I am now in New Zealand.
But first, let's return to last night in Oz...
Zac the chef made me a fabulous final meal involving hand made gnocci and then oxtail spagetti. This was accompanied by a fine red wine and good banter. It was such good fun, it left me feeling very melancholy and reluctant to leave Australia altogether. The next morning Maggie and Duncan had travel plans of their own and left before me. So I made my way to the airport on my todd ( I must point out I not once ever in the history of this trip been waved off, most distressing) and on the flight over to Auckland I was quite sullen and withdrawn. I sitting inbetween two people and usually I make polite chat, but I was feeling so blue they never even got a smile. I was thinking to myself that I just couldn't be bothered with NZ, I wished if I could skip it all together and go straight to America.
So not the best of moods. I arrived very late and went straight to bed. However the next morning I awoke with a new vigour and zest for life! The world was joyess! Auckland was, well to be honest, not very pretty, but it was new and exciting and fabulous! I think most of this enthusiaism was due to the fact that right round the corner form my hostel was the Civic theatre and it was showing 'A Winter's Tale' by Sam Mendes starring Ethan Hawke. I wandered in and said 'cheap ticket?' They said 'yes' and my good mood was born. Shakespheare is my cure all. Then I discovered a fantastic bus ticket that would take me all around NZ (well the main places) for a very reasonable price and included some day trips (or so I thought, more on that later).
So this bascially meant NZ was planned. In the bag. Done. And despite not being very organised of late, I do like to be organised. The next couple of days in Auckland were the usual ones that come with entering a new city for me. Walking around parks, getting lost, feeling cold and needing to buy new trousers (hmm maybe not that one), climbing a big hill (Mount Eden- in factadormant volcano), discovering the art gallery was under refurbishment (boo) and going to see a Shakepheare play (very good, odd blend of tragedy and comedy). But all in all I enjoyed my first few days there.
Then I decided to go on the first leg of my bus trip. What I thought was included in my journey was a trip to the Waitomo Caves with Glow-worm boat trip then onward to Rotoroua. I got on the bus early (8am!!!) and got chatting to a mother-daughter combo from the borders. The mother was very over bearing and was one of those women who could have been anything from 50 to 90, but acted like she was 120 and a cripple. Everything was such a tremendous effort (apart from eating clearly as her gut was certainly 'healthy') and she told me all her woes.
On arrival at the caves, I followed the rest of my tour group to the entrance where a woman was checking everyone's tickets. Tickets? I had no ticket. It was done over the phone. Hmmm. It then dawned on my that my bus journy did not include the cave visit. Oops, my bad. I was about to turn around and go back thinking 'Darn it', but prehaps not that polite when the ticket lady screeched "Great Sights Bus trip!" and let my entire bus through and I was swept up in it too. So basically I stole a cave trip. 4 days in NZ and already a thief. I've obviously spent too much time in Australia, clearly their ill gotten ways have infected my good, pure soul.
So I thoroughly enjoyed my glow worm spotting (very pretty tiny lights made up of insect behinds, ahh) and then was taken on to Rotoura. I had trouble booking a hostel and ended up in the 'Blarney Stone'. An Irish themed hostel in New Zealand. Hmm. Mild odour in the dorm room, but a very nice staff so one shouldn't complain (but one does).
Today I went to a polynesian spa and spent about 2 hours enveloped in thermal sulphur water, a bit smelly, but very relaxing. Tonight I'm off to a Maori feast or some such thing. I didn't read the brochure, just asked the hostel girl to book me a Maori evening as that's what you do here in this wee town. So hopefully that will nice and relaxing too, although some how I doubt it- I mean have you seen the All Blacks do the Haka?