Hello Everyone!

We flew into Queenstown and checked into our hotel after dark yesterday. This morning when the sun rose we were delighted to see the views from our hilltop ski-style cabins. We have a beautiful view of Lake Wakatipu which is nestled between mountains here in the South Island of New Zealand. We had a wonderful hot and cold buffet breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast and cereal as well as local fruits including pineapple, kiwi, plums and a variety of nuts and seeds. We will definitely look forward to breakfast each day for the rest of our stay here. Now that we have chilly temperatures upon us students enjoyed sitting beside the warm log fire in the lobby and restaurant while partaking in morning classes.

The cool weather did not deter the brave dozen who hiked down the hill to catch the bus to the Shotover River later in the morning. Here the friendly staff equipped our students with rain coats, life jackets and goggles. Speeds reached near 100km/hr as we raced along the winding river with only a couple of feet of air distancing us from the tall rock faces. Sydney had a front seat view of the action and ducked more than a few times as we raced through the narrow river. The 360 degree spins gave us a full view of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. Afterwards it appeared that the once sun-kissed rosy cheeks on our students had been replaced with frigid wind burnt cheeks. Our pictures were added to the wall of participants. More than 3 million riders have braved the jet boats including royalty, rock stars and famous athletes whose pictures hang permanently on the walls.

There was time for a quick lunch in town before we trekked back up the hill for afternoon classes. Hopefully the afternoon of studies raised the appetites for the evening as we were lucky enough to go the world famous Fergburger restaurant. This ‘burger joint’ has a line up down the street all day….every day. Luckily we have connections and did not have to wait in line to pick up our orders before we ate like tourists street side. The burgers were like a taste of backyard barbecues from home complete with all of the fixings, only with world renowned accolades.

A short walk brought us back to our lodgings where we will warm up and rest for another busy day tomorrow. I must admit that the teaching staff on our program are doing a wonderful job in making themselves available to students for academic help throughout the day. Most students are taking full advantage and conferencing with their teachers not only during class but at breakfast, during transport, both before and after dinner. The learning continues!

Enjoy the warmth at home,

Chris