The Matuku Link

Days 3-4

The Culver New Zealand team spent our third and fourth days in country on the Matuku Link Nature Preserve, located in the Waitakere Forests of New Zealand’s west coast. Run largely by volunteers, the preserve represents a safe haven for many of New Zealand’s indigenous plant and animal species. We were extremely lucky to get to spend two days working in the beautiful area.

We arrived at Matuku Link on Day 3 eager to begin our project. We quickly found out what we were doing: building a boardwalk to ease transit through the muddy rainforest. We spent the day moving all of the wood and materials necessary for us to begin construction on the boardwalk, taking a break for a delicious picnic lunch.

We returned to Matuku Link on Day 4. With all of the materials moved, we were able to begin work on the boardwalk proper. One group of students helped the carpenters construct the boardwalk itself; driving support posts into the mud and completing the wooden walking surface. The other group did a variety of jobs to help the preserve: clearing brush, feeding wildlife, and clearing out a trail for the next work group.

By the end of the two days, we emerged from Matuku Link muddy and tired but extremely proud. We built a beautiful wooden boardwalk and were able to provide meaningful help to the volunteers of Matuku Link. Furthermore, through the project we became closer as a group, and now share an experience that we will look back on throughout our Culver careers.

New Zealand Aukland

Days 1-2 Early Saturday morning we saw our first glimpses of New Zealand as we made our final descent into Auckland. Stepping out of the airplane the first thing noticeable about New Zealand was the smell. The fresh scent of flowers and clean air gives off a sweet smell that is a extreme contrast to the smell or American cities. After passing through customs and collecting our bags we boarded the bus and drove into Auckland. On our way into Auckland Todd our bus driver told us about some major landmarks, and pointed out mountains, volcanos, and important parts of the bay. We arrived at the hotel with enough time to shower and settle into our rooms before we headed out to lunch. Lunch was at a lovely restaurant overlooking the water and had lots of coffee for the tired travelers. After lunch we boarded the bus and drove to the Auckland War Memorial and had a short tour of the museum. On the tour we learned a little more about the Maori as well as the ecology of New Zealand. After the tour we boarded the bus and drove to an aquarium. At the aquarium we got to see small sharks and pet sea stars. The main event was seeing the penguins. Each penguin was tagged and a chart showed which color represented which penguin as well as when they were born and who their partner was. The penguins were very cute and enjoyed showing off for their adoring fans. Post run there was a two hour free period and a small group chose to go on a run along the waterfront. After we all met up for a team dinner in the hotel and bed right after. Day Two The second day we had the chance to sleep in. One group went to the Tepid Baths, a sauna, pool, steam, and workout center while another group headed out to shop. For lunch both groups met up at the hotel and we walked to an Italian Restaurant. After lunch the students were given time to explore the city in small groups. We headed out, some groups climbing to the top of the Sky Tower, while others preferred to shop. At 3 we boarded two sail boats and took a sailing cruise of the bay. The tour was really fun as the students drove the boat and shortly after casting off it began to rain. We arrived back on shore drenched but in high spirits. After the sail trip we were again turned lose on the city. A couple groups explored the parks and university others explored the shops and side streets. Once again we met in the hotel for a team dinner. At dinner we celebrated McKenna’s 18th birthday. After dinner we journaled and reflected on the day. We are adjusting well to New Zealand, it is very similar to the US, but the pace of life is slower and the air sweeter.

New Zealand Here We Come!

Kia ora tātou! (Hello Everyone)
My name is Kat Hone and I am a sophomore in Court dorm. We have one class period, and a long flight (~18hr 40min) before we touch down in Aotearoa, or “Land of the Long White Cloud.” I have packed, repacked, and packed again and am excited to start this journey. Over the past weeks, the team has met and talked about our upcoming adventure, as well as getting to know each other a little better. We had to change our service project, and now we will be helping at the Matuku Link Reserve. They are currently part of a voting challenge to raise money, so please go to and vote every day to help this organization gain the funds needed to protect wetlands through education and preservation. Although the flight ahead seems daunting and in one word, long, I know that, we will have tons of fun. I cannot wait to tour Hobbiton, meet the girls at Rotorua Girls High School, see a penguin, and learn about the Maori culture. It will be incredible to meet the Maori now because, as of March 17, 2017 the Whanganui River, New Zealand’s third longest, was given legal human status. It will be represented by one member from the Maori tribes, known as iwi, and one from the Crown. This is groundbreaking as the river is sacred to the Maori, and they have been fighting for more than 160 years to gain this recognition. We will soon be off, flying around the world, so Hei konā rā, good-bye for now!
“The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~Marcel Proust~