Sunday, April 7, 2013

Let's Just Pretend I'm Polynesian

      My family can attest to the fact that I've always been fascinated by Polynesian cultures.  I went to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii when I was 12 and have been incredibly interested (I don't think I've reached obsessed quite yet) since that time.  This interest can explain my taking Polynesian dance and participating in the BYU Lu'au.  It may not be a completely typical interest for a white-as- white-can-be girl, but I embrace it.  This interest in all things Polynesian can also partially explain my coming to New Zealand.  I knew I'd experience awesome as Polynesian things while I was here and folks, I have NOT been disappointed.  From my host family, to my class, to the festivals, everything has reminded me that I just love Polynesian cultures!  Now for the visual evidence.

My AMAZING host family
All of us after watching Kaylee's performance


We had to take a picture of our matching outfits! White T-shirts, colorful pants/skirt, and half-up, half-down hair


Kaylee (farthest left on the front row)

Poor kid fell asleep on the way to...
...and on the way home from Poly Fest (don't feel too bad for him though...he was so tired because he stayed up till 4 am playing PlayStation!)

She is an absolute angels and always talks about us as her daughters. She also makes the most delicious food and always brings us new New Zealand foods to try. She's the best! 

I think it's safe to say that the Leato family is one of the most amazing families on this planet.  Living in their home is a joy and I am going to miss it so incredibly much.  We do so many fun things with them and really feel like part of their family. Some of our favorite activities include...

Singing at the top of our lungs to Pink/Fun...
 and Bruno Mars;

watching scary movies (why we picked The House at the End of the Street I don't know!);

celebrating birthdays (we've celebrated multiple each week...our extended host family is quite big);

and spending Saturday nights eating dinner at Muma and Papa's with all these cuties!  (Sidenote: the little boy on the far right, Ammon, pointed me out to his mom and told her I was an angel. How cute can you get???)

My Class at Henderson Primary School
I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching a Year 5/6 (4th/5th grade class) at Henderson Primary School. I may be a bit bias, but seriously, my class was AMAZING! They were crazy and so full of energy, but they were wonderful! I've only been away from my students for a few days, but I miss them like crazy!  I'm only going to show you a few pictures of them now because a whole post about just them is coming soon!

Ah! They are the best!!

Just chillin' during T-ball

Oh this little boy! This is Hunter. He wasn't actually in my class (he's only 5), but oh how I adored him!  I wanted to bring him home with me! On this particular day, we spent at least an hour practicing our balance, telling stories about pirates, burying treasure, counting rocks, and practicing saying please and thank you. I love this little boy! 

Pasifika is a cultural festival put on each year by members of the Auckland community.  Most of the Polynesian islands have a specified area in which booths are set up with traditional food, merchandise, and performances.  We went to Pasifika with our fam bamily and it was pretty great!  Some of the highlights were...

A beautiful location,

Samoan pancakes (imagine fried banana bread) (Sooo good!),

sweet as booths for shopping of course,

the best roommates ever,

and the cutest host siblings in all of New Zealand!

Poly Fest
Poly Fest is another cultural festival, but is put on by the high schools (or colleges, as they are called here) in the surrounding area.  The schools have performing groups that practice for ages to then perform and compete for places.  We only watched some of the kapa haka sets (New Zealand) and some of the Samoan sets, but it's safe to say that these kids KNOW WHAT'S UP!! They were amazing and they really made me wish I was Polynesian (so I could join them of course!).

These lovely ladies are truly the best! 

Pineapple + ice cream = heaven! Will I be hollowing out pineapples and eating ice cream out of them all summer? Um yes! I believe so!

Now to the actual performances...
Kapa Haka (These guys were A-MAZING!)

Hakas give we chills every single time I watch them.

Okay so this video shows something that I just think is darn right awesome! Many times after a kapa haka group performs their official set, members of the audience do their own hakas in response.  It's a way to show respect to the performing group and it is sweet as! (Sorry the video is so small.)  

 My host sister Kaylee was part of her school's Samoan group and they were INCREDIBLE! (And no, I'm not bias at all. You'll see for yourselves!)

Of course Kaylee was the one girl I couldn't actually see in this picture :(

Take a look at Kaylee's sasa. Guys, it was unreal! These kids can move their hands as fast as uh I don't know lightning ? (dumb simile but whatever) (Again, sorry the video is so small.)

I've never felt so white in my entire life, but I loved it! haha

More to come very very soon!


Saturday, March 16, 2013


      Hi, my name is Rachel and I stink at blogging! Ah! Seriously guys! I've done heaps of things since the last time I posted and haven't talked about any of them! FAIL!  If you can, forgive me and know that I'm going to try to be better.  My last post left you on the South Island and that truly feels like it was ages ago! Rather than dwell on those days I'll give you a quick recap of the events that brought me back to the North Island and then move on to what's happened as of late.  The end of our South Island excursion went a little something like this....

Our last night on the South Island was spent in the cute little city of Picton.  We didn't have a whole lot planned for Picton, so we pretty much just relaxed. We spent time by the harbor, 

got "dinner" at the gas station (because we're that cool), and then got ready to catch 
the ferry the next morning. 

We rode the ferry back to Wellington the next morning and had about 4 hours to see the city.  One of the things we did in those 4 hours was visit the Museum of New Zealand. 

It was full of all kinds of things, including trolls from The Hobbit (I'm about to be squished by trolls and  look so happy! What a weirdo!),  

 a CREEPY AS baby doll (guys, it blinked and opened its mouth and stuff! Who decides to put this kind of stuff in a museum?!),  

a giant squid (It was disgusting! But did you know that giant squids have eyeballs the size of soccer balls??), 

and a really cool map of New Zealand!

Our museum visit was followed by a short visit to The Weta Cave. (Weta is the production company responsible for movies like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, etc.) 

Not of huge fan of this guy...

(Left: weapons and a shield from one of the Chronicles of Narnia movies; Right: Helmets from one of the Lord of the Rings movies)

Our night in Wellington and on the South Island ended with yet another beautiful New Zealand sunset. 

Wellington was followed by Taupo, which brought a visit to a small water park (which had mineral hot pots and a water slide...could you ask for anything better??), a picture in matching sweatshirts, 

and a full on dance party. Here Kylie is showing us "punch dancing." It's the next big thing. Trust me.  

Pokeno (Round 2)
Don't EVER let a chance to get delicious ice cream pass you by.  
(I think this should be my new motto. Yes?)

     After our side trip to Pokeno we finally headed back to Auckland.  We were all exhausted and very much looking forward to staying in one place for a little while. Living out of a suitcase and packing every few days is not my favorite thing in the world. 

     Our trip to the South Island was absolutely incredible! It was packed full of firsts, adventures, giggles, and incredible people.  It will definitely go down as unforgettable.  Life since the South Island has been absolutely crazy, but equally full of adventure and new experiences. Stay tuned for more updates!! 


Friday, March 1, 2013

And so the Love Affair Continues

    Guys!! It's been sooooo long and sooooo much has happened! I wrote the quick Harry Potter post so you would know that I didn't get lost over here and now I can really update you.  In the past few weeks I finished my South Island adventure, moved in with a different host family, and started my practicum. Whoa right?? Let's talk about the end of the South Island trip before we get into the rest of everything shall we? After our sweet as bungee jumping adventure, our trip went like this:

Glenorchy/12 Mile Delta
We went on a drive and saw some pretty epic landscapes, many of which were the backdrops for Lord of the Rings scenes (namely Isengard and Lothlorien)

12 Mile Delta 

I can't even explain to you how much I adore miss Andrea! 

Soooo pretty!

This outcropping in the woods just felt like it needed me to climb it and take a picture on it. It just did. 

The forest of the Lothlorien realm 

Hiding like the hobbits did of course!


9 amazing women and 9 lifelong friends!

Franz Josef Glacier 
After Glenorchy, we drove up the west side of the South Island to a place called Franz Josef, home of the Franz Josef glacier.  We only spent one night in Franz Josef, but it was one full day! We went to a cute little bakery, went on a trek to the glacier itself, and relaxed in the hot pots.  It was pretty dang great.

We got to where really cool boots and wool socks (I've decided this will be my daily attire at home. I'll be dating and married in a heartbeat)... hike across this terrain...

 ...with yet another attractive tour guide (meet Tour Guide Ken everyone!)...
(This is my "Really? Another attractive tour guide? What is this world coming to?" face)

...and see this amazing glacier!  

It was such an incredible thing to see! 

It also tasted really good! Lick a glacier...added to and checked off my bucket list in a matter of minutes. 

We felt so rebellious walking right by the sign that said "Danger! Do not go past here." (We had a tour guide, so it was okay.)

We loved Franz Josef! 

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 
Next up was more driving and yet another one night visit.  So, we drove to a cute little area called Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks, stay in a sweet as cabin, and see a beach with the coolest sand in the world!

The Pancake Rocks...rightfully names because they look like hundreds of stacks of pancakes!

We watched the waves come into this cove for so long haha. Oh the wonders of nature.

This was the view from our cabin!  We had to hike through the jungle to get to it and guys, it was AWESOME! 

The view from our back porch. Ah! It was so so so so cool!  

After settling into our cabin we hiked to this beach. It was covered with huge rock formations and sand made up of little tiny polished stones.  We spent a very long time looking at and picking up these tiny treasures (and felt like 5 year olds.  Nothing wrong with that though right??). I don't have any close-up pictures of this sand, but feel free to come see me when I get home and I'll show it to you. Did I get whole bag full?? Well maybe... 

It looks like I'm standing on mud, but it was actually rock. So cool! 

Me and miss Elise Loosle (soon to be Rusk) everyone! She is unbelievably wonderful! 

Sea kayaking/hiking/going on a natural water slide in Abel Tasman National Park
Let me just tell you that this was one of the biggest adventures I've ever been on!  Said adventure consisted of all-day sea kayaking (and let me just say that kayaking through huge waves and strong winds is terrifying), hut camping on the shores of the most beautiful bay ever, talking till the stars came out, trying to fall asleep with incredibly sore bodies, hiking to an incredible natural water slide (pictures will come later), and then hiking all stinkin day to an unbelievably beautiful beach! All the work and pain were worth it in the end!

So ready it was insane! 

Go us! 

Sooooooo pretty! 

It's okay to be jealous :)

I felt like I was hiking through an Indiana Jones movie! This was on the way to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye...  

Happy faces, tired bodies 

We really liked hiking next to the ocean because it meant beach breaks!

Here's the story for this one...We had to cross the low tide track which meant going through lots of water.  I couldn't jump this section of water (and I didn't want to get my shoes wet) so Kylie and Andrea went all girl's camp style and carried me! Bless them.  

We crossed a suspension bridge and it made us feel really cool. Just sayin'.

It's not like it was pretty or anything ;)

More to come very soon!



Template by Best Web Hosting