Members of Friendship Force of the National Capital Area, augmented with a few Ambassadors from other clubs, traveled to the North and South Islands of New Zealand in February and March 2018. We were home-hosted in Taupo and Christchurch and received stopover hospitality in Hamilton and Wellington.
Our journey started in Hamilton, located on the Waikato River, where the local club showed us the sights, had a welcome party for us, and helped us get settled in New Zealand.
Each Ambassador got to choose what to do on their “free day” with options including botanical gardens, glow-worm caves, classic cars.
From there, we traveled to Taupo, where we were home-hosted for a week.
While staying in Taupo, we saw volcanic calderas, hot springs, and mud pools. We had the opportunity to weave flax like the native Maori.
We also visited a Maori Native Village and an agrodome, where we saw 19 breeds of sheep. New Zealand has 3 million people, and 60 million sheep.
To ensure we were immersed in the local culture, the Taupo club arranged for our group to help staff the Ironman contest. Some of us directed traffic for the bicycle section of the race.
Next up was a weekend in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
The Wellington club showed us their lovely city, where we visited a cable car museum and observatory (after a ride on the cable car), the national museum, and saw the entire harbor area.
We were there during the anniversary of WWI and learned about the war from the perspective of the New Zealand people, with a focus on Gallipoli and the Western Front.
The club hosted a wonderful dinner for our club, showcasing foods of New Zealand.
Our next home hosting was with Christchurch, on the South Island. This was another busy week. It included learning about the Antarctica research stations, which use Christchurch as a base for their travel to Antarctica.
We got to spend time at Sumner Bay, on the northern side of Banks Peninsula, as well as visiting a winery, and spending a day at the mineral baths of Hanmer Springs.
Our cruise of Akaroa Harbour took us up close to seals, penguins, and the rare Hector’s dolphins.
It was a trip of spectacular scenery and wonderful people, and we all brought back wonderful memories.
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