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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Aotearoa tōnui ma

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 13 October 2008 | Views [473]

Today was another adventurous and exciting day in God’s Own Country. I awoke at 6:30 after having another strange dream last night. I’ve been having so many strange dreams lately, including one where I was in a prison and I climbed a 20-foot stone wall and then jumped, landing softly on the beach sand. Anyways, Nikki was up and she told me that Sheree was heading into town about an hour later, so I decided I’d go with her so I can say goodbye to everyone here. I washed up and made my morning tea. Steve, Kali, and everyone else was waking up by the time Nikki was ready to leave for work. I gave her a hug goodbye and thanked her for her excellent hospitality. I then had another cup of tea. Steve kept telling me to enjoy the journey and not worry. Kali gave me one of their prayer books. As I was looking at the beautiful view from the house, I realized how much I’m going to miss it. Steve told me that I’m more than welcome to return at anytime and to just show up at the door; no appointment necessary. Last night, Lance gave me one of his shirts; it has a bright green mark on the front which makes it good for hitching. It was raining, and Sheree told me that I didn’t pick the best day for hitchhiking. At about 8:30, Sheree had to go and it was time to say goodbye. I gave everyone a hug and I told Steve and Kali that I’d probably be back later in my journey. We drove down the hill. I had to get out and open the gate because the cows were all over, and then close it after Sheree went out. We drove to the end of the road and then Sheree dropped me off. I gave her a hug goodbye and thanked her for everything. I put my stuff in the calf pen on the road, just in case it rained. I only waited for a few minutes and someone picked me up. He was on his way to Tairua, which is the next town south of Whitianga. The skies were grey but it wasn’t raining. He dropped me off at his turn off. A few minutes later I was picked up by a couple that was heading to Auckland. They were an elderly couple, about 70 or so. The roads are very hilly and winding in the Coromandel region, and I sometimes get a bit of motion sickness in such areas. They’ve done a bit of travelling; they were telling me about Vanuatu and a few other places they’ve been to. They live in Whitianga but, surprisingly, they don’t know Steve. I’ve met hardly anyone living in or near Whitianga who doesn’t know Steve. We drove for over an hour and they dropped me at a Mobil station right near Thames. The skies were still grey but at least I had something to stand under in case it started to pour. I went inside and got two mincemeat pies and then asked around. A truck driver stopped but he was heading toward Tairua. However, he came back like five minutes later and said he’d take me to Paeroa. That was nice of him. His name is Jonathan and he is from Indonesia. It was my third ride of the day. He dropped me off in Paeroa and pointed me in the direction of the road that would lead to Hamilton. I walked up there and waited and waited for like an hour. A few police cars passed me but I’m not afraid to hold out my thumb for them here. In some countries that wouldn’t be recommended. Finally a gentleman named Steve picked me up. He was headed to Te Aroha. He told me that there is a geyser here that goes off about once every half hour. Unfortunately I’m going around all the geothermal stuff during this journey, but I plan to get to Rotorua again. Steve dropped me off at a corner that is on the road that leads to Hamilton. I only waited for less than five minutes before a man named Adrian picked me up. He is the father of seven children and is an appliance serviceman. He is one of the few Kiwis I’ve met who doesn’t hold a passport. He was heading to Morrinsville, which is the town between Te Aroha and Hamilton. He dropped me off on a street in Morrinsville and then I had to wait again. I waited for about 15 minutes and then a young man named Nicky picked me up. He works for Coca-Cola and the exterior of his vehicle has Coca-Cola all over it. Some young people like to pick up hitchhikers because they have someone to talk to along the way. Nicky made sure to go a little bit to the outside of Hamilton so I’d have an easier time finding a lift. The road leads to Waitomo Caves, so I was guessing I’d have an easy time finding one. He dropped me off on the outskirts of Hamilton near a petrol station. I ran in and got a Red Bull and then waited again. This time a nice Maori couple picked me up. They knew the area quite well, and were telling me a little bit. We drove for at least a half hour, passing through Te Awamutu and stopping in Kihikihi. They wished me a safe journey and I was holding out my thumb again. After seven rides, I was wondering but certain that I’d make it to New Plymouth by nightfall. I told myself that if I don’t make it and someone invites me to stay at their home, then so be it. The skies were clear with a few clouds. I haven’t seen the sky this blue in over two months! The ultraviolet radiation is very powerful and I have no hat or sunglasses. After waiting for about a half hour, a young man named Cam picked me up. He drove through Otorohanga, which is famous for its kiwi house and is known as the “kiwiana” capital of New Zealand. There is a mural in Otorohanga featuring kiwis, gumboots, and other New Zealand-related stuff. We passed the turnoff that leads to Waitomo Caves. One of these days I’d like to do the more adventurous “black abyss” blackwater rafting trip. We drove for a good while, and Cam dropped me off in Te Kuiti. I was standing in an area where children had just got out of school, so I was thinking that I’d be waiting a good while. I saw one truck that had “New Plymouth” on it, and I was thinking that I could have gotten all the way there in one go had he of picked me up. I waited over a half hour in the sun until and elderly couple stopped for me. They were headed to Piopio, which was about a half hour ahead. All of today I was admiring the beautiful New Zealand countryside, with its many sheep, cattle, and green rolling hills. I simply love this place! I was in Piopio at about 3:30. My prediction is that it was take me a dozen rides to get to New Plymouth. I went into the superette and got a mincemeat pie. I wanted to get some Grain Waves but they didn’t have my favourite flavour. I waited for like 20 minutes and then a girl named Heidi stopped for me. She was going all the way to New Plymouth, which was about two hours away. I put my bags in the boot, got in, and we were off! She really seemed to enjoy talking. She lives in Auckland but she is on her way to New Plymouth to pick her daughter up from her mum's house. The scenery was amazing and I had the ocean on my right. We just kept driving and chatting away for about two hours until we caught sight of Taranaki. It was covered in clouds. Heidi told me it means it's going to be cold tonight. She was going to stop to see her sister, Danielle. That’s my sister’s name, only spelled a little differently. She said I could check my email to get the address of the couple I’m staying with. Danielle lives in a small back house, and has a 10-month-old daughter who is just learning how to crawl. She let me use the phone to let Barbara and her husband know that I’d be there shortly. We left at about 7:00 and stopped at McDonald’s so I could grab a bite to eat. I’ve eaten fast food hardly at all on this journey because I've had such good food at my hosts' homes. Heidi then drove me to Barbara’s home and I gave her a hug goodbye and got her email. She told me she looks forward to hearing about my travels. Barbara met me at the door. She told me that the weather forecast doesn't look so good. She was also telling me that I need crampons and ice equipment at this time of year. However they don’t have any and they don’t know of anyone I could borrow some from. I'll just hit Taranaki tomorrow and hope for the best. If there isn't a clear path and I can’t find anyone who'll let me use a set of crampons, then I'll have to descend and tackle it the following day after getting my hands on some crampons and an ice axe. Barbara had just made sausage rolls, so I had a few and then had a cup of tea. Today I predicted that I’d make it here in 12 rides, but it only took me ten. There was a pretty rainbow outside, so I went outside for a photo. I then relaxed for awhile and then took a shower. Today I crossed more than half of the North Island just by using my thumb, and it was my longest hitchhiking journey by far! "Aotearoa tonui ma" means "New Zealand via thumb" in Maori. A bus ride from Auckland to New Plymouth would have cost me $68. It was dark out and I had another cuppa. I relaxed for a good while and browsed the internet for awhile. I'm back into “civilization” because I have regular internet access and electricity. I glanced at a guidebook about Korea because I have a fascination with North Korea. At about midnight I called it a night and lay down to go to sleep. I have to be up early so I can tackle Taranaki! Today's hitchhiking journey has concluded but it's only the beginning of many more! See you soon! 

 

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