Lambs, Dolphins, and Seals, oh my!

Summer is wrapping up in the U.S., but spring is just beginning in New Zealand! The days are starting to get a tad bit warmer and longer, but it still certainly was an adjustment when staff first arrived a few weeks ago. The Old Convent has welcomed four new members to the team- Leah, our Sustainable Food Coordinator, Nathan as the Program Administrator, and Bennett and myself (Lauren) as Student Life Coordinators. The four of us are past CCSP students now turned staff, so we feel very privileged to be able to come back and be a part of this incredible experience with this group of students!

We all are so excited to finally have the students here and put names to faces. Already the students have been on quite a few adventures, starting with a lovely drive up the coast from Christchurch to Kaikoura, our base of operations, with lamb and seal spottings along the way. We celebrated our first dinner (or “tea” as the locals call it) with some local fish and chips. Since then we have gotten to explore the town of Kaikoura, go on a tour of the local organic mountain honey business, take a lovely walk around the peninsula with Marine Biology professor Jody Weir, and get to know each other better through various “ice breaker” games.

The students seemed to enjoy the peninsular walk in particular. First off, the baby seal pups napping next to their mums are just so cute. Jody, with her wealth of knowledge about marine life and animal behavior, explained a bit about the troubles an increasing seal population can create when roads and houses are located so close to the coastline. The students seemed very interested, and about half of them are planning to volunteer to help Jody and other DOC workers (Department of Conservation) keep seals safe, especially near the peninsula carpark (parking lot). All the students seem very excited to volunteer in the community in various ways, which we encourage students to do in one of their free afternoons.

After we got the students a bit orientated to “kiwi” culture, we let them loose for the weekend to go travel— many of them going up north to a beautiful area in Hopewell, others spending some time tramping and relaxing around Picton. From what I’ve heard so far, everyone not only had a fantastic time but also got to see dolphins this weekend, and some even kayaked amongst them! Hopefully the first of many times seeing dolphins this semester.

We are now starting to get into the swing of our first week of classes. More updates on the student’s New Zealand adventures to come!




Reflections along the Kaikoura coastline


Fog descends during the peninsula walk


Local adventurer Berry Dunnett describes New Zealand flora during the Palmer Fyffe walk


Program Director Courtnay points out a passing moa! (just kidding)