About 3 week ago I finished my last classes at Upper Hutt College and am currently in my last few weeks of my New Zealand experience. Though I am now on holiday, I find myself very busy with the daily activities the international department has planned for the international students. It is a 3 week program that is taking us all over the Wellington Area to get a real taste of New Zealand beauty. Before we started this program however, there was one week for us to recuperate from school, and prepare ourselves for 3 more weeks of early mornings. In that week I slept over with my German friend Asja, had a movie night with Marlene and Hannah (also German students), and did a lot of souvenir/Christmas shopping for family at home.
Monday of this past week was the first day of the international trips. We met at school, piled into a 12 passenger van (7 Germans, 2 Japanese, 2 Teachers, and 1 American) and headed off for mini-golf. I was extremely surprised to hear that my mini-golf partners, Momoka and Taiki, had never played mini-golf before. They quickly get the hang of it and had a great time! I surprised myself by getting a few lucky hole in ones as well.
After mini-golf, we drove to Island Bay, on the southern coast of the North Island, and walked for an hour or so along the shoreline. It was absolutely beautiful. The water was blue and clear; the beaches were littered with large rocks and drift wood. it could have been a more perfect day. The wonderfully refreshing ocean breeze keep us cool, as it was an unusually hot day. In the early afternoon, we sat on Lyall Bay to eat our lunch. To the left of us we watched airplanes take off at the Wellington Airport, and in front of us we watched wind surfers enjoying Wellington’s best surfing beach. It was a lovely lunch.
Tuesday we drove up a windy, but scenic, road to Ohiru Farm where we met other international students from a few Wellington schools. Soon after we arrived, we were harnessed up and were learning about high ropes safety. Though this high ropes course was essentially the same as the course in Otaki, on the outdoor education trip, it was just as exciting, and ever more frightening due to the wind. I even did the same “trapeze jump” that I did in Otaki. However, I am sad to say that even though I climbed all the way up and stood on the top of the pole, I wasn’t able to jump far enough to grab the trapeze bar. I’m pretty sure that not only was this pole shorter than the previous one, the trapeze bar was also farther away from the pole. Though I was very disappointed about my shortcomings on the trapeze, I enjoyed my time there, and was very happy I had the chance to participate in a high ropes activity again.
After high ropes, the 30 of us, teachers, instructors, and students, packed into 2 pick up trucks and a land rover. We drove along a bumpy and dusty dirt road over, up, and around the beautiful rolling green fields of Ohiru Farms. Along the way we watched cows and sheep roaming on the wind rippled grasses in the hot sun.
The views we had from the tops of the hills were absolutely indescribable. Ahead of us was the Cook Straight, and beyond that, on the horizon, was the rising mountains of the South Island. To our left we could see the outskirts of Wellington, blanketed with trees and houses clinging to the hillsides. From our perch on the top of the world we could also see huge white wint torbines, spinning away, as well as endless green fields of white fluffy sheep.
Our bumpy 4-wheel drive adventure ended at a south coast beach whipped by harsh winds and covered in large and small rocks, smoothed by the tides, as well as copious amounts of drift wood. We gathered driftwood, started a fire, and roasted marshmallows, sitting on our temporary drift wood benches. From our campfire we had an incredibly clear view of the South Island mountains. After eating susages (that were cooked on the propane burner- not the driftwood fire- we aren’t that “outdoors-ie”) Ansofie and I perused the beach for shells and pumice. Soon after everyone finished lunch we pilled back in the trucks, headed back to the farm and from there began our drive home. In the coming day we will be going to Kapiti Coast, joining other schools in an international BBQ, as well as surfing, kayaking, a visit to the Wellington Museum and much more.