New Zealand Day 1

21st of March, 2007
[continued from previous entry]

So I was a bit seedy still in the morning. I’d set my phone alarm to 8:30am, so that I’d have time to grab breakfast (7am-9am) and shower before checkout (10am). However, at about 8:50am I suddenly realised I hadn’t set my phone’s clock forward, so it was an hour behind. Shit!

Luckily I was in time, just, for breakfast, and the shower was free, so I was all ready to go well before 10am.

I checked out, but still had at least an hour to kill before it was worth heading over to the Mercure, so I sat in the hotel lounge for a while, watching TV and flipping through tourist brochures.

I probably should have been out exploring and taking photos, but I had all my luggage – backpack + 14.1kg main bag – to carry, which would have been a fair burden.

I’d seen earlier that morning some people using a computer in the lounge, so I thought I could use that to send a few emails saying I’d arrived safely. Unfortunately you had to pay for access, I found, so I didn’t bother.

At about 11 I wandered over to the Mercure. It was actually a slightly longer walk than I’d expected, from looking on Google Maps, but it was no real problem. I spotted the Contiki bus easily enough, so I was reassured that I was in the right place.

When I walked up, the driver – Danny – asked if I was Wade – Roxanne apparently had messaged him and said I was coming. So that was kind of cool. :)

There were a lot of people next to the bus when I got there, but what I didn’t realise was that the tour is circular, so there were people already on the bus who started in Christchurch. In fact it turns out that a lot of people start & stop on the tour at various places along the way, so it looks like there’ll be new faces here and there. In particular, on Friday we return to Auckland to drop of 16 or so people, and pick up more.

After checking in with Kate, the tour manage, I went off in search of a toilet & lunch. I ended up finding both in an out-of-the-way mall across from the Mercuse. Lunch was nice – a quick chicken burger while overlooking the street (not the one the Mercure’s on; the one running North-South to the west of that [probably Queen street, from that description]). Very nice. I didn’t have time to finish the chips that come with it, though – 12 noon was rolling around so I scooted back to the coach. I wasn’t late or holding them up, though, which was a relief.

Before that, actually, I’d nipped out to a newsagency to buy this book. I’d meant to bring something with me from Australia, but hadn’t had time to buy anything & couldn’t find anything handy at dad’s.

I of course didn’t know anyone on the bus, and when I hopped on there were a lot of bags and whatnot on those seats that were still free. I picked one at random, hoping I wasn’t taking anyone’s seat and that the person next to me – a girl judging by the jacket on the seat – wouldn’t mind.

The girl turned out to be Kaz (Kay-Marie) from Bendigo. She’s been on the tour for 13 days or whatever, and had hopped off to say goodbye to those who weren’t continuing on. I’d seen her next to the bus, saying goodbye to people and trying not to cry. She seems to know everyone from her tour so well, and to be so sad to see them off. I hope we all feel the same when we finish up in Christchurch.

Kaz is really nice – very talktative, a little loud, but quite enjoyable company. While she moved about a bit, I did spend a fair bit of time with her and chatted a bit. She works at Bendigo Bank, and also at “the top bar” in Rushmore. She’s a real country girl – everything about her from her appearance to her personality. I like that, although I think she finds me a bit boring in comparison. Still, I think she was making the effort to be sociable and to make me feel welcome – which I did, although on the bus to the Bay of Islands I was content to be a little relaxed (i.e. tired) & restrained. I was also relatively enthralled by the scenery, whereas those that have been on tour for a while seem largely disinterested – “the South Island’s better anyway”, they all say.


Behind us was sitting Melody – her mum was into music – and Marcin (from Poland). Melody’s from central Toronto. She’s quite nice, quite friendly. Not loudly like Kaz, though. :)

Marcin is nice, although doesn’t say a whole lot, at least not thus far. He does hold a diving certificate, he mentioned, and used to dive a bit.

Across from us were two girls from Canada – Amanda and one who’s name escapes me. They both seem nice, although Amanda has been very shy thus far.

In front of them were two girls, one whom I haven’t yet spoken to whom I think is from Canada too, and one from Capetown in South Africa who’s name is, I think Skye. She’s absolutely beautiful.

I was worried a bit when thinking about the trip as to what sort of people would be on it. And since Roxanne especially seems to think it’s a bit of a shagfest – Kaz had heard similarly, too – I was hoping the girls would be really attractive of course. [I assume I wrote this tongue in cheek, but, there’s no smiley..] I keep trying to convince myself that this trip is about having fun & making good friends, who’s appearances and gender are irrelevant, but I can’t deny that I’m also hoping for something more.

When Skye hopped on the bus, I noticed. She has long blonde hair, a slim but not stick-figure physique, and gorgeous eyes – bright blue, I think, although perplexingly I was so taken in, yet embarrased to be caught looking, that I can’t remember with certainty.

[Sick bags are in the chair in front of you. You were warned when you started reading. :P ]

She was right there for the whole trip, but I hardly spoke to her. In fact she spoke to me first – albeit only to ask for the activities clipboard. I did speak to her a little, along with Kaz & the Canadian girl [[Roxanne]] who’s name escapes me – Marissa, perhaps – but didn’t get much more info than I’ve already presented.

Kaz introduced a girl called Kristy, who wandered up and down the bus a little bit, and hung out on the stairwell in front of us (for the rear door). I can’t recall much about her though – I don’t think I got her bio.

She and Kaz both [[and Teagan all]] commented at one point, whispering & pointing, about how beautiful Skye was. I could only agree, although it was a nice validation of my own opinion. :)

Skye wants to be a property investor, I did overhear, although she’s going to travel further this year. She was quiet and shy on the coach, listening to her iPod and taking photos of the passing scenery, but I think she opened up a bit at dinner time.

We journeyed north to the Bay of Islands, where some of us (including Skye, I was happy to notice) were then immediately off on a jet boat – the Excitor – to see the hole in the rock (Pearce [[Piercy]] island, I think it’s called). The jet boat itself was pretty cool – very fast, although quite big and with fairly calm conditions not as bumpy and exciting as it could have been, but, ah well. I enjoyed it, and the scenery – the isands and the coast – was pretty spectacular.

In front of me sat Alan the Giant, who’s a big, tall guy with a #1 all over, who seems really quite nice. He’s from Sydney, I think he said.

In front of him was Skye, and in front of her was Teagan (I think it was), who’s a small, heavy-built Tasmanian girl (Launceston, “Hobart’s crap”) who seems nice enough, although a little excitable and keen on her booze.

Although a lot of people here are, unsurprisingly, keen on their booze. Everyone’s down the pub at the moment – the Pipi Patch? – and I do plan to join them, once I finish writing here.

I’m sharing a room tonight with Marcin and Albert, a Chinese-looking guy who speaks broken English but whom I think is actually from the U.S. or [[he’s from Canada]] or something. He’s cool, but I think is leaving us on Friday; he’s been on the tour for a while already. After this he’s doing a Contiki tour from Cairns to Sydney (or possibly the other way round).

I also met an 18-year-old tiler from near Canberra, who’s name I think is Mitch. He seems okay, nice enough, and he seemed pretty impressed about me moving to California to work for Apple. There is something about him which did strike him as a bit strange to me, but I don’t know what it is. He’ll be leaving on Friday as well, I believe.

So, tonight we’re staying at the Bounty In, in Paihia

P.O. Box 132, Paihia 0252, NZ
+64 9 402 7088 (fax: +64 9 402 7081)

[I actually wrote that in my diary… I have no idea why]

We stopped at Parry Kauri Park on the way north, which is a little out of the way place where they have a couple of trees called, I think, “Kauri”, which are immense trees, extremely wide, which live up to a thousand years or so [[tens of thousands of years, possibly, although that may just be the age of the dead one found buried]] and are very impressive. It’s said that hugging them drains evil from you. I didn’t really think to hug one, although I took photos on half a dozen cameras or so of a group doing so.

The trees were apparently prized by Europeans because they are self-pruning of their lower branches, and thus have no knots and so are highly desirable for ship masts. The foolish Europeans, however, didn’t realize how old they were and thus the damage they were doing by chopping them down.

One of the two we saw was “McKinney Kauri”, which is about 800 years old and has a diameter of 7.62 metres. Plenty of hug space. :)

I was amazed, driving through the countryside, by how green it is. There’s ferns everywhere, interspersed amongst other trees. It’s very different to Australia.

I noticed also that none of the farms appear to have dams – wells a plenty, but no dams. I guess that shows how wet it is here, that they don’t need them.

Well, nine and a bit pages seems like enough for one night. Time to see if the party’s still going down at the pub. I’ll write about the things I’ve missed and forgotten later, I hope.

21st of March, 2007
[written the day after]

Last night I went over to the Pipi Patch? bar to join everyone else. It was a tiny place, with loud music & more Contiki people than not. It was nice, although by the time I got there many people were already out of it.

Teagan was already getting friendly with someone, I think Mitch although I can’t really recall. Someone that’s leaving tomorrow in Auckland anyway, so their drunken touchy-feeliness was doomed to be shortlived.

I met Christine [[Christina?]] there, who’s on our tour & is from Korea. her English was a little poor, making it difficult to converse in the bar. I hadn’t seen her before, but then I keep seeing new faces who joined us at Auckland, or sooner – I guess there is a good 40 or 50 people on the tour, so that’s not too surprising I guess.

Roxanne, it turns out, is the name of the Canadian girl that Skye hangs with. She’s a school teacher from Ottowa (the capital of Canada, she informed me after I mistakenly posited Ontario for the title), who when she started worked up north with the Intuit. She said that was pretty boring – no pubs, bars, cinemas or anything like that; the only thing to do was hang out with other teachers and drink.


I also met Jade last night, I think it was, who’s quiet nice and smiles shyly most of the time, but is quite shy. Nonetheless, she’s been out partying each nice. She’s Australian, from somewhere just south of Perth, from memory.

Prior to going to the bar last night I met Claire (I think it is), “the diver”, who was talking with Danny about diving. She’s British, from Yorkshire. I can’t recall what it is she does, but she’s fairly old – over 30 – but doesn’t particularly look it. She had an interesting 20’s, she confessed over dinner – [snip]

I also met Andy when we first arrived in Paihia (pronounced pie-he, I think). He’s a tall guy from England, I recall – he has the accent. he seems really nice. I don’t seem to know much about him though; probably forgotten it. :(

I talked with a fair few others from our tour, but their names largely escape me right now. There’s a 6’3″ girl called something like Amy or [[Hayley]] Molly or something, who’s really nice. She looks a [[and Sam, her friend]] fair bit like Mornington little Laura, in the face.

Roxanne seemed pretty keen on the opposite gender in the bar – she had her eye on some guy whom she kept asking people in our group if they thought he was gay. I didn’t think so – he was just a bit clean & pretty looking – but general opinion seemed pretty evenly split. But she moved her attention to some other guy, anyway, so it became a moot point.

Skype was there with her as well of course, but by the time I left – not having really spoken to her – she & Roxanne were up at the bar getting pretty friendly with some of the local guys. That put me out a bit – she finally seemed to loosen up a bit, but not to me. I felt a bit silly about the stuff I wrote only an hour or two earlier – but I was still glad I wrote it. it’s important to record those temporary feelings, even if – as I did – you suspect they’ll prove silly.

[The importance of this embarrassment is yet to be established. ;)]

While talking to Danny at some point we got on to injuries on Contiki trips, and he mentioned one guy who went snowboarding, hvaing never done it before, but declined lessons and sure enough broke his shoulder. (collar-bone) But he continued on anyway, doing bungee jumping and all sorts. Pretty crazy-reckless, I think. [says the guy who, also, didn’t bother with lessons]

I got back to the room at about midnight. Albert was already there. i went to bed pretty much straight away. Albert followed, and within about 15 seconds he was snoring like a chainsaw. He was so bad he frequently woke himself up. Grrrgh. But, what can you do. I put up with it, and eventually got to sleep anyway.

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