NZA Group A is on the move, Liz, one of our instructors fills us in:
We said goodbye to the quiet of the Crossing and moved straight into the busy city of Sydney. On the first full day of Sydney, the group split into two. Half went to Newtown and the other went to the beach and did a little sun bathing and swimming at the coast of Australia. Newtown was a quirky, artsy part of the city. There were outside markets where you could get food, clothing, and lots of little trinkets. There was an option to buy a blind date book, which means that you don’t know the title, the author, or what the cover photo looks like. You are given bullet points of what the book is about and you have to hope you get a good book. Lizzie and Allison each got one to swap. Some of the other purchases were a secondhand camera, vintage clothing, and of course some home-baked sweets.
That night we went out to a fancy dinner where we attempted to get a good look at the Sydney Opera House, but it was being blocked by a giant cruise ship. Even without the view, we had a great time reminiscing about our time in Australia and eating the best food we had had all trip. There was one group of girls that shared twelve plates of food. Needless to say, we all left with full and happy stomachs. Underneath the restaurant was a dance floor. We all got out there and showed off our brilliant moves. There were lots of laughs and even a few tears as we said goodbye to Cate, who had decided to head home that next morning rather than joining us on our New Zealand adventures. It was a perfect last night, but we were sad to see her go.
The Sydney airport was a bit chaotic with twelve people, especially because of the heightened biosecurity. Thankfully we made it to New Zealand with everyone unscathed and we were ready to start the second leg of our adventures. We arrived at the campsite at 10 PM, exhausted and ready for bed, but we still had to set up tents. We had the option to each have a tent to ourselves, but four of the girls decided to cram into one tent, all together. It was a tight fit, but it was like they were at a sleepover. The rest of the group can attest to the fact that they were having fun as their giggles could be heard well past everyone’s bedtime. The next day they set up one additional tent as their ‘walk-in closet,’ but continued their sleepover for the next two nights.
We spent these first few days in New Zealand doing service work. Originally New Zealand only had one type of mammal, the rat-bat. Because of this, and because of how isolated the country is, the birds really had no reason to fly. So, they evolved to be flightless birds with very few instincts to look out for predators. When European settlers came to New Zealand, they brought lots of pests with them like weasels, rabbits, possums, and stoats. These pests easily take out the defenseless native birds, putting them in danger of extinction. The country is now trying to get rid of these pests in order to save the native species. One way they do this is by setting traps for them. The hill we were working on had lots of these traps, but it was slippery and dangerous to get to them. Our job was to create a trail to make it easier for the workers and to lead the animals straight to the traps. We flattened out trails, made drains for water, and put stairs on the hills. By the end of it, it looked like a scene straight out of the secret garden. We all worked really hard as a team and were proud of what we accomplished. As a bit of a reward, we went to a beautiful spot on the beach next to our campsite. There were caves and water holes to jump into, as well as rocks to cut our feet on. Overall, it was a wicked week. Onto the Marae in Rotorua we drive; we get to sleep in a culturally significant meeting hall next.
If you want to learn more about the New Zealand and Australia Semester Program, you can read more here.