The Kiwi Experience begins

Trip Start Apr 18, 2011
Trip End Dec 09, 2011

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Where I stayed
Turtle Cove Backpackers

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, June 5, 2011

I manage to summon the courage to awake at the entirely unreasonable time of 8am- this is a novelty for the seasoned traveller, but given the Kiwi bus schedule it is completely necessary. Getting on the coach first (the result of no baggage to put into the hold) I am greeted by a particularly happy girl who is waving double handed in the centre of the bus... it turns out Hannah O'Connell is also starting the Kiwi today. This is kind of a big coincidence considering Hannah is from Haslington - my village back home of less than 7000 people. With her having just travelled Asia and Australia for the last 4 months it is rather odd that we should meet 18000km away from Blighty. I think this is the definition of a small world. What is equally as odd is that her boyfriend has the exact same name as me- not just 'Matthew', but another 'Matthew Lee'. I wonder if this is going to cause some confusion.

Mercury bay is the first overnight stop on my Kiwi Experience 'Funky Chicken' pass, on the way we stop off at Mount Eden which provides an expansive view of the Auckland cityscape which is pretty large- but it's a dreary day so we all scurry back onto the bus.

In order to familiarise the passengers on the bus, our driver Briggsy enforces a speed dating policy where the 'Traveller's chat' must be condensed down to a mere 3 minutes- although a repetitive affair it's definitely an effective ice-breaker. The make-up of the bus boils down to a few key constituent parts; the front has the majority of European travellers (French, German, Dutch, Danish); the middle has a large group of 'gap yarr' girls; somewhere rear of the middle there is a miscellaneous group consisting of myself, some more Brits, a few Irish and a couple of Hawaiians; and the back has the more jock-ish clientelle, a couple of personal trainers, hairdressers? etc. Its pretty much what an international school bus would look like, although no wedgies are being dished out just yet.

The lure of the journey to Coromandel and Mercury Bay is the Hot Water Beach, where digging down into the sand reveals warm pools of water from geothermal activity. Now I would like to say that we got off the bus and had a thouroughly enjoyable and mind-blowing experience. But as the weather was maintaining it's monsoon form, we didn't even make it to the beach let alone get off the coach. I hope the is not a taste of things to come.

The evening is relatively eventless. While waiting for check-in, Brian and I have a few games of pool to which he rather unashamedly admits to being a sore loser- this is particularly evident when all of my shots are referred to as flukes, the table is slanted and/or the cues aren't good enough. Hannah, Matt and I go for a fantastical rain-sodden journey to the supermarket, but around 50% of the bus incorrectly assume we are off to the beach, they follow and only turn around as the glimmer of automatic doors approaches. This rain ensures the night consists of the entire bus watching Old School and Mr. Deeds and then attempting to sneak alcohol into the communal areas.

Hopefully the rest of the Kiwi is more enjoyable- I have fun getting to know the passengers but the days events have been rather lacking. A quiet one is probably for the best though as we are to be back on the bus for 7am- Brilliant.
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