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Published: January 24th 2013
Kia ora! New Zealand so far.....
Since writing you a quick Christmas message we have been really lucky and the weather has picked up, with only a couple of really rainy days! This has meant that we have been able to make the most of being outside and exploring this beautiful country.
New Zealand is made up of 3 islands, the North Island, the South Island and Stuart Island. If you look at a map, New Zealand is below Australia and to the right a bit (this direction known as south east on a compass). As I have already said, New Zealand is 13 hours ahead of you, so I go to bed as you wake up. Another interesting fact, is because of where it is placed on our earth, New Zealand has summer when England has winter. The money used in here is called New Zealand dollars and it has a picture of our queen on it! The main language they speak is English. The North Island
Hot Water Beach -
This was a beach on the Coromandel coast that has natural hot springs running through it. Normally, if you dig a hole on a beach,
it will fill up with cold water, whereas on this beach, at 2 hours before low tide ( as the tide is going out) and 2 hours after low tide ( as it i starting to come back in) you can dig a hole that fills up with very hot water! In fact it was too hot for me and the sand burnt my skin! This doesn't happen everywhere though, you have to dig near a special rock as this is where the spring is. The reason you can do this in New Zealand is because the country has lots of 'thermal energy'. This means that there is lots of heat. New Zealand gets so much heat because they are on a fault line. The earth is made up of lots of 'plates'. They are a bit like jigsaw pieces floating on top of a really hot liquid called magma. They fit together but they move about and when they move you can get earthquakes or volcanoes. New Zealand is on a line where 2 'plates' meet and so that is why you get the heat, as well as the country getting earthquakes and volcanoes.
Glow worm caves
have visited some caves that are full of glow worms. Glow worms are actually maggots that have a green light in their bottom. They hang down from ceilings of some caves. The cave we went in was covered in them! It was incredible, they looked like billions of glistening, green stars. We also saw stalagtites, hanging limestone points, stalagmites, limestone points coming up from the ground and columns, where the 2 bits join together. There was also the skeleton of a Moa. This is an extinct bird that was a bit like a really big ostrich.
A Maori village
Maori people were the first people to live in New Zealand. They still live here today and they have slightly different was of living. Firstly, they don't speak English all the time, they speak a language called Maori. They also wear different traditional clothing and some have meaningful tribal tattoos. When they came to live in New Zealand, they didn't write which is why a lot of their stories and history is told through pictures, wood carvings, singing or dancing. Nowadays they do write, but they only have 14 letters in their alphabet. 'Wh' is pronounced ph and 'ng' is
as we would say 'ng'. Whilst we were visiting 'the living thermal village' we watched a Maori performance, which you can watch through the videos. We also ate a meal which was cooked using the steam from the ground. This type of cooking is called a Hangi meal. You can see the 'cooker' in the photos. We also went to their 'meeting house'. This is the most important place in their village. It is where everyone meets to have meetings, parties or just sat hello. We walked around the thermal grounds and saw bubbling geezers, mud pools and lakes with boiling hot water. It was a great experience.
This is the name of a beach. The reason it is called Cathedral Cove is because it has a large archway of rock that connects 2 beaches. The rock has been carved over many years by the force if the waves. We also went snorkelling and saw lots of fish, including a sting ray that was about 2 meters away from us!
The North Circuit - Tongariro National Park
This was a 2 day walk we did around a volcano called Mt Ngauruhoe (for some of the older
children, it is Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings). This was a fantastic walk through varying landscape. At one stage we were walking through the dried lava flow of a previous eruption. On another section we walked along the valley floor with a river running beside us, we also climbed through forest, walked up to the volcano crater and crossed a desert section. At night we slept in a walking hut with lots of other people. It was a fantastic experience! The South Island
Able Tasman national park
This is a beautiful stretch of coastline in the north. To explore all the inlets, we hired a kayak for 2 days and kayaked our way up the coast, camped over night in a lovely campsite next to the sea, and kayaked back the next day. This gave us lots of time to explore the beaches, caves and seal colonies around this area. We were lucky enough to kayak around an island just as the seals were in the water! We saw one seal trying to eat part of an octopus tentacle as well as other seals swimming, playing or washing themselves in the sea! They were about 1
meter from our kayak. It was a really magical experience. We also watched the little seal pups on the rocks!
This is the highest mountain in New Zealand. You are not able to walk up the mountain as it is covered in snow year round and you need specialist climbing equipment, so we walked a track called the Hooker Trail that takes you to the glacial lake at the bottom of Mount Cook. There were small icebergs in the lake and we heard an avalanche in the next valley (although we didn't see this!) It was fantastic to see all the features I had been taught about when I did geography lessons at comprehensive school!
The Edwin Fox
When we were in Picton, we visited a museum called the Edwin Fox Museum. This is a museum of the 9th oldest ship in the world. It was really interesting as the ship has had a very long and varied carrrier. The hull was rotting on the banks of Picton, so it was bought by a trust fund and they are conserving it for the future. They beleive that may have been used to bring
back Florence Nightengaale from the Crimean war!!! It has also been used to bring people to Australia, trade food products and house meat in cold stores. The website is http://www.edwinfoxsociety.com/
if you want to learn more.
Anyway, that brings us up to date.
Sorry we haven't been in contact for SOOOOO long. Hope school is going well though.
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