Flashpacker? No my zip’s just gone

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Friendz Hostel – Auckland

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Friday, October 1, 2010

I woke to a bright light at the side of my face, thinking I was late for the airport I sat bolt upright to find it was dark outside, the light was from the bottom bunk, as a consequence of being asleep at 20:30 while I was left up chatting to the lass's in the dorm and writing the blog Eggsy was awake. I went to the loo and for once got back to sleep. What seemed like a few minutes later I got a prod in the ribs, and then I went back to sleep, next someone was tickling my feet, and back to sleep, then a shaking of the arm. It was by now 7:15 and Erica was urgently trying to get me up. I now realised just how annoying I must be when I pester her to get up. After trying to explain that we would be about 5 hours early for our flight she was up and adamant I needed to be. We quietly got all our many bags, chairs etc out of the room and quietly sneaked downstairs. I tried to get a shower but couldn’t work out how to turn the shower on – seriously. We managed somehow to repack, and despite my back pack being absolutely full I managed to squeeze in another cooking stove and various other bits and bobs. Erica had the chopping boards, pan and spatulas (this is what we have accumulated in the van).  We got down to two rucksacks, two chairs, a front sack and a cool bag, quite how I’m not sure.

As we still had hours to burn we headed down to Darling Harbour for a look around and watch the city stir into motion. It was a bit of a farewell I suppose and a lovely time to see the city wake up.  We headed back to the hostel to gather our things, it was about 9am, (with me still trying to tout round Rorie and Emers Lonely Planet (South East Asia) but there are simply no takers it seems, we will see if we can swap in Auckland (Yesterday we tried several second hand bookshops all of whom were adamant they would not make any offer for it). I wouldn’t mind it’s bloody immaculate.

Anyway we loaded up the donkey with bags (aka me) and we headed to Museum Station to get the train to the airport. We were allowed to check in our additional two bags (i.e. the chairs) without any charge with me charming the check in lady as always. I Simply explained that I’m not a pervert but my only pair of long strides has the zip burst and I can’t afford a new pair, that always raises a smile and embarrasses Erica. I think a complete lack of shame works with a cheeky charm.  Erica edit:  My solution is to just wear a longer t-shirt but he wasn’t having that.

We got to customs to get out of Australia and found the least professional customs guy you have ever seen, something I quite liked in fact. He was telling us about how as soon as the clock hit 5pm we would be drinking until he couldn’t walk and continue drinking all through the holiday weekend watching the Rugby League Grand Final (no mention of the AFL though). At one point he asked his other guard friend "what the f*ck is the holiday for this weekend? Queens Birthday or something eh?"

The plane was a bit delayed as it was stuck in the maintenance depot (a promising start). The flight was fine though, a much smaller plane than the big airbus we go on to Sydney, no films unfortunately but none the less they still had free Shiraz which kept me happy while Erica read about brutal torture and rape (another Karin Slaughter then). We got off and while Erica got a big tick on her customs form I got a big S, which I guess stood for search. As we queued up for baggage a nice, friendly looking Beagle ran straight over to us and started jumping up at us, then it sat down right next to the cool bag - shit. We quickly realised we had been caught drug smuggling. Only when we unloaded our hand luggage, aka the cool bag, with the dog still sniffing away in the bag getting hair and doggy snot on everything and found a clean pan, chopping board and little evidence of food or drugs we were allowed to collecting our other luggage and the dog was still interested, hmmm. We waited and waited at the luggage belt until we found our oversize luggage (i.e. the chairs) had been taken somewhere else.   

We progressed to the detailed immigration clearance where I was promptly herded into the search area and Erica tagged along. We had a rummage through my bags and found my walking boots, Erica had to then get hers out and they were taken away. We assumed they would be tested but they were just given a wash and returned to us (the shame dirty boots). Thankfully that was about the worst of it and after another scan of the bags we were officially in New Zealand. Another mishap was that our bank card didn’t work in any of the ATM’s and therefore we were cashless.  We were forced to withdraw on our Mastercard although it cost 3 it left us with little option except breaking our diminished emergency reserve of US Dollar.

We got a bus into Auckland which took about 40 minutes and after convincing the bus driver we had official backpacker cards we got a return ticket for about 10 each. The bus driver was quite amusing and gave us a commentary in the dark on our way there. We landed on Queens Street in Auckland and quickly found our hostel which was buzzing with lots of youthful and drunken backpackers, feeling tired and rather unsociable for a change we headed out to have our regular arrival beer in a new country. Country number 17 if we are not mistaken.

We settled in an Irish pub called Father Ted’s which is apparently one of the best places out in the Queen Street area of Auckland and looking and smelling like someone who had spent three and a half weeks in a campervan without showers, donning a pair of flip flops and trousers with the fly completely busted we settled into a jug of bitter for $15 about 7.50 for 4 pints which seemed fairly reasonable. As we wandered in the live band starting playing “Dirty old town” a song about sunny Salford which seemed appropriate. We pulled up a pew and ended up having about 4 or 5 jugs by which time the place was heaving with people in party gear on the dance floor rocking to another Irish guitarist only this time playing more current stuff. The bouncer was a Maori guy who was just massive but he seemed more amused by my appearance, upon asking why I didn’t fulfil the dress code I explained, he appeared to like me and let me stay in turning people away with far better outfits than myself. I have been fascinated with Maori culture ever since watching one of my favourite films 'Once were warriors’, if you haven’t seen it.... see it, it’s awesome. I had completely forgotten about the greeting “hey bro” which amuses me due to the similarity of “hey Joe” in the Philippines.

We were getting in to the swing of things when we realised it was midnight and our 12 person dorm would probably be almost full. We headed back via Wendy’s an American burger bar lured by the $2 chilli con carne on the specials board. We got back to the hostel at about 12:30 and the place was full of Irish, English and other European nationalities all whom appeared to be kegged up. We went to bed remembering that we both had top bunks, we only had one duvet and reception was closed. I had to do with sleeping fully dressed. We woke a few times to shouting on the street and a game of tick or hide and seek going on out in the corridors. The room also resembled a bomb site something I am prepared to join in with but for Little Miss tidier she wasn’t happy.  Erica edit:  Hmmm, well think Tracey Emin’s ‘Unmade Bed’ then times it by one hundred.  Every bunk was the same, it looked as if ruck sacks had just been opened and their contents just strewn across each mattress. You couldn’t even tell if people were in bed under all that stuff or not. I can’t wait to pick up the van, I’m too old for all this.
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