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Weekend excursions across New Zealand

Posted by Bartol-Byers, Cierra L - September 1, 2015 - Academics, Cierra B., Education, Featured, New Zealand, Students, Study Abroad

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It was hard to say what each weekend would bring – this was mostly because of the weather! Winters in New Zealand (NZ) can be difficult to gauge. One day it would be down pouring and the next there was not a single cloud in the sky! Some weekends were for relaxing (especially during my three sole weeks of teaching), but other weekends were exciting excursions that showed me the beauty of New Zealand.

The Cook Strait

One of my first weekend excursions took me off the beaten path over to the Cook Strait. It was a two hour drive, but it was beautiful to take in more of the New Zealand land. I saw rivers, went over mountains, drove through the country, and came upon the sea hitting rocky shores. At one point we arrived to the small fishing town where Jane had me hop out of the car to take a look at the massive boats. This small town is far away from the rest of civilization, and there only reason for being in the location was for the resource of fishing.

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As we left the fishing town, I noticed my phone had also lost all cellular reception – we were truly in the middle of nowhere. We continued on our journey to a rocky location on the coast. On top of the rocks, we could spot little creatures moving. The little creatures I soon recognized to be baby seals! Springtime is time for baby animals, and baby seals are quite adorable. The baby seals seemed surprised to see us, and whenever we turned our back on them, they would begin creeping in closer to get a better look at us. I would loved to have brought one back to my Lower Hutt home. Isobel reckoned that we could keep even keep it in the bathtub.

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After the baby seals, we headed to a lighthouse on the coast. Climbing all the stairs to the top took a lot of work but the top was a spectacular view of the sea and the seals. Our day ended with hiking through the Pinnacles. The walk took about two hours, and I witnessed a rock formation I have never set eyes on before. The rocks look like individual fingers reaching for the skies. It was neat to learn from Jane that the Pinnacles was a filming location for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

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Kaitoke Regional Park

Past the Hutt Valley is the lovely Kaitoke Regional Park. After much lesson planning, it was nice to have a quick break in the beauty of nature, Kaitoke was the perfect way to relax my mind. I love the environment and being in nature. Being in nature has a way of taking my mind off all that stresses me, so I can relax and enjoy the beauty around me. Walking around Kaitoke gave me a new appreciation of the beauty in New Zealand’s trees and fauna.

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Also, Kaitoke happened to be another filming location for the Lord of the Rings! Rivendale was built into Kaitoke Regional Park (now it has been taken down), but the location has signs indicating how Rivendale looked and was built into the park. For me, it was amazing to remember the movie scenes and know that now I have stood in the same place as the Lord of the Rings cast.

Cheers,
Cierra

Cierra Bartol-Byers, a senior elementary education major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, is blogging about her study abroad experience in Namibia and New Zealand.

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