'Four Seasons in One Day'..
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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To start with I felt a lot more refreshed this morning, the pain was well under control without the aid of painkillers and I generally felt great - even the sun was shining.
The real adventure though started at about 10:30am. I was standing talking to Maeve on the reception desk when this young Maori bounded through the doors and yelled if anyone was waiting for the 'Stray bus'.
As Maeve had shook her head and he could see that there was no-one ready to board, he bound straight back out again. That's when Maeve suddenly stopped mid-conversation and asked very abruptly if I'd been on the Stray bus:-
-'What's the Stray bus?',
-'Right - go and get your arse on that bus' she said, 'Go. Now!'
So I did. I ran straight out of Base and right over to the bus chap. He said 'Yeah no warries, hop aboard bro'. He shook my hand very enthusiastically, asked my name and introduced himself - "Nathan mate, Nathan. You can call me Nate'. Turns out I'd just hopped on an 'Auckland Orientation Tour' bus that normally costs $35 but was free to those that had got a special pass from their travel agent/tour operator in return for buying some sort of adventure activity. So I'd just managed to swing a free ride - bonus!
So we spent the next four hours touring round Auckland in the love-bus soaking up a lot of the local scenery, history and culture provided by the very witty, passionately spoken 'Nate'.
The trip was fantastic. As was the scenery. And the history.
It was a very well spent four hours and gave me a greater insight as to what my short term options are.
He took us to the foot of the Auckland Skytower to witness someone doing the 192m suicidal 'run-and-jump-off' style 'Skyjump!' (don't forget these orange hyperlinks are 'clickable' and give you more info).
He then took us up to Bastion Point with a cracking view of Rangitoto Island, drove up to and over the harbour bridge , went to the top of Mt Eden and saw some fantastic views of the Auckland cityscape - then went for a meal and a pint. I shared a seafood basket with 'Norm', a Chinese 'American' in his early forties who had started travelling in SE Asia in 1989. He had literally just walked in to his hostel from the airport and put his luggage down when Nate had burst in and dragged him out and on to the Stray bus.
While we were enjoying the view on the top of Mt Eden there was a terrific, more or less 'instant' weather change. We stood and watched as the storm literally flew in from the horizon and straight over us towards the city. Now I knew what 'four seasons in one day' really meant! The thing about New Zealand and countries like it is, they don't have a continental climate as we know it - they have a maritime climate which can change so immediately, and so drastically. It really was an experience just watching it.
Once we had scurried back to the bus and sat down (luckily, before a good soaking), Nate watched joyfully out of the window as the Brazilian chap who was still out there, fled up the long steep hill back to the bus in sheer terror as he was ferociously pelted with rain. I must admit, it really was taking his breath. He had decided to venture down in to the volcanic cone against Nate's kind request not to, in order to preserve it's natural wonder. Like the rest of us, he hadn't realised how instantly and fiercely the weather can change.
On the way back from the meal, Nate furnished us with stories and information about all the great things to see and do in the South Island. It seemed that apart from having done it all, Nate's done it time and time again and still can't get enough - a true 'adrenaline junkie'. He had got the same sort of excitable passion as Steve Irwin when he spoke about things. He really was refreshing to watch and listen to.
That evening I met up with Nate, Norm and a younger couple from Denmark, Nick and Anne who had also been on the Stray bus earlier. We met in a bar called 'The Globe' just up the road from Base underneath the Auckland City Backpackers. We had a few beers and I chatted further with Nate about New Zealand and it's adrenaline-charged offerings. He was very keen to steer me in the direction of 'silliness' activities such as the kamikaze 'Skyjump!' as well as flinging myself from the top of the Auckland harbour bridge after first climbing it on foot. He asked what I was doing on Saturday. As I wasn't doing anything he offered to pick me up to go and book up a 'Harbour Bridge Bungy' and climb. In return (assuming I had booked up) he was willing to treat us both to a 'Skyjump'. He said he just had to see my face. I said I'd think about it.
Where I stayed