I just got back from the longest and hardest field trips I have ever been on, but it was beyond worth it. I am currently in an Outdoor Ethics class here at Uni, and it just so happens that about 20 other study abroad students decided to take that class as well, including Katie and Bethany. We talk a lot about environmental ethics of New Zealand, and how tourism and other factors play into how we treat nature, or how we act when we are in it. It has been a very interesting class for me here because I have done so much tramping and exploring in the outdoors of New Zealand that it helps me take a step back and think about my journey here.
Saturday morning we woke up at about 7am to head to the bus stop. It was actually pretty funny because we filled up a whole public bus with our class and everyone’s packs. It was quite a sight to see. As a class we rode the bus to Princess Mary Margaret Hospital, which is at the base of the Port Hills, where we were going to be hiking. After that, we hopped on another bus with our professor and headed up the hills. We got dropped off right at Victoria Park and started our hike up.
We walked up through Victoria Park to the highest point, called Sugarloaf. From then on we walked up and down, over all the peaks of the Port Hills; it was a two-day hike total, about 6 hours each day. Not only was it one of the best field trips that I have ever been on, it was also one of the best hikes. It had the most beautiful views of the city of Christchurch, as well as a great view of the bay and of Lyttleton on the other side of the hills. Along the way, we stopped for people to give presentations on a specific area we could see from the hike. My presentation was on Sign of the Bellbird, an old shell of a rest stop that used to house tourists who needed a place to stay for the night. We happened to use it for that reason as well, but we used tents, as it is not much of a house anymore. There was a beautiful sunset over Christchurch that night.
The next day we continued on, people gave their presentations, we took in more of the beautiful views, and we even got some map reading lessons from our professor. I learned how to identify over six New Zealand plants in the bush, as well as how to locate myself on a map using a compass. Sitting there and looking at the view of where I have been living for the past three months really made me think about the experience I am living this very moment. I am so thankful to be here and to have had the opportunity to live in a foreign country by myself. It has matured me into an independent and worldly person. It’s so humbling as a human being to look out across miles of uninhabited nature only to realize that we are a small piece of this beautiful world.
I had a great time, and I feel as though I learned so much more by actually going out on this field trip than I ever would by sitting in a classroom. It was truly a great experience that I will never forget!