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Adventures in Flying by the Seat of my Pants Conquering Aotearoa One Day at a Time

Once more with feeling

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 14 March 2011 | Views [245]

Okeh, so my last update was a bit hectic and to be honest, I have no idea what I wrote. I could go back and read it, but frankly, I'm lazy and it would be much easier to do one big update, even if it means repeating myself a little bit.

So... I arrived in Auckland two weeks ago. It's nothing exciting, just another city, loud, crowded, touristy and very, very pricey. My first hostel was horrendous - the rooms were windowless, the air was stale, the staff was rude and it projected the feeling far too similar to living in a freshman dorm. Or maybe a bit more like a frat house, I can't be sure as I never lived in a frat house, but it was really a miserable start to New Zealand. I spent one night there and then found another hostel around the corner that had rooms with windows. The first hostel refused to refund me for the other nights I had booked saying that it was too short notice and that I must have knowingly booked such a terrible hostel despite their online reviews.

After making arrangements to get out of Auckland (which really should be done as quickly as one possibly can), I stayed for another two nights and then headed north up to Kaitia, the largest city in the Northland region. From there, I went to Gentle World to WWOOF for a few days. It was really nice to be such a drastically different area than Auckland, and to have someone make fresh, raw chocolate for you, you know, as a learning experience. It was pretty rainy while I was there, but the first night, I did step out of my caravan in the middle of the night and got to check out the night sky. It was by far, the most stars I have ever seen in my life. Hands down. And, it was only a small section of the sky that was visible due to the clouds. Still, it was spectacular.

My caravan-mate and I decided to leave the WWOOF after a couple of days because they needed to make space for a family coming to WWOOF shortly after our departure. We went up to Cape Reinga, then headed back down south through Paihia where we stayed for two nights so that we could do the only really interesting thing Paihia has to offer: skydiving. The company we went with does the highest drop in the country (16,000 ft), and it was pretty unbelievable. I had refused to let myself thing about it until I was up in the plane for fear of talking myself out of it. Luckily, it was so freezing up in the atmosphere, I could remain thoroughly distracted during the ascent.

But when the door to this teeny-tiny airplane swung open, my instructor and I wiggled over to the opening and set up for the fall, that is the point at which I started thinking about what I was doing. I looked down and saw absolutely nothing between us and the ground thousands of feet below. That's when shit gets real. You don't have a chance to change your mind, the instructor just thrusts you both out and...

After Paihia, I went back down to Auckland for the night to try to figure out which direction to head in next; it seems like once you enter Auckland, nothing goes according to plan and it's nearly impossible to leave. Everything I thought I had set up in advance fell through and since getting internet access was so difficult and expensive, it was frustrating to contact WWOOF hosts only to be told that they don't have space available. I finally heard back from someone south of Auckland who had space and was able to take two WWOOFers. We've been working on her immense backyard garden, equipped with five free range chickens, two outdoor cats (one of whom looks like she could have been Nutmeg's littermate) and tiny, hidden glow worms. 

Since last Thursday, I've been weeding an invasive Australian vine from the neighbor's yard, felling and trimming bamboo and hanging out with the hens and cats. Yesterday we took a day off and went west to Raglan, a surfer town on the coast. There was a bi-monthly crafts/farmers market going on near the beach, and we walked along the shore out to the bay where the Tasman Sea water is cool, but the air is hot and the sand is black. Our initial plan for the day was to then head north to a lesser known glow worm cave near the coast, but apparently no one in Raglan had heard of it or knew how to get there. It seems there are some places that are only accessible if you have your own car, which means that I might rent a car one day to get to all these little nooks that inaccessible by bus.

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