Monday, 20 June 2016

The Kind of Cold so as to Think You'll Never Be Warm Again

Written by McKenna Pierce

In my last tale of our adventures, we were heading on our way to Mt. Nicholas High Country Sheep Station for our first Case Study Site Visit.

After packing up all of our belongings and eating a quick breakfast of yogurt, cereal and toast, our group loaded up and hiked through downtown to the ferry, loaded down with as many warm clothing items as we could fit in our backpacks.

Left: backpacks galore packed for the visit.
Above: The wonderful ladies on our trip. 
(Front row, Left to right- Isabella, Lauren, Ashley, Haley and Betzy)
(Back row: Nicole, Allie, Sabrina, Kyanna, Kristen, Kara, Kylie, Rachel, McKenna (that's me!) and Kelsey)

On the ferry ride over, we learned a bit about the area, fill our bottles directly from the lake (don't worry, it's completely safe to drink) and watch Laine (Idaho State University) succesfully not the boat.

After 40 minutes or so, we arrived. We were met at the dock by Bruce, one of Mt. Nic's employees and Minz, resident sheep dog extraordinaire. I was immdeiately in awe of the beatuiful scenery as we sat on benches near the lake shore and had a quick picnic lunch. Following lunch, we were given free time to explore and prepare ourselves for the informational session.

       Oh, you know, just your average scenic lake 
shore. Complete with rustic picnic benches, mountains, 
and a stag anteler on a rock for aesthetics.

Our informational session was held in the wool shed, where we met Jack. Jack and his wife own and operate the sheep station, with the help of Bruce and his partner. In the session, Jack talked to our group about how the unit is run, as well as the processes that it takes to get from wool on the sheep, to the clothing we wear. All in all, it was very interesting to hear about the work being done, specifically with their contract with the company Icebreaker and the BAA code that traces your garment to which sheep station the wool came from.

Jack then gave us a short demonstration with one of the sheep dogs and told us about how helpful they are to have around. They can muster sheep within just a matter of minutes, something that would take a human a lot longer to do. (Unless maybe you're Usain Bolt.)

The afternoon was filled with a hike around the farm. Let me just say, those were some views. And quite the work out too. Good thing it was dinnertime when we arrived back at the shearer's quarters.

Later that night Bruce was kind enough to set up a bonfire for the group. And by bonfire I mean, "So hot it's about 5 degrees short of Satan's kitchen." Andrew (Iowa State University) brought out his speakers and soon we had our own little party going. It was truly a bonding experience for the group and a lot of laughs and memories were made. Especially when my cooking group had brought hot dogs to cook over the fire, but had no means of doing so. 

(Photo credits to Kenny N.)
Now for the real challenge. Bed time came with the promise of a very chilly night in the shearer's quarters, and the games of, "how many clothing items can you put on your body, and how many blankets can you wrap yourself in and still fit inside you sleeping bag?" My answer? Two pairs of leggings, a long-sleeve shirt and jacket, two pairs of wool socks, a scarf, gloves, and a blanket all cocooned inside my Bass Pro Sleeping Bag. And yet, somehow I was still cold. So, so cold. Everyone fought through it though, except for four members who 'cheated' and slept in the dining area with the wood stove.

All in all, it was definitely a night I will never forget. 

To quote, "The cold never bothered me anyway." -Elsa

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Brace Yourselves - New Posts are Coming.

Written by McKenna Pierce

Did you miss me?
Sooo technology can be a pain sometimes, and sadly, while I thought everyone was being updated on the adventures of our group, my phone had other plans. Now I plan to bombard you with the awesome stories that'll make you laugh, say 'Awe!' and even cry (only because you're sad you aren't with us.)

Hope you've got your reading glasses on.


Saturday, 4 June 2016


Written by McKenna Pierce 

Days 1 and 2 of orientation are under wraps and everyone is eager, if a bit skeptical, to be leaving for Mt. Nicholas tomorrow. 

We've learned a lot about each other in the past 36 hours, including that out of all us, Vitto (Purdue University) is only the only one who has technically been to New Zealand before. But we'll just leave it at that. 

Some other highlights include learning that Brennon's go to phrase is 'Cheers' and Peter loves to give out prizes. 

We discussed in length what the 'Clean' in Clean and Green (New Zealand's motto), and ended up with some really cool groupings as to what the word meant. 

After dividing into groups our cooking groups (we'll be responsible for feeding each other for the next several weeks) Brennon and Peter sent us out into town on a scavenger dubbed "The Amazing Race."

Students did all of sorts of activities to get to know the area better, including trying Hokey-Pokey ice cream, L&P soda, taking pictures with local heroes, and speaking Maori with locals. 

Winners of the Amazing Race are The All Americans, with the glorious prize of a hot breakfast prepared by Peter and Brennon to come at a later date. 

Valiant efforts were made by the other teams, The New Zeas, The Traveling Kiwis, Team #Lit (Shout out to my chicas), and Team Gumtion. 

Pictures from the hunt can be found on the New Zealand National Expedition and Internships Face Book page. (Go to posts, and click on Visitor's posts to view)

As orientation comes to a close, we will soon be heading the Mt. Nicholas sheep station for Case Study number one. We've been told to pack lots of warm layers, and expect very little in the way of warmth, so here's to hoping everyone comes back with all of their toes and fingers.  

To quote, "Ogres are like onions, they have layers."

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Some Bumps Along the Road to Here

Written by McKenna Pierce

The day has come. Our NEIP16 group is finally all here at the Pinewood lodge and ready to start our two week Expedition!

It's not all been fun and games getting here though. As we found out in one of our first icebreaker games to get to know each other, while some people had really good journeys to the land down under, others had some more- interesting- travel stories to tell. 

Winning the chocolate fish for the worst of these stories is Haley (Michigan State University), for having food poisoning for the duration of her first flight (ever, I may add). What was supposed to be a short connecting flight to Houston ended up with many trips to the bathroom, and unfortunately taking an hour longer than planned due to storms in the area. 

Next up is Kenny and Alec (University of Illinois) . While trying to arrive a few days early to explore some before the start of the program, the two ended up with almost 24 hours in delays, lost luggage, a broken laptop, and a small case of food poisoning as well. However, a quick run in with Mike Tyson at the airport brought a silver lining to their series of unfortunate events. 

More delays, lost luggage and even a computer system glitch tried to slow us adventurers down, but to no avail. And now that everyone has arrived I can say that I truly feel this is going to be an amazing 6 weeks. 

To quote, "Let's get it started in here!" -The Black Eyed Peas