Trip Start Apr 22, 2011
Trip End Jul 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
Amanda's * Bream Head Coast * Amanda's * Tui Oaks
What I did

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Friday, May 6, 2011

I arrived in Auckland at 5:20am April 29th. Whizzed through customs, hopped on the bus (I'm learning to love public transportation) for central city Auckland. There I stayed with a fabulously generous and lovely lady, Amanda. I "found" Amanda on this cool website called airbnb (www.airbnb.com/rooms/63647). Great location, near U of Auckland. Spent a couple days getting to know the city (to the extent you can do that in 2 days) - Auckland Domain, War Memorial Museum, marina, ferry to Devonport, Newmarket, Parnell....Three days later, we shared morning coffee and a stroll in the adorable town of Mt Eden, then Amanda dropped me off at the bus station.

A rainy day, but no worries. I downloaded a new book on my Kindle - Gift of Rain (no pun intended), settled in on the bus for a three hr ride north to Whangarei, the first of what I hope will be lots of hiking. Claire (owner - along with her husband, Mark - of Bream Head Coast Walk (coastwalks.co.nz) met me at the bus station and we're off, 40 minutes east to Whangarei Heads. This is a slice of heaven. As it turned out, I was their only client at the time (and btw - I never felt like a client...), so had the entire lodge to myself. Sweet. Amazing hikes, amazing food, amazing experience for your soul. I was told "don't bother going north of Auckland". SO, SO happy I didn't take that advise. Claire and Mark have created a special experience that is a must-see if you're in the North Island. 

Day 1 - torrential downpours with gale force winds. Sofa & Gift of Rain. The storm finally broke late afternoon giving me a chance to venture out. Rolling hills and nature at it's finest. 5 miles. Met Lucas, the most adorable kid who was walking home from school. Nice chat.

Day 2 - up bright and early. More rolling hills (high hills that consistently made me break a sweat) sprinkled with cows and horses that dumped me onto the beach. OMG. OMG! That's all I have to say. 13 miles. Claire invited me to dine with her family - Mark, Eva (Scarlett Johannson look-alike), and Clive. Roast lamb. Red wine. Great conversation. (oh - ran into Lucas again. So cute)

Day 3 - Whoa. Mt. Manaia. To preserve the trail, steps were added - 1,800 of them at practically a vertical incline. Marine Reserve Loop, Taurikura, Mt. Aubrey. I don't know the distance, but I was dragging back to the lodge. Took a long, hot bath (in the outdoor tub overlooking Mt (can't remember the name). More red wine. After a scrumptious homemade dinner and even more wine, I managed to read 3 pages from Gift of Rain, I think. Out like a light.

The next morning, with achy calves and quads, Claire brought me back to the bus station. 3 hr journey back to Auckland, then onto another bus for 5.5 hrs south to Taupo. Or at least that was the plan....

A quick aside. I left my converter at Amanda's. Couldn't find one in Whangarei, so called Amanda to ask if she could drop it off at the bus station (30 minute "layover" between trips).
Of course she would, but she was on a tight deadline. As luck would have it, we were running late. I was the first off the bus when we arrived so I could quickly meet Amanda. Three minutes. That's all it took. Three minutes. And my luggage is gone. My 50 lb duffel bag. Gone. Shit. My first thought was - thank god I have my laptop/phone/passport/credit cards in my backpack. But shit. Filed a report with the bus security and the police (both experiences pretty underwhelming). I called Amanda (she's probably now wishing she never met me) to see if her room was available for the night. Then proceeded to cry for the next 2.5 hrs.  My pity party finally ended and planning started. I needed clothes. A toothbrush. 

15 or so blocks from the bus station, I walk into a dept store. Quickly noticed it was Neiman Marcus level so quickly walked out. A few stores further, a 50% off sign screams at me.
45 minutes later, a pair of jeans (that actually look pretty good), 2 pullovers, 2 cammies, and an XL men's t-shirt that will be my new jammies, I head to the cash register. I turned around and went back to the woman who had been helping me to ask if she could recommend a place to buy undergarments. I mention that my luggage was stolen. 

Get this - she says "some guy came in earlier today and said - does this luggage belong to one of your customers? It's sitting outside your store". My heart skips a beat. She goes on to say she called the police and the bus station (neither answered), so she wasn't really sure what to do with it. We walked over to the 50 lb black duffel bag on wheels and an orange (continuum) bag tag that has my name and address. I start crying. 

Ripley's Believe It or Not contender, you think! Seriously, this was a miracle. Not luck, a miracle. I still can not believe it. Luggage stolen (did I mention it's 50 lbs) and then abandoned (totally intact) 15 blocks away. A miracle. (when telling my brother today, he suggested I might want to play the lottery. Ha) REALLY. What are the odds that I would walk into THAT store, and mention my stolen luggage, and ... the miracle.

That night, a new friendship unfolded. Amanda and I shared a celebratory dinner and great conversation. She was my guardian angel. She is my new friend.

So here I sit in my hotel room in rainy Taupo. The view - Lake Taupo. Ahhhhh.  Maybe I'll move on tomorrow if it's still raining. I'm heading in the direction of Wellington, New Zealand's capital and the coffee mecca of the country. Thinking I'll play there for a few days.

One week. Despite yesterday's ordeal, I feel a deep sense of calm here. I don't have a game plan from day to day. Those of you who know me know that's not my norm. But maybe it will be from hereon. 

One week. Eleven to go.

That's it for now. 
Big hugs & Big love to my peeps back home.
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Jerome on

I jumped right to entry #5. Very happy to hear that you found your duffel. It sounds like good Karma.

Roseanne on

Karma is right! I think this is a sign that you're going to have lots of adventure and excitement but it will all be good.
I hope you enjoyed the book. Keep writing, I'm enjoying your posts and photos. You're my inspiration to do this some day also.

fredaking14 on

Hi Rosie! Dumbfounding miracle! Yes, I did enjoy your book.
I believe I read it on the flight to SF...or some flight somewhere :) Thank you again.

I hope you're well and happy.

Kenneth on

My heart skipped too, grateful you had two bags, but to have it come back to you... yes, Karma and kismet.

Now you have even more clothes to lug around! :P

Sounds like a great adventure so far. Hugs

Kari on

Freda, it so so reminds me of my 3 weeks in NZ - all miracle! My favorite city is Nelson (Wellington not so at all).....loved the ferry to the south island! So happy for you that you can do this - feel like I am trvelling with you right there. Much love, Kari

Tara on

What a crazy story--glad you're there safe and having fun. Sounds amazing so far!

abby bickel on

what a crazy story

Gil King Jr on

Hey Aunt Freda glad you found your bag and glad that you are having a good time. Hope the rest of your trip goes great Love ya

Stasia on

I'm loving sharing your adventure. The pics are great too. I'm totally expecting more miracles to come your way!

Bonnie on

So glad you and your bag were reunited. Good things happen to good people and karma is on your side!

Dewayne on

Sounds as if you have it figured out already.

Deb on

Hey girlfriend,

I teared up when you lost duffel, openly cried when you found.
Love you lots


Jim on

Pretty cool about the bag. All part of the adventure..

Glad you are enjoying NZ

Pama on

The adventure will only get better. Stay safe. Xxoo

Alan Mudd on

Freda, the duffel story is the best ever. You're doing an amazing job creating these posts and supplying us with the images that "take us away."

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