The sunrise from our beautiful apartment was breathtaking! And I can testify first hand to that because I was so nervous that I was awake and watching it! Having managed to get some caffeine into my Long-Suffering Mentor and prompt her to perform some personal hygiene ablutions (she is NOT a morning person!), we ambled across the road to our first sessions of the 2016 AQUA Biennial Conference – Quaternary Perspectives from the City of Volcanoes.

The first sessions were on Millennial Scale Climate Variability. Huh? After a wonderful and inspiring morning tea which consisted of me scarfing scones in a corner trying to convince myself it was all going to be okay and I wasn’t the only idiot in the room, we began the second sessions on Australian Peat Deposits and the Paleoecological Potential. I was shitting kittens…..

I was bombarded with wiggle graphs. Paleoecologists LOVE wiggle graphs! It’s like cocaine to them – they can’t get enough and the more the wiggle the better the high! It was like being the only sober person in a room full of happy drunks! The only words I understood were the ones I was busy googling while trying to keep track of who the speaker was and how many ways I could manage to avoid them over the course of the week so that I didn’t have to open my mouth and prove how simple I was!

With my Long-Suffering Mentor every now and then leaning over and talking me down from hanging myself from a curtain rail, I was very relieved to have the lunch break announced. It was all I could do to stop myself from collecting my stuff and throwing them into my bag to try and scurry out as quickly as possible! But as usual, my Long-Suffering Mentor, the good Doctor (she hates it when I call her that so I try and get it in as much as possible!) began introducing me to people who I really should have known were important but as usual, I didn’t, and so began my world of regret of telling inappropriate stories over cups of tea about my vet nursing days and the thousand and one ways I have managed to not kill my children – later finding out the person I was speaking to was the HIGHLY regarded so and so, or the Head of Research of faculties that I’ll probably later be applying for jobs to, only to be remembered as the girl who told the story about the pug and the nine pairs of G-strings I removed from it’s gut.

The afternoon sessions comprised of poster presentations, so I decided to wag and go see some of New Zealand. After all, this was my first ever international trip and I wanted to make the most of it! With my Long-Suffering Husband in tow, we caught a ferry from the most-excellent Auckland Harbour, and set off to sail across to the delightful town of Devonport. We were met at the ferry terminal by our very eager tour guide, and soon discovered we were the only people to actually be on this tour (Yay!) so I got to sit in the front seat…….(Double Yay!)


That was my view…..

So, we spent a wonderful afternoon driving around the streets of picturesque Devonport, listening to the history about the area, and seeing some volcanoes. When the tour guide found out I was a studying Geologist he went out of his way to take us to places that were particularly interesting to us rock-people, and helping me collect my first samples of New Zealand Volcanic rock! The views were spectacular and a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by the three of us!


This is Mt. Victoria (Takarunga). It’s the highest volcano on Auckland’s North Shore and is a scoria cone.



This was a view of Rangitoto from North Head (Maungauika). Rangitoto is a shield volcano and is the most recent and the largest volcano in Auckland. It only blew 600 years ago and Rangitoto is Māori for ‘Bloody Sky’, which indicates it was a big explosion!


The views from North Head were just breathtaking!

It was becoming very late in the day when we caught the ferry back to Auckland and made our way back to the apartment via lots of kitchy tourist shops! In Australia I avoid these shops whenever I go to Melbourne, but here in New Zealand I dragged Andrew into every single one I saw! Loaded down with parcels containing stuffed kiwis and inappropriate fridge magnets we finally found a supermarket and managed to get some essential supplies for the apartment.

So my Big Lesson #1 for international travelling – don’t worry about what you are wearing, BE COMFORTABLE! Stupidly, I didn’t bring a pair of sneakers, and with the amount of walking I did on the first day, I quickly realised I wasn’t going to be as comfortable as I should be with all the sightseeing and walking around. Tomorrow I will wear my Doc Marten’s, no matter how ridiculous and unprofessional I look!


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