Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kia Ora from New Zealand!

(Kia Ora is the typical greeting used by the native Maori people of New Zealand. It translates directly as "be healthy" and can be used for greetings, farewells, thanks, and a variety of other purposes)

Hi everyone! We've finally made it to Dunedin, New Zealand, our home for the next 5 months. Both Donna and I are alive and well and and having a blast. The last four days have been spent bouncing around the north island while participating in a slew of activities that introduced us to our new home. It's 11 o'clock at night here so I'm not going to get into everything we've done, but I'll try to list them off for now and maybe I'll go into more detail later. Internet has been nonexistent during our orientation period or I would have updated sooner, but now that we've finally settled at the University of Otago that shouldn't be a problem.

Anyhow, some of the activities we've participated in:

  • Hiking (called tramping here) up a long dormant volcano to an overlook of the city of Auckland and then going for a swim in the sea at it's base
  • Stopping in Matamata, aka "Hobbiton" for lunch. I had a delicious steak and mushroom pie alongside some ginger beer and took pictures next to a few hobbit-hole styled buildings.
  • Watching an experienced farmhand demonstrate how to quickly shear a sheep, milk a cow, and how they use their dogs for herding. Gus and Gandalf (two of the herding dogs) showed us their ability to jump from the back of one sheep to another in order to quickly get across an entire flock of sheep. They were amazing to watch.
  • Exploring a conservation center to see the native (and endangered) Kiwi bird and a bunch of other native and non native animals
  • Bathing in natural hot springs in the town of Rotorua
  • Jogging around smelly but beautiful sulfur lakes as the sun rose
  • Experiencing an eruption of the Lady Knox geyser
  • Touring a volcanic area with a ton of amazing volcanic activity such as boiling mud and the "Devils Bath,"  a bright yellow surface pond with a pH of only 2
  • Zorbing, an outdoor sport where two or three people and a small amount of water are put inside a giant inflatable ball and then rolled down a steep grassy hill. Fantastic fun.
  • Visiting the Tamaki Maori Village to gain a better cultural understanding of the native Maori people
  • Learning the traditional Maori dance, the "Haka" (Donna has video evidence, oh boy)
  • Eating food cooked in a traditional Maori style in an underground oven called a "Hāngi"

Pictures and further explanations to come. Kia Ora!


  1. Good to hear that you are both doing well and having a blast! I’m looking forward to the pictures and video. We miss you.

  2. Miss you too! Sounds so interesting and fun! Love you.