Mundane Paradise

Trip Start Apr 08, 2005
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Where did 11th August go? We left Chile on 10th August and arrived in New Zealand 12th August. See you can travel into the future.

First impressions, yep looks like England, the cars, the people, the roads etc. The only thing that surprised us were the number of oriental people. Apparently there has been a massive influx of Asians in the last few decades, which is cool considering there are now hundreds of Chinese restaurants and sushi bars.

Now lets go do stuff. Maybe a ferry ride to one of the Islands, maybe see dolphins, maybe go to the Maritime museum, maybe go up the Sky Tower, mountain biking. Our initial list of activities were endless until they were dwindled down to lets just go for a stroll. And do you want to know why? The cost of doing anything was astronomical, you even had to pay to go onto a mountain bike trail. So we spent the initial three days doing the limited FREE activities, museums, galleries and strolling that is on offer in Auckland. But hey the coffee was good, much better than the burnt weak rubbish in the UK.

To explore the country cheaply enough to be able to at least eat and avoid the "Kiwi Experience Trustafarians" was to hire a van, yes a transit van, which had inadequately been converted to a camper van, but hey it had been spray painted (on the outside) by a hip hop artist, it was therefore cool and it made us feel trendy. It also had a name, "Space" so the three of us went on our merry way.

The country has stunning scenery, it really is breathtaking. Around every corner there is a great view. There are also many places of interest every few hundred meters. There are so many of these interesting places in NZ that sometimes they cant even be bothered to name them, so they are simply named "Historical Site".

However there are a few problems with this alleged paradise. Apart from the sheer expense, it is a great shame that the Maori culture is hidden away to the east of the North Island where no-one seems to venture, and all you see here is the contents of Earls Court. More importantly the people are dull. One rather sad lonely owner of a surf shop went to great lengths about how he met his current wife. Apparently he met her twenty years later, after standing her up to go surfing. A miracle. We were gob smacked (sarcasm). The other was a young chap who makes coffee, and he can create a silver fern on the froth, another miracle. We watched NZ win the tri- nations in a sports bar. Cant say it was like watching England win. Their excitement went unnoticed to us. So we asked the DJ to play something from this century to perhaps liven the mood. He had nothing, their music is stuck in the 1980s. In Auckland you can go on a boat trip, apparently back thirty years, makes you wonder how far that really is.

To save our dwindling funds, we chose to occasionally avoid camper van parks, and free camp, which meant basic facilities, namely no shower or toilet. However this enabled us to stay in some absolutely beautiful places, for example on the shores of Lake Wanaka with the mountains reflected in the water, watching the sunset cooking an omelette. Quite magical and even romantic :)

There were also those places that you would really not want to stay at especially if you have seen Blair Witch. One was these places was in a Conservation Site, it was seven kilometers from the nearest town, and a further one km down a wooded lane, which led to a clearing to a rather eerie lake. I (T) refused to use the toilets which were ten meters away from the van. There was the time we camped in a wood, and Stephen saw glowing eyes in the wood. Also we chose to camp at the foot of Mount Cook, which was interesting. We arrived in the remote Conservation Site after sunset, it had become cloudy and the rain was beginning. We found a shelter, the inside of which looked much like the last room you see in Blair Witch. This got worse, we had chosen sausages for dinner, which meant having to enter this shelter and cook them by Blair Witch torchlight. (On this fateful night Stephen got his jacket splashed with sausage fat, so we have shipped it home to Mum). Luckily no nasty stains on our underwear, despite the thunderstorm that started after dinner, then the wind picked up, not your normal UK wind this was a spooky wind. It banged at the side of the van all night, then we heard tapping...

Big Love

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