Out into New Zealand

Early this morning, I scared an Italian man within an inch of his life. I wasn’t trying to scare him. In fact, I really wanted to show him I was a good driver.

I hit the windshield wiper instead of the blinker once. I almost ran a red light once. I misjudged how much van was on my left and almost hit something four times.

To be fair, the center of Auckland (home to a third of New Zealand’s inhabitants) would not be my first choice for learning to drive.

The Italian man and I were on the way to a campervan rental shop. He and his girlfriend had just sold me their van, Opheila, and now they were going to rent a van for their last week in New Zealand.

I left the couple with all their belongings on the side of the road a block from the rental place.

Slowly, I took Opheila up the coast to a campground near Waipu called Uretiti.

The campground is an official Department of Conservation campground (one of more that two hundred), and is situated on a beach. The campground itself was not too busy today, and I had the beach to myself.

I went on a coastal walk for an hour and saw some cool plants and views, but most of the time was spent figuring out what exactly came with the van.

I am glad to be out in the New Zealand countryside, and excited to make my way around the North island this spring.

Biosecurity Threat #1 and the Cherry Blossoms

“Go around to the biosecurity window.,”

This wasn’t the welcome I had anticipated.  To be fair, it was my own fault.  I brought a used tent and some used hiking shoes into the country.  I should have done more research.

Turns out, New Zealand has some of the strictest protocols regarding environmental safety.  They advised me to clean my gear better before using it, both a helpful bit of advice and a warning.

As I was retrieving my cleared tent, a woman in line told me a celebrity got in a lot of trouble for forgetting about an orange in her bag.  I never fact checked her, but it sounded like a good story.

Waiting for the bus into central Auckland, I chatted with a nice fellow coming back from a month long trip in Europe.  If it weren’t for him, I would have ridden that bus all night.  There were no indicators as to where, or if it would stop.

I crashed as soon as I made my way up the five flights of stairs.  And went through a door.  And got in bed.

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I woke up at 5 in the morning and wanted to go for a walk.  I googled free things to do in the city and noticed a park that looked to be the size of Rhode Island.  In reality, Cornwall park is a 670 acre park that was gifted to New Zealand in 1901 by a man named Sir John Logan Campbell with the stipulation that the park be free, forever.  It was about three miles away from my hostel, so coming off  what could be described as a marathon of sitting, I decided to hoof it.  It was well worth the effort.

The path to the top hill is surrounded by green fields.  In a lucky coincidence, it is also Cherry Blossom season here.  Crowds of parents and their children assembled under the trees.

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And more

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The top, a place called One Tree Hill, offered a spectacular view of Auckland.

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I spoke with an elderly Chinese man much longer than either of us wanted to, and he told me I should go to the bars to look for a wife.

I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t.

The rest of the day was spent trying to figure out how to get a bank account set up.  I have an appointment tomorrow that should take care of that.  Then, to get a IRD number (for tax purposes so I can work), and then a van!

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Auckland is an interesting city, but I can’t see myself staying here for more that a week.  Hopefully, the bank and tax number are quick processes so I can head up to a lighthouse at the northern tip of the north island and hit a few rad camping spots.

We will see.