Even though I am leaving New Zealand in three short days (and slightly forgot to add blog posts), I feel as thought it is only appropriate to begin my compilation of blog posts by describing the beginning of my adventures here in the land of the long white cloud. If I had to think of one way to describe my first impressions of New Zealand, it would be that I was welcomed by bright colors. After traveling for what felt like an endless amount of hours, I was obviously feeling quite tired and out of sorts. However, as I walked outside to get onto our plane in Auckland to fly to our final destination of Napier, my first glimpse of New Zealand immediately lifted my spirits as I was literally welcomed by bright colors. I stood in front of the small plane I was about to get on and realized there was a vibrant rainbow falling across the sky ahead of me. The rainbow was so vivid and surrounded by giant mountains covered in pine trees and rolling hills with sheep grazing. The scenery took my breath away.
This was not the only occasion where I was welcomed by bright colors. Although the scenery here in New Zealand is beautiful no matter where you are, it is the people who truly made a difference in my first impressions. The Maori people are by far the most welcoming people I have ever met. Their personalities are so colorful and the pride they have for their culture is inspiring. The warm welcomes I received from each and every person I have met immediately made me feel comfortable. Within the Maori culture, the whanau, or family, is extremely important. Once someone has gone through the welcome ceremony at a marae, they are now viewed and treated as family. I don't think I have ever had an experience before coming to New Zealand where after only knowing a group of people for an hour, I am joking around and laughing hysterically, feeling as though I have known them for years. After being here in Aotearoa for almost three weeks, I now realized that I have not only learned an incredible amount of information about the Maori culture, but I have gained life long friends and relationships with Maoris that I will cherish forever.