Does Anyone Need a Hand? #1 pt 3

After having worked so hard the day before, today was a relaxing day to recharge. We woke up early and went on a speedboat ride to Garden Cove where I received my first ever SCUBA diving lesson. I took to the basics quickly, but I had to call off the practice dive once we made it down to about 4 meters. I have been dealing with some sinus issues since I arrived in New Zealand, and my head was starting to hurt, even after spending time getting used to the pressures.

The speedboat ride on the way back had super choppy waters. We were ramping off each wave, and it was a workout holding on to the side to stay in the boat. This, combined with blasting music like “Eye of the Tiger” made for a pretty epic ride.

When we got back to the big boat, we had to move it to another anchor point. While the captain moved the boat, I focused on getting some more painting done. The trip took an hour, and the boat wasn’t rocking so much while moving that I couldn’t paint.

We spent the night deep-frying anything we could get our hands on, including onions, cauliflower, cheese, chocolate, berries, and pickles. We also made up some churros.

Day four started out as a work day. We got a lot of painting done, including finishing putting the primer on the stairs. Painting the stairs hurt my back, as we had to get under the stairs as well. The upper ones weren’t too bad, but you had to get in some weird body positions to reach the underside of the lower stairs.

Afterwards, we took a trip to the captain’s parents house to eat lunch. Turns out he plays the piano as well, so we spent some time going back and forth playing for everyone. The stepfather was saying a lot of strange things that I didn’t really understand, but I smiled and nodded.

We borrowed the parents’ car to go run some errands. We needed food, petrol for the speedboat, and a few other boat supplies. After we left the boat store, the car’s engine wouldn’t turn over. Turns out petrol doesn’t work too well in a diesel engine. Luckily, we were able to dilute the petrol with diesel we got from three trips to the gas station with our gas cans.

The parents insisted on giving us dinner as well. We all wanted to be back on the boat and go to bed early, but that was not to be the case.

We got back to the boat super late. The ride back in the dark was creepy. The ocean was still and foreboding, and the city lights only created a deeper sense of loneliness out on the ocean.

We woke up early day 5 intending to go for a hike, but the weather had other plans. We ended up spending the day getting work done on our computers.

We also got quite a bit of cleaning done on the shore. I worked on cleaning the aft deck and cleaning the SCUBA gear. Later on in the day we took a trip into town to get some Burger Fuel. We wrapped up the day early and watched movies.

Does Anyone Need a Hand? #1

A few days ago, I felt I had seen everything I wanted to see in Auckland. I made a post on Reddit seeing if anybody in Auckland needed help with anything. My thought was maybe a few people would respond needing help moving, painting, fixing a fence, etc.

The thread had 2.7k views and about one hundred upvotes. I had three responses.

One woman needed a gym buddy, as hers recently stopped going and she was losing motivation. The woman was lovely, and we had a great time.

The second was a guy who needed help taking a pic for an online dating site to make it seem like he had friends. I thought he was just a lonely guy at first, but I got a weird vibe and said no can do.

The third was a much bigger project. The job was to help a guy fix up his boat. He told me he would pick me up on a beach, and I could stay on the boat and get food in exchange for some work. I thought this sounded interesting, so I accepted. We worked out a few details, and I was to meet him today on a beach on Waiheke island (an island off the coast of Auckland).

This morning, as I was boarding my ferry, I got a text saying their tender had been stolen. Some googling told me the tender is the smaller boat that allows people from anchored transports to get to land.

He said they were talking to the police and they would keep me updated.

I had already bought my ticket, so I decided to go on to the island. Worst case scenario, I could spend the day walking around a new place, no harm no foul.

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I had been on the beach for about an hour when I got a message saying the tender had been located, and they wanted to pick me up before they went to pick up the tender. He told me to see if I could hitch a ride to the boat from shore.

I asked around to see if anybody could take me out to the boat, and eventually a man named Don agreed to take me out there.

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The ship itself is a massive, old fishing boat, about 110 feet total, manned by the man and his wife. The ship is a work in progress and will eventually be used to take doctors to foreign countries to treat the locals there. It also will be used by scientists who need to conduct research in remote places.

I got a hands-on lesson steering the 200-ton ship, and a crash course in sailing.

The tender ended up being about an hour away by boat, being help by a yacht docked off the shore of an uninhabited island. They had their radio turned off, so another ship offered to take their dinghy over to retrieve ours.

We eventually got the dinghy returned and made our way back to Waiheke to dock.

After we docked, it was too late to get started working, so we extended the boat’s crane and took turns jumping off. The captain decided to do some SCUBA diving to check the hull and keel of the boat and was pleased by what he found.

Afterwards, we spent the evening chatting and drinking wine.

Today has been one of the craziest, most unexpected days of my life. We were supposed to work on the boat today but didn’t have time after all the insanity. Tomorrow, we start bright and early to remove rust, paint, weld, and make other alterations.

Here are my digs.

It is still unreal to me how today happened. I made a short post on a social media post, and two days later I’m on the crow’s nest of a 200-ton ship sailing to an island to retrieve a smaller boat.

I didn’t have time to get many pictures, but I will get more tomorrow.

I want to stay and help on the ship for a bit longer. I am not sure how long I will stay, but I do know that in the future I will always be sure to ask, “Does anybody need a hand with anything?”

Devonport: posh accents and surprise musical interludes

Today was my last day in Auckland.  It started off slow enough, but eventually I found a German girl who had also seen most everything Auckland had to offer.  We took a $12.50NZ ferry to the small village within Auckland called Devonport.  The name is really fun to try to pronounce with a New Zealand accent.

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The place itself is charming,  with little shops lining the quiet streets.  There is a library located near the harbor next to the sea.  There is a hill close to the ferry that offers a beautiful view of the ocean.  We found it after eschewing the direct route from the ferry to the top in favor of a much more roundabout, some would say lost, way. There were also painted metal mushrooms on the top of the hill.  They look like exhaust vents that were covered up and made to look like a part of the scenery.

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Back at the hostel I walked in on a German guy I met learning guitar.  He had been given a lesson by a woman staying at the hostel.  His laser focus really affected me.  He was so focused on trying to play the four chords to Boulevard of Broken Dreams that he shut out the rest of the world.  He continued practicing for the next four hours. He said he was going to take a break, but would return thirty seconds later saying he was ready to go again.  It is always nice to see people excited and motivated about things.  I hope he continues being that passionate about things.

I told the woman who taught him that I played a little piano and she insisted on a duet.  It took a few minutes to figure out a song that would sound good for both of us.  We ended up playing “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith.  It ended up sounding pretty good.  It was a lot of fun.  I hope we see each other again in the future for a reprise.

 

Rainy day in Auckland

Auckland has been overcast for the past few days, but today was the first day of full on rain. As such, I decided to walk to the Auckland War Memorial Museum just about a mile from downtown.

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The entrance fee was $25NZ for foreigners, and free to the residents of New Zealand.

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The museum has three levels.  The ground level boasts a stunning collection on Maori and other Pacific Island artifacts.

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Weapons, musical instruments, handicrafts.  You name it, they probably have it.

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Floor 1 is home to the Natural History section, with exhibits on volcanoes, animals, and the land itself.

Floor 2 has the history of wars that happened in New Zealand, as well as foreign wars in which New Zealand had a stake.  The memorial is mostly for those who lost their lives during the World Wars.  There was also a small gallery concerning the Holocaust.

The museum was flooded with kids on school trips, some of whom were wearing bright crossing guard outfits.

The museum itself is worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood.

 

Rangitoto and the Sundance Kid

The original plan for the day was to head down to Rotorua with a few friends from the hostel to soak in some hot springs.  They woke up hungover and no one made plans to rent a car, so that idea ended quickly.

I had heard that the volcanic island of Rangitoto was an interesting place to spend a day, and google told me the ferry left in 15 minutes.

I jogged toward the pier (not easy in a backpack), and ended up getting there with almost a minute to spare.  The woman was telling everyone to wipe their shoes before getting on the ferry.  New Zealand is very strict about foreign contaminants, especially in the places that don’t see many visitors.

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On the hike up, I chatted quite a few different people.  I met a Korean guy who was making a YouTube series about New Zealand travel.  I met a few Kiwis who were happy to tell me the good places to visit.  I met a Scottish woman and her Sri Lankan husband whom I chatted with for a few hours.

They invited me to their place when I make it out there, and I took down their information.

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The summit offered a nice view, but my favorite part of the trip were exploring the lava caves.

Visitors are able to climb through a few of these caves.  There is a group of three, and the middle one gets narrow, then expands.  The exit is a few hundred feet past the entrance.

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The last cave was a little further down, and many people turned back before reaching it.  I went to the fourth cave and was surprised to hear a woman playing a Shakuhachi (she later told me).  She was playing a beautiful song alone in the dark.  The acoustics of the cave were unparalleled, and the woman had quite a bit of talent.  I took a seat on a nearby rock and enjoyed the performance.  I introduced myself afterwards while trying not to scare her in a pitch black cave. She told me her dream was to one day study at Naropa University in Colorado.  “Strange,” I said.  “I live just down the street from there.”  It was like a Joni Mitchell song.

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Small world.

There was a lighthouse located on a small island off the coast of this small island off the coast of Auckland.  There was no discernible way to reach it, unfortunately, so I had to make do just looking at it.

There was also a nice beach with dark sand.  I didn’t have much time to stay, as the last ferry left at 3:30pm.  If you missed it, you were out of luck.

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For more information about the island, check out the Department of Conservation’s website here.