Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wet Tramp: Bethunes Gulley

On Saturday, the Columba College Tramping Club went for a tramp at Bethunes Gully.  A "Southerly" was forecast, which meant it would be wet, cold, and windy.  They got that forecast right.

Bethunes Gully winds around on the slopes of Mt. Cargill just north of Dunedin.  The track is well protected by trees and bush until you reach the peak of Mt. Cargill which, on this day, was thick in cloud, wind, rain and general unpleasantness.

In true Kiwi spirit, all the club members showed up, which included about 20 girls Years 8-13 (grade, not age), three teachers, a few partners, a dog, and one parent of note.  The parent was Antony Hamil.  Antony is the author of Dunedin Tracks and Trails which is the bible for local trampers. I have a borrowed copy and it is really very good.  If you find yourself tramping in Dunedin, don't go without it!

I snapped a picture at the beginning as we went over a bridge and it was at that point that the camera battery died.  This is a direct result of not flipping the "mains switch" when I plugged in the camera battery to charge (but that's another story).  Here is the one picture I took:

The Columba College Tramping Club

Emily (white) is in my Year 13 class. Her dog is named "Honey."

Climbing up to the radio tower on top of Mt. Cargill.

Stoping for lunch.

The tramp took about 3.5 hours.  I would classify it as moderate with some rugged bits.  It is an unending source of wonderment how everything here is uphill.  We tramped to the top of Mount Cargill and then tramped up to leave.  Of course, this is not true, but I'm sure we did more uphill than downhill.  

The Latin meaning of "Dunedin" is "Calves of Steel." 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

O my Luve's like a red, red rose

I don't know about the rest of New Zealand, but in Dunedin roses grow like weeds.  Valentine's Day is not a big holiday in NZ, but they know about it.  In honour of Valentine's Day, here are some of the flowers of Dunedin...

And the photographer . . . 

Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Girls at Columba

Two weeks in and I am really enjoying the students at Columba.

At the end of every class, as they file out of the classroom, they say "thank you" .  They say it like they mean it.  I am supposed to keep them off balance, not the other way around.  Delightfully disconcerting! Of course there are some girls who are loud, some who are "schedule challenged (read: late)," and some who require a bit more effort, but the level of politeness and intelligence is astounding.

I teach Physics Level 1, 2 and 3 to Years 11, 12, and 13.  In general, the levels and years align, but there are some Year 13s in Level 2, etc.  Amazingly, as you shall see, one of my classes is very small--four girls.  It is amazing what we accomplish and how much they teach me about New Zealand and about NZ education.

Year 11
Year 11 D

Year 11 E
(On a 4-Square box in case you lose count)

Year 12

Year 12 A
Playground Physics!

Year 12 B
See! They stand!

Year 13

Year 13

The Year 13s have also been very helpful to me (and Molly) in teaching me not only about New Zealand and the education system but about Columba as well.  The two girls in front are holding the Columba Crest (which we nicked off the wall but put back before anyone noticed).  

The girl on the right holding the crest is Holly.  She is the 2012 Head Prefect which is the highest honor bestowed on a girl at Columba.  So in Harry Potter terms, she is Percy Weasley, except she is a girl and is very kind and helpful. In the back row all the way to the left is Sam. Sam is on the New Zealand Junior Olympic Field Hockey Team.  Should I ever get in a fight, I hope Sam is with me and has her hockey stick.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Being a coastal town, Dunedin has several different beaches.  Another colleague, Christine, and her family, took us to Tomahawk Beach in the area of Dunedin known as Ocean Grove. Each beach has different things to offer.  Tomahawk has great sand dunes, rock cliffs and caves, and is a popular dog walking beach.  Here are the pictures:

This is on a Sunday.  The overpopulation, urban sprawl, and overcrowding is almost unbearable.

Molly's first encounter with kelp.

Sea Cave

Jacob's Ladder has nothing on this.

The path to and from Tomahawk Beach

The sea breeze from the ocean does amazing things to the trees at the top of hills, home to some of the indigenous population.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Long Blacks, Flat Whites, and Fluffies

Coffee in New Zealand is a wonderous thing.  Coffee has become a integral part of the culture, as it should, because it is absolutely delicious.  Even the coffee stand at the Auckland airport had fantastic coffee.  The Kiwis are very serious about it, and many are coffee snobs (and that, too, is a good thing).

The coffee here has a real taste to it that makes it more substantial that the coffee I have been use to.  Its not more bitter, or stronger, its just different.  You have to try it!

Here are the types of coffee you would get in a cafe:

Short Black--this is like an espresso and is the baseline for all coffees.
Tall Black--equal parts espresso and hot water.
Flat White--similar to a latte but stronger coffee as there is not as much milk.  The milk is also textured on the top layer, which gives it a different taste than a latte.  This is my favorite.
Fluffy--this is a coffee for the kids.  Not really coffee but foamed milk flavored with chocolate sprinkles and served with a marshmallow.

There are also lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and others. Coffee in New Zealand is a joy!  Come down and have some!
My 14th Flat White from Rhubarb, a cafe in Roslyn Village, Dunedin

Little Tramp

Hiking is called tramping in New Zealand, and Rachel Mortimer and her children took Molly and I on a little tramp to the Flagstaff Scenic Reserve.  It was a grey day with "coastal cloud" coverage, so the vistas were not spectacular, but here are some photos . . .

The Pacific Ocean from the top of the marker hill.

Kiwi and offspring.  This is Rachel, who I teach with and leader of this expedition, and her son Riley.

This is a large basalt (oceanic volcanic rock) formation.  If you look at the apex of the "W" in the distance, you will see a long dormant volcanic cone.

 We then traveled to the Esplanade.  The Esplanade is a district of cafes along the oceanfront that is also a hang out for surfers.  Dunedin is, apparently, One of New Zealand's major surfing hot spots and home to a world surfing competition.  To surf here, one wears a wetsuit as it is very cold.

The black dots in the surf behind Molly are surfers.

The surf breaking against the Esplanade wall

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

To Market, To Market . . .

Last Saturday Will took me to the Otago Farmer's Market, held at the Dunedin Train Station. Here are some pictures from our trip . . .

The Dunedin Train Station

The Cadbury's Chocolate Factory is right across the street.  Yum!

The Otago Farmer's Market: Fresh Veg, Fruit, Cheese, & Fish

Tile work inside the train station

More tile, and a place to buy tickets for the Taieri Gorge Railway.

Finally, the view down Pacific Street from Columba to Otago Harbor.  Its very steep.