Auckland



After a few nights at the YHA Auckland International, I moved to my friend Tracy's apartment. I met Tracy five years ago when we were both staying at the Frauenreisehaus in Christchurch. I had spent the earlier part of the day at Devonport before going over to Tracy's in the evening. She has a fabulous view from her apartment. See above.

Heading down Queen St to go to Tracy's apartment.


The White House. This was a brothel across Queen St from my hostel. It's right next to Salvation Army.


This is the night view from Tracy's apartment.



I splurged on a bubble tea on my last day in Auckland. Sour plum bubble tea. Yum!


Sending postcards


I found this sweater when I was thrift shopping on K' Rd. I don't intend on seriously wearing it in public. It made me laugh and it's 100% new zealand lambswool.


My last night in Auckland, we got ice cream cones, but they melted much faster than we could eat them cleanly. I got it all over white fleece. You can't see it, but I got some on my jeans, too.

Auckland - Devonport


At the recommendation of my friend Tracy, on April 28th I took the ferry to Devonport. Luckily the weather was lovely, as it had been pretty cloudy, wet and miserable the past few days. There's a lovely view of Auckland from the ferry.

This is Devonport from the ferry. It's a short ride, only 15 minutes or so.


I went to the supermarket and got some snacks. This time 5 years go I was harvesting mandarins in Kerikeri up in the very northern part of New Zealand. I didn't work at Kwan orchards, but I know people who did. Delicious. Ah, memories.

View of the city from the supermarket.


I took a walk up Mt Victoria. There are some beautiful views and some painted mushrooms at the top.





Back to Auckland central.

Auckland

Yes!


This is for my friend Kate, even though she doesn't read my blog. There's this Indian eatery on K'Rd that had little cakes called Barfi. The shop is still the same as it was 5 years ago.


This is Karanghape Rd, more commonly called K'Rd. There are a lot of thrift shops, cafes, and hippy and ethnic type businesses, as well as plenty of sex shops. Not a nice place to be after dark.


I met up with the girls again for coffee (or hot chocolate) before Cate had to fly back to the south island. That's Karen, Cate and Tracy. A New Zealand reunion!


The Sky Tower in Auckland. It is lit up with different colors. On this night it was yellow and wonderfully creepy.


My room at the YHA Auckland International.


Some of my toys. I bought the wombat on my last day in Australia, because I love wombats. I wanted a smaller wombat, but it was my last day and they only had big ones. And the obligatory Steve Irwin figurine from the Australia Zoo. And my Flight of the Conchords and Bic Runga CDs.

Commercials and the All Blacks Haka

There was this car commercial with babies driving cars and doing email that was kind of strange. I thought, well that certainly wouldn't fly back in the US. Then I discover that the original Hyundai baby commercial was banned in Australia a while back. Have a look yourself. They're kind of funny, but in a bad way.



This was banned in oz.



Now that I'm on the subject, I remember these PSA type spots about home safety from a few years ago. They start out as fake commercials and try to shock you. They did the trick, but a lot of times people start laughing at the end. Again, funny but in a bad way.



My personal favorite.


Want more? Here's another...


I think I saw this one in Australia. This one is great!


And while I'm at it, here's a vid of the All Blacks doing the haka before a rugby game.



Here's another advert because I like it. I never got around to taking a photo of construction workers and their short shorts, so watch this to get an idea. Some of you may recognize the voice.

Rotorua


Rotorua is a city in the middle of the north island of New Zealand. It's well known for its geothermal activity and maori culture, but mostly for the geothermal stuff. The entire city smells like a serious fart, and it takes some time to get used to. When I woke up in the morning my first thought was that someone had let one rip, but then I remembered that it's just the smell of rotorua.

It was about 8pm when I got to Rotorua. I stayed at a cute little place called The Funky Green Voyager. I stayed here 5 years ago and really liked it. It's an eco-friendly, clean, very friendly backpackers. They recycle and compost, and they have a beer fridge if you want to buy just one beer.



This was on the notice board.


The first thing I did was make dinner. Then I headed over to the Polynesian Spa for an evening soak in the spa under the stars. It was more expensive than I remembered, but well worth it. After my 40 minute race to the bus in Wellington and my 8 hour bus ride, I was relishing a hot soak in the mineral pools. They close at 11pm and I got there just past 9:30. It was plenty of time, and it wasn't crowded at all. I got these pictures from the website. I went at night so the atmosphere was much different. There were seven pools of varying temperatures and stinkiness. I tried them all.



Oh my god...that felt soooo good. And I slept so well that night. The owners at the Funky Green are fantastic. I hung bout the place the next morning. It was Anzac Day, so most of the shops in town were either closed or weren't opening until the afternoon. After some internet and phone calls I headed to town.

This used to be a giant bath house back in the day. Now it's the Rotorua Museum. I'd already seen all this before on my first trip to New Zealand. I had to catch a bus to Auckland later in the day, so I didn't have time to check out the museum again. Though I remember it being fascinating, for me.



I ran into a girl from my room while I was walking. I have a bag with a giant strawberry on it. My mom got it for me in Taiwan and it says "STRAEBERRY" on it. Anyway, the girl said she only recognized me because she remembered my strawberry bag. Too bad I couldn't stay because she had a car and was going someplace cool. I forget where. Oh well, she was very cool anyway. And she had a map and pointed me in the direction of the lake.





video

Wellington



I really only had one full day in Wellington. I was really only passing through, so I didn't do much other than walk around, do internet, and go to Te Papa museum. It's a great musuem of New Zealand, and it's free! Last time I was here, the Lord of the Rings was still all the rage, and I saw an exhibit here about the making of the films.

Wellington is a nice city, but it's very small. I didn't feel like I was missing anything by leaving so soon. I believe this is the home of the Flight of the Conchords. I didn't see Bret or Jemaine. Maybe they were back in New York filming next seasons adventures.

This was inside the Maori marae at Te Papa. It's like a traditional Maori meeting house.


View from top of Te Papa.


This didn't come out well. The sky looked so cool. It almost looked fake, like the fake skies in Vegas.


Part of the unisex bathroom at the Cambridge Hotel.


So I had booked a bus for Rotorua the next morning. When I called, the woman on the phone started chatting with me and asked me about my name and where I was from and what I was doing. She asked me if I knew of any young people from Asia that would need a place to stay in Auckland. She's part of a homestay organization that offers students learning English a place to stay. Then she said I sounded like a nice mature person and gave me her email in case I ever needed a place to stay in Auckland. This all happened when I called to book a bus. I ended up talking with her for 20 minutes! That's New Zealand for you.

Anyway, I gave myself half an hour to get to the bus terminal. Well, I walked and walked like hell, and it took more than 40 minutes to get to the bus terminal from the hostel. So...I missed the bus. That was a low point. I had to call and book another bus, which wasn't for another few hours. Not to mention this was the day before Anzac Day weekend, so everyone and their cousin was traveling. Oh, stressful travels!

This was at the train station in Wellie.


The bus ride to rotorua was very pretty. I was on the wrong side of the bus for Mt. Ruapehu (Mt. Doom) so I couldn't get a picture of that. Too bad because it was gorgeous.

Wellington



It was about 10pm when I got off the ferry in Wellington. There was a free shuttle from the ferry terminal to the train station. Then I had to walk a good distance to the hostel. Luckily there was a Swiss girl and a girl from Bulgaria I think. They were both walking the same way, so i had some nice company. They have these city info kiosks everywhere. That's me eating an apple and sending an e-photo from the kiosk.

My room at the Cambridge Hotel. I always end up in rooms where I'm the only girl.


Nice place, eh?

The hostels in Wellington aren't as nice as so other places. The YHA these is very nice, but I booked 2 nights at The Cambridge Hotel because it was a little cheaper and I remembered them having the best showers. Well, five years makes a difference and the Cambridge was not quite as nice as I remembered. If I'm ever in Wellington again, I'll be staying at the YHA.


This is a kiwi. I meant to take a picture of the kiwis at the supermarket. They all looked like this. From what I remember during my fruit-picking days, the best looking "normal" kiwis are sorted and exported to countries like japan and US. They keep the ugly ones for their own.

I always liked to have tea at night with cookies. These were cheap and I thought they were funny. They call cookies "bikkies", so it's a bikosorus. Get it? harhar!! And the photo on the package is deceptive. And yes, someone actually "designed" this packaging. there's plenty of this type of "design" here. This is not japan. Signage here is ugly.

Queen Charlotte Track



Last day on the Queen Charlotte Track. I didn't plan this very well. I didn't want to be rushed on day three with 23.7 km to walk. The last water taxi picks around 4 something, and I didn't want to have to worry about making it to the jetty on time. So I'd arranged to spend the night at Portage and then take a water taxi back to Picton in the morning. Well, I don't know how they work their taxi schedules. They scheduled my taxi for 4ish in the afternoon. Had I known that, I would have gone ahead and finished walking the entire track. It's another 20 km to the end of the track. I just figured 3 days would be enough for me and didn't plan on finishing the track. Oh well, the weather was cloudy most of the day. I started walking more of the track the next morning for about 1.5 hours before I turned around and returned to Portage. There were some nice views, very steep climbs, and several bikers on the track.


I went back to Portage Hotel and played with dead jellyfish. I looked for ones that washed ashore and threw them back in the water to watch the way they move.



I wanted to rest and eat at the cafe at the hotel, but I guess with it being low season it wasn't open. So I munched on gorp, chocolate and muesli bars until the water taxi came to pick me up. It was 40 minutes late. It was getting very cold and somewhat dark. Waiting for the taxi and Torrea Bay jetty.


This was inside the shed on the jetty. It's Maori greeting meaning "good health", but it's used commonly for hello and goodbye.


Back to Picton at dusk.


I went straight to the ferry terminal in Picton and caught the evening ferry to Wellington.


View of Queen Charlotte Sound from the ferry.