What the Hill?!

Trip Start Nov 20, 2013
Trip End Nov 24, 2014

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, December 12, 2013

We arrived in Wellington three nights ago. After our long hike up Mount Tongariro, we drove the 4 hours to New Zealand's capital city. Tonight is our last night in the city, as we head off to the South Island bright and early tomorrow morning. 

When we originally arrived in Wellington, we were welcomed with kind faces and a hot and delicious dinner at the accommodation we booked through AirBnB. Right after dinner we both fell asleep quickly, obviously knocked out from our huge hike. We took it very easy the next day. Jason had his online baseball series to play and I read and FaceTimed with some family. We spent the entire day inside the house relaxing and letting our bodies recover. At night, we enjoyed a delicious BBQ at the house, went out for a very short walk, and then headed straight to bed again.

Yesterday we finally had the energy to explore Wellington. This is a very hilly city, more so than San Francisco we think. And the hills are extremely steep so each one gave us a nice gluteal workout! We walked along the waterfront and passed by many joggers along the way. You have to be in good shape to live in this city. We headed to Te Papa, the national museum and were excited to experience something with a free entry! This museum is very large and covers a lot of the natural history of New Zealand. Since New Zealand is on fault lines and on two plates there are earthquakes that occur in the country EVERYDAY! Most of them are very small and not felt, but there are many which are of higher magnitudes and devastate people's homes. The earthquakes are in addition to the many active volcanoes and constant strong gusts of wind and rain throughout the country. It was interesting for me to see a lot of the natural rock formations and landforms from this land, as they reinforce what I've taught my students through various science units. 

Along with all the landform information and demonstrations there were many other neat things we learned in this museum. Of course there is a large exhibit about the Maori culture and the large influence it has on the country. There's also information about the wildlife here. Initially, New Zealand just had many species of birds and insects, but as more and more people immigrated here from multiple parts of the world, they brought with them new species of wildlife, leaving the Maori people no choice but to adapt

New Zealand has acted as a safe place for refugees from all over the world and continues to today. There were neat exhibits showing the Polish orphans who came to New Zealand during WWII as well as an interactive exhibit showing short video clips of young refugees who continue to find safety on this land today. 

One of my favourite experiences in this museum, and I think Jason agrees, was a series of short videos depicting how individuals appreciate and use the beautiful land of this country. A few of these videos included an artist who feels responsible to share how the water of the land should be appreciated, a woman who studies a specific cliff in the country and its deterioration of 2 meters each year, and a family of sheep farmers whose beloved area of land will soon be taken from them and shared with the public.

At night, we went to the Night Market on Cuba Street, a famous and popular street in Wellington for its many cafes, bars, and restaurants. As someone who loves food, I was excited to try foods from some of the different kiosks and food trucks. To my joyful surprise, Jason enjoyed the market just as much as I did! We tried Japanese chicken skewers, Indonesian noodles, and Hungarian chimney cakes, all of which were delicious! After strolling around the market for a bit we headed to a popular locals' bar called Mighty Mighty for a couple of drinks. It was quiz night at the bar, but we got there a little too late. Instead, we were able to enjoy some live music before leaving and heading up the many steep hills and steep staircases back to the house.

This morning I got a bit of a late start, but Jason was up early and doing some work. Once we were both ready, we headed out (in the rain of course) to finally buy some proper waterproof attire. At the suggestion of our hosts we found a place similar to Walmart and were able to purchase a poncho and a fold-up rain jacket at reasonable prices. Of course once we left the store it was no longer raining, but a bit sunny and windy. Spending even a few hours outside in New Zealand calls for us to be prepared for hot sun, cold breezes, rain, and everything in between! It's so unpredictable, but we are getting used to being prepared.

Once back at the house, we spent quite a bit of time planning for our first few days on the South Island. We joined our hosts for yet another amazing dinner of lasagna, sautéed vegetables, and garlic bread. Then we were told we had to try hokey pokey ice cream, a New Zealand classic. Neither of our arms ever need to be twisted to try ice cream. It was delicious and made nearly completely of natural materials, making it much richer and creamier than most ice creams at home. We were glad to have been "forced" to taste it.

Now it's off to bed before our South Island adventure begins tomorrow!
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Joanie and Sam on

Just catching up on all your blogs.....sounds like a wonderful adventure...enjoy every minute..... sending lots of love....

jasonandgaryn on

Joanie and Sam, thanks for following our blog! Hope all is well!

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