|New Zealand, North Island
If you've been reading my travel journal there was back there somewhere a plan to bring my bike over to New Zealand. Well a few things happened along the way with that idea. One was I decided I would prefer to go to Fiji and dive instead of battling it out in the spring tempests on my bike in New Zeland. But that didn't work out as I couldn't get a flight from Cairns and so I went back to including NZ in the itinerary except sans bicycle. I ditched the bike because I didn't want to cart it around Queensland in the first place, and then I found out it was going to cost as much in excess baggage charges as my own fare to get it across the Tasman Sea.
So I well and truly joined the 'backpacking circuit' in New Zealand, flying into Auckland on September 15th. Despite my research an Air New Zealand official insisted I needed to buy an ongoing ticket before attempting to enter the country. However I already had my boarding pass and despite this guy's claim I was never asked for any such ticket. Nevertheless I did buy a ticket in Brisbane for the return trip home, Auckland to Vancouver via LA for October 11 so I then knew I had just under a month to 'do' New Zealand.
I got to Auckland late in the evening and took a cab in to the city centre to Base X backpackers hostel. No that is taking backpacking to some level! This hostel has seven floors, a cafe, pub/nightclub and everything in between. Impersonal, noisy yes but also very clean and secure and big enough that I doubt they ever run out of room.
Cairns had been a pretty good education in to the world of the backpacker but now I was thrown right in to it. Being just about double the age of most of the protaganists and guilty of perpertrating most if not all of their indiscretions in my own time I became an internal observer, keeping a good sense of humour while I availed myself of the cheap accommodation, travel discounts and 'adventure tours'.
With just four weeks I decided to stay on the North Island and see a good chunk of it rather than trying to get greedy and pull off a visit to the South Island as well. I think it paid off as I have so far had an excellent time discovering the North Island and am certain I will return to New Zealand and next time I'll feel free to beeline for the South Island and 'do' it then. Some of the places I visited include: