G’Day Mates from Cairns, Australia 

 

Today is a sad day, as we wait to board our plane back to LAX. Although we are all missing our loved ones back home, it is difficult to leave this amazing country. We have truly enjoyed every moment of this experience, as we soaked up the culture and beauty of both New Zealand and Australia. The students (and chaperones) are already planning their return trips.

The last two days in Cairns, Australia have been unforgettable. We visited two of the World Heritage Listed Sites , the Great Barrier Reef and the Kuranda Rainforest. This is the only place in the world where two live side-by-side!

As we rode the 1.5 hour ferry out to the largest of the 7 Wonders of the World, The Great Barrier Reef, we were excited and ready for the sights, but had no idea what we were in store for. Although cloudy, and a bit rainy, on the outside, under the water was bright, lively and full of color. We saw so many species of coral, tropical fish, giant clams, Sharks, turtles and more! It was truly magical and an experience that will forever be treasured. We had lunch, went on a glass bottom boat and a semi-submerged submarine and went on a privately led snorkel tour with a marine biologist. Amazing time!

Yesterday was another terrific experience. We rode a gondola thru the Kuranda Rainforest, stopping along the way for nature walks, talks with the forest rangers and time to take lots of beautiful pictures. At the end of the trip, we walked thru the village and visited Koala Gardens. We fed kangaroos and wallabies, held a baby koala named Yoshi, and enjoyed a fascinating talk about wombats. It was amazing and everyone loved it! We had some time scattered in for shopping, eating and a little pick-up soccer game. Then we headed back to Cairns on the Kuranda historic steam-engine train (still runs on coal!) from the rainforest, thru the tunnels and across the bridges. We saw waterfalls and gorges and amazing views. It was an unforgettable day!

Last night we closed the trip with a group dinner and talent show- America’s Got New Zealand Talent in Australia. The students performed their skits of culture, activity and fun for the others. The judges picked a favorite, and gave the yummy prize of Australian cookies (which they of course shared). The students got to finish their shopping at the nigh markets and had one last Australian gelato. It was a wonderful ending to this magical trip.

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Now as we wait to board our plane, we share pictures, memories and favorite activities from our trip. We are sad and not ready to go, but excited to see our families at home. See you soon!

Signing off  ~ The MD Kiwis/Koalas

 

 

 

 

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G’Day Mates from Cairns, Australia 

Today was bitter sweet as we said good-bye to New Zealand and hello to Australia. Although it was sad to leave the Land of the Long White Cloud, we are excited to spend our last few days in the Land Down Under. After a 5.5 hour flight we touched down in Cairns, Australia. We are becoming quite the efficient travel group, moving on/off the airplane, thru airport baggage and customs with ease. After we checked in at our hotel, we walked along the beach and grabbed lunch. Then we visited a beautiful family-owned opal store and learned about these specific gemstones. Pretty amazing that the jewelry students purchased as souvineers have stones that are millions and millions of years old. We then had a yummy dinner and visited the vibrant night markets to shop for authentic Australian treasures. The students closed the night with some time in the hotel pool, playing cards and getting ready for the upcoming talent show! Tomorrow we spend the day at the Great Barrier Reef and we couldn’t be more excited!

Goodnight ~ The MD Koalas

 

 

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Kia Ora from Auckland (North Island, NZ)

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Today we traveled from Rotorua to Auckland in preparation for our early morning flight to Cairns, Australia.

Yesterday was a jammed packed day of adventure. We started the morning bright and early with an exciting Duck tour of the city and surrounding lakes. Pretty neat to know we were exploring the crater of an ancient super-volcano. Next we visited a living geothermal Maori village. We learned about the Maori culture and how they still live off of the land’s natural resources. Then we went to the agrodome and watched the famous sheen sheering show. We learned all about the various breeds of sheep, got to milk a cow and hold baby lambs. Next, we rode the gondolas to the top of a peak overlooking the lake and had a tasty lunch. After lunch some of the students went on a successful fishing excursion on the lake (they caught 4 bit trout!!) and others relaxed in the mud and hot pools at a nearby geothermal spa. Last, but definitely not least, we finished the day at the Maori Culture Village. We learned all about the weapons, carvings, the haka (war dance), the tribal ceremonies and more. Then we got to watch an amazing live show and participate in the hangi (feast). It was an amazing day full of adventure!

Today was another great day! Before leaving the beautiful Rotorua we went to the city’s famous museum. We learned about the history of the museum, the 8th wonder of the world (now gone due to a volcanic eruption), and more details about the Maori people. Then we drove to the Hobbiton movie set and got to walk thru the shire and visit the hobbit holes, just as they were in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton movies. Amazing! Finally we ended up in Auckland. After a nice city walk to the harbor, and a yummy dinner, we are headed to bed in preparation for an early flight to Cains, Australia!!!

As soon as I can update with some pictures, I will do so. Until then, good night from New Zealand!

Kia Ora ~ The MD Kiwis

 

 

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Kia Ora from Rotorua (North Island, NZ)

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We have now crossed over the beautiful Cook Strait and landed in Rotorua, on the North Island of New Zealand. Yesterday, our last day on the South Island, we visited Franz Joseph Glacier. As we walked the thru the glacier valley and up to the face of this amazing structure, our guide explained to us the changes in the land and the receding of the ice. It was an awe-inspiring, and very educational experience for all. The students ran under a water fall (you can see half of our group in the bottom left of the water fall picture- shows just how large the water fall was). They also got to feel and drink from the 4 degree pristine water of the glacier stream. On the way back to our hotel in Fox Glacier, we pulled over for a quick walk thru the forest to catch a glimpse of the famous glow worms. Just magical.

Tomorrow is another full day of activities including a duck tour of the city, a visit to the geothermal pools and a tour and show at the agrodome to learn all about the sheep of this country. We will finish the evening with a visit to the Maori Cultural Center where we will learn the ways of the original New Zealand people and experience a traditional Hangi feast.

Kia Ora ~ The MD Kiwis

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Kia Ora from Milford Sound and The Fiordland National Park (South Island of New Zealand)

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Today was a very long and full day for us as we explored the Fiordland National Park. The scenic drive led us thru farmlands, and into the beatiful park. This area is very unique as each mountain peak was created by glaciers millions of years ago! Every where we looked we were impressed by the natural beauty of this area. We then went on an amazing 2 hour cruise thru the famous Milford Sound. As we moved thru the massive peaks we saw water falls (some brave souls went under one), fur seals and more! It was a truly memorable day. Bed time and tomorrow the GLACIER!!!

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Kia Ora ~ The MD Kiwis

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Kia Ora from Queenstown, New Zealand!!!

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After quite a day of travel (24+ hours) we have arrived on the South Island of New Zealand. Although it was a bit cold for us Southern Californians (a chilly 38 degrees), we had an amazing first day. We loved learning about conservation of the native species at the Kiwi Birdlife Sanctuary, walking around the beautiful gardens and town center of Queenstown, and enjoying a yummy dinner at the famous Fergburger!

Now for a little rugby game on tv and an early bed time. We head to Milford Sound tomorrow. It’s an early wake up call, and an eventful drive with lots of neat stops along the way , and then a nice cruise around the sound, including lunch. Good night from New Zealand.

Kia Ora ~ The MD Kiwis

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Global Student Leaders Summit – Returning Home

Today we say goodbye to Germany and the Netherlands and head home. It has been an exhilarating 10 days with a great amount of learning. We are taking away new ideas and an appreciation for the rights that we have. This year’s Global Student Leaders Summit trip was amazing. Thank you to the students below for making this such a special trip.

Our last picture! Taken at Amsterdam Airport,

Our last picture! Taken at Amsterdam Airport.

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