Written By Nicole & Alex
A big hello from Alec, Nicole, and the rest of Hongi! We are excited to be the ones to fill you in on everything that has happened this last week. This week’s leaders were Alec and Sofie!
Alec: Being a leader for a week was honestly very stressful at times. It challenged me in many different ways that I never would have thought of, like planning tiny details that normally go over my head and taking charge and pointing fingers to tell people what to do. It also made me realize that being a leader is difficult a lot of the time because it’s hard to fulfill everyone’s needs with just one solution/plan. Despite these challenges, I cannot thank my peers enough for the week of fun we all had as well as all the lessons I learned.
After our stunning and beautiful trek on the Abel Tasman, we had a day of rest at the Riwaka River Resurgence to take some time for self reflection, constructive feedback to other members of the group, and positive feedback as well. Being in such a special place as the resurgence, we were able to dive deep into our thoughts and take time to step back and appreciate one another. The reason that this place is special begins with what rivers and bodies of water mean to the Maori. They believe that water is the bloodline straight from Mother Earth; it gives life and connects all living things. For this reason, this resurgence in particular was used as a sacred place for the women of local Maori tribes to give birth to their children. Being able to explore this environment and fill our bottles from this sacred source of water was truly an incredible experience.
After our day of much needed rest, it wasn’t too long before we were all packing for our 3-day sea kayaking journey. Our first day of kayaking started early so we could catch good weather and have some daylight to set up camp. Most of us were first time sea kayakers so our long paddle the first day was a fun new challenge (we also improved a lot by the end of the trip). Our first day brought a strong headwind, but the sunshine and blue skies kept us motivated during the paddle. We stayed our two nights at the same campsite as our last night tramping on the Abel Tasman. This campsite accommodated us with both a beautiful beach and hiking trails to explore. Both our nights here were filled with lots of laughs, fun talks around the campfire and some gourmet meals (one night we even had a pork roast and fresh chocolate cake). On our second day of paddling, we kayaked out to a few bays- some of which we got to pass through while backpacking- and ate some lunch on a beach. While on the beach we also got some cool lessons from one of the Whenua Iti guides on the history Abel Tasman and on how the tides work. Due to the poor cooperation of the weather, we were forced to have an earlier day than we would have liked. Despite this, everyone appreciated the downtime as well as a hike the entire group went on. The next day, we had another early morning to hopefully beat some rain. As we paddled back to our van we abandoned on the beach, but not without stopping by Adele Island to see tons of seals. Despite having a tailwind to expedite our travels, the rain was persistent and made for packing up the gear in the van seem a lot longer than it really was. The warm showers and cups of hot chocolate back at Whenua Iti were much deserved after cleaning all the gear.
The adventure which came next was mountain biking. Again, we had many beginners but still had an amazing time. We got to bike some well renowned trails and face awesome challenges. This day was a highlight for many in the group, it was a great way for us to get out of our comfort zones and appreciate where we were. One mountain biking group even had the opportunity to bike up a mountain and lookout on the city and ocean, using shimmies as motivation. The following day, we had to sadly say our goodbyes to Whenua Iti and embark on the following adventure. We are all truly grateful for our time spent and lessons learned at Whenua Iti, we will bring this experience with us for the rest of our lives.
We arrived in Wellington after a few taxis and a ferry ride. We were even treated to a few movies in a mini theatre on the ferry. It was an interesting transition to go from spending most of our time in nature at Whenua Iti to fast paced city life in Wellington, the capital of NZ. We stayed in a big hostel and got to meet many travelers. Much of our time in Wellington was spent exploring, including scoping the coffee shops, going to Internet cafes, running on the oceanfront. and walking down Cuba street (a Main Street filled with lots of fun shops and thrift stores). As a group we went to Te Papa museum and watched “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” in theaters.
We look forward to the rest of our journey and appreciate you all keeping updated on our adventures!
-Nicole and Alec