On June 12th, roughly thirty people from all of the states came together with the common interest of wanting to explore New Zealand and gain internship experience. Each of us comes from a different background and have different experiences but all came together for this incredible opportunity. Right now, we are basically on a huge road trip with new friends exploring an insanely beautiful country.
Our first destination on our expedition was in Christchurch. I arrived a day early along with a few others. Four of us met up and decided to explore the city because we had a little bit of time before the program started. We grabbed breakfast and got to know one another and then walked around town. We saw the Christchurch Cathedral and could not believe the damage. In our hostel there was a photo of the Cathedral before the earthquake and we were shocked. After visiting the Cathedral we decided to walk to the Container Mall. In one of the little shops we saw a postcard of the pier and decided to see if the beach was close by. We talked to the lady working in the store and she told us it was only a short bus ride away. We decided to hop on the bus and head to the beach. The beach was so beautiful. It was also surprisingly warm and we were able to stick our toes in the sand. We enjoyed our mellow time at the beach taking walks, getting to know one another, and petting dogs.
After the beach, the four us met the rest of our group during orientation. We all got to know one another through games. Later, we had our welcome dinner and continued learning about one another. The next day, we participated in “The Amazing Race.” During this race, we were divided into multiple groups and were set on a quest to complete each task on a list we were given. Some tasks on the list included trying Hokey Pokey ice-cream, shaking hands with someone in uniform, and tasting kumara. My group was able to find a local policeman and get a photo with him. We also went into BurgerFuel to try kumara fries and ended up talking with one of the employees, getting photos with him, and he made us free kumara fries to taste. The employee is now known as the “fry guy” among our group. By participating in this race we were able to explore all over Christchurch, talk with locals, and learn about different traditions.The town was beautiful, artsy, and very damaged from earthquakes. We learned about how the town is struggling with tourism due to the damage and people thinking there is nothing to do. However, this town has a lot to offer. There is various hiking trails, biking opportunities, beaches, restaurants, etc.
Most of our group also decided to hike Bridle Path during our free time. On the bus ride there, it was sunny and beautiful making us super excited for the hike. After we arrived and started the trail, we could not believe our eyes. The views were already incredible and we were not even near the top. We kept climbing the mountain, excited to reach the top when all of a sudden the wind started picking up. We continued our trek to the top when the wind became extremely strong and the sky was almost black. A storm came out of nowhere and was obviously coming quick. Numerous locals told us to turn around as it was getting really bad ahead. Our group ended up splitting into three different groups. Two of the groups turned around while the other group continued to the top. The two groups that turned around dodged a heavy hail storm. One group made it to the top and saw the incredible views but got caught in the storm on their way down. Everyone was safe and had a good time even with the change of pace.
After Christchurch, our group began our “road trip” to St. Arnaud. We did not have a lot of time to spend in St Arnaud; however, the bus ride allowed our group to talk and get to know one another. We really lucked out and have an incredible group to experience New Zealand with. While on the road, our tour guides pulled off of the road a couple of times to show us incredibly beautiful spots they have found while exploring themselves. One of the spots was a random place without a name with spectacular views of mountains in every direction and a lake. We were able to wander around the area, take photos, and throw a few snowballs before continuing our journey to St Arnaud. Before arriving, we took one more stop to see a beautiful waterfall. The sun was beginning to set while we were admiring the falls. When we arrived in St Arnaud, it was already nighttime, so we could not do a lot of exploring. However, a few of us decided to take a walk and we were able to see the Milky Way. I think this was the highlight of the trip for me so far. Seeing the Milky Way was absolutely incredible; I have never seen anything like it. I hope I never forget that moment.
The next morning in St Arnaud, we all got up early and stopped to see Lake Rotoiti. This was an incredible spot where the lake was surround by mountains. Everyone in the group was amazed by the beauty surrounding us. We were able to see the beginning of the sunrise at this site. Afterwards, our group got back on the bus and headed to Picton to pick up the ferry to Wellington.
The ferry ride was incredibly beautiful. During this time our group spent more time talking with one another. We all were amazed by the beauty of New Zealand. We constantly looked out the window and went on the deck to take it all in.
We arrived in Wellington after spending a few hours on the ferry. We had the opportunity to visit Weta workshop, where they make props for various movies including Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, etc. After Weta Workshop, our tour guide took us on the scenic route on the way home to show us around Wellington. We saw a gorgeous sunset as we drove around the city. Everyone in our group is so excited about spending four weeks interning in Wellington. It appears to be such a cool and lively place to spend time. And of course, it is also beautiful like the rest of New Zealand. In Wellington, our group decided to explore the town and hang out with one another.
After Wellington, we had a long bus ride to Gisborne. The bus ride was about 10.5 hours but at least the the ride was beautiful. During our journey, we made a stop in Napier. I decided to check out the beach, which ended up being a black pebble beach. I’ve never seen a beach quite like it. The mountains were in the horizon, the water was aqua, and the waves were crashing.
After the stop in Napier, we continued on to reach Gisborne. In Gisborne, we went to the Eastwoodhill National Arboretum of New Zealand and learned about their marketing techniques and we went to the Tairawhiti Museum. At the Arboretum, we discussed the challenges that come along with a small marketing budget. The organization has trouble doing effective marketing for their target market without breaking the bank. We were also able to take a scenic walk through the Arboretum and see numerous beautiful trees including Redwoods. Afterwards, we went to the museum where we saw stunning artwork and learned about Maori culture. After, we got free time and most of us used this time to explore around Gisborne, go shopping, and go to the beach. Gisborne is a cute little town that most of us did not know about. We are still currently in Gisborne and are planning to get up early to see the sunrise at the beach in the morning. The sunrise in Gisborne is the first sunrise of the morning in the entire world. Getting up to see the sunrise is one of my favorite things to do and I think it is so cool that we get to see the first one in the world.