Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kia Ora from Aotearoa!

Which means; Hello from New Zealand (Land of the Long White Cloud) in Te Reo. Te Reo is the language of the indigenous people from New Zealand called the Maori’s.

I meant to write earlier this week but I was really sick the last few days. With New Zealand being Swine Flu central at the moment, I was a little nervous. In the end it all turned out fine. It is winter here in the Southern Hemisphere and the daytime temperatures in Wellington have been averaging between the high 30's to low 50's, a little colder then back in Maine this time of year.

New Zealand has been amazing and I am really enjoying working as an intern for The Department of Conservation. I am mostly working in the Recreation & Historic Unit which has proved to be very interesting. I am learning new things every day, especially in the areas of eco tourism. I am anxious to learn about the native people, their culture, historic sites and the county's national parks.

I am currently undertaking an important survey project on what makes a well managed, quality recreation site. I have been e-mailing and doing phone interviews with different Department of Conservation offices from all over the country. Through a series of questions I developed, I'm establishing a list of the sites that the employees feel are popular with visitors and well managed. I'm also developing specific recommendations for improving sites,such as highway turoffs that provide scenic views. The idea is to create a table that identifies consistent factors that make a recreational site successful.

Employees have ranked the Fiordland Great Walks in the Southland Region very high. This area of New Zealand is arguably the most beautiful and a well known tourist destination for the entire country, Matiu/Somes Island in the Wellington Region is rich in European and Maori history. Cape Reinga located in the northernmost tip of New Zealand is held as scared ground to the Maori people.

All of this research makes me want to go out and see these amazing places! That’s probably the one downside to the job so far. I have only been out of the office once to do any type of fieldwork. We installed visitor counters in Holdsworth by burying them below treks (trails) in the Wairarapa Region of the country. It is a beautiful area. The counters were also placed at the main entrance on the eastern side of Tararau Forest Park and at Cross Creek. Cross Creek is an abandoned community that is now a nice hiking area and an access point to the Rimutaka Incline. This is a very popular tramping (hiking) destination. The eerie thing is there is NO evidence of there having been a vibrant community in the past.

As I have said before, it is a little frustrating that I am in such a beautiful country and I have been stuck in an office the majority of the time for the first four weeks of my internship. A combination of it being winter and lower visitation has contributed to a significant amount of time spent in the office.

However next week I am traveling down to the Southland Region. The South Island is much colder then the North Island. As you travel south in New Zealand you are closer to the South Pole. My agenda includes working on Milford Sound! I can’t believe I'm halfway through my internship. I plan on taking allot more photographs of working activities and the beautiful scenery. On days off I have been keeping myself plenty busy. There are a lot of fun activities to do here. I have visited the Te Papa National Museum which includes may displays of the native people and their culture. There is even a fully mounted Giant Squid that was the first live specimen caught last year by Japanese fisherman in very cold and deep waters off of southern New Zealand.I can't wait to report back on my experiences next week from the Southland.


1 comment:

Nicole Collins said...

Great to hear your well and learning so much. Seems like just yesterday you were just planning this adventure. Sounds like your weather is pretty much like Maine this summer. Well almost, we haven't had much of a summer yet. Keep us posted and send along some pictures of you once you're able to get out in the field. All the Best!