The Odyssey Begins!

Hello from beautiful New Zealand!! This is our 5th day in the South Pacific living on the Hart Family Farm. We’re situated on the North Island in a stunning town called Napier. On the 15th, Caroline, Lucy, Molly, Olivia, George, Nora, JJ, Aislinn, Pierce, Miranda, and Tom met our leaders, Kate and Doug, in LAX to begin the first leg of the journey. After a lengthy flight, we arrived in Auckland and met up with the final member of our family, Nils!! In Auckland, we had another brief layover and continued our journey to Napier.

The first few days of our stay at the Family Farm consisted of a hectic (yet successful!) food shop, group orientation work, and gazing at the lovely lake view from our back porch. Despite initial rain, we have had an incredible stay – the Hart family has been gracious in making sure that we are comfortable and well-adjusted. Group orientation work has included thoughtful discussion surrounding growth and transformation, establishing group agreements, and setting intentions for ourselves. This orientation period has been crucial for understanding the rules of the program as well as strengthening our group dynamic and sense of community. It’s been really interesting to see the unique qualities each member brings to the group. George, for example, is a certified yoga instructor, and JJ and Nils possess entertaining musical skills that serve as nice background music for our evening lounging.

Aside from orientation work, we’ve had opportunities to work on the 1,300 acre farm and even explore the town a bit. Two days ago, we headed into town and split up into groups to do a fun scavenger hunt and get acquainted with local culture. Lucky for us, it happened to be the same weekend as an Art Deco festival, something Napier is famous for. Walking the streets of Napier, we observed locals clad in 1930s attire, old cars lining the roads, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Nils, Pierce, and Molly even had the privilege of watching a street performer toddling on a unicycle. The festival dates back to the 1930s, when Napier was rebuilt as an art deco town after it was leveled by an earthquake (hence the vintage theme!). For the scavenger hunt, we were asked to talk to natives about their favorite activities in New Zealand, track down famous landmarks, try culture cuisine, and gather information concerning the history of the area. It was refreshing to get out of the house and experience a culture completely different from the United States.

Back at the house, we worked on establishing group roles, such as the cooking rotation and who will be responsible for morning farm chores. On the farm, we’re currently all working on building a kayaking shed. Despite the sore muscles and the lack of ozone protection, working as a team on a construction project has given us the opportunity to fully recognize each others strengths. Even the basic lodge activities have taught us things we didn’t know about ourselves and each other, like the fact that Tom is an excellent cook and Aislinn could beat any of us in a game of frisbee. The enthusiasm of the group has remained consistently high and we’ve enjoyed being educated about Nora’s love for shaved ice at dinner and motivated by Caroline and Miranda’s ability to wake up before anyone else and go on a run, despite the hills and heat. As the weeklong point of our adventure approaches, we are thrilled for everything that lies ahead!


Lucy and Caroline