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Published: August 3rd 2016
Flying into Auckland I was full of excitement and also a little anxiety. The New Zealand outdoors are legendary and I could not wait to travel them to see it for myself. Problem was I didn't really have a plan on how to get around. I quickly ruled out taking a "backpacker" hop on hop off bus tour as I wanted to travel at my own pace and see some of the lesser known places and less traveled roads on the North and South Islands of New Zealand. My other two options were buy or rent a car. I found a few good deals for purchasing a car for around $NZ1,100 which upon departure I could resell to get some of my money back, but I worried about a possible lemon and the problems that could arise from a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. In the end I found a great rental for the 31 Days I'll be here for the price of $NZ660 and I get the security of knowing I'll have 24/7 help and a backup car should any issue come up. With that, I give you my sweet 1994 Toyota "Big Red", complete with cassette deck.
Auckland was a really good looking city, right on the bay with lots of sailboats gliding around in the light winds. I spent only two days here as I really wanted to get out of the city and into the countryside. While I was in town I did spend an afternoon at the Auckland Museum which gave me my first introduction into the Maori culture and history in New Zealand. The Maori's were the original indigenous inhabitants of the islands and by all accounts were a fearsome race. Today the Maori descendants live side by side with their European counterparts and are fully integrated into society (much unlike the USA). Even in all government buildings and most private businesses the writing is both in English and Maori.
Once I settled into my rental I made a plan to go as far north as I could in New Zealand. The North Island is home to most of the Maori population in the country and tends to be more rural farming compared to the wilderness and majestic mountains of the South Island. Nonetheless I set out for my journey. Now I have not driven a car in six months, let alone
drive a car on the left side of the road with a right side steering wheel and a left handed stick shift in a foreign country. When first starting out my driving was a little sketchy and I've had to really concentrate in order not to kill myself or anyone else for that matter. I've gotten used to it now but, well no. It is still really sketchy! However the drives have been absolutely spectacular with rolling lush green hillsides scattered with sheep farms, dramatic seaside cliffs, and beautiful coastal fern and pine forests.
My first destination was the Bay of Islands which is the birthplace of modern day New Zealand. It was here that Captain Cook first sailed into the protected harbour in 1769 and first European contact was established with the native Maori people. It was also here that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. The Treaty established a British Governor of New Zealand, recognised Maori ownership of their lands and other properties, and gave the Maori the rights of British subjects. I learned all of this whilst on a visit to the Treaty Signing Grounds and Museum in Paihia in The Bay of Islands.
Having my own car means having my own space which means I don't have to pay anyone for accommodation. I've been living out of my car and plan to do so as long as I am able, and as long as it stays warm enough at night. Things should be considerably cooler on the South Island. Anyways for now it has been an adventure in its own right finding a spot to post up for the night. So far, so good. No one has told me to move or called the cops, and I'm not sure that the cops would even care. It is quite interesting how resourceful and used to things you can be when put into a different situation. Good thing the public toilets here in NZ are a considerable upgrade from the ones in South America and they have sinks for brushing and washing. I've also taken to poaching free WiFi by parking outside of public libraries. I've got a mat, some blankets, a pillow, and the backseats of my hatchback fold down to make a nice little bed for the night. What else do you need? I've started to truly embrace the hobo lifestyle and
I'm sure I'll learn more tricks of the trade as I continue along. As for now, I'll continue North to the farthest point in New Zealand.
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