Tag Archives: New Zealand

New Zealand 3

June 6, 2010

In less than two weeks our journey through New Zealand will come to an end. As time seems to work against us, I can only ask myself, “What have I accomplished in the last four weeks?” and “What do I want to achieve in the next two?”

1.  Maori culture: We have been placed within their culture and have learned so much about them. Unfortunately I feel there is much more to discover about these tribes. The lack of Maori in the South Island restricts our current learning so my knowledge will be enhanced through literature.
Objective 1:  read a book on Maori.

2.  Sustainability: This trip focuses on sustainability but I feel we have only done enough environmentally to get a small taste. This South Island experience should get us involved with the “nitty gritty.” This is our chance to physically experience the real thing on a whole new level.
Objective 2:  place myself in every environmental opportunity and experience as much as I can.

3.  Friendships:  The ability for relationships to begin and grow in four weeks time is remarkable. The people in our group ranged from good friends to complete strangers at the beginning of this trip. I am now developing quality relationships with all of them. What happens next?
Objective 3:  retain relationships even after New Zealand.

There is so much more I could touch base on but these three are the biggest.

-Isaac Wyse

One day you’re with fifteen other students and two leaders staying in a cozy warm hostel.  Then WHAM! You have to go for almost three days without guidance, hardly knowledge of where you’re going, and what you’re doing. So basically you just have to wing it, which is exactly what I did. This will be the second time I’ve gone on free travel. This time I will be spending some lovely quality time with Isaac, Emily, Rachel, and Kelby. We’re headed off to a small town called Picton on the South Island. The only way to get there is by plane or ferry. We chose the ferry. I’ll get to fly home again so I thought it would be a good way to see more of the land and water up close that you wouldn’t get to experience on a plane. Every time I looked out the window I couldn’t help but think it looked like Jurassic Park out there. I expected this huge water dinosaur to pop out of the water and eat the ferry.

Anyways, we got to Picton and found out that our hostel was only five minutes away. That was really convenient. Come to find out this place really had false advertising. They promised a lovely nice heated pool and a free breakfast. We were so excited to get in that pool after a long rainy day. All of us got on our bathing suits and were ready to hop in and relax. I’m so glad I didn’t hop in. I would have frozen to death or gotten hypothermia. I was the only smart one out of the group. I didn’t give into peer pressure when they were trying to lure me into the pool. I stood my ground and stayed warm. Even when they taunted me with chocolate, which is something I can’t resist. I’m pretty proud of myself for standing my ground. Another thing they promised us was free breakfast. I then understood why it was free. All they had was a loaf of bread, butter and sketchy jelly. And let me just say the staff at Atlantis backpackers was so hospitable……Just kidding. They were probably some of the rudest people I’ve ever met. Breakfast with them was so enjoyable. I can guarantee I will probably never go back there, unless they heat their pool. Maybe, just maybe.

Over the free travel we got to celebrate Isaac and Emily’s birthdays. I felt pretty privileged. We let them pick where they wanted to eat for breakfast. They chose out of all the places a restaurant called Drexel’s, which is an all American breakfast place. I was so excited because they had………STRIPPED BACON! My favorite thing ever! That really made my day. I think they had great birthdays. They got free Starbucks coffee, which was awesome. While walking around and looking at shops I found a hat worth ten New Zealand dollars because before my trip my mom packed away all our winter stuff. But that’s ok. I had a reason to get a nice little New Zealand hat. I really had a great time on free travel this time. I made some new friendships that I wouldn’t have gotten to make a EMU.

This past week I’ve been really thinking about my sister Morgan because she’s graduating and I’ll miss it. I feel really guilty about missing it because she always comes to my things so to be the good big sister I want to come to hers. I wish I could have been there for her because it was a big moment for her. I’m so proud of her. She’s accomplished so much. I’m disappointed though that she’s going to Bridgewater because we’re going to be rivals now. Just kidding. Maybe she’ll do a mock graduation for me when I get home. I miss my family occasionally but I know they want me to have fun and get the most out of my experience. I can’t wait to tell them all my great stories and adventures. I love them so much. It will be bitter sweet leaving New Zealand and going back home. I hope I can make it back here one day. It’s a place I’ll never forget.

-Susan Alexander

New Zealand 2

New Zealand 2Friday morning, May 21st we woke in one giant circle inside the Marae. After three nights of sleeping in a giant room we were ready to pack our “tramping packs” load the “boot” of the van and go up the road to our next destination. Before we left the Marae though, we returned to the meeting room to participate in the “poroporoaki,” or the customary way to end one’s stay at the Marae. The Maori man leading the poroporoaki deeply blessed us with his words. Especially poignant were his words regarding the untimely death of a fellow student’s grandfather the day before. Although he was speaking Maori his words were deep, strong, and spoken with deep conviction and truth. His words stretched far beyond the barriers of culture, language, distance, or even death itself. Friday morning’s experience was best described with words I did not understand. It seemed fitting that the ceremony was in a different language because any words I know are too trivial to describe what I was experiencing. The ancestral and family lineage is extremely vital to the Maori people and to have the people of that Marae invite us to share in the sacredness of their ancestors while honouring the student who lost their grandfather proved very meaningful. I really enjoy the times we get to hear Maori and really enjoy the fact that I do not understand the words but somehow I believe them.

After leaving the Marae we drove up to a picturesque backpacker’s hostel resting atop a gorgeous coastline. The grounds were speckled with old cabooses, the cabooses were covered in surf stickers and the horizon was speckled with surfers. We all enjoyed the “no worries” vibe we received at Solscape Backpacker’s. We also enjoyed the giggle when Jim told a student to go “clean their caboose.” After a rainy afternoon spent with the director of a Christian Conservation association, A Rocha, we returned to our quaint little caboose village on top of the hill. Around 4 o’clock the rain turned off and the clouds broke just in time for the sunset. As the sun set over a black sand beach, endless wave trains, and mountains stretching into the lingering fog- I could not be anything but speechless. The day began and ended with experiences of beauty and truth far beyond any words I know. For me- so far- New Zealand has been intensely beautiful and pleasantly hospitable and far beyond any words I know. In keeping with local lingo, New Zealand is truly “sweet as.” Needless to say that phrase in a Kiwi accent is NOT a comment on one’s caboose region. Cheers!

- Julia Johnson

Saturday night rugby game. May 15, 2010

Today was a cleanup day around the Kodesh Community.  We were assigned and or volunteered to do random tasks around Kodesh that included washing windows, checking possum traps, raking leaves, sweeping sidewalks, etc.  Sam and I volunteered to chop wood that had been sitting around awhile.  It was really fun, and we both enjoyed it, although the wood was wet and hard, so chopping it did not go very smoothly.  It took us quite awhile to figure out a system that worked, but when we did it went quickly.  After the work was finished we had several hours of free time until we went to the rugby game in the evening.  I spent some time hanging out with my family at their house in the afternoon; reading and journaling a bit to catch up.

Later in the afternoon Kacie and I went across Oakley Creek with Ben, a man from Vanuatu who is living with my home stay family, and we played soccer for an hour or so.  Ben is really good, he put Kacie and I to shame!  After playing a bit we went back to my house for supper, and my host mom, Monika, cooked a delicious meal of rice, chicken, and fish.  After supper was finished and cleaned up we started getting prepared for the rugby game.  We made sure to dress warmly, because it is starting to get chillier as the days go by.  We walked the short distance from Kodesh to the train station, and got onto the train that would take us to Eden Park and the stadium.  Because we had rugby game tickets, we got to ride the train for free, a small benefit for us poor college students!  When we arrived at our stop, we were swarmed with drunk fans for both teams dressed up in their supporting colors and with their faces painted; a much different environment than most American sporting events.  Once the game got underway it was easy to see that no one from our group had a clue as to what was going on in the game.  We had gotten a brief rugby lesson from Andrew one day on the beach, but we still were attempting to figure out basic situations and occurrences in the game.  Needless to say, rugby players put our American football players to shame; they play the same type of rough, hard tackling game, but with no pads on their bodies whatsoever.  No helmets, shoulder pads, etc.  The experience of the game and the atmosphere of the stadium were amazing though, and an experience I’m sure that no one from the group will forget anytime soon.  After the game and the train ride back to our stop, we walked to our home stays and climbed in bed, after a long but very entertaining day.

-Cody Peters

New Zealand 1

New Zealand 1On Sunday (May 9) we went to the Te Puea Marae, a common meeting area for the native Maori people in urban Auckland. We were welcomed through one of their formal ceremonies which included singing, dancing and speeches from some of the elders and a few of our members as well. The whole ceremony was completely different from any experience I’ve ever had. The Maori were intimidating, funny and intense. It was a very confusing time for me emotionally, I was scared but at the same time so entertained. After the ceremony the Maori performed some more dances and songs for us including the famous Haka dance that their warriors did before battle. The Maorie men teach our guys some traditional dance steps After the entertainment we went outside and watched them uncover an array of meat from a hangi, a pit dug in the ground and filled with hot rocks and covered with burlap sacks.  We then went inside and enjoyed an amazing meal which consisted of, but was not limited to lamb, pork, and chicken from the hangi; mixed vegetables, baked pumpkin, potatoes and yams. The dinner was phenomenal and was probably a highlight of the trip. After dinner a Maori woman shared a story with us. That night we slept around the outside of the large communal room like a big slumber party, it was good.

-Jason Marner, Kelby Miller, Andrea Yoder

Students exploring Ark in the Park, a New Zealand rainforest Today, Wednesday May 12, we encountered our first day of rain. We are at still at Kodesh, which is an intentional Christian community, and my home stay is a bit of a walk away. As I started my walk the sun was just coming up. The wind was howling and I was up early enough to grab a coffee and sit with some locals in the town of Avondale. It started to drizzle when I got up to Craddock St, where Kodesh is located. Kodesh is a lot like the first community we stayed in. It is peaceful and centered around community. Breakfast and dinner are shared with a blend of international students and local Kodesh residents.

After breakfast today we all piled into our vans and took off for ‘Ark in the Park’. The Ark in the Park is a reserve that was established to reintroduce and maintain many of New Zealand’s fauna and vegetation that has been under stress or even threatened with extinction. This reserve has also been a site for trapping of rats, mice, weasels, and stoats. New Zealand fauna has been terribly affected by the introduction of rodents and other land mammals. This reserve and its volunteers/employees are devoted to help bring back and preserve some of New Zealand’s native birds.  The rain started to come in waves and without rain jackets and rain pants our day would have miserable. Luckily we were able to see a New Zealand Robin and a HiHi (or “stitch bird”). We spend the morning and early afternoon going through the park and observed tons of different trees and other vegetation.

After Ark in the Park, we embarked onto our afternoon activity. We arrived at Earthsong Eco-Neighborhood around 3:00 PM. Earthsong is a completely different type of intentional community when compared to Kodesh. Earthsong was established by a group of couples and individuals who were passionate about living environmentally and socially sustainable. The property and buildings were amazing. Small communities like this do exist back in the states but I have never seen a community so involved with the social aspect. We headed back to Kodesh for dinner. The day was long but packed full of great things.

-Sam Berenstain