I studied in Dunedin, New Zealand at the University of Otago during the spring of 2017. For my enrichment grant I was lucky enough to travel from Dunedin to Wellington (the nation’s capitol). The four days that I was there I was able to jam-pack some major sight seeing!
The first thing I did when in Wellington was go to the Te Papa Museum. This is a national museum that has exhibits on major historical events of New Zealand and also focuses on the indigenous people and culture of the country. A significant exhibit that they had when I was there was, “Gallipoli: The Scale if our war” which talked about New Zealand’s relations during World War One.
Because my major is Environmental Studies and government I have a high interest in the environment and appreciate both being surrounded by our natural world and also observing efforts to maintain healthy ecosystems. Because of this I went to a few places such as Zealandia and Wellington’s Wind Turbine which both aid the environment in different ways. Zealandia has about 225 hectacres of conservation land and dedicates their cause to maintain biodiversity. It was very surprising to have such a large area dedicated to preserving biodiversity because it is located right in the middle of Wellington—which is one of the largest, most populated, cities in New Zealand.
I was fortunate to go to Cuba Dupa, which is a street festival in Wellington. Each week in the city there is a street fair with various food trucks, live musicians, and arts and crafts. However, I arrived in Wellington for the best weekend because they had dozens of more food trucks than usual and the event lasted into the night where they had the roads blocked and various bands playing music. The food trucks had food from Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey—all over the globe really. It was incredible to be able to see first hand so many cultures coming together during a weekend celebration in the city I was visiting.
When in the city I also went to the Wellington Zoo! This was my first time ever being at a zoo and it was so cool to see lions for the first time and kangaroos that were able to hop around freely! I even got a selfie with one. Even though the animals were not all native to New Zealand, I was able to see a Kiwi bird—which is extremely iconic and rare to see in New Zealand.
The weather was beautiful when I was there which is actually surprising because Wellington is known to be very rainy. However, I hiked Mt. Victoria, which where I could see all of coastal Wellington at a 360 degree view. I was able to see the airport, the boating docs, and the rolling hills of land you think of when picturing “middle earth”. Thanks to the CIIS department I became even more immersed in the culture of New Zealand than I originally expected and I am very grateful for that!