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Auckland Arrival

NEW ZEALAND | Saturday, 18 May 2013 | Views [1256]

The aircraft breaks cloud cover as we begin our descent into Auckland. I am struck firstly by the number of islands and secondly by how densely populated the area is. I think I presumed that the cities here would be small and compact. Auckland shatters that illusion with its sprawling suburbs of low rise buildings.

There is a feel of Englishness or perhaps of Canada, complete with cloudy skies, although I am told that they had the most incredible summer in memory. It certainly feels very different to Australia.

Meeting up with an old colleague, we spend the afternoon up on One Tree Hill for the best view of the city and then head out to Davenport, a quaint suburb on the waterfront. We go to a local pub quiz in the evening and I am startled that my brain has been so focussed on travelling lately that I seem to have lost sight of pretty much anything else I ever knew! Our little team came 4th out of the 5 teams but without the help of Google, so we weren't overly ashamed of the result.

I am feeling a sort of travel weariness after 4 amazing months on the road, seeing so many incredible and varied sights. The rain spatters against the hostel’s large lounge window and I, along with some other residents, experience a kind of malaise. It’s as if the rain frees you from feeling obligated to go sight-see or make the most of the weather instead idly flicking through the TV channels. No, today I am having a well-earned rest, a chance to plan the next 3 weeks in New Zealand.

After some time net surfing I have made the decision to head to South Island at the earliest opportunity. I still marvel that within minutes of making that decision, a flight has been booked, I have already checked in on line and Jetstar have added the airmiles to my Qantas Frequent Flier Account. The chosen hostel has been checked on Trip Advisor, booked and an airport transfer secured. How did we manage before the internet?

Travelling alone, there is no-one to take over the organising and, just sometimes, I wish there was. It is a constant dilemma – do I plan and book up an itinerary in advance which leaves me free from making travel arrangements once that is done but then limits me to a timetable? Or do I take each step of the journey as it arises, giving me absolute freedom but the constant need to decide where to go next, how to get there and then where to stay when I do get there! The idea of hiring a car or a camper van is particularly alluring, but it is a lot of driving and expensive for one person. A variance on this is to consider taking advantage of the relocation service that some of the car rental companies offer. They need cars/camper vans taken from A to B and a variety of deals are on offer if you are on a flexible schedule. Reading reviews I duly note the words of caution in choosing which company to use to ensure that they are offering a sufficiently attractive deal that will not leave you unduly out of pocket (check km allowance, whether ferry included between the islands etc)

The hostel, Ponsonby Backpackers, has been a real breath of fresh air after the grungy Sydney offerings. I have some great roomies and am quite sad to be moving on so soon, but time is short. They have kindly allowed me to leave a bag here for when I return after my South Island exploration. It is little things like this that mean so much when you are on the road.

I am heading for Christchurch and will investigate the relocation options once I am there. I feel a knot of excitement building in my stomach as the seed of a new adventure begins to form!


Tags: auckland, city, dilemas, itineraries, new zealand, one tree hill, ponsonby backpackers

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