Thursday, April 22, 2010

Aotearoa part 2

Manuela and Iida on the train to Welly
Beach in Paraparaumu
Bungy ball sling shot thing in the middle of the city

Current location: Assistant Principal's Office at Southland Boys High School (but just using the computer)

Now my journey through "The Land of the Long White Cloud" moves to the the southern part of the North Island by plane to Palmerston North. I am picked up by my AFS Bolivian friend, Manuela, and her host family and taken to their house in Levin. It is a town about half the size of Invercargill and sits on flat land surrounded by hills to one side, mountains to another, and then the big Mt. Ruapehu and Mt. Tongariro (this is Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings and is very spectacular) sitting off in the distance. Manuela's family consists of just a host mother and father, and kids that live in other parts of NZ. They live in a pretty big 2 story house that the father built himself. I was very surprised when I heard this because the house had many intricacies and things that you would think one man could not do himself.

My first day there we went to Paraparaumu for a car museum, which surprsingly was very fun and interesting. Some of the very first cars ever made were there and it was massive. Just rows and rows of old cars like Fords and... well other cars. I am not interested in cars at all but it was still very cool to go to and it had a lot of history there.

Back at the house we had delicious fish and chips and Manuela made everyone Cappacinos (thats gotta be spelled wrong) because she is origionally from Italy and is very good at making those things. The next day we went to the Country's capitol, Wellington. We woke up at 6 and caught the 6:30 train to Windy Welly with Manuela's friends Iida (Finland) and Christian (Germany). It was a 1 and 1/2 hour comfortable ride with all the business people on their way to work. We were very loud kids taking pictures the whole time and I am quite sure that all the people around were not to pleased. It was the first time that we exchange kids had been without any adults on our way to a big city to explore it alone and do whatever we wanted and we were, needless to say, giddy. It wasnt like being with NZ kids that you sometimes feel uncomfortable around because you want to fit in all the time, because international kids always immediately share a common bond and almost automatically become great friends. We would not see anyone in the city or the train ever again and we are not trying to impress any kids at school so it was complete relaxed freedom and we were taking it all in.

We pull up to the city and it was a MASSIVE difference to Levin or Invercargill with people EVERYWHERE! People driving their cars, riding their bikes, and walking all with a purpose to get to their jobs. It was just so busy and I loved it. We walked by the Bee Hive, the capitol building, and then decided we wanted to got to Te Papa, the national museum. A big plus being that it was FREE! This museum was amazing with all kinds of NZ history and cool things to do. We then road the Wellington Cable Car up the hill to the Carter Observatory. Also amazing because I love learning about space and the rest of the universe. It blew our minds a lot, and I did not understand half of the stuff but it was really brilliant.

We ate, went around the shops, and then finally decided we needed to do something exciting! Me and Iida chose to do this Bungy-Ball-Slingshot in the middle of the city. SO exhilerating! But the funny thing was that we had to wear one of those doctors masks, with a freakin fighter jet pilot mask over that. We told the guy working there that it must be a joke but he responded that it muffles our screams so the business people in the surrounding buildings would not sue the bungy company. We had quite a laugh about that... only you could not hear it because we were already wearing the masks. After that it was getting late and we had to get back to the train so we said our last goodbyes to the awesome city and were off.

The very next morning we woke up and got ready for my first ever "real" tramp into the hills around Levin and hoping that we might actually be able to shoot some deer. It was pretty cool to get my first shooting permit I have to say. So Mr. Day, Manuela, Iida, and myself were off for our two day treck. I was in charge of carring the rifle the whole way which sounded cool at the time, but ended up being a huge pain in the arse (NZ speak for ass), but I got over it. It was 2 hours on a track through the bush and went into a 3 hour walk up and through and across and in and across again and up a river all the way to the hut we would be staying at. It was quite literally roughing it and we got to cook all of our food and hang around outside roaring at deer to get them to come over to kill. I learned that deer roar as a territorial thing, so if you roar and they roar back they will usually come closer to defend their area. My roar was somewhere between a raspy bark and dry heaving, but I did get a lot of responses surprisingly. It was a very cold night but we had a warm fire inside and it was a great time just to be in the wild.

Little highlights: Manuela's host family had a three legged dog, really good fish and chips, did some dancing in the shops in Wellington, and much more stupid little things.

All in all I had a blast on the North Island but it was time for me to come home for my three day tramp on Stewart Island.

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