Thursday, February 10, 2011

Off to New Zealand - plus funny hats!!

For my last day in Melbourne I really mellowed out. I nipped down to Chapel Street, where the local shops are, so that I could check in online for my flight tomorrow, then I went back to Jennifer Parsonage's house and sat watching videos, packing my stuff and kipping for the rest of the day. My plan is to get a tram to Jennifer Parsonage's work drop off her house keys and then get to the airport in the sky bus by about midnight. My flight is 6am, so I’m going to veg out in the airport, maybe get a bit of sleep and watch some more videos, before booking in for the flight and sleeping all the way to Auckland. It feels weird, leaving Australia. We have been here for 77 days or 11 weeks, which is only one day less than it took to reach Darwin from London! So half of my trip so far has been spent in Australia.

I eventually left Jennifer Parsonage's house just after 10pm and walked down to where she worked, dropped off the key and then it was a tram and then a bus to the airport. I found a nice spot and got a couple of hours sleep before Lisa arrived just before 3am. Check in opened just after 4am. When we got to the desk though we were stopped in our tracks. We had to provide proof of our onward booking before we were allowed to check in. Nightmare. Neither of us had a print out of further flights and there was no public printer available at the airport. Luckily, the lady on the desk gave us an email address of one of her colleagues and we went online and sent her the relevant documents. It was a bit of a flap, but it was all sorted in the end.

The flight went well and we slept most of the way before arriving in Auckland at midday local time. After a quick bus ride we got to the hostel booked in and then went down for a beer just after lunchtime. However, it quickly became apparent that we would be out for a little longer. In fact a lot longer – We got chatting to a few people including Lisa and Emily – two girls who just happened to be in the same room as us and one drink turned into two, three and then more. We had a bit of food about 7pm and the carried on into town. Eventually after a couple more bars and a few more drinks we got in well after midnight. Sometimes these things just happen and it was a really good night.

This morning we had a good lie in to recover from last night and the lack of sleep the evening before. We got up late morning and after a shower, headed into town again, this time to do some shopping and get some lunch. I got myself a New Zealand sim card, so that I can make cheap calls for the next month or so and Lisa tried on some new boots after hers were lost in Brisbane We also found a great little party shop that sells all manner of clag, from pirate hats to dog bowls. It was a funny time as we just messed about trying in the hats and even the dog collars. We must have spent a good hour in the place and I think the shop assistant thought we were a bit strange.

It was then a case of finding a supermarket, where we got some chicken, rolls, rice and other food to keep us going for the next couple of days. We then headed back to the hostel to put on some laundry relax and just veg out for the evening. It was the right thing to do as we both fell asleep reasonably early and had a really good nights kip.

On Tuesday we were all refreshed and decided to head out and see a bit more of the city. We had to be back at the hostel though at lunch time as we were moving rooms. Before we went around town though, Lisa had to go to Stray travel and book the rest of her and Andreas trip itinerary. Then we wandered around taking in the sights and sounds of a really nice place. It seems to have a good vibe around it and we both quite like it. After moving rooms, we headed back out to a place called Albert Park, where we laid out a blanket and spent the afternoon reading, chatting, climbing trees, feeding the birds and just relaxing. After all the travelling we have done it is really nice just to mellow out for a while.

In the evening the two of us decided on a mellow night out and found a Russian bar down by the harbour where we ran into a few other people from the Hostel. Strangely, the night didn’t go off as you would have expected and it was indeed a nice mellow night out, spent chatting to new friends - although when we got back to the Hostel later, we came a different way and discovered that just around the corner is a brothel and a strip joint. How, did we miss these!? Anyway, we decided on one last beer in the hostel bar and then went to bed at a reasonable time.

On Wednesday morning, we waited around until Andrea turned up. She had completed her tour down the middle of Australia and after a couple of days with Liv in Melbourne, she had got the same early morning flight that me and Lisa took and she arrived just after lunchtime. She was pretty tired so she rested for an hour and then we took her an a whistle stop tour of the city and got in a bit of shopping for her and Lisa to take with them on their bus trip. Andrea really wanted a glass of red wine too, so after the shopping we found a cool little café/bar overlooking the harbour ans spent a lovely couple of hours in there, as the sun went down. It was yet another spectacular sunset and ended the day really well. We were all tired though and so had a really early night..or that was the plan. It turned out to be a really annoying night in bed.

First, the bar downstairs has a pool competition running, with loud and pointless commentary that went on till well after 2am. Then the street cleaners started their rounds and made so much bloody noise I thought they would never stop. After that there were various noises from the roadworks, that appeared to be starting early. Plus two of the other travellers had an early flight so needed to leave at 4am. Add all that together and we were quite a grumpy bunch when we got up just before 7am, for the girls to get their bus. After a quick breakfast and shower and also finding a bedbug, which really pissed off Andrea, they got their stuff packed and jumped onto the bus before it left at 8am. Every time I have to say goodbye to them it gets worse. I really like both of the girls and have got really close to them, so its hard to say goodbye to good friends, but hopefully we will cross paths as we travel our separate ways around New Zealand and then we have 3more days to mess about at the end before they leave me forever!

Anyway, I decided to head up to Mount Eden, which is a great viewing point to see the city of Auckland, so I started the walk and reached it quite quickly after about35minutes. It was a great view and well worth the effort to get up the hill. I made my way down and was heading back into town when the girls went past on their tour bus!! I quickly rang Lisa to tell them and it turned out that their first stop was Mt Eden, where I had just been!! I didn’t expect our paths to cross so quickly!!

Back into town I had an hours kip, before heading back out again. This time I was getting a ferry over to Rangitoto Island, which is a 600 year old dead volcano. One of the many volcanoes that make up the area around Auckland. The ferry was really good and we arrived in bright, hot sunshine with 3 hours to explore the Island. I quickly got a head of steam and started up the steep incline to the crater. It took about 45 minutes to get up there and another 5 to reach the summit of the Island, where there are magnificent views over the harbour and the city as well as out to the ocean. It was a sweaty job getting up there, but well worth it. I did a circumnavigation of the crater, before heading back down and venturing into the Lava caves, where you can get underground, out of the heat an scramble across the sharp, black lava flows and through caves that have been created by them. At one point the roof is only 2 foot high or so. On the way back down I met a lady from Cornwall called Carol, who was taking photos for a German couple. We got chatting and spent the next hour idling back to the ferry and chatting about all sorts from travelling to President Obama. It was really nice to meet someone different and interesting and hear bout their travels too.

After travelling back on the ferry we went our separate ways and I did a bit of internet. I had already decided to go and visit the Sky-tower tonight. This is the 328 metre tall tower right in the heart of Auckland, and very similar to the tower in Sydney. But this one is a bit more relaxed. Its cheaper to visit has 3 different levels to see and you can drink in the bar without having to get dressed up. In the end I spent nearly two hours up there tonight, watching as the sun set and taking photos for people as well as just sitting and watching. There was a strange bloke with pink ribbons in his hair who called himself 'Pretty Peter'. He was introducing himself to lots of people and was a bit weird to be honest. Luckily he didn’t introduce himself to me and I kept out of his way. Maybe he is some sort of celebrity over here?!

After the sky tower, I had an hour in the casino, watching all the gamblers play roulette, blackjack and poker, before a quiet beer and then back to the hostel for an early night. I am really tired after yesterday and am hoping for a really quiet night and lots of sleep – luckily at the moment, the noise outside is fairly low and I hope it stays that way!


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