Field trip beard, “clearly” I am the winner (well, maybe Nick’s was better).

By Evan

After nearly two weeks in the beautiful country of New Zealand, it is time to reflect on the experiences of 17 RSES students who hungered for adventure.

There were many things that we learned and experienced on this trip. Here is a summary:

  • Mike doesn’t like beards (look how awesome I look after two weeks of not shaving).
  • Alex is an expert on staying on the road… barely.
  • Benni can sleep through anything, including roads so windy, I wondered how it was possible to keep my lunch from day to day
  • Pleasing the Maori gods by plunging into freezing cold water was very effective.
  • Going through the suburb that was essentially abandoned due to the destruction by an earthquake was a sobering experience.
  • Alex was the trip leader, which meant that he was telling you to hurry up to leave, or he was the last to arrive back to the vans because of sample collecting.
  • Don’t get too close to the Pancake Rocks – you will get wet!
  • Getting your feet wet is mandatory, though. This is geology!
The best geology locations always requires that you go through a creek.
  • The thermal structure of pies is an important geological problem.
  • Best pub in New Zealand? Only a short walk from a geology field hut, of course! Thanks for having us, Mussel Inn!
  • When a road says “4-wheel drive only”, you should probably heed that sign. Props goes to Alex for making it to the top of the Akaroa volcano!
  • Swimming was mandatory, even on days were it is about 15 degrees out.
  • Finding Trilobite Rock was almost as hard as finding trilobite fossils.
  • You know New Zealand is pretty sparsely populated when things like “Asbestos Hut”, a shack built years ago for the man who ran the asbestos mine, is on the road map.
  • The best path back to the van from the nice Alpine Fault locality was definitely through the most gosse, as pointed out by Alex and Prok.
Definitely the way to go.
  • Going up Dun Mountain was awesome, and was the longest hike I have ever done in a single day!
  • New Zealand has a hole, a deep one! Very echoey.
  • When losing sight of the leading van, the best course of action is to continue driving, even when it is probable that the turn off was 10 km behind.
  • Chess is a game of attrition, and must be played well into the night on a giant board.
  • Tui beer is better than Speight’s beer, mainly because the trivia questions on the cap are actually solvable.
  • Although we only visited one filming location from Lord of the Rings, I’m pretty sure any place we went to could have been used.
You half expect Frodo to come running out of here.
  • Came second in trivia, even without any locals on my team! Thank you Handel.
  • Clearly, the best way to set off fireworks is to have 4 or 5 people standing over them, and one lighter.
  • Walking through the mud with jandals doesn’t work.
  • For every geological situation, there is a pun that goes along with it. Mike made sure of this.
  • Glow worms are amazing.
  • You definitely need to cook 6 large packages of spaghetti to feed 17 people.
mmmm spaghetti
  • I’ve probably never consumed so many lollies in my life. SNAKES!
  • Abel Tasman, the first European to make in to New Zealand, managed to completely miss Australia. How is this possible?
  • Seals love Thomas.
  • There are two types of jade – jadeite and nephrite. The type of jade found near Hokitika is the latter.
  • Mike and Piers are best friends forever after exchanging jade pendants. Awww.
  • Speaking of Hokitika, the pie shop there listed in the field trip guide is a lie!
  • The pie shop at the French Bakery in Christchurch made a Gold Award winning steak and cheese pie. They were delicious, best pie on the trip.
  • We went through the entire trip without a kea attack.
  • Despite being a relatively cool climate, the palm trees and ferns made New Zealand look tropical.
  • Most of the developed countryside is used for farming. I think the amount of cattle farms exceeded the amount of sheep farms, with a small proportion of deer and llama farms.
New Zealand summarized in a single photo – Sheep, cows and mountains
  • It was sometimes necessary to cross through actively used pastures to get to the field trip spots. Watch out for the cow patties!
  • Driving towards the Fox Glacier, it was amazing how far it had retreated from its Little Ice Age maximum – definitely several km.
  • Much to our amazement, we found fossils at Fossil Point.
  • Visited the Gowan River, which shares my name. Awesome!
  • Nothing beats off a long night of trivia like doing a hike and jumping in freezing cold water the next day.
  • Statistics on field trip participants: 4 Germans, 3 Kiwis, 2 Australians, 2 Brits, 2 Russians, the rest from different countries. We had participants from every continent, except Antarctica.
  • All that made checking in at the Sydney airport rather interesting.
  • Alex smells like…
  • We did actually use the field trip guide a lot, and visited most of the places in it!
Alex explaining something.

All in all, this trip was an amazing experience, one that I will not soon forget. The amount of effort that went into organizing everything was incredible. We all thank Alex for his leadership to make sure that we didn’t get too lost!

There was a lot of effort put into the field trip guide, and it would be a shame for it to just be in the hands of the participants. For the benefit of everyone, I have uploaded the field trip guide for you to download! Now you too can follow our journey through the northern half of South Island, and know what there is to see.

Download the New Zealand Field Trip guide (warning, it is about 33 MB)

Cheers everyone, thanks for making this such a great trip!