Just Another Day in New Zealand

Posted: April 8, 2013

Frank's friend Sara Mueller, a Wildlife and Fisheries Science major, takes a field trip as part of her semester studying abroad in New Zealand.
A typical view in the mountains of New Zealand

A typical view in the mountains of New Zealand

For more of Sara's anecdotes from New Zealand, see her webpage, "Fish Out of Water."

Something really unique about New Zealand’s Lincoln University is that field trip days are built into the semester. This means you don’t miss any classes if you have a field trip, and if you don’t have one that day, you have it off! It’s quite ingenious because it fosters an environment for learning outside of the classroom and gets us actually in the field. My first of two field trips was this past weekend and was the perfect three-day excursion.

On Friday my entomology class left for the mountains. All I can really say is that pictures and movies don’t do this country justice... We don’t have anything that comes close in Pennsylvania. I’ll tip my hat at the Rockies in Colorado, but this part of New Zealand is what I came here for. 

After and hour of windy, fast, dusty shale roads, we ended up at the St. Andrew’s College Outdoor Center above Castle Hill Village in Craigieburn Forest Park. After getting settled in we learned how to set up a variety of traps for terrestrial insects. The ultimate goal of the weekend was to collect as many bugs as possible for our final project, a 50 specimen collection of insects. Later we went aquatic sampling on a stream that was on the property. 

On Saturday we got a late start. I mean, it was almost 11 a.m. before we left the lodge. However, it made me realize that people are a lot more relaxed and less high strung in New Zealand. It has been my general observation (and confirmed by this weekend) that people don’t keep super tight schedules. Things happen when they happen, which blows the mind of this micromanaging planner, but I kind of like it.

First we went to Lake Sarah where I got to do some aquatic sampling as well as terrestrial sampling. From there we headed for the Craigieburn Ski field. Upon arriving at the top of this steep mountain we ate our lunches in the company of Kea birds. We then made our way higher up the mountain to scramble our way around the rocks to catch insects. We spent the late afternoon and evening pinning our specimens to dry so that they can be identified in the lab later. 

On Sunday we did last-minute collecting before heading back to campus. The guy who drove us out there stopped at the large limestone rocks so that the Americans in the car could take some pictures and explore so we did just that. We also stopped in Sheffield and I almost tried a venison meat pie, but I just couldn’t do it. I informed the driver there was plenty of semester left to ruin me. I may lose my vegetarianism yet!

All in all, it was an awesome weekend. I have another field trip at the end of April.  Check out pictures from my weekend here!