A Walk in the Woods

By Park and Rachel

This week we dove into an outdoor education course with our new friends at Whenua Iti. This gave us the opportunity to try out multiple outdoor experiences that not only tested us physically but also mentally. Abel Tasman is the most visited national park in New Zealand with about 300,000 visitors per year. We got to see what it had to offer from not only inside the trees but also from the sea. Our first three days in the park we were able to cover about 25 miles on foot, this gave us the chance to see rich wildlife (Rachel saw a penguin) and have a true experience in the pure wilderness of New Zealand.

On the second day after our hike, we were introduced to a more physical representation of Maori culture. A group of New Zealand students in a Maori class taught us the ways of ancient stick fighting with the Taiaha. We also went out in a Waka, a long canoe type boat the Maori used for fishing and long journeys. It uses a great amount of teamwork and communication. We also had the opportunity to sing songs around the campfire and trade customs of our countries. For the days following the “tramping” we hopped into our kayaks to see a different side of the park. Seeing the park inside and out allowed for us to witness the true nature of the area. On our final day we had the chance to go down into “Papatuanuku” or the earth mother. For some this was an exciting opportunity to dive down into the deeper side of New Zealand not many people get to see, for others it was the chance push their limits and experience something that’s a little out of their comfort zone. There were some tight squeezes and dark corners, but there were also luminous glow worms and ancient sparkling stalactites. Throughout this week we reached high altitudes, low caverns, freezing waters, hot beaches, laughs, tears. But mostly laughs. We have all surely grown stronger this week.