Here I am, eleven days into my trip, back at the Auckland airport waiting on my afternoon flight to Sydney. There’s a chocolate shop close to where I’m posted up that has a large TV playing a repeat video on how they make their chocolates. I have found myself watching it on numerous occasions in a slight daze, not quite sure if it’s making me hungry or making me never want to eat the stuff again (due largely in part to its slight on-screen resemblance to smeared dog poop). But I should be telling you about my last few days in New Zealand, not contemplating the edibleness of airport food, right? 🙂
In NZ, they have a popular expression: “Sweet As”. For my first few days here, I thought that it was “Sweet Ass”, so I walked around exclaiming that everything I came across was “Sweet Ass!” It wasn’t until I saw a T-shirt with the words actually spelled out that I noticed the lack of one crucial “s”. Even then, I figured it must be a typo or something. Maybe the shop was selling discounted goods and left the “s” off on purpose in order to cut costs. Just to make sure, I asked someone and found out that the correct phrase was in fact Sweet As and not Sweet Ass. This discovery left me slightly confused; now the words that I had been so eagerly exclaiming didn’t make any sense. When you say “Sweet Ass!” there are no questions left to be answered. Switch that to “Sweet As!” and my next thought is naturally “sweet as…what?” You can see where my problem was/is/may forever be. I don’t get it. But, in the spirit of attempting to sound even remotely Kiwi, I’ll do my best to use my newfound lingo appropriately.
My last few days in NZ were sweet as….
Finally learning to surf. I may have giant bruises all over my body, but I didn’t get devoured by a shark and stood up once so it is definitely worth it! I have decided to become a beach bum at some point in the near future and do nothing but surf and work on my tan. Thailand, maybe?
Exploring the Abbey Caves. There were three caves in all, which you could hike to on a path through fields filled with giant volcanic rocks. In the first, the Organ Cave, you had to wade through super cold water that went up above your waste to get all the way through. Once I had made it in a little ways, I turned off my headlamp and looked up to the hundreds of blue-green glowworms that covered the ceiling and walls, creating their own solar system among the stalagmites and stalactites.
Hiking to the Whangarei Falls. The hike was short and peaceful, and the falls were overflowing due to the incredible amount of rain that had fallen just a few days earlier.
Knocking a few back with the NZ Northland Cricket Team. I met one of the players and his mom who were from England at Endless Summer in Ahipara, and a few days after we had parted ways he invited us to an awesome dinner and place to crash at his boss’s waterfront summer home. The following day, he lent the board and expertise, becoming one of my (very patient) surf instructors. I suppose my overwhelming natural skill didn’t intimidate him too much, because afterwards he invited us to join him and his teammates at their end of season pub-crawl in Whangarei. Predictably, that was a late night and a great time.
Spending my last day in NZ laying on a beautiful, sundrenched, and practically empty beach. You’re not a real backpacker unless you have the tan to go with it, and after all the rain and clouds over the past few days, I had some catching up to do. Lunch was a soy flat white and a savory scone enjoyed at a sleepy café across from the beach. As Kenny Chesney would say (if he happened to be Kiwi)…No shoes, No shirt, Sweet as.
I think I’ll go grab some chocolate.