Earth Day – DownUnder Style
It’s true that Australia and New Zealand are a day ahead of us, so technically they already celebrated Earth Day, but I wanted to take a moment to look at these two countries through the of this global day of recognition. What is Earth Day? According to Wikipedia, “Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970… and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.”
Having a Master’s degree in Environmental Policy I came across this topic on multiple occasions throughout my studies. I think the biggest impact this event was made by the first picture of the whole Earth from outer space back in 1972. This really gave a sense that we’re all in this together on this little planet and instills a sense of community with all our neighbors on this tiny rock spinning in space.
Let’s look at this topic in the context of travel to Australia and New Zealand since this is what we do best!
Exploring unique areas and, more importantly, getting to have experiences with the local indigenous communities can be a very rewarding experience if you are open to it. Australia is home of the aboriginal people. They are thought to have inhabited Australia for the last 65,000 – 70,000 years. Evidence of their artwork can be found around Australia, mostly in the north, dating back as far as 20,000 years! It’s incredible to see such beauty that was carved by people who walked around those lands in a very different time. How many generations have passed in 20,000 years?!?
The Maori people are New Zealand’s original inhabitants with roots going to Polynesia. Their culture is a predominantly warrior culture that has a knack for being ostentatious in show, but also reflects a deep spiritual connection with the land.
Having featured both of these cultures for our clients over the past eight years (since I have been with the company) for our clients and based on their feedback I would definitely recommend the two following areas that represents each culture in some way, shape or form in the most authentic way.
For Australia, the further north you go, the more prevalent the aboriginal culture manifests itself. In particular, in Kakadu National Park and Arnhemland is where you will find the most authentic experiences. However, they do not allow any and every tour operator into these areas. There are literally two or three operators who have cultivated a relationship with the aboriginal people over the years and in return have been granted limited access to their culture. Spend three days and two nights with your specialized guide witnessing this spectacular part of Australia highlighting it with an aboriginal experience that is sure give you a glimpse into their traditional ways.
The Maori culture is seen all throughout New Zealand in the form of necklace carvings, names of shops in Maori language and as is evident in the large darker skinned individuals who permeate New Zealand culture as sporting figures and actors on TV. However, if you want to get to New Zealand’s spiritual center then you will need to spend at least three nights in Rotorua. Rotorua is the North Island’s “Queenstown”. You get everything that Queenstown has to offer in terms of adventure (bungee jumping, white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking, etc), but you also get to see the Maori influence throughout. Whether you are going out in a Waka (dugout canoe), enjoy a hangi meal prepared in traditional methods… under ground, or spending time with a Maori family, we are sure you will leave with more than just photos and memories.
As destination specialists we are delighted at the challenges that clients come to us with as far as putting their ultimate DownUnder trip together, but it’s the most special when our distinguished clients want to go beyond the typical sights and tours and get an in-depth look at the foundation of why these are such special places. Both country’s indigenous population have deep connections with the land and is evident throughout. It’s great to have an opportunity to meet such great ambassador’s for their respective countries and share the privilege of sharing cultures with each other.
Please call our offices and we will be happy to discuss this in more detail and be sure to make it a highlight of your next DownUnder trip!