From One Extreme to the Next

Trip Start Feb 09, 2010
Trip End Jul 17, 2010

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Where I stayed
Kiwi Paka (A wonderful Hostel)

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rotorua was my favorite town on the North Island. It is a small city with many outdoor adventures to offer! My AustraLearn group spent a total of 5 days and 4 nights here. I went whitewater rafting, zorbing, luging, black-water caving, learned the Haka dance, and learned to play Rugby. This was the time I felt truly introduced to New Zealand and found a chance to bond with new friends. It was a time of great adventrue and a wonderful introduction to the Maori and Kiwi cultures. (Such an action-packed week!)

One morning we woke up early to give back to the local community. Our volunteer project was helping out with the country-wide Bike Wise month by assisting in a local bike race in Roterua. We had various jobs such as setting up tents, passing out water, and helping little kids through a mini-obstacle bike race. My job was blowing up balloons and tying them to kid's bikes.

During this event I realized a very important difference about New Zealanders. Their mentality when it comes to raising children is somewhat different than ours. As I mentioned before, we set up a small course for the children to go through on their bikes. Yet when people arrived not one child went through the kids course. Instead, all the children went on the 5 mile off-road track into the mountains with the adults! Some kids looked as young as 3 and didn’t even know how to ride bikes yet…they just sat on them and pushed their feet off the ground, never even touching the pedals…for 5 miles! These kids were tough. For the first time I could see why Kiwis were so adventurous and fear-free. When a child did get hurt, the parents paid no attention. They simply had the attitude of, "Why are you stopping? There’s still more to do and you’re not hurt…you just have a story to tell when you get back." And the kids didn’t cry; they kept going.

On my free-activity day, I chose to zorb. To get into the zorb ball, you had to get a running start. You run and dive in head first with arms stretched out in front of you. Once you are in, it’s a new world. The small pool of water inside was warm. To start down the hill, they zipped us (my friend, Liz, and I) up inside the ball and gave us the “okay” to start pushing. Liz and I stood up as much as possible and leaned against one side of the ball. There were large polls crossing one the side of the ball as a break to hold it there while we jumped in. But by now the polls were unlocked and it was just a matter of pushing ourselves through. We rocked back and forth a few times, squealing with anticipation. Loose! We began to slip and side around, gaining great speed along our path down. It was a blast! …A little hard to identify up from down, as we were tumbling over each other and switching from backwards to forwards, and back to backwards again. The two of us laughed the entire way down! Once we finally came to a stop, they unzipped the entrance/exit and took our pictures before we slid out feet first onto the ground. We were dripping wet from head to toe. I had no idea we would get that wet…or that it would be that much fun!
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