What a great start to the year! Things have been amazing so far, I am loving every second of it. I really didn’t think New Zealand would be all that different from Canada, boy was I wrong. Even the smallest things have been amazing me. Light switches, for example, flick the opposite way here. When it is up it is off, when it is flicked down it is on. The only time I have seen that in Canada is when someone wired the switch wrong!
On my first day, I was sitting in a cafe and all of a sudden a little bird came flying in and started walking around under the tables picking up dropped food! When it was all full it picked up and flew right out the door. I was amazed, everyone else barely acknowledged it. Apparently it is not an uncommon thing here.
I’m sure living the high life here. Paying 7$ for one load of laundry, cutting up food for dinner with butter knives, sharing a room with 5 strangers, and using my sweatpants as a towel after showers. The thing is though, it doesn’t bother me. Really it’s making me realize that I just don’t need all the extra things I have been living with (although, I may go buy a towel anyways). It’s refreshing not having so much stuff to watch. Some people are amazed by the fact that I only have a backpack with me. I was amazed too, after all, I have been a packrat my whole life so breaking it down to the bare necessities was a bit of a struggle, but I did it, and I’m glad.
A few days ago I hiked Rangitoto with three German backpackers from the same hostel as I. Rangitoto is a volcano just a short boat ride away from Auckland. I wanted to go so I asked my roommates, two of them came, and they brought another German friend along as well. It was a lot of fun, even if half the time I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. They did realize I don’t know a word of German, so they switched into speaking English. They weren’t all fluent, but they tried a lot, which was really nice for me. It wasn’t always easy for them to speak English, however it wasn’t always easy for me either. I love cracking jokes but I wasn’t able to do so with them, not unless I explained it more slowly in more simple words. I learned some German too though. The first word they taught me was “tieg” it’s German for “dough”. We all laughed saying that when I would meet Germans I would stand there just saying “tieg” in reply to everything, as it is the only German I know. So we still did manage to have some laughs.
Rangitoto was absolutely beautiful. They hike was fantastic, and the views breathtaking. It was very warm out, but the sweat I broke was well worth it. We walked along trails of hardened lava, heaps more on either side of the trail. Trees have managed to grow up over top of all the hardened lava. There was a beautiful contrast where the black, hard, lava met the ocean. Just something about the whole place was amazing.
We also hiked through some lava tubes. Lava tubes are formed where the lava has flown and the outer shell of it has hardened. When the lava stops flowing you are left with a tube. They were not nearly as big as in some places, such as Iceland, but it was still a magnificent adventure. We all returned to the hostel afterwards, completely exhausted and very happy with the great day trip we had just taken.
One night I went off for drinks for a Couchsurfing event. Couchsurfing is an organization where backpackers can find hosts in the place they are visiting; they go and can spend a couple nights at a host’s house, before moving along to the next place, hence the name Couchsurfing. Every Wednesday in Auckland all the couchsurfers and the local hosts get together for a drink. Just another way to meet more people. I went down on my own and met a couple hosts, and a few other backpackers as well. I ended up playing a life-size game of jenga with a couple locals and other travelers. There were a lot of laughs as people started getting cheeky and placing the blocks at odd angles and making the game more difficult. I started talking with a couple from France, and another backpacker from Fiji who invited me to go with them to an Irish pub, but I ended up busy at the time when they went. It was still nice being invited though!
Friday night was the start of my real Kiwi experience. I was down at the backpackers bar attached to the hostel, when I met a couple Kiwis- Jodi and Andy. They were very nice and we chatted some. We went to a different place for a bit too. We hung out all Saturday as well, just sitting watching movies and eating pizza. Part of me felt like I was wasting my time in new Zealand, but I realized I have a whole year, if I don’t take a few days to relax I will run myself into the ground. Also, it was a lot of fun, we chatted about a lot and I learned a lot about New Zealand that I would never have learned from other backpackers. Jodi pulled out a map and showed me all the places she recommends me visiting so it was good to get her opinion on that as well. They were both really helpful and a lot of fun to hang out with. Jodi invited me to her friend’s Guy Fawkes party as well. I’m here to experience New Zealand, so it was quite different from spending another night with all the backpackers. We set off some fireworks, and had a bonfire. I was surrounded by New Zealanders, it was then that I realized I was the one with the accent.
Jodi and Andy are taking me to Piha today. Apparently it is a very beautiful black sand beach.
I’m still working on finding a car, if I don’t find one soon I may just catch a bus to head up north for a bit. I know if I stay in Auckland too long I’ll get trapped here and won’t see as much as I otherwise would.