Tiki Tours in Kiwi Town

Nov 22, 2019

by Mady Lauderman '21
Edited for content and length.

Across the Pacific Ocean, over 8,000 miles away, lay the North and South islands of New Zealand. Most individuals would identify New Zealand as a country comparable to that of Australia. When I began looking at Junior Journeys, my decision was between these two countries. I had always heard more about Australia, but after realizing everything New Zealand had to offer, I decided to commit to that trip.

I would make that decision ten times over. I experienced so much on this trip, from hiking the steepest street in the world and visiting an active volcano to seeing a traditional haka dance and The Remarkables mountain range. They were all so enriching; it’s challenging to choose a favorite. Here are some of my favorite parts of New Zealand.

One of the seals Mady Lauderman '21 saw in Kaikoura.
One of the seals Mady Lauderman '21 saw in Kaikoura.

1. Milford Sound

The most memorable adventure of the entire trip was the boat cruise on the fjords of Milford Sound. We skated across glacier water to view snowcapped mountains and waterfalls. Our boat went under a few of those waterfalls and some of us were sprayed by the glacier water. That water was also collected to drink. These were the most incredible views I have ever seen and they gave me a different perspective on life. Kaikoura was a small, memorable town on the South Island. This quaint town was home to a pebble beach, massive coastal mountains and a lot of aquatic wildlife.

2. Coastal Kaikoura

Food in New Zealand was minutely different from food in America, which came as a surprise. There were a couple of exceptions with some meals and one was the fish and chips at Cooper’s Catch in Kaikoura. They had multiple options of fish and a plethora of french fry styles to choose from.

Mady Lauderman '21 skydiving in Queenstown.
Mady Lauderman '21 skydiving in Queenstown.

3. Queenstown

Queenstown is located toward the southern end of the South Island. It is known as the adventure capital of the world, offering many thrilling experiences such as skydiving, and bungee jumping - something myself and a couple others got to experience. I also loved all of the hiking opportunities and ocean views, something I was looking forward to when I chose this trip.

4. Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is located on the North Island and was our first stop during our 18 - day trip. The sunrise was a rare sight with bold and vibrant colors contrasting the earth tones of the mountainside. The hike that led down to the beach front was enclosed by dense forestry and vast farmlands. The cove itself was a paradisiacal inlet with a small waterfall and giant rock arch that led to the water. This was an alluring and memorable first impression of New Zealand.

5. Tiki Tours

I fell in love with a New Zealand concept introduced to us by our tour guide, Lizzie. She introduced Tiki tours, unplanned journeys, traditionally with no destination in mind. They are spontaneous which is why we were so enamored when they were announced. Some of our tiki tours were natural geothermal hot springs, a black sand beach, and massive playgrounds. These tours were organized outside of our itinerary and added so much to the trip.

Cathedral Cove located on the North Island.
Cathedral Cove located on the North Island.

One of the greatest aspects of traveling is that you will always walk away with new knowledge and perspectives. This was an environmental science trip, so we learned a lot about the native wildlife of New Zealand. However, the most beneficial takeaway was the way the native people lived.

The Kiwis were incredibly kind individuals, but their attention to the health of their home was what impressed me the most. Every accommodation properly sorted trash to ensure anything that could be used, was used. The portion sizes of cafe meals were significantly smaller to limit the amount of food waste. The people we met were true advocates for their home.

New Zealanders respect and protect their land and resources to the best of their ability. They don’t view nature as their own bucket of personal gain or satisfaction; they hold it in high regard and appreciation. I hope to take after their mindset in how I carry myself and how I treat the resources available around me.