By Cailee Gilbreath
From the moment we stepped off the plane, the adventure had begun. This trip would open new ideas for us all, and give us the opportunity to share in another cultures’ lifestyle.
We are a group of Texas A&M University students, with different majors, goals, ideas, and opinions. However, we all made the decision to study abroad over the winter semester for 16 days . Twenty-one students boarded a plane to experience something new and earn six hours of college credit through the Recreational and Park Tourism Department.
When we landed in New Zealand on Dec. 28, 2012, the history and the daily struggle of the Kiwi (New Zealand locals) and Maori (Native people of New Zealand) people face to keep their land sustainable was evident. New Zealand is a land of “green”, both in the sense that everything there, is that color, as well as how the Kiwi’s strive for environmentally safe tactics in the hopes of preserving their native land.
Through our hikes and activities such as zip lining, glacier hike, Routeburn trail tour, dolphin encounter, and the Maori tour we learned how New Zealand offers tourist attractions while still trying to preserve the natural landscape. They struggle with what is best for their environment, the people and the economy. When a group of us went zip lining in Queenstown, New Zealand, “The Adventure Capital of the World”, it was interesting to see how they did not alter the original makeup of the land for their attraction. Everything they used was eco-friendly towards the land, while keeping its natural identity in tacked.
Tourism is not the only way that New Zealand is sustainable. Sheep and dairy farming are two agricultural industries that thrive in New Zealand. Each have taken steps to ensure that they are both environmental and economically safe. They are fencing off rivers in order to keep from contaminating the waterways. Rotating their livestock between hectors so that the land can have time to re-grow. These are just a few of the practices that businesses, like these, have adopted in order to be efficient yet practical. It was insightful to compare the differences in their agricultural practices to our own.
Our time in New Zealand was filled with long hikes, beautiful scenery and new friends. Although we did not want to leave we were ready for our next adventure in the “land down under,” Sydney, Australia.
From the day we arrived in Australia we began learning about the urban lifestyle, tourism in the city, and the impact of the Aboriginal culture on Australian culture. Having the opportunity to compare the culture, land, and lifestyle to our own was intriguing. In Sydney we had the opportunity to visit National Parks, the Olympic Park, city life, and of course the beach.
Finding ways for Sydney to be sustainable are always at work. A big city can chip away the natural surroundings quickly if not tended to properly. For the 2000 Summer Olympics, which were held in Sydney, the grounds had to be completely refurbished because of contamination in order to have a safe and beautiful location for the events, and the immense amount of people that would be in the city.
Tourist attractions in Sydney seem to be unlimited, having something for everyone. The urban lifestyle is growing in Sydney everyday and must be sustainable to accommodate the influx amount of people, while keeping the city beautiful.
Overall the entire trip was amazing! We had time to go exploring, visit zoos, and see the many attractions that New Zealand and Australia offered. We hit some rough patches with weather and missed out on some of our events, but still had the opportunity to learn new things and take in the beauty of each country. I would love to return one day; I fell in love with the luscious and peaceful land of New Zealand as well as the fast-paced city life of Sydney, Australia. It was a great experience that has given me insight to myself, where we live and how we shape the land around us.
About the Author: Cailee Gilbreath ’14 is a senior agricultural communications and journalism major. She will graduate in May of 2013 with a goal of attending graduate school in August Texas Tech University. In her free time she enjoys photography, music and extending her education in radio broadcasting. She hopes to pursue a career in radio marketing and production after graduate school.