We're about halfway through the trip, and so far, it's flown by. I've had an incredible experience thus far and I'm sure the second half of the trip will be just as enriching. Aside from the trip to the aquarium, which I could have lived without, I've enjoyed just about everything we've done to date. Through our studies and our marae visits, I feel like we've been doing a good job surrounding ourselves with Maori culture, and that has resulted in a greater understanding of our hosts. I feel very fortunate because everyone has been so welcoming, friendly, and eager to share their stories and personal history with us.
I was told by multiple people before I left that the South Island was more beautiful than the North Island. We haven't been to the South Island, so I can't evaluate that claim, but I do have to say that everywhere we have been so far has been pretty incredible. There are so many mountains here and combined with what seems to be an endless amount of water, the North Island seems very pristine and picturesque. I'm definitely going to miss seeing mountains set against water everyday when I'm back in Chicago. A group of us went up to Rotorua this weekend where we saw mud pools, hot springs, and geysers. I think breathtaking would probably be the most appropriate word to use to describe Rotorua. I've truly never seen anything like it. I hope everyone reading this at one point or another gets a chance to experience Rotorua in person because neither words nor pictures can accurately portray its magnificence.
I have so much more to say, but I'm going to cap this post here because we're just about to do a talking circle.