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!


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

Reading Week Spring ’18

It’s reading week here at Dolphin Lodge. I love to read, and so the idea of spending an entire week reading ahead in our school books excites me. We haven’t spent all our time reading, though. There are also assignments to be written, and fun to be had. They told us in the pre-arrival letters to be prepared to re-learn how to “recreate” without technology, but I wasn’t prepared for how much fun it is to spend time together without electronics (except for music, which is always a good thing to have).

Before I jump into reading week, I would like to recap the weekend. CCSP arranges it so that we don’t have assignments over the weekends, which means that a lot of us students are enjoying “real” weekends for the first time in a long time. Landon, Heather, Teri, and I kicked off our Saturday with some surfing on the point. It was Teri and I’s first time surfing, and it was so exciting to be out in the waves with the other surfers pretending we knew what we were doing. We got back from surfing just in time to head to mini golf with the whole crew! I spent a lot of vacation time growing up playing putt-putt, and so it was great to get a chance to play again. Everyone ended up doing quite well, despite a couple balls hitting the nearby shrubs. 😉

My favorite part of the weekend has to be Saturday night, when Lex, Landon, and all of the students were all hanging out in the living room. We did a variety of things, like coloring, journaling, talking, and doing a puzzle. I just can’t get over how much fun it was to relax and be creative all together. We laughed so much that night, and I went to bed full of thankfulness for the opportunity to live in community with such great people, in such a beautiful place.

I have a tendency to go into too much detail, so I won’t recount every detail about Sunday, but my favorite parts of Sunday were leading worship at the Anglican church (a hilarious experience) and reading The Fellowship of the Ring on the window seat upstairs.

On to the actual week, finally! After we had our reading week debriefing on Monday, we all went separate ways to begin reading. We went to the marae garden to work after lunch and had our first Te Reo Maori class after dinner. Tuesday, I went to poetry class with Lex, went with Landon, Jonathan, Teri, Lex and Heather to read on the beach at the point while others surfed, and then we had Te Reo again. On Wednesday, some of us had a Valentine’s Day sunrise picnic before coming back and doing more school work. Then, we celebrated Jonathan and Kat’s Birthdays with burgers, games, headstands, handmade icecream (with homemade hot fudge and candied almonds), and Pavlova! It was so much fun celebrating them and eating good food. On Thursday we spent most of our time doing school work and then had Te Reo again in the evening. Friday was spent preparing (with a brief beach break) for our Te Reo Exam and presentations in the evening.

So, you could say it’s been a good week. One full of learning about the Maori culture and language, fun times, and reading. A week of further bonding as a community and of learning how to balance school time with fun time in this beautiful location. I can honestly say that so far this experience a student with CCSP has been one of the best in my life. Here’s to more growing in our wisdom, our faith, and our friendships.

A Weekend Away

Greetings from Kaikoura, New Zealand! We’ve just gotten back from a long weekend of tramping. (That’s Kiwi for backpacking.) One group went to Lake Angelus and the other group, the one I was a part of, had planned to go to Mount Owen in Kaharungi National Park. When we got to the information center, however, they informed us that the impending weather meant that we should consider changing our plants. We also didn’t rent a four-wheeled vehicle which meant that we would have had to walk an extra eight miles that afternoon in order to get to the trailhead, so that was a no go. Instead, we decided to stay in Nelson National Park and do a tramp there. New Zealand has this awesome network of tramping huts all over the country that only cost $5-$15 a night and they’re right on the trail, so it makes it a bit more accessible to people and certainly made things a bit easier for us. We bought some hut passes, took a picture of the map on the wall because we didn’t want to buy a paper map, and headed on our way. Overall, the trails were gorgeous. We walked through forests covered in ferns, mosses, and mushrooms in many colors. Here’s a picture of what some of the trail looked like:


The change of plans turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however. On our way to our second hut, we met a couple from France who said that they had just stayed at that hut and that there was an amazing waterfall only an hour’s hike from the hut. Once we got to the hut, we warmed up by the fireplace, dried our socks, and decided to go find that waterfall. Despite being pretty tired from a long day’s hike, the thought of a pretty cool waterfall pushed us forward and once we got there, we were certainly glad that we had. Not only was there a waterfall tumbling down and weaving its way between rocks, surround by lush greenery, but directly opposite was the biggest, most impressive valley I had ever seen. We were all speechless. Standing in between that waterfall and the mountains towering ahead of me, I felt small. There aren’t adequate words in the English language to try and describe the experience of being there, but in an effort to, I will say that it was a manifestation of the grandeur of God, played out in His creation. It reminded me just how small I am and just how grand and majestic my God is. It is the kind of experience you impress upon every corner of your brain, hoping it will never leave you. Following are a couple of pictures I took in an attempt to capture this beauty:





Besides the amazing views, the trip proved to be a fun time between friends, both new and old. There were six of us, each with a very important role that was essential to the group. Those six roles were as follows:

  • Honorable Toilet Paper Carrier
  • Master Chef
  • Just and Fair Pathfinder
  • Spunky Conversation Instigator
  • Human Garbage Can
  • Bug Attractant

As you can see, we had all the necessary components of a functioning team and it was a pretty great trip. So, if you ever get the chance to go on a tramping trip in New Zealand with people you just met a week ago, I say do it.


–  post written by Ellie Jasper, CCSP student from Dordt College

Till Next Time

Snow catching the first rays of sunrise

The month of May has flown by and winter has claimed New Zealand. A few weeks ago we said a tearful goodbye to the students and sent them off with loads of awesome memories. Though it’s sad to let them go it’s exciting to know they’re equipped to change their corners of the world and continue God’s work of shalom.

The Dolphin Lodge is now eerily quiet (though I’m sure the neighbors are enjoying it). The town of Kaikoura is settling in for a busy winter; it is hosting 300 workers who will repair the roads and open up access to the north again. They are housed in a temporary village and while it might mean less rest for locals it will also mean more business for those in food service who will be providing meals for the workers. On the workers’ end, Kaikoura is not too shabby of a place to be stuck for a few months!

Four of us staff have also finished our time with CCSP. Those staying will be joined by a new Program Administrator and two SLCs in August. Soon enough they’ll be welcoming a new crew of students to make more fun memories at Dolphin Lodge!  

As for me, well, I’ll be passing the administration of this blog on to the next staff member. I have no plans to return to New Zealand… yet. Somehow I think I’ll always find a way back. So rather than say goodbye, I’ll say “till we meet again.” It’s been a fantastic semester and I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a glimpse into it.

This is Essie signing off.


The Kaikoura ranges from the air

Despite the Earthquake, God is Here

On November 14th, 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Kaikoura. Given the strength of the earthquake it was a miracle that only two people lost their lives. A holiday weekend with lots of tourists visiting here had just ended, and most people were at home instead of the hotels or other common areas that were among the most damaged. Nevertheless there was a lot of damage: particularly in the commercial district that was gearing up for what would usually be a peak tourist season. But the road northward was blocked, and few tourists came.

This was the setting that my cohort of CCSP entered. I, for one, was largely naïve of the impact of the earthquake. Our program was relocated, but it was to a beautiful spot overlooking the ocean and close to town. I had nothing to compare it to, and thus no sense of the loss that occurred. The loss first began to hit me when I biked out to see the old convent with Kelly, one of my friends from the program. As we carefully walked around the outside of the building, I saw what a beautiful place it was. It was large with balconies and porches, and surrounded by flowers and fields. Sanctuary seems like the only word to describe it: it was a place set aside for the work of God, a place of peace, healing, and contemplation. Even in its brokenness it was beautiful; there were still vegetables growing in the garden and at a distance through the windows we could see artwork on the walls and a bowl of fruit sitting in the living room. But now there was glass on the ground and caution tape surrounding the parameter. Like the pictures you see on TV, I saw a perfect place frozen in time by a natural disaster. I started to understand the deep impact of this event on those around me, and saw how deep the hurt ran.

I see God in the eyes of the Christians of Kaikoura. Their eyes sparkle and glow as they talk about the work of God in this town and in their lives. They talk about how fear tried to enter their lives with the earthquake, but how they know that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power. Therefore, they refuse to let fear enter their lives.

This past break I had the opportunity to stay local for a part of it and get to know the people here. One woman, Fiona, learned that we were staying out of town and welcomed us to stay at her home since it was closer to church and town. I’ve seen a lot of homes and businesses that are still in disarray, but her home was filled with peace. For a while she didn’t put back up the fragile decorations hanging on the wall in case an aftershock knocked them off again. But she decided that she wanted her home to be a place of healing and of peace, so she decided to hang up her decorations anyways. Her warm welcome to us and the peace of her home was such a blessing. As she talked her eyes glowed about God’s provision during the earthquake, the Holy Spirit’s work in her family, and how God has brought her beautiful, full household together. There is life here, and new beginnings despite the pain.

You know that feeling of excitement you get when someone’s eyes light up when they talk about their passions? I’ve never met a group of people so alive that they bring Jesus into every conversation, and found so many people with sparkling eyes. So if you ask me where I see God here: He’s so clearly living in people who see hope amid chaos, and the Sprit working within pain. I see a people who are passionate about how God has redeemed their lives and their pasts, and who desire for others to find the same joy that they have discovered. It’s contagious really, and so far beyond what would be expected given the circumstances. This contagious joy and peace might just be the most beautiful thing I have experienced in New Zealand so far.


Me with Lisa, one of my favorite faith-filled Kiwis! This post is dedicated to Lisa, Fiona, and Dawn. 


Life at Dolphin Lodge

Those of us at CCSP this semester are the first group of students to call Dolphin Lodge home. We have the privilege of being the group who can first form traditions here, and notice the quirks that make it special to live here. Living in a house with eighteen other people can take some time to adjust to. But now that I’ve been here for a month, I can say without hesitation that the positives outweigh the negatives. Life at Dolphin Lodge is very centered on shared work and shared fun. A tour through the house and property will give a glimpse into all the different aspects of life that we share with each other. Beginning outside in our backyard where there’s a lemon tree, an apricot tree, and a Pohutukawa tree (also known as a New Zealand Christmas tree). There are wash basins where we do our laundry by hand. A laundry line where we hang our clothes out to dry and hope that wind doesn’t blow our underwear away or rain fall and soak everything all over again (both have happened). Outside is our back deck where we eat meals gathered around picnic tables. Doors lead into the kitchen where we take turns washing dishes after meals. In the kitchen there’s lots of things to share besides responsibilities. There’s always someone to split a pot of French press coffee with. There’s always someone to talk to about whatever might be tumbling around in your mind after a thought provoking class session. Sometimes we use the kitchen to make late night desserts without recipes, throwing ingredients into the bowl and having it still turn out delicious in the end. Upstairs we have our classroom space, which we also use as a common area to sit on sofas and read. There’s a little cozy library filled with books about New Zealand history, Maori culture, gardening, ecology, community development, or whatever other fascinating subject you want to dig into. Also upstairs is a deck that looks out over the ocean. If you pay close attention, you can spot a pod of dolphins from up there. The beach is a three-minute walk down the hill and across the road, so spontaneous swimming is almost a daily occurrence at the Dolphin Lodge. We swim out to a rock that we can climb on and sunbathe and jump off of. Dolphin Lodge is often full of laughter, good food, good friends, and learning. We learn in classes, but we are also learning much from simply living with each other. We’ve been learning how to live well with each other and how to manage conflicts. We’ve learned the abundant joy that occurs when you share life with others.

~ Emma Buchanan