Leg 1: Auckland + Northland, New Zealand [2015.12.01]

5am: early morning flights suck so many bags of dick. Kinda miss Air Canada (what the what? Said no one ever) where I can bypass the lines (whomp whomp). Leg 1 of my trip is coming to a close. Even though I’ve only been gone…13 days…it feels like I’ve been gone for so much longer (the problem with not keeping track of days while on vacay). Well, New Zealand has been a blast! I definitely need to come back and do the rest of North Island (especially since I dropped $500 on a stupid Stray HOHO bus pass). Not that I’m regretting it now, because I love paying for convenience, but there are much cheaper and better more spontaneous ways to get around.

Auckland:

Arrived in Auckland. Great place to get over jet lag. But not much to “do” in the city. Typical big city life. Would probably be a great place to live.

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Went and did the tourist-y stuff like Mt. Eden and Devonport. #sooverauckland

Stay: Ponsonby Backpackers – cute little hostel. Very clean. Great recommendation from a friend. Good sleep, got a bed that wasn’t a bunk bed!

Travel – Stray Bus to Paihia; stopped at Parry Kauri Park to look at some Kauri trees (Kauri forests are among the most ancient in the world – appeared during the Jurassic period!). Was hoping that Chris Pratt would randomly appear… #nosuchluck

Paihia:

Cute little beach town. Weather wasn’t great. Went kayaking at Haruru Falls. Sufficiently got soaked trying to get under the waterfalls. Picked fresh oysters off the river. Thought I might have gotten hypothermia. Proceeded to hog the shower at the hostel for way longer than I should have to warm up.

Did the whole Cape Reinga, 90 Mile Beach dealio. The beach was great. Cape Reinga was beautiful.

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Sandboarding was underwhelming. It’s like tobogganing for chumps plus you get sand in your mouth.

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Went and got my Open Water PADI cert with Paihia Dive Shop. Two full day scuba-ing, four dives. $450 later, I’m officially an open water diver!

Met a girl from the States during kayaking. We did a day trip together to Tane Mahuta (the largest kauri tree in New Zealand  – estimated to be 2,300 years old!).

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Spent my last day in Paihia roaming around Russell and chilling at the beach.

Much chill.

DoPaihia Dive shop – this was such a great dive shop – very intimate and friendly. Highly recommend.

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Stay: Base Bay of Islands Backpacker Hostel – clean enough hostel but it’s the hostel for the Stray bus and the Kiwi Experience bus. So. Many. 18. Year. Olds. Can’t handle – kids that are willing to drink their nights away but then complain about not enough money to eat as they shovel dry ramen down their mouth holes. But alas, that’s the beauty of youth? #toooldfordatshit

Travel – Stray Bus to Whangarei; got dropped off by the Stray Bus on the info centre on the highway. Had to carry my heavy ass backpack 30 minutes into town. Not pleasant.

Whangarei:

Arrived at the hostel sweating like a mofo. I really need to shed some kgs in my pack (also on the person wouldn’t be too shabby). Awesome older people at this hostel – much more my jam. Did the Abbey Cave (well, I guess we skipped Abbey Cave and only did Middle Cave and Ivy Cave) glow worms with a girl from Austria (Hi Feli!) and one from Germany.

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Super cool to explore the caves by ourselves and not with a tour #freeisalwaysbetter. Also drove out to the Whangarei Heads Pataua (took the wrong turn and ended up somewhere else instead). Picked fresh clams and oysters from the river for dinner.

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Scuba’d the Blue Mao Mao Arch with Dive! Tutukaka. The dive was awesome – saw the infamous wall of blue mao maos (rated one of the top 10 dives by National Geographic Traveler…or so they say…Google is not backing up this claim…).

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Do: Dive! Tutukaka – not as great of an experience as in Paihia. More of a big shop, factory feel. But I guess the dive was worth it. A little more expensive…$270 down the hole.

Stay: Whangarei Falls Backpacker – wonderful homey hostel ran by an Englishmen. Great facilities, had a 10-bed dorm to 3 people the first night. Great for us, not too great for the business I guess. The last 2 nights got infinitely more crowded, stinky, snore-y, all of the above. Met great people here. Two thumbs up.

Travel – Drive to Piha; drove down to Piha with Feli and another german girl (Hi Ricarda!) from the hostel.

Piha:

Amazzzzzing day at Piha. Checked out the black sand beach and took my first ever surf lesson. Although I can squat for days (good for surfing) and burpees came in handy (thanks VPCF!), my tiny legs are not meant for going against ocean currents and waves. Started to eat so much shit salt at the end of the lesson. Took a surfboard to the ribs and inner thigh. Will bruise fo shoo. Although, I did get up and ride a couple of waves. Hopefully I’ll get better with practice.

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Do: Piha Surf School – awesome surf lessons ran by a father and son. Spent a lot of time in the water. The teacher, Zen, just won a local surf competition. So you know, it’s totes legit. 80 bones 2 hours.

StayPiha Beachstay – amazing big house up the hill from the beach. Had hens running around and free-range eggs available. This would definitely be the place to Woof if I were to ever do manual labour. Was so nice doe. Could’ve slept better but that’s only because of my stupid broken brain and not because of the accommodations.

Travel – Drive to Auckland; stopped by Icebreakers and I splurged on a soft-shell jacket. It’s wind resistant and water resistant – so…. worth it….? (so I keep telling myself). You know it’s the beginning of my trip as I’m still spending money like I’m making money (a hard no). I’ve been pretty much buying #flatwhites err’day.

Auckland:

Back to Auckland before I fly out to Sydney. Meet up with Tiia (Hi Tiia!) For a couple of drinks. #hellofromtheotherside

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Was going to hit up Waiheke Island but no time. Will have to do it next time I’m through.

StayPonsonby Backpackers – because, why fix what’s not broken?

Now I’m off to see how much coffee the rest of my NZD…$14.40…will buy me at the airport… (update: it will buy me a triple shot flat white, an apple, and an expensive as fresh pressed “immunity” fruit juice).

Auckland + Northland, New Zealand Summary: got bitten by mosquitos like a mofo. All on the feet. Much itchy. Spent probably waaaaay too much on coffees. But you know, #lifenecessities. Looking forward to warmer beaches though.
Duration: Nov 18 – Dec 2

2015.12.01 Sleep Log: was going to go to bed early but then remembered I had to pack. Slept for 4 hours? The Brit in the upper bunk was swinging around like a monkey.

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