Published: January 23rd 2006November 24th 2005
Tui at noon.
After the mess at Bali's airport, I needed one.
November 16 to November 24 -
I had a travel crap day leaving Bali, stupidly I maxed out my card limit to buy a new camera and I had to rely on my unused credit cards
to make it out of Indonesia with their airport depart tax. I didn't know it but I haven't used 2 of 3 credit cards in almost 2 years, they were recently canceled due to non use. I couldn't remember my pin to the one that still works so no money. I had to walk 4ks to the airport. It was lucky I showed up early to see if I could pay the departure tax by credit because it revealed the new mess. I need a ticket out of NZ to enter NZ. But no money for the Internet where I could purchase one to Australia. Travelling no name airlines means no customer service so after running around the airport the ATM card reset because its on US time and I got enough money to leave the airport drive to an Internet cafe and buy an eticket minutes before my gate closed. Stash some back up cash in the bag for future problems. (Boring to
First day out.
Yep, saw a few sheep.
New Zealand is serious about food contamination, there is a luggage screening in the customs section of the airport. They will know if you have that bit of smelly cheese in your bag. I met up with Jon again who managed to get 30 days off work and we spent only one day in Auckland which would prove to be a good theme. Avoid cities.
After picking up the rental car, a Nissan Sunny import, complete with non working radio and grey on grey trim we saw our first taste of sheep and mud roads. Getting lost right away what having a car is all about.
If you remember the Jungle book with the indecisive vultures, that was us the first few days, we're here now where? I didn't bother to pick up a guide book and Jon didn't read the one he grabbed. Ragland on the west coast won the random spot on the map.
Rolling into Ragland was stunning, the kind of town to settle in if you were married and with kids, classic seaside community. We got a first taste of the excellent camping parks too. Out of place though was
NZ's best surfing
First night on the road was spent in Ragland, gorgeous, small helicopter filled town.
the near constant stream of helicopters taking off and landing. Seems a rich business man crashed unknown two weeks before and after the NZ government called off the search the family was putting up 1500 an hour running two copters a time trying to find him.
Rotorua was next, adventure capital of the North, this town held the activities I feel are too commercial and artificial. In this one town you could: roll down a hill in a huge hamster ball, skydive, bungee, watch sheep get sheared, jet boat, sledge and ride any manner of motorize vehicles. All said its sort of unavoidable that the tourist end up here for at least a day or two. We managed to find some cool hiking trails in the hills above town and chill with the locals at the lake, where the mullet is still doing fine and looking good.
After a stop in ''Geyser Land'' I think the name was, for some geo thermal smells and eye watering hikes we landed in Lake Taupo. Home to a beautiful lake perfect for sailing and some of the cheapest skydiving on the planet. Jon took a jump from 15,000 for around 230
Jon and I had no idea where to go each day.
NZ, value priced indeed. That night we almost paid as much for a couple of pints at the local dive, complete with Guns and Roses covers from a guy with half a scalp. Is trance/bass the kind of music you would listen to around a nice camp fire by the river? We had to pack it up and camp with the ducks instead. In Taupo, Jon managed to find the nicest thermal spring I've ever been in. A too hot creek fed into a frigid river, you had to move around constantly to find the right balance or part of you would be rosy pink and the other part cadaver white.
A lesson I should have learned from my motorbike trips in Asia is to fill up on petrol when you can, not for the last time we pushed Sunny to her limit thinking stations would be right around the corner instead of 250 ks in between, clunking into Napier and wine country on serious fumes.
After several days in and out of vineyards we moved south to catch our ferry. We stopped off and did some more hiking and stayed in a site filled with young Kiwis
The good stuff
Looks like he wants some, doesn't it?
kicking the crap out of each other in a meaner version of smear the queer. They invited us to play but I didn't see the upside in it, either you hurt some kids and the adults would think you were a bastard or they hurt you and the ego gets crushed. We slept late nearly ran out of gas again and rolled into Wellington with 30 minutes before the ferry kicked off. To the South!
There are more photos below