After the weekend at Ruapehu, it is now offically Thumbs Up Bird’s break from schooling. Luckily, TUB made it through the first half of the semester unscathed and without midterms. As many of you TUBscribers know, tomorrow, Kelley and Jaime will be extending their wings and going south for a week. Though, what were the birds up to this first week off? Well, plenty! Coming home late on Sunday from the mountain, the birds unpacked the Mazda, waved Ben off and scavenged for food.

Soon afterwards, Oliver, who missed the birdies dearly, stopped by for a movie then they were all off to bed!

The next day brought in some oversleeping that was very welcomed. Though, the day was a pristine and the sun was begging TUB to go out on a stroll. Inviting along Oliver and the girls’ flat mate, Ying Ying, everyone went off to the Botanic Gardens to get lost for a couple of hours. The weather was warm, so only light sweatshirts were needed. Starting at the beginning, TUB and Oliver were excited to show Ying Ying the ‘trippy tree’ and climb all around it. Ying Ying being a little hesitant at first finally made it up the tree after a little coaxing. Kelley and Oliver were at the top in a flash, lounging on the outstretched branches while Jaime swung around like a monkey from branch to branch. The view from the top is of the ocean, harbor and city. Anyone could get lost in that tree for days just exploring.


Finally it was time to move on. TUB &co. just kept moving deeper and deeper into the forested parts of the trails. Finally, they all popped out to an area to climb some more trees and view Wellington. Traveling down some steps around the side lead the three girls and Oliver to an open field. Jaime was gone instantly, just running around with her arms spread wide, showing off her free spirit.
Jaime soon was distracted finding a tennis ball and a game of catch broke out. Though, the appetites of all won over the day. Unfortunately, while Ying Ying and Oliver got to go home and munch, Jaime and Kelley had to hop on the bus and go to the Pak N Save for some grocery shopping. The trip was quick, but ended up being a drag because they girls missed the last bus to the campus by 10 minutes and had to take one into town. A million hills later, Rene (another flat mate) offered to make dinner – SCORE!


After heaps of spicy noodles, sausage, veggies and rice cake the birds had to roll out of the living room. Oliver joined up again for a nightly movie, The Fellowship of the Ring. (Yes, extended edition).

Tuesday it was a little hard for TUB to wake up again. But once they stretched out their wings, and had breakfast the next stop was Te Papa Museum. Kelley and Jaime have now lived in Wellington for two whole months and they had yet to be inside the free museum, walking distance away at the waterfront. TUB felt a little guilty walking down, because it was another sunny warm day and they would be inside for a good portion of it, but the girls’ opened the large museum doors and were too astounded to look back.
The first stop for the girls was the colossal squid! Te Papa is the only museum in the world with a colossal squid on display and boy are they proud of it! The birds soaked in all the information coming at them from the signs, televisions, random voiceovers and their favorite, interactive games. Jaime and Kelley killed about 45 minutes just making their own squids on a touch screen and swimming them around the ocean. Nely and Nelson are now exploring the seas together.


 VNTRbirds moved from the squids and onto the other animals of New Zealand. Passing by stuffed Tui birds and Keas with their calls and noises on repeat over the speakers, TUB read up on the wildlife of this country. The displays of the Rata trees and how large they can grow to be puts the Redwood Forest to shame.

The Next floor up was about the land of New Zealand. With games on how to have a ‘quake safe’ house and what to do when a volcano erupts, TUB got a lot of safety knowledge. There was even a section on Mt. Ruapehu, TUB’s home mountain away from home. Mt. Ruapehu is still an active volcano; Te Papa offers large screen footage of some of the eruptions that happen, even while people were skiing! Right next to the projection of the mountain was a little shack that resembled a living room inside. Jaime and Kelley wandered in a realized it was a reenactment of an earthquake that happened in New Zealand. The house started to shake at first then tilted around like a rollercoaster. Kelley found herself grabbing onto the railing until it was over.
Another floor up was Maori history. This has been seen by TUB before in Auckland. The tools and weapons were on display, along with the cloaks of kiwi feathers or dog hair, and jewelry of greenstone. Different structures of Maori tribes or iwi can also be seen at Te Papa, such as the houses lived in and a marae (sacred house).
Fifth floor restricted taking pictures because it was New Zealand’s modern art. VNTRbirds strolled through the rooms taking in all the colors and designs of the painting and other artwork. As the pictures started to blend, TUB made it to the last floor and checked out some pottery before they decided they were tuckered out and it was time for dinner. Hitting up the gift shop quickly, the birds were off to the hills and hiking up to their flat.



Another few episodes of Freaks N Geeks, along with a full nights rest, Wednesday came and VNTRbirds were going with Oliver to the Zoo! Wellington Zoo has ‘winter Wednesdays’ so entrance is only $5. This zoo is very small, it only took about an hour for the girls and Oliver to walk around the entire thing. From giraffes to wallaby, baby baboons to tigers and little blue penguins to meerkats, this place was fun. All of the animals were out exploring too because of the great weather. The favorite of the visit would have to be the Kiwi, New Zealand’s national bird. Walking into a dark room with a few red lamps spotted throughout the scene, tussling through the grasses was Wellington’s kiwi, who was making some very loud calls. Though, this bird has very tiny wings and cannot fly, it is a quick little bugger and was gone from sight before TUB knew it.





Now TUB is getting last preparations done for their trip to the South Island. Packing, studying, packing, stressing, bookings, everything is going according to plan – well, the plan-type thing that Oliver and the girls consider their plan. And as promised we are posting the itinerary. Though, due to the fact that the parents of VNTRbirds do not want to know when the girls are really Bungee Jumping, it will not be included until afterwards when written in the blog.

Saturday, August 27: Ferry to South Island: Picton
Hike Nelson Lakes
Drive to Lyell and camp


Sunday, August 28 

Drive to Greymouth
Hike and explore
Night in hostel

Monday, August 29

Drive to Franz Josef Glacier
Hike to glacier
Drive to Fox Glacier
Hike to glacier
Drive to Wanaka

 Tuesday, August 30 

Hang out in Wanaka with Julie!
Drive to Queenstown

Wednesday, August 31 

Shred Treble Cone/ Snowpark
Chill with Bryna

Thursday, September 1  

Chill in Queenstown/ Shred!
Camp or Bryna’s!

Friday, September 2

 Chill in Queenstown/ Shred!
Camp or Bryna’s

 Saturday, September  3

Drive to Christchurch

Drop car off

Flight at 7:10PM back to Wellington!

Stay tuned! Keep spreading the TUB word!