It has been a full week since VNTRbirds have arrived in Wellington. Memories of moving in are in the past and it feels like TUB has been a part of this city forever! Everyone in New Zealand, whether they are from NZ or are also international, have been incredibly nice. Even on the bus, random New Zealanders will shake your hand and ask you your story. The only difficult part about this city life is getting the hang of all the NZ slang.

First, when people say they are going tramping, an American would wince and have the completely wrong idea. Tramping or trekking is really hiking in U.S. terms. And these two birds have tramped all over Wellington! A few days ago, Jaime and Kelley were wanting to venture farther then Cuba Street since looking into all of the shops was such a tease! So the birds gathered their friends from TEAN and set out towards the harbor. Walking around the shoreline in Wellington is beautiful enough, but there was one hike that they were told trumps the rest. Mount Victoria is a reasonably small hike, but when you come to the top it is said to have the best view of Wellington. So, believing that they themselves already had a wonderful view of Wellington right out their front door, VNTRbirds decided to take the challenge.

Meeting at the National Museum, Te Papa, VNTRbirds and their friends went to seek out the trail head. Passing it a few times, since trail heads are rare in cities. However, after getting some directions from a long boarder on the sidewalk, the birds were on their way. Mt. Victoria’s trail started off with, of course, stairs. Journeying into the woods for a nice shaded cover, on a beautiful day, this was the start of a picture perfect hike. And Jaime was getting the shots! Every few yards there was a slight opening to see out into Wellington, this city is amazing. With the houses built right into the side of the hills it’s easy to see this is the country of ‘The Lord of the Rings’.



Finally, after about a 45 minute trek to the top, TUB made it to Mt. Victoria’s lookout. Plenty of people and families were already there, but all were keen on sharing the 360 degree view of VNTRbirds’ new home. This site did truly trump all the rest; it was as if the birds were flying on top of the world! The harbor, airport, museum, VU campus were all clear as day up there. Jaime even spotted their house all the way across the city. This hike was a great change of pace for the birds. Hiking down, it was decided that Mt. Victoria would definitely be seeing these two birds again.



(Our house is directly in the center of the photo above^)



That night, VNTRbirds were ready for some rest and relaxation, but that idea flew out the window when a knock on the door ended up being some friends that traveled down from Auckland. Surprised and excited the girls invited the four boys in along with a bunch of Wellington friends. This meant TUB would be playing host and then taking everyone out on the town to show off their beautiful city. Starting at J.J. Murphy’s Pub, there was a live band playing all the best songs. AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’, Stephan Wolf’s ‘Born to Be Wild’, and Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ were only a few that kept this group at the front of the stage rocking the party.

Deciding it was time to move on, the birds walked around with their friends to a few other dance clubs and bars before it was time for a late dinner. Kebabs are the best ‘fast food’ type deal in Wellington/New Zealand. A Kebab is sort of like a burrito with all the ingredients wrapped up in a tortilla, but better. Choosing all the veggies you want like carrots, lettuce, beats, tomatoes, onions, olives ect. and then a meat. Kelley would personally choose the chicken but Jaime would do without. Then it gets topped off with any type of sauce you could desire. Munch time. Leaving to head back up the steep hill to TUB’s flat everyone decided that a hike would be necessary the next day. So they planned for 12:30 meet up, but disappointment struck.

Right when VNTRbirds and their friends arrived at the bus stop the next day, it started pouring rain. Of course, no one wants to do a two hour hike in the rain so everyone turned around pouting that the walk home would be miserable. When TUB got back and showered, they were greeted by their Kiwi mate Rachel. A kiwi mate is a person from New Zealand that lives in the flat of each international housing. Being from Auckland, Rachel spent her break between semesters at home. VNTRbirds were very excited to meet her finally. Eating dinner together along with some of her other friends at a potluck dinner was a good way to get to know her.

The next morning, VNTRbirds’ other flat mate, Renee from China, took the girls out at 10am sharp to go to the Sunday Market. This was very exciting to the girls. The market is made up of multiple different vendors selling fresh, local fruits and vegetables by the kg. This is a much cheaper place to get your produce than the supermarket, and a lot more fun too. Jaime and Kelley ran around the open parking lot comparing prices and searching for the freshest foods. Jaime took on the vegetables and Kelley the fruits; quickly coming back together with all of the produce for a couple weeks for only about $25 (NZ dollars).  Renee was very happy that she was able to bring us somewhere that she really enjoys, and TUB was happy that she would be so generous. Though, hiking back up the hill to the flat at a quick pace was torture since VNTRbirds were going to be attempting the hike out to Owhiro Bay again today.

Having time to make a breakfast sandwich before everyone came over to collect the birds, TUB rushed out of the door, breakfast in hand to the bus stop. Taking Bus 1 to Island Bay (because Bus 4 doesn’t run on weekends) was fun, but full of sleepy birds. Today they would be doing the Seal Hike. The seal hike is a two hour hike along the shore line of Owhiro Bay to the Red Rocks. Here there are seal colonies that come onto the rocks to sun bath and rest from swimming. It was a nice day with only a slight breeze so everyone was very excited, especially since it was the last day that the Auckland friends would be in town.

The bus ride was about 15 minutes before we unloaded in front of a playground. Naturally, being college kids, everyone ran onto the playground for a quick session before walking to the trail head. Monkey bars to see-saws, everything was just as fun as TUB recalled as children. Though, remembering they still had a half hour walk before the trail even started, everyone gathered up their things to continue on the trek. The ocean is very blue here, one could compare it to the Caribbean. Also, since Island Bay is on the very southern tip of the North Island, you could look across the Cook Strait and see the enormous snow-capped mountain peaks of the South Island. This put TUB into a frenzy, daydreaming of all of their snowboarding trips to come.



Meeting up with another Kiwi friend Gareth to somewhat be our guide through the trip, everyone prepared themselves for even more walking. The scenery of New Zealand, no matter where you go, is breath taking. Part of the trail was on a black sand beach that turns into a gravel path produced by the towering cliffs that hung over head. So serene and peaceful, what could be better than this? Oh yeah, actually climbing on the cliffs, which was done, over and over again. There is just something about being outside that is liberating to the birds. Jumping on and off of things, climbing rocks and trees, this is the way VNTRbirds do things.


Suddenly the group started to get a little restless, where are all these seals? But soon silence and scrunched up noses overcame them when a stench that stretched over the shore hit them. The fishy scents lead them right to the seal colony. Unbelievable! Over 70 seals all lay up on rocks. The coastal sensation brought everyone’s cameras out of their bags. Most of the seals were sleeping, along with all of the little pups, but there were a few show-boatin’ around for all the onlookers. TUB was sad that they forgot a ball to see if the seals could balance it on their noses!


Seeing that there were some dark clouds rolling in from the west, indicating rain, everyone said their goodbyes to the seals and started their walk back. Thankfully Gareth’s parents were kind enough to come and pick us up so no one had to take the bus back into town. Everyone was very happy, satisfied and starving! So the ending of the day was hosted at Heaven pizza on Cuba Street for some of the best pies!

Currently VNTRbirds are planning their weekend trip up to Mt. Ruapehu for their first snowboarding adventure. Keep checking in on TUB and tell your friends to join in on the excitement.