Back on the bus - more people

Trip Start Feb 27, 2009
Trip End Sep 13, 2009

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

12 May 2009

Picture it - outside the hostel - an unearthly hour in the morning - little sleep - much rain and waiting on the Stray Bus for the journey south bound.  Lizzy will be on the Stray bus as she is picked up first.  My new fellow thirty something back packer Naomi is getting on next stop - and god knows who else in the 24 available seats. 

The bus is late due to flooding of the trailer and it is also packed full to the brim with 24 peeps.  Two Oirish, a bunch of germans and english and the token Swiss bollocks.  Don't get me started on the Swiss.  Oh and a Swede who judging by his ampleness of grey hair is older than me - and quite frankly - that is truly acceptable.

The driver is - wait for it - a WOMAN.  Now this type of behaviour would simply not be allowed in our fine country.  Women are permitted these days to be managers and accountants and business afficionados - the future Alan Sugars if you will - but if a girl was to go home to her mother and father and state her intentions of driving a bus full of smelly backpackers around the country, I'm afraid that just wouldn't do.  Our driver - who I will name - for I don't think I will say anything negative about her for the rest of the trip - is called Nat.  I'm sure she's older than most people on the bus but not older than me.  She is just the most tolerant, patient, generous crate-thur you could meet and I shall me mostly approving of her.

We stop off in Mount Eden to take a picture of the city and its panaromic views.  Still not impressed.  I have one request - can we get the shite outta here.

Point taken. Off we go.  Now comes all the "this is how to use the Stray Bus" business etc as we make our way over to Hahei on the Western coast.  However, I figure out the best way is just to see what everyone else does.  I've figured it out in a few minor steps - alas my guide to hopping on off backpacker tour busses.  There are two guides - one for the young continental european sultry lass - and one for the Irish, English and over thirties.

1.  Board bus in the latest leg hugging skinny jeans.  Apply liberally woolly trendy scarves and chewing gum.
2.  Walk up aisle with air of nonchalence and if greeted by anyone - say Hi politely while chewing the gum and tutting and thinking that saying hello to old people really isn't expected of one before noon.
3.  Drag 16 plastic bags of groceries up the bus - mostly apples, avocados, breakfast bars, nutella.
4.  Take seat - make young friends instantly - and compare banana bruising.
5.  Throw plastic bags liberally at the feet of the weaker traveller.
6.  Complain about how much everything costs and tutt when driver announces the hostel will be at a rate of NZ$25 that night as opposed to NZ$24 which was all you had to pay the night before.
7.  When driver puts on some New Zealand music to educate you, pull out expensive iPod, tut and put in ears to show lack of appreciation.
8.  Stand up in the aisle as bus is hurtling along and make conversation with other young people.
9.  Buy boxes of goon for the evening - but don't drink it as that would be much too expensive very irresponsible.
10.  Smoke liberally at every bus stop and 15 minutes later as bus is ready to go - decide to go get coffee and have a slash as the bus is sitting waiting.
11.  Play snap.
12.  Ask questions about everything on the tour as often as possible.  Then tut and disapprove of the answers.
13.  Struggle to understand each other's english and then ask the "native english speaker" as I was referred to.  Sample question - "How do you spell 'taught' which I is needing for my CV".  Was it awful of me to answer "tawt"?  Or "Can you make a picture?"  I say I can't but that I can take one if they wish.
14.  Stay up smoking, playing snap and laughing loudly - but most definitely not drinking.
15.  Go to bed, repeat process daily.

The guide for the Irish/English over thirty something is...

1.  Shyly take seat on the bus after greeting driver and scoure bus for any fellow normal people.
2.  Congregate with those located and chill out and go with the flow.
3.  Drink goon in the evening and bitch about the continentals.
4.  Have fabulously good time and think the Europeans are not so bad really - its just their manner and everything gets lost in translation anyway and sure isn't it all great.

The Stray Bus is that - it is great - there's a mix of all sorts and even though there are annoyances at every possible juncture - when you're travelling through wonderful places like New Zealand you rarely find time for grievances.

The north island gets better and better.  The first stop in Hahei, Naomi (also real name but since she is also well sound - she won't be getting bad press here), myself and Lizzy whose enthusiasm and love of everything is now becoming slightly infectious, the old swede who had the exact same name as my Swedish diving buddy in Oz join a few others for a kayaking trip from Hahei beach around the bay to Cathedral Cove.

The guides on the trip are, as predicted, as nice a specimen as you are ever likely to encounter - down to earth and friendly beyond belief.  We're in Kayaks of 2.  I partner up with Naomi and as she's done it before - we think it best that she goes behind - as the person at the back does the steering.  Unfortunately Naomi didn't quite pick it up immediately (she'd never done the steering before).  The steering involved pushing pedals and the like with your feet.  I don't think we were supposed to hit the other kayaks at right angles.  Maybe that's why they all stayed behind us after a while.  I thought it was just that we were of superior upper body strength and getting way ahead - all be it twsiting and turning like on a formula 1 course.  Only taking the piss Naomi - you'll get used to it.  Of course Naomi got the hang of it soon and we were bombing along towards Cathedral Cove.  We laughed at the guide when coming ashore in the kayak who was waving frantically at us to "Back paddle, back paddle!"  We learned in ind sight this is necessary when you're about to be taken out by a large tsunami-esque wave which is coming behind you to the beach.  We nearly paid the price of capsizing for our troubles.  Good laugh though.  Cathedral Cove is a fairly sheltered beach with rock formations in the water and caves and arches.  The sun was setting and casting great light on the many rock patterns.  Lizzy spent more of the time running from one picture to the next in case it wouldn't turn out right if she walked.  But you've gotta love it. 

Back at the hostel we all had a barbecue together - supremely prepared by Nat with a few lucky assistants.  I'm sharing with the Swede fella. He's somewhat more ignorant of the back packing habits as I am.  An extremely nice gentleman - but full of questions as to what time to get up at, where the bathrooms are, are they private?   They'd need to be given he's taken speedos along for swimwear.  He has received a great old slagging already on account of that one. 

On my iPod

Rock the Boat
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