Chip & Bere Tour to New Zealand and Australia – New Zealand Day 02

Southern Africa Conservation and Communities Tour to New Zealand and Australia – July and August 2011.

Hi there, Charlene Hewat, CEO and Veronica Chapman, Communications & Fundraiser from Environment Africa are traveling to New Zealand and Australia to share the story of saving our wildlife in Southern Africa and uplifting the livelihoods of communities living in and around wildlife areas.
Chip and Bere, are two rhinos who will be travelling on the tour and will be telling the story of their experiences in New Zealand and Australia. ‘Chipembere’ means rhino in Shona, one of the local languages in Zimbabwe. So here their tour story begins…

Tuesday 28th June 2011

The start of our New Zealand, Australia tour. We were due to leave OR Tambo at 18:15, but the incoming flight from Sydney was delayed due to the ash cloud, so we left four hours later at 22:00, stressful as we had to get on a connecting flight to Auckland and were not sure that we would make it in time. Charlie was due to do an interview on New Zealand TV Morning breakfast show and we had to be at the studios by 7:00 am on the Thursday. We flew Qantas and the crew were fantastic, in particular, Keshwan Gounder, who ensured we were able to get off the plane quickly to catch our next flight.

We landed in Sydney at 17:30 Wednesday evening and there were ground staff waiting as we came off board with a buggy to transport us through the terminal to the boarding gate for our Air New Zealand flight to Auckland which left at 18:35. The buggy hooted its way through the crowds of walking passengers as we sat like royalty. We finally landed in Auckland in the early hours of Thursday morning exhausted from lack of sleep and traveling across a number of time zones, we lost Wednesday along the way!

Background to New Zealand

Around 180 million years ago, New Zealand broke away from a giant land mass called Gondwana and drifted nearly 3,000 km South to where it sits today. Polynesians sailed there in the early 1300’s, following their ancestor Kupe, who had named the country Aotearoa – “land of the long white cloud”.
Dutch explorer Abel Tasman arrived in 1642, naming the land “Nieuw Zeeland”. European settlement began in 1769 with the arrival of British navigator Captain James Cook. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi confirmed New Zealand as a British colony and it became an independent nation in 1947.

Thursday 30th June – Arrived in Auckland, New Zealand

When we arrived at the Jet Park hotel we were so excited to see a rhino sculpture in the foyer, we had to take a ride on it even though it was almost one in the morning. After a few hours sleep, we met up with Veronica’s parents, Ray and Yvonne Feltoe who are our hosts and will be accommodating us during our stay in New Zealand.

Prior to our journey to Auckland, we had been in communication with Helen McKenzie, a Kiwi, who has a passion for Africa and it’s wildlife. Helen had organized two talks, one in Auckland and the other in Wellington. She had also contacted the local media and NZ TV Good Morning Breakfast show invited Charlene on their early morning show for an interview. Helen collected us from the hotel at 6:30 am after only 4 hours of sleep we set off to the TV studios. The TV interview was a success and we started receiving emails shortly afterwards. After a much needed cappuccino with Helen at her company, Tyndall Investment Management, we walked to our next hotel in central Auckland, the Mercure Windsor in Queens Street, two blocks only away from the harbor. The day was spent preparing for the evening presentation at the Northern Club with wine and snacks. Whilst Charlie and Veronica were working away we, Chip and Bere went off for the day with Veronica’s parents, Ray and Yvonne to visit Auckland.

Chip looking over Auckland

We met up with Helen at 16:00 and walked to the Northern Club to set up for our presentation. We had seventeen people attend the talk and they had a number of questions afterwards. We received a very positive response to the talk and four of the audience members sponsored a rhino acre directly after the talk. If you would like to support Conservation and Communities in Southern Africa and sponsor an acre you can go directly onto our website, it is easy to do. We ended off the evening with Helen taking us to one of her favourite restaurants in Auckland called Merlot and ate a most delicious dinner. We are looking forward to another talk organized by Helen in Wellington, on the 12th July at the Wellington Club, you are welcome to join us. 



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