VNTRbirds have finally gotten over their Southern Fever and have returned North for good. (Well, we’ll see if it’s for good, there’s still a month left of New Zealand adventures). Coming back to Wellington meant that the birds had to get back to school and finish up any assignments that were set aside for their spring break. Monday there were tutorials for Jaime (Kelley has Mondays off), Tuesday it was back to Maori class at 9am chatting about politics. Then more tutorials and film for Jay and literature for Kel. Wednesday kept Kelley from 9-5 on campus and Jaime with Maori in the morning and sometimes the afternoons off when there isn’t a tutorial for Environmental. Boy, school is time consuming. Though, the routine isn’t bad because both of the birds have time in between classes to soak up some sunshine and re-energize before more lectures or library sessions.

The weekend couldn’t come soon enough! Free birds once again! That weekend meant is was SAGER DAY! (TUB’s friend Sager’s birthday). Enjoying the night over on Salemanca Road it was a packed and enjoyable party filled with red, white and blue ribbons and streamers to show support for the USA rugby team. They have the biggest fans. During the night Jaime was capturing the moments on her Canon while Kelley was challenging many to a bottle cap flicking contest.



After about 20 ‘Happy Birthday’ songs were sang, one including lifting Sager on a chair and tossing him like it was a Jewish wedding everyone escaped to their own corners. Naturally, the TEAN boys from Auckland and the girls from Dunedin came to Wellington to join in on the celebrations. Tt was a great birthday Sager and VNTRbirds thank you for your hospitality!

The next day, to cure everyone’s rough nights, a crew of 11 all set out to the freshly opened Denny’s on Willis Street. What TUB &co. didn’t know was that they were really stepping into the twilight zone. With dropped smoothies, toast and many plates the confusion was everywhere. Food wasn’t brought out until the waiting time was at about two hours. All they wanted was the free birthday cake at the end! (Which was actually frozen cake, microwaved then served). AWESOME! They all got out of there as soon as the cake was downed and bills were paid – back to bed.

Through out the weekend VNTRbirds were doing small activities to keep their guests occupied and stoked on Wellington. The birds love flying around their home and showing off its best features. With a successful afternoon of selling headbands and TUB t-shirts on Cuba Street, running around the fan zone by the waterfront and watching a few rugby games on the big screen, sharing milkshakes and climbing up and around the trippy tree, TUB stayed busy.

During the night TUB went out with a few friends and their flat mate Ying Ying to help her with her photography ‘light’ project. Out in the middle of a field TUB &co. ran around with flash lights and enjoyed their time. VNTRbirds hopes you get a good grade on your project Ying Ying!




Soon the weekend was over, visitors were gone and it was once again back to school. Back to readings, lectures and papers. TUB has started to buckle down on some of their subjects since finals are coming up so soon. Most of the finals that will be taken count for 60% of their grades. There is a lot riding on these stress-inducing tests. Though, VNTRbirds always have one true escape. Mt. Ruapehu!

The girls decided that they were going to take a long break and ride from Friday until Monday and then return on Tuesday afternoon. Being approved to transfer a car up to Auckland, the birdies planned on driving it to Ohakune, meeting the Auckland boys for the day and then have them drive it the rest of the way since it’s free! With the bus ticket home already purchased TUB was stoked on their plans and packed up.

Once Friday morning came around, Jaime and Kelley dressed for shred and hopped on a bus and then in a taxi to get down to the car rental place. But once inside, tragedy struck. The man in charge slammed the book closed on Jaime’s approval once he realized that she isn’t 21 (still has three weeks of being 20). The girls were stuck. No way to the mountain, stranded in Thorndon, Wellington, and a lot of friends that were depending on them to be there. Calling up everyone that this would be affecting TUB started devising a plan. They had to get up to the Kune, it was a must.

Unfortunately, Ian, Quentin, Max &friends now had to cancel their plans altogether. TUB thoroughly apologizes to you all for the crappy planning!  But TUB themselves were in luck. Taking a bus back up to their flat, Forty called and told them to get a bus ticket to Taupo where they would be to pick them up  the girls and go to Ohakune! In luck! The birdies fixed up their packing to condense it a bit, called another Taxi and headed to the bus station.

After a brief chat with the bus driver to make sure he could fit all of the girls’ gear (and $10 later) they had their tickets and loaded onto the bus. At first it wasn’t too full and the driver was giving little bits of information on the areas they were driving through, but then stop after stop the bus was at maximum capacity, stuffy and boring. A normal three hour trip in a car was six and a half by bus. Kelley was very bummed that this was going to be doubled when they had to bus it back to Wellington after their trip was over.

The girls were unloaded in Taupo by 5:30pm, but Forty, Andy and (newly) Kieran didn’t make it until 7. What did the birdies do? Well, they set all their luggage down and got a pint from the closest pub. Cheers. Moving down to check out the Great Lake Taupo and then a little grocery shopping, the boys finally made it to collect TUB.



Hugs were exchanged and then it was off to Ohakune! The car was a bit squished, but nothing that TUB wasn’t used to.  The Ruapehu Cabins were in sight a few hours later and everyone unpacked then hit the beds.
The early morning came in and VNTRbirds were quite refreshed even though they had to yet again share a bed. They were dressed and had breakfast then had to wait around for the lazy bones of the boys to hurry up. Needing to beat the traffic for Andy’s transmission’s sake, TUB &co. made it to the top by 8AM.

The day was spent mostly cruising around with the boys and going fast when it wasn’t too white out. With the jumps in the park closed off, TUB didn’t mind the free feeling of speeding down the slopes. By the afternoon Jaime and Kelley lost the boys and tried to run through the park anyway. Jaime cruised into a knuckle of a jump for just a straight air, but it ended with the landing way behind her and she was still in the air. After her face met the snow with hard contact it was time for lunch.
The girls found their friends in the lodge already and the break and meal rejuvenated the two. It was back out until the white out took over. The weather permitted the crew to leave the mountain a few hours early.

After showers, naps and a change of clothes, the group broke into a few brews and started with the international drinking games. Fingers to Landmines, everyone was having fun. Then it was time to walk into town. The walk wasn’t a close one, but everybody made it in time to watch the All Blacks game, in which they destroyed the other team! Yeah, All Blacks!
After a never ending and embarrassing game of pool, the DJ came on and everyone in the place was dancing. After realizing the time in the morning the crew started the march back to their cabin. On their way, Kelley started getting everyone into some shenanigans. Jumping fences, stealing logs and climbing through windows is all that will be revealed. Sorry TUBscribers, some things are just too awesome to write about.


The next morning everyone slept in. Thinking it was 9AM, the boys soon remembered about daylight savings and became bummed that it was really 10AM and time to check out. The mountain was closed due to snow and no visibility so the crew took their time packing up. Once the place was paid for, and the girls chatted with the owner about split boarding, heliboarding and all the cool stuff he does on the daily, they left to go scope out a camp site.
Traveling up the mountain road they came upon the Mangawhero Campsite. Turning in, they had the place to themselves. The boys helped set up their tent (which was a series of comical errors) and then hugged it out before they left the girls stranded for the next few days.



When the boys were gone, Jaime and Kelley again made their tent a home and then decided to explore. They moseyed up the old route to Ruapehu that is now closed. A few kilometers later it started drizzling and the two were starving. Hitching into town, the girls walked the shops and got kebabs for dinner.
Then it really started raining. Being soaked to the bone, the girls had a little trouble hitching a ride back up to their camp site. Finally, a woman stopped to help the now desperate looking birds. No one likes wet feathers.
She complimented TUB for their bravery of camping in the winter and drove them right to their tent. This is when TUB noticed they were now not alone at the site, but they were still the only tent.



With brief hellos to the fellow campers the girls tucked into the tent and tried to stay warm. They would be getting up early the next day for some fresh powder and they couldn’t have been anymore antsy!
Up, ready, tent locked and boards in hand, the girls walked over to the mountain road and stuck out their thumbs. Passed, passed, passed, the drivers all mouthed apologies, but never stopped. After about 10 minutes a car already full stopped and tossed the girls in the boot (trunk for non-NZ). With urgency, the girls just wanted to get to the mountains so they accepted the tight space. But once inside with their knees tucked to their chins and heads having to be tilted sideways to not hit the ceiling they regretted it instantly.

The mountain couldn’t have came soon enough, being on the lift by 8:45AM the girls just sat open mouthed and gaped at all the fresh pow they were about to devour. The boys would be kicking themselves by now for not staying one extra day. This made the entire trip worth it. Going straight to the top the girls snagged their first tracks in the fresh powder. Looking up periodically to see where they’ve been, TUB could see just the two lines. Jaime and Kelley were owning the mountain and couldn’t have felt any happier.


The two had countless laps of wonderful bliss. Cutting through the buttery, new snow, jumping cornices into gullies, VNTRbirds finally earned their first real pow day in New Zealand.
The blue bird day tired out the girls. It was everything they hoped for even though they ended with some bruises. The birds left the tracked out slopes and headed towards the road preparing to flag down another car to get back to the camp site. TUB barely lifted their thumbs before a car was slowing down to help them out. Jaime crashed in the backseat and had to squeeze into a baby seat, but other than that it was the most comfortable ride of the trip. The man was very friendly and chatted about his son who usually occupied the seat and dropped the two girls at the entrance to the site.

Winding down, VNTRbirds didn’t want to waste the extra daylight, so once back in the tent, Jaime and Kelley changed and headed down towards the forest walkway to kill an hour. The beautiful green scenery of New Zealand once again engulfed TUB and lead them through some amazing bush. The trees of NZ are unreal and have been growing tall long before TUB even existed in the world.



After the walk, the girls were close to town, but that was the opposite of what they wanted. Trekking up the mountain road back to camp they settled in and started to relax. Kelley was stretching and reading, but was asleep by about 9PM. Jaime who was restless went out and took some pictures of the starry night.

The girls didn’t get much sleep, but were up at 9AM to break down camp and get into town. Getting picked up by a charter bus from the mountain road, the driver and his Maori assistant joked about TUB being Americans, hitch hiking and all of their crazy travels. The two men dropped the girls off right at their bus stop, but they were two hours early. Going to get some breakfast and reading a bit, the hours slowly fell away and a van pulled up. Taxiing the girls to another town and then to another bus, they loaded up and grudgingly got on.

The bus made 10 times more stops than the last one, but the girls did get to pet and play with some lambs. There was also another girl on the bus that goes to Keene State College where Jaime goes to school. Small World.
Finally getting to Wellington and having a friend bring them home, the girls showered and then hit their beds like rocks. Class at 9AM the next morning, bummer.