My Gap Year In The South Pacific

Where I worked and talked to boaties.

Written By Sophie, Latitudes ’20 New Zealand

Taking a Gap Year was one of the best decisions I have ever made, I learned so much about myself that I would never have learned if it wasn’t for Carpe Diem. During my group semester I was able to learn communication skills and I pushed my limits and grew so much as an individual and created long-lasting bonds with the members of my group. During the second semester I learned how to conduct myself in a professional environment and how to become a successful and respectful roommate. There were moments during the second semester where I definitely had moments of growth and had to learn how to be the bigger person and think from other people’s points of view. This is just the summarization of the events that happened during my amazing gap year.

For this blog post I wanted to tell a story of a typical day of what it was like for me while living in Raglan, New Zealand.

I would wake up around nine o’clock in the morning, only to find my two roommates, Kate and Robyn already wide awake as they were defininity morning people and I certainly am not! I would go to the kitchen and have my bowl of weetbix while enjoying the fresh air as all the windows were open almost all the time, because the majority of the time the weather was absolutely stunning. Then I would get ready to go to work, either to host at the environment center or go do surveys about the Maui Dolphin on boat ramps!

I would put on my Marine Matter “uniform”, which consisted of a shirt with a Maui Dolphin and bucket hat. Then I would begin my beautiful walk into town, which was honestly always a highlight of my day, I was able to bask in the glory of Raglan and have some peace to myself. On my walk I would walk past the hilly scenery and enjoy the crystal blue waters as I walked over the foot bridge and get to hear the happy chatter of Kiwi Children enjoying the sunshine and the beach. Once I go to my regular boat ramp, I would often be greeted by Jacinda, who is one the most chipper, magical humans you will ever meet, and her sheep dog Poppy. Jacinida and I would chat for a bit to catch up while she put sunscreen on Puppy’s nose so she could go play with all the kids on the beach while we worked. After Poppy happily skitters away to go entertain the families on the beach, we get to work! A boat pulls up to the washing station where I ambush them with all the questions about Maui Dolphins, I ask them if they’ve seen any or if they know what they are, and about 10 other questions and fill out my surveys. Oftentimes while talking to boaties, their interest will be piqued and we have in-depth conversations about the dolphins and they become much more aware, which is the most important part of the job since they are so endangered.

As the conversation ends I give them stickers with the number of DOC, the number they call if they see a Maui on the water, and a picture with the dolphins of them so they are easily able to identify them. Then before they leave, we give them a chocolate fish, which is always their favorite part of the conversation! After my four hour shift, I go for a swim and then head home to a lovely house where we took turns cooking vegan dinners and enjoying heartfelt conversation. Before heading to bed we all drink tea and wind down together, maybe watching a movie, or maybe just talking. Then I got a good night’s sleep and was able to do it all over again!

The WEC office.
A park near where I lived!