Kia ora! Welcome to Wellington!
Our time in Rotorua was great we got to experience so much of the Maori culture it was amazing! Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. The morning started at 6 am with everybody being up and ready to go to the airport and head to the last city of our trip Wellington,NZ. Our flight was about 1 hour and 15 minutes way shorter than any of the flights we took to get here, thank God!
Finally we arrived in Wellington got our rentals and headed to the hostel that we would be staying in. I have never stayed in a hostel and this particular hostel was definitely different than what I imagined them to be. In my head I pictured a huge room with beds lined up and couple of bathrooms placed throughout the building. This particular hostel was set up more like a dorm and it reminded me of smith halls.
After everybody got settled in we went on a Wellington city tour and got to see Mt. Victoria we walked all the way to the top of the stairs and saw a 360 view of Wellington and the view was literally to die for. We also got to see the botanical gardens and even though since it is winter over here most of the plants were dying the flowers that were still alive were still beautiful. Another site we got to see was the oriental bay maaaaannn was it cold out there. I thought I was in Antarctica that’s how cold it was. I will say though the view was also amazing and a great place for pictures.
After going through the city tour we went to dinner at enigma cafe although for me the food wasn’t all that great the atmosphere and all the fun we had made up for it! After leaving the cafe we went on a little adventure to a local market and then went back to the hostel for games and bonding!
Our first day in Wellington was a huge success and I can’t wait to experience everything else planned for our stay here!
This day in Rotorua was spent exploring and really learning about Maori and New Zealand culture. Knowing how important their lands are to them and having access to their forest we decided to go in and explore. Normally I avoid nature by any means necessary but being in New Zealand and understanding how crucial their land is to them I felt it would be a travesty not to go. The forest; although in the mist of winter, was incredibly beautiful, thousands perhaps millions of trees of various types, Sequoias, Ferns, and other lush and lavish trees that I don’t know the names of; was breathtaking. While walking down the pathways and taking pictures along the way we passed by many people and their pets. One thing that I noticed was that the dogs here were very friendly, they didn’t bark at strangers and they happily obeyed their owners. At one point we left the forest and entered into a tree farm and they were just as gorgeous as well as the forest behind us. The pictures were endless and the memories made are even better.
Shortly after leaving the farm and forest we decided to go and get a take a way lunch at Lafarre by Sequoia. The people again were friendly and the food was reasonably priced, I had fish and chips and it was quite delicious although it could have used a little bit of salt.
At around 3pm we left the house by shuttle and our comical yet knowledgeable driver named John took us to a Maori village where the guide named Shilo was waiting for us. Upon first glance he appeared to be quite young but one of the first things that he mentioned was that he was actually in his mid-forties. Living at the geothermal hotspots and moisturizing had a tremendous effect on the aging process. He also mentioned that the large sulfur deposits that Rotorua was known for, with the unmistakable and lingering smell didn’t treat metal so well and metal appliances had a short life. However, the village around was so incredible to look at, the sacred grounds were well kept and beautiful. Their temples, churches and places of ceremony we intricately carved and the place was filled with the eyes of their ancestors, everything had a meaning and a story and the insight was very valuable. The time spent with Shilo was very informing he taught us about his culture, told stories of his people, gestures, greetings and a bit of the Haka. At the end of the hour it was time to go and our driver John was back to retrieve us.
After a short drive we arrived at Matai Maori Village, owned by one family. At this time as well as during the day it was very cold but most of us were able to overlook the cold. Once inside we were taken to our reserved tables and the MC began. The first thing we did was name a chief for the night and this was decided by the crowds’ favorite person who made the Haka face well. The wild bulging of the eyes the display of the tongue it is usually very intense. One of our very own, Javier had won and we carried on with the evening. The MC took us through the land and we got to see the trees and the warriors who traveled on canoe through the site. After this we gathered around a large stage and the family put on a show for our entertainment. They sang to us traditional songs and chanted. The men performed the Haka war dance and they all displayed their traditional instruments of war to us as well as battle practice tools and games used in the old times. A bit of the performance was spoken in Maori so it was hard to understand what the family chief was saying to us but it gave us great exposure to the language. After this we headed back to eat. They had prepared a grand meal for us made up of chicken, lamb, seafood chowder, dressing and a few other sides as well as desserts, it was delicious. After this the MC lead us back to the forest and showed us the set up to a traditional village that his people would have lived in, and took us to see the spring and glow worms. Following this was the departure.
Once back at the house we had a debriefing and we found that there was a mix of views of the tourism side of the Maori culture exhibit. Some felt that it was disrespectful to their own culture and others felt that it was necessary to expose and share their culture with many people. I personally valued the first experience more with Shilo, though it was also a tourism piece, it was calm and I gained a lot of information about that culture from him. There was no dance or overly extravagant entertainment just information and I still felt that their culture was sacred to them although it was hard to feel this way about the second part. However, I enjoyed the whole program greatly. It was a very unique experience and valuable in knowledge. This day in Rotorua was well spent and I am excited to see what the rest of the trip has in store for us.
Geez Louise so much has happened since our plane took off last Monday from the DFW airport, but I get to share with you what’s happened today! We woke up before the sun was even up to pack up and clean out of our lodging in Auckland. We headed to the bus station in downtown Auckland, waited a bit, and then boarded a bus to Rotoura. Greenville, TX, is the closest thing I could compare Rotoura to. Three hours south of Auckland, it certainly isn’t the bright and shiny hustle and bustle city; rather it’s a quaint and gorgeous rural area with attractions for tourists on every corner. It’s a central location for the Maori people in New Zealand which is the reason for our visit tomorrow.
Upon arriving in Rotoura, we boarded yet another bus to take us to our lodging we’re staying in for this city. It’s actually a family’s house that we’re renting for a couple of nights. I love it for the reason that it’s not only gorgeous but we also get to see an average dwelling for a normal New Zealand family. Everything is so clean and fresh and they don’t seem to be concerned with the big and flashy. The house is quaint and humble, but it’s gorgeous because you can almost feel how much love has been put into it and is experienced inside of it.
Also…. today was Mrs. Crystal’s birthday!!! Because of time zones, we technically celebrated a day early (according to Texas) but made it special nonetheless. A few members of the group went to a local grocery store and purchased a cake to surprise her. They brought it back to the house and we had a blast finishing off the night hanging out and laughing till it hurt thanks to a game I was able to teach the group.
I feel like I’m really starting to get attached to my group. They’re people that I have known for a long time now, but I feel like this is my first time to get to KNOW them. We don’t have our separate busy lives like we normally do in the States, instead we are all constantly surrounded by the same circumstances in a place where all we know is each other. It’s awesome. I’ve found things in common with my group members that I may not have known about if it weren’t for this trip simply because the situation is so unique. We’re learning about not just New Zealand, but also plenty of other cultures as New Zealand is crawling with people of almost every nationality around the world. I’ve had conversations with strangers and had heart-to-hearts with new found friends. New Zealand and these people have yet to disappoint.
Hello from New Zealand,
As today began myself and some others in the group decided to go and explore the Kelly Tarleton Sea Life aquarium. Our lovely tour bus driver told us it was a site to see so we decided to go and take a look. Before our excursion there we ate breakfast at the one and only Upland Cafe. I chose the french toast with caramelized bananas, maple syrup and bacon. My dish was truly delicious and fresh unlike some foods in the United States. I have noticed that the restaurants are small and only hold about 10 people inside unlike how the ones in the United States are very large and can hold a significant amount of customers. This leads me to believe that eating out and packing our food with preservatives is our biggest problem when trying to rid our citizens from obesity.
After enjoying our breakfast at the quaint restaurant we headed off to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. We were allowed to pet the starfish, watch the stingrays being fed, and we absolutely loved it.
The University of Auckland was a beautiful university that offers a lot of outside areas to commune. Their students don’t engage in much passed school work. So our usual student organizations and activities are not included here at the university. What we did find interesting was that students come together and hang out in common areas.
Before our cooking class last night we had a debriefing and talked about the things we have noticed that are different from the United States. For me the biggest aspect was the similarity of how the Maori Culture is shown to tourist and glorified for its beauty and used as a novelty just like some of the cultures we have in the United States. Instead of educating tourist and citizens in the United States on what actually happened in past histories we instead erase the struggle, the fight and the daily battle for survival due to oppression. We then turn around and embrace the language, clothing and “beauty” (tattoos, hair styles, head wear, and body types) of a culture because it’s “cool or looks nice.” I was fortunate enough to be able to converse with two people of the Maori Culture including our waitress at the Sea Cow [sea food restaurant] and a young man who sat next to me on the bus to Rotorua. The individuals I spoke with told stories of the Maori tribes and it was very similar to the struggles the Native Americans endured and how they were pushed away in various ways. Some include not thoroughly teaching the history in schools and no cultural representation in everyday life. The only difference between the Maori and the Native Americans is that the Maori won the fight years ago and continue to fight to have a place of importance in New Zealand. The Native Americans also fought but unfortunately were over taken by Europeans. The young man who sat next to me on the bus said something that hit me hard and will stick with me. He said, “You kind of have to adapt to make it and survive here in New Zealand. And that’s what I’ve had to do in order to set myself up to further my education and career.” This reminded me of how Blacks/African Americans sometimes assimilate in order to get a job or get further in life. Including changing hairstyles in order to be accepted at work, and code switching. Although this can be found in different cultures and nationalities to get further in the United States it has been on the rise for those who are black. I’d like to end my blog with a quote
“Don’t allow oppression to drive our world. Instead embrace differences that include more than just the beauty or ‘cool’ parts of a culture. (LaShuna Anderson)”
Today was the first day we got explore Auckland, NZ!!! And I got the opportunity to write about it :). Our day started pretty early and with adventures at its feet. Even though it is NZ, we experience food from a different culture: breakfast from a Germany bakery. As we recharged our energy with the most important meal of the day, our day continue with a tour to the sky tower. Let’s see… What can I say about the Sky Tower? Its view was breath taking!!! Ignoring my fear of heights, I had a very relaxing and fun experience taking turns posing and taking pictures for each other.
Today’s journey continues when we took a tour bus around the beautiful city of Auckland😍. During our tour, we not only learned about the history of Auckland, but we were also able to get a first-hand glimpse at the historic places and development of the city. Our sight scenery was incredible as we stopped by the coast to take pictures as the sun was coming down. To top off our wonderful night, we had a group dinner, where we talked, laughed, and shared highlights of our day:)
We started off our day when we landed in Sydney Australia at roughly 7am. Lily and Ms. Danielle had some Starbucks. Shelby showed us her yoga skills, and everyone kicked back while we waited for our next flight. Our next flight, and final flight, departed at 8 am but it was delayed because there were some weather conditions in New Zealand. I was hoping for a window seat but I still didn’t get one! It’s okay I’m hoping on the flight home I get a window seat (fingers crossed).
After two hours on the plane we finally arrived to Auckland! We were all so happy to finally be in New Zealand! We took pictures, called our families, and prepared to go through customs. When we went through customs, my experience was smooth. The securities were nice to me, but they almost took my spicy beef jerky!
Afterwards, we moved along to find the rentals that Ms. Danielle and Dr. Aguirre would be driving. Yes, you read that correctly! Ms. Danielle and Dr. Aguirre would be driving on the opposite side of everything! It was intense but fun at the same time. When we arrived to our new home away from home we each got a bunk bed. The house was somewhat similar to a residence hall from the outside. Now picture this, 16 people and 2 restrooms. Yeah it was pretty crazy getting ready for dinner. We walked to dinner up a hill and that was our daily exercise for the day. We all felt the burn going up that hill. However, the treat after that walk was Thai Food! I tried a little bit of duck. That was something new but it was good! I believe everyone enjoyed their food. It was a lot of food for one person. All of us shared our food so everyone could get a little taste of everything. Overall I think we had a pretty good first day.