Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Little things...

Just a post with various little things.

Some weeks ago I went for a wee tiny hike with Paul and Katrina: just to get out of Christchurch for the weekend. Not much walking, but more time for games! And a lovely view...Basically, this is my back yard (yes, I have a huge imagination...)

And then, Christmas lunch with my colleagues in our 4 person team. It's a bit funny, because I am in a team, but I only work with Diana. And I work with loads of other people outside my team. But Diana, Heather T, Heather C and I are called a team (and for the summer we have Jamie, the student!)...I think they have a good (academic) theory why we should be in 1 team...My theory is that we are all a bit nuts, so that matches quite well! Anyhow, we went for lunch at a nice cafe and we all worn some of Hilary's clothes (Diana's 6-year old). Why? I don't know but we had loads of fun...and laughs, good food and mjummie dessert. And honestly, I'm sharing my cake with Jamie, I'm not taking it of his plate...

Heather C made me do it (honestly dad, ofcourse I wouldn't misbehave while you are not here!!)

Boss Diana, although she hates it if I call her that...Doesn't she loose all credibility with the wings and tiara?

Jamie: we made him choose the last item...pink of course!

Heather T: tiny wings but she can truly fly!

Heather C: my office partner...absolutely loves pink. Just as me!

Me and the wizard hat...

Now I'm so prepared for 10 days with my cousin Imke and 5 year old Josie and 1,5 year old Liam in Darwin...!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Rafting the Clarence

Question: what did I do in my previous job if I was really busy?
Answer: work my ass off and cancel fun stuff to catch up on sleep...

Question: what do I do now when I'm busy at work?
Answer: I go rafting!

One of my friends, Steve, and some friends of his arrange this rafting trip down the Clarence River almost every second year or so: they hire 3 boats from university, get the gear, arrange transport and get us going. 16 people in total, 3 rafts, Pinky, Red Sofie and Grey Ghost with our 3 amazing captains Steve, Stuart and Mike. And camping along the river on otherwise not so accessible beautiful spots...

From day 1 it was amazing. Long days on the river (one day 9 till 9), being absolutely knackered, having nice food (Steve is the chef (mjummie!) and sleeping like a baby. Great people (some new, some old), cool river surroundings, interesting rapids, easy, hard and freaking unexpected hard rapids...but very cool, very cool indeed. We even had a puncture...

I got a go at steering of the raft too. Twice. First on the first day which felt absolutely disastrous: it's quite hard to steer the boat, get a good line, find the fast water, see how the river curls around the gorges and riverbeds and co-ordinate the other people (I love the shouting though...) But amazing how much you learn by watching the others, getting to know the raft and the skills with it. So second time was on the last day and it went much better. Jill, my Canadian friend, who is mad into kayaking, is trying to get me on a course, and after this trip she might have a new kayak partner...

See, that's the down side of NZ: there is so much fun stuff to do. Besides my climbing, mountainbiking, snowboarding, I want to start diving again (my new flatmate James is into that too!) and maybe potentially surf with Susan and Julia and now kayak...Not too forget my biggest hobby hiking...

Loads of pictures, all not taken by me (no waterproof camera) but by Berit, Volker, Simone, Kylie, Steve, Vern, Katrin, Heather and Mike. I tried to put some on, but the computer and I just had a massive fight, so I suggest you go to Patrick's or Simone's site...


Tuesday, 9 December 2008


As all Dutch people know Sinterklaas is very important in our society. I'm not very patriotic, I don't really feel Dutch (colleagues call me a 'wannabe kiwi with an Irish accent'), people don't guess me as Dutch (different accent and I am not tall enough...) but I love Sinterklaas, the Zwarte Pieten and the culture around it. I love the things we do in our family with the teasing poems, the fake presents and of course a real present at the end.

Naturally I told my friends about it, handed out chocolate 'Sinterklaas' [yes, they have it in the supermarket, at the Dutch section...'is there a Dutch section?' I can hear people think? Yes there is. So what's in that Dutch section? Well, speculaas, Dutch mayonaise, Dutch pickles, knakworsten (yup, the real ones), stroopwafels (yup, the real ones) and now chocolate Sinterklaas]. And of course I told some of my colleagues, I got some pictures of the Internet and summarised it in an email (for the non-Dutch: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas)

Now. So what. Well, get this. The past few Mondays I have been co-ordinating some development work with some tutors. I don't really know them, I'm just guiding them in the innovative process, but we get on quite well. This Monday, Kirsten says at the end that she has something for me...Much to my surprise, she reads out a Sinterklaas poem!

Maaike is an outdoors woman,
she really knows her stuff.
Rafting, hiking, camping, tramping,
she's no Paddy's piece of fluff!

To NCALE, she's dedicated,
she's thorough and she's committed.
But without 5 decent coffees a day,
she smiles, but through teeth gritted!

This Christmas away from her Dutch home-land,
missing family and friends too.
Merry Christmas from us all at CPIT,
to Maaike,a new kiwi true-blue!

I felt really special, or better said: I still do. To make it even better, Kirsten sends it to my manager, her head of school and some of my colleagues. My office partner Heather response was this:

Maaike is a rafter,
a biker, and a hiker...
Maaike's eating speculaas, dancing jigs, doing Haka!

Maaike tells us that she likes,
to eat a lot of bread.
If she can't get any,
it makes her crazy in the head!

Maaike was a tomboy,
climbing all the trees.
Clamboring up the roof tops,
with a monkey-like ease.

Maaike thinks she's Irish,
but I bet she never met at dawn,
a wee green mischievous man,
we call a leprechaun.

Perhaps that is because
she's really one of them
in heart and soul and accent
a true multi cultural gem!

I have fantastic colleagues...again!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Arthur's Pass

to be a bit more precise: somewhere around Edwards hut and Hawden hut!

About a month ago [yes, I know, I should update more, but I hate sitting behind the computer!]I went hiking with Steve and Michelle, Myra and Graham and Patrick and I. Three days of nature, camping, steady walking pace, great company, fantastic weather, freezing water (and river crossing of course) and yes snow.

I truly enjoyed it: we had some good laughs, some scary moments (we had to climb almost vertical up a slope with little to hold on to, just grass...) and some painfull moments: do you see the picture where Patrick jumps on a mini gletser above a river? We had to cross it later on and I reckon his jumping sabotaged the snow, because I fell through. In a 'extremely agonizing' way (I'm joking...a bit...): just one leg, heavy backpack on my back and no way to get out. Thankfully there were people around me to help me out after they stopped laughing ... and after Myra took pictures...

Anyhow, pictures are better than words. The one picture of Steve on his knees: Steve is a entemologist (let's call him Dr. Bug). He just found a rare species...

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Did you know...

- that most people in NZ I know don't have health insurance? Yes, NZ has ACC which means that if you are in an accident (road, mountains, work etc) the state will cover medical help. Furthermore the public health sector will help with all creepy and scary diseases as well, but with a 6 months waiting list it might be too late...
- that I am still very Dutch so I like to be insured
- and that my insurance will cost me only 15 euro per month. Isnt that hilarious? Back home it was 120 euro's!

- you can do free language courses at my school, and handy creative courses for 16 dollars (8 euro)...but not me, because Im not a resident. Or summerschool courses for 100 dollars, but for me 500 dollars, because I am not a resident.
- that a visit to the doctor is 6x more expensive for me because I am not a resident
- that getting some medication for a resident is 5 dollar but for me 55 dollar? Because I am not a resident...

So that, and because I just really really like it here (no surprises there I guess?), made me decide to get residence. I just heard that my application is accepted and that I now have to prove everything I claimed to be. Don't you love paperwork?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Castle Hill

Time flies when you are having fun!! So just a brief post about 3 weeks ago when I went bouldering at Castle Hill with Hamish, Amy, Steve, Michelle, Belinda and Patrick. Bouldering is climbing without a rope (I can read my sisters and my mums mind now: 'and WHY would you do that, you fool?').

Basically it is climbing but you stay low at the ground and you focus a lot on your technique: so you don't really climb high up, but more short climbs while someone can still catch you if you fall. Which I did of course, and I cut my hands open. I managed to do some great stuff and got stuck at the end at this rock which just did not agree with me...damn. Have to go back.

Truly a great sunday: Steve, Michelle and Belinda were hilarous (one picture Steve is helping Michelle...as good boyfriends do!) and especially Hamish -and yes also Patrick- were in great form. Im such a beginner...But hey, they might be better rock climbers, I'm better at climbing trees and houses...

Monday, 3 November 2008

Cass Saddle / Lagoon Saddle

The other weekend New Zealand had a long weekend (three days off!) so Berit and I decided to make the most of it and head out of town for a overnight tramping trip. The day before we left the weather was horrible which made me feel like cooking which resulted in a culinaire feast on the tramp itself. Berit nor I ever had a home made 3 course meal while tramping and I think some of the people in the hut were very surprised too to say the least (if not jealous...!) Especially when I took out the bottle of wine (ok ok, for this occasion in a plastic bottle to keep the weight down)

The trip was in one word superb. Since it was really bad weather the day before, we had heaps of snow and it was freezing on the first day and almost summer on the second day. The rivers were quite high, so we got to practise our rivercrossing skills...The track was very diverse (forrest, tussock, riverbeds etc) and I was in great company: Berit and I had some good chats and great laughs.

But I guess pictures say it all...And considering that the sun was too bright to see what pictures you were taking I think we did pretty good!


I have been raving about the fact that Christchurch is so close to the hills, Port Hills to be exact, but it's time for some visual help to understand why I love it that much.

One initiative which is definitely worth mentioning is Wednesday Walkies. The mother of a friend of my friend Michelle organises a 2 hour walk every Wednesday (that explains the name!) around the Port Hills. We gather at 7 PM and every week I get to see a new part of the hills. Most of the people in this group are my parents age, except Michelle, Steve, Michelle's flatmates Amy and Hamish and I. But don't be fooled: we sometimes have to run to keep up and while the 'older' bunch is cheerfully chatting and laughing away during the hike, we are often gasping for air and focussing on the walk...I have never met such fit people!

Last week we went to Diamond Harbour and I have taken some pictures of the bay, Lyttelton harbour, the sunset (yes, we hike with a head torch!) and one of the beautiful dogs which accompany us along the trip.

Have I told you lately that I'm in love with New Zealand? Well, I am. Deeply. Very much. And I think New Zealand loves me too...

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


Sometimes you meet people who stick to you and you cannot get rid off. After my year in Ireland I played soccer at university again and I met Marloes. We were both in the first team: We got on, we weren't the best friends, just nice and casual.

After working a year at CINOP, I asked Marloes to do some work as a freelancer for one of my projects. She was good, she loved the work and the company so she decided to do an internship there. She applied for a position at a different team and she got in. Good stuff.
We got to know each other much better then. We had the odd trainride together, we biked together, we gossiped about certain people (oh what's his name again, my biggest allergy?), we giggled and eventually we even did this massive new project together at this very religuous school where we had to wear skirts. For those who don't know Marloes (or me for that matter)...Marloes and I don't do skirts....we are soccer girls, we do a lot, but not skirts...The first time we had to wear skirts I think we were both very shy and afraid to come across people we knew...

Anyhow, all this makes Marloes great, but there is another thing that makes Marloes special. During my final year at CINOP we did a course together about competencies and skills (we mainly did that course so we could teach it ourselves later on). As a final assignment we had to think about our own workfuture and what we would like to change and of course how. I did my presentation about my struggle with balance between work and life. At the end of that presentation Marloes got emotional and upset because although I was quite honest about me not having a balance, Marloes reckoned I was not honest enough. I can still see her pointing at me and saying that getting home at 8 or 9PM and switching on my computer to do some more work is not normal...

It sounds rediculous now, but I needed Marloes to say that and I am absolutely grateful that she did. Time has passed and I have noticed while I was travelling last year that Marloes was getting busier and busier at work and I was starting to get worried that she would do the same as me (which I think she was doing a bit...)Needless to say that I am damn proud of her that she quit her job too, to become a VSO volunteer in Nigeria. Check out her blog if you are curious.

Marloes rocks!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Important stuff in life...

One of my best friends, Eefje, is doing her PhD in mediaval literature. I travelled with her the first time I was in NZ and I discovered then that she has an absolute fetish for gossip magazines. The really bad ones...She even read some stories to me while we were in bed...Is this important? No not at all, but I think it is hilarious that a literature researcher actually is addicted to gossip magazines...Can you see the paradox here? Anyway, besides all this, Eefje is also a famous actress in Belgium. At least she will be in the next 5 years. Why? Because I say so. You want proof? Well go to www.sinthome.be, click on 'kortfilm', and then click on Eefje (the angry woman: bottom row, in the middle - with the red earrings). Sorry, no subtitles for the monolingual people...

Less important but massively important to me personally are my teeth. I'm not sure whether you can comprehend what my teeth's well-being mean to me. I have been told that I am a 'cool' girl, I'm tough and Im a dare devil [I've been told...]. There is only one thing I am really really really -from the bottom of my heart- scared off and that is the dentist. Why? I don't know, because I am 28 and I never had anything done to my teeth: no braces, no fillings, no nothing. My teeth are fine.
But since I was a kid I would seriously stay awake for hours knowing that I had to go to the dentist the next month. I would have total stress moments knowing I had to go into the office and SMELL the dentist. I would seriously question every single move the dentist made to be sure I was prepared...for nothing in those 28 years. Was that dentist horrible then? I don't know, because he never did anything...

And this week the moment had arrived of which I have been utterly terrified for, for seriously YEARS and YEARS! I had a tooth ache and it needed to be fixed...So what do you do? Exactly, you ask every single person you know about their dentist: what is he/she like, will they be gentle, would you recommend them, why, why not....please help! So Nigel turned out to be the ultimate dentist (3 people praised him!) and today was the day.
Result: the tooth that was aching probably had a tiny hole 5 years ago and now turned into a massive one. Before you guys start screaming 'you should have gone to a dentist earlier!', I have. The last time was just before I started travelling and nobody picked it up...So now Mr. Nigel repaired that tooth and seriously, I feel so stupid, because get this: it did NOT hurt (ok ok with anesthetic of course). I have been terrified for something, crying myself to sleep since I was 5 (no jokes there) for something that is not a big deal?! For fuck sake, get a life Maaike...I know, I am pathetic. But thank God I found it out now, so I can happily live my life without that fear...

Or....maybe there is still a little bit of fear...My best friend Nigel may have repaired that tooth without any tears on my side, but...he is not sure whether it did not effect my nerves, so I might need a root canal treatment...

[oeeeeeeeeehhhhhhh] [that's you in the background]

Don't worry, it's ok. It's going to be horrible if needed, but Nigel and I go a long way back (8 hours to be precise) and I trust him completely. So, in 2 weeks time I will go back, I will have a filling done on the other side of my mouth (a filling: piece of cake!) and he will check the other one.

So like every Greek myth, I want to end this story with some wise words (In dutch 'het moraal van dit verhaal'). Please tell every 5 year old that going to the dentist is not scary and that getting a filling does not hurt. If only I knew back then what I know since today...

[and if you now think that my parents didn't tell me that...Of course they did, but I was too terrified to listen...]

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


In my last post I think I was raving about the quality of my life. Or better said, the fact that I actually have a life...So for those who are sceptical, some proof.

I mean, having more spare time in the hills sounds much better than 'flat country' So to give you a better idea, look at the picture on the left. I'm on the Port Hills (climbing), you can see Christchurch down below and you can see the snowy mountains in the back...Isn't it great?

Or here you can even see the ocean...Fantastic...The guys I'm climbing with are Volker (in black) and Tom (in red). Tom doesn't know that I secretly have a competition going on: whenever he can do a climb, I feel I have to be able to do it as well. Pathetic I know, but for some reason it gets me going better...

So far we are even...I think...Volker is much better, so I won't compete with him. Not on the picture is Ivor, who I actually know from home and he is doing an outdoor educator course at CPIT (my school...) so he taught me some lead climbing things. Funny thing is that we did it in English: our Dutch climbing vocabulary is just not available...

Last weekend I was suppose to go hiking, but the weather messed it up. So I went mountainbiking instead with my new bike, accompanied by Michelle, Steve and Hamish. Really good fun. Of course, I wanted to keep up with the guys in front of me (I might get lost, you know...) so maybe I have done a few 'oh shit I'm going to hit that tree' screams. In silence of course, because I'm cool...But it was good. And yes, I forgot to take pictures...

The other week I went to a kiwi band 'the Shot Band' with 3 friends and I had one of those giggly girls nights. You laugh so much that you have to cry. Or pee your pants. Or both. But I only cried, honestly. Check their site (www.theshotband.co.nz) to listen to some songs. Bit folk or country, I don't know. But they were good. And funny...

And if you want to know what I have been doing the past Tuesdays, check this website out...It's hilarious! www.bugpolo.com

Monday, 22 September 2008

Working bee or fun bee...

It may surprise you all, but so far I am considering myself as a fun working bee, with still the emphasise on fun! However, I do have to apologise for the fact that I have absolutely neglected my blogger duties in the past months. In 'pre-travelling-for-year-Maaike' terminology that would have meant that I was working my ass off... The new and improved working Maaike is besides working also trying to have a nice social life (and so far with reasonable success! Can I have an applause?!)

Die Arbeit
I know everyone is dying to know how that is going. I mean, you only know the crazy-'oh so important'-no-time-for-fun-because-I-have-a-superduper-career-Maaike. Or perhaps that is the only person I know...Well, you can see: that was my biggest fear after travelling for a year and finding that new joyfull job again: would I dive into it again and loose track of the important fun things. Verdict after 6 weeks of work: work is really fun, I have great colleagues (who already offered to help me move!) and amazing (not to mention huge...) projects but so far no scary late nights! I had and will have a few business trips up to Auckland, I did some teaching already (really love that!), I'm doing some curriculum design, I'm getting my head around all the literacy and numeracy issues and I will be doing some courses. First one is about Maori culture and history. Fantastic!

The fun things
Where do I start? I'm climbing twice a week with different people. With Berit, with whom I introduced 'last climb with one arm', or with Julia, who forces me to climb the fire ladder on a time schedule or with Volker and Ivor who won't let me get down if I think I can't do a climb...
Val introduced me to Salsa dancing which I tried before in South America and absolutely sucked at...I'm still no good, but I like it that much that I will take lessons in a few weeks time!
And the good thing about Christchurch is that the hills are that close, so last week I went for a 2 hour hike up the hills after work! Great, no flat country can win that one...

My weekends have been filled with the outdoors (that's why I am here!!): I went snowboarding almost every weekend (see pictures) which results in the fact that I am now feeling confident enough to go down a blue one nicely (and a black one with hesitance and swearing...). But the other week I even went off piste (with Steve who basically said I was an absolute wooz if I didn't...Yes, I am a sucker for peer pressure (meaning: no one tells me I am too scared to do something!)

Then I went along with Berit on a girls weekend to Hanmer Springs where a normal 'girls weekend' would have been spend in the hotpools. We went mountainbiking instead: I absolutely loved it and I even wanted to go along with the advanced girls but they talked me out it...Since it was my first time, they reckoned it wasn't a smart idea. I totally agreed (after some persuasion of course). But I decided to buy a bike though, so I am a proud owner of an amazing fancy super bike (and that's about all I know about the bike...). So as soon as we have day light savings it's biking in the hills after work!

Anything else?
Well yes, some things (at work for instance!) were giving me more pleasure and energy than others. After some 'heart feeling' (here we go again...) I knew it was my house: it was too modern, not cosy, very boring and the guys were ok, but not fun. So putting 1 and 2 together I have decided to move in with Suzie who just bought an amazing nice character house: wooden floor, beautiful garden and just a superb house. Suzie likes mountainbiking too and apparently she is a reasonable surfer...I hope she can teach me a thing or two!
Anyhow, I moved last weekend in a record speed. It took me (and Jill and Julia: thanks!!) 2 hours to move my dear belongings (amazing how much you collect in 3 months...)...

What's next?
So, I will try to do my best in updating. Next time I will tell you more about the culture differences in work (the Dutch and being direct...my gosh, Im asking for trouble!), the fact that I'm by far the youngest at work and that people tell me about that one time they were in Ireland (and if I tell them I'm Dutch they don't know whether to laugh or say sorry...or just blink)
I promise to take some nice pictures of the house, my bike, 'my' hills...but the snow pictures will have to do for now!

Oh, and if this isn't convincing enough that you have to come and visit...I will throw in a treat next time. Not telling you what it is though just yet, and Eefje is NOT allowed to tell either!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Update time...

Many things happen in a month. Friends have babies (please welcome Sjoerd in the world!), my brother finds a new job in the Netherlands this time, I had job interviews (yes plural!) and a presentation to do, Patrick leaves for a month to go to Ireland, I happily quit my contact centre job (YAY!) after having 2 cool job offers and decisions needed to be made. So as of August 11 I will be working as part of the academic staff at CPIT (Polytech in Christchurch, for the Dutch among us: compare it with a MBO/HBO) doing a 2 year project regarding integrated literacy.

Cool? Absolutely!
Impressed? Hell yeah!
Happy? Over the moon!

At the moment I need my time to arrange all the paperwork. Work regulation in NZ are so much different than back home, so I am reading every single paragraph of the agreement. Little things that make me happy: no more work in weekends, 36 hours is a full work week, I will get a teaching qualification and I am allowed to do courses at the institute itself...

I am also the lucky girl who can arrange a proper visa now. Which means a police record, a medical with X-rays, new passport, loads of papers to fill in, birth certificate, but, yes that will give me a 'Talent' Visa. I didn't know I had talent, but there you go. If it gives me a visa, I am more than happy to be talented!

I also need to get my NZ driving license so I can 'steal' Patrick's car again. Although they fully understand what a Dutch category B license means, they want to have it translated...even though it says 'driving license' on the front. Just another way to get some extra cash out of me!!

For the time being I have added 3 other posts:
- Mount Richardson: A day trip from 4 weeks ago
- Icy pictures from last weekend
- Mount Summer: 2 day trip last weekend

And yes: me, blogs and pictures don't go that well together, but I cannot be bothered to get the pictures right (I know some people who would spend hours on getting it right...I won't say full names but it starts with a P and ends in atrick... ;-)

Mount Summer

What is the best thing to do if you just quit your job? Right, go hiking! So while Patrick is away, some of his friends invited me along on a two day trip to Mount Summer, as a Mid Winter Christmas thing. There was snow (loads!), there was cold,

there were fun people, there were presents (the puppets are the result!) and yes there was good food and even better drinks (Will's home brew stuff was fantastic!) so very much like Christmas! Thanks to all of them for the great weekend!

And I still love playing with my camera so here is a selection!


1) Our hut for the night: seems so close by, right? It took us an hour to get there: finding the track in the snow was difficult but hiking in snow is even harder. Especially for Paul who was upfront...
2) Partners in crime: Katrina, Paul and Cloe (don't think it wasn't cold because of Cloe's short sleeves: it was cold and I was wearing thermo's and a warm fleece jacket!)
3) Me in front of DOC sign: just to indicate how much snow there was...we didn't see the sign at first!
4) One of the presents was clay: everyone made something, who says it is just for kids?
5) Along the way we saw some giant icicles: I reckoned they were good murder weapons but Paul used them as an tooth pick...