One Weekend of Madness

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Christchurch
November 11th 2011
Published: December 14th 2011
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Sorry that the blogs have been so few and far between these days. Trying to see all of the South Island of NZ in 4 weeks is a very tricky task. Enjoyable, but doesn’t leave much time for computing and typing. This post gives a little insight into the last weekend before teacher’s college was over. The teacher’s were looking to party...

(pictures still to come!)

Show Day

Friday the 11th of November celebrated Canterbury Day and gave us the day off school.<span> Earlier in the week, we (being the two of us plus Dayna, Jenna, Caryn, Jason, Jason’s buddy Kevin who was visiting from Canada, Colin, and Jared) had purchased tickets to the annual A&P Show Day.<span> We had no idea what a show day was, aside from the fact that it was a big deal when the show came to town.<span> We later found out that over 60,000 people were predicted to walk through the gates over the course of the day.<span> Show Day travels around the country every spring and is a mix of the Toronto Ex and the Royal Winter Fair.<span> Here you could buy the most up-to-date tractors, hot tubs, vacuums, sheep shearers or simply choose from an array of delicious snacks that typically frequent fairs – cotton candy, hot dogs, crepes, waffles, ice cream, etc.<span> There was a Clydesdale show, a llama ribbon ceremony and even a lumberjack competition.<span> When we arrived, the lumberjacks were stopped mid-competition and there was an ambulance nearby.<span> We later found out that someone in the competition had had an accident and sliced his thigh with the exe.<span> Thankfully he missed his femoral artery, and was reported to be okay a few days later.<span> We wandered around the fair and soon found ourselves in the barn with all the show animals – prize-winning bulls, sheep, cows, goats, pigs, llamas, and roosters.<span> There was a petting zoo for the kids (and Liza) and a sheep-shearing demonstration as well.<span> Just outside the bard was the maternity pen for sheep.<span> We witnessed a newborn lamb standing for the first time, and the ewe looking after her minute-old baby.<span> It was a beauty of an afternoon, albeit windy, which made dealing with our helium balloons a bit of a hassle!<span> We left the fair with bratwurst in hand and smiles on our faces, ready for what tomorrow had in store.

Race Day

On Saturday our alarm clocks went off sometimes around 6 am.<span> To the local New Zealanders, Race Day is a long awaited day, circled on the calendar months in advance.<span> The first drinks were poured shortly before 8 am as Jenna manned the pancake production and Matt fried up 2 lbs. of bacon.<span> Friends dropped by the house and joined in on the feast and the festivities.<span> The girls donned their dresses and fascinators and the boys suited up.<span> Race day is all about how good you look, how full your drink is, oh, and the horses.<span> The Riccarton racecourse held the Saturday races in Christchurch this year, which was attended by the young and old, the locals and tourists, but above all – the classy.<span> Much like the large races around North America, Race Day drew a fantastic crowd, despite the dreary weather.<span> After the easy-flowing start to the day we headed to the track with about 10 others around noon.<span> At first we took cover in the bar underneath the grandstand as the rains poured.<span> In addition to the grandstand seating, the racetrack allows patrons to bring alcohol-stocked vehicles onto the grounds where people set up their custom party zones.<span> Jared had borrowed a van which we used to load our days supply of food and alcohol, and he then parked it trackside at 7 am along with hundreds of other vehicles.<span> As the rain began to let up, we ambled from site to site, witnessing first-hand the quality that veteran Race Day-goers put into their setups.<span> We found ourselves envious of the barbeques, heat lamps, and couches that many sites were sporting.<span> We eventually found our van, and the drinking continued.<span> More than watching the horses run, Race Day is about the social experience.<span> We did manage to lay some money down, breaking even on the day.<span> We based our wagers on the horse’s race stats, jockey’s bib colour (pink was popular), and the horse’s names.<span> If only our friend Colin had fared better in the 11th race as he jumped the rails to chase the horses, we might have been rich.<span> The races ended before 6, but for most the party continued well into the night.<span> Those arriving home past a sensible hour certainly felt the repercussions as we continued our fun-packed weekend with the hangi starting bright and early Sunday morning.


A hangi is a traditional Maori feast.<span> It entails slow-cooking enormous proportions of food in the ground for the better part of a day.<span> As Liza and her friends were heading into their final week at university, it seemed appropriate to have one last feast with the whole gang.<span> Initiated by Russ and hosted by Pete, our hangi was organized well in advance with an array of different meats and veggies ready to be cooked.<span> Due to repercussions from the previous day/night’s festivities, we arrived a little late to the show.<span> The pit in the ground, roughly 3.5’ x 3.5’ and 4’ deep, had already been dug by Pete, Jared, Russ and Colin, who coincidentally also had beers in hand.<span> They had built a bonfire that singed the trees in Pete’s yard at least 10 feet up in order to heat up the volcanic rock and iron pieces that would be used to cook the food.<span> We arrived in time to help wrap the meat in tinfoil and load it into the modified shopping cart, which would act as a basket to keep all the food together once underground.<span> The next hard task was to empty the pit of the red-hot iron, embers, and ash in order to make room for the cart.<span> Not an easy job, and one that involved working in scorching heat.<span> Once the cart had been lowered into the ground, the smouldering iron and basalt were strategically placed back in the pit around the cart.<span> Water was sprayed on the rocks to create steam and waiting on deck were several of us handling dampened sheets to cover the cart/rocks so that the steam would be trapped for the purpose of cooking the food.<span> After the sheets had been placed, dirt was piled back on top to seal in the heat.<span> The we waited.<span> Waiting consisted of drinking, playing cricket, drinking some more, snacking on chips and dip, and eagerly anticipating the food to be lifted from the pit.<span> After 5 hours in the ground, the food was deemed sufficiently cooked.<span> The dirt and sheets were removed and the shopping cart basket was carefully extracted.<span> The tinfoil was peeled back from the food to reveal a feast fit for a king.<span> Roast pork, beef, whole chickens, hams, ribs, pumpkins, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, kumaras, whole bulbs of garlic.. all cooked to perfection.<span> The kai (Maori for food) was blessed with a Maori prayer and we then dug in.<span> Never have 30 people been so silent.<span> We enjoyed good food, great company and a beautiful day as the sun set.<span> A symbolic closure on a year filled with new experiences.

We will try to post the following blogs in the next 2 weeks or so:

Southern Tip
Marlborough Region
West Coast


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