Thursday, November 8, 2012

Endings . . .

My last day with students at Columba was bittersweet, and the girls certainly did not make it easy.  I was sad to be leaving them, but very happy to be getting back to my family.  In my many years of teaching, I have never been shown such devotion and kindness.  I received so many generous and personal gifts, including a painting and framed and signed Columba basketball shirt (see photo below).  I will truly miss these students.  They have a very bright future ahead of them.

We must have taken a hundred photos but there were the only two that made it to this computer.  Hopefully I'll update this entry with more once I find them.

Mr. I, Jamie, Alice, Emma, and Cindy-Lou Who

 The Year 11 Physics class sends Mr. Inman off in style!

I will also miss seeing my colleagues at Columba.  Then again, they have moved up from Colleague status to Personal Friend status, so they are moving in the right direction.  They are the absolute best and I will be lucky to find a better group to work with.

Good-bye, Columba. As Clarence Oddbody wrote, "no man is a failure who has friends."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Near the End

As my time at Columba has comes to a close, I am very grateful for the friends that I have made and the places those friends have taken me.  Here is a few more pictures from my last days in Dunedin....

The Year 13 Physics/Calculus Bar-B-Q.....

 Serious discussion of grilling techniques with Holly Cadzow.


 Great friends....
Great Scott!  It's Kate Scott!  And Christina!

Alan and Kate are the bee's knees!

More geocaching with the Hairy Stones.....

 at Doctor's Point

A leopard seal basks in the sun.  Leopard seals are not very common.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


or Sandfly Bay Revisited

One of the things I have managed to accomplish at Columba is establishing a geocaching club.  Wikipedia defines geocaching:

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world.
A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, and waymarking.

Over the last two months, geocaching has taken me places I probably would not have seen otherwise. Here are some photos from our Columba trip to teh Otago Peninsula.

The Columba Geocaching Crew
Back: Me, Caitlin, Kita, Angela, Alan
Front: Christina, Ryely, Ailsa, Gaby, Emma, Aicha, Crystal

One of the geocaches in Broad Bay is called Yellowhead. The land bridge to get out to the island is not for the timid.

The New Zealand Sea Lions and Fur Seals were out in force on this sunny day.

Crystal finds a seal.

Going to a beach and seeing seals and sea lions in the wild is really a cool experience.  The sea lions are absolutely massive and move much quicker than one might expect.  People are warned not to get within 20 m or to get between a sea lion and the water.  This chap was just coming out of the water and did not mind posing for some photos.  S/he then went up to the sea lion and kindly asked it to move along, taking its spot on the beach.

A blond, a redhead and a brunette walk on to a beach... 

Nikita, Caitlin and Angela have been great physics students, great geocachers, and great friends to talk to during lunch. They will go far.

Angela finds the last cache of the day.

Things are winding down here.  Not many blogs left...

Thursday, October 18, 2012


View South from Nelson in a larger map

The drive south from Nelson just as stunning as the drive north.  I drove through the Nelson vineyard and hops country into the West Coast region.  It was my intent to see the Pancake Rocks, but I took a wrong turn and missed quite a bit of good sight seeing.  Another time...

Driving through Greymouth I turned east and headed toward Arthur's Pass along the Otira Gorge Road, also known as State Highway 73.  I stopped several times along the route, including a quick tramp along an abandoned railroad tunnel trail, several snowcapped mountain vistas, and the village of Arthur's Pass.

The Railroad Tunnel Track

Walking Bridge to the railroad tunnel

Magnificent scenery with power cables.

The two pictures above are taken in the Otira Gorge.  The tunnel-like structure protects the road from frequent rock slides in that area.  The chute-like structure diverts a waterfall over the highway.  The vehicle between the two structures in the picture directly above is a double-articulated tanker truck, so one can get a feel for the enormity of the structures.

The Wobbly Kea Cafe & Bar

The Wobbly Kea Cafe & Bar in Arthur's Pass is the former home of Oscar Coberger.  Coberger was a German ski and mountaineering instructor who built an alpine tourist business in Arthur's Pass to lure holiday makers from Christchurch.  He was also a pioneer in marketing mountaineering and ski gear, creating an early form of REI (US) or Kathmandu (NZ).  According to the brochure, he sold Sir Edmund Hilary his first ice-axe.

This leads me to the Kea.  

What is a Kea?  A kea is an alpine parrot (!) that is referred to as "mischievous and inquisitive." The Kea has an extremely sharp beak and talons. This means that Keas will rip into anything searching for food, including convertible roofs.  

I did not know about the kea when I booked a room in Arthur's Pass.  Fortunately, the attendant at the hotel was kind enough to let me know and brought me a load of towels to cover the roadster top.  I also added a few rocks on top, so Rosie became camouflaged as a mound of snow. 

Yummy treat or snow covered tussock?

Kea terror aside, I really enjoyed Arthur's Pass and would go back there again.  The next day I ticked on gently back to Dunedin taking in the scenery....

... and the occasional unscheduled road hazard. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


View Larger Map
Nelson is located at the top of the South Island.  The city of Nelson is the cultural centre of the Nelson Tasman region and sits on Tasman Bay.  Its surrounded on the other three sides by the mountains and National Parks including Able Tasman, Kahurangi, and Nelson Lakes.  The leading economic drivers of Nelson are fishing/seafood (yum!), horticulture, forestry, and tourism.  Nelson arguably has the best climate in New Zealand.  It is the Rivera of New Zealand!

The Nelson Clock Tower stands out.

The Maitai River runs through the heart of Nelson.

There is a slight insect problem.

Christ Church Cathedral is another prominent landmark

Tasman Bay

The Boat Shed Cafe

The Nelson region has a lot of things going for it. The area is famous for its wineries, breweries, mountain biking, tramping, beaches, art festivals, music festivals, . . . the list goes on.  It is a very nice place.  I expect you'll be hearing more about Nelson in upcoming blogs.

Monday, October 15, 2012


I took advantage of the break between Term 3 & 4 to drive from Dunedin to the town of Nelson. Nelson is located at the top of the South Island and the home of the db's who featured on this blog in April ( My travel goal was a trip that would get me a good taste of the South Island that I had not seen.

View North to Nelson in a larger map

This is the Rakaia River as seen from Barrhill.

One of the off-the-beaten-track places I stopped was Barrhill.  Barrhill is, or was, a village created by Cathcart Wason.  According to Wikipedia, Wason "was a Scottish farmer and politician who served as a Member of Parliament in two countries: first in New Zealand and then in Scotland, after the the failure of his colonial ventures. An unusually large man (he was over 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall), he is noted both as an innovative farmer and for having passes his time in the British House of Commons by knitting."
Sometime around 1869, "Wason built a model village [on his estate] called Barrhill, approached from the north, east, south and west by avenues lined respectively with sycamores, birches, poplars and oaks.[7] At the centre was a market square, with post office, bakery and other facilities and fifteen cottages were built.
However, Wason had expected a railway to be built near Barrhill, but when it was built on a more southerly route, the village began to decline. Dwindling population forced the closure of the school in 1938, although the Church of St John the Evangelist is still in use. Most of the buildings were constructed from pine wood grown on the estate, and all that remains now are the three concrete buildings: church, school and schoolhouse, each surrounded by a circle of oak trees."
This may seem trivial to some, but some people out there may find this information quite useful.

Another place I stopped was Hanmer Springs.  Hanmer Springs is a tourist hot spot in New Zealand.  It is built around hot springs and is a center for outdoor activities.  To get to Hanmer from the main road, you have to drive across the Waiau Ferry Bridge.  This is a one-lane, narrow bridge that might give one second thoughts before driving across.

The Waiau Ferry Bridge

Be Warned!

The bridge has other purposes besides crossing the river.

The main road through Hanmer Springs.  Its a bit like Nashville, IN but in the Smokey Mountains.

Driving through Victoria Forest Park was amazing.  The clear rivers, mountain ranges, and deep forests were amazing.  It rained from much of the drive, but that did not diminish the spectacular scenery.

This is the geodetic marker at Hope Saddle.

I took two days on my trip north to Nelson.  I stayed overnight with Lance and Anne, who are good friends with Lori M. back in Bloomington (its a small world, after all).  I certainly appreciate their hospitality and kindness!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Early in October I had the opportunity to take a trip up to Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand and home to 34% of the nation's population at approximately 1.5M people

My previous trips have been through rather than to Auckland, so I had a chance to take in some of the sights.  Based on previous experience I did not think I would like it, but I did.  There was plenty to do and see and I enjoyed it.

Auckland--primarily built on volcanic remains

Auckland's most famous building: the Sky Tower.  It is that tallest building in the southern hemisphere. Most of the photos I took were from the top.  Some of the floor is made of glass.  It was a bit unnerving, but I was comforted.

If so inclined, you can bungy/repel from the top of the Sky Tower.  I was not so inclined.

Kiwi's take their bungy jumping quite seriously and Auckland is no exception.  This bungy took two people up (and down and up and ...) in a circular cage.  

Many residents live on the "North Shore" and take the ferry to the Britomart, which is the hub for public transportation (port, train station and bus depot).

Auckland's well deserved nickname is "The City of Sails"

Auckland crosswalks are quite interesting.  At major intersections, all vehicular traffic must stop when the pedestrian light goes green.  Not only can you cross horizontally and vertically, you can also cross diagonally (see arrows below)!

However, I don't think I would want to live in Auckland. The cost of living in Auckland is ridiculous. Older, small houses go for NZ$750k, the traffic infrastructure is poor and public transport is limited for such a large city.  So visit, but don't stay.