A Glimpse into Kiwi Living – Homestay Weekend

Beautiful view of the Kaikoura Mountain Range from the new hospital
Beautiful view of the Kaikoura Mountain Range from the new hospital

The best part about living in a small town is the community. Everybody knows everybody and, undoubtedly, everybody knows about the American students living in The Old Convent.  Kaikoura only has a population about the size of Hope’s, so throughout the last 6 weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to meet members of the community through BBQ’s, churches, and local shopping.  This past weekend, though, we had the opportunity to live with some of these families and learn a little bit more about the New Zealand culture.

Spring is in the air in New Zealand
Spring is in the air in New Zealand
Marion bought us all stick on lips...I think she pulls it off the best!
Marion bought us all stick on lips…I think she pulls it off the best!

A Calvin student, Sadie, and I stayed at a widowed woman’s home who recently returned from 4 years teaching in Tanzania.  She’s probably the coolest lady I’ve ever met.  We spent our weekend going to all the best lookout points in Kaikoura, shopping the local market, eating ice cream, coloring, watching kiwi T.V., and putting temporary tattoo lips on just because.. so pretty much the greatest weekend ever.

Kaikoura Saturday Market
Kaikoura Saturday Market

Sadie and I expanded our kiwi language learning new words like “wops,” “service stations,” “flannels,” “teatowels,” “stubbies,” “jersey,” “cuppa,” “tea,” and “gummies” (boonies, gas stations, handtowel, drying towel, shorts, sweatshirt/sweater, coffee/tea, dinner, and rubber boots). A couple common phrases you’ll hear include “no worries” instead of “it’s alright” and “ssssss okay” instead of “you’re welcome.”

Another capture of the mountain range on a sunny day!
Another capture of the mountain range on a sunny day!
The town was packed with Seafesters!
The town was packed with Seafesters!

It was also Seafest this weekend in which people from all over come dressed in crazy costumes to socialize at the marque in town. Seafest tends to mark the beginning of tourist season in Kaikoura.  Around 6,000 people (2,000 more than the population) arrive for Seafest but over 1 million tourists come to Kaikoura each year as it is one of the most sought after tourist destinations for its whale watching.  This quaint little town can pack a lot of people.

Little trip down to the seal colony!
Little trip down to the seal colony!
Here's a sample of what some Maori carvings look like. This is Paikea the Whale Rider
Here’s a sample of what some Maori carvings look like. This is Paikea the Whale Rider
One of Kaikoura's oldest houses. The foundation is made of whale bones
One of Kaikoura’s oldest houses. The foundation is made of whale bones
A panoramic view of Kaikoura from the penninsula
A panoramic view of Kaikoura from the penninsula

We came to homestay with a backpack full of clothes and expectations for a great weekend but left with exceeded expectations, a new kiwi mum, and a key to her home so we can visit anytime. Plans for weekly dinners and coffee time are already in the works. There truly is something so special about Kaikoura and its people.

Coffee, wool jerseys, and coloring make for perfect Kaikoura spring Sundays
Coffee, wool jerseys, and coloring make for perfect Kaikoura spring Sundays

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Bryce Talsma

Hey everyone! My name is Bryce and I am a junior from Hudsonville, Michigan. I am a biology major with a pre-veterinary focus and an environmental studies minor. This fall I will be studying sustainable living in Kaikoura, New Zealand. I love all things outdoors and am really looking forward to what I can learn about sustainable living and what our role as Christians is in maintaining this earth. I hope you follow along on this amazing journey and will take just as many of your own! Adventure is out there!

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