Wellington, Taupo, Auckland, Bay of Islands
20.02.2010 - 02.03.2010 24 °C
Well, first impression of NZ is that I feel I've gone back in time to somewhere in the 80's. Nothing on the radio apart from Wham, Right Said Fred and that hateful song Come on Eileen. Feck off Eileen I say, hate that song. Everyone eats pies and it's a bit chilly here but the people are seriously friendly and the scenery is amazing.
I flew to Auckand from Sydney then caught a bus down to Wellington to meet up with Sally who I met in Cairns. She's so lovely I'm glad I met her. The flight from Sydney was fine but the the safety video was mental. Everyone in it was naked!! they had Air New Zealand uniforms painted on which I thought was bizarre but makes you watch it, you never know when a bit of paint might flake off. Their motto is something about there fares and having nothing to hide. Quite clever really. The bus ride down to Wellington however was 11 hours... don't think I slept for about 40 hours in total from getting up at 6:30am on saturday in Sydney to getting to bed at 2am on monday morning in wellington. The bus was terrible, it was comfy enough but I had a heater at my feet which was actually burning my legs so sat most of the way with my legs in the air, not too comfy but cooler. When I say in the air I don;t mean like straight up, if that was the case I'd have amazing stomach muscles, I mean I was sat by the stairs so my legs were kind of perched on the wall thing in front of my seat. When I was waiting on the bus I befriended some locals who had a cute wee baby with them. I tried to entertain him and make him giggle and all was going well till we were queuing to get on the bus. I was playing that hide behind your hands game with him then without warning he belted me on the head!! I stopped playing after that.
Wellington is a really nice town, it's a university town so lots of young folk about and lots of hills. I expect the people of Wellington have the best calf muscles in the southern hemisphere. We went to a farmers market and I bought a GF Pie, if everyone else is eating pies then so will I. It wasn't that great but hey ho, the market itself was lovely. We walked along the pier and to the wee beach they have there. Almost got fishhooked by a man fishing obviously with poor eyesight then Sallys mate took me to the local museum which had a thing on Alice in Wonderland on. It was bizarre, some of it very bizarre but then thats what it's all about I suppose. Can't wait to see the film. mmmm JOhnny Depp.... slips off into dream land.. The museum also had a statue of a sinister looking dog which you had to pat for good luck, can't remember what it was all about to be honest but I patted him anyway. We had a quiet night in with tacos and school of rock then went to the uni in the morning so Sally could do some work while I played on the computers. We walked back to town via the botanical gardens which are just beautiful, the flowers are amazing. I think if I'd have been there about a week or so earlier it would have been more amazing as some of the plants were dying off. They had a garden full of my favorite flowers, lillies and a rose garden which smelled so good, you could just sit in there all day, unless you have hay fever I suppose. I've never seen so many different types of rose. We saw some Tuangara lizards in captivity, they're well cool. I remember one of them was called Kevin I think... named by Sally. That night we went for Korean food in a restaurant that just happened to have a karaoke hall upstairs where you could rent a room for an hour just like in Japan. So much fun, I did a Pantera tune to keep the rock going in between mama mia songs. When the song you've picked comes on, the room automatically goes dark and flashing disco lights start up, it was brilliant. I videoed some of the action, looking back at those has been hilarious, I'll never be a singer thats for sure... I called my Granny to wish her a happy birthday then 3 of us then went to Nomads bar and I felt well old. Loads of teen backpackers falling about the place in their new wave 80's style dresses and bad makeup fresh off the kiwi experience bus... that was just the boys..
Next stop Taupo...
I said goodbye to my friend Sally who put a packet of sheep poo in my bag to take to her parents who are putting me up in Malibu, LA and I headed to Taupo on a 6 or 7 hour bus ride. The sheep poo was chocolate covered peanuts by the way but same same really.
Taupo is a really lovely place. It reminded me of Cairns but in a more subdued way. The people there are very friendly and the hostel I stayed in was great. Having not slept in a hostel for quite some time I was a little taken a back at the unfriendly backpackers I met first in the room and how much they didn't care about getting up at 5am and making as much noise as humanly possible russelling plastic bag and shining torches all over the place like a strobe light but they soon left and the other people were very nice. one of them was in bed by 9pm and moaned about me putting the light on, I said sorry and switched it off again but still she moaned *rolls eyes*
I didn't do much my first night, watched the sun set over the lake while munching a carton of noodles and massive bag of prawn crackers then went for a walk and to bed. The next day I got up, went downstairs and booked a skydive EEEeekkk!!! How brave am I? how brave have I become in this last year?? I ate a spider leg, I snorkelled, I jumped into a bay off a pier and I jumped out of a plane!! OMG I'm so proud of myself. The weather wasn't too good in the morning so I had to hang about till 1:30pm to see if it was going ahead which it was. This is about the time the panic started to set in, my heart thumping in my chest and nausea rising within me as I was going through my ipod wondering what song went best with jumping out of a plane and in the event of my demise what I'd like played at my funeral. Even in the van to the flight place I noticed my palms were getting sweatier and I started doing that hand rubbing thing kate bentley knows only too well. It wasn't till I actually got to the place and was watching the previous videos that I started to feel excited. We then got into our red boiler suits and leather gimp hats and boarded the plane. They don't give you any instructions apart from lean back like in the shape of a banana just before you fall out of the plane. Nothing about landing, they tell you that as you're floating down. When I was in the helicopter going over the 12 apostles all I wanted to do was jump out. I've had a similar feeling at the top of the Scot Monument in Edinburgh and from other high things, it's a weird feeling but in the plane at 15,000 feet up with my oxygen mask on all I wanted to do was jump out. It was sooo cool for want of a better word. Dare I use supercalifragilisticexpealidcious again? you sit on the edge of the plane with some bloke you've only just met attached to the back of you who has just asked you as you're sat in the plane to sit up on his lap so he can strap you on properly, then away you go, tumbling out of the plane backwards and head first. I didn't scream but I did close my eyes at first then opened them till they looked like saucers with my mouth open too, I just couldn't believe I was up there, it was truly a wicked experience that I would recommend to everyone. It's a bit like the feeling when you go over a wee hill in the road in a fast moving car or going upside down on a rollercoaster. When you're done with the 1 minute free fall and posing for photos, Amos (my backpack) let the parachute go. Now it's a bit scary that bit, it felt like he was undoing me and I was going to plummet to the ground but thankfully not. Loved the floating down bit but my ears were killing me, it took 2 days for me to hear properly again, think if I ever do it again I'll take some ear plug things that people use on planes. Anyway, brilliant!!! I had a pizza from Hell that night to celebrate. Hell is a chain of pizza places with grave stones by the tills and a menu with the 7 sins on it and other scary things like the Mordor pizza etc. I had a GF Lust pizza with a small amount of cheese on, it was lush.
I left the next day to head back to Auckland for a night before heading up to the Bay of Islands. I think it's safe to say I didn't like Auckland very much. It might have had something to do with being all alone or that my hostel was the pits I don;t know but I hated it. I dumped my stuff in the scabby hostel that employed very nice and friendly staff but reminded me of a squat. That was at 4pm and I didn't go back again till 1am, took myself out on a date. I had a bus to catch at 7:20 so when I got back I just lay on top of my bunkbed and tried to sleep then got up and left, it was minging. My date was good tho. I took myself for a romantic view of the city from the skytower where I saw a weegie couple, the bloke of which told his woman to offer 'tae waash the windeez eh' which made me giggle. It's much like all the other towers I've been up to be honest except the coffee was really nice. Sat and read my book for a bit then went for some japanese food and took myself off to the cinema to see Shutter Island which is a great film. Slightly disturbing but well directed and made me want to read the book. After that I sat on skype till the internet place closed and like I said, tried not to touch anything in the hostel.
In the morning I caught the bus to Paihia in the Bay of Islands and totally loved it, what a gorgeous place. The bus ride was good, I was on the Magic Bus Ooooo I hear you cry, very exciting. Met some wicked girls on the bus who I spent the next day and night with till they got kidnapped by a south island rugby team. I was offered a ride down to the beach on the back of a 7 foot avatar rugby bloke who told me it would feel like a horse but would actually be him... I declined and went to bed. First of all, Paihia. I didn't do much the 1st night apart from catch up on my hand written blog and sit by the sea soaking in the view which was fabulous. An Israeli bloke chatted to me for a while trying to poach me from the YHA and into his guesthouse claiming amazing views and free interent. I left him searching for a bus full of tourists and headed for the hostel kitchen to make spaghetti on toast and went to bed wishing I could eat real bread. We got up early the next day, 6am to be precise and headed for the northern most point of new zealand, Cape Reine (that might be wrong, I didn't write it down) When the first alarm went off in the room everyone started to get up and sneak about getting ready. After about 10 mins I sat up and said, I think it's fair to say we're all going on the same bus, will someone please just switch on the light... Cape Reine was gorgeous and you can actually see where the Taz sea and the pacific meet, theres a line in the sea and everything. We stopped off earlier at a bakery where we were told to buy something for lunch as we wouldn't pass another shop for 5 hours. All lies, we passed loads of wee shops. I imagine the bakery wouldn't do as well as it obviously does was it not for bus tours. Of course I couldn't get anything out of there so went to the handy wee shop next door and bought some fruit and crisps and a tin of tuna. Took some dodgy pics by the lamp post at the tip of NZ and it was back on the bus and off to a beach for half an hour to eat lunch then to Sand Boarding. It looks really fast and scary but in reality it wasn't all that. The guy driving the bus went through all the safety proceedures... nothing like the bit of plastic a 9 year old child rents you in Vietnam and just lets you go, it as all keep your elbows on the board, toes together etc... The walk up the sand dune to the top was horrible for everyone, not just weaklings like me, it's really hard to walk up a windy sanddune with a boogie board in your arms. I went down twice, we were told we could go as many times as we wanted but most of us just did it twice, knackered after walking up the dune. First time I couldn't get going then stopped just shy of the bottom and made a bloke wipe out by being in the way. He wasn't too chuffed but i don't really care, he should have been looking where he was going. Second time was better but to be honest, I wasn't that impressed, I've had more fun sledging and for the rest of the day I was finding sand in places I wouldn't care to discuss. After that we went to 90 mile beach and to the hole in the rock which is pretty cool. Can;t say I've ever driven along a beach in a big bus before... Apparently it's called 90 mile beach for a number of reasons, one of which being that some bloke used to take cattle across it and it took him an hour or something to travel 30 miles so he did the whole beach in 3 hours so it must be 90 miles long. Just re reading this... he can't of been walking 30 miles an hour and as far as I know, cows don't run that fast.. I'm sure someone has actually measured it at some point. It's used a bit like a highway, lots of cars and motorbikes drive along it. You're not allowed to swim in the sea at 90 mile beach, people die cos of the strong current according to our driver who also added that he wasn't a strong swimmer, so if we did go in and got in trouble there would be no one to dive in and help... nice. The driver was a bit of a dough ball really, trying too hard to be down with the kids. He said some weird and sometimes inappropriate things, then at the end of the trip asked for tips, said he was going to leave his hat next to the door of the bus and if anyone wanted to give him a dollar for a beer then that would be very nice... cheek of it all. Fish and chips on the way home or as they say in New Zealand... fush and chups. They went on about it for ages, how amazing the fush and chups were but I've seen better coming out of the Tower Chip Shop round the corner from my Granny's house. The chips weren't even hand cut, they were frozen!! disgraceful, I had prawns which were lush. When we got back we had a bit of a rest and went out for the night dancing and playing drinking games. Not easy to skull a glass of wine... That was the night of the kidnapping and avatar horse. The next morning we headed back to Auckland via a big old tree and a town where a dolphin once lived and played with children in the 1950's. He lived in the water obviously, he didn't have a wee house with a plunge pool or anything. Apparently the dolphin was so popular people came from far and wide to see it. Rumour has it that it was killed in a freak storm but some people believe the locals blew it up for being too popular and the town couldn't handle the amount of tourists. You can make your own mind up about that one. They have a big statue of a dolphin in the town in it's memory. Wish I could remember it's name. It wasn't Flipper but maybe thats how Flipper started... what's that Flipper? Jonny's stuck down a mine shaft??
Back in Auckland for 2 nights which I wasn't too excited about but having people to play with made it much better. I had dinner at my friends hostel which was hilarious. You could get a free starter size portion of the nights delights or a normal size portion for 3 dollars, for an extra 2 dollars they gave you a drink as well. One of the girls asked for the free portion but said she just wanted the nuggets and not the chips so she got one chicken nugget on a saucer, one nugget, it looked so pityful, could they not have given her two at least to make up for the lack of chips?
So, me and my new chums went to the last night of the chinese new year, bought a lantern each and sat on the grass watching the amazing fireworks while having an in depth conversation on meditation, out of body experiences and how the real world isn't really the real world. This american guy was telling us all about it. Yes Dad, I can here you saying mumbo jumbo haha it was actually quite interesting. Said cheerio to everyone as they were all leaving the next day and I went to bed.
I woke up to news about the next stage of my travels. I was supposed to go to Samoa for a week but the hotel I booked got evacuated cos of a tsunami warning and it kind of put me off so I sat on a bench in Queens Street and waited for a sign as to what to do. Mum told me to go back to Melbourne for a week. I hummed and hawed about it till I saw a sign that said 'stupid kiwis ignore tsunami warning' then across the street another sign flashed 'buy tickets' so I changed my flights and missed it out. This also meant I missed out on having two birthdays but it's ok, I'm having Christmas again when I get home to Mum's. Fingers crossed santa bought me the Beano Annual...
All in all I loved New Zealand and would like to go back again another day to see more of the north island and do the south island which I've heard is totally amazing. I'd better get saving again...
next stop USA after a week back in Australia. 4 flights in all from Melbourne to Auckland then from Auckland to Tonga, Tonga to samoa then finally to LA... all on the same plane might I add..