Category Archives: General

North American Experience Trip – Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and Muir Woods

The first year Longwood Graduate Fellows commenced our garden adventures at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Fort Bragg, California. Mary Anne Payne, Executive Director and Jim Bailey, Head Gardener of the garden, greeted us at the entrance of the garden on a cool morning.

Mendocino Coastal Botanical Gardens entrance sign

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens entrance sign

Ernest and Betty Sohoefer, who had deep passions in gardening and a special interest in Rhododendron species, started Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (MCBG) in the 1960s. MCBG has a garden area of 47 acres, framed by the grand coastal ocean and currently has over 1,200 cultivars and species of Rhododendrons. The diversity of plant varieties in the garden attracts and supports the highest concentration of birds to its premises. MCBG held a strong community support, attracting about 350 volunteers, on top of its 11 full time and 11 part time staff. Due to the natural high water table present in the land, MCBG joined partnership with the Water Coastal Conservancy to preserve and better utilize the existing available water.

Mendocino Coastal Botanic Gardens heath and heather collection

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens heath and heather collection

MCBG attracts about 17,000 visitors annually, and generates its revenues through general admission, gift shop, retail nursery, café and fund-raising events such as ‘Art in the Gardens’. MCBG manages its own vegetable garden and orchard within its premises and 80% of its produces are given to the local food bank while the remaining 20% are given to its in-house ‘Rhody’s Garden Café’. The management utilized the vegetable garden and orchard to educate the public through educational tours and interpretative signage.

Mendocino Coastal Botanical Gardens coastline panorama

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens coastline panorama

Art and bench sculptures are displayed throughout the gardens. Mary Payne explained that each art and bench sculptures were for sale and that the profits will be spilt between the artist and MCBG. Jim led us towards their composting backyard and told us an interesting story about how they used the spare hops and grains by the brewery restaurant in their compost. He explained that the hops are able to heat up to about 140oF, sanitizing and killing all bacteria and insects within the compost.

Muir Woods entrance After lunch, we made our way down south towards Muir Woods National Monument, where it houses the world’s largest giant coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Local businessman William Kent and his wife Elizabeth Thacher Kent established Muir Woods in 1905 to protect the one of the last standing redwoods. We took a hike through the Muir Woods trails and one felt like we were in the ‘Twilight’ movie. The golden rays of the sun beamed and streamed through the majestic redwood forest like a flowing waterfall, reflecting and surrounding its warmth around us. Along the trail, we spotted a few of the legendary ‘banana slug’ – a greenish and slimy slug that survived in the undergrowth of the forest. Myth has it that one may make a wish after kissing the slug and a few brave female ‘warriors’ decided to make myth come true by bestowing their precious lips upon the innocent slugs.

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

Banana slug wishes

Banana slug wishes

The trips to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and Muir Woods have opened our eyes to further appreciate nature and extend our networking in California. We look forward with great anticipation and excitement towards the rest of the trip!

Blog by Felicia Chua and photos by Kevin Williams

Second year Fellow board experience

Every year, second year Fellows in the Longwood Graduate Program are appointed as non-voting members to local non-profit boards. This year, I am excited to serve on the board of Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids.

 

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Child harvesting radishes

Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids (HFHK) is a non-profit organization based in Hockessin, DE. HFHK partners with Delaware schools to start vegetable gardening programs that are fully integrated into the science curriculum. HFHK helps to establish the school program over 2-3 semesters and then gradually transfers the responsibility of the program to the school. HFHK currently assists 21 schools in northern Delaware and works with approximately 8,000 students.

As part of the program, students experience all aspects of vegetable growing, from seed to harvest to table. Different grades take on different responsibilities in the gardens that support their studies or curriculum. The gardens are strategically planted so that they provide provide learning opportunities and food during the spring and fall seasons but require no care during the summer months when schools are not in session.

Serving on the board of HFHK is a wonderful learning experience. The organization is well established but still quite small. The board meets on a monthly basis.  It is actively working to recruit new board members as it looks to the future and to ensuring its longevity.

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Spinach

Having worked at a fledgling non-profit in the past and then having seen the board of an older organization like Longwood Gardens, working with a board somewhere in the middle is invaluable to my development as a public horticulture professional. I am honored and delighted to have the opportunity to work with Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids.

 

Quick Trip to Ithaca

Blog by Joshua Darfler, photography by Sara Helm Wallace and Lindsey Kerr

Several months ago I was talking to my mom on the phone and mentioned the documentary “A Man Named Pearl“.

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Pearl Fryar- a great man.

For those who are not familiar with it, you should go watch it right now! It is a fantastic documentary produced in 2005 about Pearl Fryar – founder, creator, and artist behind the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden. This independent film explores the history and motivation of Pearl, the dire (but optimistic) economic conditions of Bishopville, SC – where the garden is located – and the truly moving message behind the garden. It is an award-winning film that can be enjoyed by all, even those who are not obsessed with Public Horticulture as we are here.

I tried to explain all of this to my mom, and eventually got her to hesitantly agree to watch it. After a few more prods, I got a text saying she had rented the DVD and her and my dad would watch it that night. I got another text and a phone call later that evening from both of them saying how the good the movie was, how motivational Pearl was, and how they now really wanted to show it at the local library as part of their movie series.

Lindsey Kerr and Pearl

Pearl and Lindsey at the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden

There then ensued many more emails, texts, and phone calls, and a program started to come together surrounding the showing of this movie at the Lansing Community Library in Lansing, NY (my hometown). The highlight of the program though, was to be a special speaker – the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden’s Communications Director, Lindsey Kerr. Yes that Lindsey Kerr, the Lindsey Kerr who is currently a second year fellow in the Longwood Graduate Program. Not only is she busy writing a thesis to help preserve historic cultivars of plants, serving on the University of Delaware’s Graduate Student Senate, Leader of the Speakers Team for the 2014 LGP Symposium, and volunteering at various gardens around the area, but she has also been continuing her job at the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden.

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Lindsey Kerr speaks about the Pearl Fryar garden in Bishopville, SC

So on Friday, February 21, Lindsey and her cheering squad (five other members of the LGP, including myself) all piled into a car and took a fun trip up to Lansing, NY (a few miles north of Ithaca, NY)! We arrived Friday evening and were able to meet up with some Fellows from the Cornell University Professional Garden Leadership Program, as well as other former Longwood interns who are now up at Cornell University continuing their studies, for dinner in downtown Ithaca.

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We were so happy to see Dr. Don Rakow, former Director of Cornell Plantations after Lindsey’s talk. Dr. Rakow is now a full-time Associate Professor at Cornell and oversees the Cornell’s Public Garden Leadership program.

The next morning we went to the Lansing Town Hall (the audience was too big to fit in the library) to help set up for the event. The afternoon started at 11:00 with a showing of the documentary, and was then followed by Lindsey’s presentation and a Q&A session. Lindsey did an incredible job providing more insight into what it is like to work with Pearl Fryar as well as in Bishopville, SC. Since it’s been almost eight years since the filming of the documentary, Lindsey also talked about how the garden has changed over the years, and what is being done to help ensure the continued existence of Pearl’s topiary art in the future.

A sizable turnout at the Lansing Town Hall

A sizable turnout at the Lansing Town Hall

Once the audience left, the chairs were stacked, and all the A/V equipment put away, we had the rest of the afternoon to explore Ithaca. We headed down to the commons, a pedestrian mall located in the heart of Ithaca, where we enjoyed both the outdoors, with its almost spring-like weather, and the numerous indoor shops the commons has to offer. The day ended with a fantastic dinner at Moosewood Restaurant, a famous vegetarian restaurant.

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Ithacopoly on a wall in Ithaca’s Commons

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The Salix were in full bud by Cayuga Lake, one of New York’s famous Finger Lakes

The next morning we packed up our gear, got back in the van and headed back down to Newark, DE. It was a great weekend, and wonderful weather…which seems to have quickly disappeared this week….

 

Meet our final two speakers!

We are only a few days away from our 2014 Annual Symposium From Tie-Dye to Wi-Fi: Envisioning the Next Generation of Leadership in Public Horticulture. To build on the excitement, here are the descriptions for two of our esteemed speakers, Dr. Judy Mohraz and Dr. Casey Sclar.

Dr. Judy Mohraz

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Dr. Judy Mohraz

Dr. Judy Mohraz is a Trustee and the President/CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, a private foundation in Arizona. Focused on health, education, children, arts and culture, older adults and religious organizations, the Trust invested over $22 million in Greater Phoenix the past year. Previously Dr. Mohraz served as president of Goucher College in Baltimore. She was a presidential appointee to the Board of Visitors of the United States Naval Academy, co-chairing a special committee to review the Academy. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Masters in History from Baylor University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the Symposium, Dr. Mohraz will talk about the process of becoming a leader in 21st century cultural organizations.

 

Dr. Casey Sclar

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Dr. Casey Sclar

Appointed in 2012, Dr. Casey Sclar is the Executive Director of the American Public Gardens Association. He and his team support over 520 gardens and their 6000+ allied members located throughout America and in 14 other countries. Collectively these gardens reach over over 70 million people per year and help to realize APGA’s vision – “A world where public gardens are indispensable”. Just prior to APGA, he served 15 years at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA as the Plant Health Care Leader – directing the Soils and Compost, IPM, Land Stewardship, and other sustainability programs. Dr. Sclar holds a B.S. degree in horticulture from California Polytechnic State University, S.L.O., as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in entomology from Colorado State University. In 2011, he received the APGA’s Professional Citation Award for outstanding achievements in public horticulture. Dr. Sclar will address some of the questions and issues with regards to identifying the future leaders in public horticulture.

Once again, if you are unable to attend the Longwood Graduate Symposium in person, you can view the free webcast. We will also be taking the conversation online via Twitter, so be sure to follow us @Longwoodgrad and use #LGPSymp to join the conversation. We hope to see you all at the Symposium!

 

Three Weeks Away! Counting Down for (Y)our Symposium!

Because of you and your institution, they can lead.

Because of you and your institution, they can lead.

The classes of 2014 and 2015 are proud to bring you a one-day symposium that focuses on leadership in public gardens. From topic selection, original graphic design, and clever marketing, to working with individuals, organizations, and businesses to raise funds to help defray the costs of the symposium. It will be a day for you- for networking with others in your field, for reinforcing what you know, for gaining stronger knowledge about a topic, and for giving you new ideas to teach to others when you return to your workforce. In addition, the graduate students have researched and selected an inspiring group of speakers. Each one is very different, speaking from his or her own expert view on the topic of leadership and how it pertains to you at your garden or arboretum.

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A leader can be carved from any stone.

To learn more about the exciting line-up of speakers, stay tuned to this blog in the coming weeks, where we will be posting the speaker bios and their talk descriptions. You can also check out our Facebook page, and register here for the event.

(Y)our Symposium is only three weeks away (Friday, March 7th), and is being held in Longwood Gardens’ beautiful ballroom, with a scrumptious lunch included and served on the Patio of Oranges during Longwood’s Orchid Extravaganza. If you’re coming from far away, you have until February 21 to get the discounted rate on a hotel room from Hilton Garden Inn, just down the road. We look forward to seeing you!

IMG_2390Different leaders grow on different soils.IMG_1600

Different leaders grow from different soils.

Posted by Sara Helm Wallace, 2014 LGP Symposium Guest Relations Committee Chair

New Zealand: A Culinary Journey

These days, the First-Years are bundling up and getting ready for the spring semester. Fending off the jetlag and remembering to drive on the right side of the road in the US has been challenging at times, but we have our recent Kiwi memories to keep us company. This blog post takes a bit of a departure than posts of the past in that we reflect not on plants and gardens, but rather on FOOD.  It is in absolutely no particular order that I present to you our most memorable New Zealand food experiences.

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Pavlova at the Novotel Hotel, Wellington.

  1. Pavlova: The national dessert of New Zealand. Given its prestigious title, it was extremely hard to find on a restaurant menu. I was determined to try it, and we managed to find it at two places. Although I was not blown away with these examples of pavlova, I still feel sufficiently inexperienced to pass judgement. I am willing to try additional pavlovas for research purposes and will welcome any opportunity to return to do so!

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    A delicious, golden kiwifruit!

  2. Kiwifruit: Don’t simply call it “kiwi” because you’d be referring to the bird! In New Zealand, the fuzzy brown fruits with green interiors are called kiwifruits. We also discovered a new treasure: the golden kiwifruit! Similar in size to the green variety, golden kiwifruits are nearly hairless, with a thinner skin and a golden interior. We found them at local produce stands and they were delicious.

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    Beer-battered chips, served with aioli and sweet ketchup.

  3. Fish & Chips (emphasis on the CHIPS!): Britain may have created New Zealand’s founding document, but their influence doesn’t stop there. Beer battered and deep-fried fish is a staple at most restaurants, served with a delicious tartare sauce unlike that which we’re used to in the States.  However, the chips are the real stars in this duo and I beg you, if you are ever in New Zealand, order beer-battered chips. At every restaurant, they were consistently amazing. You won’t regret it!

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    I simply could not stay away from the savory meat pies… walking past a storefront in Auckland.

  4. Meat Pies: Delicious, warm, savory, and palm-sized, the ubiquitous meat pies are the New Zealander’s perfect portable lunch. Every restaurant has its own version – even McDonald’s. Steak, lamb, minced beef (aka ground beef), and roasted vegetables are just some of the possible fillings.
  5. Lamb: In order to embrace the New Zealand food culture, I tried lamb several times. It has a unique flavor but tended to be tougher than I would have liked. On one of the last days of the trip, I was pleasantly surprised with the best lamb dish of the entire trip and possibly the best meal, period. I ordered the lamb steak at The Curator’s House in Christchurch, which was served with Israeli couscous and lemon crème.  Superb!

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    Speight’s Ale House, Dunedin.

  6. Speight’s: Dunedin, on the South Island of New Zealand, was a standout in the dining category. One of our dinners was at Speight’s, where we enjoyed Dunedin’s own craft-brewed beers. Full disclosure… I am less of a beer fan and more of a cider fan, but I am in good company with Dr. Lyons, and Speight’s had an excellent apple cider. I hear the ales were just as good!
  7. Dinner at Larnach Castle: Although the food was delicious, this line item was truly all about the experience: beautiful dining room with an elegantly dressed dinner table, candlesticks and more utensils than we knew what to do with. Our 3-course meal culminated with tantalizing tale about the family of Larnach, complete with allusions of ghosts Hands down, one of the most fun dinners we had in New Zealand.

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    Green-lipped mussels at Gusto Restaurant in New Plymouth. Delicious!

  8. Green-lipped Mussels: These vividly green shellfish are well known in New Zealand. They are delicious, which I discovered while dining at Gusto in New Plymouth. However, they are also apparently known for their additional curative benefits, including arthritis and asthma relief.

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    Gary Shanks and Kevin Williams testing the L&P in Auckland.

  9. L & P: L & P, short for Lemon & Paeroa, is a uniquely New Zealand soda best described as a carbonated, lemony drink that tasted like carbonated lemon Nestea. It’s also a common mixer at New Zealand bars and infused into white chocolate for a creamy, lemony candy treat. (I speak from experience on the L & P chocolate.)

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    Hokey Pokey and licorice ice cream cones in Oamaru.

  10. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream: One of my favorite discoveries! I am usually not a big ice cream person, but this creamy vanilla ice cream with crunchy honeycomb candy pieces was delightful.  After several scoops, I was hooked. We also had some other exciting ice cream flavors on our trip, including licorice, Bailey’s, crunchy hazelnut chocolate, and plum!

Overall, the class of 2015 thoroughly enjoyed this exciting culinary adventure. Do you have any recommendations for delicious foods that we should try here in the US? Send them our way!

International Experience New Zealand Day 14: Akaroa: Taunton and Fisherman’s Bay

After driving through dry scenery with spectacular hills and the ever-present sheep farms, we arrived at the understated entrance of Taunton Gardens. We weren’t sure what to expect when we exited the van; all we could see was a well worn plant nursery area.

As soon as we passed under an archway of vines, however, we knew we had entered a special place. Barry Sligh came out of his 1852, rebuilt stone house to meet us and lead us through forest openings, around curves, and over bridges to show us his plant treasures.

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He moved onto the property in the 1970’s, and within his first two years, he planted over 1000 trees. With no background in horticulture, he quickly learned how to care for many plants in a naturalistic setting, and in the nursery.

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Some of the more interesting plants were: an Auraucaria witch’s broom, a hosta that he developed for Prince Charles (after which Barry was invited to the Prince’s garden) and a variegated maple tree with red/pink on the undersides of the leaves. This unusual coloration created a stunning display in the sun’s rays.

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Our final garden of our New Zealand trip was a lush oasis on a dry, windy cliff. Fisherman’s Bay Garden was created by Jill Simpson at her home nine years ago, but because New Zealand has no winter, the plants have grown in quickly. Jill is very conscious of her plantings since a nature preserve shares borders with her 100 hectares; she tries very hard to stick to natives and non-invasive plantings. Standing out among the many interesting hillside gardens, she has a myriad of hebes that vary in size, shape, and color. She attributes their vigor to the nearly frost-free climate and the salt carried by the wind.

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Whether driving, helicoptering, or boating in, it is a lovely experience to enjoy a cup of tea while overlooking the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean.

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Text by Sara Helm Wallace, photos by Bryan Thompsonowak

International Experience New Zealand Day 13 – Christchurch Botanic Garden with Jeremy Hawker

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We set out with the sun casting its warmth through the midst of the chilly morning breeze as we made our way towards the Christchurch Botanic Garden. We were greeted by the pleasantly warm and friendly Jeremy Hawker, who is the team leader for the Garden and Heritage Parks in Christchurch. Jeremy has an impressive fourteen years of horticulture and management experience for the Botanic Gardens such as Christchurch Botanic Garden; City Heritage Parks such as Hagley Park; and other Central Business District Parks that have been placed under his care. Some of these gardens and parks are currently undergoing major re-development due to the earthquake damage during 2010 and 2011.

IMG_2208Christchurch Botanic Garden has over 1.1 million annual visitors to its 17 hectares garden. It was established in 1963 and is in its 150th year anniversary this year. It is mostly funded by the City Council and held events such as musical concerts, a wine festival, changing plant displays for the Flower Festival, and public education for the schools and community. At any one time, these events attract about 100,000 visitors to the Garden. Christchurch Botanic Garden has suffered its pain through the horrendous earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and is painstakingly in the midst of recovery. During the tremors of the earthquakes, Jeremy had to relocate the staff who were left homeless and provide additional support and counseling for them. The visitor center had to be relocated to the entrance of the Botanic Garden, while the bus depot was relocated to another end of the Garden. A police recovery center was set up to provide assistance to anyone who seeks it.   

IMG_2197Jeremy recalled that all the electricity was cut off and he suggested that a hard-copy of important telephone numbers and documents should be kept since all the computers were down due to the electrical failure. Water supply was no longer available to the plants, which struggled through the strenuous period of the aftermath of the earthquakes. Capital funding was utilized to re-build damaged recreation facilities and infrastructure such as the tennis courts at Hagley Park. Underground sewage spilled into the river system that flowed through the Botanic Garden and remained a priority for repairs as the staff scrambled to remove the spills from the river. Jeremy described with awe that during the earthquake, the water in the shallow rivers was seen bubbling furiously as if in a volcano eruption and then suddenly disappeared into the grounds below. 

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Spontaneous pallet pavilion with bucket seats built immediately after the earthquakes of 2010 & 2011.

IMG_2254We left Christchurch Botanic Garden and walked around the city as Jeremy explained that the government is still in the midst of deciding whether to re-build the same damaged building or to replace the building with a brand new look. The damage around the city is being repaired and Jeremy estimated that the recovery for the entire Christchurch city would be within 25 – 30 years. Though the city looks devastating, the people of Christchurch lifted the dull and empty atmosphere with cheerful and creative art instruments, such as hand-made musical instruments made out of boards, brushes and pipes; enormous green and velvety furniture were erected and stand-up cafes were made out of shipping containers. The Christchurch city may be greatly damaged, but unity and love can definitely be seen and felt within each person’s heart. 

Blog by Felicia Chua, photos by Sara Helm Wallace

International Experience New Zealand Day 12: Into the wild

Dodging the early morning rain showers, we made our way to Tasman Glacier, which was a 20-minute drive from our hotel. Our intrepid driver, Colin, took us to our destination amid snowy mountains and fast moving rivers. The glacier is fairly large and feeds the Tasman Lake, which is a milky color due to the dissolved mineral content in the water.  After admiring the scenery and native flora, it was time to make our 5-hour journey to the east coast city of Christchurch.

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The drive included snowy mountain views, bright blue lakes, golden meadows and dark green pine forests. Our half way-point was the Astro Café, located at the top of a large grassy hill adjacent to an observatory. The views were spectacular, and really showcased the diverse beauty of New Zealand.

 

IMG_2785We arrived at Christchurch Botanic Garden (CBG) at around 4 pm where we met John Clemens, the Curator of CBG. This Garden has been in existence for 100 years and, interestingly, 2014 will be its 150th anniversary. The age of CBG can clearly be seen by the impressive stature of the fine tree specimens currently thriving there. Unfortunately, several trees were destroyed by the recent earthquakes and by a severe storm last year, however, enough large specimens remain to continue the ambiance of the garden.

IMG_2515A project that sparked my interest was the implementation of a purely Gondwanan Garden that will showcase plants that are relics from a prehistoric era.  One example, the Wollemi pine, was only recently discovered in a canyon in Australia. John seemed to be very passionate about this project, but stipulated that other projects need to be completed first. The CBG has also had to revamp its nursery and office areas, leaving current staff without proper working space – a difficult situation for any organization. These building will be more ‘’earthquake safe’’ than previous structures on the property.IMG_2801

After our brief introduction to Christchurch, we looked forward to more exploration over the next few days.

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International Experience New Zealand Day 11: On the Road to Mt. Cook, Aoraki

Larnach to Mount Cook, Aoraki

We left the ghosts and fog of Larnach Castle and set our sights on Mount Cook in the center of the south island.  As we descended from Larnach we dipped below the clouds and headed into Dunedin for one last visit where the weather was warm and sunny.  We would travel north along the coast and then turn inward after taking in views of the ocean, blue skies and long, low clouds.

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Our first stop on the journey was directly along the coast to see a unique grouping of round rocks along the beach.  The spherical Moeraki boulders lay exposed amidst the surrounding eroded sands and provided a great chance to walk along the beach, dip our toes in the cold surf and play with some beached giant sea weed.

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Once back in the van, the road headed inland and the spectacular views of the New Zealand landscape never disappointed us.  As we wound our way inland, our guide, Colin, surprised us with a stop for lunch in the great town of Oamaru (pronounced O-omaru).  Historically, the town was a hub for farmers but is currently known for its thriving arts community housed in its former industrial district and is home to the eclectic Steampunk Headquarters.  With only a short time to visit, we explored the shops in town and lunched on assorted veggie and meat pies at a local bakery.  With several hours of driving ahead of us, we set off for Mt. Cook.

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As we approached Mt. Cook we passed a progression of long narrow tourmaline lakes that stretched out along the side of the road.  As the elevation increased, so did the wind and rain as we approached our destination.  Once at Mt Cook our hopes of glacier trekking were rained out but plans were made to do an early morning tramp to get to the glacier for a quick view.  As the sun set over our lodge, the skies cleared and a rainbow appeared giving us hope that the next morning would be clear and more hospitable for glacier viewing.

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