From Austin to Oz. I'm planning to flee the country for 7 months - working for 4 and traveling for 3.
Departure = 03 Sep 2003 / Re-entry = 03 Apr 2004

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

North Island, New Zealand, Oceania

I forgot to mention that last Saturday, after having paid for my parking spot at the Auckland airport (spot 648, next to numbah sux-fufty), I walked to the car and was greeted by the whiff of pot eminating from the open windows of the car parked next to mine. The passenger tried frantically to close his window, yet he was a wee bit on the slow side. Plus, smoke fogging up the car is only obvious. Pot smoking Kiwis. Because they can.

The next day (Sunday) was pretty much a rest day, fillled with heaps of nuthin'. Ah..

Monday, I headed to the Lion Red brewery for a tour. A rather good tour. Afterwards, on Stephanie's recommendation, I headed across the street to the Auckland Museum. For only a NZ$5 donation, mine was the museum to wander from 14:30-17:00. Honestly, this is one of the most spectacular musea that I have ever visited. After only 2.5 hours, I had only finished touring one of three floors! The museum exhibits a comprehensive view of Pacific cultures and history with an enormous emphasis on Maori culture. I began to tour the next floor (Kiwi fauna and flora) but only saw about 30% of the floor. Did you know that New Zealand was home to the extinct moa, a flightless bird almost 3 metres tall? Or that the kea is the world's largest parrot that literally attacks parked cars and eats the rubber from the windscreen wipers? If only I could have stayed longer, I could feed you more kiwifruit tidbits. Advice: on your next trip to Auckland, arrive when the museum opens and stay until it closes.

Then, I went to an Internet cafe that charged only NZ$2 / hour! I haven't found anything that cheap at all (other than free wireless Internet on Queen St. in Brisbane for those who have laptops)! While planning my next few weeks in Kiwilandia, I came across the Best of New Zealand Pass which covers coaches, trains, and a flight from the N. Island to the S. Island. The BONZ pass is more my style since I can't be bothered with the backpacker coach passes like the Kiwi Experience or Magic Bus. Yes, the backpacker coach passes have their markets and limitations, but for the same price, I get to call the shots, mingle with Kiwis taking public transportation, and not have to board a coach at 8AM (as with the backpacker coaches).

I bought my BONZ pass this morning and hopped on the normal coach at 13:00 destined for Napier, one of the world's best example of Art Deco -- since a 1931 earthquake leveled the entire town and it was all rebuilt in the same style of the time, Art Deco.

Before your brown hero left Auckland (the world's largest Polynesian city), he took a few snaps of The White House, a legal brothel operating only a few hundred meters from my hostel. Let's just say that I try my best to smooth rough Kiwi-Bald Eagle relations when I can.

So, on to the arvo coach and away I left Auckland, City of Sails (the city with the highest number of yachts per population in the world). Only 6.5 hours later, I find meself in Napier, bedded in an Art Deco hotel converted into a hostel. Tomorrow, I will take a tour of the city's Art Deco Architecture and in the arvo, hop on a bike and undertake a self-guided wine tour. The tour company gives you a bike, a pannier, a map of the local wineries, and a cell phone -- to use in case I'm too drunk to cycle back to the hostel. Me mates wanted to do this type of tour in the Hunter Valley, North of Sydney, but the price was A$129! The Napier one, in sharp contrast is only NZ$36.

From Napier, I head to Hastings, just a 20min citybus ride away. Hastings also suffered the same 1931 fate as Napier, yet most of the rebirth architecture is Spanish Revival, popular in Southern California. Then, to Wellington.

I wonder which route Frodo & Sam took?


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