September: Canterbury and Level 1

Posted by Patrick Lam on Friday, October 2, 2020

Table Of Contents

Spring in New Zealand

Once again, spent two-thirds of this month in Wellington. The other 10 days were around Christchurch and Kaikoura. Currently no trips planned until November 27, although perhaps Auckland for not-Nationals judo tournament in early November.

We are moving 700m down the street tomorrow though. The lease on our current place ended and so we looked around for alternatives (although a fun fact is that, like in Ontario, a fixed-term lease automatically becomes periodic upon completion in NZ and needs to be explicitly non-renewed 21 days before the end date). The new place should be nicer in many ways although the view might not be as good.

Started processing pictures from the Rakiura trip but I guess I’m now two trips behind. At least I have a while before the next trip.

There was a judo camp in Christchurch in lieu of the tournament, which was hard work. Smaller camp in Wellington as well. So a lot of judo training: in all, 11 sessions. Would have loved to get another one in Christchurch before returning to Wellington but the runny nose was a bit worrisome in these days of pandemic, even/especially in New Zealand. Called Healthline a few days later and they cleared me based on symptoms, although they said I could get a test for my peace of mind if I wanted. I guess I actually got a cold this year.

Christchurch judo training camp, September 2020

The University of Waterloo has officially declared that Winter 2021 will be mostly-remote, i.e. like Fall 2020 was. So we’ll be staying in New Zealand for a while. Feels like a good call with the numbers increasing again in Quebec and Ontario. Fortunately, I have a NZ work visa good through June 2021 and MP is applying for Partner of a Worker Work visa (after waiting on an interim visa for almost 6 months after applying for a Visitor visa; fun fact: interim visas expire after 6 months).


Worldwide situation: NZ has no community transmission and continues to import cases in managed isolation/quarantine (another good reason to not fly back via LAX). Auckland is still in Level 2 for now while the rest of the country is under no restrictions. The number of cases in Auckland from community transmission continues to decrease (although there were 3 deaths from the cluster). Masks are recommended but not required on public transit, though I believe that Air New Zealand requires masks.

I think the major transmission route in most countries is aerosols, but there have been two cases in NZ attributed to fomites, since aerosols are generally well-contained. The two cases are an elevator and a rubbish bin.

Contact tracing has been relatively effective here, and it looks like they are tracing backwards to identify sources of outbreaks, as proposed by Zeynep Tufekci. There are few enough cases that tracing works; they have now traced and contacted everyone known to be associated with the recent outbreaks. Isolation also seems to work, with not-completely-voluntary quarantine of confirmed cases.

Last month I wrote:

I’m just concerned that [Quebec and Ontario] might get out of control again like Victoria state did.



Definitely warmer on most days, though I measured 13.6°C one morning in early September. Power bills:

  • Jun: $280
  • Jul: $257
  • Aug: $228
  • Sep: $188


Wellington views, including Sylvester


  • Tried to work on code from the test code refactoring, didn’t get very far.
  • Spent half a week working on converting libcurl code from C++ to Rust for ECE 459.
  • Added some related work to the Onward! essay.
  • Advised ICSME NIER presentation by Qian.

I really should write blurbs about papers in the style of this one. In fact here’s my complete list of things to write up:

  • Onward! essay (semantic versioning) blurb
  • ICSME (test your siblings) blurb
  • Photos (Rakiura: about 1500, Canterbury: a lot)
  • August trip writeup
  • September trip writeup
  • Consolidated NZ restaurant list
  • Travel philosophy (been in final-drafts form since before the pandemic)
  • Greece recommendations (mostly drafted)

Days with work: 19, one more than August, and 21 work days in Ontario. No NZ holidays in Setpember.

Ongoing (my grad students)

Definitely more frequent contacts this month, at 14 days. ICSME accounted for part of that.


Almost none. One last-minute reference letter for the Waterloo CS Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a great initiative. Printed out a TOSEM paper to review.


Definitely ECE459 Rustification took a bunch of time. Content and infrastructure. Figured out some GitHub Actions as well. I should make a GitHub action for this site.


The 10-day Canterbury trip really was action-packed, although it included two rest days towards the end. Work was 19 and no-work (excluding trips) was 2, although some of the days that I included as work really were like 15 minutes of chatting.

  • 🚶 Walking distance: 105km (no long hikes); two at-home zero days, one travel zero day.
  • 🚲 Biking distance: 153km (3× more than August, but that includes one 48km day); bike needs wheel replacement more now it seems.
  • ⛷️ Skiing distance: 5.3km? Dunno, one day of lift-served downhill skiing at Mount Hutt.
  • 🚗 Driving distance: 407km (Christchurch-Kaikoura, back via Mount Grey), chauffered 238km to Mount Hutt
  • ⛴ Boat distance: 45km, Kaikoura Albatross Encounter
  • 🚆 Train distance: 54km to Paraparaumu
  • 🚌 Bus distance: 59km train replacement from Paraparaumu + 18km to WLG / from Christchurch
  • 🛩 Plane distance: 606km WLG-CHC-WLG


  • Visited a bunch of Wellington apartments.
  • Part of Te Ara Ōtākaro Avon River Trail in Christchurch.
  • Mount Fyffe, overnighting at hut, best views in NZ.
  • Mountain/road biking on Kaikoura Trail (ok, not a walk).
  • Mount Grey/Maukatere, much better reward-to-effort ratio than Mount Fyffe. Climbed to cell phone tower subpeak, did not summit main peak.
  • bit of walking around Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve

Top 20 Welly Walks progress: no new walks since last month, 18 done, plus parts of Mt. Kaukau summit. Still haven’t touched the Redwood Bush Loop.

Total distance walked definitely lower than previous months due to no long walks. Even in May we had 122km.

Rock climbing

  • Wunderbar Wall, scenic moderate climbing in Lyttleton near Christchurch before flying back to Wellington
  • Sent shoes to be resoled.


Leftover Trip Reports


Longer trip report to come. Posted a selection of phone pictures on Facebook, but just transferred all camera photos onto computers yesterday. Need to get the Rakiura ones processed first.

  • Avon Trail
  • Christchurch judo camp: yay, lightweight people to fight
  • Skiing at Mount Hutt (no one skis off-piste?)
  • Albatross Encounter (yes, we saw albatrosses, also hundreds of dolphins, Hutton’s shearwaters, and petrels)
  • Mount Fyffe (gale-force winds)
  • Mountain/road biking
  • Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway part
  • Mount Grey
  • Quake City
  • Climbing at Wunderbar Wall
Mount Hutt and Albatross Encounters (also dolphins)
Windy Mount Fyffe, plus a picture from Kaikoura Trail

Kaikoura Peninsula Walk, Culverden snow, Mount Grey

Travel planning

Thinking about Auckland trip in November. Booked Kepler Track flights, car, and some accommodation.


  • Kinji, Christchurch: Best sushi in NZ that we’ve had yet; we went twice!
  • Smokey T’s, Christchurch: 4.9⭐ on Google, superlative BBQ
  • Original Sin, Christchurch: Italian, and good oysters
  • Kaikoura: Still pretty touristy even though there are fewer tourists

Haven’t managed to go to the Harbourside market since we got back to level 1 yet.


Worked on the test refactoring code in September but didn’t manage to finish it. ECE 459 and refactoring are my personal goals for October, as well as seeing where my students can get to.

The Christchurch trip was certainly action-packed.