So apparently Wifi is capped in New Zealand, and what a pain it is to come by (when found it barely even works). Thankfully campus has wifi, so now that I’m moved in I can finally blog again! First I’d like to begin by saying how much I dislike delayed flights!!!! The All Blacks were on our flight to New Zealand and because my flight out of D.C. was so delayed I didn’t get to talk to them or anything, but I was on the same airplane as them for 12 hours, and in the same baggage claim as them and made eye contact with a few, so that was cool.
I had an amazing time at the bridging cultures program through ISA. We started off day one of our adventure in Auckland, which was interesting. I honestly felt like I was back in Dublin at times because of the small shops and cafés/restaurants they had. I’m really glad I didn’t decide to study in Auckland though because the city is just so large and it’d be annoying to walk around everyday. Anyway, we got to go to Mt Eden, which is the highest point in Auckland and absolutely beautiful. After that we went on a walking tour of the city and had a group dinner. My friends Carol, Sydney, and I explored Auckland after and watched the sunset over the ocean (absolutely breathtaking).
On day two of our adventure we drove to Rotorua and got to take a 45 minute pitstop in Matamata (also known as Hobbiton). Unfortunately we didn’t have spots booked for the exhibit, so I’ll have to go back at a later date. Upon arrival in Rotorua we went to a Skyline Luge. Leave it to me to bust my butt on the advanced level and cut myself up.. how typical. I had a blast, though. The view was absolutely gorgeous from the top of the mountain we got to luge down. After the luge we headed to Lake Tkitapu and Lake Rotokakaki (aka blue and green lake). None of us brought swimsuits which was unfortunate, but the lakes were still beautifully clear! After that extremely long day we got to learn the famous Haka (yes, the one known because of the All Blacks) by a very nice guy named Tiki. It was pretty cool learning what the words and motions mean, and why it is even performed. I had no clue all the history behind it, and it was awesome being able to dress up and actually perform it! This night was definitely one I’ll remember for a lifetime.
On day three of the bridging cultures program we went to the Redwood Forest where trees from California were planted. It was pretty cool because they were so large and there were many fern trees included in the mix. After the Redwood Forest we went to the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Natural Spring! First we saw the Mud Pool thingies, which were super intense because the mud would just bubble and basically explode once they got too hot. Next we went to the stream and it was interesting because one of the streams were hot and the other streams were cold. Naturally, I had to pee before going in, and of course I busted my butt yet again walking up a hill to get out of the woods from peeing (leaving an almost identical cut to the one from the luge on the opposite leg). Later, we went to a Tamaki Village for the “Living Māori Village Experience”, which was incredible! I even got to play a game and I beat 3 out three other guys and won overall, that was pretty exciting. Then we had a big feast and ate a traditional hangi dinner that they prepared for us. It was definitely an amazing way to finish the bridging cultures program.
The last day was stressful because a lot of us ended up having to pay $200 for either an oversized bag or checking an extra bag because the NZ airports are more strict than the US ones. After that struggle it was obvious that we probably could have just carried on the extra bags we checked because they didn’t weigh them like they told us they would (which is very frustrating), but it is what it is. It sucked saying goodbye to some of the friends we made who were staying in Auckland to study abroad, but at least we have a place to stay if we’re ever up exploring that way! I was definitely sad to go, but also extremely happy to get settled in Wellington.