Last full day in NZ

Alright, it’s my last full day in New Zealand! How quickly the last 6 weeks have gone by. I’m quite sad to be leaving actually. Though at the same time, I’m anxious to get home, see my friends and share stories. We’re in Rotorua all day today and will be trying to catch the Super Bowl somewhere in town. My flight leaves here tomorrow at 7pm!

I arrive back in San Francisco on Tuesday at 10:15AM! (Interestingly enough, while I was having lunch on Mt. Ngauruhoe, another couple came by who were also from San Francisco. Small world!)

Anyway… internet use here is incredibly expensive! Time to go.

So long New Zealand.

Best Hike *EVER*

About after about 9 and a half hours of hiking today, we completed the Tongiriro Crossing. It’s the best hike I’ve ever done. I took *200* pictures today and have no way to upload them. Grr!

Anyway, I am quite wiped out. It’s currently 10:43 PM and we got back about an hour ago. Time for bed.

(3 more days in New Zealand!!)

Lake Taupo and Tongariro Crossing

Alright, we’re currently staying outside of Tongariro National Park at the backpackers hostel located there. It is quite an awesome place. We played volleyball with a few people earlier this evening and then did some rock climbing (this place has it’s own rock climbing gym! Awesome!).

Tomorrow we are going to hike the world famous Tongariro Crossing, which is roughly 20 kilometers in length. Among the highlights will be climbing Mount Ngauruhoe (famously known as Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings movies). Apparently, we actually have a beautiful shot of it from our bedroom window. Unfortunately, it’s been cloudy! (Supposed to be cloudy tomorrow too! Grrr!).

Also, I haven’t been able to upload photographs I’ve taken lately due to the fact that most computers I’ve encountered have lacked the proper USB connections. So I might just have to wait until I get home next week.

Anyway, things are going swell! I’ll write more soon.

Northward we go!

Tomorrow morning we depart Wellington to head towards an area called White Rock. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to upload any pictures as the area is fairly remote and we’ll have no internet access until next weekend.

I definitely love Wellington though. I’ll be sad to leave (but the amount of money I’ve spent while I’ve been here is insane! Ugh). Who knows though, perhaps this is definitely an area to consider for graduate schools.

The Size of This World Never Ceases To Amaze Me

So here I am, half way around the world. John, one of the other guys in this field camp program, and I were talking about various research projects we’ve done. He briefly mentioned some work he’s done in the Caribbean on volcanoes there.

That reminded me of my old geology friends at Cal State San Bernardino, who were doing some work in Dominica one summer, before I transferred schools up north. I remember them saying they stayed in a hotel with another student research group who were from the midwest.

I asked John (who is from Illinois) if he ever worked on Dominica and knew of any students from CSUSB. It turns out that he was part of that other student research group! Incredible. Half way around the world and I meet someone who coincidentially knows a group of old friends.

Anyway, we have a day off today in Wellington. It’s been fairly laid back and it is shaping up to be another nice day. I’ll have to figure out a cheap way to take advantage of it. While I definitely love cities, they sure are expensive to stay in. Yikes.


So our time in Wellington has been fairly relaxed. Tomorrow is our first full day of work since we’ve reached the North Island. It will mainly focus on aspects of geophysics, which is exciting since it is something I’ve considered for grad school.

Today was a half day that was spent with a tour of various parts of Wellington and briefly discussing the geology of the region. We checked out various scenic sights such as Mount Wright and Mount Victoria, as well as walking around the geology department at Victoria University.

A very large piece of pumice

Since today was a half day, we decided to take advantage of it and hang out in the bar in our hotel last night. We came across a rather interesting character who was dressed up in a purple jumpsuit. Naturally, we had to take a few pictures with him. My friends… meet “E.T.”

You might notice that I’ve shaved off my goatee! Oh yes. Everyone seems to think it actually looks better, and I kind of like it myself. Just a random shakeup I suppose.

Here are some random pics from the ferry ride over:

Lastly, I must say that Kiwis have some fetish with bizarre signs. Check these out

Goodbye South Island!

We arrived in Wellington at about 9:30pm last night via ferry. Field Camp is officially half way through! It’s exciting and kind of sad at the same time to realize how fast time is flying by. I am really loving this country.

Wellington is apparently known as the windy city. When I first arrived here three weeks ago, there was hardly any wind. It was blowing upwards of 60 mph last night as we took the ferry over and still blowing quite hard today!

Interesting note: In the Internet Cafe I am in, they were just talking about the weather and said gusts of 120 kph were possible today (almost 70 mph!). Oh… and sharks have been spotted in the water near a beach earlier today too. Fun!

Anyway, we have a day off today. So I’ll try and post some more pictures later.


We arrived in Christchurch yesterday after spending most of the day driving across the South Island. We left the town of Harihari on the west coast and are now on the east coast. The drive over the Southern Alps through Arthur’s Pass was absolutely stunning and is definitely one that I’d like to do again in the future.

Over the past few days, we looked at the contact between the Indo-Australian and Pacific plates as it crosses through New Zealand. We saw some interesting geologic structures along the Alpine fault (at a spot where it is a thrust fault), such as Miocene rocks (anywhere from 5 to 23 million years old) laying on top of Pleistocene sediments (less than 2 million years old).

At the contact between two plates. Pacifc plate is above my head, while I’m standing on the Indo-Australian Plate below.

We also got to look at the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers as well. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a glacier in real life. The shear size of those things are amazing. As we walked up to the Fox Glacier, we got to see huge chunks of ice fall off the face of the glacier and splash into a river below. The booming sounds that echoed across the valley were quite humbling. One of the other students on the trip was able to capture some of the falling blocks of ice on film as well. It’s a great picture.

Today is our last full day on the South Island. We drive all day tomorrow to Picton and take a ferry at 6pm to Wellington, where we’ll spend the next 3 weeks on the North Island. It’s crazy to think that we’re basically halfway through our field camp program.

Franz Josef Glacier
Here’s one that will make my mother happy: What geology is all about – Danger

Face of the Franz Josef Glacier (note person near the cave for scale).

In front of Franz Josef Glacier

Fox Glacier

Looking down the valley from Fox Glacier

Trying to spell: FOX

Fox Glacier from afar

Kicking it in Westport

We’ve been in Westport for about 5 days now and we leave on Friday for points further south. I just have to say this is one of the more boring towns I’ve been to in my life. Everything closes at around 7pm! Save for one pub nearby that we’ve been hanging out at during the evenings after our work is done.

The last few days have been rough though. We’re putting in 14 hour days between doing field work and gathering data to analyzing it and plotting it up in a field station we’re staying at. It’s pretty rough on all of us and we’re itching to leave this place. We’re supposed to see some glaciers (and even hike on them) this weekend.

Anyway, here are some photos from the past few days.

As always, right click on them to view the full size image.Essential tools needed for doing geology until well after 11pm every night.

Burning underground coal seams.

Watch out New Zealand!

An angry seal that I literally jumped on top of when I bounded over some rocks on the beach.

Penguin crossing sign! 🙂

St. Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti

I’ve just arrived in the town of Westport, which is on the western coast of the South Island. The last few days have been relatively laid back. We finally left the hippy conclave of Takaka (which admittedly is a nice town) to journey southwards to St. Arnaud… a small ski village located on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. We spent two days in St. Arnaud, looking at various things of geologic significance.

Among the interesting sights we got to experience, was a brisk hike up Mt. Robert yesterday (which was also my birthday), which overlooks Lake Rotoiti. After arriving at the top, we were caught in a short snow flurry, but were able to take cover in a shelter along the trail. The views from the top were quite dramatic and fascinating. However, clouds quickly moved in and it began to rain on our way down. The last few days have actually been rather rainy too, which is somewhat disappointing. I’ve never been to a place where the weather changes so fast though.

On the first night at St. Arnaud, a few of us went for a walk down to the lake. It started out quite clear with some clouds across the lake. In the 15 minutes it took to get to the lake, the wind picked up, it started to rain, and then started to hail! We tried taking cover under some trees (no thunderstorms thankfully) but the hail storm was quickly over. On the walk back, it cleared up again and things were fine. Everyday has nearly had some sort of experience like that. It’s quite crazy.

Internet access has been extraordinarily spotty though. And most of these places have stupid setups that require you to pay money if you want to upload pictures from a camera. So it’s been quite hard to share my pictures. At the moment, this internet cafe is costing about $0.50 for every 5 minutes of computer time that you use. It’s rather ridiculous if you want to do anything serious, like editing/sharing pictures, but for quick email writing, it suffices.

Anyway, we have some serious geology to do over the next week while we stay at a very nice geology field station in Westport (run by the University of Canterbury). We’ll be under the direction of a new geology professor for the next few days as well. Some of the stuff we’re going to do sounds absolutely fascinating. So far, this field camp has been a blast and we’re looking at some many different types of things.

All of us have been pretty surprised by how fast the first week has flown by.

And now… for some pictures (from the past 2 days).

Right click on picture and click “Save As…” to view larger size photos

A Friendly Hello from 2006

We had the day off today and spent it at a beautiful beach in Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island. I could probably count on one hand how many people were at this beach. Absolutely beautiful! We’re on our way back to the Geology Field House at the moment and stopped in town for some resupplies. Unfortunately, I forgot my damn camera cable at the field house, so I can’t upload any pictures from today.

Things are going swell though! This really isn’t a vacation however. We have a syllabus and criteria we’re going to be graded on. And we’re constantly being inoculated with geology. On Thursday, we were in the field by 9AM, returned by about 6PM (the sun doesn’t set until almost 9PM here and it doesn’t get dark until around 10!) and then worked through dinner at the field house until well after 10pm, compiling and analyzing data we collected all day. Basically, everyday has been like that.

We went to a pub down the street last night to celebrate New Years, but it was quite crowded, so we left and came back to the field house to celebrate.

We also sat outside and watched shooting stars through the night (and got to see some neat features that we don’t get to see in the Northern Hemisphere, such as the Southern Cross and Magellanic Clouds! Also, because of our perspective, the constellation Orion appears upside down! And apparently, so does the Moon. We haven’t been able to see it yet though). It is definitely one of the most dramatic and amazing night skies that I have ever seen in my life.

Anyway, I’m definitely enjoying it here. We’ll be holed up here in Takaka / Onekaka for a few more days before we disembark for points further south.