On June 18th, our group decided to get up before the sun and drive to the beach to catch the sunrise. Though, it was not just any sunrise, it was the first sunrise in the entire world. Gisborne, New Zealand is the first place the sun rises each morning. Our entire group was amazed by the beauty of the sunrise in front of us. We all watched as the sun came up, observed the waves, and took photos of the beautiful site. In the midst of taking photos, a giant wave came out of nowhere and everyone ran. A few of us had wet feet on the bus, but it was so worth it! Gisborne was not a favorite site for most of the group, however, seeing this sunrise was one of the highlights of my trip.
After enjoying the sunrise Gisborne, we traveled to Rotorua. During our first day at Rotorua, half of the group took a trip to Hobbiton, while the other half spent a relaxing afternoon in some natural hot pools. The next day, our group visited Te Puia and saw many geysers and learned how they are used for sustainable living. While walking through the area looking at the various geysers, we felt like we were in another world. We could not believe what we were seeing. There were various rock formations and steam everywhere. The water from the Geysers is used for showering, cooking, etc. Way before this became a tourist attraction, local people and tribes have utilized this area as a natural amenity. The geysers were a little difficult to see due to the gloomy weather, but they were fascinating to learn about. I took photos of all of the informational signs so I could go back later and learn more about the geysers. I am personally very fascinated by them and want to get a better understanding of how they work. It is crazy to me that they are natural. There were also natural hot mud pools we were able to see. Mud from the mud pools is used to make mud masks, which many of us purchased in the gift shop.
After seeing all of the geysers, we got a see a kiwi bird. Everyone in our group was super excited about this! However, we were all surprised by the size of the kiwi. We were expecting a tiny bird, but they are actually about the size of a chicken. After enjoying our time looking at the cute kiwi, we continued our tour and learned about Maori culture, learned to say a few Maori words, and got to see students creating Maori carvings and weaving. One of the unique features of Te Puia is the balance of tourism and education. All of the money made from tourism is put back into the organization to provide education to students. The students learn Maori traditions including carving, weaving, and tattooing. The goal of this education system is for the students to later teach others traditional Maori activities to ensure growth of the culture. We also had the opportunity to see a Maori performance which included traditional songs and dances.
After visiting Te Puia, we visited Ogo, which is a company created by the inventor of zorbing. Zorbing is an activity where you go inside of a giant ball and roll down a mountain. It sounds kind of lame, but it was so fun! When we went to the Ogo location, we heard the company’s marketing strategies but no one was planning on actually zorbing. However, after hearing about the company from the owner/inventor, we were sold and almost all of us decided to go zorbing. After signing up, we were taken up to the top of the hill and hung out in the hot tub and enjoyed the views of the mountains and city while waiting for our turn to go. Once it was time to go, we dove into the ball and rolled down the mountain. We all did it in pairs, so we locked arms, slid around, and laughed all the way down. Afterwards, we got in another hot tub at the bottom of the hill, then dried off and got on the bus to head to Auckland.
When we arrived in Auckland, most of the group was super excited to be in a huge city. Once we got off the bus, we all walked around and explored the city. The next morning, a handful of us decided to get up early and hike Mount Eden to see the sunrise. We walked across the city to find the hiking trail and then we ended up taking the most difficult route to the top. We climbed up a steep, wet hill, slipping and sliding, only to reach the top and have a local tell us there was stairs we could have taken. But either way, we made it to the top of the mountain and got to see the sunrise. The view of the city was incredible from the top of Mount Eden. We could see the entire city, a volcano, and the ocean. The city was all lit up and the sky was bright and beautiful. After our hike, we vistied cute little stores and coffee shops around town. While in Auckland, we also learned about marketing and communication strategies from Haka Tours and Tourism New Zealand. Both of these organizations are extremely successful and it was interesting to hear about their strategies and ideas for success. We also were able to watch rugby with locals and enjoy some fun nightlife while in Auckland.
After our fun time in Auckland, we went to National Park. We ended up arriving in National Park right at sunset, so we all hurried off of the bus and went across the street to enjoy the view. It was incredible to see the sun shining on the mountains and countless cows grazing below. The hostel we stayed in felt like a cabin as it was super cozy and in the middle of nowhere. Our two professors who led us on the expedition also decided to cook our group a delicious traditional Kiwi meal. We all had a “family dinner” and spent the evening enjoying each other’s company.
The next morning in National Park, we went to hear the marketing plans for the iconic Chateau Tongariro Hotel. The hotel was stunning with incredible views. We had the opportunity to take a tour through the hotel and ask questions about the marketing strategies used for promote the hotel. After visiting the Chateau Tongariro, our group decided to go on a hike. The weather was less than ideal as it was quite cold and rainy. However, we only had one full day in National Park, so there was no way we were going to miss out on hiking. Our tour guide decided to take us on nice hike to a waterfall. Many of the trails were unsafe due to the weather, so we were all happy our tour guide knew of this particular trail. We all hiked along our trail as our tour guide taught us about some native plants to New Zealand until we reached the waterfall. The waterfall was absolutely beautiful. It was actually one of the members of our group’s first time seeing an actual waterfall. This was so exciting for him! We all enjoyed the view for a little while, took photos, and then continued our hike. When we got back to the bus, we were all cold and soaking wet, yet so glad that we decided to go on the hike. This hike was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I probably would never go hiking in bad weather back home, but I was more than willing to do it in New Zealand! It was more than worth it!
After National Park, we traveled back to Wellington, where we will be for the next four weeks. We are all extremely excited to have the opportunity to spend time in this city interning and exploring. We had a free day yesterday where we were able to wander around the city and get to know the area. Most of us took advantage of the Harborside Farmers Market and got delicious fruits and veggies. Many of us also did some shopping around town while enjoying our free day before beginning our internships.
Today was our first day of our internships. We all have internships with various organizations around town. Everyone seems to have had a great first day and we are all excited to see what is in store for us in the coming weeks. It is going to take a little while to adjust to interning after spending the last two weeks having adventures all around New Zealand, but it is going to be an incredible few weeks in Wellington. I am so excited for all of the fun adventures we are going to have in this city!