400 Kilometres Via Boat and Van, Lightyears Traveled Emotionally

Hi, I’m Mary! I will be taking over the blog for this week and will be talking about our Wellington field trip and our second week of the Sustainable Community Development course.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 2.51.49 PM

Last Sunday, we left to go on our trip to Wellington as part of our Sustainable Community Development course. We visited several different places and got to visit different communities to see what they were like. One of the activities I enjoyed the most was going to Zealandia which is a community driven eco-sanctuary. There we got to go bird watching, as well as see other wildlife such as wetas (large grasshopper-like insects) and tuataras (lizard-like animal). Another highlight included our tour of the Bee Hive, which is New Zealand’s parliament building. The most exciting that happened on our tour was when the Prime Minister walked by and said hi to us. Also, fun fact, there are 135 toilets in the Bee Hive!

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 2.52.20 PM.png
Kaka at Zealandia 
Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 2.52.33 PM.png
Weta at Zealandia


Towards the end of our week, we went to L’arche, which is a place where people with and without intellectual disabilities live together. When we got out of our van, the people welcomed us by throwing water balloons at us. Most of us didn’t get too soaked, except Courtnay, who seemed to be their main target. When we got inside, they told us about what it was like living at L’arche, telling us about the both the good and difficult parts about living there. Visiting L’arche was very impactful because you could see how much these people cared for each other just in the short time we were there, by the way they talked about the place and interacted with the people there.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 2.52.06 PM
The Bee Hive

This past week, it was the second week of our Sustainable Community Development course. One of the points we learned about that had the most impact on me was the idea of becoming an Alongsider. This is the idea of when people are disliked by others and people keep their distance from this person, we can walk along side them. For example, if we see someone like this, we can go out of our way to invite them to go out for a coffee with them. It is not just having one or two visits with them but is something that is meant to last over a longer period. Also, when being an Alongsider, you are not meant to counsel, mentor, or save the person because this is not what the person wants.

Our professor introduced this topic as something that would be doable for us as we go home and apply what we learned in class to our everyday lives. This was one of the topics that had the most impact on me because many of the topics we talked about when trying to develop a sustainable community seemed difficult. These were things that I am not comfortable with yet or may not seem possible, especially for college students. But I felt as though becoming an Alongsider is something anyone can do, no matter what point they are at in their life. Not only is it doable, but I think it is something that would have a huge impact on the people we walk alongside.


Adventures Down Under

View from Anchorage Bay


Laughing around the campfire (Left to Right: Mary, me, Alexa, and Elli)
View from Marahau, the start of Abel Tasman walk
View from Bark Bay
Screen Shot 2019-01-25 at 8.36.00 PM.png
Kaikoura mountains and bay

Hey Friends, my name is Jess and when I’m not studying in New Zealand with CCSP, I’m at Biola University in California majoring in environmental science. My origins are in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon. I live on a lavender farm and love tramping (hiking) on my free time all over Oregon or rock climbing in the great outdoors.

Although I’ve been here in New Zealand for only a little more than two and a half weeks it feels like a lifetime! We have all grown so close to each other, shared so many laughs, memories, and struggles together. I love all these peeps, not just sisters but family (lol it’s an inside joke )

The day I got to Sky Hi Lodge in Kaikoura and found my room, I was shocked to see that I was sharing a large bathroom size room with 2 other girls. I unloaded my belongings in one drawer and one tub underneath my bed, and I had no idea how I would live like this for the next 3 ½ months. The funny thing is now I love it, my roommates Chloe and Mary are the best, I’m barely in my room (we don’t keep it to clean anyway). I’m either up on the first floor reading and journaling on the balcony, playing Bananagrams with Alexa and Elizabeth, or raiding the kitchen for Alexa’s homemade bread or granola. We have become like one big happy family, eating all our meals together going out to town, getting a cuppa (coffee), grabbing ice cream from Poppy’s, or taking walks on the beach. We also tend to go to the library/city council building to get Wifi a lot. I think the Kaikoura city council members roll their eyes at us when they see us Facetiming our significant others or family outside of their building. That’s basically our daily life here and it’s always filled with some new adventure.

For the first week of orientation we had a scavenger hunt around town, visited Hislops farm to weed thyme, and visited the Marae. For the weekend we went to the Op Shop (thrift store), the Saturday Market, took a couple dips in the ocean and visited the shops in town. In our first week, the thing that we did that gave me the most culture shock was doing the Powhiri at the Marae.

In New Zealand there is the Maori which are the native people and the European settlers also known by the Maori people as Pakeha. Each city in New Zealand has a Marae which is a sacred meeting house for the Maori people, visitors can come and see some of their customs. Although, if you want to be let in to other parts of the building and understand the Maori culture more you must partake in the Powhiri. For the Powhiri you have a male representative offer the Maori’s a gift and the group sings a Maori song. We then gave every Maori person there a hongi which is basically where you touch noses with each person twice to respect the Maori ancestors and to greet the person in front of you. Once you partake in the Powhiri you are no longer a stranger but a friend, and now I often go to the Marae to water the garden we have there.

We also partook in other Maori traditions so far at our time at Kaikoura. For example, earlier this week we dug out whale bones from the beach and partook in Maori stick fighting. All of these things I never expected to do when I flew to New Zealand, but it’s been so fun and interesting to be immersed and partaking in a culture that so unlike my own.

I think my favourite part of these past 2 ½ weeks was tramping in Abel Tasman. For our long weekend, we decided to spend two nights and three days backpacking the Abel Tasman which is one of New Zealand’s great walks. On Thursday, we drove to Havelock which is halfway between Kaikoura and Marahua (the beginning of the hike) and we swam in the river under the Pelorous bridge. A fun fact is that this river was were the hobbit barrel fighting scene was filmed! The next day we went to Marahau and started the tramp. Guess what? Most of us had no backpacking experience and over the total weekend we hiked 21 miles! Women power! The first day we hiked to Anchorage bay which is where we swam and talked around the campfire with Eric age 9 from Christchurch, an Israeli father and son, a couple from Auckland, and a young woman named Laura from Germany. Unlike the States, there is only one campfire per whole camping area and so we met many people each night and shared stories and laughs especially with Eric, he was a hoot! The next day we hiked to Cleopatra’s pool where we swam in ice cold water and a went down the natural rock slide. Of course we all went down the slide multiple times, and cooled off in the pool before a very long, painful, hot hike to Bark Bay.

When we got to Bark Bay it was so windy that Chloe was in the tent and it folded in on her, all we saw was the imprint of her face on the tent and all we heard was a small “Ah”. It was funny and she’s totally fine now. The next morning I woke up at 5:30am to the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. Of course, my phone was dead, but if I close my eyes I can still see it.

I think that’s been my favourite part of this trip, being immersed in a beautiful country with beautiful people learning wisdom from our professors, having fun with one another, and growing closer to God as a community. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Luckily, all our blisters healed from Abel Tasman just in time for our next adventure to Wellington. We will leave this Sunday and be staying at a Marae and a Monastery in the city of Wellington, learning about the people who live there and exploring the city and its culture. I can’t wait!

Till next time, Jess

Though I have to say goodbye…

by Alexa Kruse, Student Life Coordinator on 14th December, 2018

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Integration Week began on the 26th of November, and the students reflected on their classes and their time at CCSP. How they’ve changed, and how others have, too. What they want to do next. There was a lot of time for introspection, and I think that every really appreciated time to allow the past semester and all its adventures to settle in.

December 2nd we threw a Kiwi Christmas party, headed up by Lisa. The students decorated sugar cookies, and were whisked away to sit on Santa’s (Lisa’s) lap. They told Bible stories (loosely, mind) with their sugar cookie creations, and enjoyed a slideshow of everyone’s reactions to Santa. Finally, we ended by watching Elf—a Christmas classic for most of us, but new (and great) for Charity!

CCSP Fall 2018 Group Photo

The next evening we had a night of remembering, where all of the students and staff wrote our memories out on butcher paper. It was great to reminisce about the semester! Then we had our White Possum gift exchange. Gifts varied from pieces of art, to notebooks, to home made candles and prayer books. The students closed out the evening with a group Tim Tam Slam and headed to the Night n Day for late night ice cream treats.

All of our memories from the semester… 
White Possum Gift Exchange

Tuesday brought with it another introspective night, and this time students personally reflected on their attitudes towards the different courses and other events that happened throughout the semester. Because this was Nate and Mark’s final semester of college, we held a graduation ceremony for them. Surprise!

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 5.51.56 PM
Mark and Nate at their graduation ceremony

Nicky, a friend of CCSP, invited us out to Puhi Puhi Peaks on Wedensday. The hike was great, and the knowledgable guides, Sam and James, were quick to point out cool facts about the area, and especially the Hutton’s Shearwater colony that lives up in the peaks. It was a great way to get outside and spend some time together before our final day…

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 5.52.31 PM
Mesmerised by Puhi Puhi Peaks

Thursday brought with it cleaning, packing, and goodbyes. Best of all, though, was Celebration Night. Students and staff shared gifts with each other, ranging from beautiful, hand-made bookmarks to songs, from gingerbread-house-making to reciting scripture, and everyone shared their talents and time in their own ways. It was a beautiful night, concluding in a slideshow of the entire semester’s shenanigans.

Ginger-bread-house making! (houses unfortunately obscured by the chairs…)

Friday we saw everyone off—Mark, Morgan, and Jenn to their homes. Charity headed to Auckland, to stay with her family for Christmas. Schuyler is still off exploring some part of Australia, and Nate, Kyle, and Rachel are in New Zealand somewhere, making wonderful new memories of a country they’ve called home for the last 3 1/2 months.

One week later, and it’s the final day of staff run-down. It feels real, now. The students’ rooms have been re-arranged in anticipation of next semester. It’s awfully quiet here, and yet it feels right. That’s the nature of these programs. We arrive as staff and students, and part as friends. And though we will meet more wonderful students next semester, we still miss those we’ve become close with.

We’re going to miss the impromptu Tim Tam slams, games of Euchre, and how easy-going our students were. Thanks for a great semester, and the memories we’ll cherish forever!

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 5.51.33 PM
Some of the students really took to Euchre!

Spring at CCSP

by Alexa Kruse, Student Life Coordinator on 29th November, 2018

Hello again! Here’s what we’ve yet to cover in order to catch you up…

  • 1 week of Environmental Literature courses
  • 1 week of God and Nature courses
  • 1 week-long field trip to the West Coast
  • 2 weeks of Marine Ecology

Alright, here we go!

We jumped right in to Environmental Literature II with Loren and Mary-Ruth Wilkinson when we got back from break (mid-October). The Wilkinson’s had a different flair from Dr. Amy Wicks, so the students covered different readings and dug into environmental literature in a new and different way. During the week Kyle got the plants into the ground at our garden plot at the Marae so the roots would have more space to spread out. At the end of the week we celebrated Nate’s (belated) birthday, which happened during the break. The celebrations included a variety of “field day” games, such as “run to the chair and pop the balloon,” “move an Oreo from your forehead into your mouth without using your hands,” and “potato sack races.” The students (and staff) had a lot of fun competing against each other and celebrated afterward with mixed berry pie and ice cream.

Laughing at Nora trying to eat an Oreo without her hands.
Potato sack racing during Nate’s birthday celebration

Then there was a week of God and Nature II. Again, the Wilkinsons provided a different perspective and things to ponder than Dr. Andrew Shepherd. Their class also connected back to both of the environmental literature courses—CCSP is all for integrative learning. Near the end of the week, students shared a gift with the class. Gifts ranged from pieces of art and song, to shared meals, to creating music together. Students were able to showcase their creativity and connect what they learned in their course to God and his creation. This week we also did a bit of birding to prepare the students for terrestrial ecology. The female students also dressed up as the male students for Halloween, causing fits of giggles throughout class. 

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.45.48 PM
Halloween at CCSP!
Celebrating Nora’s belated birthday with two kinds of cake and ice cream
Charity made pavlova!

Before we knew it, the West Coast field trip and Terrestrial Ecology with Dr. Aaron Sullivan were upon us and we left the sunny east coast for the drizzly west. On the 4th of November we set out west and stopped at Castle Rock, and nice stretch away from the vans and quite the playground. After many, “Are we there yet’s?” and a few bathroom breaks, we made it to Arthur’s Pass where we were greeted by Kea. We spent the late afternoon at Bealey track identifying plants and hiking through a bog. Everyone had the option of hiking up to Devil’s Punchbowl, too, and a couple of our students even got in to the frigid waters. In the evening we celebrated my birthday with spaghetti (my favourite meal), and had a time of prayer and worship in the chapel. 

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.50.56 PM.png
In a bog

The next day students learned about the geology of Zealandia, went on the Dobson Valley walk and identified a myriad of alpine vegetation, and had a birding stop in Hokitika before finishing our drive for the day in Bruce Bay. We were welcomed to the Marae with a Powhiri and had a lecture in the evening. Tuesday morning we headed to Monroe Beach where we saw a Fjordland crested penguin and were nibbled on by the sand flies. We took our time walking on the way back and enjoyed the scenery and all of the new vegetation. Students were starting to call out the names of plants they recognised, and we were all pretty pumped to have so much field time. Sunshine, Aaron’s wife, was a fantastic addition to the crew—just as excited as the students were to learn. The afternoon was rounded out with a walk at Lake Matheson and a lecture in the evening.

On Wednesday we packed up and headed for the West Coast Wildlife Centre at Franz Josef where students were able to observe juvenile Rowi Kiwi in a nocturnal room—the rarest kiwi with a current population of only about 350 individuals. We also visited Franz Josef glacier where we could witness succession with our own eyes, as well has how the glacier had receded throughout the years. The afternoon was spent traveling to Punakaiki (pancake rocks) and Te Nikau Logde, which would be our home base for three nights. Thursday morning brought on another informative lecture, then a walk on Truman Track. We had relatively good luck with the rain up until this point, but then the “WEsT coast” showed her true nature. We even learned that one of the bridges was out, stranding some people in Arthur’s Pass. Thankfully, we were long gone from there! Students reviewed for their field exam (identifying plants, birds, and ecological processes we had witnessed) throughout the afternoon, and the written exam in the evening. Everyone enjoyed the relaxed space at Nikau Lodge and all of the students went tidepooling at the beach in the pouring rain, a really cool experience!

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.51.26 PM.png
Kyle ID-ing a plant at Franz Josef Glacier
Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.51.38 PM.png
Students at a waterfall at Truman Track

Friday morning we headed out to the Pororari River and the students had their field exam. I think they were a little disappointed that they couldn’t shout out the names of the plants they recognized! After the exam we headed to Punakaiki, or pancake rocks. As you can imagine, Punakaiki was named for the impressive, old, flat columns of rock gracing the ocean shore. In the evening, students completed their written exam and afterward visited a glow worm cave. It was such an moving experience to sing in the dark! Saturday brought us back home to Kaikoura and in the evening we watched An Unnatural History of the Kakapo, which was pretty funny and informative.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.51.47 PM.png
The students taking their Field Exam at the Pororari River

On Sunday we celebrated Courtnay’s Ordination as a Deacon of the Anglican Church! I am so glad we all got to share that special time with her.

The next day we plunged straight into Marine Ecology with Dr. Jody Weir. The next two weeks were absolutely chockers with lectures, field trips, and research. After the whirlwind, when asked, students said their favourite parts of marine ecology were…

  • Getting to do actual research with Jody on Hector’s dolphins
  • Completing research projects of their own with real data
  • Swimming with Dusky dolphins on Dolphin Encounter
  • Visiting the Hutton’s Shearwater colony on the peninsula
  • Visiting the penguin colony in South Bay

other amazing field-trips included…

  • Tidepooling and watching fur seals at the peninsula
  • Watching Hector’s dolphins from the shore near Hapuku river
  • Visiting Fyffe House and learning about Kaikoura’s whaling history

During the first week of marine ecology, the students and I also traveled to Blenheim to see the premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Gotta keep the Harry Potter fans happy!

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.52.04 PM.png
At the movie premiere

Now, we’re into Integration Week. This week is all about students reflecting on their time at CCSP. We’ve had a lot of good group discussions about what is means to care for creation, live in a community, and what changes students want to make in their lives moving forward. We’ve also watched documentaries (Cowspiracy, Gasland II, and Thin Ice to name a few), and learned “What’s Next” from students—where they research a nonprofit organisation that they might give a season of their lives to in the future. At the end of this week students will complete a paper that weaves together everything they’ve learned this semester. We’re getting close to the end, and I think we’re all a little sad about it.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.52.15 PM.png
The Prime Minister speaking in Kaikoura when the first passenger train since the earthquake came through. 

That’s the beauty of community at CCSP, though. We get to live, work, and learn together, and in the process form wonderful relationships—with people who, at the end of it, are hard to say, “goodbye,” to.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

by Alexa Kruse, Student Life Coordinator on 20th November, 2018

Hello, we’re back after 10 weeks! Time flies when you’re having fun. Here are the stats…

  • 2 weeks of Sustainable Community Development
  • 1 week of Te Reo Maori and reading for upcoming courses
  • 2 week-long field trips (one to Wellington, one to the West Coast)
  • 2 weeks of God and Nature courses
  • 2 weeks of Environmental Literature courses
  • 1 week of Mid-term break

Let’s get to it!

After the first week of Sustainable Community Development students jumped into reading week and Te Reo Maori with Brett Cowan. During the mornings and afternoons of reading week, students got a jump start on assigned readings for their upcoming courses. Against the Tide, Towards the Kingdom, The Sixth Extinction, and Potiki were some of the texts processed.

brenda’s breakfast club

Te Reo Maori classes took place every evening, and on the final day of Te Reo staff were treated to a presentation of all the students had learned during that week. Students shared their mihi (a formal greeting including pepeha (tells where you come from) and whakapapa (tells about your lineage)), sang several fun songs in Maori, and did a haka (instead of threats of war they chanted the names of fruits!). We also celebrated Mark’s birthday with a plant-based-riddle hike, Tim Tam Slam, and chocolate ice cream cake while doing (terrible, inaccurate and fun) Lord of the Rings trivia in the evening.

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 1.43.58 PM.png
Celebrating Mark’s birthday by identifying plants to solve a riddle

The Kaikoura Hop was on for the weekend, so students were reminded of home with all of the old cars driving around, fair food, and people in Harley-Davidson T-shirts.

Alexa, Jenn, Morgan, and Rachel at the Kaikoura Hop.

After a short, relaxing weekend, students headed to Wellington. When they left on Sunday (the 16th of September) it was Courtnay’s birthday! They celebrated with chocolate cake and positive words towards CCSP’s director. Students enjoyed the ferry ride over to Wellington through the Marlborough Sounds that day, too. We didn’t want to take a second van to Wellington when all of the students could fit into one (saving fuel, caring for creation!), so I stayed behind and volunteered with the Department of Conservation doing counts of Hutton’s shearwaters. So, I’ll let the students tell you their favourite parts of that week…

  • Jenn loved Zealandia!
  • Charity said…
    • “I just love being in a city! So all the times we spent in the city (Wellington) were my favourite memories of the Wellington trip. Not that I don’t like other activities we did (and some were really awesome) I just felt more comfortable and at home when I walk down the busy streets in downtown Wellington! I really miss being connected with the city folks and lifestyle.”
  • Schuyler said…
    • “Going to parliament, I think it’s really interesting to see how other countries govern and the strengths and weaknesses of other governments to see how we can improve ours back home.”
  • Mark said…
    • For sure, my favourite part was the liturgical worship services at Ngatiawa River Monestary. I loved the candlelights and the quiet contemplativeness in each service.

When students returned from their trip to Wellington, Dayton (our intern) had a traditional Middle Eastern meal prepared for them. It was fun to sit as a community and experience a meal in a special and different way.

Enjoying Middle Eastern Food

Then, another week of Sustainable Community Development with Dr. Mick Duncan. Mick’s second week allowed students to reflect on their experiences in Wellington and tie in examples of real-world sustainability that are occurring there.*

*After mid-term break, I asked students what their favourite course was so far (Sustainable Community Development, God and Nature I, or Environmental Literature I) and they all said SCD was their favourite! Here’s why…

  • “It challenges me to think about the life I want to live and who I am as a person. I think learning about the difference between being good and being nice was something that I enjoyed and it challenged me as well.” —Schuyler
  • “—taught us great values needed in life. Mick is an amazing teacher. His lessons challenged all our social issue beliefs.” —Jenn
  • “Mick (Dr. Duncan) has such an affinity for telling stories, being incredibly enthusiastic, and supportive yet criticising. I really value Mick’s idea of being consistently Pro-life, Pro-people, Pro-places, and Pro-earth.
  • “In Mick’s class we got to hear his hands-on life experience in living out Sustainable Development! I love how the class functioned more like an interactive discussion based class.” —Charity
    • Charity also mentioned that she liked Environmental Literature I, “Environmental Literature was also really awesome. Amy’s passions for literature and poetry inspired me to give out more appreciation to this class.”
Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 1.49.45 PM
Kyle and Schuyler… Didn’t you know? Playing the guitar can be a team effort!

This weekend, most students left for their home-stays. The home-stay experience allowed them to experience kiwi culture more deeply and develop a relationship with some of the people in Kaikoura. When students returned, we celebrated Morgan’s birthday with “Mocktails and Canvas.” I led students in a painting of footprints on a seashore and they rose to the challenge! We enjoyed sparkling grape juice as we painted, and Morgan’s favourite dessert, Kuchen (a type of bread-like cake—we had nectarine and cottage cheese flavours!).

Celebrating Morgan’s birthday with “Mocktails and Canvas”

Then we were into the first week in October, and spring! We kicked off October with God and Nature with Dr. Andrew Shepherd. Throughout the week, students were challenged to think in different ways by Andrew’s content. Sadly, this week we also celebrated the life of Willie, husband to Inga and friend of CCSP. Some students participated in the funeral services and we have been able to help support and bless Inga moving forward. 

The weekend of the 13th-14th of October the ladies and I hiked Mt. Fyffe. We had a lot of fun hiking to the top, spending the night in the hut, then waking up early (really early) the next day to watch sunrise from the summit.

Morgan, Jenn, Charity, Rachel, and Alexa at the summit of Mt. Fyffe overlooking the Kaikoura Peninsula

Week two in October also brought with it a new course, Environmental Literature with Dr. Amy Wicks. Students made claims by writing an essay on Potiki and read many short works and poems. Throughout the week students were also challenged to become poets. Although some were hesitant at first, by the end of the week all of the students agreed that it was a great emotional exercise to do “Check-ins” (taking just 7 minutes to write about anything, as long as the pen keeps moving) every day.

The faces of people who just saw 3 orcas!

Then students were off on their exciting Mid-Term break trips! From October 13th-21st, students traveled all around New Zealand, and even Australia! When everyone returned, they shared where they went and what they did. Here’s a snapshot of their trips…

  • Jenn and Charity flew up to Auckland. They shared a fun video of their travels with us! They also had us do a spicy ramen noodle challenge and try mochi. Some highlights included…
    • Visiting Charity’s family in Auckland
    • Hot springs
    • Glow-worm cave
    • Hobbitton
    • All the Asian food!
  • Mark, Schuyler, and Rachel traveled around the South Island and spent a lot of time out-of-doors. They also shared a nice video of their trip, and had us play a “Who said it?” (quotes out of context) game. Some of their favourite places/activities were…
    • Hooker Valley Pass
    • Lake Tekapo
    • Wanaka
    • Meeting up with Lisa at Fergburger in Queenstown
    • Milford Sound
    • Ambushing someone who they thought was Kyle (another student), but was not Kyle (and the car wasn’t even a Mitsubishi)
  • Kyle and Nate spent their time on the South Island, too. They drove (a lot), surfed (quite a bit), and took amazing photos that they shared with us (lots of them). They also shared some fun stories…
    • Nate got a fantastic photo of a seal who tried to charge him—dangerous by too cool
    • They say a Fjordland Crested penguin, New Zealand’s rarest penguin. Kyle described it cinematically—the penguin even had a funny fall as it hopped across rocks to get to the water
    • Kyle won a limbo competition (and a jetboat ride that he gave away) in Queenstown
  • Morgan was lucky enough to have her friend Sierra, from the US, come and visit her over break. They traveled in New Zealand and Australia. Morgan shared cool post cards she purchased, ticket stubs, and other small memorabilia from her trip. I asked Morgan to write a bit about her trip and here is what she shared…
    • “I loved how many penguins we saw. We saw little blue penguins at the Oamaru Penguin Colony (184 of them came in from the ocean to their nests that night) and at both the Meblourne Zoo and the International Antartic Center in Christchurch we also saw King and Gentoo penguins at the Melbourne SeaLife Aquarium. There were 3 baby King penguin chicks that were super adorable and fluffy and brown!”
    • “Another favourite part of the trip was going to the circus. The few days we were in Melbourne coincided with the Melbourne International Arts Festival, and the Nofit State Circus from somewhere in the UK (I think) were there doing their lexicon performance. We saw a billboard for it and decided to go, and that was probably one of our best decisions. The performers were crazy talented and strong, doing incredible acrobatics on ropes, on trapezes, with each other, and more. There was a funny juggler and there was also a unicyclist who kept appearing throughout the show like during the breaks he had gained more skills, starting with being teased by others and proving himself by riding on wheel to dressing himself on the unicycle to riding the unicycle across a line of elevated wine glasses.”
  • I (Alexa) went to Fiji and spent a lot of time reading, soaked up the sunshine, and enjoyed “Fiji time.”
  • Nora (another SLC) and Stephen (her husband) traveled around the South Island to the Moeraki boulders and Dunedin (which they thoroughly enjoyed).
  • Courtnay (CCSP’s director) enjoyed her sister and nephew visiting.
  • brenda (CCSP’s health and safety officer) held down the fort and had a relaxing time (thanks, brenda!).
Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 1.54.03 PM.png
Home again, home again.

That’s all for now, we hope you’ll check back in a couple of days to see our next post detailing our courses with Loren and Mary-Ruth Wilkinson, our Terrestrial Ecology/West Coast Field trip, and our Marine Ecology course. Cheers!

Remember to follow our adventures on Instagram @creationcsp, and check out our website at creationcsp.org!


Kia ora, it’s been awhile since we’ve posted! I’m one of CCSP’s new Student Life Coordinators, Alexa. CCSP is still in Kaikoura but has moved into Sky Hi as our new home for the next few years, and the students have settled in for the next few months of learning.

Since everyone’s arrived we’ve enjoyed a comfortably full week of orientation, a long weekend away, and a week of class. During orientation week the students…

  • Went on a photo scavenger hunt around Kaikoura
  • Participated in reflective turituri (hush, be quiet)
  • Visited Kaikoura’s museum
  • Were welcomed into Takahanga Marae via pōwhiri ceremony
  • Took a trip to Hanmer Springs to relax in the hot pools
  • Visited a Permaculture farm and met Potamus the pig
    • Rachel said, “I personally really liked going to the permaculture farm. I really just appreciated seeing the way that they innovated having different plants that were not just the end product, but that helped the plants they were trying to grow. It lent a sort of chaotic feel, but in a good and wild way. It was really beautiful.”
  • Ate a delicious Iconic Tea by Lisa, complete with Pavlova
  • Helped harvest carrots and weed thyme at the Hislop’s farm
  • Watched the movie Whale Rider
  • Walked the Kaikoura Peninsula with guide Simon
    • When I asked Morgan about her favourite activity she said, “Maybe the Peninsula Walk. It was cool to see all the views and have Simon tell us about the area.”
Students on the Kaikoura Peninsula walk
  • Visited the Resource Recovery Center
  • Walked the Palmer Fyffe track with guide Barry Dunnett
    • Schuyler, “My favourite was probably the Mt. Fyffe walk. It was a blast and a half.”
Students on the Palmer Fyffe walk guided by Barry Dunnett, who has written a book about tramping around Kaikoura and been quoted multiple times in Wilderness Magazine NZ
  • Enjoyed lunch with their small groups
  • And learned about living with less with Ralph and Allie Hogan.

Jenn’s favourite activity was one I had forgotten. When I asked her, she said, “The bonfire was pretty fun,” which it absolutely was. Thanks to Jenn and Schuyler, we were serenaded by the sounds of ukulele and guitar at a beach bonfire while we appreciated the ocean, moon, and stars.

While enjoying planned (and unplanned) orientation week activities the students were deciding where to go on their first weekend away from Kaikoura. The long weekend trip allows students to get a bit of New Zealand exploring in early on in the semester. Charity, Jenn, Mark, Morgan, and Rachel spent the weekend up North in Picton while Kyle, Nate, and Schuyler went up to Picton and then chased the surf Southward. Mark relayed his group’s story to me.

The Picton Crew (Rachel, Jenn, Mark, Morgan, and Charity) is all smiles on a hike

“We took the bus up there and had a kind of funny coincidence. On the bus there were only us and one other lady with her three kids. We saw her once in Picton and she rode back on the same bus as us. We rode on the bus then had to walk two miles to our hostel, and when we got there we got chocolate pudding and ice cream.

The next day we went on our day hike and I fell in the mud, but it was fun and we saw some seals.

The next day we went sea kayaking and several times found ourselves in a pod of dolphins and a gaggle of seals who were feeding on the fish below. They were going under the kayaks and jumping out of the water and it was kind of scary but cool. Eddie the one eyed seal poked his head out of the water only five feet away from my kayak—he stared at me and started coming towards my kayak and I freaked out but then he left.

Morgan and Charity sea kayaking

The next day was annoyingly rainy so we just walked around, looked at the shops, and played games in cafes until we had to get on the bus again.”

Jenn also told me that they went to the aquarium after kayaking and were the only visitors at the time. The employee on duty took out a tuatara just for them and they got to pet it. They learned that tuataras have one heartbeat only every 15min or so.

The tuatara that the Picton crew met

Kyle told me about their group’s trip which was all about the surf.

The Surf Crew (Nate, Kyle, and Schuyler–not pictured here but photo creds @Schuyler)

“We started out going to Whites Bay, then up to Picton, and then drove Port Underwood road that went around the NE corner down to Robin’s Hood bay where we stayed the night and surfed.

We went to Ward’s beach, Awatere River, and finally Mungamanu and then stayed in that area. We surfed at Kahutara and then it was time to come back to Kaikoura. It was pretty awesome. The best waves were at Kahutara Sunday evening. I would say 5ft or 6ft.

We saw a kinkajou and lots of wekas. Other than going to the amazing bays and surfing and camping there, the best part was driving Port Underwood road. The road was on the coast and it was high up above the water, and it was just amazing that they were able to get a road there. It was a really scenic drive.”

Nate added, “I think my favourite part was grabbing fresh mussels and eating them for dinner.”

All staff and students had Sunday tea together and participated in foot-washing during community night.

The students just completed their first week of class—Sustainable Community Development with Dr. Michael Duncan. Mick’s life story and faith journey are intertwined with his course. The difficult topics addressed and new ideas presented can be emotionally heavy for students; but if they approach the topics with open minds and hearts it can be very rewarding.

When asked about her favourite part of the course Charity said, “I like how he talked about how his life applied to what we were learning. I liked that he talked a lot about going to places of disorder and establishing order.”

And when asked about his Mark said, “I loved his openness to telling difficult stories. He has such a passion for the poor and it really shows through his personality.”

Mick will return during the last week in September for week two of SCD and to debrief the students’ Wellington field trip.

It’s a sunny, late-Sunday arvo as I write this, and I am happy to report that although students did not have a long weekend to travel, they still took advantage of and enjoyed their time off. Yesterday Rachel, Mark, and I ran a water station for the Whale Run, a 10k and half-marathon run that had over 500 entrants. Schuyler ran the half-marathon at an impressive pace, coming in 49th with no prior serious training. We all spent the afternoon in cafes or otherwise relaxing, except for Nate, Kyle, and our intern, Dayton, who climbed Mount Fyffe together. Nate relayed a funny story of their tramp to me…

Mt. Fyffe Crew (Nate, Dayton, and Kyle)

…they made it up to the hut where they would be sleeping for the night and got comfortable, but when they went to make tea realised they had too few utensils, a proper knife for cutting steak (they were attempting to use a butter knife), and too few pans. A man named Ben who was making himself a nice ramen-looking dinner of noodles and meat, “did everything he could to make their lives easy,” Kyle said (Ben gave them utensils, a knife, and a pan). Ben’s made-up bowl was sitting on the floor and Nate needed to go outside but accidentally clipped the edge of the bowl with his foot, ruining most of Ben’s dinner. The consolation? They shared their tea meal with Ben.

Above the clouds

This morning I dropped Mark off at Mount Fyffe—he planned to summit and climb back down the other side today. However, a rock slip cut his hike short. While the other students and I attended New Life church, the other guys made it back from their hike without issue. This afternoon naps were had by most. And, what do you know… Ben rocked up for tea!

I think we’re all enjoying the pace of life here in Kaikoura.

Sunrise over the Kaikoura Esplanade


All of the photos in this post were provided by this semester’s CCSP students. Remember to follow our adventures on Instagram @creationcsp, and check out our website at creationcsp.org!

A fond farewell

It’s hard for me to believe that ten months ago, I (Lex, SLC) was on a plane headed for my new home in Kaikoura, New Zealand. Now, with my responsibilities as a CCSP staff member wrapping up, I’m getting ready to say goodbye to not only the people here and the memories I’ve made, but also the plants, land, and animals here in town. I haven’t always liked goodbyes, but this one in particular will be hard.

I think I’ve gotten to know the earth and soil in this little corner of the planet so much more than any other place I’ve ever lived. I’ve learned how to harvest kale, what it feels like to lose 5 games of Rummikub in a row to the one and only Willie van Hoof, and how to cook. I’ve learned to appreciate both the easy and tough things about living in an intentional community, and how to take time to myself when I need it. The past two semesters have been so influential to me, and have definitely shaped me as an individual, but also as an earthling.



These are some of the things I will deeply miss from the past few months:

  • sharing a French press with Courtnay (and Arin, Sabrina, Teri, Katie, Ellie, Lilly, and sometimes Laura)
  • peanut butter & budlet toast with Laura
  • painting in the craft room with Teri
  • watching movies on Friday nights
  • eating endless amounts of popcorn
  • joking with Adriannea about when the sun is out and when the moon is out
  • School of Rock, Nacho Libre and Monty Python: the Holy Grail at the church
  • trips to the beach or Seal colony to look for cateyes, sea glass and paua
  • coffee dates with Emma Jane
  • listening to Pentatonix, J. Bieber and Beyonce on car rides with Arin riding shotgun
  • taunting Landon with Arin and Ryan as we drop him off for a run
  • swimming at the beach when the weather got too hot
  • seeing Dusky dolphins from our porch
  • trips to Ngatiawa
  • walking to Hislops for a chai latte
  • Riverdale episodes with Adriannea
  • watching Downton Abbey with Lisa, Cat Pat and Nicki
  • playing ukulele with Matthew Lee
  • going to Thai Siam with Teri, Katie and Landon and watching LOTR over takeout
  • popcorn dates with Katie on the steps of the Presbyterian church
  • reading upstairs with a cup of tea
  • Ethiopian night (thanks Ellie, Sabrina and Laura!)
  • morning prayers with Court, Arin, Laura, Sabrina and Landon
  • going to the penguin colony with Jody
  • homemade forts with games and treats
  • listening to Kelly play the piano
  • sitting in the coffee-tea kitchen in the sun
  • petting our neighborhood cat, Felipa/Penelope
  • sitting on the beach talking with Kelsey and Karoline
  • cooking chickpea burgers for 15 people
  • sitting around the fire for breakfast
  • going to the Lookout
  • Saturday morning breakfasts with Lisa
  • kayaking and paddle boarding
  • taking trips back to the Convent with Landon
  • meals with the Churnsides, the van Hoofs, the Hursts, Repekah, Bronwyn and Ezra
  • cups of tea/coffee and biscuits after church






Farewell for now, friends, family, animals, soil, garden at the marae, neighbors, Anglican Church, the beach, sleeping on surfing beaches. I bid you all a very fond farewell…

-Lex Draut