Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

First Week in New Zealand Recap

28 June 2011: Day #1


Today has been absolutely incredible, from hearing the pilot announce that we were now beginning our final descent into the Auckland airport and the immediate rush of blood to my head and flutter in my stomach of the announcement, to customs, immigration, phone calling cards, and meeting the entire group finally. It has been a brilliant day. New Zealand has already impressed me with the kindness of it’s people and the beauty of it’s sights. So far it is wetter, greener, and hillier than I would have expected. The sunrise at the airport while tossing a Frisbee was incredible. It began with a stream of grays mixed with tints of pinks and purples to a full spectrum of colors and the sudden eruption of golden light from the sun into the sky. It was hard to not want to take a picture or not to marvel at what a beautiful first light on this country it was and how many more beautiful lights lie ahead of this journey. The group is also amazing. We seem to have come from all over the country and all are eager for this adventure, to meet others, and to explore and immerse ourselves.


The orientation site is lovely as well. Stunning green rolling muddy hills onto the coastline where you can see the city in the distance or the volcano or other small islands. Today we walked to the top of the park and around to the beach, went sea kayaking across the peninsula and explored some  tide pools, went to a hot water spring, and tasted some of the local brew at a small pub. All in all a beautiful day, but now it’s time for sleep so we can start this all again.


29 June 2011; Day #2


Today was wonderful. Felt so incredible to finally get some sleep and work away some of the fog that had been covering my brain and eyes yesterday. We have eaten here more than I can possibly imagine. It seems like I had 5 meals today, but it all has been such amazing and wonderful food and of course that means I’m loving it. We started out with a quick pub-less quiz on different facets of New Zealand, from safety to tramping to sex to politics. We covered it all. My team Double Rainbow did quite well and we ended up winning it all. Next we did an activity called ROGAINE which was basically an orienteering race around the park to see if you could find the  landmarks and get back in 40 minutes. It was such a blast! Running up and down the hills and coastline, slipping through the mud while it tried to consume your shoes. So much fun and I got to get nice and dirty in the process. It was crazy though because I got so focused on the game that I forgot to even take a look around to see where we were, but I’m sure that the views were phenomenal. Then we had some time to choose from a variety of activities including archery, mountain biking, climbing, a small walk in the bush, or just something on your own. So naturally I chose to do some climbing. The wall was rather small and holds large. But it was still very fun. I got sketched out by the belay system at first, which was just two people walking backwards with the rope, but it seemed to work efficiently. The wall did have one climb which I wa s unable to complete, an overhang. The foot holds were just not in very convenient places, even though the hand holds were solid… Next time. Then we played some rugby which definitely took some getting the hang of. Had a blast! And then info about the marae visit up for tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to it and getting a little glimpse at the Maori culture.


30/06/2011: Day #3


Today we went over the academic information for Dunedin and the basics of the city, university, and the flats. It sounds like Dunedin is going to be a very fun town and a very high concentration of young, lively people. The planned ifsa butler events also look absolutely fantastic! I definitely plan on doing them all, especially the weekend trip to the doubtful sound. I’m super excited for that trip in particular. Next we learned how to play cricket and I was the first one up to the plate. The basics of the game are protect the whicket, hit the ball, and then run as fast as you can to the otherside before the defense hits the whicket with the ball. But basically, Protect the Whicket. It was rather fun, even though I got out super early on. The day was just in general beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and super sunny and warm. It was stunning. Next we packed up and left for the Aukland museum. The focus of it was a war exhibit displaying New Zealands role in WWI, WWII, and other wars throughout history. However I most enjoyed the displays focused on Maori culture and volcanoes. The Maori pieces were incredible, super intricate wood carvings and the boats that they traveled in were enormous. The volcanoe display was also very fun because it had a virtual room which imitated what would happen if one of the many volcanic cones in Aukland was to erupt. We then left to head to the Marae. It was dusk when we got there and I was super nervous about the visit. I didn’t want to offend their culture or do something incorrectly. We all stood in a group in front of the Marae. You could see the performers, dressed in traditional garb: straw/bamboo like skirts and then stripped tops for the girls and the guys were shirtless. The girls also wore the same stripes as headbands and each individual has a unique necklace and earings or a single earing. Three warriors then came running out of the marae shouting, yelling, bulging their eyes, and sticking out their tongues in acts that sought to scare us away. They came out with weapons in hand and running in such a way that it looked as though they were doing but kicks or something similar, super light on their toes. They then stopped about 10 ft. away from us and displayed their weapons and spent a lot of time shouting and displaying their eyes and tongues. They then put down the leaf, which Ted then accepted and then they slapped the flank of their leg indicating that we could follow. The woman’s call from the marae could then be heard in unison with the Maori leader who had joined our group. We then walked towards the Marae and took off our shoes just before we entered into the Whare. The speeches then ensued and for the first time I felt very out of place, unable to understand a single word of what was being said in Maori. It was very humbling. They then continued and eventually we were welcomed in at which time we sang our songs, officially now becoming guests in the Marae. The performers then continued to perform several songs and dances of the native culture which were absolutely beautiful. I really enjoyed this event. The haka was then performed both with the guys in our group and by the Maori performers alone. We ate traditionally baked food from the pit and  had a wonderful dessert called pavlova. We slept in the Marae amongst the carvings and pictures of the ancestors of the tribe.


01/07/2011: Day #4


Today we ate breakfast at the Marae and then cleaned up and left midmorning. We then stopped at a lovely park and hiked up to the top of one of the many volcanic cones surrounding the Auckland area. The view from the top was beautiful. You were able to see most of Aukland, the harbour, ocean from all sides and the surrounding volcanic cones. We then proceeded on to a winery in the area where we received a tour and then got to participate in a wine tasting. It was really enjoyable and I learned a lot more about wine, how it’s made, how to go about tasting it, and some of the different types. We then left and headed to the airport for our flight to Dunedin. The flight was beautiful over tons of mountains and snow peaked tops. Upon arriving in Dunedin there were many, many green rolling hills and sheep. It seemed like more farmlike country than the North Island. We went to some delicious pizza and then departed for each of our respective flats. Mine, 91 Dundas St. seemed rather old compared to others, but I will make it home. Tomorrow we’re headed off to get phones, 18+ cards, food, some warmer clothes, and possibly bikes and to gain access to our internet.


02/07/2011: Day #5


Today I met up with the other IFSA-Butler kids and we ran errands around the town of Dunedin. The town seems to be very beautiful and to have just about everything that you could need.It seems very urban compared to what I was expecting for the actual size of the city. The architecture is all victorian based buildings which gives it a very European feel. For the most part it feels very much like America minus the accents and the lack of central heating. Definitely much colder than I was expecting it to be.  We got breakfast together and then got phones and went to the grocery store. Groceries are a little more expensive than in the USA but gotta eat haha I had a very nice dinner with some of the other girls from ifsa butler. We made some pasta and salad together and ate and enjoyed each others company. It’s good to feel like I’m making some friends. I then came home to find that my power was out….shoot. So I spent the night at Monique’s flat and was so much warmer and there was power woohoo. Tomorrow I plan to figure out how to get the power fixed before my other flatmates come into town.


03/07/2011: Day #6


Today we went to the Warehouse and got some more basic supplies like shampoo and things. We also found a pretty awesome recycled clothing store and I got these absolutely awesome pair of boots, I’m psyched about them! We then went to this dairy that had a great deal on delicious icecream scoops. I then finally got to skype with my family, which was really nice even though I felt like I cried the whole time I talked to them haha I also met my kiwi host and her mom for just a minute. Her mom seemed to be really nice as well as my Kiwi host. I wish she was sticking around so I could get to know her and have somebody in the flat but it was so nice to meet her. I’m really looking forward to getting to know her. . We then had dinner together again as a group, but at Sarah’s house this time. I made enchiladas for everyone which turned out to be surprisingly good for how little Mexican food supplies there were at the grocery store. We met one of Emily’s  flat mates who was from Denmark and was super super nice! The girl from Brazil who was supossed to show up today wasn’t here so I guess that’ll just be a surprise when she comes. I’m ready for some company around here. Overall another sucesssful and good day in Dunedin.


04/07/2011: Day #7


Happy Fourth of July from New Zealand…so a day early in the states! Today was a pretty awesome day. We had a short meeting with the international crew and got some more info and meetings that we needed to go to and then we headed off to salvation army to get some warm clothes. I found a wonderful merino wool undershirt for $5 so I was pretty excited about that. We then took care of our 18+ cards and got some delicious icecream yet again.  We then met with Leila again in the afternoon and went on a bus tour of New Zealand and out to one of the most delicious dinners I’ve had. We had a nice big 3 course meal of mussels, salmon, potato, and cheesecake mmmmmmm I then went to a pub with some of my new friends and participated in the pub quiz and did horribly but it was a blast! We’ll have to work on learning more about New Zealand pop culture because I felt like a deer in the headlights haha I then came home to find that my flat mate Pema had arrived. She seems really nice and friendly. I think it should work out well. Looking forward to another day. Can’t believe it’s been a week in New Zealand already and so many more to look forward to!



One Response to “First Week in New Zealand Recap”

  1. William Ring Says:

    Thanks, Sarah. Sounds like you are having fun. And you write so well too. Keep it up. We are following along.

Leave a Reply

Are you human? *