Day One - March 23-25
| We are already on Sunday night here in Auckland. We had a one hour delay at HNL. Everyone knocked out and got some rest (and were served dinner and breakfast in flight). We arrived safely in New Zealand on Sunday morning (NZ time), carefully got through customs and got our passports stamped! We then traveled in 5 luxury coach tour busses (on the left side of the road!!!) and went to a scenic overlook to check out the views of Auckland. We arrived at our hotel at around 10:30, dropped off the bags and went out to seek lunch and shop! We visited the Sky Tower and went up to the observation deck to look at the fabulous view overlooking the city and harbor of Auckland.
The big entertainment of the day was the sky jumpers of our group: Macy Yonamine (9th grade), Robert Durant (parent) and Clarke Bright (3.9 mb movie) (crazy tour trip coordinator!) They were harnessed and jumped off the top of the sky tower (nearly 200 m above ground).
The accomodations here at the hotels are fabulous.
Have a happy day. We look forward to visiting Cockle Bay School tomorrow for our first performance. A hui hou.
| We began our day together for breakfast at the Stamford Hotel Banquet room. We were happy to have rice with eggs, ham, bacon and sausage on the buffet as well as fruit and cereal. We loaded up at 9:00 to depart for Cockle Bay Primary School for our first performance. The hall we performed at was packed! The concert went well and what followed was a great time of fellowship with our new friends. They have a beautiful campus and it was fun to play and talk with one another.
We also went to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater Adventure which is located along the harbor. It was a fabulous aquarium with penguins, stingrays and even sharks! Upon our return to the hotel, all groups went out in search of the perfect meal and had an opportunity for some shopping.
We have an early wake up call tomorrow morning so that we can have breakfast and then load up for the 3 and 1/2 hour bus ride to Rotorua. Hope all is well there.
| We traveled from Aukland to Rotorua on Tuesday morning. The 4 hour bus ride was interupted by a beautiful stop for a bento lunch. We ate along a hillside overlooking a lake with rowing activities going on. The great part about this stop was that there was a little gift shop that had Tip Top ice cream. We all got a scoop or two!
Upon our arrival in Rotorua, we landed at Western Heights Primary School and participated in a Powhiri. What an amazing experience. The protocol was impressive. I was so impressed by the exchanges that occurred between our dignitaries and theirs as well as our keiki and theirs. What beautiful singing the Maori children performed for us. Our concert there was well received. Unfortunately it was the end of the day for school and we did not get to fellowship with the students as much as we did at Cockle Bay School.
Our hotel here in Rotorua is called the Novotel. It is right along the lake. We had dinner and a show last night. It was a traditional Maori show. Our girls participated in learning a poi dance. Our boys (along with our designated "Chief (Ron) Bright" learned to do a Haka.
It was truly an amazing day! Enjoy the photos.
| Rotorua is amazing. The smell of sulfur is all around and as you drive through parts of town, we see steam coming out from the ground. There are places of bubbling water (don't touch, it will burn!).
The day started off with a great breakfast buffet here at the Novotel, promptly at 8 am. They served vegimite, definitely an acquired taste! We boarded four tour busses to travel to our last concert of this tour at Kaitao Middle School. We had a great cultural exchange of songs and perfomed for them. The weather today was overcast and so instead of eating a barbeque lunch on the lake, we ate at the Marae instead. We had these great big burgers (with poached egg if we wanted) and french fries (chips). After lunch, we went to visit some humongous trees at Redwood Forest. The day ended with a dinner and show at Tamaki to learn more about our Maori cousins.
It was a great day here and we look forward to the rest of our stay in this great place!
| It was a wet day in Rotorua. The day began watching photos of us here. The pictures you are seeing at home right now are smaller in size because this hotel limits the amount of megabytes that is transmitted per day. Upon our return from the trip, we will have access to all of the hundreds of photos that have been taken on this trip.
Because of the wet weather, we had to alter our plans. We were to tour the area at and around the Marae but it was raining so we did the next best thing, think of going to a museum. But that plan did not work out either. So we had to go with plan C: SHOPPING! We were all so happy to be able to walk the main streets of Rotorua to check out all the souvenir shops. A popular stop was at The Jade Factory where they sell the popular greenstone called Ponaumu. After a couple of hours shopping, we headed to the marae for lunch. We were invited to visit a Maori Immersion school after lunch. The original plan was to go swimming at the Aquatics center. Some students did go swimming but most went to visit TeKoutu school. We had a Powhiri where we exchanged the gift of song and dance. It was an amazing day (again)!
The evening included getting settled in the marae and having dinner and a movie! We watched the movie from which the inspiration for today's devotion came from: "With God, all things are possible!"
| Kia ora from Rotorua! Although it was a wet day, we want everyone at home to be reassured that we are safe in this part of New Zealand, the weather has been kind. We wish it were less wet but we enjoyed visiting some of the famous animals that are found here in Aotearoa: the sheep and the kiwi! Sheep were bountiful at the Agrodome, we saw 18 different varieties of sheep. While we were there, we also saw a sheep shearing show! MTV was filming there and so we were taped and will be on the local MTV show here. After the Agrodome, we visited Rainbow Springs where we saw kiwi, Keas and fish. The wet weather did not dampen the fun we had today!
Dinner was at a restaurant buffet called Valentine's. It was a great meal. We returned to the hotel and had Kanikapila night. All groups participated with skits, dances and songs. The most spirited performance of the night was the KSCC fan club presentation! We are lucky to have a great group of parents and family supporting us while we are here!
| Our time here in Rotorua has been rich in cultural exchange and gifts of friendship with our Maori cousins. As we began our day today, we could not imagine how it could get any better but it did!
We visited Te Puia, where we learned more about the culture, the food and the environment of this special place. We saw mud pools, geysers, thermal pools that are surrounding this unique place. Te Puia also helps to carry on the culture with a wood carving school and a weaving school. The lunch we had here was also very impressive. A visit to the gift shop on the way out was a must and then we were off to our next adventure: Skyline skyrides for a trip up the mountain on a gondola and a few rides down the mountainside in the luges! What a thrill! The view was beautiful and we had a blast.
Upon our return to the hotel, we had a special dinner where we dined with our special guests, our friends of Rotorua who helped make this trip possible. We shared with them our gifts of song in the banquet hall. Mahalo nui to all of our friends and family. The memories we are making are carved and polished in our hearts.
We have an early wake up call and a busy day ahead of us tomorrow as we travel back to Aukland. Kia ora!
| We awoke early to bring down our luggage to the busses. We had our last breakfast at the Novotel Hotel and departed Rotorua promptly at 8:30 a.m. We were on a strict schedule today. Our first stop on our long journey back to Aukland was Hobbiton, the site where they filmed part of Lord of the Rings. We were able to visit this farm that once was the set of the famous trilogy. We left there in search of Waitomo Caves to see some glow worms. The limestone caves were amazing. We went to an area called the cathedral where we sang three songs. It was so beautiful. After this, we ate lunch at a restuarant called The Big Apple. We had a choice of steak or fish and a salad bar. We have been eating well here on this trip but it will be good to get back to local food! I bowl of saimin is what I have been craving for the past couple of days!
After lunch, we were on our way back to Auckland. We were scheduled to arrive at the convention center at 6 for a surprise concert for some Hawaii Business dignitaries in the group: HAPA. Thanks to our awesome bus captains, we arrived early! The HAPA group, made up of prominent Hawaii CEO's and business gurus, were pleased to have us perform.
We had our last dinner here at the Stamford hotel. No saimin, but the spread was great and generous. We said our mahalos to all our bus captains, chaperones, staff and fan club members. It has been an incredible trip. We take with us special memories. Sad to say that we will be leaving tomorrow but we have so much to share when we get back home to our ohana. Mahalo for your support and a special mahalo to Mr. Alan Takano for making sure to have the photos posted daily for all of our family to see back home.
Day 9 - April 2
All Photos (34)
| Headed home!