Day 4 - Auckland to Hamilton

This morning we travelled to Botany Downs Secondary College for the second match of our tour, and what a welcome we received! As we disembarked from the bus, we were greeted by the captain of their premier team. She led a karanga, or traditional welcome call, and escorted the teams through the school to the gym. Here, awaiting us, was the Botany Downs First XV rugby team. In a show of support for their netballers, they performed the School's Haka. Goosebumps began to form on arms as their bellowing chants echoed in the gym. Our 20 girls from North Queensland huddled in the corner and watched with wonderment and trepidation. Soon though, it was time to shake off the nerves and get our heads in the game!

Both games were tight, and our girls fought hard against Botany. They were hungry for the ball and worked industriously to gain favorable position on the court. Already, it was evident that they had learned many lessons from their previous match and were testing a number of strategies to assist in adapting to the Kiwi style of play. Unfortunately, both Botany teams came out victorious, but our girls were gracious in defeat. Post game reflection conversations with their coaches certainly highlighted strengths to build on, and key areas of the teams want to focus on refining for tomorrow's match against Sacred Heart Girls College. After a brief morning tea with the Botany girls, it was time to say farewell and hit the road as we were off to Hamilton.

Prior to checking in to our hotel, we had one sightseeing opportunity; a trip to Waitomo Caves, home of the glowworms. This particular cave system has been a tourist attraction since 1889, when local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau and his wife would take settlers through on a rope with nothing but candle light to guide their way. Our tour involved some lessons about how the caves and its features had formed, along with information about the glowworms themselves. We stopped briefly in a section of the cave system known as The Cathedral. Here, the limestone walls and high domed ceilings create perfect acoustics for singing. Charlotte tested it out with a rendition of Amazing Grace that sent shivers down our spines; just beautiful. We continued our journey deeper into the caves where we boarded our boat. In absolute silence (perhaps for the first time on the trip), we made our way into the glowworm grotto. In the pitch black, the roof above us twinkled with thousands of little blue lights. It was truly mesmerising and we couldn't help but stare up in awe. This was a magical experience that many of us will remember for a long time to come.


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