Courts and Kate take on South Africa

Let's set the scene...

Its around June 2014 and I received a call from one of my closest friends Courtney.

Now Courts and I have been friends since High school.

We have been there for each other through the crazy teenage years, New Years parties, heartbreak and plenty of road trips.  Nothing however could really prepare me for what she was going to suggest during this phone call.


Courtney proceeds to explain that there is nobody she thinks would want to do this with her apart from me.


(In my head I'm thinking yes! Lets go skydiving)....


She continues to say she has found this amazing thing on the internet and that we should do it. (Now im getting concerned as I know not everything on the internet is legit.) 

Then she drops the A bomb... AFRICA! 

It takes me a few seconds to realise she is proposing that we go to Africa. This is a bit further than the 1.5 hour drive to the Coromandel. 


Courts explains that there are volunteer working holidays that you can participate in and she has found one working with lions, in South Africa.  Courts is so excited about this and gives me all the details so I can see more myself. She thinks September 2015 would be a good time to go.


I google and research over the next couple of days and get excited at the prospect of going on a massive trip. I have my heart set on going with Courts and decide to ring Mum.


I started to tell Mum all  about our plans and that we are going to go to Africa.


I do not claim to be a mind reader, I can however imagine what is going through my mothers heads..... LIONS! AFRICA! EBOLA! SCAM!


Mum decides to do her own investigating, as parents do.


Mum ends up joining the bandwagon and I let Courtney know that we are going to South Africa September 2015!

Departures, searches and robots

The next 36 hours consisted of: 


  • 3 flights
  • 7 hours sleep
  • 3 countries
  • 5 movies
  • 2 special security searches 
  • Numerous toilet stops
  • And 2 friends finally making it to South Africa


Arriving in SA and I was expecting to have to have bags x-rayed and questions asked etc. Nope! Quite the opposite. Got our bags and walked straight through. Looking at each other wondering if we have done something wrong. 


The team that have arranged this trip picked us up and we were leaving the car park when I see a sign above the barrier arm that reads: "Please wait for robots." 


All I can imagine in my head is a small robot coming out on wheels and lifting up the barrier arm. The guys driving the van proceeded to explain that robots were in fact traffic lights.   MIND BLOWN! 


I am unsure if it was due to being tired but the conversation lasted for around 15 minutes about why it is a robot vs. why it is a traffic light. Could not stop laughing!

Orientation - Soweto & Pretoria

Scrambled eggs and pancakes for breakfast= Kate in heaven.

First full day in South Africa and we went on a tour to Soweto. I am glad I was not driving.

They have a taxi system of vans where you can stand on the side of the road and point where you want to go. The taxi will then stop and collect you. But these taxis stop with no warning, sometimes in the middle of the lane, middle of the round about, basically anywhere they want. And you can tell by the taxis that they don't mind as their panel work of the car is probably not allowed to drive in NZ.

Soweto has around the same population as New Zealand (according to our driver) however is quite opposite. Some areas in which they called middle class looked run down and not suitable for living but then we arrived at another area. The roads were dirt and houses made of corogated iron. Certainly made me grateful for where I come from.



Even though the population of Soweto lives in these conditions they are happy with what they have. They are all smiling and going about their lives. Kids are running around or returning from school looking very respectful in their uniforms. (There is no school in Soweto so they have to travel 30 mins by foot to neighbouring area).

Our driver was from Soweto explained that everyone knows everybody and you become like a giant family, passing down skills and traditions.


We travelled up the Orlando towers and had a 360 view of Soweto and Johannesburg (travelling up the tours in a elevator the cage on the outside). 


The next day we went to Pretoria and visited Nelson Mandelas house, the Union buildings and a few other historical landmarks in the area. 

What an afternoon it was, tugging at my heart seeing the way other people live.


It is definitely an eye opener to a different part of the world. 

Johannesburg is an interesting city with tall fences and barbed wire around all the properties, a number of different cultures and some strange road signs. I think one of the top reasons to live here would be for the McDonald's delivery! Yes that is a real thing! 


The last night in the hostel we had an evening of playing the drums and learning African songs. Lifted the mood amongst us before we had an African Braai (BBQ). 


- Kate, Napier, NZ.


Kate has written a blog series about her and Courtney's Africa Volunteer Adventure on their 2 weeks at the Save the Lions Project. Read the rest of her blog here