“You like New Zealand bro?”
“Yeah, nah – sweet as bro, eh?“
“Ah yeah, bro, eh?“
“Ah yeah, it’s choice eh?“
“Good as gold bro, eh?“
“Sweet as bro!“
“Ah yeah bro!“
Well, exactly. Today we leave New Zealand, and while our grasping of the lingo may still be a bit iffy, we’ve had quite a nice time by all accounts. We first came here five years ago aboard a raucous and hormone driven Kiwi Experience bus, on which we managed a whistle stop four week tour incorporating a few sights and a lot of pubs. While fun at the time, we both had an inkling that we’d need to come back one day and see the place properly – and so with no initial clue of what we were doing or how we were going to do it, we’ve just done exactly that.
There’s not a lot left to say about the country itself really, I think I’ve covered the “BLOODY HELL – look at THAT!” aspect of things a fair amount in previous blog posts. It’s ridiculously well stocked with jaw dropping scenery and how we managed to miss 99% of it the first time round is quite astonishing. What I may not have mentioned so much however is that the people aren’t so bad either. From the moment a complete stranger spent hours patching up our campervan boot in the dark after it fell off on our first night, it was pretty clear what a generous breed New Zealanders are. Invites to Christmas day, countless offers for a roof over our heads, mechanics fixing the van for free – we’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness shown, and they’re a forgiving bunch too, as I found out in during our time in Kinloch…
“Ah, I see you’ve fallen through the ceiling of my hostel and are now dangling from the waist into a guests bedroom. Not a problem….”
Then there was the time in Takaka…
“What’s that Ally? You’ve run yourself over with my $15000 Quad Bike and it’s now sitting 30 feet down that hill in a bush? She’ll be right mate, let me get some rope…”
I’ve never known a bunch quite like them to be honest. We’ve met all manner of people over the past few months who seem to get genuine pleasure from the fact that we’ve come to see and enjoy their country – they’re a fiercely proud bunch, and rightly so.
We’d never planned to get a campervan before we arrived. Buying one changed our options quite dramatically – and despite the hours spent trying to restart flat batteries or twatting mosquito after mosquito in the pitch black, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Waking up to ocean, lake or mountain views never got old, nor did the convenience of being able to take a roadside nap at any time. The van had character. Never again will we need to open and close the front door a few times just to get the engine started, and I doubt I’ll ever own another car with one key but three different keyholes either. So it was with great sadness and shock that we said goodbye to our van last week. I say shock, as having given ourselves a fortnight to sell the old rustbucket, some lunatic bought it within three days! Overjoyed by a) selling it and b) getting back what we paid for it, we were quickly subdued by the realisation of c) we now had nowhere to sleep and had 11 days to kill in Auckland. Oh dear.
My memories of Auckland from last time seem to revolve mostly around a god awful backpackers hostel, winning a pub quiz and despising the old lady hoovering at Auckland Airport when I was trying to sleep. We had plenty to do, don’t get me wrong – but 11 days of filing tax rebates, sending parcels home and essentially getting our lives in order was not a joyous thought. But you know what? It wasn’t that bad. There was Test Match cricket at Eden Park to see for starters. A day spent drinking in the sun with the barmy army was fantastic , what better tonic for the travelling soul than belting out a few songs with your fellow countrymen? The testosterone didn’t last long however. Fast forward 24 hours and I found myself dancing around Aetoa Square along with a few hundred others as part of the most unsubtle flash mob ever seen. In my defence it was based on the Haka, as well as being taken from the cult Kiwi film ‘Boy’ – which you should definitely watch by the way – so anyway, that passed some time. Aside from those notable events we’ve been over to Devonport across the harbour, watched live music down at Silo Park, and even went up the Sky Tower yesterday for an all you can eat buffet. The views were amazing, surpassed only by the bellyache I’ve had ever since. All in all it’s not been such a bad time spent here really, in fact I may even make efforts to patch things up with the cleaners at the airport later, who knows?
So that, as they say, is that. We head to Australia for a couple of weeks now, massively excited to see old friends and new sights, but also massively sad to be leaving. Eight months we’ve been here, chasing smouldering horizons beneath resplendent skies, and you know what New Zealand? It’s been an absolute pleasure. We’ve had heaps fun and you never know, we might just come back one day, eh bro?
Ah yeah, see ya!