I’ll start off by saying that the term ‘sweet as’ is not just a cliche in ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’! It can be used as a greeting, an expression of thanks, an expression of excitement, to get someone’s attention and a farewell. I’m sure that I will discover other ways of using it as it has now become one of my highest frequency phrases! You just can’t help it when people are saying it to you all the time.
Anyway, I rocked into Auckland on the airport shuttle last Thursday after spending the night at my Aunty’s place in Melbourne. My Aunty is pretty awesome, we stayed up late drinking wine and seeing who could tell the most ridiculous story (I think I won?). My first impression of Auckland was that the houses were all very pretty and that the inner suburbs leading into the city looked really interesting… kind of cool and quaint at the same time. I’m staying at a hostel in the seedy part of the CBD.
My Kiwi Experience plans are systematically being laid to waste… I arrived to find that I could not book onto the bus leaving Auckland until Tuesday (today)… which is kind of disappointing because you’re supposed to be able to get a bus fairly easily and not have to wait more than a day or two. Apparently the company has switched to their winter schedule early so there are still a huge amount of people wanting to get on the buses which are fewer and further between. I went to my room kind of wondering what to do, and then via the whole ‘we’re-sharing-a-room-where-are-you-from-ohyeah-come-and-have-a-drink’ thing, I ended up hanging out with a group of people who had just finished the Kiwi Experience trip. They had all had a great time because they had clicked with each other… but they did inform me that the Kiwi Experience bus is unofficially known as the ‘Fuck Truck’ (ew!), and that one girl had been fined a huge amount of money by a hostel for getting completely trashed and defecating in the hallway (in full view). Great.
I had some time to kill so I went on a day trip with my new buddies to Waiheke Island – around a 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland. It was really beautiful and peaceful… we hung out on the beach and basically just chilled out. It helped to make me feel like I was finally away from home. Went out for dinner and drank that night… then I got up at 7.30am the next morning and headed north to Paihia which is in the Bay of Islands. I was really lucky again to meet an awesome bunch of people who are all studying on international exchange at a University in Auckland. They have an awesome college lifestyle thing going on where they get given fruit every day (cute!) and eat together in the dining hall (even cuter!). We went skydiving together, did an 11km hike to some waterfalls and checked out the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which is basically where the treaty was struck between the Maori chiefs and the British. The wording of the treaty meant that the Maori people ended up losing land they hadn’t anticipated, and there are still land rights being contested today. Drinking in the dorm at night…fun times.
And then… just as we were about to get on the bus to come back to Auckland… I realised I had lost my camera. Aargghhh!! Pretty annoying because I had taken some nice photos, but comforting that I only had a few days worth of images on there and that I had met lovely folks who said I could save their photos from facebook. They also let me know that I could catch up with them on my way back through Auckland before flying out. Sweet as!
So why am I not on the bus today? I had a big think about it and I didn’t feel ready to get on the bus to remote locations without a jacket, without hiking boots (I still haven’t been able to find any!), and now without a camera. I found out the soonest I could get on instead is this Saturday, so I went ahead and re-booked for then. This means that I won’t get enough time to do both islands, but to be honest it sounds like I wouldn’t have had enough time anyway because if you try to hop off the bus to do something fun for a couple of days, you aren’t able to book back on and people are getting stuck in random places for up to 5 days longer than they expected. Some people are missing their planes and having to cut their trips short etc… what a nightmare. To do it I would need to go non-stop around the whole route without chilling out anywhere… no thanks. Plus, seemingly I may get shat on by some 18 year old!
My new plan is to do a day trip to Hobbiton tomorrow (loossseerrr), chill out in Auckland on Thursday and Friday, and start Kiwi Ex on Saturday. I’ll do the North island on this trip which will give me time to head over to the east coast and to do some WWOOFING. When I come back to Australia in December this year I will come back to New Zealand and use my pass to do the South island properly (the passes last a year once activated). Today I went out and got a jacket and a new camera. Still can’t find the hiking boots I want (maybe I’m being unreasonable with my expectations…). A coffee shop guy told me to have a stroll down K Road and down through Ponsonby back to the city which I did… it’s all pretty cool, kind of like a big extended Brunswick Street. Great shopping… I really had to tell myself to resist dammit, resist!
Pretty new plan, but I’m feeling pretty OK about it… plus I have a new camera.
I wish I had photos to put up, but I don’t… so I apologise for the visually boring entry.