I got to see a bit more of Auckland today. Last night I went out to the clubs. It was pretty cool both figuratively and literally. I liked the bar we went to: Snap Dragon. It was interesting because it was open to the outside so it was like natural air con.
This morning visited Mount Eden, one of many old volcanos in Auckland. I think the topography of the city is really interesting. It’s decently hilly but then also has these huge natural volcanic look outs. You’re not supposed to go into the crater but a little birdie told me at night it can be fun to slide down on garbage bags. If it actually snowed in Auckland that would be a sweet sledding hill.
We drove through Waitakere Ranges to get to our next destination. It was super pretty. So much vegetation that looked so different from anything I’ve ever seen. Much less of a vibrant green and more of a mutes green, almost silvery.
After getting through the ranges we got to Piha beach. It is beautiful! Black volcanic sand beach with lots and lots of waves. Also big rocky bits jutting out. It looks wild and fierce. Saw some surfing in action as well. I have to say it isn’t quite as exciting as it looks on the tv. There seems to be lots of sitting around and waiting for a decent swell.
After that we returned to Auckland. Drive around another pretty older area and up to another lookout closer to the harbor. At this one there was a military “disappearing gun”, a true show of kiwi military intelligence. It is basically a big gun that disappears into the hill after it shoots. That way you have no idea where the shot came from… Anyways a great view anyways.
Then driving over harbor bridge and more driving around and running arounds. It is quite a pretty city that is very alive. It still has quite a bit of greenery which I really like an then just so many little shops and cafes and boutiques. Oh and I got a SIM card so I actually have a phone here. If anybody needs to reach me my number is0211453984.
That evening I went with Jacob to a cousins bday party. Got to experience a true kiwi “barby” or barbecue. It was nice just chatting with people and getting advice and such.
Left Auckland and my wonderful host Jacob today. I have to admit as he drove away I realized that it hasn’t really hit me that I was going to be alone for a bit. It was one thing for me to travel in Fiji alone. After all, I had been living there for 4 months, knew how things worked, and plus knew how incredibly chill life is in Fiji. New Zealand is a bit different, I don’t really know how things work here, and it’s much more intense than Fiji was. Also there are more things that happen off of the coast which makes transport all the more important.
Anyways the bus ride from Auckland to Rotorua was pretty nice. Quite pretty though I did sleep through a bit. It’s always when you’re trying to stay awake that you fall asleep. Got into Rotorua and immediately bolted to my hostel. And damn are hostels here nice! There is a really nice lounge with a flat screen and DVDs to rent, a jacuzzi, an incredibly well stocked kitchen (sharp knives, spices, and oil provided) he bathrooms are super clean ( no sand!), and in the dorms each bunk has a little shelf and there’s two charging stations. It’s a bit crazy to me after Fiji dorms.
I was going to try to immediately go see the hot springs or a sheep show or something, but quickly realized that without a car transport was going to be a bit difficult and the shuttle I needed had already taken off. So I walked into town to get lunch and a bit of wifi. One big downside of traveling all around and not staying in one place is always being a bit distracted thinking of what next and always needing Internet in order to book things and check things. I did a lot of that today. Both at the first cafe (Internet limit to 30 min) and then at McDonald’s since they have unlimited free wifi. Sad to say but I may be visiting them quite a bit which will not be good for my diet.
After the cafe I meandered through town to one of the free parks. From one of my bazillion brochures I had gotten I had read it was a free geothermal park. Entering from the south the first was pretty disappointed. Nothing more than a few kind of ugly lakes that were bubbling but as you walk up north through the park you see better sights. Bubbling mud bits spitting mud and gas, more violent hot pools that steamed and had burned the vegetation directly around themselves, and even a little bath to put your feet in. It was almost like it was out of Land Before Time or Jurassic park. Certainly not pretty, but definitely cool and something I’d never seen before. It is a free thing that I would definitely recommend.
After that I had the foresight to buy an umbrella just before it rained. I also went to the info center and attempted to lose my wristlet (which had everything: cards. Cash, keys, iPod touch, phone). Luckily humanity was kind to me again and turned it in. I decided it was a sign I should book something there (and also that I should really chain my wristlet to me). It was a bit of a terrifying experience. I don’t really know what I would have done, alone in New Zealand with no contact info.
I ended up booking a trip to the nice geothermal as prints, or at least the prettier ones. I had been thinking about the glow work caves and doing black water rafting, but it would have costed at least twice as much. And I’m not really sure how my budget is going to go, though I don’t want to stop me from spending money.
After my day, I went shopping at the supermarket. So many familiar fruits and veggies, and good yougurt and so much more. I got a little excited, though things did look a bit too uniform.
I’ve been pretty bad about meeting people so far. I lways find it difficult to initiate that first conversation. I always wonder if a group is busy or happy with the current group. Though I did meet a guy from Chili and talked to him for a while. But I haven’t been too lonely at all. I don’t mind doing things by myself and besides I’ve been doing too much planning to care. Maybe at the next hostel I’ll try more, we’ll see.