Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We Survived Orientation!

Things are finally settling down in Dunedin after the insanity of Orientation Week (O-week). Avoiding the piles of burning couches and impromptu street parties, we went to a few of the school sponsored events including a hypnotist and a crazy concert by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I never want to be in a mosh pit again. Ever.

The weekend of Orientation Week we took a bus down to the beautiful St. Claire's beach for a morning of surf lessons. Our instructor was a super nice Canadian surfer named Garret who spent plenty of one on one time with everyone in the class. I picked it up pretty quickly and had a ball. If I can figure out how to get my hands on a surfboard for cheap I'd love to go back and do some surfing on my own.

St. Claire's Beach, taken with a GoPro
The day after that we went on a tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory and the Speight's Brewery. The Cadbury tour guide (who reminded everyone of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory) took us through each of the floors of the facility and up a mysterious giant purple silo that he refused to explain until after he had shown us what it did. After climbing up the dark sticky spiral staircase inside the silo, the tour guide gave a small speech about a large, intimidating machine hanging in front of us, and then pressed a big red button. There was a metallic clang and a cascade of chocolate came rushing out and down to the very bottom of the silo. I made the mistake of standing too close to the railing, and the splashes from the chocolate fall got all over my shoes. According to the tour guide this device serves no functional purpose whatsoever besides dumping one metric ton of liquid chocolate onto the tour groups that get taken through the factory. Cool.

He handed out a variety of candies as he took us through the rest of the factory, most of which I've never seen before. New Zealand has a type of candy called "Crunchies" which are little bits of honeycomb and toffee covered in chocolate. There are also "Jaffas" which are basically giant M&Ms with an orange flavored candy coating (although our tour guide was adamant that the Cadbury chocolate inside of a Jaffa is way better than the kind in M&Ms). If you've been following my blog, you may remember I mentioned that the steepest residential street in the world is Baldwin Street, found right here in Dunedin. Once a year, Cadbury sponsors an event where they release 25,000 giant Jaffas at the top of Baldwin Street to race all the way to the bottom. You can read more about the event at

Jaffa Race
After the Cadbury tour we headed over to Speight's Brewery for a tour and tasting session. The Speight's Brewery is currently undergoing some heavy renovations as a result of the earthquake in Christchurch last year. The brewery there was completely demolished so the one in Dunedin is in the process of becoming the number one brewery in all of the south island. Our guide for this tour had an awesome south island accent and absolutely loved Speight's beers, especially the "Gold Medal Ale," which gets its name from the two gold medals it won at the Melbourne Exhibition in 1880. We were shown around the entire gravity fed factory, from the water extraction and treatment rooms (Speight's pulls all its own water from underground) all the way to the massive copper fermentation vessels. Once the tour was over our guide told us he was going to "Buy everyone some beers!" and led us to a small bar inside the brewery where the tour group had open access to taps of a number of different varieties of Speight's beer (and cider!). I tried a little of everything (there were 5 types of ales to choose from and one cider) and although I still haven't developed much of a taste for beer, the cider they make is fantastic.

Speight's Brewery, Dunedin NZ

This weekend we're heading back to Queenstown! This time we're tramping the Routeburn Track (eight hours of hiking) and possibly going bungy jumping again depending on how things go.

See you later! I miss everyone back home!

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