Greetings from the North Island!
This week was a trip. Literally. While figuring out my next steps after NZ, I decided to lick my wounds from the car rental down south and try up north. I set out on a 4.5 day road trip covering most of the island. It is so beautiful. Funny enough, I got back to Auckland on Thursday from taking a road trip of the north island, and that night won a bus tour of the north island. At least they reaffirmed my itinerary as they cover almost the exact same stops.
I wrote a whole post on the road trip, so I’ll spare you the details, but two things really stood out. First, that NZ has done a better job than any colonial country I’ve seen in balancing the cultures of past and present. The Maori culture is so strong – not only is it revered and respected, but you will see both languages on signage and in museums. You can get a touch of the Maori culture without it being just a tourist attraction – this is really how they live. There are, of course, problems, but it does seem NZ has worked hard to let both cultures thrive, rather than think of the Maori has a footnote.
The second is again the intense commemoration of Anzac Day. A new exhibit just opened at the Te Papa art museum in Wellington and it left me speechless. I went on what was Memorial Day in the States, so already had a lot on my mind about the wars, but this exhibit left me teared up, showing not only what Anzac Day was about, not only how Australia and NZ were impacted, but again, how the Maori were a part of the story. I was also astounded at the exhibit itself – literally the best I’ve ever seen in a museum – and it was free. Then I found out that Peter Jackson funded it and it all made sense.
Oh yeah, and I jumped off of a 192 meter tall building! I met Nishaa, another of the lovely travel sisters from Global Degree and we satisfied my first dare – to jump off of something high – by doing Auckland’s SkyJump. It’s not bungee, but almost like a vertical zipline/wired base jumping. Highlight of Auckland. It was a bit scary, but Nishaa’s logic was stronger than mine:
Me: “I saw a bunch of kids do this yesterday. If a 9 year old can do it, I can do it.”
Nishaa: “I saw that Beyonce did this. If Beyonce can do it, I can do it.”