Every ISA semester abroad program in New Zealand begins with our signature 4-day/3-night orientation, known as the Bridging Cultures Program. Brimming with activity and excitement, it is designed to give you a crash course on New Zealand culture and prepare you for your semester ahead. This program not only allows you to cross several items off your bucket list within your first few days in New Zealand, but also to make new friends and take part in amazing adventures!
Your adventure will begin the minute you hit the ground in ‘the Land of the Long White Cloud.’ During your time in New Zealand’s largest city you will have the chance to explore, before a formal welcoming ceremony, or pōwhiri, to a Maori marae. You will be invited into the marae’s wharenui (main meeting house of the marae) with a traditional prayer and call by an elder woman. Once in the wharenui, after traditional greetings and songs, you will learn more behind the meaning of the marae, the elements of the wharenui, do a language lesson, play a traditional Maori game, and learn the Pokarekare Ana, a beautiful New Zealand love song. To close out this special evening, you will enjoy a traditional hangi feast among the local tribe.
The morning following your Maori immersion experience, you’ll hop on a bus to head south for the rest of your Bridging Cultures Program. With the final destination being Rotorua, a town filled with fascinating Maori culture, hot springs and mud pools, you get the chance to stop in the Lord of the Rings wonderland of Hobbiton along the way. The whimsical houses and rolling hills of Hobbiton are truly a spectacle to behold. Hobbiton is a magical place, where you’ll learn about the extraordinary lengths Director Peter Jackson took to create the Lord of The Rings, and the Hobbit movie trilogies. At Hobbiton you’ll also learn about Eleventy First birthday parties, creating contracts with dwarves, and about the most amazing adventures of the Hobbits.
Once in Rotorua, you will explore spectacular nature in New Zealand’s most colorful volcanic area. With free time in the morning to discover to Rotorua’s finest sights and attractions, such as the Zorb, white water rafting, and mountain biking, you will then spend the afternoon at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland! Here you will experience a utopia of stunning geothermal activity and learn all about the volcanic activity going on, why Rotorua has the distinctive ‘Rotton Egg’ Smell (Sulfur) and how the volcanic eruptions have shaped the landscape, followed by a dip in the hot springs and a swim in the hot and cold streams.
To close out the Bridging Cultures Program and to bring it full circle back to New Zealand’s strong Māori cultural identify, you will have the incredible opportunity to learn the Haka ‘Ka Mate’. The Haka is one of the most exciting and unique parts of Maori and NZ culture, made famous by the NZ All Blacks Rugby Team. The Haka is a chant, or a battle cry that a group or team do before going into a battle or challenge with an opponent. After some practice, you will get into costume and split into two parties to have an epic ‘Haka off’ battle to determine which group is the most intimidating in their Haka!
In between all of these legendary adventures, you will also participate in several orientation sessions to be sure you are ready to hit the ground running once you arrive at your host university. The ISA Bridging Cultures Program in Auckland and Rotorua is the perfect way to balance fun, learning, cultural experience, and meet new people who will become friends for life! Don’t miss out on this epic way to start your semester abroad and officially welcome you to the ISA New Zealand whanau (family)!