My plane arrived into Auckland just as the sun rose. My first thought was that it was going to be a beautiful day-the start to an incredible journey. This quiet moment of triumph and anticipation quickly gave way to my second thought: Umm…it’s kind of early. What am I supposed to do with myself until I can check into my hostel? I decided to take advantage of the free wifi at the airport, as I’d read that it is a rare commodity in NZ. After grabbing my loaded backpack (I’ll post my RTW packing list once I get some laundry done), I clumsily plopped myself down on a bench right outside the baggage claim and opened up my laptop, quickly discovering that I had either 30 free minutes or a certain amount of MB; whichever was used up first. I have no idea about MB and things of the like, so I decided to concentrate on the 30 minutes part. Apparently things like Facebook, Twitter, and email use up a lot of MB, because after about 15 min I was back to my original dilemma of keeping myself entertained until I could check in to the hostel (a time which was actually unknown to me, but I was shooting for around 10). I decided to catch the Sky Bus into town. A guy from Czech sat in front of me and kindly pointed out the hot spots: the library, a nice museum, a friendly neighborhood to live in should I decide to relocate permanently to Auckland. Despite the fact that the bus driver himself got up to help me shoulder my backpack as I was attempting to get off, things were pretty uneventful. Whenever a bus ride goes right, I’m always slightly shocked; I’ve had my fair share of mishaps with public transportation in Europe. Things like staying on a train going to Italy when I was supposed to get off in Austria, or taking the wrong bus and ending up on a charter full of drunk middle-aged men going into town for a night of debauchery…you know, small things like that.
I stayed at a hostel called Garden City Lodge, and it was a great experience for my first hostel stay ever. (Yes, I decided to backpack around the world without ever having stayed in a hostel before. Call it what you will). Slightly out of the way, it was a big old house with an abundant garden, a decent kitchen, and a nice lounge area out front. It even had a yoga room which was pretty cool, but I have to warn you…if you find yourself bunked up at GCL any time in the future, do NOT use the yoga room for anything except the actual act of meditational stretching.
On a rainy afternoon, I grabbed my Kindle, lit some incense and stretched out under the brightly colored ceiling tarps. A few hours later, I was sternly asked to leave as I was disturbing the chi with my electronic device and bad energy. Just kidding about the energy. Totally serious about the electronic device. Anyways, great place regardless, and I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling through Auckland.
Three days later, repacked and ready, I loaded myself into a rented car and hit the rainy road to check out the rest of the North Island. I actually-literally-got stuck in the door on the way out, but luckily I had already made some good friends who came to my rescue and shoved me on through to my next adventure.
Oh, if you’re looking for some good wine to try this week, grab a bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir from Otago. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the Pinot that I have had here; they are light and fruity compared to the usual floral overtones of this varietal. Cheers, mate! 🙂