by Shay Munroe, Greenheart Travel Volunteer Participant in New Zealand
Shay is our Greenheart Travel participant of the month, sharing her travel journals with us from New Zealand, South Africa and now her current language program in France. This post recaps her New Zealand volunteer program in October…
The surreal views of the beaches, cliffs and rugby players here make me go weak at the knees.
All this past week I have been working with Kiwis, running around an enclosed forest along with one Kiwi man, one Kiwi lady, and a Kiwi dog. Here in New Zealand, the people are called Kiwis as well as their native bird who is endangered. The Kiwi bird, being as old as the dinosaurs, roam around at nighttime and burrow during the day. Jo, the Kiwi lady, led us on what seemed to be a wild goose chase, holding up a tracking device so that we could locate and measure the birds’ improvements.
I had never seen a Kiwi before. The little puff ball that Jo tugged out from underneath the bush had a long bill and webbed feet. It was about the size of a chicken at the time, but these are just babies. After finishing up with the measurements and making our way back out through the thick New Zealand trees, I felt quite special to have had the chance to work with such rarely seen creatures. Not many New Zealanders have ever seen a Kiwi.
I’ve been here now for six nights, four of which have been spent at the local pub. Quite a happening place for such an itty bitty town. Being such a frequent face in the pub, I now have a running tab. First night there I met Judith, the bartender from Scotland living with her Kiwi man. Then there was Stephan, the architect who was very insistent that I pronounce his name as SteFan, SteVen was simply unacceptable. We shared several beers, laughs, and many conversations about silly Americans, photography, and why I haven’t illegally crossed the border into Mexico yet. Next I met Jed, a local surfer boy finishing up high school who felt so inclined to teach me some Argentinean dance moves, morphing my culture experience a wee bit more.
At the moment I am a fierce learner of Rugby, being as it is the World Cup and New Zealand is in the lead. Sunday is the final game, and I’ve heard that if New Zealand doesn’t win, then the whole country goes into a deep depression, moping about everywhere. However, if they win, it will be a fantastic place to be the next month or so. I hope for the latter.