Cruising Through Beautiful

Well, I am now out of Auckland. I bought a car with help from a backpackers from my hostel. He came with me on endless journeys to hunt for a decent car, I wouldn’t know what to look for to see if it would work or not. So it was great having someone to give me a hand. We became pretty good friends and it was sad to say goodbye after the week we had hung out, but again, it’s back to the whole 24 hour friendship speal.

I was hoping to buy a stationwagon so I would be able to sleep in the car, but I they were out of my price range, so I just bought a little 2-door dinky car instead. It works great, and if I really do need to sleep in it, I can curl up. I love my new little car a lot. I have put it through a lot already, tearing down dirt roads, gearing up steep hills, but together we have been cruising through beautiful New Zealand. On Monday I headed north. I was aiming for Whangarei by around 5pm. It is normally a 2 hours drive from Auckland but I made my own route around the coast. It said it would be 4 hours. Then when I added all the stops I made I wasn’t in Whangarei until 8pm. I left Auckland at 11am. It was an absolutely amazing drive. I stopped in all the towns I came to. Talked to some locals and enjoyed some ice cream and such.

I made a stop in a little town called Puhoi, it was a very very small town. Only made up of a couple streets, it was very nice though. I went to a museum there and talked to the owner. He was the friendliest old man. We had a nice long chat and he invited me for tea, but I am not a coffee or tea drinker, we chatted a bit longer before I headed off again, more north to go. The town of Leigh was quite stunning, beautiful little harbour and turquoise waters that went on for ages.

 

The whole drive north was like this, constant views that put me in awe. Driving alone, the radio on, windows down, I would burst into laughter. I can’t explain what I was feeling, the freedom was amazing, I felt like I was on top of the world. If I could make this trip possible I can do anything I want to do. It’s not all easy, but every little bit is part of the experience, part of making it all what it is.

The loneliness is the only thing that isn’t so great. It’s good sometimes, gives me more freedom to do what I want, when I want. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone to share the experience with, someone who can understand the beauty of it all, share the emotions with, without having to say a word. I play the radio as I drive, but as I go through the mountains and through the country often the radio will cut out and I will not have any signal at all, I just let the fuzz of the radio play, makes me feel less alone. But it’s alright, again, it’s all part of the experience and I’m adjusting to it.

I spent one night in Whangarei at a hostel. There were only 4 other people there- 3 girls and 1 guy. The girls were all german but as soon as I came in they switched to speaking English so I could understand. The four of us girls went to the movie room to watch a movie before going to bed. As we were sitting there the outside light came on. We all peeked out the window as the lights are motion censored. Up the walkway came a little possum, just waddling along. he came right up to the window before heading off into the darkness.

As I continued my journey the next day I spotted a sign on the side of the road saying “WOOFERS AND BACKPACKERS WELCOME HERE NOW”. I took a drive up. There was an older fellow in the driveway. I asked him about the sign and what kind of work he was looking to have done. For the next few days I am staying at John’s (The older fellow) place. I’ll be working on his daughters garden at her summer home, with him. In exchange I am given a bed to sleep in and food to fill my belly.

John has so many stories from all the backpackers he has met and worked with. It is a real interesting experience. I am enjoying it so far and don’t think that will change any time soon!

My Internet minutes are about to run out, so I must be off for now!

Picturesque Piha

Piha is that postcard perfect place. I felt like I was living in a photo straight from a travel magazine. It was so beautiful and I am so thankful to Andy and Jodi for taking me there! I hope to go again before the year is up!

It was about a 45 minute drive from Auckland, the roads were very twisty. It’s a good thing I don’t get car sick. Someone who does would be turning green before they could even get halfway there! Winding up the mountain, and down the other side was a great drive though. just totally beautiful. There were some great view spots along the way. My eyes were glued to the window the entire drive.

As we crested the mountain and I the beach came into view, I went speechless. It was the most beautiful sight I had seen. It was a great day for a great beach.

We stopped at a little cafe to buy some mince meat pies for lunch, then headed to the beach. Laying on the beach, building sandcastles, attempting skimboarding, and hunting (with no luck) for the blowhole, made for a wonderful day. The black sand beach was beautiful and well worth the minor sunburn. I think I will need to invest in some sunscreen s0on!

(Feet turning black from the sand!)

It was a great day, and I’m sure there will be many more days like this to come.

Getting the Ball Rolling

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.

24 Hour Friendships

Here’s somthing I didn’t factor into my trip. Friendship. I have always been one of those people that makes friends and goes to the end of the world and back to keep in touch with them. I just like keeping in contact with those who have made a positive impact on my life. It’ll take some getting used to, but here on this adventure there will be a lot of people who impact my life immensly, but whom I may never hear from again after a day.

Upon arrival in my hostel I became friends with one of the guys from my room, Manolo. He’s 24 and from Uruguay, we were in the same room for two nights. We chatted some and went exploring town. He is at the end of his trip and just left to catch a plane out of here. On our walk we talked and joked, I helped him with his English and he tried to teach me some Spanish, it didn’t work so well. We didn’t have any plans, we just wandered, going into stores that looked fun and chatting about ourselves.

The part that I will remember most was the fish market. As we were strolling along (I taught him the word “stroll”), we came across a big bin of snow. It was just sitting in there behind the fish market. I talked about the snow in Canada, and talked about building snowmen. He had never done this. He had touched his first snow just a couple days prior as he was driving through the mountains. We backtracked and went to make a snowman. The snow turned out to be more of a crushed ice, so our snowman was just a wee little guy, standing just six inches tall.  We laughed a lot then I made a snowball and threw it at my new friend. We got into a big fight and laughed a lot. It was very memorable and a great way to start my trip, even if we did both reek of fish afterwards. I was worried I would be lonely here on my own, but there are so many others doing the same thing I am so there are always people around to talk to.

Manolo just left and we hugged goodbye, we didn’t exhange emails or numbers or anything. It’s a 24 hour friendship. Maybe someday we’ll meet again and we can say to each other “remember that time in Auckland…”. It was a very interesting experience, and I know it will happen much more, I’ll just have to adjust to it.

I’m off for the day. Soon I will post more about my trip and Auckland itself!