Week 6: Sunsets and Māori

We’re in New Zealand! After an amazing first half of the trip I’m ready to make this second part just as awesome! I am now the furthest away from home as I will be on this trip.
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Amsterdam is about half the world away.

After our arrival we went straight to a pizza dinner next to the pool in our accommodation in Auckland. In this wonderful lodge we are teamed up in groups of three and all share a room with kitchen and bathroom, it feels great to finally be able to cook again. Overall this place is awesome. After a quick and not so well calculated trip to the supermarket, we ended up with a few hundred dollars worth food.

On day two we had our Auckland scavenger hunt. We went into the city with some questions to get to know the place better. We walked through their marina, their most important shopping street and train station and had a brief workout break in a park. They have their own Space Needle here, called the Sky Tower. It’s slightly higher though.

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On Friday we were still getting settled. After another quick trip to the supermarket to get everything we had missed on our first $400 shopping trip, we went to the Auckland museum. This museum offered place to tons of old Māori artifacts and even a Puukenga, their temple. They also had some Maori people in employment who performed a Hakka, their traditional dance, for us museum goers. They also had an exhibition about Air New Zealand, the national airline, which we briefly visited. After leaving the museum we found that on a five minute walk away there were some botanical gardens. In these gardens we saw all kinds of unique New Zealand plants like the silver fern which might soon be visible on their new flag.
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Our destination on Saturday was Piha beach. This is a beautiful black sand beach in a great area. There are waterfalls within walking distance, there is this great rock you can climb, and the waves in the sea are great for surfing. We spent our afternoon their and unfortunately the lifeguards advised us people that had never done it before not to go surfing. I had a nice nap on the beach because the previous night had been kind of rough, while others went and visited the waterfall.

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Piha Beach

New Zealand, and mainly the area were we are, has lots of volcanos. This means there are tons of dormant and active volcano’s within driving range. On Sunday evening we went up to mount Eden, an old volcano. At the top you could only walk on the ridge because their was a huge crater in the center of the mountain. It wasn’t as dramatic as in the Lord of the Rings, with hot lava just flowing around, but it was still very impressive. We watched the sunset over Auckland from here, and it was a phenomenal sight. Watching the sun slowly drop behind the mountains while Auckland was slowly turning red in the sun’s light was an extremely pretty sight.
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Monday was supposed to be our first day of class. Since we are new students at Unitec, this meant that we had to be introduced to the Māori tribe that has their Puukenga on campus. We had a welcome ceremony which was almost completely in their language, complete with songs and all. We also had to sing our own song to them. We had chosen to sing “Strangers Like Me” by Phil Collins. They really liked it and we were happy that we hadn’t completely blown it. We were then taught about all the lore surrounding this one temple and also the stories of how the Māori arrived in New Zealand. It was great to get such an immersive introduction to their culture.
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The Puukenga from the outside

Today’s Tuesday, and as two friends and I have gotten a gym membership I’m quite worn out right now, so I’m heading in for the night. More next week!

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