Rain rare for these visitors
A raft of new experiences is awaiting sports teacher Alvaro Carril and students on a culture swap from inland Chile.
He, a colleague, and 18 students arrived at Waiheke High School early on Friday afternoon, after an 11-hour flight from Santiago.
They will be in New Zealand for 2 weeks and will be staying with Waiheke High families.
The students are from Trewhela's School in Santiago where Aucklander Mark Waddell, the other staff member on this year's trip, is deputy principal.
The city of 6 million people is inland, surrounded by a mountains that dwarf anything here, Mr Waddell says.
"And the climate," Alvaro says, "is constant at around 32 or 33 degrees with blue sky every day during summer. We can go for six months without rain."
But it can get extremely cold at night with temperatures at the end of summer plummeting to 1 degree Celsius after sunset.
The student swaps between two such different places started two years ago when Mark says his bosses at the private, bilingual school decided they wanted cultural exchanges organised with foreign schools.
He was given the name of a former Waiheke maths teacher, Brenton Cairns, who put Mark in touch with the principal at the time, Neil Watson. The idea took off.
The swaps every year have been successful and links between the two schools and their communities are strong, continuing to grow and flourish.
Waiheke High Spanish teacher Catherine Atwood plays a key role in the scheme's organisation and was a member of the group that went to Trewhela's last year.
She says the students will be joining school activities like this week's beach sports and there are trips planned.
They will go to places such as Hobbiton, Rangitoto, Rotorua and the Bay of Islands as well as host families involving the teens in typical Kiwi leisure activities like boating.
"One of the students was so excited, he was up at 5am despite the flight departure six hours later," Alvaro says.
Equally new to New Zealand, otherwise seasoned traveller Alvaro says he and the students will be experiencing all kinds of things that are different - not just the weather.
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