New Zealand North Island

Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
Trip End Mar 31, 2010

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hello there. It is my last day in New Zealand and I will be catching a bus to the airport at 1:00, but I have a little bit of time so I'm going to update my travel blog. The last 23 days have been constantly busy, and I have to pay to use internet so it's not very easy to update. Now I've got to do it before I fly to Sydney and have more to write! I'm going to just write what I wrote in my journal, with some extra tid-bits added in, so the timing may be jumbled but you'll get the drift.

I arrived in New Zealand two days ago. I flew into Auckland, did a bit of walking around town but spent a couple hours in a super cheap internet cafe updating pictures online. I joined the Kiwi Experience bus early the next morning and from the very beginning it was spectacular scenery unlike any I've ever seen before. Five minutes outside the city was a volcanic crater that was inverted into the ground, not what I would expect, but it's fun being surprised. When I first saw all the people on the bus I thought good lord thery're all 18. Well there are some 18 & 19 years olds but there's a larger age range than I thought which is nice. It's fine being 18 but usually all they want to do on holiday is get pissed. Look I'm talking like an Australian/ English with words like holiday and 'getting pissed' (drunk). I guess I can't help it by now! About 80% of the people on the bus are English kids and I'm the only American. There's a couple Canadians which is cool because i get to hear a familiar accent but I like being the only American. This is only our 2nd time our bus driver has had his own bus load so it's really fun because he still is excited about his job and throughout the trip he comes up with goofy games for us to play on the road and it really ends up bonding the whole group. Also it's really nice because besides the trip from Queenstown to Christchurch we're never on the bus for too long of a period. There's always a short walk to do or some scenery to stop at and take pictures of so it breaks up the time on the road. Plus New Zealand isn't that big of a country to begin with.
Just after the volcanic crater we stopped at Cathedral Cove and went on a 45 minute walk through the jungle to arrive at this beautiful beach. There were all of these large rocks sticking up from the water and a sort of tunnel/ cove had been created out of rock along the beach. This was my first taste of the natural landscape and it was pretty exciting for me. This is the type of thing I thought of when I pictured New Zealand. And just when I was done taking pictures an incredibly bright rainbow appeared, giving me the idea that I would never be bored with what I saw here, and rarely put away my camera.
The natural scenery of New Zealand is almost hard to believe (and I haven't even made it to the South Island, which is supposed to be much better). It's mountain after mountain peaking into the fluffy clouds, it's ocean and gorges, fiords and sounds, canyons, rivers, lakes, and rainbows (okay so I added to this list after I had seen the South Island). In a few minutes I'm going to a Maori dinner, performance, and recreated Maori village. Maori people are the indiginous people of NZ and it seems they are more integrated into society and respected than the displaced Native Americans or Aboriginal people.

The Maori evening was good fun, and the bus ride there and back being a riot because we had a hilarious bus driver who greeted us in 57 languages and was cracking jokes the entire time. I guess they know to give the crazy bus driver to the backpackers. When we got there we watched a recreated version of the historical event when the European settlers introduced firearms to the Maori people. Then we walked around a traditional recreation of what their village would have looked like. The Maori people use this tactic of intimidation called Haka. It is a dance and they bulge their eyes out and flick their tounge in and out of their mouth causing them to look quite scary and their goal of intimidation definitely gets across. The NZ rugby team, the All Blacks (which the Maori Looove), still performs a Haka at the beginning of the game. The dinner they served us was called a Hangi because the food was cooked in a pit in the earth that was then covered with dirt and slowly smoked for hours. Needless to say it was excellent and everyone, especially the backpackers, stuffed themselves into oblivion.
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