Sea swimming, Skylines, and Sunburn

By: Connor Glasset, Secondary Education Major, Champlain College

A seagull profits from low tide, searching for lunch. Captured by Ali Sousa

A seagull profits from low tide, searching for lunch.
Captured by Ali Sousa

Kia ora!

For our first full weekend together in Auckland, the Champlain Abroad students banded together to pass the day bronzing on the beach. We started out early, catching the 10:30 ferry at the harbor at the bottom of Queen Street, direction Devonport.

After the short 12 minute long ferry ride across the harbor we arrived at the Devonport dock. We meandered along the coast for two kilometers before reaching our sandy destination. In almost perfect unison we kicked off our flip-flops and unfolded our towels. Unfortunately, for the sake of swimming, when we arrived it was low tide. The 70 degree water was only ankle deep allowing us to wander out into the sea a good quarter mile before the waves began to break, wetting us above the waist. We floated, splashed and considered ourselves lucky to be enjoying the summer sun and warm water while our friends back in Burlington were most likely in class wrapped up in multiple layers. As we made our way back to shore we couldn’t help but kick up dozens of sand dollars-both living and dead. Over the next few hours we were in and out of the salty water, spread out soaking up the sun, scouring the shore for sea glass, and fantasizing about owning the cookie cutter bungalows behind us.

 

We must have kicked up a few dozen of this little guy's friends as we walked out into the deeper water.

We must have kicked up a few dozen of this little guy’s friends as we walked out into the deeper water.

We decided to pack-up and make our way back to the port after spending nearly six hours at the beach. On the way back we impulsively decided to climb North Head. The climb, if you could even call the leisurely stroll to the top of the small hill that, took all of five minutes. North Head has served as a defense sight for centuries. Originally the Maori used the strategically placed elevated mass of earth as a defense site and later so too did the European settlers. Some of the tunnels and entrenchments still remain on North Head and you can arrange to tour them. For us, however, the best part of North Head was the panoramic view of the Auckland skyline.

Champlain Abroad takes Auckland

Champlain takes Auckland!
(left to right: Seth Aubin, Alexa Deegan, Meghan Richards, Connor Glassett, Kohl Davis, Kate Shuler, Ali Sousa, Emmalee Osborne, McKenna Hayes (San Diego State University))

Spending the day on the beach began to take its toll on the ferry ride back to Auckland. I barely managed to drag my tired body back up Queen Street to WSA. When I looked in my bathroom mirror, I realized I had made a huge mistake. Since arriving, we had all been told about how dangerous the sun is here. Apparently, the ozone layer above New Zealand and Australia is critically depleted. A thinner ozone layer leads to stronger UV radiation on the ground and consequently, especially for pasty study abroad students, severe sunburns. So, there I was staring into the mirror with a tomato colored version of myself peering back. As far as my ego was concerned, I found solace in knowing that I wasn’t the only one badly burnt. I’m not sure if I should chalk it up to youthful arrogance—assuming that I’m invincible—or just an eagerness to tan; either way, I certainly learned my lesson and won’t forget it anytime soon.

Pro tip: ALWAYS WEAR SUNBLOCK!

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