S: New Zealand 2011
FC: New Zealand 2011
1: This book is dedicated to the 2011 Meeker-New Zealand Ambassadors. Thank you for making the trip entertaining and enjoyable! We appreciate your hard work along the way and hope that this book will serve as a forever reminder of our days together in New Zealand. -Mrs. Dilworth and Mrs. Emmert
2: Departure from Tacoma Monday, February 7th, 2011
3: San Francisco Airport | Our Arrival in Auckland!
4: 2/9/11 ~ "Wellington Day 1" ~ by Ambassador Sigala On Monday, everyone was getting excited to go to New Zealand. We all just waited at home and got last minute things done. Then everybody was at the airport by one o'clock that afternoon. We all took pictures and said our good byes and got ready to get on the flight. When we were on the plane most people just talked to other people or played on their iPods. Then when that plane ride was over we went to a deli and got something to eat. When we were on our second flight we all watched some movies on the TV's or listened to music. We also slept a little bit on the plane ride. The people on the plane served us dinner and breakfast. The breakfast was served at about three o'clock in the morning (New Zealand time). I think the plane ride was a lot longer then twelve hours. Then we got off, got our luggage back and went to give our luggage to the people for our next flight. We got on that plane and the ride seemed very short. We got our luggage to the hostel and put our luggage away. Everyone thought it was about six o'clock in the afternoon but was only ten o'clock in the morning. We went over to the waterfront and took a couple of pictures and sang. Then we went to a food court and got some food to eat. We went back to the hostel and got in a shuttle and went on a tour around Wellington. We got to go see wind turbines, Weta (where they make things for movies and film movies), went up on a cable car ride to the botanical gardens. Everybody took lots of pictures. We walked back to the hostel, ate pizza and got ready for bed.
7: 2/10/11 ~ "Wellington Day 2" ~ by Ambassador Taryn Today was our day at Parliament and the Te Papa Museum. Parliament is the building most commonly known as "the Beehive" and is the equivalent to the United States Capitol building. The Beehive looks exactly as it's nicknamed and is set up that way for the powers that reside there with the Prime Minister at the uppermost level. All though the building has seen many fires, the structure shows none of it with the black tinted glass reflecting the hot summer sun and cool blue ocean water behind it. The inside has white marble flooring on every level and has a similar atmosphere to a library. The House is divided in two, one side being the opposition and the other is the favored side of the overseer. The original Parliament building was in Auckland but was moved to Wellington to tie the two islands, North and South, together. When someone from another country in high power comes to the Beehive, they fly their nation's flag. Te Papa is a historic museum that displays New Zealand's history starting all the way back to the native Mori. Te Papa is located directly by the water and is six floors of knowledge. I learned a lot today, but something stood out among the rest.
8: 2/11/11 ~ "Wellington to Invercargill" ~ by Ambassador Rita On this warm day in Wellington, New Zealand, our Meeker ambassador group got together for a cereal breakfast prior to checking out of the YHA Hostel we stayed in. Afterwards, our tour guides, Nathan and Jack, picked us up and we began our Lord of the Rings Tour around 8:30 AM. Our tour guides took the group to various locations where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. They described to us which scene we were at and how the producers and all the actors and actresses shot the film. We had the chance to take pictures of the area. Also, some ambassadors wanted to take pictures just like how they were in the movies. It was fun and exciting to go “behind the scenes” of The Lord of the Rings. During the day, we found out that both of the tour guides that showed us around were both in movies that were popular in America. Nathan, who was our tour guide for two days, was an elf in The Lord of the Rings. Jack, on the other hand, was a soldier in King Kong. Everyone was excited about this so many of us took pictures with them and got “autographs.” At the end of the tour, we were dropped off at the hostel to have lunch and prepare to depart for Invercargill. We arrived at the airport and waited a while before going to our gate. Near the time we were supposed to board the plane, we needed to move to another gate. We boarded the plane and departed. The flight was about two hours. Towards the end of the flight, Reid was a flight attendant for about five minutes. When we arrived in Invercargill, we cheerfully and excitedly walked off onto the tarmac and into to the Invercargill airport. As we walked into the airport, there was a welcoming group of host families and friends that greeted us. Each ambassador found their family and went home. My host is Grace and her family. We have a lot in common and have exciting plans for the month that lays ahead of us.
10: Welcome Assembly | Velodrome
11: 2/14/11 ~ "Invercargill Day" ~ by Ambassador Michael Today was the welcome assembly at the James Hargest Junior College. The students there were very polite and respected us. Their hospitality was amazing, and it was very welcoming. We exchanged the teddy bears and gave gifts to the teachers (platters with depictions of Mount Rainier and salmon) and the principal (totem pole). We then performed our songs: the Wolverine Beat, Hello Seattle, Fifty Nifty States, The Star Spangled Banner, and We Are the World. The performance went very well. After that we left to the ILT Velodrome, that was a lot of fun! The velodrome is an indoor cycling track ramp type thing in a circle like a race car track. You rode bikes that your feet were strapped to and you couldn't stop. There are no brakes on the bike and to stop you just slowed down your pedaling. So you just have to keep pedaling and the faster you go the higher you get. When you got to the top it was really cool and you could tell you were going fast. We went and had lunch and there was a small train that you could ride and everyone loved it. We all went on it and made seem like it was the coolest thing ever! All the ambassadors, teachers and chaperones went on it. After lunch, we left to go to the Invercargill Musuem. There people bought gifts and we went and saw the Tuatara lizard. It was pretty weird looking for me and I did not want to hold it. Other ambassadors held it. Then we returned to the school and everyone left with their host family. It was a very fun day and I am sure everyone loved it.
12: 2/15/11 ~ "Farm Day" ~ by Ambassador Tayler It's a beautiful sunny day in Invercargill. So what did the ambassadors do today you might ask....... We were down on the farm, of course. First, we went to Scott's Farm and watched three different tractor-like machines make a bunch of hay into bales. The bales looked like obstacle course. The obstacles were things like walking horses over a bridge while holding them in place for five seconds, walking over a simulated water section (mat) and then jumping them over a barrier. Afterwards, we went to Pypers Produce and watched potatoes and carrots being processed. We ate a carrot that was just washed and processed an hour ago. Later on, we had lunch at Bella Kai, which was a little like Subway sandwiches and we put our own sandwich together. We ate our own fresh sandwiches. After that, we went to a different farm with a lot of sheep with other cow-like animals called Highland Cattle. The cattle were fluffy and had huge horns. We went on an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and had the opportunity to be dragged on a burlap bag, sledding through the sheep pasture. We watched and participated in sheep shearing then saw a dog herding the sheep through the pasture and in the corral. The last part of the day was the most fun for all of us. We went horseback riding, although we were lead. We made a scarecrow out of hay, we milked a cow and one team member went through an obstacle course blindfolded with another team member giving instructions. But the best part of this afternoon was spent playing random games for candy. We were split up into teams. The games were really fun! We threw gumboots for distance with the longest distance winning the event. We put on giant t-shirt which was shared with another team member and then we ran a race back and forth. We tossed eggs with a partner and if the eggs survived we kept stepping backwards until only one team was the winner when their egg finally broke. The games were awesome. So even though we had a lot of fun, farm day was also very educational.
15: 2/16/11 ~ "The Amazing Race, and Off to Queenstown" ~ by Ambassador Reid Today was a good day. First, we started out with the Amazing Race. With about 25 locations and three hours, we had a challenge. Being on the Yellow "Jandals" team, I wore an amazing outfit that really showed a true American. There were five teams in this event. The other teams were the Brown "Kiwis", Red "Buzzy Bee", Blue "Paua Shell" and Green "Kiwifruit". The destinations were scattered all over Invercargill. Some of the places involved questions, pictures and bonus questions. My team's strategy was to start at the beginning, the dairy shop, then move towards the finish line doing activities along the way. The activities ranged from going to a dairy shop to get a milkshake and a candy bag to getting a picture of the group with a local policeman. At the end, my team came in third place. We're not sure if we will stay in third place since the organizers have review the pictures and our answers to the questions decide on the winning team. After the race, we all went and got lunch in the area (McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks or the local take away shop). Then we hopped in the school vans for a two hour ride to Queenstown. When we arrived at the first ever bungee jump center, we watched people do the jump and also took some pictures. Soon after we watched the last person jumped, we went into town. The group headed to the beach where we had some pizza. The pizza was great! Later, we got with our chaperone group and went through town shopping. After an hour of shopping, we went back to the rooms to take a shower, write in our journal and go to bed. It was a great day! | 2/16/11 ~ "The Amazing Race, and Off to Queenstown" ~ by Ambassador Reid Today was a good day. First, we started out with the Amazing Race. With about 25 locations and three hours, we had a challenge. Being on the Yellow "Jandals" team, I wore an amazing outfit that really showed a true American. There were five teams in this event. The other teams were the Brown "Kiwis", Red "Buzzy Bee", Blue "Paua Shell" and Green "Kiwifruit". The destinations were scattered all over Invercargill. Some of the places involved questions, pictures and bonus questions. My team's strategy was to start at the beginning, the dairy shop, then move towards the finish line doing activities along the way. The activities ranged from going to a dairy shop to get a milkshake and a candy bag to getting a picture of the group with a local policeman. At the end, my team came in third place. We're not sure if we will stay in third place since the organizers have review the pictures and our answers to the questions decide on the winning team. After the race, we all went and got lunch in the area (McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks or the local take away shop). Then we hopped in the school vans for a two hour ride to Queenstown. When we arrived at the first ever bungee jump center, we watched people do the jump and also took some pictures. Soon after we watched the last person jumped, we went into town. The group headed to the beach where we had some pizza. The pizza was great! Later, we got with our chaperone group and went through town shopping. After an hour of shopping, we went back to the rooms to take a shower, write in our journal and go to bed. It was a great day!
16: regular airplane, so you are fairly close to the ground. The helicopter was really noisy, so we got to wear headphones to communicate with the pilot and each other. After a brief ride, we landed at the top of the Skyline. We suited up in helmets and rode the chairlifts to the top of the luge ramp. Everyone started off at the scenic track (slow), but after one run on that track we were ready to tackle the advanced track (fast) which was full of dips, tunnels and sharp turns. All of us went four more times on the luge. We took a group picture at a viewpoint overlooking Queenstown. We performed for people at the Skyline boarding area for the gondola. We rode down the gondola and went to dinner at Sombrero's Mexican restaurant. After a meal of some yummy Mexican food, we went shopping and then headed back to our accommodation to get some much needed rest. | 2/17/11 ~ "Our 2nd Day in Queenstown" ~ by Ambassador Andrina Today was our second day in Queenstown. It was also the day the thrill seeker in all of us emerged. Our first stop was the Kiwi Bird and Wildlife Park. It is one of the few places where you can see Kiwi birds. They are nocturnal birds with the environment that was darkened for them. We were privileged enough to match a Kiwi feeding at the park. Kiwi birds have really long beaks that they use to get food such as berries and insects. The birds' caretaker drives a tube into the ground in order to simulate the Kiwi bird’s natural habitat; the goal is to eventually release the birds into the wild. Afterwards, we were able to wander around the park to look at other bird species and native plants such as the silverbeech and the rata. The tuatara (lizard) is a very unique animal that most likely existed during the time of the dinosaurs. The tuatara can only be found in New Zealand and is fully protected. We had a quick lunch then headed over to the area where we were going to catch the bus to the Shotover River! We boarded the jet boat then began our ride down the river. It was full of bumps, curves, turns and of course, lots of water. By the end of the ride, we were soaked! Our driver took us breathtakingly close to the rocks and coupled with the Shotover Jets famous 360 degree spins our ride was full of screams and laughter. This was by far the favorite activity. After disembarking from the jet boat, we drove over to the helipad to go to the helicopter to get to the luge ride. It was a little bit scary to board the chopper because we could have gotten hit by the propellers, so we had to crouch down. Once on the helicopter, however we were in for some amazing views of Queenstown. In a helicopter, you don't go into the clouds like you do on a
19: 2/18/11 ~ "3rd Day in Queenstown" ~ by Ambassador Austyn Today was fun! Our group travelled on a steamboat called the "Lady of the Lake" over beautiful Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station (an island). Once we arrived, we had three activities in the order of our group. My group had the farm tour, a barbeque buffet lunch and we went horse-back riding . The tour guide for the farm was really funny. He talked to us about the history of the island and the different animals on the farm like the reindeer, highland cattle, sheep, llamas, etc. He directed an "eye-dog" to quietly herd sheep off the mountainside into the paddock. The dog does not bark at the sheep. The dog just watches and stealthily moves towards the sheep to move them as a group. The dog did chase the occasional runaway sheep. The tour guide also demonstrated how a sheep is sheared using modern machinery instead of hand held type scissors. The barbeque was delicious! I had lamb, chicken, salad and New Zealand hot chocolate called "Milo." For the horse-back riding activity, I had a horse named Beauty. My group went on a fun ride for about an hour. We went on a trail ride on the station property. After we completed our activities, we rode back on the steamboat to Queenstown. We went to the Kawarau Bridge to watch Chaperone Gary bungee jump off the bridge. He got dunked pretty well in the river. Wow! We got back to town and went shopping. So much fun in one day and later on we met up with some of our host families who were either staying in town or going on to another city. Some of the ambassadors returned to Invercargill in the school vans to be picked up by their host families. The rest of the weekend was up to us.
20: 2/21/11 ~ "Te Anau and the Glow Worm Caves" ~ by Ambassador Kayla We had several host family adults and James Hargest student ambassadors travelling with us today on the bus to Te Anau. There were 42 people on the bus and it took 2 1/2 hours to get to our location with a bathroom break at a great playground. When we arrived, the bicycling and miniature golf was cancelled due to the buckets of rain falling on our heads. We went into a parks facility to watch a conservation film about the local lake and surrounding area. We had time to go shopping in town, get a snack or a beverage. Ambassador Katelyn found a cup that sang a funny song. The words for the song went " I have to pee, I have to pee, I feel so free, I have to pee." The song kept repeating so much that I had to laugh out loud. After shopping, we went back to the bus to eat lunch then we went to the dock to play on the beach and to check in for the boat ride. After a safety video, we were allowed on the top deck. It was so windy that we pretended we were flying. The wind almost pushed me over. When we arrived, we were separated into two groups for the tour into the glow worm caves underground. We were not allowed to take pictures in the caves. There was rushing water coming through various openings in the rock wall that included several small waterfalls inside. We walked over metal walkways and bridges in the cavern. We had to duck down to get through the cave entrance otherwise we would have hit our heads on the rock wall/ceiling. Once inside, everything was very quiet and smelled so fresh and clean. We got into boats and the guide turned off all the lights so it was completely dark in the cavern. We went deeper into the cave and saw the glow worms who resembled little blue dots. There is only one spot on their back that glows. The brighter the glow means that they are pretty hungry. They looked like a bunch of stars imbedded in the rock walls and ceiling. After we returned to the staging area, we were able to get either coffee or tea. Some of us bought snacks and we watched a video in which a guide gave more detailed information about the glow worms. It showed the webbing that was used to capture other insects for food, that the glow worm could attack another glow worm who was infringing on it's territory and it even showed that glow worm eating another worm. We got back on board the boat to eat our snacks and to visit with our hosts. We took several group pictures at the island and back at Te Anau. The trip back to Invercargill was long and most of us fell asleep. The people who didn't fall asleep took pictures of the nappers. I stayed awake to write this blog. That was our adventure today and the sun did come out for a portion of the afternoon.
22: 2/22/11 ~ "School Presentations" ~ by Ambassador Nicole Today was school day so we could present our projects on the different companies, lifestyles and icons in America. Some of the presentations focused on local companies like Starbucks to national companies like Hershey's Chocolates and national monuments in New York to Washington, D.C. The main classes we visited were Year 7 (or 6th grade) at the James Hargest Junior Campus. The class day was scheduled with a morning session with a half hour morning tea. My group consisted of Jacinda, Austyn and Katelyn. We gave our first presentation then took morning tea outside in the playground. My host family provided my snacks for tea. When we returned to a different classroom we gave another presentation. After this session, we all went to lunch outside with the other kids for about an hour. I didn't see a lot of people playing in the playground after they finished lunch but they did talk and visit in groups. After lunch, we gave two more presentations and rotated into different classrooms. The students asked us a variety of questions about American people, food and our pets. We also participated in their class by helping out the kids with their writing assignment. What I noticed about their schools that was different from Meeker Middle School is that their students behaved better in the classroom. It was noted in an earlier blog that their assemblies were very orderly and the students were quiet and respectful. Their classes are more like one class rather than the six classes we have at home. Overall, I learned a lot about their school and I enjoyed the experience. It was very different but fun.
24: 2/23/11 ~ "Bluff, NZ" ~ by Ambassador Carter Today, the Meeker Citizens of the World went to Bluff, located just south of Invercargill. In Bluff we went to a spiritual place for the Mori people called a Marae. We were directed to walk through an arch. When we arrived there we were greeted at the house and told to take our shoes off and go inside. Shoes were not allowed inside as a sign of respect we walked in our socks. The ladies went first followed by the men. When we all sat down, one of the people started speaking in Mori. Then he told us that he was mourning for Christchurch. Then someone else stood up and greeted us first in Mori, then in English. They were greeting us and welcoming us to their spiritual house. They talked about the land and their culture. Then the man picked up a guitar, and started to play. The people started to sing. When they finished Chaperone Gary greeted them in English then we stood to sing. He spoke of our home and gave descriptions of Mount Rainier and the Puyallup River. We chose to sing Hello Seattle which describes our home. They enjoyed it a lot. Shortly following our song we went to the dining room and had morning tea. We ate foods like sandwiches and meat pies, then had dessert which was a biscuit or a piece of cake. When we finished eating, the people told us that they wanted to hear the rest of our performance. So we got up on the stage and sang the rest of the songs. They really liked it. We took pictures with the agreement that they not be published but only shared with our families since this was a sacred place for the Mori people. They taught us a song that taught of the three greatest things in life. The biggest one is love. They got up on stage to sing us another Mori song with portions of it sounding like a Haka chant. Then we went back to the first room. One of the ladies (a priest) told us more about the culture. How they sleep on mattresses on the floor for special events at the Marae, which person gets which job and stuff like that. She also said that when one of their people die they will bring their coffin through a specific window in the Marae. Their funeral custom goes on for at least five days with the family members taking care of their dead relative. They sleep in the Marae with other members bringing them food. They also told us what the carvings and paintings on the walls mean. She told us stories about the place too. Once we were finished we went to the rest of the Bluff to look at the great waterfront views. We went and ate at a restaurant called Land's End. They said that we had great manners. When we finished eating, we went to a sculpture. It was the chain that holds Stewart Island to the south island. On the south island there is a giant chain that goes into the ground. Then at Stewart Island the other end of the chain came out of the water to hold it there. I really liked it. We also went to a sign that said how many kilometers from there to other places in the world. We took lots of pictures. We also went to the top of Bluff Hill. When we finished there we started to go home. Then we stopped all of a sudden. The teachers were so proud of us for being good, that the let us get ice cream! It was delicious. When we finished eating we went home. That is what happened today. See all of you in a week!
27: The museum guide brought us to their Egyptian artifacts section and I was selected as the Egyptian Stone Man. Teacher Kristin volunteered to be mummified and my job was to remove all her vital organs except for her heart. The organs were put into canopic jars. Once we completed this activity, we returned to the meeting room to eat pizza for dinner (evening tea time). We left to play in the discovery center and then returned to make masks that we colored and painted. We went on night walk through the museum with only the museum guide holding a torch (flashlight). The chaperones and our host drivers hid throughout the museum to try to scare us by making weird thumps, noises and screams. They picked spots to jump at us wearing masks and sometimes they grabbed at our feet. After this spooky escapade, we all grabbed three small mattresses and picked an area to sleep in the science area. I got to sleep in the survival cave area. | 2/24/11 ~ "Dunedin: Aquarium and Otago Museum" ~ by Ambassador Gary Today we took a two hour long car ride and during this ride we took a twenty break. This break was taken in a town called Gore. In this town, we climbed all over a trout memorial because Gore is the "trout capital" of the world. After arrived in Dunedin, we left for the marine aquarium that is located just outside of the city. We learned about the giant squid, different varieties of shrimp and many other strange animals of the deep. I also saw and felt a shark's fins plus a jaw showing several rows of their teeth. A shark will lose a row of teeth which is replenished automatically. After this we went to the Otago Museum and the "whisper dishes" for about 30 minutes to blow off some energy that had built from the two hour car ride. Then we went into the actual museum and after unloading our bags we went down to the area where you can learn about wind, earthquakes and other miraculous powers than can only be explained with experiments and diagrams. We made square bubbles, played with air cannons, a mindball game and a survival game we went upstairs to sit inside a blown up planetarium. We sat inside the darken planetarium, to look up at the constellations where we learned of the Egyptian Gods.
28: 2/25/11 ~ "Our Second Day in Dunedin" ~ by Ambassador Amy Today we had a blast on our second day in Dunedin. After waking up at the Otago Museum from our overnight sleepover, packing up our sleeping stuff, & having breakfast, we split into our chaperone groups & went around & visited all the exhibits with questions to answer in a packet that had to do with them. Here is an example of some of the exhibits: Egyptian mummies and artifacts, The Maritime Museum including model ships, Pacific Island Tribes & Cultures including a life size canoe, Asian Cultures including weaponry (samurai swords & armour) & clothing, A wildlife area, A prehistoric area including skeletons from a Moana bird, And much much more. | Some of us finished our decorative masks from the previous evening activity. Afterwards, we left the museum heading towards the steepest street in the world: Baldwin Street. We took a few pictures with our masks and some without them prior to our climb up the hill. At first it didn't look too bad. But once we started walking/running up to hill, it was terrible! Some of us felt a little dizzy when heading back down. There was a gift shop near by where you could buy a certificate saying you survived the trek up Baldwin Street along with other New Zealand souvenirs. Next we went to the Moana Pool to swim and shower. It was nice because the pool had a Olympic size swimming pool (I think), a kid pool area with a small lazy river (it had warm water!), a huge diving board pool area, & awesome waterslides. We swam there for about an hour. | Then we went to a Thai restaurant for lunch. We got plenty of food with lots of rice and Phad Thai noodles. The food was good. The Cadbury Chocolate Factory was so cool! We watched a video on how the company started and how chocolate is made. We were given really cute hairnets to cover our long hair and the men had to wear face nets to cover their facial hair. We were given plastic bags for the free candy bars we were given throughout the tour. We ate out first candy bar during the video. We had to take off any jewlery, watches and put away our bags so that we couldn't drop anything into their chocolate production lines. Then we had a tour of the place. All of us spent a bit of money at the factory's store. I had three bags! The rugby game was the last activity for that day. It was the Otago Highlanders vs. the Waikato Chiefs. The Highlanders won with the score being 23 to 13. All in all, the day was an exciting one.
30: Stewart Island
31: 2/28/11 ~ "Stewart Island" ~ by Ambassador Jon Today we went to Stewart Island. To start out the day we went to Invercargill's airport and we were split up into three different groups to take a small plane to the island. There were two planes that carried nine passengers (ten total including the pilot) and a smaller plane that only carried five passengers (six total including the pilot). We took off and it took only 20 minutes to get to the airplane landing strip on Stewart Island. When we landed we got off the plane, got onto a bus and took it to the town of Oban. We had to wait for the other planes to land to fill up one of the tour buses that would take us around the island. Out tour guide took us past several wildlife locations, the connecting chain link to the Bluff and the many amazing mouth dropping sites. After the bus ride, we returned to the station and went to the school to perform. They welcomed us to New Zealand by performing a Haka chant. We answered numerous questions about the United States for the students. Afterwards, we walked to the ferry crossing to take a ferry over to the bird sanctuary. It was a bit of a hike up hill at first. Which was not really that bad. When we reached the ferry crossing we broke up into smaller groups because of the size of the water taxis. When we got to Ulva Island we had to wait for the rest of the group to arrive on the island. We had lunch at Sydney Cove; then we split up into two groups to hike through the trails to check out the different wild life and plants. Then we made are way deeper into the forest. Then we had to start walking up these stairs where on the top of the hill a flag was flown to show that the mail had arrrived from the mainland and then everyone would come to get their mail. When everyone was done taking pictures we headed back down the hill. At the end of the hike, we walked back to the beach and then headed back to the dock to wait for the fishing boat. We got onto the boat and headed out for the open sea. Captain Paul provided the rules for the boat and our fishing experience. We were split up into two groups and had to wait for a turn to use a fishing pole since there were not enough poles for each person. Chaperone Sandy (my mom) was the first person to catch a fish (red cod) but we were fishing for blue cod and not red cod. After everyone was done fishing, some of us sat in the galley drinking tea and eating food left from our lunch. We got back to Oban and thanked the Captain for the fishing trip. We took a group photo at the Stewart Island visitors center and headed off for dinner. Dinner was at the South Seas Hotel restaurant and we ate fish and chips. It was really good! After dinner, we got into the vans and headed back to the airplane landing strip and took the plane back to the mainland of New Zealand.
32: 3/1/11 ~ "Primary Schools Visit, Farewell Dinner" ~ by Ambassador Jacinda Today, we went to the primary schools to do a contributing visit. Our first stop was at Salford Primary School. We performed in a small classroom with very little room for the sixty students and the twenty-two of us. They seemed pretty interested, but especially enjoyed Austyn's picture of him with a shotgun when he was little, in our group video. After saying goodbye to Salford, we went on the next leg of our journey to Donovan Primary. Before we performed and met the kids, the principal told us a wee history of the exchange program. We found out that Donovan was originally Collingwood Intermediate. This school, Collingwood, was the very school that the exchange program started with before it merged with Rosedale Intermediate, which became James Hargest Junior College. After a short tea break and brief history lesson, we performed in front of Donovan. The kids enjoyed it a lot, but were also very polite and a great audience! Their favorite part probably, though, was watching our video. Once again, Austyn's shotgun photo kicked off the "wow!!" and soon followed with laughter in his silly hat in Disneyland. They giggled, and were active throughout the video. They even sang with the songs in the background of the video! This of course, was adorable. When we said goodbye to Donovan Primary, we headed off for a short lunch break in Queen's Park. A few of us, including me, headed to the round-a-bout and sat eating while spinning on the playground. Some students took the time to socialize, while others headed off to feed the army of ducks. The extra time ended too early, and we were roused to head off to our last stop. | As the vans entered the Waihopai Primary's parking lot, the color red flooded our eyes. Apparently, they were somewhere along the lines of helping fund raise and support Christchurch (Red Cross). I saw this painted on one little boy's legs. We performed and watched the video for the last time at a primary school for the day. Later in the evening, we had our Farewell dinner at The Cabbage Tree. Ambassadors gathered throughout the restaurant and outside and enjoyed the time as much as possible. We performed for the last time of the day, and followed our performance with dinner about a half hour later. The dinner was delicious, full of vegetables and tender-stuffed chicken. Dinner was followed with a quick piece of cake, and then we went straight to the Amazing Race winners. After fidgeting and waiting, the Blue Team, or Paua Shell, with Chaperone Annette, Nicole, Gary, #23 (Michael's host dad) and I won. Our families gave wonderful speeches, with heartfelt stories for each and every one of us. We exchanged gifts, the Americans giving any host family hosting a child a 2007 Microsoft Office Word Program, and the Kiwis giving us fun pillows and even little sheep! The night finished off amazingly, and was a great day.
33: Salford Kids are Rockin' it! | Donovan | Waihopai
34: 3/2/11 ~ "Kayaking, Body Surfing & Rope Obstacle Courses" ~ by Ambassador Katelyn Today, we all met in the James Hargest Junior Campus Library at 8:30 a.m. where we split into two groups, one group to start at the ropes course and the other kayaking, and then switching activities in the afternoon. Then, taking the Adventure Southland vans, we arrived at the ropes course. The group that started with kayaking changed into their wetsuits and headed for Oreti Beach to check out the weather in one van and the other group put on their harnesses and helmets to go out back for some team building activities on the rope course. Unfortunately, the weather today wasn't the greatest, it was quite windy and we had spots of rain and hail. So, we definitely could not kayak in the sea, so we decided to go to a pond/marsh area to at least attempt to kayak. When we got out of the van and put on our life jackets and helmets, Sigala and Gary pulled the paddles out of the van so we could learn a few paddling techniques, such as turning, before heading down to the edge of the water with our kayaks. When we were in the water, we tried different challenges to see how much everyone knew. For example, we rafted up, which means we got all the boats side by side and held on to each others kayaks so the instructor could talk to the whole group at once. We also attempted to circle around an island of grass, but after that we decided to try something else due to the heavy winds. The wind was too strong so many of us were beginning to drift away and could not steer the kayak in the right direction. So, we decided to go back to Oreti Beach to go body surfing. Body surfing was a blast, and we couldn't feel the cold temperature of the water due to the fact that our bodies were numb. Body surfing is when you try to ride a waves without any help from a buoyant device such as a surfboard, but we had our life jackets on so I guess it wasn't actual body surfing. Note: high-fiving after you have gone body surfing in ice cold water is NOT a good idea. After body surfing for approximately an hour, we went back to the Adventure Southland base to dry off, change into warm clothes, drink some Milo (hot chocolate) or tea, and eat lunch at noon. They had bean bags set up in the base for us to sit on, so after the guys were done eating they decided to dog pile on top of each other which was fairly entertaining.
35: At about one o'clock we switched activities, so my group went to the ropes course. We started with a few team building activities before going to the obstacle course. One example of these activities is, there was a triangular pen meant to represent a deer pen with a electric mesh fence surrounding it. We were supposed to be deer whose objective was to escape before the meat inspector came to make us deer stew. We had to the get whole team, there were twelve of us in total, out of the pen with our only tool being a wood plank without touching the fence. We did two more of these team building activities before moving on to the obstacle course. The obstacle course was done by two people at a time. The first group was Sigala and Amy, then Gary and Austyn, Rita and Kayla, and then Chaperone Gary and I. The obstacles consisted of a series of ladders, tires, beams, ropes, and a yellow buoy about six and a half feet up from the final tire (that you had to travel through) in order to be belayed back down to the ground. In the duration of the ropes course we wore helmets and a rope connected to our harnesses just in case we fell. After the obstacle course, we did two other team building activities, one was where we had to travel as a team to one end of ropes course to the other without touching the ground. There were all kinds of obstacles ranging from balancing the whole team on a tight rope in a zigzag formation and getting past a giant X of rope between two planks using just the X. Next, we had to get our team through a cobweb style rope formation without going through the same hole in the cobweb twice. The cobweb was our final activity. We split up into two groups to ride in the vans back to James Hargest where we were picked up by our host families.
36: After a tearful good-bye to our New Zealand friends, we return home to our families...
37: ...but will forever remember our adventures in New Zealand!