar Stateside baseball terms, this is what goes down (still not an expert whatsoever…):

  • There is only one inning, one team goes, for several hours until they either bowl (“pitch”) enough balls or get 10 members of the 11 person opposite team out. It takes a lot longer to get someone out than in baseball and the batter keeps hitting balls until he gets out.
  • Two batters stand in the middle strip (called a wicket…although lots of things are called wicket, it gets confusing). There is also something called a wicket behind each of them – aka 3 sticks standing up on the ground. One will bat depending on what side the balls are bowled (“pitched”). Runs are scored by each batter running to the opposite side where the other batter was standing while the fielding team tries to go catch the hit ball and bring it back (1 run), the batter hitting the ball outside of the boundary (4 runs), or over the boundary without hitting the ground (6 runs!).
  • An out involves someone catching a ball before it hits the ground (so batters tend to avoid popping the ball up), hitting the wicket while the batters are running to the opposite end, or hitting a wicket during the bowl (“pitch”), there’s some other ways to get out but those are the main ones (I think…).
  • So runs continue to get scored and eventually the fielding team bowls their allotted balls or gets 10 of the batting team out.
  • Then the fielding team becomes the batting team and their entire goal is to score more runs than the first team that was up.

Simple…right?

How’d I do cricket experts? OK overview?

Anyways this all leads to a pretty nice relaxing day of sitting on the grass, eating, and watching the game. When someone hits a 4 or a 6 or gets an out it’s always a nice applause and a break of just sitting and eating and chatting 🙂 Another big deal, rephrase – HUGE deal, is a century. A century is when a batter hits 100 runs in a row (so no one gets him out for a pretty long time). During this game one of the Sri Lankan batters got a century, despite being on the opposing team, everyone stood up and was clapping and cheering for him. Cricket…the civilized, nice people sport.

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Sold Out Crowds

This month Christchurch has had these giraffe statues hidden all over town (well, you can’t really HIDE them). It’s an art installation called “Christchurch Stands Tall”. All the giraffes are themed depending on their location. Therefore, I had to take a photo with the cricket giraffe I found at the Oval.

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Posing with the Cricket-themed “Christchurch stands tall” giraffe

That’s all for now. Back to work, and back to scheming up what we’ll be doing this weekend!